India got Independence in August 1947, after witnessing an age-long rule of the ‘British Crown’. Its own land had been governed by foreigners, with evil intentions of taking utmost advantage of its people and resources. During the struggle for Independence, Communalism was at its peak which became the main reason for the partition of the former imperial British ruled India to Independent India and Pakistan. The Partition of the mainland claimed several innocent lives, lives of those once addressed as brothers. As per reports, about 2 million people lost their lives in the forced migration which resulted from partition triggered riots.
We will explore in this article
- Political Scenario after Independence
- The Violence and Bloodshed that followed Partition
- The Reasons behind Bloodshed
- Wrapping Up with the Present Scenario
The seeds of the ‘Divided India’ were sown by the British Crown long before the Partition actually took place. The British Government used communalism to inhibit mutual cooperation between the two major communities of India- Hindus and Muslims. Using the Divide and Rule Policy it countered and weakened the growing national movement and the welding of the Indian People into a Nation.
- The idea of a separate Muslim state for the Indian Muslims was given by poet and political thinker Mohammad Iqbal, who was inspired by the spirit of Pan-Islamism, at the Allahabad session of the Muslim League(1930).
- The idea of a separate homeland for Indian Muslims to being called Pakistan took a definite shape in the mind of a Cambridge student Rahmat Ali in 1933.
- The most unequivocal declaration of the UNIT-IX v 363 Hindus and Muslims as separate nationalities was made by M.A. Jinnah at the Lahore session of the League in March 1940. The Muslim League passed the resolution demanding the partition of India.
- The Pakistan Resolution was drafted by Sikandar Hayat Khan and moved by Fazlul Haq.
- The Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British Parliament on July 4, 1947, and the Indian Independence Act was enacted on July 18, 1947.
- This Act merely formalised and gave legal effect to the 3rd June Plan of Lord Mountbatten. As per the Act, Pakistan became independent on 14th August 1947, while India got her freedom on 15th August 1947.
- MA Jinnah became the Governor-General of free Pakistan. India, however, decided to continue Lord Mountbatten as the Governor-General of India.
Political Scenario After Independence
At the time of independence, two types of political units existed in India—the British provinces and princely states. Under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the states were given the freedom to join either Pakistan or India or to remain independent. While most of the 562 states that existed in India at that time joined either India or Pakistan, some, such as Hyderabad and Junagadh refused to accede to India despite the strong historical, cultural and economic links.
On the whole, the problem of the integration of princely states was ably handled by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with the help of V.P. Menon, secretary, states ministry. They prepared elaborate plans to make the integration or merger of princely states as smooth as possible.
The Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and Punjab decided in favour of the partition of those provinces. East Bengal and West Punjab joined Pakistan; West Bengal and East Punjab remained with the Indian Union. The referendum in Sylhet resulted in the incorporation of that district in East Bengal. Two Boundary Commissions, one in respect of each province were constituted to demarcate the boundaries of the new provinces. The referendum in the N.W.F.P. decided in favour of Pakistan, the provincial Congress refraining from the referendum. Balochistan and Sindh joined Pakistan.
The Violence and Bloodshed that followed Partition
The happiness of Independence was like a dream come true for Indians.
“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will wake up to life and freedom”
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s First Prime Minister
Sadly the celebrations of long-awaited freedom was haunted by the violence and bloodshed when the agitated communal groups turned against each other killing and raping demonstrating anger and hatred towards each other without a clear intention. The partition which accounted millions of lives was the largest mass migration of its kind. The people who moved with their families leaving their valuables behind witnessed trains laden with dead bodies and blood all over the landscape. Most of them couldn’t even make it to their destination.
Reasons behind the Bloodshed
The merciless killings and violence that the migrating population witnessed were a result of communalism and some inappropriate measures taken by the British Government.
- Freedom was granted ten months earlier than the anticipated time by the British government. The hasty decision caused confusion and chaos in an already disturbed society.
- The British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe who demarcated borders was drawn hastily in just five weeks of time.
- The biggest reason being the Divide and Rule Policy of the British Government to outroot the rising feeling of nationalism among the Hindus and Muslims. The Crown directly attacked the unity between the two major communities to weaken the national movements.
Wrapping Up with the Present Scenario
The after-effects of the Partition which affected the emotional ties between Hindus and Muslims who were once addressed as brothers exist till date. The tensions in the Kashmir Valley still remain unsorted. It is important to remind ourselves that the differences were brought about by a third party with selfish motives and they need to be bridged on an urgent basis.