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India’s Partition – Unknown Aspects

September 28, 2011 3 comments

There is some weight to the argument that even ‘Hindus’ wanted Pakistan.

A cartoon in the Amrita Bazar Patrika published in May 1947, graphically captured the doubts and confusion in people's minds.5 Titled, ‘Who is Right?’ it showed four key public and political figures, H. S. Suhrawardy, Shyamaprasad Mookerjee (the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha), M. A. Jinnah and M. K. Gandhi each with a placard with their supposed propositions. Thus Suhrawardy holds ‘United Bengal in Divided India’, Mookerjee ‘Divided Bengal in United India’, Jinnah ‘Divided Bengal in Divided India’ and Gandhi holds up a sign with ‘United Bengal in United India’ (Cartoon Source - journals.cambridge.org. Attribution - Figure 1. ‘Who Is Right?’Source: Cartoon in the Hindustan Standard, 17 May 1947, 5.). Click for larger image.

A cartoon in the Amrita Bazar Patrika published in May 1947, graphically captured the doubts and confusion in people's minds.5 Titled, ‘Who is Right?’ it showed four key public and political figures, H. S. Suhrawardy, Shyamaprasad Mookerjee (the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha), M. A. Jinnah and M. K. Gandhi each with a placard with their supposed propositions. Thus Suhrawardy holds ‘United Bengal in Divided India’, Mookerjee ‘Divided Bengal in United India’, Jinnah ‘Divided Bengal in Divided India’ and Gandhi holds up a sign with ‘United Bengal in United India’ (Cartoon Source - journals.cambridge.org. Attribution - Figure 1. ‘Who Is Right?’Source: Cartoon in the Hindustan Standard, 17 May 1947, 5.). Click for larger image.

Caught between a neo-colonial narrative jointly crafted by the British and Congress Governments in India, events have a way of being losing context and substance. Jinnah as the man behind partition, is a story that is only partly true.

Three interesting incidents in that crucial period make for a counter-balance to the Jinnah-as-the-villain story that is made out.

The Gallup Poll

Over a period of at least 50 years, successive British bureaucrats and propagandists sold India the story that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together.

On April 23, 1947, the ‘Amrita Bazar Patrika’ featured results of a poll where it had asked if Bengali Hindus wanted a “separate homeland”. An overwhelming 98.3% Bengalis voted in favour, and 0.6% voted against the division of the province. On being asked about this poll, both Dutta Gupta and Singha express concern and suspicion about this poll and many other public discourses that came to conclusions that completed neglected the voice of Hindus living in East Bengal. (via ‘We can only carry India in our hearts’ – Times Of India).

These surveys, were engineered by the Gallup Organization, a leading opinion-polling agency, which controlled India from UK. There was a large body of opinion and support for Muslim autonomy in Muslim majority areas – and ‘Hindu’ support for a Muslim Homeland was in this context. Also, must be the remembered that in polls like this, the question is more important than the answer.

And the reason for the result of this poll, was the questionnaire.

Lala Lajpat Rai asked for Pakistan

Another significant votary for Muslim autonomy in Muslim-majority areas was Lala Lajpat Rai – whose ideas are being projected as support for Pakistanand Partition of India.

(Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 4th May 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

(Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 4th May 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

The ‘innocent’ Indian Muslim

Just like ‘Hindu’ support for Pakistan is being twisted out of context, it is equally true of ‘Muslim’ support for Pakistan.

For another, we forget that Indian Muslims from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan did not vote for Pakistan or Jinnah.

It was a small minority, of less than 5 lakhs who voted for the Muslim League, carefully selected by the British, which was designated as representative of Muslim interests, that voted for Pakistan. From the nearly 10 crore Muslims. A fact we would do well to remember.

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League. Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population.

Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphatically Jinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sachar Committee report notwithstanding, the ‘ordinary’ Muslim before Independence was behind the general population – and remains so.


Kashmir – Foggy Indian Notions

August 6, 2010 12 comments

Kashmir cannot become a 1947-reprise when power mongers grabbed Pakistan with a hate agenda – and a contrived identity.

Jinnah acted pricey with the support of half a per cent (0.5%) of India's Muslim population - and the might of the British Raj behind him! (Cartoon - Artist - Low; David (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946).

Are we making the same mistake again? Jinnah acted pricey with the support of half a per cent (0.5%) of India's Muslim population - and the might of the British Raj behind him! (Cartoon - Artist - Low; David (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946).

Contrived claims

Jinnah’s derived legitimacy by getting 500,000 Muslim votes – from a Muslim population of 10 crores in 1940s.

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League.

Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population. Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphatically Jinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan.

As India fumbles in Kashmir, this perspective becomes important to modern India.

Omar said said Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation which needs political handling. “It requires a political package more than an economic package,” he told newsmen after wrapping up his meetings before returning to Srinagar.

“Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation. It needs political handling. It requires a political package more than an economic package. By political package, I mean dealing with issues like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, footprint of the security forces, rehabilitation package for youngsters who are across the line of control and compensation for victims of the ongoing trouble.

“We discussed at length the situation prevailing in the valley and the need for steps to be taken. The consensus was that the pre-requisite for any sort of initiatives in the state was some semblance of normalcy,” the Chief Minister said.

Official sources said the Centre was willing to kick-start political initiatives in J&K including talks with separatists but wanted violence to end first. (via news.outlookindia.com | Omar Talks Tough: Peace Before Political Package).

Fault-lines in illegitimacy

We have seen what has happened in Pakistan, with these power mongers, who have created a faulty identity for themselves. The Partition of 1947 was clear. Any Indian who is a Muslim first, has a place in Pakistan. For Indians, there is India!

That logic is still valid – and a small number of Kashmiris may need to be reminded of that ‘understanding’. We have also seen what has happened to minorities in Pakistan – and India.

Will Kashmiri separatists be any different?

Kashmir crushed by US and British attention (Zahoor's Cartoon: Daily Times).

Kashmir crushed by US and British attention (Zahoor's Cartoon: Daily Times).

Client states can’t be setting the agenda

It costs Arundhati Roy nothing, sitting comfortably on her half-a-million royalty, with her fangs deep into Indian media, to suggest that India consign another 2 crore (twenty million) Kashmiris into the Pakistani hell. Based on terrorist activities of some 2000 jihadis.

If a client state of the US is fomenting terrorism, by using about 4000-5000 people does not mean that the Indian State will shove nearly 25 million Kashmiris into Pakistani maw. Kashmiris first paid a price for Britain’s imperial designs. Now, this time, Kashmiri-Indians are paying a price, all over again, for US policy failures?

The US misadventure into Afghanistan follows the earlier US decision to convert Peshawar into an arms bazaar. The entire Afghan-Pakistani tribal area has become a battle ground for a civil war.

If the US is serious about Pakistan and Afghanistan, let them just leave the sub-continent. Stop playing off one against the other. Pakistan too, needs to grow up. They need to get out of the US orbit.

We can and will solve our problems.

Setting the record straight

I wonder why India is always on the defensive when it comes to Kashmir. Indian diplomacy behaves as a thief who is caught in the act. A few base assumptions are in order: -

  1. It was India that was partitioned – and Pakistan is an of-shoot of India. This partition was based on a tall claim made by some Muslim leaders that Muslims would be better taken care of by a separate Muslim State, ruled by Muslims.
  2. India, reluctantly, agreed to this false claim and logic. Indian Muslims in Pakistan, and the ‘muhajirs’ who emigrated, had little choice – and have suffered immensely. Having got their way, Pakistani leadership is responsible for the same. If Pakistan cannot address the issues that it was created to resolve, does it have a reason to exist?
  3. It is Indian leadership which is responsible for de-colonization – and Pakistan did not even exist. It was Jinnah who said that he, his secretary and a type writer got Pakistan from India. Let us take Jinnah’s statement at its face value. Good for you. Now deliver.
  4. For more than 5000 years, it is India which has taken care of people living in the modern definition of South Asia. India has agreed to include Kashmir in the Indian Union – and a few thousand ‘jihadis’ can change that.
  5. If Pakistan has some part of Kashmir, it is fully accountable – to India, the people of India. Every Kashmiri life is a responsibility of the Indian Government – whether it is governed by Pakistan or India.
  6. It is time that Pakistan is called to account – for every Kashmiri who is uncared for, has been left behind. It is time that India sets deadlines for Kashmir – and Pakistan must accept and meet those deadlines.

Kashmiris are Indians. No discussions, questions or arguments there.

The US hand in Pakistan has been apparent for 45 years now - at least after the Nixon administration. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 15th April, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

The US hand in Pakistan has been apparent for 45 years now - at least after the Nixon administration. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 15th April, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Worse than Kumbhakaran …

It is said in the Ramayana that Kumbhakaran woke up twice a year to eat and drink. And went back to sleep promptly after his eating and drinking.

The Abdullah clan is not worried about Kashmiris in POK. The Muftis could not care less. The Indian Government, all our political parties (in alphabetical order – BJP, Communists, Congress,  Kashmiri political outfits) seem to doing one better.

In the last 25 years, I have never heard a squeak from anyone about the state of Indians under the Pakistani heel.

Or is it Pakistani hell.


Bhutto’s folk Islam

 This handout picture from the Press Information Department dated December 31, 1974, shows former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressing a gathering in Patan. — AFP Photo

This handout picture from the Press Information Department dated December 31, 1974, shows former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressing a gathering in Patan. — AFP Photo

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) became the first Pakistani political party to set the tone of its rhetoric according to the populist imagery of “folk” Islam, in the process managing to attract the urban working classes and the rural peasantry towards its social-democratic programme.

Not only did the PPP chairman, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), become one of the first major Pakistani political figures to start being seen indulging in rituals associated with “folk” Islam (such as visiting Sufi shrines), PPP rallies too started radiating an aura of the colourful activity found at many Sufi shrines. The 1970s in Pakistan thus became an era of populist extroversion.

With “folk” Islam adopted as a populist political expression by the ruling PPP, this form of expression eventually became the tool that culturally connected the country’s secular political parties with the spiritual and political moorings of the working classes and the peasants.

The cultural synthesis emerging from such a connection was one of the reasons behind Bhutto’s image, graduating from being that of a “brave patriot” (1967-68), to becoming a people’s messiah (1970s) and the embodiment of a Sufi saint posthumously. (via Bhutto’s folk Islam | The Dawn, Pakistan).

The tragedy of the Pakistani people

Interesting approach to the Pakistani conundrum. Wonder if this theory holds water.

Between the US and Pakistani military establishment, lies the responsibility of Pakistan’s descent into its current morass. A bewildered Pakistani nation, watches helplessly as feudal landlords (of whom Bhutto was one), dysfunctional polity and a power-hungry military, vie for power over a impoverished Pakistan.

It is time that India reminded Pakistan – and the world, that India agreed to a Pakistan, based on some claims made by an insistent Muslim leadership, backed by their British overlords. The most significant promise made by the then Muslim leadership was a better deal to Indian Muslims. After more than 60 years, it is time that Pakistan is put on notice.

And Pakistani-occupied Kashmir is the first step.

Robert D. Kaplan gives gyaan on India in NYTimes.com

December 10, 2008 2 comments

It was apparent to all (including one British cartoonist) that Jinnah was staging objections under false 'allusions'! (Artist - David Low (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946).

It was apparent to all (including one British cartoonist) that Jinnah was staging objections under false 'allusions'! (Artist - David Low (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946).

Hindu-Muslim relations have historically been tense. Remember that the 1947 partition of the subcontinent uprooted at least 15 million people and led to the violent deaths of around half a million. Given this record, the relatively peaceful relations between the majority Hindus and India’s 150 million Muslims has been testimony to India’s successful experiment in democracy. Democracy has so far kept the lid on an ethnic and religious divide that, while its roots run centuries back, has in recent years essentially become a reinvented modern hostility. (via Op-Ed Contributor – Trouble in the Other Middle East – NYTimes.com).

Wishful thinking or ignorance Mr.Kaplan

Actually neither. It is propaganda.

The West has the lowest levels of religious diversity – and the way they have dealt with it is simple – genocide. Native Americans in Canada, USA, Native Aborigines in Australia are excellent examples.

India however, is exactly – and unfortunately, the only country of its kind. No country offers the religious freedom that Muslims have in India – including Muslim countries. Christians cannot proselytize with as much freedom (and arrogance) in any other country as in India.

That is inconvenient truth (for the West) Mr.Kaplan.

History of Hindu Muslim Feud …?

For starters, you must consider how the Muslims fought for the overthrow of British colonialism from 1857 War to 1947. The Deoband Seminary, Sheikh Abdullah were all popular Muslim leaders – who did not wish for or support the formation of Pakistan. The State of Pakistan was an artificial creation – and Sheikh Abdullah refused to even meet up with Jinnah - and who was deemed irrelevant.

The Deoband seminary issued a call to Muslims, against the idea of Pakistan – and now Deoband is again renewing its campaign, with its anti-terror agenda. Deoband seminary was set up after the 1857 War, as a religious institution to ‘escape’ British repression. 75 years after its establishment, the Deoband school became famous during Independence, due to its strong anti-Jinnah, anti-Partition stand. And 60 years after Indian independence, the Deoband seminary is again, leading an anti-terror campaign in India.

As for the India-Pakistan Partition riots, you must remember, that worst of these riots happened in British ruled areas. The feudal Nawabs of India, the ‘oriental despots’ as you probably know and call them, were able to avert these riots. How come?

Mr.Kaplan, it was a lot like ‘abdication of authority’ by the British colonial Government – if not active connivance! In history, it is called scorched earth tactics, usually used by retreating armies and forces.

In this case, the British Raj.

How about this?

Indian Naval Ratings March For Indian Independence

Indian Naval Ratings March For Indian Independence

Of course, the colonial narrative does not mention how the Naval Ratings declaration threatened an ignominious defeat to the Empire, as a fait accompli. Mr.Kaplan, you must check out how the Naval Ratings (both Hindus and the Muslims together) co-ordinated – and it were these Naval Ratings who raised the flag of Indian Independence.

Post WW2, a two million strong, Indian defence units, battle hardened and exposed to global war theaters, were a force that the British would not dare to take on.

Allama Iqbal (now the iconic figure in Pakistan) converted to the a very nascent two-nation theory after his stint in England – circa 1909. Poets like Sahir Ludhianvi moved from Pakistan to India. MJ Akbar’s family was another that moved from Bangladesh (then part of Pakistan) to India.

Like the colonial detritus in many ex-colonies, the two-nation theory was a British creation.

And remains a colonial legacy.

As for now …

The root of the problem is the US intervention – and you are calling for more of it. My advice, Mr.Kaplan  – simple and will not the cost the US anything.

Lay off.

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