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PAKISTAN MOVEMENT: THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS PERSPECTIVE
INTRODUCTION The 1947 partition of the subcontinent of India into two sovereign states, India and Pakistan is a landmark event in the history of nationhood. Not only was the partition the culmination of a series of anti-British struggles at different levels, the phenomenon itself also demonstrates the extent to which the well-publicized concept of national unity in the British India was fragile in view of the well- entrenched Hindu-Muslim schism. This term paper focuses on the Congress perspective on Pakistan Movement or partition of India. Indian National Congress (INC) considered Pakistan Movement as a consequence of communalism and British policy of divide and rule. Some of the Congress leaders admits the mistakes during Congress rule in provinces in handling the constitutional., political and communal problems. Yet it insists the problems could be solved once the freedom was achieved from the British Raj. Although the 1940 Lahore Resolution provided the basis for the Great Divide by articulating the two nation theory, India's partition is the outcome of a complex process involving the alien state, the nationalist political initiative and the fast changing socio-economic fabric. Moreover, the partition, attributed to the articulation of the Muslim League's Pakistan demand had probably its firm root in the age-old communal disharmony, artificially created in the view of Congress, which flared-up in riots and similar types of skirmishes in the pre-1947 India. An explanation taking into account the probable factors influencing the process of partition requires a thorough study of both the imperial design of divide and rule and its application to a reality, ridden with various kinds of contradictions which allowed, inter alia the fissiparous tendencies to grow and proliferate over time. As in the case of Pakistan Movement, Muslim separatism was not therefore always a cohesive ideology, it, instead, paves the ground, on occasions, for the consolidation of political forces championing the clamour for division of India. INC traces the roots of partition to various imperial devices.
TWO- NATION THEORY: COMMUNALISM OR MUSLIM NATIONALISM Nehru defines communalism in the Indian political context thus: “ In political matters, religion has been displaces by what is called communalism, a narrow groups mentality basing itself on a religious community but in reality concerned with political power and patronage for the interested group.”1 The cultural differences between Hindus and Muslims appear to political leaders of the two communities in contrasting ways. Mr. Jinnah, president of the Muslim League, said that the differences were not merely those of the theology. “Hinduism and Islam, he affirmed, are more than two different religions ; rather, they are two different civilizations so numerous and so profound as amounted to they are two separate nations.
therefore, the two communities are more than a majority and a minority within a united India; But Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, chief spokesman for the Indian National Congress, himself a Hindu, in viewing the communal problem, said that the native Hinduism of India and the intrusive Islam have become so well assimilated to each other that today they were only modifications of a common civilization.
And Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, a
distinguished elder statesman of India, and a Non-Party Conference committee , called the Conciliation Committee, in its report on Constitutional Proposals (published in December, 1945) took the same position. Mr. Jinnah emphasized the contradictions between the two communities; The latter stages of the Indian struggle for freedom from the British had been characterized by the intransigence of the Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in its insistence on the Partition of the former British India into two nations. Their theory was that the country had in fact always been "two nations" and that Independence would have to recognize this in the drawing of the new political boundaries. ABUL KALAM AZAD’ VIEW Among Indian Muslims prior to 1947, of this Pakistan movement, and the enthusiasm within the new Pakistan with which the "Islamic state" was greeted, tend to conceal the fact that a minority
of Indian Muslims had been opposed to Partition from the beginning. The most notable of these was Abul Kalam Azad. Azad had issued a statement claiming that history proved the failure of Islam, on its own, to unite all Muslims in one state. "It is one of the greatest frauds on the people to suggest that religious affinity can unite areas which are geographically, economically, linguistically, and culturally different. It is true that Islam sought to establish a society which transcends racial, linguistic, economic and political frontiers. History has, however, proved that after the first few decades, or at most after the first century, Islam was not able to unite all Muslim countries into one State on the basis of Islam alone.4 The movement for Pakistan had not been, in historical fact, primarily theologically motivated. The westernized leadership of the Indian Muslims simply saw no hope for themselves in subservience to the Hindu majority. They wanted a new nation in which they would be assured of position. "It was the following, more than the leadership, that emphasized the Islamic aspects of the program."5 Ultimately it was the passions of communalism, rather than concern for religious theory, which carried the day. The "father of the nation," Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself, was a notoriously secularized Muslim, even though he and other Muslim League leaders were able to quote the Quran, and appeal to Islamic arguments, in whipping up the enthusiasms of their audiences. On the other side, the Muslim case against Partition was also primarily non-theological. Azad shared with the leading Ulema their three general reasons for opposition to the Muslim League and the Pakistan movement. (1) It was they, the Ulema, who represented the longest tradition of Muslim opposition to the British in India. The Muslim League were later in their agitation for Independence. (2) They distrusted the western-educated League leadership, as unqualified to give Islamic direction. (3) They were realistic about the position of the Muslims whom they could see would be left in predominantly Hindu India, if a separate Pakistan were to be formed?6 When Azad issued his own public statements justifying the Congress policy, and his rejection of the Pakistan idea, his primary argument was pragmatic, a concern for what he foresaw as in the best interests of
Muslims. He wrote of "safeguarding their future" and said of other prescriptions that they "would not remedy the ills of Musalrnans. In December 1913 he made the Congress meetings in Karachi the occasion of criticizing the Muslims for their previous aloofness from Congress and praising the progressive policy of that organization. "If there has ever been an accepted Muslim policy it is now seen to have been useless. The time has passed when 'Congressi' was an abusive term among Muslims. Whether Muslims join it or not, the Congress is the one true party which, by its persistence and rightness, has triumphed over their obstinacy. If Muslims have any conscience they will recognize that the past forty years have been darkness, and that they have suffered." Azad never wavered in his conviction that Muslims in India must work with Hindus and other fellow citizens. Azad's own later claim, that from the very beginning of Al-Hilal he had urged Muslims to cooperate with Hindus, was not false.7
ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF INDIAN NATIONAL RESISTANCE
IN ex-colonial countries the formation of a nation and the growth of national consciousness takes place in the course of struggle against foreign rule. There was a history of common culture, outlook, ideological traditions and the firm idea that India extended from one end of the country to another. The common culture reinforced by modern convictions of economic unity helped the people to unite against the British. It was natural and inevitable that in the early years of Indain national struggle, the Congress leaders emphasised that India was always one nation. It took nearly a century after the introduction of British rule to organise a national resistance to the enslaver. Indian National Congress was founded in Bombay in 1885. An English civil servant Hume played a major role in its formation. The National Congress was born in this background. Its origin was conceived by Hume, an official of the Raj with a specific aim in view mediation between the Government and the "ignorant masses" to check the unlawful proclivity of the latter. The assumption was that the ideas of constitutionalism and order, progressively instilled into the minds of the educated intelligentsia by western education, would enable them to hold the masses from disloyal action. The British rulers and Hume were trying to use and organise the very forces which were destined to lead the struggle for the country's freedom. The second Congress held in Calcutta in 1886 explained the secular and political basis of the Congress and the notion of Indian unity as conceived by it. Its report says : It is a community to temporal interests and not of spiritual connections that qualify men to represent each other in the vast majority of political questions. We hold that their general interests in this country being identical, Hindus, Christians, Mohammedans and Parsis may be as fitly as members of their respective communities, represent each other in the discussion of public secular affairs. This reflected the outlook of national unity which despite its inherent limitation was represented by the Congress and which it was to maintain and strengthen over the years. This consciousness of national unity and opposition to British rule was to demarcate it from all other organizations based on caste or religion like the Muslim League, which were pitched against it by the British. The foundation of the National Congress was no doubt an outstanding event of the period. It was inevitable that the British rulers, disappointed that the organization was not playing the game they intended it to play, chose to belittle it. hey soon criticized it as an organization of a tiny minority of educated people, having connection with the millions. Radical Congress leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhara Tilak and others expressed this
discontent inside and outside the Congress. Bipin Pal was perhaps the first leader to advocate passive resistance against British rule. He called for Swadeshi to encourage Indian industries and boycott of British goods to kill British commerce. These were to be the economic weapons to fight British econornic domination. To attain Swaraj, they were to be accompanied by the political weapon of passive resistance, "We can make the Government impossible by making it impossible for them to find people to serve them. The Muslim mass was now taught to disassociate itself from this 'Hindu' movement. The leaders were panicky for two reasons-the awakening among the peasants and the fear of rising bourgeois influence which they identified as Hindu influence. Henceforth the dominant role of the Muslim League leadership and other communal organizations was to keep the militant Muslim mass away from the common anti-imperialist struggle. The appeal to Islam, which at one time had been a rallying point to fight the British, now became an appeal to fight the INC National movement and collaborate with the British.8 Behind this were the vested interests of the landlords of a religious community which had failed to develop a sizeable bourgeoisie representing the modern interests of the community. The complete isolation of the Congress from the Muslim mass was seen in the 1937 elections. The Congress won an overwhelming majority of the general seats, but contested only 58 of the 482 Muslim seats, winning only 26 (15 in the North-West Frontier Province and only 11 in the rest of India). The Congress was routed though the Muslim League got only 4.6 per cent of the vote. This finally led to the demand for separate nationhood for Muslims and dismemberment of the country, at the cost of thousands of innocent Hindu and Muslim lives.9 COMPOSITION OF THE CONGRESS What distinguished the Indian National Congress from any rival All India Muslim League organization was not merely its far greater following but its different basis. Congress included in its membership and following Hindus and Muslems and Sikhs, Brahmins and Un-touchables, landlords and peasants, businessmen and workers, intellectuals and illiterates, subjects of "British India" and of the "Native States." Its heterogeneous composition produced frequent internal disagreement and contradiction especially on social policy, but its platform of national independence and democratic self-government in a unified India bound it together.
Thus at the opening of World War 11, the All-India National Congress stood as easily the most powerful organization in the country, with a clearcut program of complete national independence and a strategy of "non-violent non-cooperation" with the Government. It had also developed certain political principles opposing sectionalism, communal representation and all forms of particular- ism which promoted division among Indians and were therefore anti-nationalist. But from the point of view of nationalist aspirations, the crux of the Constitution was the Federation not the Provinces. The Provincial Cabinets could handle only local issues, and Congress regarded the formation of its ministries in the eight Provinces only as means of improving the strategic position of the national move- ment in the real battle for its declared aim of Independence. While political unification of India was held indispensable to Indian political, social and economic advance as a modern nation, the conception of Federation in the Act was regarded as a scheme for perpetuating division since the Federal Law did not apply to the eighty million subjects of the Princes. The weight of representation allotted to the Princes was out of proportion to the size of their states, or the ratio of their populations, which total less than a quarter of that of All-India. The Princes' nominees were not elected and were responsible only to the autocratic Prince. Lastly, sovereignty did not lie with the Federation but outside it, with the British Crown-in-Parliament at London, to which the British Government was responsible; the Viceroy and Secretary of State for India being in turn appointees responsible only to the British Government in London. The development in recent years of separatist communal organizations, in particular the Hindu Mahasabha and the Moslem League: strengthened Congress suspicions of the direction of Brit'In a book published in London in 1939 under the title The Problem of Minorities or Communal Repcesentation in India, a young Indian nationalist Mr. K. B. Krishna charged the British Government with introducing communal representation in Indian politics as part of a deliberate "policy of counterpoise." Citing historical evidence to disprove "the alleged age-long feud between Hindus and Moslems," he argued that the causes of the riots today were primarily economic in character, that the British administration so far from keeping the peace created the very conditions which made for strife between Moslem and Hindu, that parallels for the policy of "divide and rule" were to be found in other parts of the British Empire-Ceylon, Ireland, Palestine,
Kenya. Quoting Lord Morley's view that Lord Minto "had started the Moslem hare" in 1906, exactly at the time of the first wave of nationalism, he traced the elaboration of communalism into a cardinal point of British administrative and electoral policy toward India, and maintained that the struggle for national independence demanded complete opposition to communalism. Krishna's treatise was but a historical documentation of the general position of the Indian National Congress on the communal question. "such confusion on the Indian Question has been caused by the erroneous belief that the Moslem League or Mr. Jinnah actually represent all or most Moslems in India and that Congress is a Hindu organization.”10
THE NATURE OF PAKISTAN DEMAND 1940 The League formally adopted Pakistan as its goal in a resolution of March, 1940. The provinces of British India in which the majority of the people was Muslim would constitute a nation to be called Pakistan. The name Pakistan way originally not a political term. but a
religious; it was first urged as a political ideal by a Mr. C. Rahmat Ali in 1933. The term was not used in the League's 1940 resolution, but it already had wide popular currency. That is why Hindu press called Lahore Resolution as Pakistan Demand which later Muhammad Ali Jinnah owned. The Congress faced two most important issues in 1940s. Pakistan was only its second most critical issue ;first place belonged to the issue of full self-government, whether as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or as an independent sovereign state. What part of India is claimed for Pakistan? For a long time the League did not define it. In its 1940 resolution adopting Pakistan the League merely stated that "the North Western and Eastern Zones of India" should constitute "independent states in which the constituent elements shall be autonomous and sovereign." Various specific delimitations were offered unofficially by supporters of Pakistan. Many went outside the boundaries of India to include Afghanistan. Hindus suspected that the real motive behind Pakistan was to establish Muslim rule over all India by force, and Muslims often mde statements which gave some basis for that fear. For example, in April of this year Mr. Suhrawardy, of the Muslim League, then premier designate of the Bengal province, was reported in The New York Times to have said to the convention of Muslim legislators of Bengal, "The Muslims wanted to be the ruling race in this subcontinent.”11 Political and constitutional claims were made officially by the League and its president, Mr. Jinnah. They demanded six provinces of British India. Four of these were in northwest India, the three "governor's provinces" of the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, and Sind, and the "commissioner's province" of Baluchistan, all of which were predominantly Muslim in population. The other two are governor's provinces in eastern India : Bengal, which was about 54 per cent Muslim, and Assam, which was only about one-third Muslim. The inclusion of Assam was defended on the ground of its weakness and isolation from the rest of India. These six provinces contained about 62 or 63 per cent of India's Muslims and about 16 per cent of the nonMuslims. Indian States, such as Kashmir, which were predominantly Muslim and by reason of geographical position seemed eligible for Pakistan were not officially claimed since constitutionally the States had the right to dispose of their own future. Hindustan would be much larger than Pakistan, richer in resources, and contain almost twice the population
March 23 1940, marked beginning of the end solution of India's constitutional problem if the problem is seen as merely one of investing the accredited leadership of the nation with the governance of the country. Pakistan Movement (1940-1947) had been viewed by the Indian National Congress (INC) as the culmination of communalism which was orchestrated by the British policy of ‘divide and rule’. All India Muslim League (AIML) allegedly played into the hands of the British rulers as an instrument of division. Ayesha Jalal and Anil Seal, who endorse the Congress point of view on the partition of India, think ‘Muslim separatism’ which later had emerged upon the all-India stage as Pakistan Movement was first ‘orchestrated by the United Provinces.12 While supporting ‘divide and rule policy thesis in Pakistan Movement’, they further argue: “By coming to recognize community as the organizing principle of the greatest importance, the British themselves contributed to the distortion of social fact.”13 The engagement of several writers in India, though sometimes marred by a majoritarian perspective, centres around ‘secular nationalism’, the main inspiration behind much of liberal left activism from the 1920s onwards.14 Quaid-i -Azam had indeed forged the 'League into a political weapon powerful enough to tear the subcontinent apart.15 In his Presidential speech at the thirteenth Delhi session of the League in April 1943 Jinnah spoke his mind quite strongly: “I think you will hear me out that when we passed the Lahore Resolution, we had not used the word 'Pakistan'. Who gave us this word? (Cries of 'Hindus') Let me tell you it is their fault. They started damning the resolution on the ground that it was . . .'They fathered this word upon us. Give the dog a had name and then hang Pakistan. . . . You know perfectly well that Pakistan is a word which is really foisted upon us him. and fathered on us by some section of the Hindu press and also by the British press.”16
INC OBJECTIONS TO RESOLUTION The Lahore Resolution based on the principle of a separate Muslim nationhood communalized politics and destroyed the rationale and basis of intercommunal politics. Logically and surely, the two largest Muslim provinces-Bengal and the Punjab-were later partitioned with all its
economic, political and psychological consequences.The 'ambiguity' of the resolution drew contemporary attcntion. Dr B. R. Ambedkar, whose thoughts on the idea of Pakistan or partition met with Jinnah's approval, noted in 1940: “…the Resolution is rather ambiguous, if not self-contradictory. It speaks of grouping the zones into 'independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.' The use of the terms 'constituent units' indicates that what is contemplated is a Federation. If that is so, then, the use of the word 'Sovereign' as an attribute of the units is out of place. Federation of units and sovereignty of units are contradictions. It may be that what is contemplated is a confederation. It is, however, not very material for the moment whether these independent states are to form into a federation or confederation. What is important is the basic demand, namely, that these areas are to be separated from India and formed into independent states."17 Hugh Tinker wrote, in 1967, that many British politicians and administrators considered the resolution as a 'deliberate overbid.’ Or counter for bargain.18 H. V. Hodson, as the Reform Commissioner, in 1941, reported that the Muslim Leaguers 'interpreted Pakistan as consistent with a confederation.' Hodson found it the least surprising, as 'Pakistan' offered nothing to Muslims in the minority areas.19 There were certain other obvious and weighty objections to dividing India into two nations. First, the minority problem, which Pakistan was alleged to solve, would still exist. In Hindustan there would still be Muslim minorities and in Pakistan there would be non-Muslim minorities, which were already protesting. The Sikhs, for example, who lived chiefly in the eastern Punjab, are bitterly opposed to Pakistan or any system of grouping that looks like it. Again, western Bengal, containing India's premier city Calcutta, is predominantly Hindu. Mr. Jinnah had indicated at various times that provincial boundary lines might be redrawn, but it was doubtful that he would consent to the loss of Calcutta. Still again, the recently elected legislatures of Assatn and the North-West Frontier Province, the latter being the most solidly Muslim province of all India, were Congress controlled and as such are opposed to the inclusion of those provinces in Pakistan.
Second, there were certain administrative and economic objections to Pakistan. India was marked off from the rest of Asia as a geographical unit, and her internal political and economic structure was so interdependent in its geographical parts that it could not be divided without serious detriment to the parts as well as the whole. Administration of the railroads, postal and telegraph services, and probably some other departments of national life, which were organized on an all-India basis, would be inefficient in a divided country. Economically, the proposed Pakistan would contain some weak members : Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier regularly required financial assistance from the rest of India. Division would also seriously impair India's industrial development. Third, the defense of India would be severely imperiled. The two parts of Pakistan would contain India's two weak frontiers, and defense in depth would be difficult if not impossible. Fourth, the two parts of Pakistan were separated from each other by a gap of 700 miles, across which they could communicate only by the courtesy of Hindustan. Finally, the Indian States would have to adjust themselves to two independent states, instead of one, and even in the latter case the problem was bound to be very delicate.20 In view, therefore, of the serious disadvantages inhering in the proposed division, which would fall upon Muslims as well as Hindus, it may well be asked why the Muslim community wished it. The British used its so called policy of protection of rights of Muslim minority in India as an excuse to delay unduly the grant of full self-government. In India political consciousness is still largely confined to the bourgeoisie; the right of franchise was limited and qualified voters in British India were about 13 per cent of the population. The membership of the League is drawn from middle and upper class Muslims of British India, especially including wealthy Muslim landholders, feudal in their agrarian outlook, who are thought to provide the greater part of the League's financial support. The country's leading industrialists and big business men, who are mostly non-Muslims, provide the bulk of the Congress's financial support. The strength of the Indian National Congress was declining under the attack of Mr. Churchill's government, which
outIawed both the All-India and provincial Congress organizations, confined the leaders to tlie number of more than 60,000, and seemed bent on destroying the Congress as a political force.21
INC ATTITUDE TO POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN 1940s
CRIPPS OFFER AND CONGRESS
From October 1940 onwards the political deadlock in India was complete. The spread of war to the U.S.S.R. and Southeast Asia produced a new situation and compelled a new approach. It was in this context that the British Government decided to open negotiations with Indian political leaders through the agency of Sir Stafford Cripps. British constitutional policy as determined to utilize the two counterweights of communalism and the Princes to frustrate nationalist aims. On the other hand, the pattern of British policy had been modified to embrace the principle of Dominion status but still maintained the thesis that it could not hand over the Government of India to Indians unless the latter first solved their communal differences, that Britain was bound by its treaties with the Princes to safeguard their position as well as by its pledges to protect minority groups against majority rule. The political crisis in India which flared up in March 1942 was merely precipitated by the Japanese advance. It had long been gathering. Open deadlock between the Government and its subThe question was whether the pressure of war would produce a plan which would resolve the divergence or exacerbate it. What did the Cripps plan offer? Its provisions, as set forth in the draft of March 29 and elaborated by Sir Stafford in press and radio statements, fell into two separate parts. The first group dealt with the future. It was proposed that an "Indian Union" with dominion status be established after the war and that immediately upon the cessation of hostilities an elected body be set up to frame a constitution for India; that this constitution would be acceptable to His Majesty's Government under certain conditions: (I) the Princes were to participate in the constitution-making body, (2) any Province of British India could refuse to accede to the proposed Indian Union and become a dominion on its own with "the same full status" as the Indian Union; the Princely States also need not adhere to the Indian Union, (3) "Unless the leaders of opinion in the principal communities agree upon some other form before the end of hostilities," the constitution- making body was to be elected on the basis of the Lower Houses of the Provincial Assemblies (organized under the 1935 Act) with the addition of appointees made by the Princes in proportion to the population of their States, (4) a treaty was to be made between this constitution-making body and His Majesty's
Government to make provisions for the latter's pledges to protect minorities and other matters arising out of the transfer of responsibility to Indian hands. The role of the Princes and the minorities was made even more decisive than in the 1935 Act. Not only were they the basis upon which the constitution-making body was to be elected; but they were empowered to become the bases of separate Dominions, rivaling the "Indian Union." The new British plan for the future of India was rejected by the Indian National Congress unless the latter were prepared to abandon the principles which had led to its foundation and inspired its entire history. Congress rejection of the Cripps plan contemplated no change at all in the existing structure of executive power, that moreover in wartime the all-important subject was defense which "covers almost every sphere of life and administration. To take away defense from the sphere of responsibility at this stage is to reduce that responsibility to a farce and a nullity." Since Cripps, INC concluded, had offered no executive power to the Indian leaders, the practical means for galvanizing popular support for the war effort had not been provided. Nehru's word was very blunt. "Congress expects every Indian, man or woman, to fight for our beloved Motherland . . . India is our country. Others can retire to other positions, but where can Indians go? We have to fight and win, and if necessary die, but we cannot retreat or retire"22 On April 2, 1942, the Working Committee adopted a resolution explaining the causes of its rejection of the Cripps Scheme. It was observed: “To take away defence from the sphere of responsibility at this stage is to reduce that responsibility to a farce and a nullity, and to make it perfectly clear that India is not going to be free in any way and her Government is not going to function as a free and independent Government during the pendency of the war.” In his ‘Discovery of India’ Pandit Nehru made it clear that Lord Linlithgow and the Civil Services sabotaged the Cripps Plan. The rejection of the plan by the Congress was followed by its rejection by the League, of course, for other reasons. Mahatma Gandhi remarked that the Cripps, “offer was a post-dated cheque on a crashing bank.” He is stated to have told him thus: “Why did you come if this is what you have to offer? If this is your entire proposal to India, I would advise you to take the next plane home.” Sir, Stafford’s reply was “I will consider that.” QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT 1942
The failure of the Cripps-Congress talks which had initially raised public expectations and excitement to a high pitch, caused a lot of disappointment. Soon after the departure of Cripps, Gandhi decided that the time for sterner policy and programme had come. The Japanese were knocking at India’s gates. The suffering of the people as a result of prolonged war and a prevailing misgovernment was becoming unbearable. The attitude of the British Government did not show any change of heart. Gandhi once again took up a revolutionary stand and started a campaign in his weekly paper, Harijans, holding forth Quit India idea. Gandhi felt convinced that the British presence was the incentive for the Japanese attack. He said: “I am convinced that the time has come for the British and the Indians to be reconciled to complete separation from each other. Complete and immediate orderly withdrawal of the British from India at least in reality will at once put the Allied cause on a completely moral basis. The first condition of British success is the undoing of the wrong. I ask every Briton to support me in my appeal to the British at this hour to retire from every Asiatic and African possession. And when one puts morals, in the scales, there is nothing but gain to Britain, India and the world. I ask for a bloodless end of an unnatural domination and for a new era. Leave India to God and if that be too much, leave her to anarchy, necessity for withdrawal lies in its being immediate.” GENESIS The Working Committee, however, passed a resolution on July the 14th at Wardha, based on “Quit India” demand. The Congress gave 24 days to the Government to make a favourable response. On 15 July, 1942 Mahatma Gandhi told the foreign press that if the movement had to be launched it would be a non-violent one. On 25 July, 1942, President Chiang Kai-shek wrote to President Roosevelt to intervene so that the Congress was not forced to launch the movement. The letter was forwarded to Churchill but nothing came out of it. A meeting of the All India Congress Committee was held in Bombay on 7 August, 1942 as scheduled, and on August 8, the now famous “Quit India” resolution was passed. The A.I.C.C. meeting at Bombay was one of the most remarkable gatherings and was more like a Congress session judged by the number of people that it attracted. The atmosphere was most tense and the
speeches that were delivered on the resolution showed the intensity .of feeling that had been raised. Pandit Jawharlai Nehru moved this resolution, and Sardar Patel seconded it. The text of this fateful resolution that w destined to let loose a cataclysm of mass uprising beyond precedent and expectation in the following months, throughout the country; is given below.
QUIT INDIA RESOLUTION (August 7-8,1942, Bombay, A.I.C.C.)
“The All India Congress Committee has given the most careful consideration to the reference made to it by the Working Committee iii their resolution dated July 14, 1942, and to subsequent events, inducing the development of the war situation, the utterances of responsible spokesman of the British government, and the comments and criticisms made in India and abroad. The Committee approves of and endorses that resolution and is of the opinion that events subsequent to it have given it further justification, and have made it clear that the immediate ending of British rule in India is an urgent necessity, both for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of the United Nations. The continuation of that rule is degrading and enfeebling India and making her progressively less capable of defending herself and of contributing to the cause of world freedom. The committee has viewed with dismay the deterioration of the situation on the Russian and Chinese hunts and conveys to the Russian and Chinese people its high appreciation oh their heroism in defence of their freedom. This increasing peril makes it incumbent on all those who strive for freedom and who sympathise with the victims of aggression, to examine the foundations of the policy so fair pursued by the Allied Nations, which have led to repeated and disastrous failure, It is not by adhering to such aims and policies and methods that failure can be converted into success, for past experience has shown that failure is inherent in them. These policies have been based not on freedom so much as on the domination of should and colonial countries, and the continuation of the imperialist tradition and method. The possession of empire, instead of adding to the strength of the ruling Power, has become a burden and a curse. India, the classic land of modern imperialism has become the crux of the question, for by the freedom of India will Britain and the United Nations be judged, and the people of Asia Africa be filed with hope and enthusiasm. The ending of British rule in this country is thus a vital and immediate issue on which depend the future of the war and the success of freedom and democracy. A free
India will assure this success by throwing all her great resources in the struggle for freedom and against the aggression of Nazism, Fascism and imperialism. This will not only affect materially the fortune of the war, but will bring all subject and oppressed humanity on the side of the United Nations, and give these Nations, whose ally Indians would be, the moral and spiritual leadership and the tent of that imperialism will affect the fortune of all the United Nations. “The peril of today, therefore, necessitates the independence of India and the ending of British domination. No future promises or guarantees can affect the present situation or meet that peril. They cannot produce tile needed psychological effect on the mind of the masses. Only the glow of freedom now can release that energy and enthusiasm of millions of people which immediately transform the nature of the war.” ‘‘The A.I.C.C. therefore repeats s all emphasis the demand for the withdrawal of the British Power from India. On the declaration of India’s Independence, a Provisional Government will he formed and Free India will become an ally of the United Nations, sharing with them in the trials and tribulations of the joint enterprise of the struggle for freedom. The Provisional Government can only be formed by the co-operation of the principal parties and groups in the country. It will thus be a composite government, representative of all important sections of the people of India. Its primary functions must be to defend India and resist aggression with all the armed as well as the non-violent forces at its command, together with its Allied powers, to promote the well-being and progress of the workers in the fields and factories and elsewhere, to whom essentially all power and authority must belong. The Provisional Government will evolve a scheme for a Constituent Assembly which will prepare a constitution for the Government of India acceptable to all sections of the people. This constitution according to the Congress view, should be a federal one, with the largest measure of autonomy for the federating units, and with the residuary powers vesting in these units. The future relations between India and the Allied Nations will be adjusted by representatives of all these free countries conferring together for their mutual advantage and for their co-operation in the common task of resisting aggression. Freedom will enable India to resist aggression effectively with the people’s united will and strength behind it. “The freedom of India must be the symbol of and prelude to the freedom of all other Asiatic nations under foreign dominations. Burma, Malaya, Indo-China, the Dutch Indies, Iran and Iraq
must also attain theircompletefreedom. It must be clearly understood that such of these countries as are under Japanese control now must not subsequently be placed under the rule or control of any other Colonial Power. “While the A.I. C.C. must primarily be concerned with the independence and defence of India in this hour of danger, the Committee is of opinion that the future peace, security and ordered progress of the world demand a World Federation of free nations, and on no other basis can the problems of the modern world be solved, Such a World Federation would ensure the freedom of its constituent nations, the prevention of aggression and exploitation by one nation over another, the protection of national minorities, the advancement of all backward areas and peoples, and the pooling of the world’s resources from the comman good of all. On the establishment of such a World Federation, disarmament would be practicable in all countries, national armies, navis and air forces would no longer been necessary, and a World Federation Defence Force would keep the world peach and prevent aggression. “An independent India would gladly join such a World Federation and co-operate on an equal basis with other nations in the solution of international problems. “Such a Federation should be open to all nations who agree with its fundamental principles. In view of the war, however, the Federation must inevitably, to begin with, be confined to the United Nations. Such a step taken now will have a most powerful effect on the war, on the peoples of the Axis countries, and on the peace to come. “The Committee regretfully realises, however, that despite the tragic and overwhelming lessons of war and the perils that overhang the world, the governments of few countries are yet prepared to take this inevitable step towards World Federation. The reactions of the British Government and the misguided criticism of the foreign press also make it clear that even the obvious demand for India’s independence is resisted, though this has been made essentially to meet the present peril and to enable India to defend herself and help China and Russia in their hour of need. The Committee is anxious not o embarrass in any way the defence of China or Russia, whose freedom is precious and must be preserved, or to jeopardise the defensive capacity of the United Nations But the peril grows both to India and these nations, and in action and submission to a
foreign administration at this stage is not only degrading India and reducing her capacity to defend herself and resist aggression, but is no answer to that growing peril and is no service to the peoples of the United Nations The earnest appeal of the Working Committee to Great Britain and the United Nations has so far met with ho response, and the criticisms made in many foreign quarters have shown an ignorance of India’s and the world’s need, and sometimes even hostility to India’s freedom, which is significant of a mentality of domination and racial superiority which cannot be tolerated by a proud people conscious of their strength and of the justice of their cause. “The A. I. C. C. would yet again, at this last moment, in the interest of world freedom, renew this appeal to Britain and the United Nations But the Committee feels that it is no longer justified in holding the nation back from endeavouring to assert its will against and imperialist and authoritarian government which dominates over it and prevents it from functioning in its own interest and in the interest of humanity. The Committee resolves, therefore, to sanction for the vindication of India’s inalienable right to freedom and independence, the starting of a mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale. so that the country might utilise all the non-violent strength it has gathered during the last twenty two years of peaceful struggle Such a struggle must inevitably be under the leadership of Gandhiji and the Committee requests him to take the lead and guide the nation in the steps to be taken. “The Committee appeals to the people of India to face the dangers and hardships that will fall to their lot with courage arid endurance, and to hold together under the leadership of Gandhiji, and carry out his instructions as disciplined soldiers of Indian freedom, whey must remember that non-violence is the basis of this movement, A time may come when it may riot be possible to issue instructions or for instructions to reach our people, and when no Congress Committees can function. When this happens, every man and woman, who is participating in this movement must function for him self or her self within the four corners of the general instructions issued. Every Indian who desires freedom and strives for it must be his own guide urging him on along the hard road where there is no resting place and which leads along ultimately to the independence and deliverance of India. “Lastly, whilst the A.I.C.C. has stated its own view of the future governance under free India, the A.I.C.C. wishes to make it quite clear to all concerned that by embarking on mass struggle it has
no intention of gaining power for the Congress. The power when it comes, will belong to the whole people of India.” The arrests were followed by an outbreak of sporadic local disorders including attacks on railways, telegraph lines, police stations and the like, which were suppressed by the police and troops with great severity. By November, 940 "insurgents" had been killed, according to British figures. The responsibility of the Congress for these disorders was a matter of dispute. At any rate, they inaugurated a period of political deadlock in which bitterness and resentment on both sides were intensified by the tragedy of famine, by rising living costs, shortages, and other factors contributing to social unrest. Among these Japanese propaganda seemed to have been of minor importance. The deadlock was not only between British and Indians. Between the various parties and factions in India, political tension seemed to reach new heights. The most notable development was the growing strength of the Moslem League and its increasing militant demand for a separate Muslim state (Pakistan). The Congress Party, spearhead of 1942 Quit India Movement, was weakened by three years of repression. Yet anti-British feeling had steadily mounted throughout India. It was confirmed by the travelers report finding it among all sections of the population. Trouble was feared when the new Indian army would be demobilized. The Congress wanted to pressurize the British authorities on this point. Gandhi's release from prison (on grounds of health) in May 1944 paved the way for new maneuvers. Correspondence, later made public, took place between Gandhi and the Viceroy in which Gandhi offered to advise the Congress to withdraw the civil disobedience resolution of August 1942 and cooperate fully in the war effort on condition that a national government responsible to the legislature should be formed. Lord Wavell rejected this proposal on the same grounds previously advanced by Sir Stafford Cripps, namely, that a "national government" with full freedom of action would require constitutional changes impossible in wartime. He reiterated the suggestion of an interim government working within the present constitution but was of opinion that, for such a government to succeed there must first be "agreement in principle between Hindus and Moslems and all important elements as to the method by which the new Constitution should be framed." Gandhi's next move was in line with Lord Wavell's suggestion. He invited Mr. Jinnah to confer with him on the basis of a formula devised by Mr. Rajagopalachari.23
RAJGOPALACHARIA FORMULA During this period several Indian public men, notably Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, worked assiduously to effect a reconciliation between Hindu and Muslim partisans, and especially between the Congress and the Moslem League. Mr. Rajagopalachari, prominent Congress leader and former premier of Madras, who was known to have counseled acceptance of the Cripps offer, resigned from the Congress and began a one-man campaign to convert both Congress and the Muslem League to the thesis that unity must precede independence. In an article published in the United States the moderate Rajagopalachari had warned that "distrust tends to harden into hatred . . . men are shifting their thoughts to anarchy and to revolution based on force. One notes a loss of faith in non-violence and in constitutional methods of change." Realization of the dangers ahead doubtless lay behind the latest British move. Three years in the political wilderness, plus the efforts of Rajagopalachari and a few other moderates, eventually produced some modification in the Congress attitude toward Pakistan. Its chief points were: (1) after the war, the question of a separate Moslem state would be decided by a plebiscite in those areas where Moslems form a majority of the population, and (2) in consideration of the Congress' agreeing to the above, the Moslem League would cooperate with the Congress in working for independence and in an interim government.
GANDHI-JINNAH TALKS, SEPTEMBER 1944 Gandhi and Jinnah met to resolve the constitutional isses confronting the two nations. C
Rajgopalacharina’s formula was tried as the basis of the talks which Jinnah was reluctant to concede as it did not accept the Lahore Resolution. The formula suggested that the NorthWestern and Eastern areas of India should be so demarcated so that the wishes of of the people of the areas might be ascertained. Jinnah insisted that two zones of Pakistan would comprise the six provinces of Sind, Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal and Assam Jinnah accepted the invitation and the two leaders conferred for about two week's, but
failed to reach an agreement. Their correspondence, subsequently published, seems incredibly legalistic in view of the gravity of the issues at stake. However, it was clear that Jinnah had refused what appeared to be a fair offer of a plebiscite on the Pakistan issue.24 . In fairness to Gandhi, it may be pointed out that Gandhi did concede that North Western and Eastern zones would comprise the six provinces that Jinnah referred to. All that Gandhi insisted was that Muslims could get only that part of the Punjab ‘where they are in absolute majority desire to live in separation from the rest of India. Gandhi did not agree to two-nation theory and this was point of serious dispute between two leaders.25 LIAQAT-DESAI PACT Notwithstanding this impasse, signs of Congress Muslem League cooperation were appearing in another quarter, the central legislature. Various government measures had been defeated in the lower house through the votes of both Congress and Moslem League members. The Finance Bill was thus defeated in March 1945, forcing the Viceroy to certify it as law over the Assembly's head. During the winter it was reported that Bhulabhai Desai arid Liaquat Ali Khan, leaders respectively of the Congress and Moslem League groups in the Assembly, had reached some kind of agreement looking to the formation of a coalition government. WAVELL OFFER Early in April 1946 the Indian "moderate" group, headed by Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, proposed that Britain proclaimed India's independence immediately and settle the details afterward. On June 11 a new offer' to India was announced simultaneously by Lord Wavell and the British government. Although it did not differ fundamentally from the Cripps offer, it was more flexible, and more specific as regards immediate steps. The Cripps offer had consisted chiefly of an outline of terms and methods for the drafting, by Indians, of a postwar constitution for India, which constitution the British government would undertake to implement. Procedures for drafting the constitution were to be set in motion immediately on the "cessation of hostilities." Full independence was promised, including the right of secession from the British Commonwealth. These proposals met with many Indian objections, of which the most important were that the Muslim League wanted an absolute guarantee of Pakistan; both the Congress and
the Hindu Mahasabha disliked leaving open even the possibility of Pakistan; and the Congress demanded democratic representation of the people of the Indian States in the constitution-making body. However, the breakdown of the Cripps negotiations came mainly over the question of immediate arrangements for forming a more representative Indian government to carry on the war. On this point the relevent section of the Cripps offer read: ‘During the critical period which now faces India and until the new Constitution can be framed His Majesty's Government must inevitably bear the responsibility for and retain control and direction of the defense of India as part of their world war effort, but the task of organizing to the full the military, moral and material resources of India must be the responsibility of the Government of India with the co-operation of the peoples of India. His Majesty's Government desire and invite the immediate and effective participation of the leaders of the principal sections of the Indian people in the counsels of their country, of the Commonwealth and of the United Nations. What this meant was not specified in the offer itself, but according to Reginald Coupland's account, Sir Stafford Cripps understood it to mean reconstitution of the Viceroy's Executive Council with all seats except that of the Commander-in-Chief and the Viceroy himself held by representative non-official Indians. The crucial point on which the negotiations between Cripps and the Congress leaders broke down was the degree of power and responsibility which would be enjoyed by the reconstituted Executive Council.”26 The Congress leaders demanded a "national government," that is, a government whose members would have the confidence of the Indian people and which would in effect enjoy as much power in India as the British Cabinet enjoyed in Britain. They were willing, however, to leave the direction of purely military affairs in British hands for the duration of the war. They agreed that this could be brought about by informal convention without any formal change in the constitution. Cripps, however, took the position that such a change could not be effected in war time. Having broken down on these preliminary issues, the Cripps discussions never got down to the concrete question of allocating posts in the reconstituted Viceroy's Council. EMPHASIS ON REORGANIZATION
The recent proposal, after stating that the Cripps offer still "stands in its entirety without change or qualification," proceeded to focus attention on immediate reorganization of the Indian Government: It is proposed that the Executive Council should be reconstituted and that the Viceroy should, in the future, make his selection for nomination to the Crown for appointment to his Executive from among leaders of Indian political life at the center and in the provinces in proportions which would give a balanced representation of the main communities, including equal proportions of Moslems and caste Hindus. . . . Members of the executive would be Indians with the exception of the Viceroy and the Commander in Chief, who would retain his as war member. . . . In order to pursue this object, the Viceroy will call into conference a number of leading Indian politicians and . . . invite from members of the conference a list of names [from which he would select members of the Executive Council. If these proposals were accepted, H. M. Government suggested: …that external affairs (other than those tribal and frontier matters which fail to be dealt with as part of the defense of India) should be placed in charge of an Indian member of the Viceroy's Executive so far as British India is concerned and that fully accredited representatives shall be appointed for the representation of India abroad. . . . Finally, the White Paper added that none of these changes "will in any way prejudice the essential form of the future permanent constitution or constitutions for India." Hope was expressed that such an arrangement at the center would facilitate restoration of responsible government in those provinces where it was now lacking owing to the resignation in 1939 of the Congress ministries. The Indian parties were not asked to accept the Cripps or any other formula for future constitution-making, but the British government hoped that cooperation of the parties in an interim government would facilitate agreement on a future constitutional settlement. The suggestions that the portfolio of foreign affairs (now held by the Viceroy) be turned over to an Indian minister, that diplomatic representatives be sent abroad, and that a High Commissioner be sent to represent British "commercial and other such" interests in India, represented a small but distinct advance over the Cripps proposals. But while the new offer called for reorganizing the membership of the Viceroy's Council, it contained no hint of any
increase in the Council's powers -which in 1942 had been the crucial issue from the Congress viewpoint. In fact, Lord Wavell explicitLy said that "there can be no question of the Governor General agreeing not to exercise his constitutional power of control; but it will of course not be exercised unreasonably." SIMLA CONFERENCE 1945 As the new offer was announced, members of the Congress Working Committee were released from prison (where, however, some 1,200 political prisoners still remained). Lord Wavell then invited to Simla premiers or ex-premiers from each province of British India; leaders of the Congress and the Moslem League; representatives of the Congress and League contingents, the Government party and the European Group in the Central Assembly; and spokesmen for the scheduled castes and the Sikhs. After some preliminary discussion the parties accepted his invitation, and the conference assembled on June 25. British offer were accepted as a basis for discussion. It was further agreed that the new government would assert its determination to prosecute the war against Japan and to attack the problems of a permanent conntitution and of postwar economic development. According to Lord Wavell's account, it has been his intention to seek an agreement first on the "strength and composition" of the new government; then to ask the parties to submit lists, from which he would select possibly with some additions -the personnel of the new Council; and finally to submit his list to the conference. It proved impossible to take the first step, however, for, as we know from his public statement, Mr. Jinnah insisted on prior acceptance of the Moslem League's right to name all Muslim members of the new government. Such a demand was difficult to justify. The extent of the Moslem League's following was the subject of much contention, but although it was doubtless the strongest Muslim organization, there were substantial groups of Muslims who did not accept the League's leadership. These include not only Moslem members of the Congress but also such figures as Lt. Colonel Malik Khizar Khan Tiwana, premier of the Punjab. Despite the lack of agreement on step one, Lord Wavell decided to proceed to step two, and asked the parties to
submit lists. All complied except the Muslim League. He then chose a slate, including Muslim League representatives, which, he said, he felt sure would have been acceptable to His Majesty's Government. It was not acceptable to Mr. Jinnah, who rejected it without even seeing the entire list. Lord Wavell then concluded that there was "no object" in showing the list to the other parties. He thereupon announced that the conference had failed. In his public statement he took all blame upon himself, warned against recrimination, and left the door open for further moves, although his tone was not very hopeful. WAVELL, LEAGUE AND CONCILIATORY ATTITUDE OF CONGRESS Evidently Lord Wavell was not then prepared to form a government without the Muslim League. Following the breakdown, some Congress members expressed the opinion that this showed him to be insincere. Such a suspicion is doubtless unjustified, but Lord Wavell could lay such doubts at rest by refusing to let his hopeful and constructive effort be blocked by Jinnah's intransigence. As was pointed out by Nehru and others after the conference, if all other parties would cooperate Lord Wavell would be in a strong position to go ahead without the Moslem League; or he might invite some League members to serve as individuals. Others, including Sir Stafford Cripps, suggested that new elections, giving all parties a chance to prove their popular strength, would be an appropriate next move. The remarkable thing about the whole episode was the conciliatory and cooperative attitude apparently displayed by the Congress leaders, the more remarkable since most of them had only just emerged from prison. For years non-cooperation with the hated British regime has been an article of Congress faith, and persons who accepted office under the Government of India were looked on as running dogs oi British imperialism. It was only after long and heated debate that the Congress decided, first to contest the provincial elections, and then to accept office, under the constitution of 1935. At the time of Cripps' visit in 1942 they firmly refused to accept office unless the Viceroy would renounce his veto powers. But at Simla, so far as is known, not a word was said about the Viceroy's veto. The Congress appeared ready and eager to accept the responsibilities of office and to cooperate with the Muslim League.
ANALYSIS OF CONGRESS POSITION This new attitude should not be interpreted merely as a sign of weakness. It was true that the Congress had lost strength in recent years, but in the past it has displayed remarkable powers of recuperation. In India's present temper it might well decide that militancy rather than conciliation was the best way to make a comeback. In fact, it may still so decide, if the present attitude does not achieve results; for it is very evident that the new policy has not achieved full acceptance. The widespread criticism provoked by its former intransigence in 1942 and the efforts of moderates within its own ranks like Rajagopalachari might partly account for its change of heart. Another relevant factor may be the attitude of those great industrialists, like the Birlas, who had supported the Congress. Their vision of postwar economic expansion for India, reflected in the Bombay Plan. would be shattered by widespread political disturbances following the end of the war. Whatever the reasons, the new Congress attitude was a hopeful sign for India's future. It is to be hoped that Britain's new leaders will capitalize on it by enlisting Congress cooperation in some progressive move which might lift India out of the dangerous slough of political despond. It is to be hoped, also, that if the British government fails to renew the initiative, the Indian leaders will do so on their own, and not revert to a negative policy. Viewed in broader perspective, the Simla conference repeated a pattern made familiar over many years. Nothing was harder to overcome than a legacy of mutual distrust. Yet, as events in India approached their climax, the pattern does change. Indian independence was now the avowed goal of both British and Indians. Why, then, was so difficult to take the last step? Indian nationalists maintain that the fundamental reason for recent political disturbances was Britain's unwillingness to part with power. Many Englishmen, like Lord Linlithgow, disagree. It is of course true that the nearer independence approaches, the more intense becomes the struggle for its fruits. But this need occasion neither surprise nor reproach. It is simply a political fact. Acute struggles for power take place only when real power seems within reach; and political party conflicts denote an atmosphere of relative freedom. The British have created such an atmosphere in India, compared with that existing a century ago. As the prospect of a transfer of power to Indian hands approaches, it was inevitable that Indian parties should jockey for
position and should try to use existing British power to bolster their respective claims. This may not be a pretty spectacle, but it was not due to any special Indian perversity; it was a part of ordinary party politics. If, then, Lord Linlithgow was on solid ground, Indian nationalists were equally so in asserting that the presence of British power aggravated factionalism. So long as there was a higher authority to appeal to, Indian parties would continue to jockey for position. So long as British power lent itself, deliberately or otherwise, to this game, the game would go on. In this context, Gandhi's "leave India to God or anarchy" made political sense. India will never be really united until Indians are forced to come to grips with their own problems, with no possibility of dumping the responsibility on a convenient British back. As Rajagopalachari put it, "A move for- ward, and a threat to stragglers that they will be left behind, are the conditions necessary to create the wild to agreement." ELECTIONS, CABINET MISSION PLAN AND INTERIM GOVERNMENT AIML won all 30 Muslim seats in 1945-46 elections. Confirmed then by the solid support for League and its leader, Mr. Jinnah, in the negotiations last spring with tlie British Cabinet Missiion demanded the grant of Pakistan as an unalterable condition precedent to any further steps leading to solution of Indian constitutional problem. Because of the League's intransigence the Cabinet Mission in its own plan, though rejecting the Pakistan proposal in its full and complete form, made extensive concessions to it. Two of these we may note here. The first and more basic was the narrow limitation put upon the powers of the proposed Indian Union's central government. It was to deal only with foreign affairs, defense, communications, and the financing of these subjects. A11 other subjects were to vest in the provincial governments. In this way the Cabinet Mission thought to reduce to a minimum, if not entirely eliminate, the danger that Hindu province might practice discrimination against Muslim provinces in the eleven "governor'’s provinces” British India are to be free to form themselves into "groups." Each group may have its own executive and legislature functioning over the provinces in it and may determine the provincial sub-jects of government to be taken in common. Since the government of a group is not limited to the narrow range of subjects prescribed for the central government, it may become a very
compact, highly centralized, and efficient political, in contrast to the central Union Further the Cabinet Mission’s plan put something like grouping into operation at once, in advance of the drafting of a constitution. It divided the eleven provinces into three "sections," which if they wish may later become "groups." The three sections were to sit as such and deliberate separately from one another in the Constituent Assembly. Two of the sections were composed of provinces predominantly Muslim in population the other consisted of the non-Muslim provinces. A province may opt out of the section to which it was assigned in the plan when the new Constitution comes into effect and the provincial legislature had taken this decision after first general election under the new Constitution. The result at the beginning of the plan's operation would be a Near-Pakistan.27 AIML first approved of the Plan after deliberation but later it withdrew from it for specific reasons. The first quarrel with the Congress was on the formation of the Interim Government which actually took office on September 2, 1946. The Cabinet Mission Plan wanted it to to have the support of major political parties and it was to be appointed by the Viceroy only after the consultation with party leaders.
INTERIM GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED
Meanwhile, the Viceroy continued negotiations with the representatives of the Congress and the Muslim League on the number of members and personnel of the proposed Interim Government As these negotiations did not result in an agreement between the parties, the Viceroy announced the names of the candidates for the Interim Government consisting of six Hindus, all members of the Congress, including one member of the Depressed Classes, five Muslim representatives of the Muslim League, one Sikh, one Christian and one Parsi. On the 25th of June, 1946, the Congress Working Committee announced their rejection of the plan of an Interim Government. They adopted a comprehensive resolution saying that the “Congress can never give up the national character of the Congress, or accept an artificial and unjust parity or agree to the veto of communal group The Committee are unable to accept the proposals for the formation of an interim Government as contained in the Government’s statement of June 16. The Committee, however, decided that the Congress should join the
proposed Constituent Assembly with a view to framing the Constitution of a free, united and democratic India.” The Muslim League accepted the plan with certain provisions. But in view, of the refusal of the Congress to join the Interim Government, Lord Wavell announced on June 26, 1946 that he would set up a temporary ‘caretaker’ Government of officials to carry on in the interim period. The Council of the All-India Muslim League met towards the end of July and passed a resolution withdrawing its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission proposals. By another resolution, the Council resolved that ‘now the time has come for the Muslim nation to resort to direct action to achieve Pakistan, to assert their just rights, to vindicate their honour and to get rid of the present British slavery and the contemplated future ‘caste- Hindu domination.’ The Viceroy invited Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on’ 6th of August to constitute an interim Government, which he did.’ It consisted of six Hindus, including one Depressed Class member, ‘three Muslims, of whom two belonged neither to the Congress nor to the League, one Sikh, one Christian-and one Parsi. The members took office on September 2, 1946.
THE LEAGUE BROUGHT INTO THE INTERIM GOVERNMENT
Soon after the Interim Government was formed, the Viceroy started negotiations with the Muslim League with a view to bringing in its representatives and inducing them ‘to join it. The League was, however, required to accept the Statement of May 16 and thereby indicate their readiness to join the Constituent Assembly before they could be admitted into the Interim Government. Lord Wavell, it would appear, did not get a clear decision from the League on that point. He assumed that Mr. Jinnah had accepted the stipulation regarding acceptance of the Statement of May 16 and accordingly invited him to nominate five persons to the Interim Government. The League joined the Interim Government in the last week of October, 1946. The League -however were not prepared to accept the Interim Government as a Cabinet, but only as an Executive Council under the Government of India Act. A deadlock was often created and the position became more and more difficult, and a demand was made on behalf of the Congress that the Muslim League Members should accept the
Statement of May 16 and decide to join the Constituent Assembly and recognise the basis of working the Interim Government, or go out of the Interim Government. On invitation from the British Government Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Baldev Singh, Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Liaqat Au Khan went to London with Lord Wavell in the last week of November, 1946 for discussions which, as was not unexpected, failed to bring about an agreed settlement. The League was willing to join it only on the condition that it would have parity with the Congress in number of portfolios and that it would also have the sole right to nominate Muslim members of the interim government. The Congress was ready to give the League 5 portfolios to its own 6 out of total 14 to be appointed then (two to be added later) but go no further. Congress was much stronger politically than the League; it won 56 seats in the Central 1egislative assembly against the League's 30, and in the elections to the provincial assemblies won 922 seats against the League’s 426. It therefore considered parity unfair The Viceroy at one point proposed a government on the basis of parity, but the Congress refused to cooperate and Viceroy scrappred the principle in his final set of nominations. The Congress also flatly refused to restrict nominations to non-Muslims since it claimed itself to be non-communal body like the Muslim League but claimed to represent all shades of Indian public opinion. The Muslim League once thought it had won its points. When they were refused, it considered itself to have been betrayed by the Viceroy and accused him of bad faith. In consequence it boycotted the interim government until October 12 when it at last agreed to enter, accepting the five portfolios offered it and without having won the right to make all Muslim nominations. Further, in respect to the Constituent Assembly which was to frame India's new constitution, the League, though first agreeing to cooperate, later refused. Its present intentions have not been stated. Nehru of the Indian National Congress and head of the interim Indian government, indicated that the arrangement of provinces in sections for the Constituent Assembly was unacceptable to at least two of the provinces which were controlled by Congress but included in the Muslim sections, and will therefore be abrogated by them as soon as the sections meet, instead of at the later time indicated in the Cabinet Mission's Plan. The League, however, demanded that the plan be followed in its entirety." The League had apparently been hoping to render the whole of the Cabinet Mission's plan unworkable. When the announcement was made
that a government would be formed even without the League's cooperation, the League endeavored to arouse the Muslim Community to "direct action" in protest. It named a day for that purpose, August 16, calling for demonstrations, which according to it were to be non-violent. But that day and several following were marked with the bloodiest rioting in Calcutta which India had ever known. Later there were communal riots in Bombay, Dacca, and many other cities, and in mid-October in certain districts of eastern Bengal where Muslims outnumbered Hindus between four and five to one. These disturbances might seem like possible opening moves in the civil war which Mr. Jinnah had freely prophesied would be inevitable if India was given full selfgovernment without the award of Pakistan as well. The provincial government of Bengal, which was controlled by the Muslim League, had been accused by Mr. Nehru in a statement in connection with the rioting of "a sense of irresponsibility which is amazing." Many non-Muslims in India believed that the disorder was not unwelcome to Muslim political leaders as a reinforcement of their political demands. Many observers also questioned the League's motives in finally entering the interim government. It was suggested, though without confirmation, that the purpose was not to obtain for India a successful administration but rather to sabotage the present government's All-India efforts and so promote the Pakistan struggle. On December 7, just before the Constituent Assembly was to meet, the British Government issued a statement affirming: (1) that the terms of the Cabinet Mission's plan must be observed and the provinces grouped in the three sections of the Constituent Assembly as indicated; (2) that "decisions of the Sections should, in the absence of agreement to the contrary, be taken by simple majority vote of the representatives in the sections"; and (3) that "Should a Constitution come to be framed by a Constituent Assembly in which a large section of the Indian population had not been represented, His Majesty's Government could not, of course, contemplate-as the Congress had stated they would not contemplate-forcing such a Constitution upon any unwilling parts of the country." This statement produced strong, but varied, reactions in India, including bitter objection from Congress leaders. But on January 6 the All-India Congress Committee adopted a resolution in which it declared itself willing to "agree to advise action in accordance with the interpretation of the British Government in regard to the procedure to be followed in the Sections. It must be clearly understood, however, that this must not involve any compulsion of a province, and that the rights of the Sikhs in the Punjab should not be jeopardized. In the event of
any attempt at such compulsion of a province or part of a province it has the right to take such action as may be deemed necessary in order to give effect td the wishes of the people concerned. The future course of action depended upon the developments that took place and the All India Congress Committee directed the Working Committee [of the Congress] to advise upon it whenever the circumstances so required keeping in view the basic principle of Provincial autonomy." Opponents of the Congress described this resolution as equivocal. Of the two provinces concerned Assam might be said to speak through its premier (Mr. Bardoloi), who stated on January 7, 1947 the day after the Congress Committee adopted its resolution, that Assam "was prepared to sit in sections in the Constituent Assembly, but Assam demands exactly what the Muslim League demanded from the Union Centre," and was just as apprehensive of the Muslims in a section as the Muslim League was of the Congress in the whole assembly. He also pointed out the divergence of interests between Bengal and Assam, and affirmed, "We shall therefore see that our future also will be decided as a separate unit from Bengal." The premier of the North-West Frontier Province (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) also issued a statement on the same day (January 7) which, however, had little more specific content than approval of the Congress resolution and censure of Britain for continuing to complicate India's politics. The Sikh leader Master Tara Singh expressed disappointment that the Congress resolution had yielded to the British Government's interpretation; later certain Sikh leaders threatened that the Sikhs would boycott the Constituent Assembly. The radical Congress Socialists disapproved the Congress resolution as a retreat; so, too, did the Forward Bloc, which stated on January 14 that it would boycott the Constituent Assembly. The Muslim League had not indicated whether or not it would participate in the Constituent Assembly; the matter may be decided at a meeting of the League's Working Committee scheduled for January 29. Concessions to Jinnah even along the lines of the Mission's proposals seemed too high a price to pay for Indian unity. Keeping the Muslim provinces inside the union assumed a weak federal Centre, incapable of disciplining any of its provincial arms, least of all the Muslim provinces. But above all, such an arrangement would have meant giving the League a share of power at an already weak centre. The experience of joint office with the League in the interim government had confirmed Congress's view that power shared with the League was a power flawed and uncertain, clearly
hinting how the central authority of the Congress might be undermined in an independent India organized along the lines of the Mission's proposals.28 So within a fortnight of London imposing its deadline, the Congress came out into the open with its ultimatum which had been gathering momentum in its inner councils for some time past. Taking the logic of Jinnah's demand to its extreme, Congress offered him a 'Pakistan' stripped of the Punjab's eastern divisions (Ambala and Jullundur), Assam (except Sylhet) and western Bengal and Calcutta-the 'mutilated and moth-eaten' Pakistan which Jinnah had rejected out of hand in 1944 and again in May 1946. If Jinnah accepted division on these terms, Congress would not only win its strong Centre but also permanently eject the League and its rump of supporters from the all-India arrangements which their presence so seriously prejudiced.29 If Jinnah did not accept division on these terms, then his only alternative was to be forced back into a union where Congress was real master, capable step by step of cutting the League out of all share of power. But there was a more ingenious calculation in Congress's offer. According to Congress's time-table, a transfer of power would take place before June 1948 by the seemingly innocuous device of converting the existing interim government into a 'Dominion Government with effective control over the services and administration'. As a safeguard for minority rights the Viceroy would serve as its 'constitutional head’. The centre would keep all its existing powers, especially over an undivided Indian army, and there would be no devolution of power to the provinces.30 AZAD’S PROPOSAL TO ‘HIJACK’ JINNAH’S PAKISAN DEMAND Azad’s proposal before the general elections of 1945-46 for a weak federal structure and Hindu-Muslim parity at the centre with Jinnah's demand for a Pakistan based on the principle of Muslim self-determination. Azad first mentions his proposal for a solution of the communal problem in the context of the Cabinet Mission plan, that is after the election campaigns had further embittered communal relations and considerably hardened Jinnah’s and the Muslim League's position. Azad’s proposal sent to Gandhi on August 2, 1945 received a most lukewarm response from the Mahatma.31
Urging him to keep mum and consult and coordinate with the inner voices of the Congress Working Committee, Gandhi in particular expressed disquiet about Azad’s suggestion of a convention whereby a Hindu and a Muslim would alternate as head of the Indian federation. Minault in her concluding editorial comments to Douglas’ biography mentions Azad’s proposal and his exchange with Gandhi. But apart from noting that Gandhi and the Congress's reluctance to support Azad before the general election made compromises with the Muslim League more difficult after them, she misses just how close the Maulana's proposals in fact came to hijacking Jinnah and the Muslim League’s demands.What was most significant about the proposal was Azad's willingness to drop Congress’s insistence on a strong center. In this way Azad aimed at placating the leaders of the Muslim-majority provinces whose support for the Pakistan demand, as he shrewdly realized, was intended as an insurance against possible encroachments on their provincial autonomy by a Congress dominated centre. Azad was looking for a way to dilute Jinnah andthe Muslim League's appeal in the very provinces that posed the biggest threat to the unity of India. Proof that after the collapse of the Simla conference Azad at least had detected the dangers in Muslim sentiment drifting towards Jinnah and the Muslim League was a plea to his Hindu colleagues to leave it to the Muslims to determine their rightful place in India's future political arrangements. Azad could feel the collective pulse of his coreligionists. He knew only too well that the main attraction of the League's demand was a deep-seated psychological fear of Hindu domination rather than a careful cost-benefit analysis by Muslims, both high and lowly, of a Pakistan entailing the physical amputation of India. 32 Azad mentions Nehru's attempt to sideline him by insisting that a subcommittee of the Congress Working Committee rather than the party president should hold discussions with the Cabinet Mission.33 Azad sees individual rather than policy motives in the actions of his Congress colleagues. In this instance Nehru's 'vanity’ and impatience with 'anybody receiving greater support or admiration’ than himself . Pandit’s vanity and self-importance forced him to 'oppose’ the Maulana's 'line of action on almost every item’ 34 Nehru was not the lone Congressman harbouring misgivings about the Cabinet Mission's proposal for a three-way grouping of the British Indian provinces and a union centre restricted to
three subjects. The Mission's plan had come within striking distance of the substance of what Jinnah really wanted aalmost matched Azad’s blueprint for a settlement of the communal problem. Azad is riabout the dire effects of Nehru's July10, 1946 press conference on uninformed Muslim opinion already startled by Jinnah's readiness to accept less than a sovereign Pakistan.in conveying the impression that if Nehru had not made his ‘astonishing statement’ on grouping the League and the Congress would have had no other reasons to bicker and fall out. Even then Azad puts the blame for destroying his hopes on Jinnah rather than on the Congress when he says, “if the League was willing to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan - which denied the right of Muslims to form a separate state - why had Mr Jinnah made so much fuss about an independent Islamic State?35 Commenting on Azad’s way of writing about the Congress politics in 1946, Ayesha Jalal is of the view that Azad may be too ‘politic’ to disclose the extent to which the Congress High Command as a whole, and not just Nehru, was in the grips of the communal virus for which he so unreservedly accuses Jinnah and the Muslim League. “How else could he have remained with a party which, even according to his own story, played a decisive role in destroying his hopes of reconciling Muslim revivalism with a composite Indian nationalism?” Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the first Congress leaders to accept the partition of India as a solution to the rising Muslim separatist movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He had been outraged by Jinnah's Direct Action campaign, which had provoked communal violence across India and by the viceroy's vetoes of his home department's plans to stop the violence on the grounds of constitutionality. Patel severely criticized the viceroy's induction of League ministers into the government, and the revalidation of the grouping scheme by the British without Congress app Between the months of December 1946 and January 1947, Patel worked with civil servant V. P. Menon on the latter's suggestion for a separate dominion of Pakistan created out of Muslimmajority provinces. Communal violence in Bengal and Punjab in January and March of 1947 further convinced Patel of the soundness of partition. Patel, a fierce critic of Jinnah's demand that the Hindu-majority areas of Punjab and Bengal be included in a Muslim state, obtained the partition of those provinces, thus blocking any possibility of their inclusion in Pakistan. Patel's
decisiveness on the partition of Punjab and Bengal had won him many supporters and admirers amongst the Indian public, which had tired of the League's tactics, but he was criticised by Gandhi, Nehru, secular Muslims and socialists for a perceived eagerness to do so. When Lord Louis Mountbatten formally proposed the plan on 3 June 1947, Patel gave his approval and lobbied Nehru and other Congress leaders to accept the proposal. Knowing Gandhi's deep anguish regarding proposals of partition, Patel engaged him in frank discussion in private meetings over the perceived practical unworkability of any Congress-League coalition, the rising violence and the threat of civil war. At the All India Congress Committee meeting called to vote on the proposal, Patel said:
“I fully appreciate the fears of our brothers from [the Muslim-majority areas]. Nobody likes the division of India and my heart is heavy. But the choice is between one division and many divisions. We must face facts. We cannot give way to emotionalism and sentimentality. The Working Committee has not acted out of fear. But I am afraid of one thing, that all our toil and hard work of these many years might go waste or prove unfruitful. My nine months in office has completely disillusioned me regarding the supposed merits of the Cabinet Mission Plan. Except for a few honourable exceptions, Muslim officials from the top down to the chaprasis (peons or servants) are working for the League. The communal veto given to the League in the Mission Plan would have blocked India's progress at every stage. Whether we like it or not, de facto Pakistan already exists in the Punjab and Bengal. Under the circumstances I would prefer a de jure Pakistan, which may make the League more responsible. Freedom is coming. We have 75 to 80 percent of India, which we can make strong with our own genius. The League can develop the rest of the country.”37
JUNE 3RD STATEMENT—THE MOUNTBATTEN PLAN
Lord Mountbatten had first sent some of his Advisers under Lord Ismay to consult with His Majesty’s Government, and subsequently he himself flew to London. He returned to India with a statement on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, and the authority to such steps as were necessary to effect transfer of power. The statement was published simultaneously in India and London on June 3, 1947. It laid down the method for ascertaining the wishes of those Provinces and parts of the country which, were supposed to be in favour of secession, and in case of division was decided upon, the procedure to effect that division If the decision by a of them was in favour of a division of the Province. The Province was to be divided and the boundaries were
to be settled by a Boundary Commission which would take into consideration all factors and not only the population of a district, “-in determining the boundaries. The statement announced that legislation would be introduced in Parliament conferring Dominion Status on India, then almost immediate and that if division was decided upon in India, then there would be two Dominions, otherwise only one Paramountcy would cease simultaneously with the establishment of cominion Status. It was expected that legislation will be completed and power transferred by the middle of August at the latest, thus anticipating the dead originally fixed, for transfer of power by ten months or so. North West Frontier Province was asked to decide the question by a referendum an4in the British Baluchistan same method was to be adopted for ascertaining the wishes of the people. As regards’ Assam, there was only one district, Sylhet, which had a Muslim majority, and in case it was decided that Bengal should be partitioned, a referendum was to be held in Sylhet district to decide whether it should continue to form part of Ass or be amalgamated with the Province of Eastern Bengal. This statement of policy was accepted by the Working Committee of the Congress, and its acceptance was later endorsed by the A.I.C.C. The Council of the All-India Muslim League accepted the plan at a meeting held on June 9, 1947 with certain reservations. As was expected the division was decided in the Punjab- and the Bengal. The referendum resulted in N W F Provinces, Baluchistan and parts of Assam joining the seceding parts of India. The referendum in the N.W.F. had taken place in opposition of the strong protest and boycott of the party in power there, Dr. Khan’s party, who had only recently been returned in a clear majority in the provincial elections. The Indian Independence Act was passed by the British Parliament in July 1947 and on 14th August, M.A. Jinnah was declared the Governor General of Pakistan. At the outset, Mountbatten appeared to be open-minded regarding the fundamental issue of partition. He was personally in favour of a united India and he had been instructed to try once more to gain acceptance of the Cabinet Mission plan which would preserve a unified if highly decentralized governmental system. According to Attlee's directive, he had until October 1, 1947 to outline the steps that should be taken if a unified government could not be
achieved. Nonetheless, after only three weeks Mountbatten was reporting that partition "may prove to be the only possible alternative". Mountainbatten’s next strategic step was to force Jinnah to realize that if India were to be divided on a communal basis, by the same logic Bengal and Punjab must be divided.. Mountbatten's intransigence on this point was as determined as Jinnah's on Pakistan. Gambling that Jinnah would back away from the "moth-eaten" Pakistan that would result, the viceroy drove the Muslim leader into an even more tenacious demand for it. Mountbatten, meanwhile, got on exceedingly well with the Congress leadership. With Gandhi he was affectionate; he respected the Mahatma's hold on the popular imagination, but eventually decided that the "old puppet held "no key at all" to the political quandary facing him. Nehru he regarded as "an extraordinarily intelligent man"38 COMMUNAL VIOLENCE AND PARTITION OF INDIA
LEAGUE’S DIRECT ACTION
During 1946-47, while the political settlement was keeping our leaders feverishly busy, the situation on the ground was anything Jut good. Communal strife resulting from the Muslim League’s attitude had become the order of the day. In pursuance of its resolution passed on July 29, the Muslim League had fixed August 16 as ‘Direct Act-ion Day’, to be observed by Muslims all over the country. Demonstrations were organized on a large scale, and in Bengal, the day was declared a public holiday by the League Ministry in spite of protests from all classes outside the League. The day opened in Calcutta with rioting, loot, murder and arson, which lasted for several days causing immense loss of life and property. Communal rioting broke out in several other places also. The riots in Calcutta were followed shortly afterwards by a very serious outbreak in East Bengal, in the district of Noakhali which spread to the adjoining districts of Comilla, Chittagong, Dacca, etc The Hindus suffered terribly. The news of the atrocities committed in Calcutta and in Noakhali reached Bihar from where large numbers used to go to Bengal for employment and there was very serious rioting in Bihar, and in ‘some parts of the U.P. Some time later, the riots started in the North West Frontier
Province and the Punjab where the Hindu and the Sikhs were subjected to tremendous loss of life and property. GANDHIJI IN NOAKHALI In November, 1946, reports of large scale disturbances in Noakhali shook Gandhiji as he rushed from Delhi to Calcutta on his way to Naokhali. In Calcutta, he heard about the disturbances in Bihar. Gandhiji’s threat to fast unto death and the energetic efforts of the Interim Government did bring about a quick end to riots in Bihar. In Naokhali, Gandhiji went about staying in Muslim houses, trekking from place to place In the special batch of his chosen companions and workers there were several young women, Sushila Nair, his granddaughter and daughter-in law, Sucheta and a Muslim lady, Bhen Amtul Salam. But while Gandhiji’s work at Noakhali was having a sobering effect in Bengal Bihar and U P it was considered by the League as a sabotage of its doctrine of hatred and two nations. On the day Direct Action had been inaugurated by the League at Delhi, Mr. Feroz Khan Noon and Mr. Ghazanfar Ali prophesied happenings that would put the memory of Changiz and, Qatlu Khan into shade. These prophecies were soon realised in the’ districts of Rawalpindi and Multan. These districts had been ‘the recruiting ground of the British Indian army, with most backward, fanatical and ignorant people. Many of these ex-servicemen had arms and the war had brutalised them even more. Across the border were the backward frontier districts, ever ready for loot and rapine. The minority communities, Sikhs and Hindus were either in the towns or in isolated small pockets and had lived peacefully for generations with their neighbours. Then suddenly these villages found themselves surrounded by thousands of armed gangs of marauders. The villages were looted, and burnt; men, women and chil4ren maimed and killed, women abducted and dish9noured. Many women jumped into wells or burnt themselves and men shot their own families to save them from torture and dishonour. Charigiz and Qatlu Khan would blush in their graves if their names were associated with such doings as were enacted at Rawalpindi and Multan. These things went on with Impunity and photographs published later in the press, taken from air, showed columns of armed with rifles, some with camels and horses carrying their booty swarming the countryside below. Military aid reached the surviving villages but later. The tales
of horror that were carried by those who escaped kindled a fire that was later to blaze into a conflagration. These ghastly happenings were taking place when the League had already joined the Interim Government at the Centre. The League was playing a double role. While on the one hand it openly preached violence and jehad against non-Muslim’s, at the same time it held office in the provinces and at the centre controlling police and justice. On being asked his opinion about this, Gandhiji had demanded the removal of this grave anomaly. “It is so bad that it cannot last long”, he had said.
CONGRESS ACCEPTS MOUNTBATTEN PLAN
In fact it was the horror of this fratricidal war and the failure of the experiment of a composite Government at the centre that ultimately induced the Congress leaders to accept the Mountbatten Plan with severing of some parts, but lesser parts than Jinnah’s original demand. Similar earlier offer by Rajaji’s formula had been turned down by Jinnah as a “truncated and moth-eaten” Pakistan. Gandhiji had taken up a stand against vivisection, but recognised that alternative was revolution, or a civil war on one side and a new fight with the British who supported the League demand. The ever- increasing and ever-deepening chain of communal disturbances involving mass murder, arson or loot accompanied by unthinkable atrocities and horrors obliged the Congress Working Committee to consider the entire communal and political situation afresh. The only way out of the difficulty appeared to be the partitioning of India. Jawaharlal Nehru referred to this fact in these words on 3rd of June, 1947: “There has been violence, shameful, degrading and revolting violence in various parts of the country. This must end.” The A.I.C.C. members including Rajendra Babu expressed their conviction that the decision would restore good arid that with it and the force of economic and other factors there would be a reunion at an early date. The Congress was not happy about the partitioning of India as it had consistently fought for the liberation of a united India The following words of Jawaharlal Nehru give an Idea of the working of his inner mind; “For generations we have dreamt and struggled for a free and independent united India. The proposal to allow certain parts to secede, if they so will, is painful for any of us to contemplate. It was not a question of being afraid of being killed, but the killing
on both sides was of your own people.” Sard Patel said that it was decided to amputate a limb rather than allow the poison to affect the whole body.
In the view of Indian National Congress, the clamour for a separate nation, though pressed vigorously in the post-war years with much popular backing and enthusiasm, was raised not so much by the Muslim divines, many of whom were waiting on the fringes of Indian politics to intervene on behalf of Islam, but by the vociferous professional groups in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, the princely state of Hyderabad, and the small but upcoming trading and banking communities in Gujarat, Bombay and Calcutta. Interestingly enough, the Muslim landlords of UP were the first to raise the banner of revolt against the League; in fact, the Nawab of Chattari and Nawab Mohammad Yusuf of Jaunpur broke away from the Muslim League Parliamentary Board in April 1936 in order to revive ‘a mixed party in preference to a Muslim communal organisation’. They changed course once the Congress Ministry adopted the UP Tenancy Bill and Nehru and his comrades became more and more strident in their socialistic pronouncements. These men were not concerned to defend the Quranic injunctions which they probably flouted every day of their life. Nor were they interested in the welfare of the poor Muslims, who were victims of their oppression and exploitation. Their chief goal was to defend their landholdings, orchards, havelis, palaces and, above all, the nawabi paraphernalia built through the courtesy of British benefactors. No wonder, the landed elements in UP, as also the Jamaat-i Islami and sections of the ulama connected with the Barelwi ‘school’, Nadwat al-ulama, Firangi Mahal and Deoband, hitched their fortunes with the Muslim League at different points of time and for different reasons. Their overall strategy, one that suited the Raj during and after World War II, was to masquerade their hidden agenda and project the Congress, their main rival in the political world, as a ‘Hindu’ party inimical to Islam. Once the League bandwagon rolled on, other aggrieved groups, especially those who failed to secure employment, contracts or seats on regional and
local bodies, jumped into the fray as the defenders of the faith. Still, Pakistan was not everybody’s dream. Nor was Jinnah everyone’s Quaid. The past delineated in the multiple strands in the Muslim League movement, underline its complexity, assess its ideological orientation afresh, and explore the mobilization strategies adopted by Jinnah after he returned from his home in Hampstead to plunge into the humdrum of Indian politics. In addition to having greater access to source materials, this is an opportune moment, fifty years after Independence, to revise and reconsider established theories on Partition, introduce a more nuanced discourse, and stay clear of the conventional wisdom that we, the generation born after Independence, have inherited on the theme of ‘communal’ politics generally and the Pakistan movement in particular. As ‘old orthodoxies recede before the flood of fresh historical evidence and earlier certitudes are overturned by newly detected contradiction’, Not everyone who raised or rallied around the green flag was uniformly wedded to or inspired by a shared ideal of creating an Islamic society. The reality is that many were pushed into taking religious/Islamic positions, while many others, especially the landed classes in Punjab and the United Provinces (UP), used the Muslim League as a vehicle to articulate, defend and promote their material interests. In fact, the intensity of emotions expressed in the 1940s, which is so often invoked in the subcontinent to create popular myths and stereotypical images, had more to do with the political and economic anxieties of various social classes than with a profound urge to create a Sharia-based society. The issue in Pakistan Movement was not the legitimacy of a movement but to place in perspective the dynamics of power-politics in a colonial context. In fact, a rounded picture of the Pakistan movement is possible only if historians contest the exaggerated claims made in the name of Islam, then and now, by the Islamists and the proponents of the two-nation theory. Mushirul Hasan, a renowned Muslim historian living in India has express in his writings the paradoxes and dilemma which Indian Muslims have been facing after the partition of India. In the specific context of the Pakistan movement, the professed ideology of the nation state itself, though celebrated on both sides of the border, had no significant impact on or relevance to the
millions living in India or Pakistan. Contrary to the exaggerated claims made in both the countries, most people were either indifferent to or unconcerned with the national borders or the newly-created geographical entities that were being laboriously created. National borders were political constructs, imagined projections of territorial power. In his short story Toba Tek Sing, Sadat Hasan Manto, describing an existentialist reality—the separation of people living on both sides who had a long history of cultural and social contact—and and the pradoxical character of borders being a metaphor of the ambiguities of nation building.39 The Muslim separatist movement culminated in the creation of an independent and sovereign Muslim state. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah led Pakistan movement to its successful end for Indian Muslims. But the large Muslim minority remained in India, which could not enjoy the fruits of the creation of Muslim state as was expected at the time of creation. Indian Muslims could be empowered through politically and constitutionally strong Pakistan. Unfortunately, Pakistan could not develop a viable democratic and constitutional polity and ultimately it broke up in 1971.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. Jawarharlal Nehru, Discovery of India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988), 382. 2. Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, The Struggle for Pakistan (Karachi: University of Karachi ,
1988), 108. 3. Nehru, 383.
4. Abul Kalam Azad, India Wins Freedom-- An Autobiographical Narrative (Bombay:
Asia Publishing House, 1959), 227.
5. W. C. Smith, lslam in Modern History (New York: Mentor, 1959), 212. 6. Z.H. Faruqi, The Deoband School and the Demand for Pakistan (Bombay: Asia
Publishing House, 1963),121.
7. Azad, India Wins Freedom, 7. 8. B. T. Ranadive,” India's Freedom Struggle.” Social Scientist, 14, no. 8/9. (Aug. -Sep.,
1986): 85 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid.
11. Brown, W Norman. India's Pakistan Issue, Proceedings of the American Philosophical
Society, 91, no. 2. (1947): 166.
12. Ayesha Jalal; Anil Seal, “Alternative to Partition: Muslim Politics between the Wars”
Modern Asian Studie 15, no. 3, (1981): 415.
13. Ibid., 416. 14. Mushirul Hasan (ed.), India's Partition: Process, Strategy and Mobilization (Delhi:
Oxford University Press, 1993), 43.
15. Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India (New York: Oxord Uuiversity Press, 1982),
16. Sharif ud Din Pirzada, Muslim League Documents (Karachi: Quaid-i-Azam Academy,
1970), vol. 2, 425.
17. B: R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or the Partition of India (Bombay, Thacker, 1946), 5. 18. P. Moon, Dividi and Quit (London: Chatto & Windus, 1961), 2 I. 19. H. V. Hodson, The Great Divide: Britain, India, and Pakistan (London: Hutchinson
20. W. Norman Brown, “India's Pakistan Issue.” Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Society, Vol. 91, No. 2. (Apr. 5, 1947), 166. 21. Ibid.
22. Michael Greenberg, “India's Independence and the War.” Pacific Affairs 15, no. 2
23. Miriam S. Farley, “The Simla Conference .” Far Eastern Survey 14, no. 16 (1945): 220-
24. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, "Reconciliation
in India," Foreign Affairs 15, no. 7
25. Khalid Bin Sayeed,
Pakistan:The Formative Phase 1857-1947 (London: Oxford
University Press, 1983), 124.
26. R. Coupland, The Cripps Mission ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1942), 78. 27. W. Norman Brown, India's Pakistan Issue, Proceedings of the American Philosophical
Society, Vol. 91, No. 2. (Apr. 5, 1947), pp. 162-180. P 166.
28. Ayesha Jalal, “Inheriting the Raj:Jinnah and the Governor-Generalship Issue.”Modern
Asian Studies,19, no.1 (1985): 33. 29. Ibid. 37. 30. Ibid.
31. Ayesha Jalal, “Azad, Jinnah and Partition.” Economic and Political Weekly 24, no.8
(1989): 3. 32. IbId.
33. Azad, 139.
34. Ibid. 138.
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