05 Feb 2018 15:32:06


India became independent on August 15, 1947, and it was divided into two nations on August 14. This was the result of Congress accepting the two- nation theory of Muslim League.

On the demand of Muslim League, a new state emerged in the name of Pakistan and its leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah was made its first Governor General. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, after becoming the Prime Minister of India, addressed the nation, calling it our 'Tryst with Destiny'. The last British Governor General and the key person behind the Partition Lord Mount Baton continued to be in his post even after Independence on the request of Congress.

The Partition of India was not an indispensable and compulsory result of the contemporary situation. It was a part of the British policy, which every Indian understood. The special provisions for Muslims in the Government of India Act 1935 had given clear indication that the British were strengthening the grounds of Partition on communal lines. Addressing the Haripura Convention as Congress President in 1938, Subhash Chandra Bose had said, “The British separated Alstar from Ireland, in Philistine they will separate the Jews from the Arabs. Even after giving the power it is necessary to divide in order to make the two parts weak.” In the Indian Constitution the same policy of division is present in a different form.”


These seeds of Partition were present in the Government of India Act 1935. In order to implement their strategy the British wanted the shoulder of an Indian, and this requirement was fulfilled by Mohammed Ali Jinnah. All the efforts of Chakravorty Rajgopalachari for Hindu-Muslim unity during 1943-44 had failed. His proposals forwarded to Jinnah were somewhat similar to accepting the demands of Pakistan, which was indirectly approved by Mahatma Gandhi also. Their expectation from Jinnah was this much that this agreement should be implemented only when the Britain handed over the self-rule rights to India. They also wanted that both parties should struggle together for ensuring that these rights are transferred at the earliest. But Jinnah declined this proposal. Jinnah was also prepared that Pakistan should be formed while the British are in India and he should be made the Supreme Head of this new country. After that the British leave India or not is immaterial.

The British Government brought the Muslim League in forefront in order to execute their conspiracy. They did not even think it necessary to do it behind the curtain. The then Viceroy Lord Wavell accepted in front of Mahatma Gandhi on an occasion that their sympathy was with the Muslim League. On March 23, 1946, the Cabinet Mission reached India. Its members tried to understand the situation by talking to different organizations and individuals. The result was that there was no possibility of compromise between the Congress and Muslim League. Congress was of the opinion that British should leave India by transferring power to whosoever they want, and the Indians will take a decision for themselves. But this opinion was not acceptable to the Cabinet Mission.

On April 27, 1946 the Cabinet Mission suggested that in India there should be a Central Rule in order to control foreign affairs, defence and communication. Further, it said that two groups should be formed of the provinces – one of the Hindu-dominated provinces and other of the Muslim-dominated provinces. Even before this proposal could be discussed in Congress Working Committee, Maulana Azad sent a personal massage to Cabinet Mission, accepting the proposal and that he will convince the Congress working committee for it. However it was another matter that the Congress working committee, under pressure of the nationalist leaders, expressed disagreement with the proposal.

India's population was 39 crore as per the census of 1941, in which the population of Muslim-dominated provinces was even less than 10 crore. On the basis of available data, British and Jinnah both considered Bengal and Assam as Muslim-dominated, where the Muslim population was 51.69%. Similarly, the non-Muslim population in Punjab, frontier provinces, Sindh and Baluchistan was 37.93%. The British were eager for making separate nation for 23% Muslims, whose the only representative was Jinnah, and they did not care for the opinion of 76.19% Hindus. They had no policy for Hindus living in Muslim-dominated areas, even though the Hindu population there was only a little less than 50%. The Congress had reservations on this proposal but the Muslim League declared that they accepted the proposal. That is why the Congress had to decide in favour of joining the Interim Government.

For this, a meeting of the Presidents of both the organizations was organized with the Viceroy. Maulana Azad was then President of Congress. Jinnah refused to sit with Azad because according to his philosophy, the Hindus were only enemy, but the Muslims who oppose Muslim League is treacherous and therefore he cannot sit with such a person. Congress yielded and sent Nehru in place of Maulana Azad but even then Jinnah did not turn up. The elections for Constituent Assembly were held in 1946. Total 205 seats out of 292 were bagged by the Congress. Muslim League wan 73 seats out of 78 seats reserved for Muslims. Congress won 199 seats out of 210 seats which were unreserved. The elected representatives of Muslim League boycotted the Constituent Assembly.

According to Mountbatten plan, the provisions of Constituent Assembly were not to be implemented in the parts of the country, which were not ready to accept it. For knowing the opinion of these parts, it was proposed that the Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and Punjab should have their meetings in two parts. The first part should cover the Muslim-dominated districts and the second part should cover the other areas. Each Legislative Assembly member should decide about Partition through separate voting. If in a particular part, the members decide in favor of Partition with simple majority then the Partition will be accepted.

The Legislative Assembly of Sindh was also given the similar right of self-determination. Since there was a Muslim League government there, the decision was pre-determined. In the frontier province and Muslim-dominated district Silahat of Assam, it was announced that the decision will be taken through referendum. It may be mentioned here that since there was a Muslim League government in Sindh, therefore the Constituent Assembly of that province gave it the right of self-determination. In Frontier Province there was a Congress government, but it was announced for it that the decision will be taken through referendum. Similarly, the Muslim-dominated Silahat district also was given a chance to referendum. But the Hindu-dominated Tharparker district of Sindh was not given the same opportunity. The Congress Working Committee, which was eager for Independence, instead of opposing this injustice, preferred to get freedom from the obstinacy of Muslim League at any cost. In the Congress Working Committee only Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan opposed the Partition but he was not supported by any big leader including the President Maulana Azad.

In the Frontier Province even before referendum the Muslim League workers started attacking the Hindus. Not getting any protection from the administration, they had to flee from the Frontier Province. Even the Non-Muslim League Muslims were threatened of dire consequences, if they voted against Partition. It was said that this referendum was between the Kafirs and Islam.

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan demanded that if Muslim League wants a separate nation for itself then the Pathans should also get Pakhtunistan. It was neither acceptable to the British nor to the Muslim League. But here they committed a great political blunder. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, the unanimous leader of Pakhtuns, and his followers 'Khudai Khidmatgar' and Congress boycotted the referendum. As a result, Muslim League won by a slender majority and the Frontier Province was merged with Pakistan. Had the referendum not been boycotted, then certainly the Frontier Province would have been a part of India. In this situation the Geography and History would have been different. And this is also certain that the problem arising with Jammu & Kashmir would have not taken roots.

In this background when almost all the parties were mentally prepared for Partition, the Partition was inevitable. But all others, except Muslim League, were expecting that once the immediate frenzy gets over, the Partition and its demand will become irrelevant. The British also had this in mind and therefore they considered it necessary that some controversial issues must remain unsettled so that the hostility between both the countries may continue. This possibility existed in Jammu & Kashmir and therefore they not only made it controversial but also contributed to make this dispute more complex.

Jammu & Kashmir was the largest princely state of India. Both India and Pakistan wanted to annex it with them because this was on the borders of both the countries. But as per the provisions of the Independence India Act of India, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh was the only authority to take a decision on whether to accede Jammu & Kashmir with India or with Pakistan. It has already been said earlier that Jinnah was pressurizing the Maharaja to accede his state with Pakistan, while Mahatma Gandhi had advised him to act in accordance with the aspirations of the people. On the other hand, Governor General Mountbatten had assured the Maharaja that if he decided to merge with Pakistan, India would not object. Lord Mountbatten and Lord Isme urged the Maharaja to take an immediate decision in favour of Pakistan and told him that the Congress will not have any objection. Despite all this the Maharaja Hari Singh decided to merge Jammu & Kashmir with India, and not with Pakistan.


[This article is an extract from the book “Jammu Kashmir: An Analysis of Facts” authored by Sh. Ashutosh. Further chapters of this book will be covered later in a series.]



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