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Partition : Historically Inevitable
Dec 2012

How and Why of Partition

In 1947 India was divided on the demand of Muslims for a homeland. The wounds of the catharsis are not yet fully healed. The Kashmir dispute, persecution of Hindus/Sikhs left behind in Pakistan and the phenomenon of terrorism initiated in Pakistan have become a frequent feature of newspapers/TV channels.

Why so? There were three main parties who were actively involved in the events leading to the division. The British government was for leaving behind an undivided India; the Congress Party's stand led by Mahatma Gandhi was no different from that of the English rulers; the Muslim League wanted a division before the departure of the British. Eventually, the Muslims forced the vivisection at a time of their choice. V.P. Menon, the last Reforms Commissioner of the Indian Government records : The Congress had accepted the division of the country on two considerations. In the first place, it was clear from the unyielding attitude of the League that a united India would either be delayed or could only be won at the cost of a civil war. Secondly, it was hoped that the establishment of a separate Muslim homeland would finally settle the communal problem which had for so long bedeviled Indian politics. (The Transfer of Power in India.) Unfortunately, the Congress has not freed India from the problems. The blame lies 
with the Indian leaders who had agreed to the division of India but did not implement the corollaries of Partition. The three leaders largely responsible for this mess were Gandhi, Nehru and Maulana Azad.

A new name called Pakistan was coined in 1930 by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, a student at Cambridge University, England. The provinces constituting the holyland were identified both by poet Iqbal and Rahmat Ali on the basis of religion, that is, Muslim majority areas. In 1940, at its Lahore session, the Indian Muslim League, under the Presidentship of Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah formally made the demand for the creation of Pakistan, a separate homeland for Muslims. An idea about the composition of India's population, religion-wise in 1940, can be had from the following table:

Population of India by Communities

	Communities 		British India 		Indian States and Agencies 		Total 

	1. Hindus 		150,890,146 		55,227,180 				206,117,326 

	2. Muslims 		79,398,503 		12,659,593 				92.058.096 

	3. Scheduled Castes	39,920,807 		8.892,373 				48,813,180 

	4. Tribal 		16,713,256 		8.728,233 				25,441,489 

	5. Sikhs 		4,165,097 		1,526,350 				5,691,447 

	6. Christians 

	(i) Indian Christians 	1,655,982 		1,413,808 				3,069,790 

	(ii) Anglo-Indians 	113,936		 	26,486 					140,422 

	(iii) Others 		75,751 			7,708 					83,459 

	7. Jains 		578,372			870,914				 	1.449.286 

	8. Buddhists 		167,413		 	64,590 					232,003 

	9. Parsees 		101,968			12,922 					114,890 

	10. Jews 		19.327 			3,153 					22,480 

	11. Others 		371,403		 	38,474 					409,877 

	Total 			294,171,961 		89,471,784				383,643,745 

(Source : Pakistan by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Thackers, Bombay, 1940).

Muslims of India comprised nearly 25 percent of the total population in 1947 when Pakistan was created. The province-wise population of Muslims in the areas which constituted Pakistan was as under :
Province		Total Population	Percentage of Muslim population

British Baluchistan	501631				87.5

Bengal			60306525			54.7

N.W.F.P.		3038067				91.8

Punjab			26418819			57.0

Sind			4229221				72.2


Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Justice Ameer Ali : It is the community which demanded a separate homeland on grounds of religion. As a minority they had ruled India for more than six hundred years. Under the British rule, they demanded safeguards and separate electorates. Once the British rulers decided to introduce, though gradually, representative institutions, Muslim leaders declared that India comprised two Nations - the Hindus and the Muslims. The first leader to assert that Muslims were a nation and not a minority was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of the Aligarh Muslim University. Around this time, Justice Ameer Ali, who had founded the Central National Muhammedan Association in Calcutta, had expressed a similar view, according to Prof. Aziz Ahmad (Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment). After him came Sir Aga Khan who said to Viceroy Minto in 1906. 

Sir Aga Khan : Now in 1906 we boldly asked the Viceroy to look facts in the face; we asked that the Muslims of India should not be regarded as a mere minority, but as a nation within a nation whose rights and obligations should be guaranteed by statute. History has amply demonstrated since then, after the First World War and again and again later, that the existence of minorities - of one nationally conscious community within another, numerically weaker perhaps but not less firmly aware of itself as a nation than the majority - is one of the major issues of our time. Ireland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia - the world's maps are plentifully dotted with these minority problems, with all their complexity and difficulty.

For ourselves in 1906 we asked for the establishment of a principle, an axiom which would have to be embodied in any legislation as a consequence of these proposals for reform. We asked for adequate and separate representation for Muslims both on local bodies and on the legislative councils. We asked that this representation be secured by a separate communal franchise and electoral roll. In short, we Muslims should have the right of electing our own representatives on it. We conceded that in areas where we were in the majority, like the Punjab and what was then the province of eastern Bengal, we would give a certain number of extra seats to the Hindus, in order to safeguard their interests, and in return we asked that in areas in which there was a big Hindu majority we likewise should be conceded a certain number of extra seats.

Lord Minto listened with sympathy to our statement of the contention. He assured us that the political rights and interest of the Muslim community would be safeguarded in any change in administration that might occur. Our principle was accepted (Memoirs of Aga Khan, London, 1954).

Sir Percival Griffiths : Sir Percival Griffiths, an ICS whose book The British Impact on India came out in 1952 has observed : The second point relates to the creation of Pakistan�It was, however, abundantly clear to the outside observer just before the transfer of power that the 90 million Muslims did not share the Indian political claim that all Indians were united on the concept of Indian nationality. Muslims had a group consciousness of their own. The same logic which compels us to admit that in the twentieth century an Indian nationality had developed requires us equally to recognize that the Muslims had built up a nationality of their own. All the arguments of race, language, and the like which could be used to show that the Muslims of India were not a nation, could equally be applied to the people of undivided India. If conscious of unity in the past, the Muslim claim to a separate nationality was justified. It is true that two nationalities do coexist in one State, as in Switzerland or even in the U.K.; but they are only able to do so if the communities are not antagonistic and if inter-marriage is allowed gradually to soften the distinction between them. This condition did not apply in the case of Hindustan and Islam, and Partition, whether good or bad in itself, was the inevitable result of the acceptance of the principle of nationality.

Quaid-e- Azam Jinnah : In October, 1937 Jinnah spoke bluntly of Hindu exclusiveness and stated : Muslims can expect neither justice nor fair play under a Congress government. By 1939 Muslims were convinced that whatever safeguards might be designed, an Indian federation in which the Centre retained substantial power would in fact mean Hindu domination. Sir

Griffiths happened to dine with Jinnah a day or two before the official adoption of the scheme of Partition in March 1940 : �You talk�, he said, �of the unity of India, but you ought to know that is a chimera, existing no where except in your minds and in the external unity which was wisely forced on the country. You go on to talk of parliamentary democracy and you fail to realize that the assumptions on which it depends have no application at all to Indian conditions.�

Sir Mohammed Iqbal : Although he was the poet who wrote the anthem Sare Jahan se achcha Hindustan Hamara, he was also the originator of the idea of Pakistan. Addressing the annual session of the League as the Party's President, in 1930 at Allahabad, he said that the demand for the creation of a Muslim India within India is perfectly justified. Chaudhri Rahmat Ali crystallized the idea of Allama Iqbal in 1933. To the third Round Table Conference he circulated a leaflet, Now or Never, which stated : There can be no peace or tranquility in this land, if we, the Muslims, are duped into a Hindu-dominated federation, where we cannot be the masters of our own destiny and the captain of our own souls.

Maulana Mohamed Ali : Maulana Mohamed Ali expressed similar sentiments at the Round Table Conference held in London in 1930-31 : �. the Musalmans constitute not a minority in the sense in which late World War I and its sequel has habituated us to consider, European minorities. A community that in India alone must be numbering more than 70 millions cannot easily be called a minority (Minorities Committee Document quoted in The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent by I.H. Qureshi, Delhi, 1985).

Muslims of India were clear and candid to say that they had nothing in common with the Hindus. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity. To the Muslims ibi bene ibi patria is unthinkable. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin. That is probably the reason why Maulana Mahomed Ali, a great Indian but a true Muslim, preferred to be buried in Jerusalem rather than in India, says Dr. Ambedkar (ibid).

Prof. Mujeeb : Elections of 1945-46. Shortly before the grant of Independence to India, British Government in London announced (a) the constitution of a Constituent Assembly and (b) holding of elections to the Central Legislative and Provincial assemblies. The Muslims of India, says Prof. M. Mujeeb, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia, overwhelmingly voted for the creation of Pakistan. All reserved seats in the Central Legislature and 90 percent seats of the Provincial Legislatures went to the Muslim League. Thus was Pakistan born after a year and a half.


Lala Hardayal and Veer Savarkar : Lala Hardayal had put forth a scheme in 1925 which inter alia said that the future of the Hindu race rested on : (a) Hindu Sangathan, (b) Hindu Raj, (c) Suddhi of Muslims, and (d) Conquest and Shuddhi of Afghanistan and the Frontier. Veer Savarkar, as President of the Hindu Mahasabha in the speech delivered in Calcutta in December, 1939 had observed that a proper understanding of the term Hinduism, Hindutva and Hindudom is necessary. From the word Hindu, Hindustan has been coined. It means religion of the Hindus. The word Hindustan refers to mostly to the religious aspects of the Hindu people but comprehends even their cultural, linguistic, social and political aspects as well. Thus, Hindu is a person who regards and owns this Bharat Bhumi and considers this as his Fatherland and Holyland.

These ideas, however, did not find acceptance with majority of Hindus. Gandhi had come back to India. He had become the unquestioned leader of the Congress party after the departure of Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai.

Mahatma Gandhi : At the beginning of his political career in India, Gandhi startled the people by his promise to win swaraj within six months provided Hindu and Muslim were united in their approach. On 2nd March, 1919 Gandhi declared that he would launch Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act and asked his followers, Muslims and Hindus, to take a vow : We shall always refrain from violence to each other in the name of religion. That very year Muslims started the Khilafat movement to preserve the Khilafat and to maintain the integrity of the Turkish Empire. The end result of the future of the campaign was that it led to a series of communal riots in India. It started with Moplah rebellion in Malabar (Kerala). Thereafter there were riots in Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan and other places in different years. In most riots, Hindus suffered the most. Gandhi never called the Muslims to account even when they were guilty of gross crimes against Hindus. Gandhi's attitude was ineexplicable. Gandhi was serious to prevent the disunity between Hindus and Muslims. He did not mind the murder of some Hindus, if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives. 

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar : In this context Dr. Ambedkar further says : Such is the record of Hindu-Muslim relationship from 1920 to 1940. Placed side by side with the frantic efforts made by Mr. Gandhi to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity, the record makes most painful and heart-rending reading. It would not be much exaggeration to say that it is a record of twenty years of civil
war between the Hindus and the Muslims in India, interrupted by brief intervals of armed peace.

V.P. Menon : Gandhi's attitude towards Muslims did not undergo any change even after Muslims had forced the vivisection of India in 1947. In 1948 Gandhi went on his last fast unto death on the question of release of Rs.55 crore to Pakistan. Govt. of India was not willing to make the payment as Pakistan had invaded Kashmir in Oct-Nov 1947. The legendary V.P. Menon has aptly summed up Gandhi : The protection of Muslims was a cause most dear to his heart. He lived for it-indeed he eventually died for it (The Transfer of Power in India, Orient Longman, 1957).


Pre-Partition Treatment of Muslims

In response to the 23 March 1940 resolution of the Muslim League, a number of questions were raised. Foremost among these was : no matter where the line of demarcation was drawn, there would be still left Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims on either side. There was no question of Hindus and Sikhs obtaining equal citizenship in Pakistan. If they could, why divide India? Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah and seven other prominent leaders of the League proposed an exchange of population. Addressing a press conference at Karachi in November 1946 he said, �In view of the horrible slaughter in the various parts of India, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchange of population�� (The Dawn, November 26, 1946). On 2nd December, 1946, Khan Iftikhar Hussain Khan of Mamdot, President of the Punjab Muslim League said that �the exchange of population offers the most practical solution of our multifarious problems. Jinnah's advocacy of an exchange of population made a flutter in the Congress camp.� (The Dawn, December 3, 1946). 

The Sind Premier, Ghulam Husain Hidayatullah in his statement made at Lucknow on December 3, 1946 offered free agricultural land to attract Muslims of United Provinces to come and settle in Sind. He welcomed an exchange of population for the safety of the minorities. Sir Feroze Khan Noon, who later rose to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had earlier on 8 April, 1946, threatened to re-enact the murderous orgies of Changez Khan and Halaqu Khan if non-Muslims took an obstructive attitude against population exchange. Ismail Chundrigarh,who also rose to be the Prime Minister, had said that the British had no right to hand over Muslims to a subject people (meaning Hindus) over whom they had ruled for 500 years. Mohammad Ismail a leader from Madras had declared that the Muslims of India were in the midst of a jehad. Shaukat Hayat Khan, son of the legendary Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, had threatened of a rehearsal of what the Muslims would do to the Hindus eventually.

Among the Hindus, the only leaders who spoke and wrote on the subject of an exchange of population were Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Dr. Ambedkar in his book Thoughts on Pakistan (1940) made a convincing case for the division of India into Hindustan and Pakistan. He strongly favoured the exchange of population. Dr. Rajendra Prasad whose book, India Divided, came out on the eve of Partition (1946) had declared that Muslims left behind in India after the vivisection would have to be treated as aliens. Unfortunately, the Congress leadership rejected these proposals outright.

Post Partition India 

The Congress Party has pursued policies and programmes which have encouraged fissiparous tendencies. Muslims had declared themselves as a nation in 1940 and on this basis they had got Pakistan. Earlier, they had been treated both by the British and the Congress as a minority and gave them benefits accordingly. The Congress leadership has again reintroduced the concept of Muslim minority. Jawaharlal Nehru under whose prime ministership the Constitution of India was drawn up laid the foundation for Muslim separatism by providing Articles 25 to 30 in the Constitution. These provisions have effectively divided the Indian population into privileged citizens (Muslims) and ordinary citizens (Hindus). Not only that. He also abolished Jagirdari and Zamindari but did not touch the Wakfs. It is well known that Wakfs were established by Muslim rulers by confiscating Hindu lands and properties. While providing for statutory safeguards against any change in the Muslim Personal Law, Nehru made substantial changes in the Hindu Law.

The UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh has put into action a series of measures which comprehensively complete the scheme of Muslim separatism initiated by the first prime minister. MUSLIMS FIRST is now the declared policy of the Government.

Summing up : The Partition was brought about because Muslims could not coexist with non-Muslims. Keeping this fact in view, all Muslims should have gone to Pakistan and all non-Muslims in Pakistan should have migrated to India as desired by Muslim League leaders led by Jinnah. First, the Hindus and Sikhs were driven out of Pakistan in 1947-48. Shortly thereafter Ahmedis were persecuted and subsequently declared non-Muslims. The Shias and Christians are being persecuted on one ground or the other. India could be a safe place for all non-Muslims including Shias.


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