Faith, fury and fear: The story behind one of history's greatest mass migrations

Updated 11:36 AM ET, Wed August 15, 2018

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Millions of Indians flee their homes from India to a newly-formed Pakistan, or in the opposite direction.

In August 1947, around 12-15 million people fled their homes from one side of a new border within the former British colony of India to the other. The direction they took depended on their faith: Hindus and Sikhs came together and separated from Muslims.
An estimated 1 million people died along the way, many facing a violent end. It's also reported that about 75,000 women were abducted and brutally raped by people belonging to the opposite faith.
What became known as partition gave birth to a new nation called Pakistan, conceived by a Muslim political party for India's minority Islamic community. But it was fraught with problems from the moment the British hastily drew the borderline.
This took place as Britain, India's imperial ruler, was handing back power to its colonies. The fight to gain independence for India was a tense yet tireless one for political leaders such as Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, Jawarharlal Nehru, who became India's first prime minister, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who became the founder of Pakistan.
But how exactly was the British colony split into the nations of India and Pakistan? And what led to one of the most harrowing events of the 20th century? Here are some of the key events that led to one of global history's most defining moments.
May 1857

May 1857

Known as the Indian Rebellion, or the Indian Mutiny, the Indian army launches a shocking and bloody nationwide attack on British officers in India.

The attack occurs during the rule of the East India Company, a British corporation originally formed to facilitate trade with the East Indies, which aggravates ties with India through a lack of consideration for local traditions.

1858

1858

Although the mutiny was unsuccessful, the British empire takes over the rule of India from the East India Company.

December 1906

December 1906

A political group called the Muslim League is formed to look after the interests of India's minority Muslim community.

1916

1916

Muslim politician Muhammad Ali Jinnah becomes the leader of the Muslim League. He later goes on to become the founder of Pakistan and becomes known as "Quaid-i-Azam", or "Great Leader".

April 13, 1919

April 13, 1919

British troops, under orders from commander Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, fire without warning on a peaceful protest of thousands of unarmed Indians in Amritsar, Punjab. Hundreds of men, women and children are killed and many injured, although the actual numbers are disputed between British and Indian authorities.

Known as the Amritsar massacre, or the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, it is one of the events that spurs lawyer, politician and activist Mohandas Gandhi to focus his efforts on separating India from the British.

1919

1919

Jawaharlal Nehru joins and becomes a prominent figure in the Indian National Congress party, which campaigns for independence from the British. He is deeply inspired by Gandhi, whom he