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Who is Responsible for the Partition of India

Prof Kirpal Singh

Those who lived during the British regime, are familiar with the saying that British were responsible for dividing the Indian people as their policy had been to “Divide and Rule”. But the truth is just the reverse. Long before the coming of the British, Hindus and Muslims were sharply divided. Muslims considered Hindus as Kafirs and Hindus considered Muslims as Maleshas. This is evident from the literature written in those time.

Whatever be the position, the British never wanted to divide the country in 1947. It is clear from their policy framed by the Cabinet Mission which is known as Cabinet Mission plan, in 1946 wherein they wanted to fulfill the demand of Muslim League, one way or the other, within the framework of united India. Moreover, Lord Attlee made a last bid by appointing professor W H Morris Jones Durban College to send him to India alongwith Lord Mountbatten to prepare some scheme wherein two sovereign states would remain united. Morris Jones told me in an interview, “As far as I can recall Sir Stafford and Lord Attlee called me in May 1947 when Lord Mountbatten visited England. I was informed to prepare a plan which could have two sovereign countries for defence, communication and other similar purposes. Lord Attlee asked me if I had read anything of Austero-Hungarian Empire. How it worked. He advised me to study that and evolve that sort of plan” (My book Select Documents on partition of Punjab, India, p 772).

It is futile to blame any individual for the partition of India. We should study and examine the circumstances which led to the creation of Pakistan. It was the failure of Interim Govt in 1946-47 which paved the way for division of the country. There was a constant conflict between the Muslim League Members and Congress Members from the very inception. The Congress objected to the inclusion of Abdur Rab Nishtar from Frontier province to be included in the Interim Government. The Congress argued that he had been defeated by the Red shirt candidate in the election of 1946. To this objection Jinnah retorted, if Nishtar was not taken in the Interim Govt, the Muslim League would quit and boycott the Govt. Similarly, Jinnah objected to the inclusion of Jagjivan Ram, and the Congress adopted the same attitude with the result that bickering increased on both sides. The object of the Congress members in the Interim Govt was to bring into existence healthy conventions from non-interference by the Viceroy and the Interim Govt working as a team, so that it might be replaced by the National Govt in due course of time. The Muslim League members had entered the Govt with the avowed object of holding Congress to ransom, lest anything should be done which might prejudice its claims for Pakistan.

In early sixties of twentieth century, when I went to Central Secretariat for the first time to consult partition records, which had not been transferred to National Archives and I was permitted to consult them with the recommendations of Mr Prem Kirpal, Secretary Education, I was confidentially informed that there had been a very severe quarrel in Interim Govt while discussing the issue of Pakistan. The Congress members opposed it including Pandit Nehru. Muslim League members defended it so much so that Abdur Rab Nishtar rose from his seat and misbehaved with Pandit Nehru saying, “Who are you to deny us, we shall have Pakistan.”

There is no record of this incident but it indicated the bitterness and frustration in which the Interim Govt was working. Ultimately, Pandit Nehru threatened to sign. This paved the way for acceptance of Pakistan plan prepared by Lord Mountbatten.

However, the Congress leaders instisted that transfer of power should be done earlier. Consequently, date for transfer of power was changed form June 1948 to 15th August 1947 with the result that decisions were made hurriedly to divide the country. Lord Wavell plan was rejected because it had suggested piece-meal transfer of power.

In the whole atmosphere, the sanest advice came from Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. He was of the view that India should wait for sometime more for the transfer of power because he was against the creation of Pakistan.


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