”Tis the season of mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the conspiring sun–and “til the season of the breakup of the BJP and the season of the ascendancy of Jinnah’s stature in the land of Ganges. ‘Tis the season for writing about Mohammad Ali Jinnah and discussing the events of 1947. The newspapers are full of analysis of the Lucknow Pact, Jinnah’s 14 points and the Cabinet Mission Plan. Khushwant Singh in an article in the Hindustan Times brings forth some great points. He is right when he says that the seeds for the events of 1947 had been sowed hundreds of years ago.
Books on Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan, will fill many shelves of a library. We assume that all that could be known about him has been recorded and there is little new material to bring to light besides interpreting his role in Indian politics leading to the Partition of the country in August 1947.
Evidently, that is not so. In his recently published book, BJP leader Jaswant Singh has uncovered new material from sources hitherto untapped and come to the conclusion that Jinnah was deliberately demonised by Indian politicians and writers. That is the theme of his book Jinnah: India-Partition Independence (Rupa).
Kushwant Singh is right when he discusses the writings of Lala Lajpat Rai–the original proponent of the Two Nation Theory. Haldiram, Gwalkar, and V.D. Sarvaker were others show propounded “shuddi and shangtram” (reconversion back to Hinduism, death or expulsion from Hindu Bharat). The Muslims reacted to the onslaught of the RSS and the Hinduvata who wanted Hindustan (a land for the Hindus). The Muslims adopted the TNT as a result of being harassed for a hundred years. The Muslims suffered the most after the events of 1857. The British took out the vengeance against them. “every civil building connected with Mohammaddans should be leveled to the ground without regard to antiquarian veneration or artistic prediliction”(British Prime Minister Palmerston’s Letter No. 9 dated 9 October 1857, to Lord Canning, Viceroy of India, Canning Papers).
Muslim families paid a heavier price after the diminution of the Mughal Empire. The elimination of their lands and states (Oudh etc), and the imposition of the Devanagri script reduced their chances of succession agriculture and government employment. Their demand for parity with the Hindus was only partially accepted by the British but it was not accepted by the Nehru. Thus the fate of the region was sealed.
I do not agree with Jaswant Singh’s reading of the events leading to the division of the country. I believe Partition was inevitable as its seeds had been sown many centuries earlier and nurtured by Indian politicians of British times. My analysis is as follows :
Indians were never an integrated society. Besides caste and language divisions, the greatest was the Hindu-Muslim divide. They got along reasonably well but kept their distance from each other. There was never any real mixing of families visiting each other’s homes or even contemplating matrimonial relationships. The British fostered the feeling of separateness between the two. As the time neared for the British to leave, Muslims began to feel uneasy at the prospect of living in a Hindu-dominated India.
National divisions of India had been made before. Lala Lajpat Rai had made a rough map dividing India along communal lines. Later, Chaudhary Rehmat Ali coined the word Pakistan. Allama Iqbal, who at one time composed patriotic verses including Saarey Jahaan Se Achha, spoke of a Muslim state. Jinnah’s contribution to separateness was evolving the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations which would not live together in one state.
The feeling was echoed in the minds of middle-class Muslims across the sub-continent. After that no one, neither Gandhiji, nor Nehru, nor Sardar Patel nor Jinnah, could stop the process of religious cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs from Muslim-dominated areas. It may be recalled that as early as March 1947, Hindus and Sikhs were being driven out of towns and villages in north-west Punjab. There were communal riots in many Punjab cities, including Lahore. Hindustan Times. Khuswant Singh
Of course Mr. Singh’s current narrative is also biased. He blames the rioting in the Punjab on Pakistan. Nothing could be farther than the truth. Gurdaspur and Ferozepur were Muslims majority areas. Both cities were crucial for Bharat. Gurdaspur was the only land-link to Kashmir and Ferozepur was the only arsenal that should have been part of Pakistan. Both cities were denied to Pakistan. Both cities were ethnically cleansed so that the populations could not create problems for Bharat later.
By August 15, 1947, the migration of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan had become a bloody exodus. Sikhs and Hindus of east Punjab made sure that this was not going to be one-way traffic: they drove out Muslims from east Punjab with double the violence. It was the most catastrophic exchange of populations in the history of mankind, leaving a million dead and tens of millions homeless.
Pointing accusing fingers at Nehru or Patel or Jinnah serves no purpose. Not one of them, nor indeed all of them put together, could have stopped the process of Partition. They were helpless against the tidal wave of hatred generated by history. They were the real causes of the wars we have fought against Pakistan and the continuing conflict over the future of Kashmir.Hindustan Times. Khuswant Singh
The BJP and the RSS are parties that dwell on the wrog done to the Hindus by the Muslims.
In his famous Khuda Bakhsh Annual Lecture (1985) Dr Pande said: ‘Thus under a definite policy the Indian history books text-books were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval [i.e. Muslim] period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Muslim rule. And there were no common factors [between Hindus and Muslims] in social, political and economic life.’
Muslim rule in “India” has been much maligned the the Hindu mahasabah who took a cue from the British.
The Muslim rule in India lasted for almost 1000 years. How come then, asked the British historian Sir Henry Elliot, that Hindus ‘had not left any account which could enable us to gauge the traumatic impact the Muslim conquest and rule had on them’? Since there was none, Elliot went on to produce his own eight-volume History of India from its own historians (1867). His history claimed Hindus were slain for disputing with ‘Muhammedans’, generally prohibited from worshipping and taking out religious processions, their idols were mutilated, their temples destroyed, they were forced into conversions and marriages, and were killed and massacred by drunk Muslim tyrants. Thus Sir Henry, and scores of other Empire scholars, went on to produce a synthetic Hindu versus Muslim history of India, and their lies became history. THE MUSLIM RULE IN INDIA by M H Faruqi. Courtesy: Impact International, Vol 28, July 1998
The Muslim took the brunt of the British backlash because they were seen as the main protagonists.
Christopher Hibbert’s The Great Mutiny; India 1857 provides valuable insights into the genesis and causes of Ghadar – the massive uprising.
On page 60 (1978) Hibbert mentions how the “fakirs and maulvis” moving about the countryside, were warning the attentive crowds of the designs of the ‘Fringhis.’ They also exhorted to prepare for the looming fight for their faith. The mutineer’s slogan was: “Help, O King! We pray for assistance in our fight for the faith” (p.93). Jivanlal’s diary recorded a proclamation issued by the beat of drums that his Majesty (Bahadur Shah Zafar) would himself lead an attack on the English. “In consequence of this proclamation upwards of 10,000 Mohammedans converged near the Kashmir gate and waited till midnight for the arrival of the King.”
Neo-nationalist historians rarely mention Muslim heroes of this first war of India’s Independence except Bahadur Shah Zafar. However, they portray several insignificant players as the real heroes.
Who knows about Nawab Mahmud Khan, Ahmadullah Khan, Made Khan, Enayat Rasul, Khan Bahadur Khan, Bahadur Khan (of Rampur), Molvi Wahajuddin (of Mau), etc? Where do we get the mention of massive killing of Muslim noblemen? The detention and deportations of the Muslim activists to Kala Pani continued for decades after Ambala (1864) and Patna (1871) plots.
Bakht Khan Rohila’s contribution is largely maligned and ignored. He was the one who organised the rebellious sepoys into a fighting force that kept the freshly recruited reinforcements from the Punjab and the Gurkha Battalion from retaking Delhi for more than four months from June-September 1857. Muslims and 1857. Radiance Weekly. Muslims and 1857 War of Independence
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