By Akhilesh Mithal
22nd Apr, 2012
Partition was the condition upon which the British granted India freedom in 1947. This fact has been conveniently forgotten in the storm of Hindu-Muslim hatred that has ensued.
The governments of India and Pakistan (now Pakistan and Bangladesh) appear to have forgotten that the 1947 partition of India was forced upon us by the British, who made it seem essential as a prerequisite for freedom. Hindus blame Muslims in general and also Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League in particular, for what was called a 'vivisection'.
Muslims blame Gandhi and Nehru. They all forget that all the power remained in British hands up until August 1947 and that the Indian National Congress as well as the Muslim League was, at best, mere pawns in the game.
The treatment of Khan Bahadur Allah Bukhsh Sumroo, Chief Minister of Sindh, at the hands of the governor of the province as late as 1942 illustrates this point. The Muslim majority area of Sindh was separated from Bombay Presidency in the hope of providing a province that would support the British Raj. In the event, the party that came to power was the Indian National Congress and it chose the head of the Sumroo clan, Khan Bahadur Allah Bukhsh as Chief Minister.
When the Muslim League decided to press for a Muslim-ruled (because it was Muslim majority) province in the North, Allah Bukhsh convened an anti-Pakistan conclave in Delhi. This was a great success. Later, in 1942, when the call for the British to 'Quit India' landed Gandhi and the Congress leadership in jail for an indefinite period without trial, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain, proclaimed that he had not become the first minister of the Crown to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire. He also took the opportunity to attack Gandhi in a vicious manner. Allah Bukhsh felt that this was most unfair as Gandhi in jail had no freedom to respond. He called upon the Governor of Sindh and returned his title of Khan Bahadur as a protest. The governor dismissed Allah Bukhsh, saying, "I have lost confidence in you". Allah Bukhsh still enjoyed the confidence of the Assembly but this was overlooked. The Muslim League was asked to form a government although they had very few seats in the Sindh Assembly. But the brutality of the British became evident when, within the year, Allah Bukhsh was assassinated. Seeing the writing on the wall, his brother Maula Bukhsh joined the Muslim League.
Both Hindus and Muslims forget that all the power remained in British hands up until August 1947 and that the Indian National Congress as well as the Muslim League were, at best, mere pawns in the game
The history of the North West Frontier Province in the decade of the '40s is another story of British betrayal of democracy. This province was led by the Khan Brothers — Dr Khan Saheb and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and their followers who were the non-violent Khudai Khidmatgars or Red Shirts. They enjoyed a majority in the Provincial Assembly but were always subjected to physical assault and imprisonment.
The first Indian to receive the King's Commission, Iskandar Mirza (a direct descendent of Mir Ja'afar, the Army Commander who betrayed Nawab Sirajuddowlah of Bengal at Plassey in 1757) was transferred to the political service and recruited by the governor of NWFP to brutalise the Red Shirts. All other states and provinces acceded to India or Pakistan according to the wishes of the states' rulers and the leader of the majority in the case of Provincial Assemblies.
NWFP alone had a 'referendum'. As a result Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who had spent 15 years in British jails was to serve another 16 in Pakistani jails and nearly 10 years in exile. This is much longer than the time served by Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately, Ghaffar Khan never won the battle and so his suffering was forgotten.
It is in the interest of the British that everyone forgets the facts and believes in fiction. Indians owe it to themselves and to the cause of freedom to remember. If it were so, the great tragedy that overtook Pakistani troops in Siachin would have elicited a humanitarian response from India. There has been no such reaction. India behaves like a Hindu nation smug in its complacency. Muslims are still treated as the 'other'.
Source: The Sunday Guardian, New Delhi