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Rare Punjab snaps on display

Photos of the colonial era from Punjab are on display at the Royal Geographical Society in London in an exhibition.

art and culture Updated: Oct 04, 2008 15:56 IST

Rare photos of the nineteenth and early twentieth century from Punjab are on display at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London in an exhibition until late November.

Pippa Virdee, fellow in South Asian History at De Montfort University in Leicester, is the consultant for the exhibition The Punjab: Moving Journeys.

The photographs and travelogues are part of a collection by RGS members who travelled in India during the colonial period. "The exhibition provides a glimpse of Punjab province through the ages, capturing the change brought on by different empires and the impact of internal and external migration," said Virdee.

The images provide a glimpse of the region which was the last province to be annexed by the British and one which played a pivotal role in WW1 and WW2. Over 50 per cent of the Indian Army was recruited from this region and the exhibition will showcase some images relating to this.

A major theme in the exhibition is partition. Virdee said: "The province was divided in 1947 when the British gave India its independence. The region was plunged into mass communal violence, resulting in an estimated death toll of 500,000 to one million and the migration of approximately 15 million people. The legacy of this has been the bitter relationship between India and Pakistan."

Workshops were conducted with different community groups from the Punjabi diaspora in Britain prior to the exhibition. Issues of identity, legacies of partition and heritage were discussed at the workshop and are reflected in the exhibition.