Today, the country is going through turmoil witnessing violent protests, university lockdowns, children busy in stone pelting, etc. All these incidents are taking place in the backdrop of the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 by the parliament. This act makes all persecuted communities except Muslims in neighbouring countries entitled to Indian citizenship. This exception on religious grounds has made this law controversial.
However, given this background, I am here to clarify a complicated reasoning misused by some politicians and fanatics to communalise society. Before that, I want to say that I am not a fan of a particular political party and I have tried to put all views in an unbiased manner.
While debating on this bill, the honorable Home Minister said that congress was wholly responsible for India’s partition. There have been many incidents where governments tweak historical events and distort them in their own favour.
But, I have observed that contemplation over the question of Partition is prevalent across social media with fake information or uninformed views. Someone is blaming Gandhi for this and some are accusing Nehru or the Congress. Some are even justifying the killing of Gandhi by Godse using the Partition as an argument. I, myself have explained many people on social media about the background of partition and its complexity. People have oversimplified this event in their mind and grossly misinterpreted it. I would like to clear out this layer of ignorance on reasons of Partition.
The causes of Partition are very complex and can’t be put on only one stakeholder. We all know that the 1857 revolt was the epitome of Hindu-Muslim unity where all communities fought against British. The British realised that this unity has to be destroyed in order to rule India. They influenced intellectual and social reformers like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan by designating Hindus as the culprit behind Muslim underdevelopment.
That was the time that initiated a crack in India’s unity. This was followed by the partition of Bengal in 1905 where the British divided Bengal to segregate both communities and weaken the freedom movement. Many Muslims did not participate in the Congress’ opposition to the Bengal partition and considered it in their interest.
These tactics of the British further led to the establishment of the Muslim League as a separate party claiming to be the sole protector of Muslim interest. This started a political rivalry among both communities. Jinnah, who was a member of the Congress too shifted to the League later. Such fire was promoted by newly established Hindu right-wing groups like the Hindu Mahasabha.
The Congress too, recognised the League as a guardian of Muslims in the Lucknow Pact of 1916 ,which is said to be a mistake on the Congress’ part. The Congress and the League competed in legislative elections in 1923, 1937, etc. The League insisted on providing the Muslim minority more rights and making provinces powerful in the Nehru Report, Simon Commission, etc. The League was responsible for the fear among Muslims against the Congress and Hindus while the Congress maintained its secular character.
Gradually, this crack was getting larger which took a final turn after the 1937 elections wherein the League was defeated badly. That defeat jolted the Muslim League which made it demand a separate nation eventually. After World War II, the British wanted to leave India with a smooth transition of power. Jinnah started demanding for a separate Muslim nation and was ready to give any required support to the British once it was created.
But, the Congress was adamant on its stand of a united India and rejected communal recommendations of the British in the August Offer, Wavell’s plan or Cripps Mission. Finally, a Cabinet Mission plan of the British in 1946 was accepted by both parties which proposed a united India with minority rights for Muslims. But, later, Jinnah withdrew his support from it and became obstinate on the demand for a separate nation.
Communal riots became prevalent which took many lives. Gandhi was trying to convince people and the League to not demand a partition. But, the situation was going out of hand. The Congress was in a dilemma over communal killings and demand for a partition. Finally, the Congress agreed for a partition but embraced all communities to stay in India on secular lines. Lord Mountbatten’s plan was enacted to ensure smooth power and resource sharing among India and Pakistan.
The Partition of India was an event having its causes deep-rooted in a long history. It was a result of complex circumstances in the long past, the interest of multiple stakeholders which resulted in a helpless Gandhi and equally helpless Congress party and an adamant Jinnah. It was not a unilateral decision and every group including right-wing groups, the Congress, the Muslim League, and the British contributed to it.
We should not oversimplify it and spread biased information about such unfortunate events in India’s history for our self-interest. We should strive to preserve India’s secularism instead of getting influenced by fake news and misinterpreting past events. It is very disheartening when people distort history instead of learning from it.