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Different Perspectives On Partition : An Assessment
May 2013

Recently, eminent personalities in India and Pakistan have expressed their thoughts on the vivisection of India that took place in August, 1947. The outcome of Partition was the creation of a new country with a new name, Pakistan. Those who have recently written or spoken on the subject are : former Justice of the Supreme Court,  Markandey Katju, former Foreign Secretary, Pakistan, Shamshad Ahmad, and Syed Shahabuddin, an eminent Muslim intellectual. Smt. Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress  in her convocation address to the members of the Aligarh Muslim University has praised the contribution made by Aligarh Muslim University to the unity and diversity of India. The views expressed by the noted personalities have been reproduced in the foregoing pages of this Journal. Given below are short comments/observations made by intellectuals, leaders, and bureaucrats, during undivided India on the demand for the creation of Pakistan. None of the persons whose observations have been reproduced in the previous pages have had any first hand experience of the events of those times particularly before the final act of 1947.  Nor have they presented a complete picture in their articles about the causes that had led to the division of India.  Hence, the importance of presenting the views of persons who were actually involved or had witnessed the drama of Partition.


The Aligarh Movement :

The death of emperor Auragzeb in 1707 led to the disintegration of the Mughal empire in India.  The British made their entry into India by establishing  the East India Company. The Muslims evinced no interest for the pursuit of English education for they considered the whole system as detrimental to the growth of their life- a mode of life to which they had been accustomed for centuries.  The Muslims considered the Company as their lawful agents. The Company, however, gradually assumed control of different parts of India. The three sources of power and pelf that had once lent privilege and influence to Mussalmans-military command, collection of revenues and the judicial or political employment, were closed to the Muslims by the British rulers.  Affected by these developments, the last attempt made by the Muslims to recover their power was the War of Independence  in 1857, miscalled the Mutiny, according to the Muslims.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College (MAO), Aligarh was a witness to the 1857 happenings.  From 1858 right up to 1898, Syed Ahmad Khan was the pivot round whom the Muslim politics moved. Having established the MAO, he set up The Upper India Defence Association of the Mohammadans for Muslims to take their place in the politics of the country.  In the speeches made at Lucknow and Meerut on 28th December, 1887 and 16th March.1888 respectively he laid down fundamental guidelines for Muslims to follow in their interaction with the British and Congress Party. He asked Muslims not to join the Congress Party and support only the British.  This policy decided once for all the attitude of the whole Muslim community towards the Congress. Few Mussalman of note since then joined the Congress except one or two. During his lifetime, Syed Ahmad did not make any departure from his political creed.

The All India Muslim League was established in 1906 and defined in its three successive sessions, 1924, 1925 and 1926, the position of the Mussalman with respect to any forthcoming changes of the Constitution in India.  It demanded that in any future constitutional changes  there should be an effective representation of Muslims in every province and reiterated its demand for separate electorates.


After the rejection of the Simon Commission both by the Congress and the Muslim League, a committee was constituted by the two parties under the chairmanship of Pandit Motilal Nehru. The reaction of the Muslim leaders to the Report is summarized by Mohammed No man in his book : Muslim India : Rise and Growth of the All India Muslim League (1942) :  One thing about which most of the  League leaders were determined was to keep the Mussalmans aloof from the bounteous feast spread before them by Pandit Motilal Nehru.

The Mussalmans had lost confidence on the bonafides of Swarajist's politicians. These Mussalmans were convinced that after 10 years when even the monstrously inadequate representation of the community in the provincial legislatures by that undemocratic and thoroughly deceptive system which is dignified by the title of separate representation by reservation of seats, is taken away, there will be not a single Muslim left in the provincial legislature. Muslims will become hewers of wood and drawers of water to their Hindu  masters.  The Nehru Report was a result of one-sided view of Pandit Motilal Nehru and his Hindu myrmidons, so far as the Muslims of India were concerned.  The chameleon-like attitude which Pandit Motilal Nehru assumed had not helped the Muslim cause…. The Nehru Committee at one stroke of pen, destroyed Muslims' right of separate representation by substituting for it mixed electorates.  Though a few carpet-knights, political malcontents from the Muslim camp were pressed into service to support the Nehru Report, the vast bulk of thinking Mussalmans saw through the game and realized that it was a scheme savouring  the Shuddhee and Sangathan movements.  The Mussalmans had lost faith in Hindus and no amount of pious fraud practiced in the name of Nationalism could Induce the Muslim minority to risk its existence by giving a blank cheque to the majority.  The Mussalmans were asked to sign their death warrant by acquiescing in the recommendations of the Nehru report.


In 1930, the Muslim League met in Allahabad under the Presidentship of Allama Iqbal. In his address he said:

I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state.  Self-Government within the British empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim state appears to me the final destiny of the Muslims at least of North-West India. I therefore demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in the best interests of India and Islam.  For India it means security and peace resulting from an internal balance of power; for Islam an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian Imperialism was forced to give it.


The Indian Round Table Conference was called in London and met at St. James Palace on the 12th November 1930. No one from the Congress Party attended. The first Round Table Conference ended without covering much ground on the 19th January 1931.  Gandhi attended the second Round Table Conference in 1931. His chief rolewas in the Minority Committee and after days of labor, Gandhi on 8th October 1931 announced:

It is with deep sorrow and deeper humiliation that I have to announce the utter failure on my part to secure an agreed solution of the communal question through informal conversation among and with the representatives of different groups.


Presiding over  the All India Muslim League session in April, 1936, Sir Wazir Hasan said: It should always be borne in mind that India is a continent. It  should further be borne in mind that the Hindus and the Mussalmans are not two communities but should be considered two nations in many respects. As the follow up of the 1935Act elections were held in 1937. The Congress Party won the election in most of the provinces. However, the supporters of Pakistan in hindsight blame Jawaharlal Nehru for not agreeing to accommodate Muslim League members in the U.P. Cabinet. This is complete non-sense.  Congress Party leaders had always claimed that they stood for secular India and their Party alone represented the country. How could Congress leadership be in coalition with a patently communal party, the All India Muslim League.


No wonder that within a four year time from the announcement made by Sir Wazir Hasan in 1936,  Muslim League formally demanded Pakistan, a separate homeland for Muslims, at its session held at Lahore in March1940. Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah in his speeches elaborated the reasons for a separate homeland.  In fact, Allama Iqbal in his Presidential Address in 1930 at Allahabad had already provided the theological basis for vivisection of India :

1945-46 Elections : Choices Between Pakistan and Kafirstan 

In 1945, Jinnah declared that the forthcoming election of  late 1945 and early 1946 were in effect a referendums on Pakistan.  There was a  strong religious edge to the Muslim League's campaign, with students from Aligarh Muslim University parading through  rural villages, invoking the martyrdom of Imam Husain and telling the locals that in he new Congress Raj cows would be tethered in their mosques.  Urdu Poems were written and recited with verses, such as;

Do you remember the Delhi Wallahs (The Mughal Emperors)

They lived in the Red Fort once,

You were kings than, you carrot-eating wretches, But only those who wield a stick can protect their sisters.

Punjab was the cornerstone of the new state of Pakistan.  In 1937 election, the Muslim League had not won a single seat in either Punjab or Bengal.  In 1937, the Muslim clegry in Punjab had treated the  All India Muslim League as an urban outsider and had backed the Unionist Party of Sir Sikander Hayat Khan.  With the collapse of the Unionist Party, after the sudden demise of Sir Sikander, the hereditary pirs (spiritual guides) switched their backing to the League. The pirs issued fatwas advising their followers to back the Muslim League at the polls. This gave them the opportunity to establish an Islamic state, based on the Sharia Sir Khizar Hayat  Khan, the successor to Sir Sikander had to resign.

Among the eleven provinces of British India, Congress won around 90 percent of the seats, while the League gained about the same proportion of the reserved Muslim seats.  In the elections for reserved Muslim seats in the Central Legislature, the League won a resounding 87 percent of the vote with Congress scraping little more than a token 1 percent. The Muslim League had presented the election to the Muslim voters as the battle between Pakistan and Kafiristan. Many leading Congressmen locked away in prison since 1942 found their theories about the Muslim League tumbling down, 

It is not an exaggeration to say that the untimely death of Sir Sikander in Dec. 1942 was one of the most important factor in the ultimate creation of Pakistan. Had he lived longer, he would have swung the tide against Jinnah. Privately Sikander referred to Pakistan as “Jinnistan” and told Secretary to the Governor, Penderel Moon that Jinnah's hostage theory-Hindus being held hostage in Pakistan and Muslims in India-was ludicrous.  In Sikander's opinion, Pakistan would mean a massacre, since Muslim in West Punjab would soon cut the throat of any Hindu bania. (Liberty Or Death by Patrick French,1977).

In a speech delivered by M. A. Jinnah at a  lunch hosted by Zia-ul-din Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor Aligarh Muslim University on 8 March, 1944, he said :

Pakistan was not the product of the conduct or misconduct of Hindus. It had always been there, only they were not conscious of it. Hindus and Muslims though living in the same towns and villages had never been blended into a nation, they were always two entities.  Pakistan started the movement the first non-Muslim was converted to Islam in India long before the Muslim established their rule. As soon as a Hindu embraced.  Islam he was an outlast not only religiously but also socially, culturally and economically.  As for the Muslim, it was a duty imposed on him by Islam not to merge his identity  and individuality in any alien society. Throughout the ages Hindus have remained Hindus and Muslims had remained Muslims and they had not merged their identities-this was the basis for Pakistan (Understanding Partition by Yuvraj Krishen).


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