The hardest truth about our independence from Britishers in 1947 is that it was achieved at a horrible cost of the division of the country. The additional tragedy was that the division of the country was done on communal basis, unheard in India’s history of thousands of years.
There is a very famous and touching poem written and narrated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in this context. While talking about the celebration of the Independence Day, the 15th August, the bard narrates about the tragic division of the motherland, that occurred on the same day, in a very heart-wrenching manner in his poem. Atal Ji was not only a poet but was also one of the dearest and rarest successful politicians of India who had his fingers always on the nerve of the nation. He had a great realisation of his responsibilities as a tall leader of the country and knew very well the subtle meaning of the words that he chose to describe his soul-searching rendition.
Atal Ji in his poem said,
“pandrah agast ka din kahta- aazaadee abhee adhooree hai,
sapne sach honye baaqee hain, raakhee kee shapath na pooree hai.
jinkee laashoon par pag dhar kar aazaadee bhaarat mein aayee,
vey ab tak hain khaanaabadosh gam kee kaalee badlee chhayee.
bhookhon ko golee, nangoon ko hathiyaar, pinhaye jaatey hain,
sookhe kanthon se jehadi naarey lagavaye jaatey hain.
Lahore, Karachi, Dhaka par maatam kee hai kaalee chhaaya,
pakhtoonon par, Gilgit par hai gamgeen gulaamee ka saaya.
bas iseeliye to kahata hoon aazaadee abhee adhooree hai
kaise ullaas manaoon main? thode din kee majabooree hai.
din door nahin khandit bhaarat ko punah akhand banaenge,
Gilgit se Gaaro parvat tak aazaadee parv manaenge.
us swarn divas ke liye aaj se kamar kasein balidaan karein,
jo paaya usamen kho na jaayen, jo khoya usaka dhyaan karen.”
(The day of 15th August says – freedom is still incomplete
Dreams are yet to come true, Rakhi’s oath is not fulfilled.
Independence came to India by stepping on whose dead bodies,
They are still homeless, covered with a dark cloud of sorrow.
The hungry are shot, the naked are armed,
Jihadi slogans are raised from dry throats.
There is a dark shadow of mourning on Lahore, Karachi, Dhaka,
There is a sad shadow of slavery on Pakhtuns and Gilgit.
That’s why I say freedom is still incomplete,
How should I celebrate? There is a compulsion for a few days.
The day is not far when we will make the divided India united again,
Will celebrate Independence Day from Gilgit to Garo Mountains.
Gear up today and make sacrifices for that golden day,
Don’t get lost in what you have gained, meditate on what you have lost”)
That is how statesmen describe a situation that demands to express sorrow, happiness, condemnation, vision for future and resolve at one and the same time. Time has come for the right thinking people in both India and Pakistan and also in Bangladesh to discuss and debate the follies and blunders that brought so much of pain on all sides. It will generate an atmosphere conducive for the younger and future generations to have an in-depth introspection, dispassionately, of the past to pave a futuristic vision for peace, prosperity and happiness all around.
The Congress party as the premier organisation of the freedom struggle was in the most patriotic and able hands during the era in which Lala Lajpatrai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal were in command. They were lovingly called as “Lal-Bal-Pal” by the people and they represented the three most important regions of the United India ie, Punjab, Bengal and Maharashtra. These three regions have tremendous contribution in all fields of the freedom struggle comprising non-violent agitation, revolutionary methodology, intellectual persuits, social reform and economic emanicipation of the general masses.
Around 1920, the leadership of Congress went into the hands of Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Though a great leader, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose assumed the Presidentship of the Congress for a brief period but he got fed up with the passive approach of Gandhi and Nehru and parted ways leading to the establishment of Indian National Army, eventually.
The freedom that Gandhi and Nehru enjoyed to run the Congress up to 1947 was unparalleled and they had also a massive following of the masses of India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was earlier a part of the Congress, led the Muslim League from the front once he left the Congress. It needs to be mentioned here that Jinnah began his political life by attending the Congress’s twentieth annual meeting, in Mumbai in December 1904. He was a member of the moderate group in the Congress, favouring Hindu–Muslim unity in achieving self-government, and following such leaders as Mehta, Naoroji, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. It was Gokhale who introduced Gandhi to the Congress.
The Muslim League was formed out of a supposedly need for the political representation of Muslims in British India, especially during the Indian National Congress-sponsored massive opposition to the 1905 partition of Bengal. It was created in 1906, with the blessings and initiative of Britishers, with the aim of representing the interests of Indian Muslims in a country where Hindus were in majority. This was virtually the laying of foundation stone of the division of India -in store.
The Britishers were very clear about the division of India ab-initio and they strategized their future plans accordingly. The way they gave a preferential treatment to Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah in all developments concerning the independence movement of India clearly suggests that they had a pre-determined plan about the freedom of India. Division of India was an integral part of their plan to provide India freedom in due course. Therefore, they always had a desire to prop up a leadership in India that would live up to their plans, wittingly and unwittingly. The Congress leaders miserably failed to gauge the Britishers’ plan who used Jinnah as an important tool to achieve their goals.
Jinnah and Muslim League had a very limited goal of achieving a separate homeland for Muslims. The way they agreed for the division and creation of Pakistan, in two geographical regions, having a distance of two thousand miles between them, is a clear indication of the fact that they were less interested in the general welfare of the Muslims in Pakistan in the long run as compared to their getting political control of the new country carved out of the partition plan. Then the further partition of Pakistan in 1971 is also a testimony of this fact.
The Congress leaders Gandhi and Nehru though didn’t agree to the partition plan of the Britishers initially yet they gave a nod to it ultimately realising that the Congress had got tired due to the contineous struggle. But they couldn’t realise that the Indian National Army led by Netaji had created a virtual hell for the Britishers in the Eastern Sector during and after the second world war compelling them to think in terms of withdrawing from India as soon as possible. This was acknowledged by a person not less than Clement Richard Attlee, Prime Minister of UK (after the second world war) in his conversation with PB Chakravorty, Governor of West Bengal in Kolkatta in 1956.
The declaration of independence and formation of a sovereign provincial government by Netaji in Andaman in 1943 wasn’t given any credence by the Congress, unfortunately. This would have proved a game changer and the division would have been thwarted in case the leadership of Congress would have taken a leaf out of this development. They could have virtually blackmailed the Britishers on this issue who were brutally engaged in the second world war. Instead it denigrated INA and Netaji and sided with the British and also supported them in their war against the Axis forces.
The Congress led by Gandhi and Nehru had bigger and larger interests to achieve as compared to the Muslim League and Jinnah. They again failed to foresee the consequences of partition, the bloodlines it would draw, the partial transfer of population that it would enforce, the living situation of minorities in Pakistan in the post-partition conditions and also the hateful relations that it would create between the two new nation-states. Once agreeing to the partition plan, under duress and compulsions, then they also lacked the guts to think in terms of a full-fledged transfer of population that would have ensured peaceful life, safe environment, tranquality and good relations in future between the two nations and their people.
Partition hasn’t even done any good to Pakistan and Bangladesh. While Pakistan has been reduced to a failed state internationally with a poor economy and infrastructure even after seven decades of its existence, Bangladesh is continuously dependent on the foreign aid and help. Had they been a part of India, they would have also flourished like India and the fruits of a successful democracy, all round development and infrastructural advancement would have reached the common masses living therein.
Jinnah also in his pursuit for creation of a homeland for Muslims had no concrete plan for the new nation-state which could lead it to higher destinations. The idea of hate-India and hate-Hindus developed as the only permanent agenda of Pakistan that brought havoc to its domestic and international situation. Bangladesh hasn’t a great record either. The follies got multiplied everyday and Jinnah’s dreams stand shattered lock, stock and barrel. History doesn’t forgive and neither it allows its readers to forget. The follies of Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah can’t be ignored. They besides other freedom fighters, gave us freedom from the Britishers but they also gave us the cruel partition of our motherland.
The wounds of partition led us to four wars, further division of Pakistan, consistent rivalry and acrimony, unhealthy hateful competition, terrorism, violence and unending suspicion against each other. From Rangoon to Brussels, the United India could have paved an international economic corridor to bring half of the world together with a purpose to lead all of us to better destinations had partition not taken place.
But that was not in our destiny. The primary responsibility in this regard has to rest upon some shoulders, and it is always the biggest shoulders that have to take the responsibility of failures. It were the same shoulders who enjoyed the successes as well all along. The three big leaders, Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah led us to bleed perpetually, courtesy, their Himalayan blunders and follies they committed and we need to accept the facts of history….!
The author is a senior BJP & KP leader, author & columnist.