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The Partition of Punjab: A Pakistani Perspective

Discussion in '1947 Partition of India' started by kds1980, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 (previously Kanwardeep Singh) SPNer

    The Partition of Punjab:
    A Pakistani Perspective

    Book Review by PRAN NEVILE

    PUNJAB: BLOODIED, PARTITIONED & CLEANSED, by Ishtiaq Ahmed, Rupa, India, 2011, pp 808, Rs. 995. ISBN-HB: 9788129118622

    There has been a spate of books on the Partition of Punjab and India in 1947. A number of authors have indulged in the blame-game holding the British government and some Indian political leaders responsible for this.

    Some writers have recorded their individual experience of the tragic and horrendous bloodbath that accompanied the Partition of Punjab on both sides of the border.

    Then we have a good amount of literature with fact and fiction fused covering stories with graphic details of men and women of both West and East Punjab who were forced to leave their homes for no fault of theirs and fell victims to brutal violence. Those who managed to save their lives turned into refugees in their new homelands. We come across great classic stories by Sadat Hasan Manto, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Bhishan Sahni and some touching verses by poets like Amrita Pritam and Daman.

    Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed has for the first time indeed brought out in his book factual eye-witness accounts of the tragic happenings in the two Punjabs during 1947. It is the result of his dedicated research and personal interviews of more than 200 survivors of the holocaust which he conducted during the 1990s and early years of this century.

    As we turn the pages we discover his extensive travels to remote villages, towns and cities in the two Punjabs. He spared no efforts to meet and collect information from some eminent Punjabis in Delhi, Mumbai and elsewhere. Even while travelling abroad in Europe and America, he was able to locate Punjabis who at the time of Partition were grown up enough to recall their personal experience or others who would narrate what they had heard from their elders.

    The author has no doubt worked hard for nearly 15 years with a missionary zeal to collect this voluminous data on the communal riots. The book is the most comprehensive, balanced, unbiased and objective account of the tragic happenings during the Partition in the two Punjabs both of which paid a very heavy price for the country’s Independence.

    As a political scientist, the author carefully examines the British government’s negotiations with the main political parties - the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League and the Sikhs of Punjab leading to the final announcement of the Partition Plan on 3 June, 1947. The creation of two Independent Dominions of India and Pakistan in mid-August 1947 envisaged the Partition of Punjab along with Bengal.

    As an eyewitness working in the Government of India during that critical period, I would say that the communal situation then was quite alarming. The launching of ‘Direct Action’ by the Muslim League in August 1946 resulted in the Great Calcutta killings of Hindus followed by the Bihar massacre of Muslims, leading to the eventual holocaust in the Punjab.

    In the context of this chain of events, the Partition of India had become inevitable. There was a virtual consensus among the British, the Congress and the League that there was no other alternative.

    The Interim Government was formed in August 1946 with Nehru as the Vice-President. The Muslim League joined in October 1946. The whole exercise was a fiasco as the Congress and League members worked at cross purposes and the government proved powerless to enforce law and order in the country.

    The author points out Punjab Premier Tiwana’s suggestion to the British to delink Punjab from the rest of India and treat it as one united entity to be considered directly for membership in the British Commonwealth without joining either India or Pakistan. It was too radical for the British to consider it as they were dealing primarily with the Congress and the Muslim League.

    It is interesting to observe that Jinnah in his statement published in Dawn dated 1 May, 1947 argued that an exchange of population in Punjab would have to be effected at some stage. But the Congress and the Viceroy Mountbatten seem to have ignored it.

    In the meantime, communal rioting was spreading like wildfire in Punjab. By the middle of June, Lahore was burning and there was a large-scale exodus of non-Muslims to East Punjab. The arrival of Sikh and Hindu refugees and their stories of horror, rape and brutal killing of men, women and children led to a devastating retaliation and the Muslim population of East Punjab began running away towards West Punjab.

    Neither the Congress nor Muslim League leaders bothered to visit Punjab at this juncture to stop this savage mayhem.

    Ishtiaq Ahmed has painstakingly recorded the events beginning from 1945 leading to the Partition of Punjab in mid-August 1947 in chronological order. He has done extensive research into the declassified British official communications.

    The secret communications of December 1945 and February 1946 from the Viceroy Lord Wavell to the Secretary of State in London reveal that Wavell's plans were aimed to discourage the Muslim League from demanding Partition of the country. Much earlier, the Punjab Governor, Sir Bertrand Glancy, in his classified report to the Viceroy, had dismissed the Pakistan doctrine as a menace to communal peace in Punjab. His successor, Sir Evan Jenkins, had forewarned about Punjab descending into anarchy and chaos after announcement of its Partition. He considered the British June 3 announcement to partition India and leave India as a dangerous decision “amounting to an invitation to the warring parties to make real war upon one another”.

    By documenting the eyewitness accounts of the tragic ethnic cleansing in both West and East Punjab, the author makes a significant observation that Jinnah had issued a strong condemnation of the attacks on Muslims in Bihar but remained silent on the riots in the Punjab. The failure on the part of the central leadership of both Congress and Muslim League to comprehend the prevailing communal animosity in Punjab already in flames, is borne out by the attitude of even Mahatma Gandhi.

    I vividly remember that during his visit to Lahore in the first week of August 1947, he exhorted the non-Muslims “not to run away from Lahore but die with what you think is the dying Lahore”.

    What an irony that he was not aware of the vast human misery when nearly 75 per cent of the non-Muslim population had already left Lahore by then.

    The learned author considers that the most controversial move in the unfolding Partition drama was undoubtedly Mountbatten’s decision to bring forward the date of Partition to mid-August instead of June 1948. According to him, only Nehru was informed in advance and not other leaders and this preponing had disastrous consequences for Punjab. It may be pointed out that Punjab was already in turmoil with communal frenzy from March 1947. The June 3 Partition Plan announcement only escalated the communal violence.

    The conspiracy to set ablaze the Shahalami area, the heart of the Hindu area in Lahore, is a classic example of this violence. The Viceroy and the Punjab Governor realised the gravity of the situation when the law enforcement agencies had got communalized. The colonial government felt helpless in maintaining law and order with Governor’s rule in Punjab. There was also an apprehension that this terrible communal rioting may spread to other non-Muslim majority provinces resulting in chaos and collapse of law and order endangering the entire complex process of Partition. It was therefore considered advisable by Mountbatten to pre-pone the date of independence from June 1948 to 15 August, 1947.

    Mountbatten’s decision to pre-pone the Independence has been differently interpreted by the writers of Partition literature.

    However, as an eye-witness to the happenings in official circles in the corridors of the Imperial Secretariat, I vividly remember that Mountbatten's decision was welcomed by the people. There was even jubilation among my Muslim colleagues in government who were excited about their rapid promotions in the new government of Pakistan at Karachi.

    In his analysis and conclusions the author, on the strength of his collected first person accounts, highlights the organized violence and assaults on Muslims in the Princely states of East Punjab where the rulers were pressed to expel all Muslims from their territories.

    After examining different estimates, a figure of 9 to 10 million is considered to be fairly accurate for the two-way forced migration in the Punjab. As regards fatalities, the exact figure will never be known. A majority of scholars agree that more Muslims were killed compared to Sikhs and Hindus put together. However, the total loss of life in the whole of Punjab is estimated to be around one million.

    More than six decades have passed since the separation of the two Punjabs. The generation which went through that ordeal usually dismisses it as a bad dream. Whenever the Punjabis from both sides meet, their encounters have been very emotional.

    Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed, a typical Lahoria by birth, though from the next generation, is a keen observer of this ethnic amity.

    I vividly remember the bonhomie at the Indo-Pakistan mushairas during the 1950s when Punjabi poets from the two sides with past association met one another. I fully endorse Ishtiaq's observation that the Punjabi identity remains a very strong part of the cultural make-up of the people.

    [Courtesy: The Statesman. Edited for sikhchic.com]

    October 13, 2011

    Ambarsaria likes this.
  2. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār SPNer

    kds1980 ji your bias of course shows as you highlight sentences with deficiencies in Jinah. I also remember that "Jinah" did not make any statements about the goings on in the 1984 massacre of SIkhs lollol. Oh I forgot, Jinah never ruled India in 1984 and it were the Sikhs lollol. Wrong again I forgot that the then Government was not lead by a Sikh in Delhi lollol. At least most were caught, prosecuted and punishe. Sorry wrong again none or few were processed lollol. Is it possible it was related to Muslims conspiracy against the Sikhs, perhaps you will agree with this lollol. Not correct but just to make you happy.

    If you want to give it to others learn to take it too. mundahug

    Sat Sri Akal.
    Gyani Jarnail Singh likes this.
  3. kds1980

    kds1980 (previously Kanwardeep Singh) SPNer

    Ambarsaria ji

    I don't understand why are you laughing .Jinnah was responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of Sikhs and millions of Sikhs losing their property ,most fertile land and many historical places .His first speech on day of independence was making a secular Pakistan ,but in reality he did nothing so that Sikhs will stay in Pakistan ,he just want them to throw them out.
  4. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār SPNer

    kds1980 Jinah was angel for Muslims, who was our angel? Why should Jinah care about Sikhs as that was not his constituency?

    Whose constituency were Sikhs? What happened to that? Who betrayed the Sikhs?

    My laugh is not real happy laugh but a sarcastic laugh meaning your highlighting was not necessary as Sikhs are no better off after 1947 even after so called the evil of Jinah playing a part in their body politic.

    Sat Sri Akal.
    Gyani Jarnail Singh likes this.
  5. kds1980

    kds1980 (previously Kanwardeep Singh) SPNer

    How was Jinnah angel for muslims? Only Punjabi muslims benefited from Pakistan,which earlier were not even major part of Pakistan movement .As far caring is concerned ,he wanted to make paksitan a secular country yet he did nothing for protection of non muslims .When Jinnah who was not even a hardcore muslim could be so cruel towards minorities then one can imagine How much intolerant practicing muslims could be cruel toward non muslims
    spnadmin likes this.
  6. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār SPNer

    kds1980 ji one comment,
    The above is politics. India claims to be secular, really!

    Sikhs needed to seek a Punjab State, Punjabi speaking not religious. The bloody Sikh/Punjabi leaders nvere understood and sold out for ever including now.

    Sat Sri Akal.
    Gyani Jarnail Singh likes this.
  7. kds1980

    kds1980 (previously Kanwardeep Singh) SPNer

    Atleast India allowed Large number of muslims to stay in India,Jinnah could had done the same but he chose ethnically cleanse non muslims or remained silent on that issue.India is not perfectly secular country but still it is much more multi religious society than Pakistan
  8. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Sawa lakh se EK larraoan SPNer

    The Muslims were far too many..for a disunited "India" to cleanse them all out....BUT this has not stopped Indians from continuing the "job" Jinnah and his cohorts "completed" in 1947....thats why we have babri Masjids being torn apart and Gujrati Muslims being massacred off and on...not forgetting the Sikhs...so imho..India also wnated to do whayt Jinnah/pakistan did..but didnt succeed in 1947...so it has continued that till today...while Pakistan has progressed to massacring fellow MUSLIMS !! (India will also do that - massacre fellow HINDUS real soon !!...just see how Ramlila and annah hazarehs ramdevs agniveshs....rss swami- bombs etc are developing....thats a sure sign of whats coming..)
    BOTH HANDS..India and Pakistan created the CLAP of 1947 and BOTH havent stopped clapping yet..only in 1947 it was a "clap"....now its turning into a Backhanded SLAP !! as well.....so action takes place in BOTH directions....!!
    spnadmin and Tejwant Singh like this.
  9. kds1980

    kds1980 (previously Kanwardeep Singh) SPNer

    Gyani ji

    Hindu's were also too many in east Bengal about 33% before partition but now only 8.5-10% remain.Apart from East Punjab and Delhi there was no mass migration to Pakistan from India.Just read about East Bengali refugees from 1948-56 there were more 1 -2 million Hindu refugees from East Pakistan ,but there was no retaliation and muslims from West bengal did not leave India.these refugees were not even paid adequate compensation as Bengal or Indian government did not have money to pay them .
    If India really wanted they could had drive much more muslims from UP,Bihar ,Bengal from 48 to 50s but Congress choose to keep them as their votebank
  10. sanj007

    sanj007 Well-Known Member SPNer

    Detailed acount of partition:
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  11. sanj007

    sanj007 Well-Known Member SPNer

    Leading to the abject surrender by the apostles of pacifsim to fascist violence of the muslim league.
    But there were other leaders of muslim faith against partition:
  12. sanj007

    sanj007 Well-Known Member SPNer


    As well as Bacha Khan of NWFP province:

  13. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Sawa lakh se EK larraoan SPNer

    Kds Ji..
    You may be right..Jinnah/ Mulsim League had no wish for "vote banks"...unlike Nehru and his gang. Sohrawardee actually began his Massacres of HINDUS/SIKHS in Bengal as Direct Action DAY to start the Pakistan Campaign...the bloodshed began in Bengal..IMHO the British too wanted to PUNISH only Bengal and PUNJAB as ONLY these two states were in the forefront fo the Independence Movement....SIKHS in Punjab and Bose form Bengal...Anyway India took its REVENGE in 1971 !!
  14. kds1980

    kds1980 (previously Kanwardeep Singh) SPNer

    1971 was again a defeat for Hindu's and only Bengali muslims gained from it. bangladesh did not prove to be a friend of India or Kind to Hindu's.What India gained from 1971 war apart from its boosting its fake ego and Indira Gandhi presenting herself image of Durga to common Indians?

    Sheikh mujibur even refused to return land of demolished Hiodu Temples to bangladeshi Hindu's.Tactically India should had allowed Punjabi vs Bengali muslim conflict to go on and on it could had drained ruined Pakistan

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