The partition of Bharat was one of the most traumatic incident in the modern history of Bharat. Not only it divided an ancient civilzation, its blatant mismanagement rendered more than 1.5 million dead and about 10 million displaced and devastated. The emotional trauma to millions of other people in rest of India can be experienced but can’t be quantified.
Here is the gist of fundamental reasons which led to this damaging chapter of human history.
Reasons of Partition
British interests – I will give these the prime importance over the Jinnah and ML.
The political aspect of Islam – The fact that deen and daulat cannot be segregated. That in Sharia, fatwa, khilat, farman etc., are not mere announcements, they are legal directives. And they are treated upon by the Muslim masses as the same. The concept of dar-ul-islam and the real-politick of mullahs and zamindars of upper gangetic plains played supplementary role.
It was in British interest to create a state which does their bidding, so that they can maintain their strategic presence in middle-east and central asia vis-a-vis the “Great Game” with Russia. Without these interests, Pakistan won’t exist then and now and in future.
The geopolitical “job” of Pakistan is to act as a rental state for the British Empire (and now USA, Britain’s political successor) and increasingly China. Pakistan also serves purpose that of Military arm of Saudi Arabia against Iran (and possibly Turkey in future). All these players (but prima-facie, the British) made sure that Pakistan exists in space and times, in spite of all odds.
It is unbelievable for anyone that British empire which quelled 1857 war of independence in one year and quit-India movement of 1942 in six months were unable to “silence” the handful supporters of Muslim league and private armies of Muslim zamindars. It shows their complicity.
The question is what made it so easy for British to “use” political Islam in Bharat and middle east? If history of previous century is viewed some common-sense, it is seen that the political Islam is used by the west (and now by China) to their interest. This was one of the major drives for British to jump in World-war 1.
Ottoman Turkey was defeated and Islamic influence on Suez, and middle east was overthrown. By 1935, the Bedouin tribesman Ibn Saud (with help of British and USA) was established as king of Saudi Arabia. He was allowed to conquer the territories of Turkish empire and Yemen (which included Mecca and Medina). And he was allowed to conquer the Persian gulf region (which has bulk of oil). The control of Mecca-Medina was the insurance of newly established “Saudi Arabia” against the expansionist territorial ambitions of Persia (and Turkey in future).
Turkey became westernised in 1924. Jerusalem (Palestine) became British colony after the first world-war. Jews started pouring in middle-east. This was facilitated by holocaust of Hitler. In broad terms, all so called “Islamic states” had a military leader (or monarch) in close association of Ulema which is controlled by British (now US and western) interests. Thus it is established that Ulema and Monarch and hence ordinary Abdul can be used for western interests.
Now, there are two ways to buy out Ulema.
- To give them all the pleasures and continuous mollification of their Islamic ego and glorious past.
- Make them insecure of a “Kaafir” majority which will threaten the existence of Islam.
In Bharat, both of them were employed. Firstly, all the races which participated in crushing the independence war of 1857 were declared as Martial races. Secondly, entire religion of Islam was declared martial. It worked particularly well in Punjab and NWFP. It was buttressed by encouraging the Ulema (based in Upper Gangetic valley) to dream about glorious past and their 1000 year rule over weak Hindus. It is interesting and this again proves the point that history is not only about facts, its also about how people choose to remember their past.
The Hindu population of Gangetic plains was deemed non-martial and effeminate (yes these are the words used by papers of royal society to describe Bengalis who comprised of the revolting Bengal army of 1857 which was later disbanded). The immediate example in front of the “officially martial” Muslim zamindars and Abduls were their Hindu neighbours who were deemed (officially, that is) effeminate and non-martial.
Here originates the popular image of coward Hindu Brahmin-Baniya which is still propagated in the mainstream media of Pakistan. One has to only search for YouTube videos from Pakistani news channels to understand why is it so easy to control political Islam against a particular target.
One has to understand that just like communism, Islam aims for class-less and stateless society. Whereas, primary motivation of INC was nationalistic, the primary motivation of Ulema and political Islam was re-establishment of socio-political supremacy of Islam in Bharat.
One has to stop looking at Islam as a Moksha-Maarga like Sankhya-Yoga-Vedanta-Shaiva-Vaishnava-Jaina-Bauddha. Islam is essentially a socio-political ideology with tinge of divinity in it. Another example of such ideology which is primarily socio-political but which uses God for mass-mobilization is Socialism of Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave.
Now there are two opinions and options over how to establish an Islamic state in Indian subcontinent. One is to be a part of undivided Bharat and then capture the power by all means (democratic, undemocratic, demographic, whatever) and declare Bharat as Islamic state. Or to ask for a separate temporary Islamic state within Bharat which will incubate the Islamic expansionist meme into rest of Bharat.
When elections of 1937 showed clean sweep of Indian National Congress (INC) even in Muslim majority provinces, it became clear that INC in general and the coterie around Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (MKG) was being groomed for eventual transfer of power. Many important people of INC who did not belong to Gandhian coterie were thrown out of power-struggle one by one. First to go was Muhammad Ali Jinnah (MAJ), then Subhashchandra Basu (SCB) and lastly Vallabh bhai Patel (VBP). Clearly, Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) was the “Chosen One”, not only of MKG but also of British.
MAJ happened to stray away into Muslim league under the brain-washing of Muhammad Iqbal and using muscle and funding of Muslim Satraps of Gangetic plains, mobilized the political Islam of the region. SCB strayed away into wilderness (but not without shining brightly like a magnificent lightening in stormy night before going down). Patel, when thrown out of power-equation, was too old to go anywhere and do anything. He died within 3 years.
However, in spite of this apparent understanding which is clearly seen not only in actions of Gandhi-Nehru-Wavell and Mountbatten, but also the British policy makers of London, there was clearly some deal-breakers. MKG was not totally subservient to British manipulation. His decisions to resign from provincial governments in 1939, withdrawing support to British war effort in WW2 and Quit-India movement in 1942 taking advantage of British preoccupation in WW2 was an act of treachery (in eyes of British).
From point of view of MKG, it was opportune time. All his competitors were out of business and equation. He was the undisputed emperor of entire INC and its struggle. There was no sharing of credit and power when India eventually became free. Gandhi could develop Free India according to his vision, now that all his opposing visions were either too weak or eliminated.
However, this is when MAJ offered the services of “political Islam” to British empire. British people, well aware of internal dissensions in weakened Indian society, took that help by MAJ and political Islam, either in desperation or in cunningness. Perhaps both. What happened thereafter is well known. There was a meteoric rise of MAJ and Muslim League. It should be understood that the partition of Bharat is merely a political event. It is essentially a cultural and civilizational event. This again is best understood if one sees Bharat as a Cultural state, instead of a Nation-state.
The doctrine of partition (Nazariya-e-Pakistan) is an ideology which aims and aimed at total and forcible disconnection and alienation from parent Bharatiya culture and civilization. Hence the territory which is controlled by a power which believes in this alienation was fought for by both the sides. The initial efforts were for entire Indo-Gangetic plains to be a Muslim state. Then when it became clear that Hindu majority of Upper Gangetic basin won’t be allowed to go away, they settled for Punjab and Bengal. NWFP was taken for granted, of course.
Later, during negotiations and most importantly riots when it became clear that even Punjab and Bengal will have to be partitioned as well, we got the current political map of Indian subcontinent. How-much-ever Abdul Gaffar Khan wanted NWFP to join Bharatiya union, NWFP was marked as partitioned Bharat.
There is context of “Strategic Depth” in military science. It refers to region of retreat and regroup and relaunch offence in case of initial defeats. Punjab is the strategic depth for army fighting in NWFP against CAR forces. Hence Punjab had to go as well. And Sindh provides sea access to Punjab and NWFP, hence part of Sindh and/or Baluchistan had to go. According to the declassified papers, this was the minimum requirement of British.
However, the pretext they used for partition was religion, so entire Sindh and Bengal were brought into equation by ML. British had to agree, it was a case well fought by MAJ. However, in negotiations and riots, British were forced to partition Punjab and Bengal. Curiously, it was riots which sparked off negotiations. There was a huge Hindu population in Sindh. But Sindh was not burning like Bengal and Punjab in spite of the genocide, hence no negotiations and entire Sindh went to Pakistan.
Sindh should have been partitioned too, like Punjab and Bengal. It is the people who indulged in riots forced policy makers to take their notice and redraw. It was the butchers of Kolkata which saved Kolkata from going to Pakistan. Gopal Pantha, the Butcher was the local Hindu Goonda of Kolkata who became quite popular (or infamous) for his terror.
Thus, it is understood that independence and partition of Bharat is not a process which happened on 15th august 1947. It simply fructified on that day. It was a long fought struggle primarily by nationalists who were mostly Hindus. I am not discrediting the support of countless Muslims who contributed towards freedom struggle in their individual capacity as a part of INC or some other organization. They are my and our forefathers to whom we are eternally indebted to. However, the institution of Ulema had the vision of Dar-al-Islam while supporting or opposing partition.
This fact has to be considered and remembered.
Please follow up the topic in part-2 of this series wherein the historical reasons for this event of partition are discussed.
(This article was first published on author’s blog on April 28, 2010, and is being reproduced with consent. Minor edits have been done to conform to HinduPost style-guide.)
(Featured image source: BBC)
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