Tag Archives: Partition of India

The Place of Mahatma Gandhi

  • By Sri Sita Ram Goel

The Gandhians present a very curious case. They claim to have inherited the message of the Mahatma. But the only people with whom they feel at home are Hindu-baiters. They avoid all those who are not ashamed of being Hindus or who take pride in Hindu history and heritage. They suspect that “Hindu communalism” has been and remains India’s major malady. The only point to which they never refer is that Mahatma Gandhi was a proud Hindu with a profound faith in Sanatana Dharma and that a reawakening and rejuvenation of Hindu society was his most important preoccupation.

Introduction

The language of British and Christian imperialism had stood fully exposed for what they were in essence by the time the Swadeshi Movement swept forward after the Partition of Bengal in 1905. The language of Islamic imperialism had revived but was not resounding enough as yet to ring bells in the minds of national leaders. And the language of Communist imperialism had not yet appeared on the scene.

The last two languages came into their own by the end of the twenties. The freedom movement had to feel their full blast by the middle of the thirties. The leader who had emerged in complete command of the freedom movement by that time was Mahatma Gandhi. And his role vis-a-vis these two languages has been a matter of controversy.

Mahatma Gandhi showed the same understanding of the languages of British and Christian imperialism as had been shown earlier by the leaders of the Swadeshi Movement. There were indications in his writings and statements that he suspected the language of Communist imperialism as something sinister, though he started faltering when this language became the language of Leftism in the mouths of Pandit Nehru and the Congress Socialists. But his response to the language of Islamic imperialism was not at all what could be expected from a man of his instinctive perceptions.

His failure vis-a-vis the language of Islamic imperialism can be explained in various ways. But the fact remains that this failure made the Muslims more and more aggressive and created a lot of resentment in a section of Indian nationalists. These anti-Gandhi nationalists have not been able to get reconciled to his role even after his death in very tragic circumstances. On the other hand, all sorts of Hindu-baiters have been invoking his name and fame to put Hindu society in the wrong.

Mahatma Gandhi in hostile lands

The Leftists had no use for Mahatma Gandhi during his life time. They had hurled their choicest swear words at him. But the Mahatma dead seems to have become an asset for them. Not that they have revised their estimate of his role in the past or acquired any respect for him in the present. They are only using him as a stick to beat Hindu society into shame.

Muslims, too, have staged a similar volte-face. They had opposed him tooth and nail during his life-time. The language which their press had used for him provides a study in pornography. But after his death, they have been holding him up in order to harangue Hindu society. Not that they have changed their opinion about him or imbibed any of his teachings. They are only using him as a device to put Hindu society on the defensive.

The Gandhians present a very curious case. They claim to have inherited the message of the Mahatma. But the only people with whom they feel at home are Hindu-baiters. They avoid all those who are not ashamed of being Hindus or who take pride in Hindu history and heritage. They suspect that “Hindu communalism” has been and remains India’s major malady. The only point to which they never refer is that Mahatma Gandhi was a proud Hindu with a profound faith in Sanatana Dharma and that a reawakening and rejuvenation of Hindu society was his most important preoccupation.

The Hindu-baiters highlight the fact that the Mahatma was murdered by a Hindu. But they hide the fact that it was the Hindus who had always rallied round Mahatma Gandhi, who had adored him throughout his life, who had followed him as their leader and who had stood by him through thick and thin. It is tantamount to insinuating that Hindus have done nothing in the whole of their history except murdering the Mahatma. The only parallel is provided by the Catholic Church which has known the Jews only as murderers of Jesus.

This exercise in employing the name of a great Hindu to malign Hindu society has succeeded because whatever nationalists have come forward to lead Hindu society in the post-independence period have chosen to ignore all facets of the Mahatma’s life and teachings except one, namely, his handling of the Muslim problem. They have meditated, one must say rather morbidly, on the one mistake he made in his life, namely, his understanding of Islam. They have never taken into account the sterling services he rendered to Hinduism and Hindu society in so many spheres. The only thing they remember with resentment is his failure in one field, namely, his final inability to prevent partition.

Two significant facts

The anti-Gandhi nationalists have never tried honestly to face the fact that it was he and not they who had stirred the minds and hearts of Hindu masses. It was he and not they who had mobilized Hindu society to make sacrifices in the service of the motherland. Nor have the denunciations of anti-Gandhi nationalists succeeded in doing the slightest damage to his stature. In fact, his stature has risen higher with the passing of time. He continues to be cherished by Hindu masses as one of the greatest in their history. Reverence for him in the world at large has also continued to grow. He is now regarded as a profound thinker on problems created by an industrial civilisation and a hedonistic culture. Hinduism has gained abroad because Gandhi is known as a great Hindu.

On the other hand, it must be admitted that the failure which the Mahatma met vis-a-vis the Muslims was truly of startling proportions. Hindu-Muslim unity was a goal which he had pursued with great dedication throughout his life. He had paid high tributes to Islam, its prophet, its caliphs and its scriptures. He had espoused the cause of Khilafat in order to win Muslim hearts. He had befriended even questionable characters like Mohammad Ali {Jinnah] because the latter enjoyed the confidence of Muslim masses. He had gone out of his way to humour Jinnah who was always cold and quite often nasty in his manners. He had ignored the invectives that were hurled at him by the Muslim press and politicians. He had even advised the British to hand over power to Muslims and quit. he had always frowned at all efforts to organise Hindus in order to call the Muslim bluff. In short, his policy towards Muslims had been full of appeasement at the cost of Hindu society. But nothing had helped. Muslims had continued to grow more and more hostile.

If we put these two facts together, we can perhaps draw some worthwhile conclusions. First, it follows that Hindu society responds only to a call which is deeply religious and cultural. Anti-Gandhi nationalists have failed to move Hindu masses because their appeal has been purely political. These nationalists have drawn most of their inspiration from the modern West and not from India’s own great past. Secondly, there must be something very hard in the heart of Islam so that even a man of an oceanic goodwill like Mahatma Gandhi failed to move it. He succeeded with the British by making them feel morally in the wrong. He succeeded with such sections of Hindu society as had nourished some grievances of their own and had tried to turn away from the freedom movement. It was only the Muslims with whom he failed miserably.

In justice to Mahatma Gandhi

There is no doubt that Mahatma Gandhi’s failure vis-a-vis Muslims was great and has had grievous consequences. But the failure can be attributed to him only in so for as he was at the helm of affairs during that particular period of Indian history. It is highly doubtful if Hindu society would have been able to prevent partition even if there had been no Mahatma Gandhi. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that Hindu society would have failed in any case. In fact, the seeds of that failure had been sown long before Mahatma Gandhi appeared on the scene.

The first thing to be done in this context is to put straight the record of the freedom movement and find out how Hindu leaders who preceded Mahatma Gandhi had functioned vis-a-vis the Muslim problem. For, although the Mahatma dominated the freedom movement for more than twenty-five years, he had appeared on the scene when thirty-five years had already passed since the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was the first leader to start sabre-rattling on behalf of his community. That was a year or two after the Congress came into existence. There is no evidence that any Hindu leader called his bluff at that time or at a subsequent stage. On the other hand, there is ample evidence of how Hindu leaders tried to appease the bully. To top it all, Hindus contributed quite a lot of money towards the establishment of his Anglo-Oriental Mohammedan College at Aligarh which was to become the main seat of Muslim separatism at a subsequent stage. Mahatma Gandhi was nowhere near the scene.

The Swadeshi Movement was the next step in the struggle for freedom. It was immediately followed by the founding of the Muslim League. Muslims not only boycotted the movement but also let loose an orgy of riots which were particularly violent and beastly in Bengal. But there is no record of Hindu leaders coming forward to beat back the aggression. The only Hindu response to this Muslim mayhem was to hail Siraj ud-Daulah, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan as national heroes. Again, Mahatma Gandhi was not on the scene.

Then came the Lucknow Pact of 1916. Muslim leaders had made no secret that pan-Islamic causes rather than patriotism had made them move towards a joint front with the Congress. But no Hindu leader cared to look into the motivation of Muslims. Only a slight gesture from the Muslim League was enough to elicit an enthusiastic response from the Congress. Hindu leaders conceded not only separate electorates to Muslims but also one-third representation in the Central Assembly to a less than one-fourth of the total Indian population. It was Lokmanya Tilak and not Mahatma Gandhi who was the leader of the Congress at that time.

Once the legitimacy of the pan-Islamic cause was recognised by the national leadership, it was only a short step to the Khilafat agitation. The meeting that was held on June 1, 1920, under the auspices of the Central Khilafat Committee, in order to solicit Congress support for the Sultan of Turkey, was not attended by Mahatma Gandhi alone. Leaving aside Motilal Nehru. Tej Bahadur Sapru and Jawaharlal Nehru, whose support for all Islamic causes was always a bygone conclusion, the others who sat by the side of Mahatma Gandhi in that crucial meeting were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Satyamurti, C. Rajagopalachari, and Chintamani. The proceedings of that meeting exist in cold print. Some of these Hindu leaders did oppose the proposal for a Non-Cooperation Movement to be launched simultaneously with the Khilafat agitation. But no one pointed out that the national movement should have nothing to do with a pan-Islamic platform. The same story was repeated at the Special Session of the Congress at Calcutta in September that year and at its Annual Session at Nagpur in December. Later on, Swami Shraddhananda was to be lionised for lambasting the British Government from the steps of the Jama Masjid at Delhi. He was speaking in support of the Khilafat agitation.

The Congress and the Muslim League never came together again at an all-Indian level after this brief period of six years which ended with the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement in February 1922. Muslims made no secret of their belief that they had been betrayed by Mahatma Gandhi. They let loose another orgy of riots all over the country. It was in the midst of this bloodshed, and while Mahatma Gandhi was behind prison bars that Deshbandhu C.R. Das led the Bengal Provincial Congress into signing a Hindu-Muslim Pact which permitted Muslims to kill cows during their festivals but forbade Hindus from playing music before the mosques!

Justice demands that anti-Gandhi nationalists review Hindu history vis-a-vis Islam and lay the blame where it belongs. They will soon find out that Mahatma Gandhi was neither the first nor the last to accord the status of a religion to Islam, the dignity of a deity to Allah, the aura of an avatar to Muhammad, the sanctity of a scripture to the Quran, the holiness of saints to the Sufis, the majesty of a place of worship to the mosque and the rights of a minority to the Muslim millat. Most Hindus are still chanting sarva dharma sama bhava vis-a-vis Islam in the face of Muslim fanaticism, though over three decades have passed since the death of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Mahatma’s Failure: A failure of Hindu society

There is ample evidence in the Mahatma’s writings that he could see quite clearly the pattern of perverse behaviour on the part of Muslims. That was at the back of his statement repeated several times, that an average Muslim was a bully and an average Hindu a coward. But he refused to believe that this pattern was derived directly from the teachings of the prophet.

That, however, is the story of Hindu society in its centuries-old encounter with Islam. Hindu society has always viewed Islam through the eyes of its own spirituality. Islam had shown its full face to Hindu society quite early not only in the devil dance of its swordsmen but also in the pronouncements and prolific writings of its mullahs, sufis and historians. But Hindu society had all along failed to draw the right conclusions. It had continued to regard Islam as a religion. The folly has persisted till the present time.

Modern Hindu and Sikh scholars have done something worse. They have presented Islam not only as a superior religion but also as a superior social system. This is obvious in hundreds of books written by them about the nirguna saints like Kabir and Nanak. These saints alone had the courage to question the exclusive claims of Islam while they sang in the advaitic tunes set by ancient Hindu spirituality. Islam had no impact on their teachings. But modern scholars have paraded these saints as monotheists who were in revolt against the multiplicity of Hindu gods and goddesses, as iconoclasts who were against image worship in Hindu temples and as social reformers who denounced the so-called caste system under the “influence of an equalitarian Muslim society.” The saints have thus been turned into tawdry social reformers. Falsehood can go no farther.

The relevant in Mahatma Gandhi

Sri Aurobindo has said in his Uttarpara Speech that India rises with the rise of Sanatana Dharma. Mahatma Gandhi proved the aptness of this observation. What is relevant in Mahatma Gandhi, therefore, is not his failure in solving the Muslim problem but his success in re-affirming the language of Sanatana Dharma which had been revived during the Swadeshi Movement. I give below a few specimens.

“The English have taught us that we were not one nation before and that it will require centuries before we become one nation. This is without foundation. We were one nation before they came to India. One thought inspired us. Our mode of life was the same. It was because we were one nation that they were able to establish one kingdom.” (Hind Swaraj, Chapter IX)

“I believe that the civilisation India has evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestry. Rome went; Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has become westernised; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at the foundation.” (Ibid., Chapter XIII)

“Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth and if today it has become moribund, inactive, irresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued. As soon as the fatigue is over, Hinduism will burst forth upon the world with a brilliance perhaps never known before.” (Young India, 24-4-1924)

“What the divine author of the Mahabharata said of his great creation is equally true of Hinduism. Whatever of substance is contained in any other religion is always to be found in Hinduism, and what is not contained in it is insubstantial or unnecessary.” (Ibid., 27-9-1925)

“Hinduism is like the Ganga, pure and unsullied at its source but taking in its course the impurities in the way. Even like the Ganga it is beneficent in its total effect. It takes a provincial form in every province, but the inner substance is retained everywhere.” (Ibid., 8-4-1926)

“Our sages have taught us to learn one thing: ‘As in the Self, so in the Universe.’ It is not possible to scan the universe as it is to scan the self. Know the self and you know the universe.” (Ibid.)

“Now when we talk of brotherhood of men, we stop there and feel that all other life is there for man to exploit for his own purposes. But Hinduism excludes all exploitation.” (Ibid., 26-12-1926)

“Hinduism insists on the brotherhood of not only all mankind but of all that lives.” (Harijan, 28-3-1936).

Such sayings of Mahatma Gandhi about Hinduism can be multiplied. He affirmed, again, and again not only the fundamentals of Hindu spirituality but also the framework of Hindu culture and social life. He valued “the spirit behind idol worship” and declared his determination “to defend with my life the thousands of holy temples which sanctify this land of ours.” For him cow protection was “the dearest possession of the Hindu heart” and “no one who does not believe in cow protection can possibly be a Hindu.” The sacred thread had a deep meaning for him because it was “the sign of the second birth, that is spiritual.” He believed that varnashrama was “inherent in human nature, and Hinduism had simply reduced it to a science.” He wrote several articles in defence of the “much-maligned Brahmin” and had not a shadow of doubt in his mind that “if Brahmanism does not revive, Hinduism must perish.” There was no symbol of Sanatana Dharma which did not stir him to the depths and which he did not trace back to its inner and eternal spirit.

And he served Hinduism not by words alone. His whole life was an uninterrupted hymn to Hinduism. He rendered many sterling services to Hindu society. He staked his life in order to free Hindu society from the stigma of untouchability. He wanted the Hindus to shed fear and be brave. By all accounts, his place should be secure in the mainstream of Indian nationalism.

There was no lack of Hindu leaders during the Mahatma’s life-time who appealed in the name of political patriotism. They left Hindu society cold and unresponsive. Nor has a purely political approach to Hindu society succeeded after the passing away of the Mahatma. The one lesson we learn from the freedom movement as a whole is that a religious and cultural awakening in Hindu society has to precede political awakening. The language of Indian nationalism has to be the language of Sanatana Dharma before it can challenge and defeat the various languages of imperialism. The more clearly Hindu society sees the universal truth of Hindu spirituality and culture, the more readily it will reject political ideologies masquerading as religion or promising a paradise on this earth.

Mahatma Gandhi stands squarely with Maharshi Dayananda, Bankim Chandra, Swami Vivekananda, Lokamanya Tilak and Sri Aurobindo in developing the language of Indian nationalism. His mistake about Islam does not diminish the lustre of that language which he spoke with full faith and confidence. On the contrary, his mistake carries a message of its own. – Pragyata, 1 October 2019

› This excerpt is taken from Perversion of India’s Political Parlance by Sita Ram Goel 

” Those 15 days” ( Before Partition ) – 3/15

Those 15 days”  is an account of the 15 days before Independence in 1947. Those were the 15 days of hectic political activity, unprecedented turmoil, foolhardiness of some of the leaders and the acute & deliberate ( ?) mis-management of the British. Sri Prashant Pole is running a series giving details of those 15 days. AriseBharat is documenting these notes into 15 separate articles giving links of the previous articles too..

This is part 3 of the series ; 1st Part is here

August 3, 1947*
– Prashant Pole
This day was meant for a meeting with Maharaja Hari Singh. Ramchandra Kak, the Diwan of Kashmir State, had handed over a formal letter in this regard on the day of arrival itself of Gandhiji in Srinagar. Today, the morning of August 3rd, was same as others for Gandhiji. Although it was month of August, there was quite cold in Kishori Lal Sethi’s house in. Gandhiji was awake in the wee hours as was his daily routine. His granddaughter ‘Manu’ was next to shadow for him. So she too woke up when Gandhiji woke up.
Manu would sleep with Gandhiji. About a year ago, during his tour of Noakhali, Gandhiji started sleeping with Manu along with him in bed. This was one of experiments of ‘truth’ for him. With his transparent and pure heart, Gandhiji never sensed any wrong in this. But this news had become very popular. The Congress leaders were left red-faced. The public opinion started turning against Gandhiji. Finally, Manu separated herself from Gandhiji when he embarked on his Bihar tour after completing Bengal’s tour.
Here in Srinagar, it was not like that. And Gandhiji living with his granddaughter was no more a novelty that would arouse curiosity for people. Gandhiji’s morning prayers were over before the sunrise and he busied himself in cleaning his staying place.
After everything was over, Gandhiji entered Gulab Bhavan, the royal palace of Kashmir’s king Hari Singh at about 11 AM. Even though this meeting with Gandhiji was against the wishes of Maharaja, yet he did not leave anything wanting in welcoming the former. Maharaja himself was standing with Maharani Tara Devi  to welcome Gandhiji in the premise of royal palace. Yuvraj Karan Singh was also present  there for the royal welcome. Maharani Tara Devi welcomed Gandhiji with a traditional welcome by smearing tilak on his forehead and a pancharati.
_(A copper plate has been placed on the tree under which Gandhiji and Maharaja met in the royal palace Gulab Bhawan, but the month mentioned on the plate of their meeting is wrong. Gandhiji met Maharaja in August while the date mentioned in June 1947)._
No trace of any kind of pressure on Gandhiji was visible in that palace. He had a very casual demeanour. Maharaja and Gandhiji had a hearty talk. *However, Gandhiji never told Maharaja to ‘join India’ anywhere’.*  Saying so, in Gandhiji’s opinion, would not be appropriate. It would have dented his image. *According to Gandhiji, he was the patriarch of both countries – India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t know that the Muslim leaders, who demanded Pakistan, saw him as Hindu, hated him and hence, Gandhiji had no place in Pakistan…!*
Since Gandhiji had nothing to say on what stand State of Kashmir should take after the exit of British, there was not much political discussion. However, Gandhiji’s this visit resulted in the implementation of Nehru’s agenda on Kashmir. This meeting took place on August 3rd and the Maharaja relieved his trusted aide and Kashmir’s Diwan Ramchandra Kak, who placed Nehru in prison, from the service on August 10th. Another effect was that Nehru’s close friend Sheikh Abdullah was released from Kashmir prison on September 29th.
On the surface, the outcome of Gandhiji’s visit seems to be limited to this. *Had Gandhiji demanded to Maharaja to join India, instead of these two demands or along with them, Kashmir’s ascension to India would have happened in August 1947 itself, without waiting for October 1947* and the Kashmir problem, that has arisen today, would not be there…
But that was not to happen…!
——- ——– ——–
Mandi.
A small town situated at the foot of the Himalayas. It was named Mandi after the sage Manu. A spectacular place located on the banks of the Vyas (Beas ) river. It was a cute and cosy Princely State in 1947. However, the king of the State was toying with the idea of his own kingdom after unyoking from British rule. The state and Narendramandal, the organization of the Princely State, were full of chaos. In the meantime, the king of neighbouring Sirmaur State also decided to have his own state without joining India. Now, they understood fully well that having so small independent states was impossible. These Princes came to know that Maharaja of Kashmir too was thinking of keeping his state independent.
Then, these two kings put forward a plan of having a ‘Greater Union’ of hilly states in Jammu-Kashmir, Punjab and Simla. They had met Lord Mountbatten just a week ago. He wanted some time to think about this plan. Therefore, they could not sign the letter of accession in India in hurry and asked for more time for doing so.
Sitting in his grand and pompous office of Viceroy in Delhi, Lord Louis Mountbatten was reading the letter by those kings again and again. As many kings would insist on remaining independent, the British would be put in more hassle at the time of leaving India. Therefore, Mountbatten would not like such small states to remain independent. Still, for the sake of democracy and for the sake of his post, Mountbatten started writing a letter to Sardar Patel in this regard.
Despite knowing that there would not be a favourable decision on it, as he wrote the letter in the afternoon of August 3rd, Mountbatten requested Patel to allow some more time to kings of Sirmaur and Mandi on the Letter of Accession.
——– ——– ——–
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was in Delhi today. He had a slew of works since last few days. The party workers of his Schedule Caste Federation were coming to him from all over the country for various works. A lot of correspondence was still pending. Babasaheb could not find enough time for his favourite task – reading. But Babasaheb liked this situation. *In fact, when there was a load of work and he had to immerse himself in it, Babasaheb saw it as a parvani.*
That is why when Nehru asked him last week about joining his Cabinet, Babasaheb gave an affirmative reply but he also said, “There is not much work in the law ministry. So give me a responsibility with much work.” Nehru had said smilingly, “Surely. A heavy task is coming to you.”
And this afternoon, Babasaheb received a letter from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The letter noted that he was appointed as the first Law Minister of independent India.
This was an important and joyous occasion for Babasaheb and his Scheduled Caste Federation…!
——– ——– ——–
Cyril Radcliff had a harrowing time in the extreme summer of August in Delhi. This fearless and impartial judge from Britain assented to come to India and work on the plan of partition because Prime Minister Atlee had appealed to his consciousness and exhorted him to do so. Mountbatten wanted someone with little knowledge of India to draw the line of partition. Justice Radcliff knew nothing about India.
However, Radcliff came to understand how big burden it was to ‘know nothing’. An expansive terrain, rivers, streams, network of canals and one was to draw just one line on this expansive land that would render many non-existent. The land tilted by generations would turn foreign. That one line will ruin many a people…
Mr. Radcliff knew this very well. And he was trying his best to bring about partition in a judicious manner. Three rooms in his bungalow were flooded with documents and different types of maps. Much of his work was finished today August 3rd. Some controversial places were remaining in Punjab and he was giving finishing touches to them. And at this juncture, he received a letter written by Major Short. Here was a completely regimental man, a typical British. He had written the letter to convey the reactions from masses to Radcliff. His words in it were, *“The people believe that Radcliff will decide as told by Mountbatten”.*
Radcliff got thinking. This part of the letter was somewhat true. Mountbatten certainly had some influence on Radcliff.
 ——– ——– ———
August 3rd.  At around 4 PM, a press note came out from Jawaharlal Nehru’s residence at 17, York House. Since this was a turbulent time, press notes would come out or press conferences would held daily. However, today’s press note was special. This press note was going to assume a huge historical importance.
*Through this press note, Nehru had announced the names of his cabinet colleagues. Independent India’s first cabinet.* And that’s why this press note had a unique significance. The names given by Nehru in it appeared serially as followed –
• Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
• Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
• Dr. Rajendra Prasad
• Dr. John Mathai
• Jagjeevan Ram
• Sardar Baldev Singh
• C. H. Bhaba
• Princess Amrit Kaur
• Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
• Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee
• Shanmugamchetty
• Narahar Vishnu Gadgil
Among these 12 members, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was the only woman. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was inducted in the cabinet as the representative from Scheduled Caste Federation, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee from Hindu Mahasabha and Sardar Baldev Singh from Panthik Party.
——— ——– ——–
Elsewhere, a press note from Ram Manohar Lohia had reached the offices of newspapers that disappointed many a Goans. Lohia informed the Goans through this press note that ‘Goa’s freedom is not possible with the independence of India. Therefore, people of Goa should continue their struggle for independence as such…!”
——– ——– ——–
Away from all these development and raging fire of partition, it was day of conclusion for the meeting at Devachi Alandi in Maharashtra of the Communist activists working in Congress. Workers were brainstorming since the previous day.
*Finally, it was decided that a separate group within Congress and with the Communist ideology, thinking of interests of farmers and labourers should be set up.* It was decided that Shankarrao More, Keshavrao Jedhe, Bhausaheb Raut, Tulsidas Jadhav etc. should collectively lead this group.
A new Communist Party was emerging in Maharashtra…
——– ——— ——–
It was Gandhiji’s last day of stay today in Srinagar. He was to leave for Jammu the next morning. So it was Begum Akbar Jahan had the privilege of hosting this evening’s dinner.
She had duly invited Gandhiji to the evening dinner. *With Gandhiji’s friendship with Sheikh Abdullah, there was no reason for him to turn it down.*
Sheikh Abdullah was in jail, yet Begum Sahiba had a gala of dinner party in his absence. The workers of National Conference were looking after all the arrangements. Begum Sahiba herself and her daughter Khalida were there to at the door to welcome Gandhi.
Gandhiji observed that royal pomp and he become uncomfortable. Any dinner in his imagination could not be so royalistic. Still, expressing his fair reservations to Begum Sahiba, Gandhiji stayed there at the dinner till last…!
——– ——– ——–
The uncomfortable night of August 3rd was moving forward. Millions of rich families were coming to the partitioned India as refugees through Lahore, Pathankot and elsewhere in Bengal. Fear of life, frustration of leaving the hardly earned properties and becoming refugees, bodies tired with hunger and thirst…
India had just 10 nights before being split…!
—to be continued 

” Those 15 days” ( Before Partition ) – 2/15

Those 15 days”  is an account of the 15 days before Independence in 1947. Those were the 15 days of hectic political activity, unprecedented turmoil, foolhardiness of some of the leaders and the acute & deliberate ( ?) mis-management of the British. Sri Prashant Pole is running a series giving details of those 15 days. AriseBharat is documenting these notes into 15 separate articles giving links of the previous articles too..

This is part 2 of the series ; First Part is here

*August 2, 1947*

The house at ‘17, York Road ‘ had become important not only for the people of Delhi but for the whole country. It was the residence of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for last few years. The residence of the designated Prime Minister of India! And there were only 13 days for this word ‘designated’ to go away. Jawaharlal Nehru would start working as the first Prime Minister of independent India from August 15.
The visits of officers and the citizens were started getting more and more at the 17, York Road. York Road was, in fact, an important road. When the British decided to move capital from Calcutta to Delhi because of the unrest in Bengal in 1911, they entrusted the work of designing Delhi to the British architect Edwin Lutyens. It was this York Road that Lutyens started his work from. And the bungalow at 17, York Road where Nehru stayed was built in 1912.
Nehru’s morning on August 2 in this bungalow arose with a hustle. Only thirteen days were left for the transfer from the British. The preparation for that program was on agenda, but many other issues also fell on Nehru literally like a waterfall. There was a heavy list of works from national anthem to cabinet’s choices. Amidst all this, a trifling problem was also there that nudged Nehru as to what he would wear on August 15…!
Some Congress leaders and senior officials of the administration had arrived at 17, York Road. Discussions on different issues were to be held with them. Therefore, Nehru got over his breakfast hurriedly and prepared himself to face the busy day ahead.
——– ——— ———-
Somewhere else, the events for merging the princely states in India had gathered momentum. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel himself kept an eye on each of the states. He had inducted V. K. Menon, a sharp administrator, in his department for this work.
On the instructions of Sardar Patel, V. K. Menon had written a letter to the Sir Patrick, the Deputy Secretary of India Affairs in Britain, on the morning of August 2. In the letter, he informed that ‘The princely states in India that are big in size and economy such as Mysore, Baroda, Gwalior, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaipur are ready for ascension with India. However, the decision of the States like Hyderabad, Bhopal, and Indore is yet to be known…”
These states had actually made their mind. Bhopal, Hyderabad and Junagarh did not want to stay with India in any way. In this connection, the Nawab of Bhopal wrote a letter to Jinnah on August 2. Jinnah and Nawab Hamidullah were both very good friends. Thus, Nawab Hamidullah writes to his friend, “Bhopal stands alone with an 80% Hindu majority in the midst of Hindu India, surrounded by my personal enemies as well as by the enemies of Islam. Pakistan has no means of helping us. You rightly made this point to me last night”.
 ——– ——– ——–
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who resided at 1, Queen Victoria Road, was also busy. He had a long time to become future President. However, everyone was seeing him as a patriarch (Father figure). Obviously, there was a beeline of people coming to him form consultations or exchanging information on specific subjects at this critical juncture.
 Dr. Rajendra Prasad was originally from Bihar. Therefore, many people from Bihar came to him with various issues and various problems. He was writing one such letter in the afternoon of August 2 to Defence Minister Sardar Baldev Singh.
It was a letter about ceremony on August 15. The letter said, “Military should also participate in the ceremony along with citizens and administration in the Patna city so that the ceremony will assume grandeur”.
Sardar Baldev Singh was the minister who was inducted in the Cabinet from Akali Dal. He respected Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Therefore, it was certain that he would appropriate action on Rajendra Babu’s letter.
——– ——– ——–
A different drama was taking place in the United Province (today’s Uttar Pradesh) since the morning of August 2. The government had arrested the local Hindu Mahasabha previous night and charge laid against them was that ‘they were to start direct action against the government’. The term “Direct Action” was a much-maligned one in the Indian politics. Just a year ago, the Muslim League goons had massacred five thousand Hindus in Bengal, and raped thousands of women. The reason why the Congress executive accepted the partition in later period was in a way fall out of this word ‘Direct Action’. Therefore, picking up Hindu leaders and imprisoning them in the name of ‘direct action’ seemed a bit strange, because the word ‘direct action’ was linked to the Muslim League.
Even Indian Daily Mail, a newspaper published from Singapore, picked up this news. It carried this news on the front page on the issue dated  August 2nd. It also published ten demands of the Hindu Mahasabha. This news created discomfort among Hindu Mahasabha’s supporters.
——– ——– ——–
A report came from the faraway Kohima on the eastern front on Saturday, August 2nd that was not good for the Indian federal state. Independent League of Kohima had announced that they would not join the August 15th. They would form an independent Naga government that would cover the entire area inhabited by the Naga tribes.
Mountains of challenges were coming up before the Indian federal state that was being shaped on August 15th.
 ——– ——– ——–
 In spite of all these tension, Indian movies were entertaining people in the country and abroad. Aath Din, a movie starring Ashok Kumar and Veera was attracting crowds in the Diamond Theatre in Singapore. Noted Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto had written the story of the movie while music director S. D. Barman entered the movie world through it…!
——– ——– ——–
Even Sardar Patel’s residence at Delhi (today’s 1, Aurangzeb Road) was brimming with activities. The Home Ministry had a testing time on the issues of merger of princely states as well as riots in Sindh, Baluchistan and Bengal.
 In the meantime, Sardar received a letter in the afternoon written by Pandit Nehru. The letter was brief. It said –
“This letter is occasioned for fulfilling some formalities. I am extending invitation to join my cabinet. Actually, this letter has no meaning because you are already a strong pillar of my cabinet.”
Patel took the letter. He looked at it for a while and smiled lightly. And he continued talking with his secretary about the raging riots on the yet to be announced India – Pakistan border.
………………
Far far away from this whole atmosphere, a group of leftists in Congress had gathered at Devachi Alandi in Maharashtra. They had decided two months ago to organize a convention of the group some day or other. All of them had gathered on the appeal of Shankarrao More and Bhausaheb Raut. They could see that India was gaining independence and Congress was to get the key to power of independent India. However, the question that nagged them was – what about their left, communist ideology…? They had gathered to brainstorm on this issue. They included noted and heavyweights like Tulashidas Jadhav, Krushnarao Dhulupa, Dnyanoba Jadhav, G. D. Lagoo, Datta Deshmukh, R. K. Khandilkar, Keshavrao Jedhe etc. The plan to form a separate group in the party for the peasants and labourers was taking shape there.
Nobody thought at least then that this meeting would give birth to a big left-wing party of peasants and workers…
These famous personalities did not utter a single word about the partition of India and inhuman riots in this meeting of August 2nd.
………………
Elsewhere in Egmore area of Madras, Food, Medicine and Health Minister of the Madras Presidency T. S. S. Rajan was interacting with the anglo- Indian community in a meeting held in the evening. Many of them had a question in their hearts as to what would happen to their community after British left India. Responding to the same, the Minister said, “This small community of yours has mixed well in the society. Now, even after independence, this community has to play the role of a responsible citizen.”
——– ——– ——–
Far away in Pune, a public meeting was being held at S. P. College in honour of Veer Savarkar. Tatyarao (Savarkar) himself was to speak on the prevalent situation of the country, on the country’s independence and the partition.
Huge crowd had gathered in the meeting. This was a grand rally in true sense. In his fiery speech, Veer Savarkar said , “We are all Hindus. Then what is so shameful in calling oneself ‘a Hindu’…? Even though Congress is the main culprit for today’s situation, the people at large are equally responsible. This is the outcome of the support they have given to Congress from time to time. A class was successful in dividing this country since it was repeatedly appeased.”
________________________
Meanwhile in Srinagar, the second day of Gandhiji’s first visit to Kashmir was about to set. This day was not filled with any especial important events. Begum Akbar Jahan came to Kisori Lal Sethi’s house, where Gandhiji stayed, in the morning after the prayer itself with her daughter. In this meeting also, she told Gandhiji many times how crucial it was that her husband (Sheikh Abdullah) was to be released from the prison. Even today, Gandhiji was surrounded by the National Conference’s Muslim leaders. However, Gandhiji today met many people including a lot of Hindu leader.
Gandhiji was to go to meet Maharaja Hari Singh tomorrow, on August 3rd, as per the invitation given by Ramchandra Kak.
——– ——– ———
Hindu-Muslim skirmishes continued all day in Lahore, Pindi, Peshawar, Chitgaon, Dhaka, Amritsar etc. However, as the darkness of the night engulfed this whole region, large flames of fires became visible on the horizon.
The night of August 2nd too was going to be in full of turmoil…!
To be continued…
– Courtesy : Sri Prashant Pole

” Those 15 days” ( Before Partition ) – 1/15

“Those 15 days”  is an account of the 15 days before Independence in 1947. Those were the 15 days of hectic political activity, unprecedented turmoil, foolhardiness of some of the leaders and the acute & deliberate ( ?) mis-management of the British. Sri Prashant Pole is running a series giving details of those 15 days. AriseBharat is documenting these notes into 15 separate articles giving links of the previous articles too..

Those 15 Days

*August 1st, 1947*
– Prashant Pole
Friday. August 1st, 1947. This day suddenly assumed importance. Two things happened on this day regarding Kashmir, which would prove significant in the future. These two things had hardly any connection between them, but these two developments would be necessary in the Ramayana and Mahabharata that was to be followed.
That Gandhiji reached Srinagar on August 1st was the first among those two. This was Gandhiji’s first visit to Kashmir. Earlier, Maharaja Hari singh of Kashmir had extended personal invitation to Gandhiji to visit Kashmir when the latter had just returned from South Africa and the World War I was going on. The Maharaja was just a 20-year old then. However, everything had changed dramatically in 1947. The Maharaja as well as the administration of Jammu & Kashmir did not want Gandhiji to come this time around. Maharaja Hari Singh himself wrote a Letter to Viceroy Lord Mountbaten in this regard. In it, he said, “After a comprehensive thinking, we want to suggest that Mahatma Gandhi should cancel his planned tour to Kashmir this time around. And if he indeed wants to come, he should come after the end of autumn. We want to tell you again, neither Gandhiji nor any other political leader should come here before the situation in Kashmir improves.”
Thus, it was a situation akin to going to host’s house in spite of his hostility. Gandhiji was aware of this to some extent. Kashmir was now a key issue for both India and Pakistan. Freedom was virtually only two weeks away. And Kashmir had still not make its decision known.
Hence, Gandhiji did not want his Kashmir visit to be seen as his campaign to get ‘Kashmir merged with the Indian Union’. It would have been detrimental to his persona, it appeared to him. Before leaving for Kashmir tour, Gandhiji had said in his prayer meeting at Delhi on July 29th, *”I am not going to tell Maharaja to join India and not the Pakistan.* The people of Kashmir are the true owners Kashmir. They should decide as to where they would join. And hence, I am not going to do any public work in Kashmir. Even prayer. Even that would be personal for me…!”
Gandhiji arrived at Srinagar on August 1st via Rawalpindi. Since Maharaj did not invite them this time, he stayed at Kishori Lal Sethi’s house. Even though his house was rented one, it was a spacious one. This house was located very near to the Bone & Joint Hospital of Barzula in today’s Srinagar. This Sethi would procure contracts of the forests. He was close to the Congress, but he was also closer to the National Conference. However, the Maharaja had put the leader of the National Conference Sheikh Abdullah in jail at that time. Many leaders of the National Conference were expelled from Kashmir. They were charged with conspiring against the Maharaja under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah.
And therefore, when Gandhiji was coming en route to Srinagar via Rawalpindi, NC leaders Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Khwaja Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, saw his off at Kohla bridge and went back to Lahore. Gandhiji had his personal secretary Pyarelal and two nephews with him. After entering Srinagar, Gandhiji went straight to Kishori Lal Sethi ‘s house. He was taken to the Dal Lake after having a brief rest there
*During the entire tour of Gandhiji, NC men accompanied him everywhere.* But why…? Because prior to this first visit to Kashmir, Gandhiji had asked all the information on Kashmir to Nehru. He himself disclosed this during his Kashmir tour. And in Kashmir, Pandit Nehru ‘s closest friend was Sheikh Abdullah, who was imprisoned in jail. Of course, Sheikh’s begum and other followers took care of all the arrangements for Gandhiji in his absence.
The first official government representative to pay visit to Gandhiji in Kashmir was Ramchandra Kak . The Prime Minister of Kashmir who also happened to be a very trusted aide of Maharaja Hari Singh and occupying the top spot in the ‘hate list’ of Nehru. The reason was that on May 15, 1946, when Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and imprisoned for his anti-Kashmir campaign, Nehru announced that he would go to Kashmir to be former’s lawyer. Kak prohibited Nehru from entering Kashmir and arrested him near Muzaffarabad. Nehru, obviously, harboured a great disdain for this act…!
Ramchandra Kak handed over a sealed letter from Maharaja to Gandhiji. This letter was an invitation for a meeting. The meeting was fixed on 3 August at Maharaj’s residence ‘Hari Nivas’.
As per Nehru’s briefing, the NC workers surrounded Gandhiji during his entire Kashmir tour. In Sheikh’s absence, Begum Akbar Jahan and daughter Khalida came to meet him many times during his three-day stay.
*On August 1st , Gandhiji did not met even a single Hindu nationalist leader in Srinagar…!*
——– ——– ——— ——–
Hari SinghAn another development was taking place on August 1st because of which there would be discontent in the Indian subcontinent for many years to come. And this incident  also related to Kashmir. The state of Kashmir was a large one under the leadership of Maharaja Hari Singh. The British severed Gilgit Agency, a province that fell under it, and added it in the British Empire in 1935. Basically, the entire and undivided Kashmir is a literally a paradise on earth. Moreover, Kashmir held and still holds a critical importance strategically and militarily. The boundaries of three countries touched this state. In 1935, even though World War II was far away, major changes had started taking place in world politics. The might of Russia was increasing and hence the British took away Gilgit Agency, the part of Kashmir that touched Russia from Maharaja Hari Singh.
Later, much water flew through Jhelum. The World War II ended. All the countries that participated in that war were left in shambles. The British had decided to leave India. And in this situation, British had no interest in controlling a remote area like Gilgit Agency (the region of Gilgit-Baltistan). And therefore, even before according independence to India officially, the British handed over the Gilgit Agency province to Maharaja. At the sunrise of August 1st, 1947, the state flag of Kashmir was flying proudly at the place of Union Jack at all district headquarters in Gilgit-Baltistan.
However, how much did the Maharaja consent to this transfer? Not much…!
The British had deployed Gilgit Scouts battalion for the defense of this region. Except for some British officers, the whole army was formed by Muslims. With the transfer of August 1st, this Muslim army also came to Maharaja. The Maharaja appointed Brigadier Ghansara Singh as the Governor of this region. Moreover, he gave Major W. A brown and Captain S. Methison of the Gilgit Scout  with him. Subedar Major of Gilgit Scout  Babar Khan was also with these officers.
While doing this, Maharaja would not have imagined that whole of Gilgit Scout would turn treacherous within two months and three days and imprison Governor Brig. Ghansara Singh.
This transfer of August 1st paved the way for important events in future…!
——– ——– ——– ——–
Even as the divided freedom of united India was at the threshold, huge massacres were going on at the east and west borders of the country. The British authorities anticipated that this massacre would increase with the advent of Independence Day and of course, the partition day. Therefore, to tone down the severity of these riots, they put forward the concept of the mixed army of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Accordingly, a force named ‘Punjab Boundary Force’ was formed. It had eleven mixed infantries. The total military persons were 50 thousand and four brigadiers led them – Mohammad Ayub Khan, Nasir Ahmed, Digambar Brar and Thimmaiah.
All these four brigadiers started their work of Punjab Boundary Force in their temporary headquarter at Lahore  on August 1st .
However, this mixed army was forced to witness their headquarter Lahore burn within 15 days…!
——– ——– ——– ——–
At the same time, a drama was being enacted at far away  Calcutta.
A senior leader of Congress and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s elder brother Sharad Chandra Bose resigned from Congress on August 1st. Sharad Babu was a radical personality. This was a man who remained in Congress for forty years and fought with full spirit and might. It is mentioned in the report of British Intelligence in 1930 – “He is a man, who assisted the revolutionary movement for years by means of his Purse, his Press and his Prestige, and who was unquestionably a most dangerous opponent of Government.”
Sarat_Chandra_Bose
Sharad Chandra Bose and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had too many similarities. Both of them were born in 1889. Both of them were educated in England. Both of them acquired their law degree from the England. Both had left-leaning thinking in their younger days. Later on, both became active in Congress. Both shared a good relationship.
However, Congress won majority 54 seats in the provincial elections in the 1937, followed by Krishak Praja Party and Muslim League which got 37 seats each. As a leader of the Bengal Congress, Sharad Chandra Bose exhorted Congress and especially, Gandhi-Nehru to form joint government with the Krishak Praja Party.  However, Congress did not relent. The Congress party sat on opposition benches even after winning most seats while Muslim League formed the joint government with the help of Krishak Praja Party. Sher-e-Bengal A. A. Fazlul Haq became the ‘Prime Minister’ of Bengal. From then on, the foundation of the Congress in Bengal became weakened. It eventually led to someone like Surhavardi from Muslim League becoming ‘Prime Minister’ after nine years under whose leadership five thousand Hindus were mercilessly massacred on the ‘Direct Action Day’ in 1946…!
All these events perturbed Sharad Babu. He  was writing to Congress leadership, and especially Nehru, in this regard from time to time, but to no avail. Sharad babu was obviously infuriated by the campaign run by Nehru against Subhash Babu during the presidential election for the Tripuri (Jabalpur) Congress in 1939 as well.
And to top all this was the consent given by Gandhi- Nehru to the partition of Bengal. Sharad Babu could not digest this and hence on August 1st, he resigned from his 40 year old Congress party…!
On August 1st, Sharad Babu formed the ‘Socialist Republican Army’ party. He emphasised that “The partition of the country and the situation of anarchy in the country is the failure of Nehru’s leadership”.
——– ——– ——— ——–
August 1st. The day of large scale and rapid developments was about to set. *Punjab was still burning. The horrendous flames of fire from burning houses in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan were visible from far away in that fearsome darkness of the night. Fifty eight thousand swayamsevaks of RSS were working around the clock to protect the Hindus and Sikhs from being massacred in the whole of Punjab.* The situation in Bengal was heading towards anarchy…
The freedom and partition along with it was just fourteen days away…!
– Courtesy : Sri Prashant Pole
To be continued …