Partition of India

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The Partition of India was the division of British India in 1947, which accompanied the creation of two independent dominions, India and Pakistan. The Dominion of India is today the Republic of India, and the Dominion of Pakistan is today the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The partition involved the division of two provinces, Bengal and the Punjab, based on district-wise Hindu or Muslim majorities. The boundary demarcating India and Pakistan became known as the Radcliffe Line. It also involved the division of the British Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Civil Service, the railways, and the central treasury, between the two new dominions. The partition was set forth in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj, as the British government there was called. The two self-governing countries of Pakistan and India legally came into existence at midnight on 14–15 August 1947.

Quotes[edit]

  • India whose ancient borders stretched until Afghanistan, lost with the country of seven rivers (the Indus Valley), the historical center of her civilization. At a time when the Muslim invaders seemed to have lost some of their extremism and were ready to assimilate themselves to other populations of India, the European (British) conquerors, before returning home, surrendered once more to Muslim fanaticism the cradle of Hindu civilization.
    • Alain Danielou, Histoire de l'Inde - Alain Danielou p. 355
  • India is free but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom.... The old communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that the Congress and the nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. The partition of the country must go,it is to be hoped by a slackening of tension, by a progressive understanding of the need of peace and concord, by the constant necessity of common and concerted action, even of an instrument of union for that purpose. In this way unity may come about under whatever form the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance. But by whatever means, the division must and will go. For without it the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and even frustrated. But that must not be.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Ghose, A., Nahar, S., & Institut de recherches évolutives. (2000). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives.
  • One ought not to forget that the terrible war of 1947 in India between the Muslims and Hindus was fought on a purely religious basis. More than one million people died and since massacres had not taken place when the Muslims had lived within the Hindu-Buddhist orbit, one may presume that the war was caused by the attempt to set up an independent Islamic republic.
  • The single most dramatic instance of religious cleansing took place in 1947, removing the Hindu presence completely from West Panjab, Pak-Occupied Kashmir, the Northwest Frontier Province and parts of Baluchistan and Sindh. The official number of victims, Hindus and Muslims counted together, is usually given as 600,000. We may assume that for the sake of not exacerbating communal animosity, the governments of both India and Pakistan minimized the true figure, which may well be one or two million. After the fact, the main thrust of literary and historiographical elaborations of the Partition atrocities was to posit equal guilt between Hindus and Muslims. Of course, you could anecdotically counterbalance actual cases of Muslim cruelty with actual cases of Hindu or Sikh cruelty against Muslims. But the over-all fact remains that Partition with all its concomitant horrors was unilaterally imposed upon the unwilling Hindus and Sikhs by the Muslim League... Also, the atrocities on Hindus aimed at eliminating them either by massacre or by forced emigration had started in the projected Pakistani regions months before any similar anti-Muslim atrocities started on the Indian side of the projected new border.
    • Koenraad Elst: "Religious Cleansing of Hindus", Agni conference in The Hague, and in: K. Elst, The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • Shortly after the failure of the Cripps Mission, Gandhi effectively conceded Partition even in front of his own support base. Writing in his own paper, he mused, ‘If the vast majority of Muslims regard themselves as a separate nation having nothing in common with the Hindus and others, no power on earth can compel them to think otherwise. And if they want to partition India on that basis, they must have the partition, unless Hindus want to fight against such a division.’
    • Mahatma Gandhi. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • [During his prayer meeting on 1 May 1947, Gandhi prepared the Hindus and Sikhs for the anticipated massacres of their kind in the upcoming state of Pakistan with these words:] ‘I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. I would be a real sinner if after being stabbed I wished in my last moment that my son should seek revenge. I must die without rancour. (…) You may turn round and ask whether all Hindus and all Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain.’
    • Mahatma Gandhi. (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. LXXXVII, p. 394–5) Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. App. 4
  • I am grieved to learn that people are running away from the West Punjab and I am told that Lahore is being evacuated by the non-Muslims. I must say that this is what it should not be. If you think Lahore is dead or is dying, do not run away from it, but die with what you think is the dying Lahore. (…) When you suffer from fear you die before death comes to you. That is not glorious. I will not feel sorry if I hear that people in the Punjab have died not as cowards but as brave men. (…) I cannot be forced to salute any flag. If in that act I am murdered I would bear no ill will against anyone and would rather pray for better sense for the person or persons who murder me.
    • Mahatma Gandhi. 6 August 1947,. (Hindustan Times, 8-8-1947, CWoMG, vol. LXXXIX, p. 11) Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018. App. 4
  • If all the Punjabis were to die to the last man without killing, Punjab will be immortal. ... Offer yourselves as non-violent, willing sacrifices.
    • Mahatma Gandhi. Attributed, in: Larry Collins and D. Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight.
  • Hindus were always in the wrong no matter who committed aggression in the first instance and who was the real culprit for creating communal tension at any time. History of the Freedom Movement (1885-1947) was tailored in order to put Hindus in their proper place, that is, as those who brought about the 'tragedy of Partition'. It did not mean a fig to the Indian 'secularists' that Hindus by and large as well as their organizations (Hindu Mahasabha, Arya Samaj, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) had resisted tooth and nail the Muslim League demand for Pakistan; that 97% Muslims of India ruled by the British had opted for Partition in 1946; that the Communist Party of India had marshalled ideological and statistical arguments in support of the Muslim League case; that Socialists had pounced upon Hindus who criticized Muslims and/or Islam; that it was the Indian National Congress which had accepted the Mountbatten Plan of Partition in June 1946; and that Mahatma Gandhi had thrown up his hands in utter helplessness at the last moment after having continued to assure the Hindus of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Bengal that "vivisection of the Motherland could take place only on his dead body"! The exercise used the Nazi logic of accusing the sheep of provoking the wolf.
    • S.R.Goel, Preface, in Goel, Sita Ram (ed.) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy.
  • It is highly doubtful if Hindu society would have been able to prevent Partition even if there had been no Mahatma Gandhi. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that Hindu society would have failed in any case.
    • S.R. Goel: Perversion of India’s Political Parlance, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • In the [past] one thousand years many parts of our country had been ruled by the Muslims and then by the British, but the nation had never compromised, in principle, its sovereignty over any part of the motherland. As a result, our nation had never ceased to strive for throwing out the aggressors and liberate those parts. And history tells us that ultimately it did succeed in freeing the entire land from the clutches of foreign invaders. However, for the first time, Partition conceded the moral and legal right to them over certain parts of the country and declared an ignominious finale to the one thousand years old heroic struggle for freedom. Thus it was an act of humiliating surrender on the point of principle. The usual interpretation of Partition, however, does not utter a word about this aspect. Even while conceding Partition to be a tragedy, it is sought to be made out as the only practical way out then available - as the inevitable price for achieving freedom.
    • H.V. Sheshadri. The Tragic Story of Partition, Bangalore Jagarana Prakashana 1982, p.12.
  • It has been the tragic lesson of the history of many a country in the world that the hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security than aggressors from outside. Is it true that all pro-Pakistani elements have gone away to Pakistan? It was the Muslims in Hindu majority provinces led by U.P. who provided the spearhead for the movement for Pakistan right from the beginning. And they have remained solidly here even after Partition. In those elections Muslim League had contested making the creation of Pakistan its election plank. The Congress also had set up some Muslim candidates all over the country. But at almost every such place, Muslims voted for the Muslim League candidates and the Muslim candidates of Congress were utterly routed. NWFP was an exception. It only means that all the crores of Muslims who are here even now, had en bloc voted for Pakistan. Have those who remained here changed at least after that? Has their old hostility and murderous mood, which resulted in widespread riots, looting, arson, raping and all sorts of orgies on an unprecedented scale in 1946-47, come to a halt at least now? It would be suicidal to delude ourselves into believing that they have turned patriots overnight after the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, the Muslim menace has increased a hundred fold by the creation of Pakistan which has become a springboard for all their future aggressive designs on our country.
    • M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts
  • The creation of India and Pakistan were pyrrhic victories for their denizens because the political, socioeconomic, psychological, and culture havoc wreaked by that momentous event is reflected in those pogroms, ethnic cleansing, proliferation of nuclear weapons, poverty, and riots that continue to cause seismic tremors in the Indian subcontinent.
  • There is no doubt that the creation of Pakistan was the triumph of violence...
    • R.C. Majumdar. History of the Freedom Movement in India: Preface to Volume 3: R.C. Majumdar, Firma K.L Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta. also quoted in S. Balakrishna, Seventy years of secularism.
  • “Political necessities of the Indians during the last phase of British rule,” he wrote in 1960, “underlined the importance of alliance between the two communities, and this was sought to be smoothly brought about by glossing over the differences and creating an imaginary history of the past in order to depict the relations between the two in a much more favourable light than it actually was. ....But history is no respecter of persons or communities, and must always strive to tell the truth, so far as it can be deduced from reliable evidence. This great academic principle has a bearing upon actual life, for ignorance seldom proves to be a real bliss either to an individual or to a nation. In the particular case under consideration, ignorance of the actual relation between the Hindus and the Muslims throughout the course of history - an ignorance deliberately encouraged by some - may ultimately be found to have been the most important single factor which led to the partition of India. The real and effective means of solving a problem is to know and understand the facts that gave rise to it, and not to ignore them by hiding the head, ostrich-like, into sands of fiction.”
    • R.C. Majumdar, quoted from Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986)
  • The creation of Pakistan is not the end of this problem. H.S. Suhrawardy said in 1946 that Pakistan was 'not the last but only the latest demand' of Indian Muslims.... He recommended the creation of a number of 'Muslim-majority pockets' in India. The birth of the Mallapuram district is therefore only a sign of further demands to come. .... The relaxation, on the eve of a mid-term poll, of the service rules enjoining monogamy on Central Government servants whose religion permitted polygamy was effected by the Government of India under the pressure of these organizations.
    • Hamid Dalwai, Quoted in B. Madhok: Indianisation, and quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa.p. 364-6
  • It is quite true that partition far from proving to be a solution to the Muslim problem has only aggravated it. But it is simply not true that there was a happy solution waiting round the corner only if partition had been avoided. For the Muslims demanded parity as the price for remaining in a politically united India and surely this was an impossible demand.
    • Hamid Dalwai , Muslim politics, p.113, quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 368
  • Therefore, the Hindus and Sikhs, the minorities in the new Muslim homeland, were not to be suffered to stay there. This “minorityism”, the name for Hindus and Sikhs, was “the major enemy of the Milltat,” as Rehmat Ali, one of the early League leaders and intellectuals and coiner of the word Pakistan, said. According to its original conception, Pakistan itself was to be larger than it turned out to be; it was to include Kashmir, Assam and Bengal in the East and Hyderabad and Malabar in the South and many independent Muslim states within the rest of the Indian territory. India, or whatever remained of India, was itself to be considered Dinia, an important Islamic concept.
    • Quoted from the preface by Ram Swarup in Gurbachan, S. T. S., & Swarup, R. (1991). Muslim League attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947.
  • At the height of the riots, during August and September, when the majority of rapes and abductions occurred, there was almost no limit to the vehemence of the mobs. Throughout the chaos, both planned and random abductions of women and girls were carried out, particularly in situations in which large number of refugees — disoriented and inadequately protected — had assembled or were on the move. For example, Kirpal Singh records that two trains crossed on the Kamoke railway line, one carrying 260 refugees and the other carrying Pakistan Army soldiers. After the latter realized that the former was carrying Hindu refugees, it was attacked. Most of the men were killed and 50 women and girls were forcibly taken by the soldiers. Similarly, in East Bengal, the Ansars, a paramilitary force responsible for the safety of the citizens also perpetrated attacks and abducted Hindu women. One of my respondents was on one of the trains leaving Pakistan and recalled how she hid in a toilet. ... In the confusion that followed, while she was fortunate enough to avoid being abducted, she witnessed many girls and women being taken from the trains. ... Describing the massacres of refugees in Kamoke, Gujranwala district, an Indian official wrote, the most ignoble feature of the tragedy was the distribution of young girls amongst the members of the Police Force, the National Guards (an Islamo-fascist organization-AN) and the local goondas. The Station House Officer Dilder Hussain collected the victims in an open space near Kamoke Railway Station and gave a free hand to the mob. After the massacre was over, the girls were distributed like sweets ... Later on as a result of the efforts of the Liasion Agency and the East Punjab Police some girls were recovered from Kamoke, Eminabad and some surrounding villages ... A list of at least 70 untraced girls abducted from the Kamoke train was handed over [to] the Police by District Liasion Officer ... It is feared that most of these girls had been sold or taken underground.
    • Bina D’Costa, Nation building, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia, Routledge, 2011, pp.57-60. Partition of India, 1947. [1]
  • Pakistan, as has been told above, was originally conceived to comprise only the North-Western areas of the Punjab, Sind, Kashmir, the N.-W. Frontier Province and Baluchistan. But in a later concept of the thing, issued in the form of a revised version of the original scheme, it was devised to comprise, besides the areas originally ear-marked for it, also Assam and Bengal in the East, and Hyderabad and Malabar in the South. In addition to these extensive strongholds of Muslim power in the North-West, in the East and the South, beleaguering non-Muslim India from all strategic points, were also to be several smaller though by no means too small, Muslim pockets, studded all over the country-one in the United Provinces, one in the heart of Rajputana and another still in Bihar. Thus, the Muslims of all India, and not only those of the Muslim majority areas, were to have independent countries of their own, parcelling out India into so many new Muslim-dominated States.
  • Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, now a member of the Pakistan Government, declared: “Pakistan can only be achieved through shedding blood of ourselves, and if need be, and if opportunity arose, by shedding blood of others. Muslims are no believers in Ahimsa.”
  • As a corollary to the above, in the period up till August, 1947 there were about a million Hindu and Sikh refugees from the Western districts of the Punjab, from the North-Western Frontier Province, from Baluchistan and the devastated city of Lahore, besides Amritsar, who had to be looked after in refugee camps by the Punjab Government, by the Sikh States of the Punjab and by bodies like the Hindu Mahasabha and the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. There were very few Muslim refugees anywhere in this period. Such few as there were, came mainly from Amritsar, where alone up till August, the Hindus and Sikhs had been able to put up anything like a fight for life against Muslim aggression.

Quotes about violence and massacres during the partition of India[edit]

  • About the last week of August, 1947, I was awaiting to be evacuated to East Punjab after I had received my posting orders to Ferozepur. I do not actually remember the date but it was on the 23rd, 24th or the 25th of August, 1947 that I happened to attend a joint meeting of the Magistracy and Police held in the Court room of Raja Hassan Akhtar, P. C. S. Deputy Commissioner, Montgomery at about 4 P.M. The D. C. in my presence gave unambiguous orders to his Magistrates and Police Officers who were present, that they must not spare any Sikh and kill or shoot him at sight and that the Hindus may be spared for the time being. I was the only non-Muslim Magistrate who attended the meeting...
    • Statement of Shri P. L. Sondhi, M. I C., Ferozepore, recorded in the presence of Shri Banwari Lal, P. A. to D. C. and S. Mohan Singh Batra, M. I C. Fazilka on solemn affirmation. regarding Orders of the Deputy Commissioner of Montgomery that no Sikhs are to be spared.
    • Talib, S. G. S. (1950). Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab, 1947. Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. [14] [15] [16] 232-3
  • Sheikhupura Hindus and Sikhs were perhaps, after Rawalpindi and Multan, the worst sufferers at the hands of the Pakistani fanaticism and cold-blooded murderous frenzy. The blow fell on them suddenly and swifly-leaving between 10,000 and 20,000 of them dead in two days. The conspiracy that was hatched in Sheikhupura between the Muslim Leaguers, the Civil Officers, Police and Military for the extermination of Hindus and Sikhs of this town and the district governed by it, is perhaps the worst on human record, showing calculated devilry on such a large scale... The countryside of Sheikhupura, like that of Lahore was combed for Sikhs and Hindus, who were turned out of their houses, and murdered in large numbers. Muslims fell upon Hindus and Sikhs all over the district with a brutality and thoroughness the extent of which it is difficult to imagine...
  • Raiwind, in the District of Lahore, is an important Railway junction, as it is the crossing-point of two main lines-the Lahore-Ferozepore-Delhi line and the Lahore-Multan-Karachi line. This place was the point at which trains carrying Hindu-Sikh refugees from Lahore, Montgomery, Multan and Sind used to arrive. Repeated attacks on trains occurred here. Survivors state that when they arrived at Raiwind they saw hundreds of corpses of Sikhs lying all along the railway track. Muslim goondas, police and military seldom let a train pass unattacked if it did not have a strong Hindu-Sikh escort. Especially was this the case up till the middle of September. It is estimated that after August 15, at least a dozen trains were attacked at Raiwind and thousands of Hindus and Sikhs killed. No other Railway Station was the scene of so much carnage. One such train was attacked on the 4th September, in which 300 Hindus and Sikhs were killed. (132-3) ... Wazirabad, a railway junction joining the Lahore-Rawalpindi-Peshawar main line and the Jammu-Sialkot line has earned great notoriety for the attacks made on Hindu-Sikh refugee trains and for the large massacres which took place both in the town and at the station. (181)... Wazirabad which was an important Hindu-Sikh trading centre, became like Raiwind, notorious for the large number of attacks on Hindu and Sikh refugee trains. (185)
  • The countryside of Kasur was predominantly Sikh, though the town itself had a large Muslim majority in the population. When on the 17th August it became known that Kasur was included in Pakistan, the Muslims fell upon non-Muslims. The one way of escape for non-Muslims from Pakistan into India was closed with Kasur being disturbed. There was a large massacre of non-Muslims at the Railway Station. In the city, mohalla after mohalla of Hindus and Sikhs was attacked, and Hindus and Sikhs houses and business premises were set on fire. Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus were killed inside the city and its outskirts in two days. It was possible for some non-Muslims to escape, as the Indian border of Amritsar district was only a few miles distant on Khem Karan side. Very few could escape towards Ferozepore, as the bridge on the river Sutlej which was on the way, was held by Muslim troops, who shot dead all non-Muslims who approached it. Huge looting of non-Muslim property occurred. Schools, cinema houses, shops, factories, nothing was spared. Curfew was imposed, but as at other places, it only facilitated the task of Muslim goondas. The Hindus and Sikhs could not come out of their houses, and got murdered or surrounded in flames.
  • In dozens of places in Hindu and Sikh houses this kind of action was repeated: A group of Muslims would force open the door of a Hindu or Sikh house, no matter even though the curfew would be on. The men-folk would be led out under the pretence of interrogation by some policeman who would be in the party. Outside the men would be stabbed to death. Then the property would be systematically looted. The women were killed if they happened to be old. The younger women were abducted and raped. In the Mozang area, a Sikh family of six or seven men and as many women met such a fate. The men were led out and killed. The women jumped down from the upper store of their house to escape dishonour. They were seriously injured, though none died. But the experience was widespread.

Quotes about refugees during the partition of India[edit]

  • During the months of September and October, 1947 the roads leading from West Punjab into India revealed one unending, melancholy procession, day after day, of Sikh men, women, children and cattle, all fatigued and hungry, as they trekked into India, some with their few salvaged belongings in carts and others on foot. These begrimed and harassed Sikhs were those driven out of Lyallpur by systematic and designed Pakistan terror.
  • Dear My. Jinnah, The refugee problem is assuming gigantic proportions. The only limit that I can see to it is that set by the Census reports. According to reports the movement across the border runs into a lakh or so a day. At Chuharkana in the Sheikhupura district I saw between a lakh and a lakh and a half of Sikhs collected in the town and round it in the houses, on the roofs and everywhere. It was exactly like the Magh Mela in Allahabad. It will take 45 trains to move them, even at 4,000 people per train or if they are to stay there, they will have to be given 50 tons of ata a day. At Govindarh in the same district there was a collection of 30,000 or 40,000 Mazbi Sikhs with arms. They refused even to talk to the Deputy Commissioner, and Anglo-Indian, who advanced with a flag of truce. They shot at him and missed. Finally arrangements were made to evacuate the lot. I am telling every one that I don’t care how the Sikhs get across the border: the great thing is to get rid of them as soon as possible. There is still little sign of the 3 Lakhs Sikhs in Lyallpur moving, but in the end they too will have to go.
  • Rawalpindi Division was ablaze. Its rural Hindu and Sikh population was almost entirely in refugee camps. ... Thousands of widows and orphans created a problem well-nigh insoluble in the face of the suddenness with which it had emerged. Destitutes were roaming every town and village of the Punjab east of Amritsar in search of food and shelter. Pitiable indeed was the condition of these people, who had become victims of an unprecedented kind of disaster. State Governments and private organizations like the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Congress tried to do their best to relieve the distress of these unfortunates, but the task was gigantic. So, barring a microscopic minority of these uprooted people, who had means in the East Punjab, the others remained, practically speaking, destitutes for whom life held little hope. This was the state to which the Muslim League campaign had reduced about at least ten lakhs of enterprising, useful human beings.
  • Most of the male refugees were butchered or shot dead. The women were sorted. The elderly ones were later butchered, while the younger ones were distributed. Children were murdered by being flung with force on the ground.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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