I know it has been a month since I last uploaded but I have got new found inspiration and time and hopefully I am now back into the swing of things! This week I wanted to talk about the partition in a factual manner. However this is only a whistlestop tour of this immense journey, if you would want a more detailed summary in the future then comment below.
70 years ago on August 14th 1947, the country of Pakistan was created and what followed is a story of heartbreak, frustration, hope and inspiration. This blog post will be split into three parts; why and how the partition happened; the aftermath of the partition and finally my family’s personal partition story. I hope that anyone reading this blog post learns something they didn’t know before and we can all educate each other on this momentous event in history. One that should never be forgotten.
Lead up to partition:
In 1858, after a century of control by the East India Company, British Crown rule was established in India. Over the next 50 years Britain maintained a strong hold of India and India was seen as a Crown Jewel of the British empire. However by the end of WWI in 1918, the path was being forged for both Independence and Partition.
Home rule and Independence:
When understanding India’s journey to independence and ultimately partition it is vital to know the difference between Home rule and Independence. Home rule was the belief that India should remain part of the British Empire but be allowed to govern itself, without the control of the British government. Independence was the belief that India should be completely removed from the British Empire in every aspect. Originally (until the late 1920s, early 1930s) the main goal was Home rule.
In 1916, two home rule leagues were set up. 1) Annie Besants All-India Home Rule League. She was white, British and very politically charged and this league covered all of India.
2) Bal Tilak’s Home Rule League which largely covered West India.
By 1918 the two leagues had 60,000 members however students were not allowed to join and both leaders had been imprisoned.
The feeling in India was one of betrayal. They had fought courageously in the first world war and many felt that they deserved the opportunity of home rule in light of this. In response, Britain released the Rowlatt Act in March 1919 which were a series of ‘sanctions’ on Indians including certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial. After much protest against this act, a proclamation was released by the British government that there could be no large gatherings of people and there was to be a curfew.
On April 13th 1919 General Dyer read out this proclamation, the same day as an important festival which had lead to the the gathering of 10s of thousands of people, who had not yet heard the proclamation. After General Dyer discovered this gathering, what followed is, in my opinion, the first defining moment and the true beginning of the plight for Independence. The Amritsar Massacre killed and injured countless human lives however to this day the exact figures are contested.
Over the next 28 years a whole series of events led to Independence and partition on August 14th 1947. Firstly we will look at Gandhi’s involvement.
Gandhi played a huge role in the independence of India, particularly up to the early 1940s. Up until 1930 Gandhi had been a firm believer of home rule, and this was his main goal. Although his acts such as, the non-cooperation movement, Hartals, All India’s Spinners Association and resistance to the Simon Commission were not aimed towards Independence, this was the beginning of mass Anti-British feelings. On January 26th 1930 Gandhi announced his new Satyagraha towards independence. From then on he spoke in the Round Table Conferences about Independence, walked out of Parliament against Britain putting India into World War two and the Quit India Campaign. Although Gandhi began to fade out of the picture leading up to 1947, with negotiations largely being made between Viceroy, Young Nehru and Jinnah, he was still important. He was a driver of Independence throughout India and had managed to keep almost no violence until the early 1940s, with a few exceptions. Without Gandhi, Independence could have been prolonged greatly as people would not have been as motivated originally nor as advanced in their passion towards Independence. However one thing Gandhi was thoroughly against was the idea of Partition. He believed that there was nothing more important than keeping India united as they moved towards independence. Unfortunately for him his dream would never become a reality.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also a key character in the Partition and independence movement. He was the leader of the Muslim League and the main advocator for the country of Pakistan being created. He believed that Muslims were not given enough power or rights in comparison to their population in India and either this had to be corrected or Pakistan had to be created. Despite many negotiations taking place at the Round Table conferences and Simla Conferences in the 1940s, the Muslim League and Congress, the two main parties, were never able to reach an agreement that did not mean partition. Alongside the continued disagreement on a political level, throughout India there was mass violence between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. On August 14th Britain left India and Pakistan was created.
Creating the border between India and Pakistan was an incredibly difficult task and even to this day there is huge tension in the state of Kashmir in regards to their allegiances. A man named Radcliffe was put in charge of creating the border between India and Pakistan. Someone who had never been to India prior to this point nor had a clear understanding of the culture of this country. The city of Lahore was the centre of major violence during this time as it had a large population of both Hindus and Muslims. When it was decided that Lahore would be made a part of Pakistan further violence erupted.
On 14th August 1947, India and Pakistan were officially created and removed from the British Empire. What should have followed was joy and although it was there in whispers, the overwhelming mood of the two nations was fear, anger and confusion. Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan were made to leave their homes and migrate to India whilst Muslims came to Pakistan. Chaos and bloodshed are the only ways to describe this horrifying ordeal burdened upon the two nations.
Over 14 million people were displaced from their homes as they frantically crossed the haphazard borders. The largest migration in human history. Between 1-2 million people are believed to have died during this time however I personally believe it is higher than this.
70 years later and this generations defining period in history still resonates in those countries. It should never be forgotten.
Note from Bookfulblog: If you want me to write another blog about the personal stories during this time then like this blog and comment with any requests. I hope you have learnt something new but I would like to clarify once again that this is a very brief history and there is sooooooo much more that I didn’t have space to mention. Below I have a timeline of events from first world war up until the partition that I created for my GCSE History exam. There will be dates and events that you can investigate further on the internet.
1914-1918- World War I
1916- Two home rule leagues established
20th August 1917- The Montagu Declaration
March 1919- Rowlatt Acts
6th April 1919- Hartal (against Rowlatt Acts)
10th April 1919- 5 British killed including Mrs Sherwood
12th April 1919- 400 troops march through Amritsar (intimidation tactic)
13th April 1919- Dyer reads out proclamation, AMRITSAR MASSACRE
December 1919- Government of India Act (1)
1920-1922- Non Cooperation Movement.
1921- Gandhi becomes leader of Congress.
5th February 1922- Chuari Chaura incident
10th March 1922- Gandhi is arrested
1923- Gandhi is released from prison.
1925- All Indians Spinners Association was founded.
1927- The Simon Commission
Jinnah offers to end support of separate electorates in exchange for 1/3 seat in CLA (Central Legislative Assembly)
1928- The Nehru Report
December 1928- Dominion Status is ‘agreed’ by BG
1929- Congress split into conservative and Radical.
Jinnah offers 14 point plan (rejected also)
31st October 1929- The Irwin Decleration
January 26th 1930-Gandhi and Radicals want to start new Satyagraha on this date
They call this Independence Day.
12th March 1930- Salt March begins in Ahmedbahd
Mid April 1930- Gandhi arrives in Dandi after 240-mile walk.
May 1930- Gandhi is arrested and imprisoned.
June 1930- Working committee of Congress is arrested
November 12th 1930- First Round Table Conference
February 1931- Gandhi-Irwin Pact
7th September 1931- 1st December 1931- Second Round Table Conference
4th January 1932- Gandhi arrested (yes again)
August 1932- Communal Award introduced
24th September 1932- Yeravda Pact
17th November 1932- 24th December 1932- Third Round Table Conference
1935- Government of India Act (2)
1937- Provincial Elections in India
1938- New Congress Leader (Chandra Bose)
Chandra Bose resigns
Rajendra Prasad new Leader
3rd September 1939- England declare war on Germany
All Indian Troops to war without consultation
1939- Congress walks out of their roles, in protest of injustice.
March 24th 1940- Lahore Declaration
August 1941- Atlantic Charter agreed
March 29th 1942- The Cripps Mission
April 10th 1942- Reforms suggested by Cripps Mission rejected by Congress.
August 8th 1942- Quit India Campaign
August 9th 1942- Gandhi and Working committee of Congress arrested.
June 25th– July 14th 1945- First Simla Conference
July 1945- Labour Government elected
1946- Elections in India
May 1946- Second Simla Conference
July 10th 1946- Nehru makes a speech
August 16th 1946- Direct Action Day
September 2nd 1946- Nehru becomes Prime Minister of India
May 1947- Partition drawn up
June 3rd 1947- Partition announced by Nehru and Jinnah
July 25th 1947- Princes meet with Mountbatten
August 9th 1947- Radcliffe finishes drawing up boundary
August 14th 1947- Partition happened.
August 15th 1947- India officially became independent
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