"As the British authority passes ... the old hatreds between Moslem and Hindu revive and acquire new life and malignancy. We cannot easily conceive what these hatreds are." Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 1931.
I blogged about the 1947 India partition massacres here. But there's nothing like an eye-witness account.
Radio Four are repeating their series 'Sleeping With The Enemy'. The first part (RealAudio) deals with what happened to thousands of women who survived the massacres - abducted as booty (no pun intended).
It's medieval - if not Biblical - stuff - men, many doomed to be killed themselves, slaughtering their wives and daughters to prevent them being dishonoured by the enemy. The difference being that this happened within living memory. Participants - victims and perpetrators - may still be alive. The last time stuff like that happened in the UK was probably the Danish invasions of the 8th and 9th centuries, and before that the Saxon cleansing of the Celts from what is now England.
During this period, so many women disappeared that the newly formed governments of India and Pakistan were compelled to act. They formed official 'recovery' departments to bring their women back...sometimes with even more tragic consequences. Sleeping With The Enemy tells the story of Ranjit Kaur, a Muslim woman who survived a massacre and was then claimed by a Sikh man who married her. She was 10 years old.
To prevent such perceived 'dishonour', Bir Bahadur Singh, a Sikh man, relates how he watched his father publicly behead his teenage sister - along with 25 other female members of their family - in front of a Muslim mob.
I wouldn't listen just before bedtime if I were you though.
UPDATE - I said nothing like that had happened in England since the 8th century - there was one more such (smallish) episode in England, where Jews led by Rabbi Yom Tob killed themselves at York in 1290 rather than fall into the hands of a bloodthirsty Christian mob (animated and led by a number of people who owed money to Jews).
"The mob then returned to the cathedral where the records of debts due to Jews were in safe-keeping. They compelled the guardians to turn these over to them to be burned then and there in the sanctuary."
The Colbert Report signs off
1 hour ago