“Man-made catastrophe brought about by cynical and hot-headed politicians who lacked the imagination to resolve their disputes and the foresight to grasp the implications of dividing their country along religious lines.”
-Prof. Mushirul Hasan
Between 14th and 15th of August 1947, two nations celebrated Independence Day. On one side were leaders who were eager to lead nations and on other side were millions of Indians who faced uncertain future.
So what were leaders doing on 14th August 1947?
“I do not think Jinnah wanted Pakistan, right till 1946 he was prepared to work for one united India. So all the time he was talking in terms of Pakistan, this was, I always believed, a bargaining point for him.”
-Ayesha Jalal, Pakistani Historian
On 14th August Jinnah was busy making plans for new nation- Pakistan, while Nehru was busy preparing midnight speech for old nation- India.
On 14th August, Father of nation- Gandhi, was in Calcutta, trying to pacify rioters, in this he was actively supported by H S Suhrawardy of Muslim League, who was architect of Hindu – Muslim riots. After encouraging Muslims to kill Hindus on Direct Action day, Suhrawardhy now wanted peace, so that he could save lives of Muslims who stayed back in India. Charisma of Gandhi had not faded; he managed to bring peace in Calcutta.
Law and order was still in hands of British, as they controlled police and armed forces. But they were least interested in doing their job; they just wanted to go back to Britain- ASAP.
“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
Viceroy of India thought he had done enough for India and natives, so he decided to relax with his wife and watch movie- “My Favourite Brunette”. His wife was now more interested in Nehru than her husband.
So while key players were living in interesting times, life was hell for millions of Indians. Viceroy gave task of partition to a British lawyer Cyril Radcliff, who knew next to nothing about India. So on 14th of August he completed the task of partition. What happened next was one of the greatest human tragedies in history of mankind.
“Churchill’s idiocy, Gandhi’s blind spot and Jinnah’s dangerous bluff all added up to a turn of events which, when combined with Radcliffe’s line, shaped the world forever.”
Millions of Indians were forced to migrate due to lines drawn by Radcliff; there was no one to protect them. Millions were killed, raped, robbed.
British armed forces and police were just not interested in controlling situation post partition, while Jinnah, Nehru and Gandhi lacked competence to administer.
Post partition, Nehru became Prime minister of India and later gave birth of Nehru dynasty.
In 1948, Gandhi faced strange situation, he was labelled pro Hindu by League and pro Muslim by Congress, resulting in his assassination. In same year Jinnah died of illness.