Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947
Compiled for the SGPC by S. GURBACHAN SINGH TALIB
PAKISTAN-BIRTH AND OBJECTIVES
Pakistan grew out of the two-nation theory of the Muslim League, which for the last twenty years or more has been synonymous with its permanent president, the late Mohamed Ali Jinnah, called by the Muslims Qaid-i-Azam or the Supreme Leader. The career of Qaid-i-Azam Jinnah indicates a curious and. ironic development from being ‘the apostle of Hindu-Muslim Unity, as he was called by admiring Congressmen, to being the chief exponent, advocate and creator of Pakistan-a state based upon the thesis that the Muslims of India are a separate nation, and a,, such need a homeland and state for themselves, separate from Hindu-land. Pakistan is now a predominantly Muslim state, so predominantly Muslim in its population that its western and more important portion has in the course of a few months of its establishment, been almost completely rid of its Hindu, Sikh and to a great extent of its Christian and untouchable populations. By what processes this development has been brought about is what this booklet is designed to relate. The present overlords of Pakistan have declared times out of number that Pakistan is in character a Muslim State-the largest Muslim State in the world. This description of its character, when placed side by side with the declared character of India as a secular state, which she is also sought to be made in effect, has unnerved the Hindu population of faraway East Bengal, where alone now in Pakistan Hindus in any appreciable numbers are found. Since October last a deliberate policy on the part of the Muslim majority in East Bengal, with the connivance of the East Bengal Muslim League Government, forced the Hindus out of that Province. This exodus of Hindus became such a vast movement of emigration, that in October, 1948 official estimates put the number of Hindu immigrants from Eastern Pakistan into India at fifteen lakhs. More and more were following over the border into Assam and West Bengal everyday, and the refugee problem for the Indian Government already preoccupied with the rehabilitation of about a crore of people from Western Pakistan and Kashmir, began to assume a desperate look. That is what made Sardar Patel to declare that if the Pakistan Government did not take effective steps to stop the exodus of Hindus from East Bengal the India Government would claim proportionate territory from East Bengal for the resettlement of the Hindus immigrants. This exodus is only an illustration of the fact that the driving out of minorities and non-Muslim populations is something inherent in the very nature, conception and scope of the kind of state which the Muslims have achieved through the good offices of the British in the shape of Pakistan. No amount of reasonableness and accommodation, no attempts at friendship and understanding on the part of India could avert what occurred in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind, in Bahawalpur, in raider-occupied Kashmir and is at present occurring in East Bengal. The thing is inevitable and inherent in the nature of the State of Pakistan and the entire attitude and mentality of which this State is the result. It is a significant fact that while in India, the Government discourages communal groups and parties, in Pakistan no group or parties other than communal are encouraged. A Pakistan Peoples’ Congress is inconceivable. When the Hindu leaders of Sind planned the establishment of a political party which might draw its membership from people belonging to various religions, the reply of the Pakistan Government was characteristic. The Hindus of Sind, (such of them as are still there) might have a Hindu Party, but not one which Muslims also might join. In the Muslim State of Pakistan, no Muslim may join any organization other than a purely Muslim one. It is such an attitude which bred the riots of 1946 and 1947-Calcutta, Noakhali, N.-W. F. P., the Punjab, Sind and Bahawalpur.
The very name of the State which the Muslim League envisaged-and achieved-is, in the context in which it was adopted, a standing insult to the Hindus and other non-Muslims living in India. This name-Pakistan-means literally ‘the Land of the Pure’ or of Purity. This implies clearly that Hindus and all that belongs to them credally and materially is impure, defiled and unholy. In a communally-charged atmosphere to have broadcast such an offensive name and concept among the Muslims was to extend an open invitation to racial and communal arrogance, contempt of others, challenges and counter-challenges.
The origin of the Pakistan idea is briefly this: –
Dr. Mohammad Iqbal in his presidential address at the Annual Muslim League Session held at Allahabad in .1930, advocated the establishment of a separate Muslim State or Federation in India on the basis of the Muslims’ separate political identity, in these words: “The Muslim demand for the creation of Muslim India within India is, therefore, perfectly justified. ………. I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-Government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims at least of North-West India.”
This was the first hint thrown into the atmosphere of Indian politics of a separate Muslim State or Federation. But the thing at this stage was a vague aspiration, the desire towards a separate state was unformed in anybody’s mind as a concrete programme-symptomatic nevertheless of a dangerous way of thinking and an explosive kind of mentality.
Dr. Mohammad Iqbal’s thesis did not immediately find much support among the Indian Muslims. At the Round Table Conference which was held in London soon after, the Muslim delegates talked in terms only of safeguards and the proportions of seats the Muslims might get in the various legislatures of India in addition to pleas for the creation of a new Muslim-majority province, namely Sind. The official policy of the Muslim League in these years continued to be very much the same-any thought of setting up a separate state being regarded as the vision of an idealist, a poet, but in no way practical politics.
But Dr. Mohammad Iqbal was by no means the only Muslim who thought in terms of a separate Muslim State in India. In the January of 1933 appeared, on behalf of certain Indian Muslim students at Cambridge, headed by Chaudhari Rehmat Ali, a pamphlet entitled Now or Never. This pamphlet advocated a complete break away of the Muslims of North-Western zones of India from the rest of the Indian nation. “India” it said, “is not the name of single country, nor the home of one single nation. It is in fact, the designation of a state created for the first time in history by the British.” The Moslems are shewn in this pamphlet to be altogether separate in their way of life from the other people of India, and hence the unmistakable conclusion is suggested that they must have a separate state of their own. Says the pamphlet, ‘We do not inter-dine, we do not intermarry. Our national customs and calendars, even our diet and dress, are different. Hence the Muslims demand the recognition of a separate national status.’
It is necessary here to point out that the essence of this last argument given above has been repeated ever since 1940 by all Muslim Leaguers, down from Mr. Jinnah. Differences and cleavages have been emphasized and the doctrine of hate and animosity has been preached. Muslim separatism has been bolstered up; all attempts made in the past-comparatively remote and recent-by far-sighted Hindus and Muslims, Kings, poets, founders of faiths and others-have been sought to be written off. This exaggerated account of the cleavage between the Muslim and the Hindu (and Sikh) way -of life led, when factors favour able to such a consummation had developed fully, to the orgy of rioting in Bengal, the N.-W. F. Province, the Punjab and Sind. As a matter of fact, it would have been a surprising thing if after the gospel of hate which the Muslim League had been preaching to the Indian Muslims for so many years, these riots and their accompanying horrors and devastation had not occurred.
The word ‘Pakistan’, which so powerfully caught the imagination of the Muslims of India, and which pinned the vague, floating idealism of savants like Dr. Mohammad Iqbal to a concrete objective and programme, is a coinage of Chaudhari Rehmat Ali, who has been mentioned above. He has been hailed among the Muslims as the founder of Pakistan National Movement. The coinage is said to have been formed from the initial letters of the names of the Provinces designed to compose the original Pakistan -The North-Western zone. These provinces were: Punjab, Afghania (N.-W. Frontier Province) Kashmir and Baluchistan (which contributed the end letters to the name). Apart from this genesis of the name, which perhaps was an afterthought, the name is a Persian compound formation; and an offensive challenge to the non-Muslims, extremely defiant and provoking, is inherent in it. For Pakistan means the Land of the Pure, in this case the Muslims.
Pakistan, as has been told above, was originally conceived to comprise only the North-Western areas of the Punjab, Sind, Kashmir, the N.-W. Frontier Province and Baluchistan. But in a later concept of the thing, issued in the form of a revised version of the original scheme, it was devised to comprise, besides the areas originally ear-marked for it, also Assam and Bengal in the East, and Hyderabad and Malabar in the South. In addition to these extensive strongholds of Muslim power in the North-West, in the East and the South, beleaguering non-Muslim India from all strategic points, were also to be several smaller though by no means too small, Muslim pockets, studded all over the country-one in the United Provinces, one in the heart of Rajputana and another still in Bihar. Thus, the Muslims of all India, and not only those of the Muslim majority areas, were to have independent countries of their own, parcelling out India into so many new Muslim-dominated States.
This process in its conception carried with itself certain very far-reaching, and in the light of the communal developments of 1946 and 1947, very significant and pregnant corollaries. Rehmat Ali, whatever else he might be, has been quite fertile in the devising of catching, though somewhat megalomaniac names. Besides Pakistan, he has been responsible for the concept of India as Dinia, a cleverly suggestive anagram. Dinia would be the continent which, if not at the moment the home of an Islamic State, was such in immediate conception, waiting to be converted and subordinated to Islam through the proselytising and conquering zeal of its sons. Bengal and Assam, conceived as a joint Muslim-majority area by a logic partial to Muslim reasoning, was rechristened by Rehmat Ali Bang-i-Islam or Bangistan, redolent of the Feudal Moghal name of Bengal, Bangush, which has been offensive to the Hindu, suffering for centuries under the hell of the Muslim. The Muslim Homelands parcelled out of Bihar, the U. P. and Rajputana (the Ajmer area, where is the shrine of the great Muslim Saint, Khawaja Muinuddin Chisti) were to be called respectively Faruquistan, Haideristan and Muinistan. Hyderabad, ruled over by a Muslim Prince, with its 86% Hindu population, was to be called Osmanistan, after the name of the present Nizam; and the Moplah tracts of Malabar were named Moplistan. There would, besides, be areas known as Safistan and Nasaristan. On the map of India (or Dinia) as drawn by Rehmat Ali, non-Muslim areas make unimpressive, miserable patches, interspersed on all sides with Muslim states, born out of conflict with Hindu India, and pursuing a set policy of converting, conquering and amalgamating this Hindu India into themselves. Such was the conception of Pakistan, at any rate the first push, made popular among the Indian Muslims by the tremendous force of propaganda which communal and fanatical zeal could lend to the Muslim League of which we have been witnessing the grimly tragic consequences since August, 1946.
All this mentioned above was elaborated by Rehmat Ali in 1940, the year in which his concept had been so far successful that the Lahore Session of the Muslim League passed the famous Pakistan Resolution, adopting the achievement of an independent ‘Muslim State’ out of the United India of British formation, as the immediate goal of the Muslim League policy. Rehmat Ali’s Pamphlet of 1940 was entitled Millat of Islam and the Menace of Indianism. By the Menace of Indianism was implied the conception of the Indian Muslims as a separate nation, who must refuse to be of India, and must demand a separate state or several ‘states’ to be in alliance with one another, for themselves. The elucidation of this conception by Rehmat Ali is very revealing for a student of the trends forming the Indian Muslim mentality of the last decade or so.
In 1942 Rehmat Ali came out with still another Pamphlet, called The Millat and its Mission. In this Pamphlet, apart from the concept of India as Dinia or the land which was destined to be converted in its entirety to Islam and to Muslim hegemony, there was a very revealing attitude about minorities. As has been pointed out by all, those who have been critical of the programme of Pakistan, the problem of minorities to be left in Pakistan and Hindustan would be the chief stumbling block of any future policy in these states. Vast Hindu-Sikh and Muslim minorities would be left in Pakistan and Hindustan respectively, and to settle with them would require imagination, tact and a high degree of fairness. The Muslim League advocates of Pakistan have been prolific with assurances of fair treatment towards minorities-assurances never seriously meant to be kept, and broken in the most unworthy manner in all the territories which became part of the Pakistan State. What the Muslim Leaguers had been planning all these years was really to drive out minorities from Pakistan, and in this way to solve the minority problem. Listen to the illuminating remarks of Rehmat Ali on minorities. Says Rehmat Ali:
‘What is the fundamental truth about minorities……… remember that, in the past ‘Minorityism’ has ever proved itself a major enemy of the Millat; that at present it is sabotaging us religiously, culturally, and politically even in our national lands; and that in the future, it would destroy us throughout the Continent of Dinia and its dependencies, Hence the Commandment (one of the seven commandments laid down in the pamphlet “The Millat and its Mission”), Avoid ‘Minorityism’, which means that we must not leave our minorities in Hindu lands, even if the British and the Hindus offer them the so-called constitutional safeguards. For no safeguards can be substituted for the nationhood which is their birthright. Nor must we keep Hindu and/or Sikh minorities in our lands, even if they themselves were willing to remain with or without any special safeguards. For they will never be of us. Indeed, while in ordinary times they will retard our national reconstruction, in times of crisis they will betray us and bring about our redestruction.
“This is the gist of the Commandment. It may be expanded into the factual statement that
“(a) To leave our minorities in Hindu lands is:-
(1) To leave under Hindu hegemony 35 million Muslims who form no less than 1/3 of the whole Millat, which in her struggle for freedom has no allies in the continent.
(2) To deny their resources to the cause of the Millat at a time when she needs the maximum contribution of every one of her sons and daughters.
(3) To devote their lives and labour to the cause of the Hindu Jati. I hope people who argue that an equal number of (35 millions) Hindu and Sikh minorities in Pakistan, Bangistan and Osmanistan will be working for the Millat overlook the fact that the work of one can never compensate for that of the other………”
To reinforce still further the lesson and the determination for the total elimination of minorities, Rehmat Ali argues further on, more uncompromisingly,
“(b) To keep Hindus and/or Sikh minorities in our lands is:
“(1) To keep in Muslim lands 35 million Hindus and Sikhs who form no more than 1/8 of the total strength of the force opposing the Millat in the Continent of Dinia.
(2) To condemn to permanent servitude our 35 million brethren living in Hindu Dinia, i.e., outside Pakistan, Bangistan and Osmanistan. The reason is that unless and until we accept this commandment we cannot liberate them from the domination of ‘Indianism’.
(5) To forget even the unforgettable lesson taught to us by the disappearance of our own Pak Empire1 and of the Turkish Empire, namely that one of the major causes of their decline, defeat and downfall was the treachery and treason of their religious, racial and political minorities.”
Thus, in a thorough and relentless way Rehmat Ali has pleaded for the total elimination of minorities from Pakistan. How deeply the lesson sank into the minds of the Muslim League and the average Muslim, will be seen from the pronouncements given below of the leaders of Muslim opinion in India from Qaid-i-Azam Jinnah downwards, on the question of Minorities and the exchange of population. It was this lesson, thoroughly learnt, which led to the hounding out of the non-Muslim populations from Eastern Bengal (1946), N.-W. Frontier Province (1946 and 1947), Western Punjab, Sind and its adjoining areas, and now from the East Bengal Province of Pakistan.
Mr. Jinnah replying to a question seeking suggestions for the restoration of peace in India, said: “In view of the horrible slaughter in various parts of India, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchange of population to avoid brutal recurrence of that which had taken place where small minorities have been butchered by the overwhelming majorities.
“The Viceroy-because he alone can do it-as the representative of the Crown and as the Governor-General with powers that are vested in him, should adopt every means and measures to restore, first, peace and order. In the present conditions there is no room for reason, intelligence and fair-play. Negotiations in these conditions can hardly yield fruitful results and produce a settlement satisfactory to both parties.”
It may be pointed out here that exchange of population has been in the mind of all Muslim exponents of Pakistan, or whatever the Muslim State designed to be carved out of India has been called. Dr. Latif of Hyderabad (Deccan), in his book The Muslim Problem in India, in spite of the temperate language used by him and the reasoned way in which he has made out the case for creating Hindu and Muslim zones, has advocated the exchange of population. On this problem he says, “One of the objects of the transitional constitution2 is to facilitate and prepare the ground for migration of Muslims and the Hindus into the zones specified for them so as to develop them into cuturally homogeneous States.
During the transitional period migration should be on a voluntary3 basis. For this the necessary legislation will have to be passed for each region, and a machinery set up to organise and regulate this voluntary Migration.”
There is unconscious humour and irony in the use of the epithet ‘voluntary’ for this migration, for which Dr. Latif’s scheme postulates the provision of legislation and a suitable machinery by the Government or the Governments concerned. Of course, when the Muslim Leaguers did actually come to establish a Government of their own on August 15, 1947, they drove the non-Muslim population out of their country with scant ceremony-by a campaign of pillage, murder, rape and arson. This method effected the exchange desired much quicker and in a more thorough way than could be done by any human legislation. As a matter of fact, the driving out of minorities had begun as early as November, 1946 with Noakhali, when the whole of Northern India was flooded with destitutes begging for a morsel or a piece of cloth to cover their shivering bodies. Later this was effected in December, 1946 and January, 1947 in the Hazara District of the N.-W. Frontier Province, when Sikhs and Hindus had to flee for dear life into the Punjab. And then came March, 1947 with its horrors. August, 1947 let loose a vast flood of persecution of millions. So, the Muslim scheme was being translated into historic fact to the letter.
To return now for a while to Rehmat Ali, whose pamphlets provided the germ of the Pakistan idea, and the Muslim League Plans and such bodies as the Muslim National Guards, which were subsidiary to it. Rehmat Ali had the dream of reviving the old Muslim glory. His ultimate vision was of a Muslim India or Dinia, over which Islam must rule in its traditional manner. The areas carved out for Muslims in the midst of Hindu India mentioned above, were called by Rehmat Ali. ‘footholds’. Footholds from which presumably the Muslims were to plan expansion into the heart of the neighbouring non-Muslim areas, and to link up with one another, for tightening up their stranglehold in these non-Muslim areas. Jinnah’s own abortive proposals for a ‘corridor’ to link up Eastern and Western Pakistan was somewhat of this nature. Have an area running all over Northern India, cutting India into two-and plan for the rest from this advantageous position.
Presumably had Hyderabad been in a position to accede to Pakistan, a corridor would have been demanded for linking it up with Pakistan in the shape of an outlet to the sea. This has been the tempo, the character and the insatiably ambitious nature of the Pakistan Plan, conspiring for the conquest of Hindu India. Rioting and pillaging would be accounted only as minor rehearsary exercises in such a mighty and vast programme of action!
On the exchange of population, Mr. Jinnah expressed himself quite clearly on a number of occasions, as already quoted. His views were not those of a mere idealist like Rahmat Ali, or of an intellectual like Dr. Latif, but of the leader of the most powerful Muslim Party in India, whose words would carry tremendous influence with the Muslim masses and would be effective in forming their attitude and reactions. Speaking in Kingsway Hall in London on December 13, 1946, when he had gone there to have consultations with the British Government regarding the future functioning or killing of the Constituent Assembly, to which talks the Congress leaders too had been invited, Mr. Jinnah made a passionate plea for the Muslim State of Pakistan, which would be inhabited by ‘one hundred million people, all Muslims.’ The implication of this is very clear. The Muslim population of India was, according to the Muslim League plan, to be concentrated in Pakistan, and as a necessary corollary, the non-Muslims were to be packed off. ‘The important implications of such remarks were not lost upon the Muslims of the Muslim majority areas of India, and they formulated their plans for effecting a clean sweep of the non-Muslim minorities from their lands.
A few excerpts from the text of this speech of Mr. Jinnah, made at a time when the situation in the country was very explosive, and any provocation provided to the Muslims would lead to widespread rioting, should serve to reveal the real nature of the campaign started by the Muslim League. The terrible Calcutta riots had already occurred; Noakhali was hardly a month-old affair and stirrings of the Muslim population of Hazara District in the N.-W.F.P. against the Sikhs were becoming visible. At such a time to have propounded the twin theories of complete cultural and credal separation and the exchange of population was only to inflame rioting on the part of the Muslims still further. Said Mr. Jinnah at Kingsway Hall:
“In the North-West and North-East zones of India which are our homeland and where we are in a majority of 70% we say we want a separate State of our own. There we can live according to our own notions of life. The differences between Hindus and Muslims are so fundamental that there is nothing that matters in life upon which we agree.
“It is well known to any student of History that our heroes, our culture, our language, our music, our architecture, our jurisprudence, our social life are absolutely different and distinct. We are told that the so-called one India is British-made. It was by the sword. It can only be held as it has been held. Do not be misled by anyone saying that India is one and why, therefore, should it not continue to be one. What do we want? I tell you, Pakistan. Pakistan presupposes that Hindustan should also be a free State.
“What would Hindus lose? Look at the map. They would have three-quarters of India. They would have the best parts. They have a population of nearly 200,000,000. Pakistan “is certainly not the best part of India. We should have a population of 100,000,000, all Muslims.
“On July the 27th, we decided to change our policy and to resort to “Direct Action”-a big change of policy-and we decided to tell our people this on August the 16th.
“Reviewing the whole position, there is no other way but to divide India. Give Muslims their homeland and give Hindus Hindustan.”
The Muslim League’s famous ‘Pakistan Resolution’ was passed in its Annual session at Lahore in April, 1940. It declared for the first time the objective of Muslim League policy in India thus:
“Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be acceptable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims, unless it is designed on the following basic principles, namely, that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and north-eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute 8 independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign………”
Non-Muslim India did not readily give acceptance for this proposal which on the very face of it was outrageous and the consequences of which appeared to be nothing less than a relentless and destructive civil war in the country. Large sections of the Muslims too did not find this solution of the country’s constitutional problem acceptable, as it would mean endless rioting in which Muslims as surely as non-Muslims would suffer. But the British Government found in this resolve of the Muslim League a fresh sign of the perpetuation of the communal rift in India and they were not slow to lend it countenance in a way, and as Congress leaders repeatedly declared, to put a premium on Muslim League intransigeance which made any reasonable settlement well-nigh impossible. The Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, whose regime in India was marked for the campaign of repression launched by the British Government against the freedom movement in India, said in the well-known August 1940 ‘offer’ to India, “It goes without saying that they (the British Government) could not contemplate transfer of their present responsibilities for the peace and welfare of India to any system of Government whose authority is directly denied by large and powerful elements in India’s national life. Nor could they be parties to the coercion of such elements into submission to such a Government.”
Here was a clear hint to all such groups as would decide to dissociate themselves from the Congress, that any such dissociation on the part would be duly noted and respected. The Princes, the Muslim League and any others might come along. But coming as this declaration did not long after the passing of the “Pakistan Resolution” it is clear that it was meant as an acceptance by the British Government of the right of Muslim separation. Such was the joint Anglo-Muslim conspiracy out of which Pakistan was born. And the two forces-the British Government and the Muslim League-worked hand in hand right up till the 15th August, 1947 to make Pakistan a fact, and to create such a temper of hate and lack of confidence between the communities as would make any thought of their living together an utter impossibility.
But the British Government did not stop short at this above declaration. In the Prime Minister’s Statement in the House of Commons on March 11, 1942 on the eve of the departure of Sir Stafford Cripps on his historic mission to India it was said: “He (Sir Stafford) carries with him the full confidence of His Majesty’s Government, and he will strive in their name to procure the necessary measure of assent, not only from the Hindu majority, but also from those great minorities among whom the Muslims are the most numerous and on many ground pre-eminent.”
With these and other declarations of the British Government’s policy in their pocket, with the full support of the British bureaucracy in India with whom in Pandit Nehru’s famous words the Muslim League had ‘a mental alliance’ and with the confidence that any and every act of intransigeance on its part would be respected by the British Government, the Muslim League devised plans for creating sanctions behind its extreme demands. The sanctions were to be riots against Hindus, and when these came into the Punjab, against the Sikhs as well. Very evidently the Muslim League was not at war with the British Government. Its war was with Hindu India, and so against Hindu India it would start a fierce campaign. While the War lasted, it did not suit the British Government td have any large-scale rioting or conflict inside India, as that would have meant hindering the war-effort. But all this while the propaganda campaign for Pakistan was kept on at full blast. When the Congress started its 1942 movement, Mr. Jinnah made vituperative speeches against the Congress and called upon Muslims to oppose this movement. The Muslim League press all through this struggle used words like ‘goondas’ in describing the Congress fighters against British rule. Even the British press did not say harder things against the Congress leaders and workers than did the Muslim.
A good deal has been written regarding the psychological, political and historical factors which led to the formulation of the Muslim demand for Pakistan. Leaving aside the issues which may be controversial and may reflect only individual reactions, two or three things appeared to be quite clear as to the factors which made this demand possible. One was the clear need of the British Government in the event of parting with power in India; which they well knew, could not be long delayed, of leaving behind them a warning and divided India. The other was the peculiarly arrogant and narcissian temperament of Mr. Jinnah which kept him perpetually in conflict with the great personalities inside the Congress, a number of whom were his equals, and so he would have to work with them in a team and not dictate to them, as he could unquestionably do inside the Muslim League, made up of mediocrities for the most part. Added to these was the general temper and behaviour of the Muslims, especially in the important Muslim-majority provinces of Bengal and the Punjab in which the Muslim-dominated ministries, which to begin with were not Muslim League but became so in 1940, were ruling over the Hindus and in the later province over the Hindus and Sikhs, in a most discriminatory manner, extremely provocative to the latter.
In these two provinces, of which the Punjab had been called by Mr. Jinnah the ‘corner stone’ of Pakistan, and which were, between them to constitute the bulk of the territory and about 80% of the population of Pakistan, a policy of thoroughly beating down the non-Muslims had been in operation for some time. In Bengal, and to a still greater extent in the Punjab, the administration was placed in its most important aspects into Muslim hands. Hindus and Sikhs were removed from key positions, and Hindu or Sikh officers as were occupying such positions, were transferred to routine or office work, and those whose promotions were due were kept down under one pretext or the other. Wherever any District Magistrate or other senior administrative officer showed impartiality and dared to put down the aggressive Muslim elements within his area, the wrath of the Muslim Ministers inevitably descended upon him, and he soon found himself cast into the wilderness of the secretariat or such work as would keep him in a position of utter impotence, under the check of some Muslim favourite of the Ministry. In administration there were glaring instances of discrimination against non-Muslims, which while they made the average Muslim very arrogant and aggressive, put the non-Muslims in a mood of desperation against injustice of the administrative machinery. It was the opinion openly held in these times among the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab and the Hindus of Bengal, that in these two provinces, the Muslims already had Pakistan in action though not in name. As a matter of fact, that astute politician, the late Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, Premier of the Punjab from 1937 to the end of 1942, suggested in vain to his Muslim League colleagues not to press for a formal division of India into independent states, but to ask only for the creation of Hindu and Muslim zones within an Indian Federation with a weak centre, as that would give the Muslims all the advantages of Pakistan without the liabilities, financial and political, of having an independent State, which would be deprived of the rich economic backing of the more productive parts of India. He and his Unionist Party succeeded to a great extent in making the Punjab very much a Muslim province. Protests of Hindu and Sikh politicians and legislators were of no avail. Sir Sikandar died in the December of 1942, and his death removed from the field of Muslim politics perhaps the only, if any, figure who could have successfully helped to modify at least some of the extreme theories of Mr. Jinnah. His successor, Sir Khizar Hyat Khan, although a capable man and one who got ample support from Hindus and Sikhs as against the rabid Punjab Muslim League, became as time passed, altogether helpless to resist the onslaught of the League on his party and the Hindu and Sikh minorities of the Punjab.
After the passing of the Pakistan Resolution by the League and the declaration by the British Viceroy and the British Prime Minister that the Muslim point of view would be given a place of importance in all constitutional negotiations, the next Annual Session of the Muslim League (1941) held at Madras showed still greater vehemence in the expression of the Pakistan demand by the Muslim League. While repeating the substance of the Pakistan demand in its resolutions” this session drew forth an exposition of this demand from its President, Mr. Jinnah. He said, “The goal of the All-India Muslim League is that we want to establish a completely independent State in the north-west and eastern zones of India with full control on defence, foreign affairs, communications, customs, currency, exchange etc. We do not want under any circumstances a constitution of All-India character with one Government at the centre. We will never agree to that. If you once agree to it, let me tell you that the Muslims would be absolutely wiped out of existence. We shall never be a feudatory of any power or of any Government at the Centre so far as our free national homelands are concerned. Muslim India will never submit to an All-Indian constitution and one Central Government. The ideology of the League is based on the fundamental principle that the Muslims of India are an independent nationality and that any attempt to get them to merge their national and political identity and ideology will be resisted………”
The last portion, italicized by the present writer, is worthy of note. Resistance, direct action’ struggle-these words have been the keynote of the Muslim League in defining its relations with Hindu India. As early as 1938, at its Patna Session, the Muslim League had passed a resolution declaring: “The time has come to authorise the Working Committee of the All-India Muslim League to decide and resort to direct action if and when necessary”. This was to launch a struggle against the Congress Ministries on whose resignation in November, 1939 in protest against the drafting by the British Government of India into the war without prior consent of the people, the Muslim League celebrated its ‘Thanksgiving Day’.
Mahatma Gandhi was released from prison in 1944, and while in prison he had addressed a letter to Mr. Jinnah asking him to come and see him for a talk regarding the political settlement in the country. This letter the British Government withheld, but Mr. Jinnah and the country knew of it from a Government communique. The Muslim press was moved at this gesture on the part of the incarcerated Mahatma, but not Mr. Jinnah. He found occasion, even in the Mahatma’s writing an invitation to him, to abuse and vilify the latter, and so he never applied to the Government for permission to see the Mahatma. On coming out of prison, with the Congress still in jail, the Mahatma went to meet Mr. Jinnah, at his Bombay residence, day after day. But Mr. Jinnah really did not want a settlement. So the Mahatma’s approach proved unavailing. Then, in 1945, after the surrender of Germany when the Congress leaders were released, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy called the famous conference at Simla, of Congress, League, Sikh and other leaders. Nothing short of complete severance of relations with the rest of India would satisfy Mr. Jinnah. Parity was offered with the Congress to the Muslim League on a basis of 5:5 in a cabinet of 14.
This was to be an interim measure, with the permanent settlement to come a little later. But Mr. Jinnah would have none of it. The Muslim temper of hostility to the Hindus was kept up by the resolutions of the Muslim League, the speeches of Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League leaders and the comments of the Muslim League-controlled press.
During the period the Muslim League was preparing, as is now evident from what happened in 1946 and 1947, for a large-scale struggle against Hindu India, and in the Punjab inevitably against the Sikhs and Hindus, the Muslim League had been gathering a private army of its own, to which training was being imparted in fighting, stabbing and assaults. Arms were being collected, and demobilized Muslim personnel of the Indian Army were freely enlisted in the League army. This army, begun about the year 1938, continued to expand and grow better equipped. It had two famous organizations; one was the Muslim League Volunteer Corps, which was parallel to the Congress Seva Dal. But there was a great difference between the Congress body and this League body. The Congress adopted and followed its creed of non-violence. The Congress volunteers were forbidden even under the gravest provocation to retaliate with physical force. They were to regulate crowds, to organize picketing, anti-Government processions to arrange protest strikes, but no way to fight. But the Muslim League creed was not non-violent. Every town with any Muslim population had a large proportion of its Muslim inhabitants who could be counted only as riff-raff, and who very often with the connivance of the black sheep among the police force, lived on crime. Such unprincipled elements were the favourite recruiting ground for the Muslim League volunteer corps. Any hooligan with the badge and uniform of a political organization, which was day in and day out preaching the gospel of hatred against other communities, would be formidable in a well-organized group, which could back him up, and direct him in secret and violent action.
Still more important and more dangerous was the Muslim National Guards, which by the bye, is now converted into the Pakistan National Guards.
The Muslim National Guards did not owe any formal allegiance to the Muslim League, though it had the same flag as the Muslim League had. It is well-known that the National Guards was the secret arm of the Muslim League. Its membership was secret and it had its own centres and headquarters, where its members received military training and such instruction as would make them affective in times of rioting, such as using the lathi, the spear and the knife. The Unit Commander of the Muslim National Guards was known as Salar, over whom were higher officers, but all functioning secretly and with clearly such instructions as would make them formidable in rioting against unarmed non-Muslims populations. When in January, 1947 the Lahore office of the Muslim National Guards was raided by the Punjab police, a good deal of Military equipment including steel helmets ant badges were recovered. The National Guards had their own jeeps and lorries, which helped them in swift mobility for attack on Hindu and Sikh localities, in sniping and stabbing lonely passers-by and in carrying away loot. One of the articles the Muslim National Guards prized and stored was petrol, which would be used not only as fuel in transport, but as an excellent means of incendiarism on a large and devastating scale. This use of it the Muslims of the Punjab, and earlier of Bengal made very thoroughly and effectively, and hundreds of burnt town and villages in the two provinces are tragic evidence of how thorough the preparations of the Muslim League had been for its war on Hindus and Sikhs.
Regular tests were held of the Muslim National Guards in feats of fighting and attack. Marks were given and certificates granted. Alongside were reproduce the facsimile of one such certificate from Jullundur, dated (date is on the back, not here reproduced in photograph) 3.XI.464. This is only one of thousands of such certificates granted at the various centres and headquarters of the Guards in the Punjab and elsewhere. So the Muslims had a widespread and well-trained semi-military organization to back up its programme and policy.
So alarming was the rise of the Muslim National Guards that the Punjab Government took serious notice of this development, which proved to be so dangerous for the peace of the Province. But the entire machinery to the Government being pro-Muslim, nothing serious was done about the Muslim National Guards.
In April, 1947 Mr. Akhtar Hussain, Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government reported to the Governor of the Punjab: –
“The necessity for recruitment and re-organization of the Muslim League National Guards is occupying the attention of the Provincial Salar. An increase of 5,630 Guards has been reported and accelerated activity has been noticeable in the western and north-western Punjab. In the eastern Punjab, active training has been confined mainly in Simla, Ambala Cantt. and Panipat where Guards have been exercising secretly in Lathi Fighting and in the Central Punjab and in Jullundar District, where Khaksars have undertaken their training. Open activity has been confined to the collection of Relief Funds, and in the Rawalpindi area to warning Muslims to destroy looted property and refrain from giving evidence in connection with the recent disturbances.”
The Chief Secretary’s report dated a fortnight later says,:
“There are already indications that the Guards are being used as secret messengers, and their general activities are becoming less open, and in some places, they are active in arming the Community5. It has been reported that financial aid from the Centre has been promised, particularly for the Western Districts which are to act as recruiting grounds for the entire Province. Enlistment in the Rawalpindi and Campbellpore Districts has been particularly brisk and efforts have been made to enlist the services of ex-soldiers. The increase in membership is noticeable in all districts however and it is estimated that the number of Muslim League National Guards in the Province now is in the neighbourhood of 39,000.”
The Muslim League, therefore, had this two-pronged thrust to make in its assault on the non-Muslims of the Muslim majority areas. In the first place it was preaching its two-nation theory and its uncompromising opposition to the Hindus, and in the Punjab, to the Sikhs as well. It tried to write off all such things as a common Indian Culture and an Indian Nationhood. In the name of self-determination for the Muslims of India, it inculcated in them the creed of intolerance, arrogance and hate. All this made any compromise with Hindu India an impossibility for the Muslims; they must fight against the Hindus to enforce their extreme demands. And this fight came in 1946, when the Muslim League gave its Direct Action call on the 27th July of that year, which part of the story is to be narrated in the next chapter.
Secondly, the Muslim League had been preparing the Muslims physically and militarily for such a fight, which when it came, the Hindus and Sikhs were caught unawares, and suffered heavily in the dead and in the injured, in women abducted and dishonoured, in property looted and houses and religious and educational places burnt. Such retaliation as came from the Hindus and Sikhs was only belated, and after the Muslim onslaught was becoming continuous and a threat to their very existence. Before August, 1947 such retaliation wherever it came, it even served the purpose of the Muslim League, for it created that atmosphere of a civil war in India, which the Muslim League found necessary for the furtherance of its programme and policy. It could trot out atrocity stories and incite Muslims elsewhere to fall upon Hindus and Sikhs, as they actually did in the N.-W. Frontier Province in December, 1946, and January, 1947. Such was the aim and method of the Muslim League.
1Meaning the Muslim Empire in India (Present writer’s note).
2As advocated in Dr. Latif’s scheme adumberated in “The Muslim Problem in India”.
3One, however, fails to see how it would be voluntary, if effected by law.
4The original is in the possession of a Hindu gentleman.