For some time now, I've been digging into the partition of India: Urvashi Butalia's excellent, The Other Side of Silence on the experience of the women, children, and Dalits of Punjab (I hope to do a review soon), Remembering Partition by Gyanendra Pandey and Jan Breman, The Partition of India by Ian Talbot and Gurharpal Singh, and Stern Reckoning by GD Khosla (most partisan of this lot). I also recently saw the movies Tamas and The Train to Pakistan (both on YouTube) and plan to watch Silent Waters soon. While much new scholarship has appeared in recent years on the partition of Punjab and Bengal, little is known about "the third site of Partition — colonial Assam, and particularly the region of Sylhet." A friend pointed me to this article in Himal that has more on Partition historiography and the experience of Sylhet.
Sixty-five years after Partition, the scholarship that event generates is varied and contested. Now more than ever before, writers and researchers are questioning the heavy focus on Punjab and Bengal at the expense of the third site of Partition – colonial Assam, and particularly the region of Sylhet, which elected to join East Pakistan in a 1947 referendum. The history of Sylhet opens up new complexities beyond the typical discourse that sees Partition as primarily a matter of religious communalism.
The study of Partition’s more narrowly regional dimensions is a recent development. The first Partition historians – Michael Edwardes, Penderel Moon, David Page, V P Menon, G D Khosla, and others – focused on decolonisation and the high politics of the division of India, with a core focus on Punjab. Punjab had captured the popular imagination because of the enormity of Partition violence there, which completely clouded this first phase of scholarship. The 1960s saw another spurt of Partition studies, including debates on the emergence of communalism, and also the publication of the memoirs of many key political players with a hand in the events of 1947. Still, the main focus remained on Partition in the Indian west. Meanwhile, nationalistic scholars in India engaged in glorifying the new state and eulogising the post-Partition leadership. Little emerged on Partition’s impact in areas distant from the ‘core’ of north India and Punjab; Partition became a largely Punjabi experience and not, as it actually was, a story of both east and west India. Even until recently, many professional historians who have contributed immensely to the study of Partition – Mushirul Hasan, Ian Talbot, Stanley Wolpert, David Gilmartin, Alok Bhalla, Anita Inder Singh, Ravinder Kumar – have been loath to engage with the Partition experience in the east.
I also discovered 1947partitionarchive.org, where I came across this harrowing "eyewitness account" by Major Jagjit Singh.