The Great Divide!
The divide which some say should not have happened, but did happen at midnight
AUGUST 1947 BY DR.JAVID IQBAL
Mazhab Nahi Sekhata Apas Mei’n Bair Rakhna
Hindi Hai’n Hum Watan Hai’n Hindustan Hamara!
Allama Iqbal started on a nationalistic plank, in his primary poetic treatise Baang-e-Dara which literally means the tolling bell for the start of a caravan. Like Jinnah, Iqbal changed course. He was the first to demand a separate homeland for subcontinental Muslims in Allahabad session of the league in 1930. While as Congress reluctance to empower Muslims politically, as he received it upset Jinnah, Iqbal graduated from Bang-e-Dara to Zarab-e-Kalim in essence speaking the truth loud and clear-a la Kalim-an attribute of Moses. The truth got pronounced in defence of Muslims. His Kashmiri ‘Hum Gouter’ Tej Bhadur Sapru [Iqbal’s pre-conversion ancestors were Saprus] provided the reasoning “who thinks of Muslims” argued Sapru? In 1893, Mumbai witnessed the first organized communal clash. The divide was building, it had originated much earlier. With Thomas Moore obtaining trading rights from liberal Mughal court of Jehangir and the British setting shop at Surat on Arabian Sea, the great game started. The small trading facility gradually became ‘Company Bhadur’ the East India Company. Indian polity had enough fissures to work on and the British in their schools of Eton and Harrow, their universities of Cambridge and Oxford were learning the intricacies of ‘Divide & Rule’ perfecting the colonial skills and sharpening empire building instincts!
The initial resistance was offered by Muslims. With centuries of rule, they had the infrastructure to offset British plans, however in sabotage, deceit and working up a fifth column in enemy ranks, they were no match for their adversaries. The earliest roadblocks were Hyder Ali in Bengal and Tipu Sultan in Mysore. Both leading Muslim Sultanates, their struggle got painted as the Muslim drive to regain lost supremacy rather than a national struggle, in spite of the fact that both these rulers cared for their subjects, irrespective of the religion of they belonged to and their armed forces included subjects of all religions The British succeeded in finding Sadiq in Mysore-Deccan and Mir Jaffar in Bengal to sow dissention in ranks. The irony of successfully fishing out traitors was the fact of both of them being Muslims. Allama Iqbal, the poet of the East comments on the event in a moving couplet:
Jaffar Az Bengal, Sadiq Az Deccan
Nang Adam; Nang Deen; Nang Watan!
‘Nang’ could be taken to mean shamed/ besmirched. With similar brush the 1857/8 revolt of natives in company forces was painted as ‘Mutiny’ a derogatory term! It has stuck, even in post independence texts! Yet again, it got painted in communal colours, irrespective of the fact that Mangal Panday, a hero of those times, was a Hindu and the revolting forces had many Hindus. Lest the already disempowered Bhadur Shah Zaffar provide the nucleus on which the opposition evolves, he was banished to Rangoon, putting an end to already defunct Muslim rule.
British Raj worked out the divide with precision. An army of upper caste Hindus-Bengalis mainly were provided the means to get educated and spread in length and breadth of India. They were named ‘Babus’ and were expected to exercise control. It was the same sort of control exercised for thousands of years to keep an eye on lower casts. The warrior class ‘Khish’tre’ next in the social order were given exclusive areas of control called Indian States. Rajas and Maharajas exercised political control under tutelage of RAJ. The states were divided and subdivided in a political nomenclature, called Jagirs. The Jagirs were controlled by Hindu Takurs, Khans being their Muslim equals. In the bigger entity, the Hindu Raja’s equal was Nawab. The Vaish-third in caste category continued as small merchants in big cities, leaving big business-import and export in British hands. The ‘Shudar’ the lowest of lowly lived, as they had over centuries, in utter subjugation!
Out of the educated Hindus, a slow growing intellectualized economic middle class started asking for rights, in the mildest of terms through an anglicized organization named Indian National Congress. It got indianised with the arrival of Gandhi, who changed Congress culture from cozy drawing rooms to Indian pandals. Mere resolutions gave way to meaningful action. Mahatma first leaned to set his own house in order. In order to have India’s major minority on his side, he supported their quest to save the ‘Khilafat’ in Turkey. The move aborted, Turks were not as keen as over enthusiastic Indian Muslim, in retaining the ancient institution. However Gandhi had the Muslim leadership on his side, among them Ali brothers, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Azad. He could not retain Jinnah, who would not identify with the changed scenario in Congress. Political movement for him was all about constitutional rights, obtainable in law courts and fresh legislation in assemblies. Jinnah had secular outlook, who had been branded as ‘ambassador of Hindu Muslim unity’ by nightingale of India-Sarojni Naidu. Exasperated with the changed Congress culture and what he presumed to be broken promises on Muslim political empowerment, he stayed put in London following 1932 round table conference. He returned only after he was convinced that Muslims had a case which could be won and never looked back.
Muslim separatism had started earlier, though initially with a purpose of emancipation. Muslims had seen upper class Hindus reaping the benefits of English education, they wanted their share. By this time, Raj had concluded that educated Indians of majority community were on the path of betraying their trust. Or, the RAJ might have been investing politically in future. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who led the drive to Muslim emancipation, got the permission to start his educational institution in Aligarh. This is not to suggest, some sort of an understanding or conspiracy of sorts. Sir Syed was too honourable a person, even to contemplate anything fishy. Other Muslim intellectuals like Maulana Hali and Maulana Shibli Numani talked of Muslim rights. These voices had an addition with a much greater impact. That was the voice of Allama Iqbal though given his literary work, he could not sustain his leading role in Muslim league. Jinnah filled the void.
Muslim League was initiated by Nawab Salim of Decca in 1906. It was hardly a separatist organization. Even the mainstream congress did not see it in those terms-infact a dual membership was entertained and continued for long. Once Jinnah got hold of the organization, it was a different ball game. Initially the impact he made was minor. In 1936 election, based on communally constituted constituencies, league made marginal gains. They wanted a share in governance. Congress with fairly comfortable majorities had no need to entertain league aspirations. At least they thought so, mainly Nehru. Even in Muslim majority NWFP, Congress obtained a majority, courtesy Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. His brother-Dr Khan headed the provincial Government. A mixture of unfulfilled transfer of powers to legislate to provinces by RAJ and bad governance led to Congress ministries resigning to contain the damage to reputation of the organization. League rejoiced and intensified the anti Congress campaign. The response was amazing. In Bengal, League was already strong, having had the benefit of services of leaders of the caliber of Fazal-ul-Haq Choudry, Khawaja Nizam-ud-Din and Hussein Shahid Suhrawardy. Punjab, on the contrary posed a problem. And Jinnah could not do without it.
Punjab, in addition to Congress and the League had a spoiler…the Unionists! Professed secularists, they were, nevertheless protectors of feudalism in Punjab-feudalists belonged to all religions, with a strong rural base. Sir Fazal Hussein headed the organization initially, later Tuwana brothers…Sir Sikander Hayat Khan and Khazar Hayat Khan, one after the other. Sir Chotu Ram was one of its prominent names. Unable to break the Unionist political power, Liaquat Ali Khan-Jinnah’s second in command lured them with the old Indian dual membership formula. In 1938 League session in Calcutta, old hands in Punjab League were surprised to see Sir Sikander on dais with Jinnah and Liaquat. In the new dispensing, the old Leaguers were consigned a minor role, the major role was conceded to Unionists in the league. This happened in spite of Unionists retaining their political identity. Dejected old leaguers returned to Lahore on 21st April 1938, only to hear hawkers shrieking ‘Allama Iqbal has passed away’. His elegy had already been written in the League session of Calcutta, by degrading those with whom he had helped establish the organization! However the League was quick to call him, Hakim-ul-Ummah…the Wiseman/Sage of Muslim Nation, an honorific which has stuck to his name, ever since Pakistan was established. This duality of thought and purpose has unfortunately been a marked feature of politics in the sub continent, across the divide. These were thus the feudalists-the Twanas, the Daulatanas, the Khers, the Khans of Kalat, to which got added the Bhutto’s, Zardari’s of Sind who have brought Pakistan to the present miserable state of affairs.
A divide that some believe should not have taken effect did occur on 14/15 August, Kashmir continues to simmer in discontent - some believe it to be unfinished agenda of the divide, while many want the paradise on earth to live a life of its own away from disputes and disputed legacies!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Feedback at Iqbal_drji6217@yahoo.co.in or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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