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Monday, October 24, 2011

Who is responsible for partition?

It is generally believed by the Hindus that India was partitioned in 1947 to meet the ever persisting demand of Pakistan by the Indian Muslims. The facts do not endorse the belief. It is true that the British, in pursuance of their policy of “divide and rule”, had successfully created a deep moat between the Hindus and the Muslims but it was not so deep a gulf that was impossible to bridge. I admit that Mohammed Ali Jinnah on the one hand and Jawaharlal Nehru-Ballabh Bhai Patel combine on the other committed unpardonable mistakes but the sole responsibility of the partition of India can neither be thrust on either of the two political rivals nor on both.

Again, the Muslim league’s Lucknow Conference of 1937, under the leadership of Jinnah is considered to be a politically path-drifting factor between the Hindus and Muslims. But let us see what role did Jinnah play in this conference. The fact is that Jinnah miserably failed in steering his own agenda in this conference. Sikandar Hyat Khan of Punjab, Fazlul Haq of Bengal and Sadulla of Assam met with unprecedented success and stole the show. Sikandar Hyat was not in favour of the partition. He made several efforts to resolve the Congress-League-divide. He met Nehru, went to Wrdha to meet Gandhi but to no avail. Gandhi, instead, came out with a statement, declaring that Jinnah had chosen the path of war.

Till 1936, Jinnah failed in mustering support from the Muslims of Punjab. He worked overtime to win over Sir Fazl-e-Husain but met with no success. Fazl-e-Husain told Jinnah in no uncertain terms that he was against the creation of Pakistan. He wrote to Viceroy Linlithgo that Jinnah was pursuing his own agenda of ego-massage and personal interest and was not worried about the nation and the country. Sikandar Hyat, too, had announced in the Punjab Assembly in 1940 that he had nothing to do with the resolution of Pakistan. Till then, he was working hard to ensure the continuance of the Hindu-Muslim combined government in Punjab.

Even in the Lahore conference of the League, held on March 23, 1940, Jinnah did not hold the position of an unchallenged leader of the Muslims. In the resolution, adopted at this Conference, which is generally called the ‘Pakistan Resolution’, the word ‘Pakistan’ is conspicuous by its absence. It is true that Jinnah, arriving at the venue of this conference at Minto Park, was accorded a warm reception by the Nawab of Mamdot but soon Jinnah was cut to his size by over one lac participants of the conference, when they enmasse showered a rousing welcome on Fazlul Haq by shouting “Sher-e-Bengal : Zindabad.”The resolution of a sovereign state for the Muslims, too, was not presented by Jinnah. It was presented by Fazlul Haq and was seconded by Khaliquzzaman of U.P., Zafar Ali Khan of Punjab, Aurangzeb of the Frontier and Abdullah Haroon of Sind. The framers of the resolution, too, had deliberately ushered in quite a few discrepancies with a view to keep their doors open for further negotiations with the Congress to avoid partition.

The Congress, at its part, in an effort to thwart the “Two nation theory”, proposed Lord Mountbatten to be the common Governor General for India and Pakistan. Prior to this, Gandhi had asked Nehru and Patel to hand over power to Jinnah. He also impressed upon Lord Mountbatten that the “Interim Government” of free India be constituted with Jinnah as its leader. But this never suited the British. They never wanted to pack off leaving behind a strong, united India. They were itching to ensure that India remained a communally divided, riot-strifen, instable economy after they had left.

The job of dividing India into two countries was assigned to Lord Bavell, who in turn, informed his masters in London that despite all the hue and cry neither the Hindus nor the Muslims were in favour of the partition. Irritated by the considered opinion of Lord Bavell, they called him back to London and sent Lord Mountbatten, the most shrewd English player of the political chess to see the game through latest by June 1948. Mountbatten accomplished the task much ahead of the schedule. He drafted a plan, which came to be known as “Demission Plan’. Under this plan the British proposed to hand over political power directly to Congress in 8 provinces including N.W.Frontier. Punjab, which was under Governor rule at that time, too, was to be handed over to Congress because it had the support of the Unionists as well as the Akalis. Only two provinces were to be handed over to the Muslim League and these were Sind and Bengal, where the League was already in power. The power at the centre was to be handed over to the “transit Government”, which comprised 6 representatives of the Congress, 5 of the Muslim League and again 3 Muslim sympathizers of the Congress.

Mountbatten in the first go threatened Gandhi by the show of his cards. He warned Gandhi that if the Congress did not agree to the partition, he would implement the Demission Plan, which was bound to generate civil war, the responsibility of which would be entirely that of the Congress in general and that of Gandhi in particular. In the second round, Mountbatten called Jinnah and made things clear to him. He advised Jinnah to chose either of the two--- Pakistan, as being given to him or a shameful political death at the hands of his followers. Through this Mountbatten successfully countered the threat posed by Jinnah through his pleadings of June 6, 1946 for a “United India” under the “Cabinet Mission Plan” and the Congress’s endorsement of Jinnah’s pleadings on June 25, 1946. Mountbatten accomplished his job to the entire satisfaction of his masters in London and threw hatred-ridden, blood-bathing, ever fighting, economically instable India and Pakistan in the lap of Congress and Muslim League as a reward to their century old crusade for freedom.