THE PARTITION OF INDIA AND RETRIBUTIVE GENOCIDE
culpability became universal. Most important, however, an attempt has beenmade to specify the characteristics of the political and politicized communalsituation in the Punjab before and during the massacres and to derive generaliza-tions from them that may apply elsewhere. Unfortunately, genocide is a processthat develops, that is not unique, that has not yet seen its end, and whose generalaspects, therefore, must be unveiled.
For India’s practising politicians, both Hindu and Muslim, the whole context of political choice kept changing during imperial rule as the British offeredparticipation and control of patronage in newly-created institutions at differentlevels of the Raj, from the municipalities and district boards up through theprovinces and ultimately to the central government itself. Each of the successivechanges required dramatic new decisions, compromises, and pacts concerningwhich categories of people should be “represented,” and in what proportions totheir actual percentage of the population. These British-induced changes werepreceded or disrupted by mass movements led by the Indian National Congress,and especially Gandhi, as well as demands made by Muslim League leaders,which also required decisions, compromises, and pacts between spokesmen fordifferent categories of the population.Historians of Muslim politics in north India have a list of signiﬁcant dates andevents that go back to 1857 or even earlier that represent steps on the road toPakistan, opportunities lost for a Hindu–Muslim settlement, and the decisivemoment or moments when Pakistan became inevitable. The further back the dateis placed, the more likely it is that the historian providing the date accepts theview that there was an underlying problem or fault line of Hindu–Muslimrelations running throughout the subcontinent that required a solution, failingwhich the creation of two separate nation-states, one predominantly Muslim, oneHindu, was inevitable. The later the date is placed, the more likely it is that thehistorian rejects the latter view and argues that the differences between Hindusand Muslims are modern political inventions—either of the British rulers or theIndian politicians—and that the creation of Pakistan was a consequence of political, not religious, struggles for power that could have been compromised.In this view, the fateful steps towards partition were all taken between 1937 and1946.
The last serious attempt in a long sequence of such attempts by Indian partiesand British rulers to preserve the unity of India came in 1946 with the CabinetMission Plan brought to India by three British cabinet ministers. The failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan was followed by the replacement of the GovernorGeneral of India, Lord Wavell, by Mountbatten as the last Viceroy andGovernor-General of India. Although Mountbatten was sent out with instructionsto seek to resolve the differences among the two main contending parties inIndian politics, Congress and the Muslim League, while maintaining the unity of India, he determined very quickly after his arrival that the latter goal was73