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Ladke Lenge Pakistan
It was one thing for the Muslim League to demand ‘Pakistan’ but a completely out of character decision for Congress to agree to it especially when they fought so hard to keep the provinces together. Why did Congress bend the knee?
The riots that unfolded on the Direct Action Day; Image source: TheQuint

From the era of Colonialism

The reasons behind the partition of India is a heavily debated and sensitive topic with numerous myths and beliefs. Let’s see how the events unfolded in history.

The Quit India movement saw heavy participation from people brimming with the feeling of nationalism. The British suppressed them just as heavily. However, the British began facing huge political pressure on an international front as well as national. After going through the World Wars, it decided to let go of its colony in India. It sent a Cabinet Mission to India that decided that a ‘Federal Government’ will be established in the country.

At first, the Muslim League led by Jinnah agreed to the plannings by the Cabinet Mission. The Cabinet Mission’s plan was to divide the country into provinces that would be given residuary powers. Jinnah seemed to agree on having a province and things were going somewhat smoothly.

However, in the coming months, Jinnah took a U-turn on his words and withdrew the League’s approval from the Cabinet Mission. He suddenly felt that he had enough command to ask for Pakistan. There was no need to settle for a province.

Actually, earlier, the Muslim League was an elite party consisting of upper-class Muslims. It only became communal after the 1937 elections when the Muslim League fared quite badly. Muslims in Congress also didn't do well. After not getting the results they wanted, Jinnah feared that the Muslims would be discriminated against when the government came into power. His principles of secularity and Hindu-Muslim unity took a hit and the League began rallying support from Muslims of all classes on the agenda - ‘Islam in danger.’

The Muslim League was heavily mobilised and was joined by religious groups and people from the lower middle classes, making Jinnah’s resolve stronger. Realising his hold, he decided to go for the bigger demand of Pakistan.

After withdrawing from the Cabinet Mission, the Muslim League announced the 16th August 1946 as ‘Direct Action Plan’ and declared the slogan ‘We shall have Pakistan by force’ i.e. Ladke Lenge Pakistan.

The city of Calcutta is a witness to the blood bath that happened on this day. Muslim communal groups provoked a frenzy in the city and the Hindu communal groups retaliated with equal force. The riots went on for days, leaving several thousand people dead. This was only the beginning of the murderous chain reaction that started in Bihar, UP, Punjab and even in Bombay. Riots broke out in the entire country.

Due to this, an Interim Government was formed, leaving out the Muslim League and Nehru was placed as the de-facto head. But there were no ends to the communal riots in the country. The British government was so scared of the level of these riots that they feared a civil war could break out in India! They decided to call Jinnah, who at this point had enough control over the masses to stop the riots or unleash a civil war and asked the League to become part of this Interim government.

However, the league’s entry into the government did not put a stop to the conflict. Jinnah realised that the British government had to bow down to them within a mere month. The Muslim League continued the civil war in a different way to advance towards the goal of ‘Pakistan’ by using the Constituent Assembly as a new foothold.

Congress was tired of the deadlock situation and witnessing the riots all over the country. Mountbatten was sent as viceroy to India with the two-nation theory. He read out his plan on 3rd June 1947 that freed and partitioned India. All this was supposed to be done till 30th June 1948, approx a span of a year. But you already know that we celebrated the first independence day way earlier than this date, that is 15th August 1947.

Actually, even the British now wished to transfer the power to the government as early as possible because of huge scale riots. They went back on their one year plan and freed India in mere 72 days. Perhaps in the back of their minds, they wished for India to collapse under this haste so they could repossess it again.

It was a win that we never had to witness the collapse of the government but the strategy of partition hurts even today.

Loads of people comment that Gandhi was the reason behind the partition. Contrary to this belief Gandhi can actually be found in the midst of the riots asking the people with folded hands to stop the bloody battles. The people didn't agree.

People even blame the Congress that they could have put the stop to the riots if they wished. Well, the level of riots was something unimaginable at that point and Congress simply didn't have the powers in hand to put a stop to it. We witnessed riots in 2020 in Delhi even when the government had much better resources and hold, they were unable to put a stop to it. Congress was eager to get power so they could put a stop to the riots so in the end agreed to the Mountbatten Plan. However, somewhere along the way, the Congress’s failure to make the Muslims feel included and secure set the backbone of events leading to the partition.

The feelings of Muslim communal groups that they would be suppressed in the new Indian government weren't entirely baseless. A lot of the Hindu communal groups were responsible for spreading rumours that since they would be the majority, they had the right to suppress other communities. When the talks of the creation of Pakistan, an Islamic state began, these Hindu communal groups began rallying that India, should be declared as ‘Hindu Raj.’

The extreme parties from both sides made a common man feel that he was different and an enemy to the neighbour he had been residing beside for years just because he belonged to a different religion.

The fear of being discriminated against and the feeling of a future full of suppression brought out the worst in people. It was the insecurities within the masses that led to the division of India, which is probably why the Indian Constitution places the rights of minorities as the utmost necessity so no group would feel this way again.

Astha Kumari Author
Currently a resident of neverland who is confused most of the time. Prefers to paint places that I am too lazy to visit and only bursts my bubble to yoke together my love for words and aesthetics.

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