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A biographical poem titled ‘Lachit (The Warrior) written by police officer and writer Partha Sarathi Mahanta about Mahavir Lachit Borphukan was released today at Sankardev Kalakshetra. The poem, produced in audio-visual media, was unveiled at the Lachit Diwas celebrations of Tai- Ahom Yuva Parishad by Padmashri Dr. Jogendra Nath Phukan and Commissioner of Police Harmeet Singh. The poem, conceptualized by Partha Sarathi Mahanta, has been recited by noted educationist Dr Amarjyoti Choudhury while accompanying music provided by Rupam Talukdar. The creative director is Anupam Mahanta. The function was attended by Arunachal Pradesh deputy CM Chowna Mein, officers of the Indian Army’s 51 sub- area at Narengi and fans of Lachit Barphukan. The poem is about the life and work of Lachit Barphukan, including his military tactics and brilliant leadership of the Ahom army. The poem has been released as a tribute to the great Ahom general Lachit Barphukan, as part of his 400th birthday celebrations. Assam Govt has organised a 3-day mega event in New Delhi for 17th century’s great Ahom General Lachit Borphukan, best known for leading the Ahom troops which fought and defeated advancing Mughal troops at the Battle of Saraighat in 1671. Through high-profile-celebrations, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma led Assam Govt plans to push for his recognition as a national hero. Week long celebrations in state and elsewhere already began on Nov 18 & will culminate on Nov 25. 3 days of celebrations organised centrally in New Delhi on Nov 23 with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurating the celebrations.”Every Indian Must Know Lachit’s Courage & Valour”, said Sitharaman PM Narendra Modi to attend event on Nov 25. “Lachit’s victory at the Saraighat battle helped to preserve the Ahom kingdom’s independence”, said CM Sarma. ‘Lachit created history by foiling their (Mughal’s) imperialist policy at Saraighat’. Eminent sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik shares his artwork on Twitter. Assam CM thanked Patnaik, calling it a ‘marvel’. A grand memorial at Lachit Barphukan’s maidam in Jorhat district is also coming up. Besides a War Memorial at Alaboi near Guwahati. Also on the cards is a memorial building in Lachit’s honour at National Police Academy, Hyderabad.
In this context, it is worth recalling the book on Khilafat by N.S Rajaram, who wrote about the Khilafat advocacy undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s and its corollary, the Mopla Rebellion. Here is an extract from his book “Gandhi, Khilafat & The National Movement ” (First published in 1999 and then in 2009) on the treacherous role of Communists:
“Every villain,” said Lord Acton of the ‘power corrupts’ fame, “is followed by a sophist with a sponge”. This was surpassed by the Indian Communists. They bought not one sponge but a card-load of them, and put them to use in whitewashing atrocities from the Mopla Rebellion to the Partition to the R@pe of Tibet to the Chinese attack in 1962, and all the way to the nuclear tests of Pokharan II.
The period covered in this volume is not lacking in examples that bring to the fore the dark side of human nature. But for sheer venality, the behaviour of the Communists is in a class by itself. The gullibility and self-deception of Gandhi, the spinelessness of Nehru, the cunning of the Ali brothers and even the savagery of the Moplas – none of these can match the record of the Communists in this regard. A single example will suffice. The Moplas, who perpetrated some of the worst atrocities in history, especially on women, are heroes to Communists. Eminent scholars of Marxist leanings at respectable academic institutions extol these barbarians as heroic freedom fighters!
There is another difference. While these villains of yesteryears have departed from the world, the successors of these Communist ‘sophists with sponges’ are still around – sometimes in respectable professions like politics, academia and journalism. One is hard pressed to decide which is the greater evil – the Mopla marauders or their modern Marxist glorifiers.
To begin to understand the twists and turns of the Indian Communists, their passage from ‘anti-imperialists’ opposed to Britain and France, to British spies and collaborators, to being Soviet and Chinese fifth column, to their present state when they have combined with the most reactionary forces of Islam and become virtually a dependency of the tool of foreign interests, Sonia Gandhi, one has to go to the early years of the Second World War.
When the War broke out in September 1939, the Communists, found themselves in an awkward position – on the same side as Hitler – because of the Hitler-Stalin pact of August 1939. But they had to obey their masters in Moscow and support him. So, Hitler was no longer a Fascist menace but a messenger of peace fighting against the imperialist warmongers, Britan and France. But when Hitler attacked Russia on 22 June 1941, the Indian Communists executed a complete flip-flop and started supporting Britain in the war against Hitler. The Imperialist’s War became overnight the People’s War. They were now in a highly advantageous position vis-à-vis the British Government. They were used to serving their Soviet masters, so it entailed no great adjustment when opportunity called to serve the British. The Indian Communist leaders made the best of a good bargain.
For the rest of the War, the Indian Communists were, for all practical purposes, hired agents of the British. R.C. Majumdar tells us (Volume III, pp.569): “During the great national upsurge of 1942, the Communists acted as stooges and spies of the British Government, and helped them against their own countrymen fighting for freedom. The part played by the Communists can be best understood from confidential correspondence during the years 1942, 1943 and 1944 between P.C.Joshi, the General Secretary of the Communist Part of India … it is quite clear from the correspondence that ‘an alliance existed between Politburo of the Communist Party and the Home Department of the Government of India, by which Mr. Joshi was placing at the disposal of the Government of India the services of his Party members, that the ‘various political drives undertaken by the Party in the name of anti-Fascist campaigns were a part of the arrangement which helped the Government of India to tide over certain crises… ”
But ofcourse, this did not come cheap, and Communist leaders like Joshi, Dange and others were generously paid by the British for their services. One well-known Communist intellectual was paid as mush as rupees 16,000 per month! This allowed many of them to maintain lavish lifestyles – much in the manner of many ‘Gandhians’ today. But spying on the nationalists was only the beginning of this sordid if profitable enterprise. Majumdar tells us (Volume III, p. 570):
… Joshi had, as General Secretary to the Part, written a letter in which he offered ‘unconditional help’ to the then Government of India and the Army GHQ to fight the 1942 underground workers and the Azad Hind Fuaz (Indian National Army) of Subhas Chandar Bose, even to the point of getting them arrested. … Joshi’s letter also revealed that the CPI was receiving financial aid from the Government, had a secret pact with the Muslim League, and was undermining Congress activity in various ways.
It is no secret that at the time of independence, the Communists openly supported the formation of Pakistan. “Not only did the Communists support the demand for Pakistan but went much further by saying that every linguistic group in India had a distinct nationality and was therefore entitled, as they claimed was the case in the USSR, to the right to secede.”
Independence did not put a stop to Communist treachery. On the heels of Independence, the new Indian Government was faced with the problem of the integration of the princely states numbering over five hundred. Here was fertile ground for the Communists, especially Hyderabad, then at the mercy of Kasim Rizvi and his fanatical band of terrorists known as the Razakars. In February 1948, the Second Congress of the Communist Party of India proclaimed that India’s independence was a sham and decided to support the Razakars. They struck a deal with the Nizam’s Government and joined hands with the Nizam’s forces – the Razakars – to fight Hyderabad’s accession to India with the help of Pakistan. As with most terrorists, the forte of the Razakars was committing atrocities on unarmed civilians, not fighting a professional army. When Sardar Patel sent troops into Hyderabad, the Razakars crumbled before the advance of the Indian Army. Kasim Razvi ran away to Pakistan, handing over the bulk of his guns and other armaments to the Communists. The Communists kept up an armed insurrection in the Telangana region for a few years until ordered to stop by the Soviet Dictator Stalin.
But now, Marxist historians claim that the Communists joined the Congress in their fight against the Razakars who represented feudal interests! So, the action in Hyderabad was a ‘class struggle’ against the oppressors, except that the Communists sided with the Razakars! So, Rizvi and the Razakars were not Muslim fundamentalists but feudal exploiters of the people! To explain away the fact that the Communists joined hands with these ‘feudal exploiters’, their historians simply reverse the truth; they now claim that they fought against them. This way, they hope they can have it both ways. This trail of treachery continued unabated. When China attacked India in 1962, the Communists were on the Chinese side. In 1964, when China exploded its first nuclear bomb, the Indian Communists greeted it with glee. But recently when India conducted nuclear tests the Indian Communists and their allies in the Congress – including the new found object of the adoration, Sonia Gandhi – vociferously condemned Indian tests. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Attempt to whitewash Moplah atrocities is latest case of Communist schizofascism (Article by Ram Madhav).
August 2021 marks the completion of a hundred years of the brutal episode in human history – The Moplah Genocide of the Malabar Hindus.
A recent news report that a three-member committee of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), which was formed to review the names of “freedom fighters” from 1857 to 1947, is said to have considered removing the names of ‘Moplah martyrs‘of 1921 from the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle. Along with Variamkunnath Kunhamed Haji and Ali Musaliar, the Moplah Rebellion leaders responsible for the Moplah Massacre of Hindus, 387 others who died during the Moplah Massacre will also be removed. The dictionary is jointly published by the Ministry of Culture and the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).
A three-member panel, set up the ICHR which reviewed the entries in the fifth volume of the dictionary, has reportedly stated that the 1921 rebellion was never part of the independence struggle but a fundamentalist movement focused on religious conversion. None of the slogans raised by the rioters were in favour of nationalism and anti-British in content, it noted. According to the report, the panel has noted that the rebellion was an attempt to establish a Caliphate. “Had it succeeded, a Caliphate would have been established in the region too and India would have ended up losing that part from its territory”, The Hindu quoted sources as saying.
Further, the panel concluded that Haji was a rioter who established a Sharia court and beheaded a large number of Hindus. Those who died at the hands of the rioters were non-believers. The committee also stated that a large number of alleged ‘Moplah martyrs’, who were under-trial prisoners, died due to diseases such as cholera and natural causes hence cannot be treated as martyrs. Only a handful of them were executed by the government after court trial, the panel noted.
In this context, it is worth recalling eyewitness accounts of the Mopla Rebellion by Annie Besant and Madhavan Nair.
Eyewitness accounts of the Mopla Rebellion by Annie Besant and Madhavan Nair.
The following account signed by Annie Besant, under the title ‘Malabar’s Agony’, appeared in New India dated 29 November 1921. It is one of the literally hundreds of similar reports that appeared in the press at the time. The account given here is the slightly abridged, with some non- relevant history about the Zamorins removed. It has also been organised into smaller paragraphs to smooth the somewhat hurried writing. Of particular interest is Besant’s charge that by making Non-Cooperation part of the Khilafat movement, his Gandhism was also part of the violence that gave rise to, and he could not escape responsibility. It is interesting to note the contemporary accounts see the Non-Coorperation Movement as part of the Khilafat, and not as something on its own as modern history books tend to do. Here is Besant’s report. – N.S.R]
Annie Beasant: New India, 29 November 1921 :
It would be well if Mr. Gandhi could be taken into Malabar to see with his own eyes the ghastly horrors which have been created by the preaching of himself and his “loved brothers,” Muhommad and Shaukat Ali. The Khilafat Raj is established there; on August 1, 1921, sharp to the date first announced by Mr. Gandhi for the beginning of Swaraj and the vanishing of British Rule, a Police Inspector was surrounded by Moplas, revolting against that Rule. From that date onwards thousands of the forbidden war-knives ware secretly made and hidden away, and on August 20, the rebellion broke out, Khilafat flags were hoisted on Police Stations and Government offices… Our correspondent has sent accounts of the public functions connected with my hurried visit to Calicut and Palghat, and that which I wish to put on record here is the ghastly misery which prevails, the heart-breaking wretchedness which has been caused by the Mopla outbreak, directly due to the violent and unscrupulous attacks on the Government made by the Non-Co-operators and the Khilafatists and the statements scattered broadcast, predicting the speedy disappearance of British Rule, and the establishment of Swaraj, as proclaimed by the N.C.O. and Khilafat Raj as understood by the Moplas from the declarations of the Khilafatists. On that, there is no doubt whatever, so far as Malabar is concerned. The message of the Khilafats, of England as the enemy of Islam, of her coming downfall, and the triumph of the Muslims, had spread, to every Mopla home. The harangues in the Mosques spread it everywhere, and Muslim hearts were glad. They saw the N.C.O. preachers appealing for help to their religious leaders, naturally identified the two. The Government was Satanic, and Eblis, to the good Muslim, is to be fought to the death. Mr. Gandhi may talk as he pleases about N.C.O.s accepting no responsibility. It is not what they accept; it is what facts demonstrate. He accepted responsibility for the trifling bloodshed of Bombay. The slaughter in Malabar cries out his responsibility. N.C.O. is dead in Malabar. But bitter hatred has arisen there, as fighting men from the dragon’s teeth of Theseus. That is the ghastly result of the preaching of Gandhism, of N.C.O. of Khilafatism. Every one speaks of the Khilafat Raj, and the one hope of the masses is in its crushing by the strong arm of the Government. Mr. Gandhi asks the Moderates to compel the Government to suspend hostilities, i.e., to let loose the wolves to destroy what lives are left. The sympathy of the Moderates is not, I make bold to “with the murderers, the looters, the ravishers, who have put into practice the teachings of paralysing the Government of the N.C.O.’s, who have made “war on the Government” in their own way. How does Mr. Gandhi like the Mopla spirit, as shown by one of the prisoners in the Hospital, who was dying from the results of asphyxiation? He asked the surgeon, if he was going to die, and surgeon answered that he feared he would not recover. “Well, I’m glad I killed fourteen infidels,” said the Brave, God-fearing Mopla, whom Mr. Gandhi so much admires, who “are fighting for what they consider as religion, and in a manner, they consider as religious.” Men who consider it “religious” to murder, rape, loot, to kill women and little children, cutting down whole families, have to be put under restraint in any civilised society. “Mr. Gandhi was shocked when some Parsi ladies had their saries torn off, and very properly, yet the God-fearing hooligans had been taught that it was sinful to wear foreign cloth, and doubtless felt they were doing a religious act; can he not feel a little sympathy for thousands of “women left with only rags, driven from home, for little children born of the flying mothers on roads in refugee camps? The misery is beyond description. Girl wives, pretty and sweet, with eyes half blind with weeping, distraught with terror; women who have seen their husbands hacked to pieces before their eye, in the way “Moplas consider as religious”; old women tottering, whose faces become written with anguish and who cry at a gentle touch and a kind look waking out of a stupor of misery only to weep, men who have lost all, hopeless, crushed, desperate. I have walked among thousands of them in the refugee camps, and sometimes heavy eyes would lift as a cloth was laid gently on the bare shoulder, and a faint watery smile of surprise would make the face even more piteous than the stupor. Eyes full of appeal, of agonised despair, of hopeless entreaty of helpless anguish, thousands of them camp after camp. “Shameful inhumanity proceeding in Malabar,” says Mr. Gandhi. Shameful inhumanity indeed, wrought by the Moplas, and these are the victims, saved from extermination by British and Indian swords; For be it remembered the Moplas began the whole horrible business; the Government intervened to save their victims and these thousands have been saved. Mr. Gandhi would have hostilities suspended—so that the Moplas may sweep down on the refugee camps, and finish their work?” I visited in Calicut three huge Committee camps, two Christian, and the Congress building and compound where doles of rice are given daily from 7 A.M. to noon. In all, the arrangements were good. Big thatched sheds, and some buildings shelter the women and children, the men sleep outside. They are all managed by Indians, the Zamorini’s Committee distributing cloths and money to all, except the Congress committee, which work independently and gives food from its own resource. At Palghat, similar arrangements are made by the Zamorini’s Committee, and the order and care in feeding are good to see. Let me finish with a beautiful story told to me. Two Pulayas, the lowest of the submerged classes, were captured with others, and given the choice between Islam and Death. These, the outcaste of Hinduism, the untouchables, so loved the Hinduism which had been so unkind a step- mother to them, that they chose to die Hindus rather than to live Muslim. May the God of both, Muslim and Hindus send His messengers to these heroic souls, and give them rebirth into the Faith for which they died.
Report by Madhavan Nair, Secretary, Calicut District Congress Committee :
Maulana Mohani justified the looting of Hindus by the Moplas as lawful by way of commandeering in a war between the latter and the Government of as a matter of necessity when the Moplas were forced to live in jungles. The Maulana perhaps does not know that the majority of the cases, the almost wholesale looting of Hindu houses in portions of Ernad, Valluvand and Ponani Taluques [counties] was perpetrated on the 21st, 22nd, and the 23rd of August  before the military had arrived in the affected area to arrest or to fight the rebels even before Martial Law had been declared (in Malabar). The Moplas had not be taken themselves to the jungles as the Maulana supposes nor had the Hindus as a class done anything to them to deserve their hostility. The outbreak commenced on the 20th of August , the police and the District Magistrate withdrew from Tirunangadi to Calicut on the 21st and the policemen throughout the affected area has taken to their heels. There was no adversary to the Moplas as the time whom the Hindus could possibly have helped or invited, and the attack on them was most wanton and unprovoked. Comment added: Maulana Mohani, like a hundred other Khilafat leaders, well knew the truth but arrogantly justified the Mopla atrocities as a ‘military necessity’ drive by self-defence. But these reports clearly show that the Mopla Rebellion was a planned uprising that began immediately after the expiry of Gandhi’s promise of ‘swaraj within the year’ and not a sporadic outbreak.
According to Annie Besant, it began on the day of expiry, and soon spread to the whole region – becoming a full-blown rebellion on or about August 20. The district authorities, including the police, were caught unaware and also not equipped to handle a large-scale rebellion. Chaos reigned in Malabar for several months, forcing the Government to declare Martial Law. The Army had to be called in and it was months before the rebellion was out down after the loss of several thousand lives and unspeakable atrocities. The Congress historians like to pretend that all this never happened, while the Marxists glorify the Moplas as ‘freedom fighters’ !
Madhavan Nair sent several other reports, a few of which are included in the Appendix to Sankaran Nair’s Gandhi and Anarchy. Murders, rapes and forcible conversions were the order of the day. I find most of them too gruesome to be included here, but the following excerpt should give an idea: “Can you conceive of a more ghastly and inhuman crime than the murder of babies and pregnant women? … A pregnant woman carrying 7 months was cut through the abdomen by a rebel and she was seen lying dead on the way with the dead child projecting out … Another baby of six months was snatched away from the breast of the mother and cut into two pieces … Are these rebels human beings or monsters? These are by no means the most gruesome of the accounts described. But enough to give an idea of the atrocities committed by the ‘God-fearing’ plus acting ‘in a manner they consider as religious’ as Gandhi praised them. To those familiar with the history, the barbarism of their modern counter parts in Afghanistan – the Taliban also following the dictates of their ‘religion’ – will come as no surprise.
In this context, it is worth recalling the book on Khilafat by N.S Rajaram, who wrote about the Khilafat advocacy undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s and its corollary, the Mopla Rebellion. It is a sad tale of how the chimerical and short-sighted actions of a handful of leaders resulted in human misery on a horrendous scale. Navratna Srinivasa Rajaram (Dr N S Rajaram) was a renowned researcher, prolific writer and mathematician turned Hindutva-scholar. Refer Swarajya to know more about him and his works.
Here is an extract from his book “Gandhi, Khilafat & The National Movement ” (First published in 1999 and then in 2009) : “When we compare the situation in India today with what it was in 1920, we find both similarities and differences. The Muslim masses today are no more enlightened and no less under the grip of reactionary forces than they were at the time of the Khilafat eighty years ago. But they are much weaker relative to the Hindu majority. Also, there are no Muslims leaders on the horizon that command the kind of influence and authority that the Ali brothers did. Neither is there a Hindu leader of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi willing to stake all for the sake of ‘unity’ and carry the people with him. At the same time, there is no shortage of secondary leaders willing to take the side of any Muslim demand regardless of its merit. The Congress Party – as well as the Communist – is practically in their hands. Only future will tell if Indians have learnt any lessons from their history – from the Khilafat to the Partition to Kashmir to the Bangladesh War. Of one thing one can be certain: if there is any upheaval in the name of Islam in the neighboring Pakistan, Indian Muslims will not remain unaffected by it. The real question is whether Indian leaders will act with the national interest foremost, or display the same kind of sophistry and equivocation as in the past. The postures of the Congress Party – and the machinations of the Communists inspire little confidence in this regard.
The world also has an important lesson to learn: religion can act as a cover for committing the most unspeakable atrocities, as the Appendixes to this document record. But for reasons that this writer finds incomprehensible, the world does not want to learn this basic truth. To those familiar with the history reported here, the atrocities in the name of religion by the Taliban in Afghanistan come as no surprise. But if we fail to learn from this history, the pattern will only repeat itself somewhere else. The more things change, the more they remain same”. – N.S. RAJARAM
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 1” from this link – 1) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 2” from this link – 2) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 3” from this link – 3) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 4” from this link – 4) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 5” from this link – 5) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 6” from this link – 6)
The final years and the lessons:
A decade of appeasement had only helped the Muslim League gain greater legitimacy. When the Second Round Table Conference came in September 1931, the League leadership played an even more divisive role.
Jinnah and the Aga Khan were present in London for the Conference on behalf of the League. Gandhi was the lone Congress representative. Dr. B R Ambedkar was there representing the Depressed Classes. There were envoys from several communities including the Sikhs, the Parsis, the Anglo-Indians, and the Concord of Princes. Behind Gandhi’s back, the Aga Khan held secret meetings with the leaders of various groups and put forward a proposal before the British for enhanced separate representation for all of them in the Indian legislature. Gandhi firmly rejected this fragmentation of the Indian society in the name of creating separate electorates. Already, the Muslims and a few other minorities enjoyed separate electorates under the Government of India Act 1919.
Communal Award 1932:
British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald went ahead with a modified version of the League’s recommendations and announced the famous Communal Award 1932. It came as a rude shock to the Congress leadership. They were especially aghast at the British decision to provide exclusive electorates for the Depressed Classes by separating them from other Hindus.
Gandhi viewed the Communal Award as the negation of his years of toil. He rightly believed that the separate electorates would eventually perpetuate social evils like untouchability as they excluded the depressed classes from the rest of Hindu society. Disheartened and back in India, Gandhi announced an indefinite fast against the Award on September 20, 1932.
The Congress command persuaded the leader of the depressed classes, Dr. Ambedkar to engage in negotiations with Gandhi at the Yerawada prison. The negotiations led to the Poona Pact, which was signed by Dr. Ambedkar from the depressed classes and Madan Mohan Malaviya from the Congress. Under the pact, Dr. Ambedkar agreed to give up the demand for exclusive electorates for the depressed classes and secured instead a larger number of seats for the community from 71 to 147 under the Hindu quota. The Communal Award was accordingly amended in 1933. Gandhi thus prevented the Hindu society from further fragmentation.
However, regarding the rest of the Award, Congress continued its politics of ambiguity and appeasement. Though it opposed the Communal Award in principle, the consent of the minorities was needed to take a final position, the Congress leaders argued. The Muslim leaders in Congress like Dr. Ansari started supporting the Award. Finally, Congress took a bizarre stand of “neither accepting nor rejecting” the Communal Award. This new concession irked leaders like Madan Mohan Malaviya and Loknayak Aney, who resigned and started the Congress Nationalist Party.
The Communal Award came as a significant setback to Gandhi’s efforts for Hindu-Muslim unity and it gave greater teeth to Jinnah and the Muslim League. The stridency of the League’s separatist rhetoric increased. Jinnah now insisted that the Congress should represent Hindus only.
The provincial elections of 1937 provided an excellent opportunity to the Congress. Despite its separatist rhetoric, the Muslim League was decisively rejected in all the Muslim majority provinces in the country. Out of the 482 exclusive Muslim constituencies, the League could hardly win 109 seats. While the Congress was able to form governments in eight provinces, the League could not form even in one. The Muslim voters preferred other Muslim parties like the Unionists in Punjab, the Krishak Praja Party in Bengal, and the Assam Valley Muslim Party in Assam. Several of those regional Muslim outfits were keen to join hands with the Congress.
The Muslim League was in utter disarray, and Jinnah demoralised. But two steps taken by the Congress leadership helped Jinnah revive his fortunes once again:
First was the Congress’s decision to reach out to Jinnah instead of talking to the leaders of the regional Muslim parties. Gandhi, Nehru, and Bose approached Jinnah once again with a proposal to work together. This gave Jinnah a fresh lease of life. While the League refused the Congress’s offer, Jinnah succeeded in attracting smaller Muslim parties into his fold.
The second self-defeating move was the decision of the Congress on October 22, 1939, to ask all provincial governments to resign in response to Viceroy Linlithgow’s decision to involve India in the Second World War without committing to grant Self-rule after the War. The League seized this opportunity and declared its support to the British in return for enhanced protection to the League in the provinces. Jinnah appealed to the Muslims to celebrate December 22, 1939, as the ‘Day of Deliverance’ from the ‘unjust Congress regime.’
Jinnah’s Demand for ‘Pakistan’:
At Lahore in 1940, when the League demanded Pakistan, Gandhi realised that it was time for a more decisive action. On August 8, 1942, at its Mumbai session, the Congress launched the Quit India movement. The Muslim League responded by asking the British to ‘Divide and Quit’. March 23, 1943, was observed by the League as Pakistan Day.
C Rajagopalachari approached Gandhi at Yerawada prison with a formula for a thaw between the Congress and the League. Known as the C R Formula, it proposed that if the League endorsed the demand for national independence, the Congress would agree to the demarcation of contiguous Muslim majority districts in the North-West and the North-East of India after the War. A plebiscite would be conducted on the basis of the adult franchise over the demand for Pakistan. Jinnah immediately dismissed the proposal as a “shadow and a husk, a maimed and moth-eaten Pakistan.” But he also expressed vicarious satisfaction that at last, Gandhi had accepted “the principle of Pakistan”.
Gandhi persisted. “Let us meet whenever you wish. Do not disappoint me,” he wrote to Jinnah. The two finally met at Mumbai. For full nineteen days, from 9th to 27th September 1944, Gandhi climbed up the steps of Jinnah’s place, ‘almost daily, and sometimes even twice in a day’. Gandhi would address Jinnah as ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ – Great leader, while Jinnah would reciprocate with ‘Mr. Gandhi’. On September 27, 1944, Jinnah announced the termination of the talks without any result.
In the provincial elections in 1946, the League secured convincing victories in Muslim seats but it fell short of a majority everywhere. In fact, the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), which became Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2010, gave a huge majority to the Congress. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the senior Congress leader of the NWFP, famous as the Frontier Gandhi, shed tears when his province became a part of Pakistan. In Punjab, the Congress and the Akalis together had an equal number of seats to that of the League. Eventually, those who did not vote for the League ended up in Pakistan, and those who voted for it remained in India.
Why is this history relevant today? India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are three sovereign nations. We respect the sovereignty of each of our neighbours and strive for cordial relations with them. But the partition saga has several lessons. Firstly, countries should never pander to separatist sentiments even with good intentions. Compulsions of time should not become convictions. Secondly, Jinnah’s notion of religion-based nationhood couldn’t stand the test of time. In less than 25 years, Pakistan was split into two.
But most importantly, as the Spanish writer-philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 1” from this link – 1) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 2” from this link – 2) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 3” from this link – 3) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 4” from this link – 4) (Read “Partitioned Freedom – 5” from this link – 5)
(Conclusion: Read “Partitioned Freedom – 6″ from this link)
When strategy became policy at Lucknow in 1916, and the Khilafat and Moplah lay bare the slide of the Congress, many leaders were genuinely worried. They realised that the appeasement policies of the Congress were helping the League in furthering its separatist agenda. Despite his best efforts at placating the League and striving for Hindu-Muslim unity, Gandhi could not achieve much. When attempts were made to pacify the Moplahs in the name of Gandhi’s non-violence, they bluntly replied that Gandhi was a Kafir, and he could never be their leader. In 1924, Maulana Mohammed Ali, to whom Gandhi gave more importance than he did to Jinnah, declared: “However pure Mr. Gandhi’s character may be, he must appear to me, from the point of religion, inferior to any Mussalman even though he be without character.” In 1925, he reiterated it saying, “Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi”.
Savarkar was one of the leaders who felt that Congress was making a colossal mistake by appeasing the fundamentalist Leaguers. Savarkar asked the Congress leadership to stop in the downward spiral of appeasement and be firm with the Muslim League leadership. “If you come, with you; if you do not, without you; if you oppose in spite of you” – this was the message he wanted the Congress to convey to the League. Yet the Congress leadership lacked that courage.
Shraddhananda’s Murder: Swami Shraddhanand was a renowned Arya Samajist and a senior leader of the Congress. As a disciplined soldier of the movement, he had participated actively in the Khilafat movement too. Shraddhananda was a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, and used to play an active role in reconversion activities. This angered some fanatical Muslims. One such young man called Abdul Rasheed visited Shraddhananda’s residence at Naya Bazar in Delhi on December 23, 1926, on the pretext of discussing “some problems of the Islamic religion”. Shraddhananda was unwell and lying on his bed. According to the Arya Samaj website: “The visitor then asked for a glass of water, and while Dharm Singh (Shraddhanand’s attendant) was taking his glass away, he rushed up to the Swamiji and fired two bullets point-blank into his chest.”
The annual session of the Congress was taking place from December 25, 1926, at Guwahati. All the senior leaders, including Gandhi, were present at the session when the news of the gruesome murder of Swami Shraddhananda came in. Gandhi called Abdul Rashid his ‘own brother’, but moved a condolence motion himself. “If you hold dear the memory of Swami Shraddhanandji, you would help in purging the atmosphere of mutual hatred and calumny. Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji’s murder. Guilty indeed are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another”, Gandhi said to the shock of many in the audience. At the very same session, funds were collected for the legal defence of Rashid in the courts. When he was sentenced to capital punishment by the British, there were over fifty thousand people in his funeral procession at Kolkata. That was where the appeasement policy of the leaders had led the country.
National Flag – (National symbols compromised):
Gandhi had proposed in 1921 that Congress should design a national flag. Several models were presented to him, and the one with three colours – orange, white and green –proved to be popular However, its interpretation as orange for the Hindus, white for the Christians, and green for the Muslims did not go down well with the people. A flag committee was then appointed in 1931 to look into the controversy and recommend a national flag for India. Among others, the 7-member committee included Nehru, Patel, and Azad. The committee submitted its report to the Karachi Congress session in December 1931.
“Opinion has been unanimous that our National Flag should be of a single colour except for the colour of the device. If there is one colour that is more acceptable to the Indians as a whole, one that is associated with this ancient country by long tradition, it is the Kesarior saffron colour. Accordingly, it is felt that the flag should be of the Kesari colourexcept for the colour of the device. That the device should be the Charkha is unanimously agreed to. The Committee have come to the conclusion that the charka should be in blue. Accordingly we recommend that the National Flag should be of Kesarior saffron colour having on it at the left top quarter the Charkha in blue with the wheel towards the flagstaff, the proportions of the flag being fly to hoist as three to two”, the report, signed by all the seven members stated.
However, the Congress session at Karachi rejected it, saying that the saffron colour represented only Hindus. The tricolour flag designed by Pingali Venkayya was adopted. It featured three horizontal stripes of saffron, white and green, with a Charkha in the centre. The colours were given a new interpretation thus: saffron for courage; white for truth and peace; and green for faith and prosperity. After the national song came the compromise with the national flag.
Language (concessions were made):
The Hindu Bhajans were modified. ‘Raghupati Raghava Rajaram – Patita Pavan Sitaram’ saw ‘Isvar Allah Tere Naam’ added to it. Even the national language was not spared. There were concerted efforts to discourage Muslims from learning Hindi right from the time of Syed Ahmad Khan. Syed Ahmad asked Muslims to prefer English to Hindi. Aligarh Muslim University taught only in English and Urdu. An effort was made to project Hindi as the language of the Hindus, and Urdu, that of the Muslims. In its eagerness to please the fundamentalists in the Muslim League, the Congress leadership decided at its 1925 Karachi session that Hindustani – a hybrid product from the mixture of Hindi and Urdu – should be the lingua franca of independent India. It even suggested that the script could either be Devnagari or Arabic.
Texts were rewritten. Special language classes were held for the Congress volunteers to familiarise them with the new hybrid language. Phrases like Badshah Ram, Begum Sita, and Maulvi Vasistha were promoted. Nevertheless, this one compromise did not go down well with the Congress and the nation. The protagonists of Hindi could succeed only after several years in making it the official language of the nation.
The Congress leadership continued to make these one-sided compromises without any reciprocal gestures being made by the League.
Cow slaughter was given free hand:
Even on a question as important to him as cow-slaughter, Gandhi was willing to compromise. “How can I force anyone not to slaughter cows unless he is himself so disposed? It is not as if there were only Hindus in the Indian Union. There are Muslims, Parsis, Christians, and other religious groups here”, he argued.
None of these concessions could move the Leagueleadership. Instead, they only led to establishing the League and Jinnah, now its leader, as the ‘sole spokesmen’ for the Muslims, as Ayesha Jalal puts it. Emboldened, Jinnah went ahead ruthlessly, unmaking everything the Congress made, including, in the end, the geographical unity of the country.