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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Indian Independence

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The reasons for Indian Independence


World War I


During the war 1,50,000 Indians fought for Britain. They served in France in the trenches, but also fought in the Middle East and Africa. They proved themselves to be brave and loyal. This made many Indians expect that they would receive independence as a reward. Congress demanded that the British government should set a date for independence.


M K Gandhi


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Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 115. He spent a year travelling, but from 117 began to take over Congress and attracted a lot more support. Before this, Congress had been made up of well-educated and well-off Indians, but Gandhi dressed in Indian clothes and tried to appeal to all Indians. He began a campaign of Satyagraha. He urged Indians not to co-operate with the British authorities. From 10 Gandhi became the main leader of the campaign to get independence. Gandhi said that his followers should


not become angry with their opponents,


put up with the anger of their opponents,


put up with the attacks of his opponents and never attempt to fight back,


allow themselves to be arrested,


allow their property to be taken away from them.


The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (11)


This was an attempt to change the government of India and give Indians more say. Edwin Montagu was the Secretary of State for India and Lord Chelmsford was the viceroy. Montagu said that India would eventually become independent, but refused to set a date. The reforms allowed Indians to control education and public health, but the British kept control of the police, the law courts, law and order, and taxation. Many Indians were very disappointed.


The Rowlatt Acts


During the First World War the viceroy had been given special powers to arrest and imprison people without trial and to try suspects without a jury. The powers were unpopular, but were accepted because it was believed that they would only last as long as the war. In February 11, however, these powers were extended, although the war had finished. Many Indians were outraged and there were protests all over India. In Amritsar on 10 April five Britons were killed and another was beaten.


Amritsar


In Amritsar the newly arrived British army commander, General Dyer, banned all meetings. Sikhs gathered on 1 April 11 for a festival in the Jallianwalla Bagh, an open space surrounded by walls. Dyer had the exits blocked and then, without warning, ordered his soldiers to open fire at the Indians. 71 were killed and more than 1,00 were wounded. Dyer then announced a curfew, which meant that the wounded could not be tended to until the next morning. News of Amritsar was heard with horror all over India. Many Indians felt that after that events they simply could not trust the British. One such Indian was Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawarhal Nehru, one of Gandhis closest supporters. Motilal gave up his career as a lawyer and also became a supporter of Gandhi. The Nehru family were extremely high caste Indian family and they threw their support behind Gandhi and even donated their family home to the Gandhi movement which used it as an Ashram. This example of support from a high caste family demonstrates how Gandhi appealed to all Indian groups.


Summary


So you can see that the years from 117 to 10 were very important. It was the time when


Many Indians started to feel that the British could not be trusted


Many Indians believed that the British did not intend to give India independence


Many more Indians joined the campaigns for independence


A national movement for independence was created


There was a leader of the movement who the British found very difficult to deal with.


Gandhi was thus firmly anchored to pacifism when the war broke out in 1, but many of his closest colleagues and the rank and file in the Indian National Congress could not bring themselves to accept the feasibility of defending the country against aggression without resort to arms. Twice during the war�after the fall of France in 140, and the collapse of the British position in South East Asia in 141�when there was a possibility of a rapprochement between the Congress and the Government for a united war effort, Gandhi stepped aside rather than be a party to organized violence. The rapprochement did not come. The only serious British effort for a compromise was made in the Spring of 14 with the dispatch of the Cripps Mission to India; it proved abortive.


For nearly two and a half years, Gandhi had resisted pressure from a section of his following for the launching of a mass movement. It became clear that the British Government first under Chamberlain, and then under Churchill, was reluctant to assure Indian freedom in the future, or to offer a practical token of it in the present Gandhi had endeavoured to restrain the radical wing of the Congress party, and diverted its discontent into individual Satyagraha, a subdued form of civil resistance confined to selected individuals


Gandhi with Sir Stafford Cripps, March 14


After the failure of the Cripps Mission, Gandhi noted with concern that in the face of grave peril posed by the Japanese advance in South East Asia, the mood of the people of India was not one of resolute defiance, but of panic, frustration and helplessness. If India was not to go the way of Malaya and Burma, something had to be done, and done quickly. He came to the conclusion that only an immediate declaration of Indian independence by the British Government could give the people of India a stake in the defence of their country.


QUIT INDIA resolution, 14 Churchills racialist hypocrisyEven after more than half a century, the Quit India resolution adopted by the Indian National Congress stands out as a landmark event in the countrys history. The trigger for the resolution was the failure of the British Cabinet Mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Privy Seal. Both the Congress and the Muslim League rejected the Cripps proposals. The ironical part is that Cripps himself was in sympathy with the Congress demands and wasnt in any way responsible for the fiasco. The villain of the piece was the British War Cabinet -- ie. Winston Spencer Churchill, who was the War Cabinet. Nobody else mattered. Churchill at the time wielded greater powers than even the acknowledged dictators. Even Hitler had to consult Himmler, Goebbels, or Goering, and give way to them at times. But Churchill gave way to nobody. The underlying situation is brought out clearly in VB Kulkarnis scholarly work British Dominion in India and After. After Japans crippling attack on the American Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbour and the swift advance of the Japanese across East Asia, the US had its own geostrategic concerns to consider. One of them was the possibility of a Japanese advance through Burma (now known as Myanmar) into India (then, of course, undivided). In such an event, the US felt that Indian support would be vital. The US was openly worried over Churchills attitude towards Indian independence, and President Roosevelt had sent a personal representative to India, Colonel Louis Johnson. The message sent by Johnson on April 11, 14, is revealing Cripps is sincere...To my amazement, when a satisfactory solution seemed certain, Cripps with embarrassment told me that he couldnt change the original Draft Declaration without Churchills approval, and that Churchill had cabled him that he will give no approval unless [General] Wavell and the Viceroy separately send their own code cables unqualifiedly endorsing any change Cripps wants. The Draft Declaration referred to was the British governments scheme for so-called Indian self-government, published on March 0, 14. It envisaged a constitution-making body which would have to give a commitment for the future(!) to the British government that the interests of racial and religious minorities would be duly protected. How, asks Kulkarni pertinently, could any government making such a commitment to an outside body claim to possess untrammelled sovereignty? As regards the present, the Draft Declaration for self-government sanctimoniously declared that the people of India should participate effectively in the counsels of their country, of the Commonwealth, and of the United Nations (!)


India had been made a belligerent without the concurrence of Indian leaders. The Congress now proposed that the Viceroys Executive Council should be regarded as a full-fledged Cabinet, with a Defence portfolio handled by an Indian. Against the background of the tremendous contribution made by hundreds of thousands of Indian armed forces to the Allied cause in World War 1 -- a contribution that had been enshrined in the thousands of names of Indian dead inscribed in the War Memorial at India Gate in New Delhi -- the Defence portfolio proposal was by no means unreasonable. Cripps himself, says Kulkarni, was inclined to accept the Congress proposal. About the Draft Declaration itself, Kulkarni writes It was absurd to expect Congress to accept an offer which, as Johnson so aptly put it, contained little more than the unkept promise of the First World War...The Congress Executives Quit India resolution adopted in Bombay on August 8, 14 was therefore the natural reaction of a disappointed people. New light has been shed on Churchills racist arrogance by the recent release of certain British Intelligence records relating to the period. Some of the records made available have been used by British journalist turned historian Patrick French, extracts from whose readable book Liberty or Death have been published by newsmagazine Outlook in its August 5, 17 cover story. Patrick writes of Churchill His understanding of the countrys social and religious structures was superficial. He had a broad, emotional Edwardian belief in the racial superiority of the pinkish-grey races and the need to maintain the British Empire. It was once suggested to him that he should meet some prominent political activists who were then in London. Churchills reply I am quite satisfied with my views on India. I dont want them disturbed by any bloody Indian. Churchill blatantly employed racist arrogance, bluff, and the myth of British superiority, to stall Indian independence. To him, India only stood for the basis of British imperial power. He was hypocrite enough to stall Indian independence at a time when his own agents in India were busily recruiting Indians for the armed forces. His hypocrisy allowed him to do all this despite the magnificent contribution of the Indian armed forces to the war effort, on several fronts. From a mere 50,000 at the outbreak of World War in 1, the number rose to well over ,000,000 bloody Indians. Did Churchill realise that he was a racial hypocrite?


Massacre of Hindus Direct Action day 146


ExtractMUSLIM LEAGUE ATTACK ON SIKHS AND HINDUS IN THE PUNJAB 147, Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 147, by Sri. S. Gurbachan Singh Talib. This is the report submitted to Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee by Sri. S. Gurbachan Singh Talib and later published as a book by Voice of India with a forword by Sri ram Swaroop. The full book is available in the voi.org


Mr. H. S. Sahrawardy, Premier of Bengal, said


“Muslim India means business.”


How grimly it ‘meant business’ was shown by the Calcutta killing, and was later on shown by Noakhali, N.-W. F. P. and the Punjab.


Mr. Jinnah in a statement issued from Bombay on September 11, 146 offered to the Hindus the choice between creating Pakistan and forcing a Civil War in the country.


Replying to a question seeking suggestions for the restoration of peace in India, he said”


“In view of the horrible slaughter in various parts of India, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchange of population to avoid brutal recurrence of that which had taken place where small minorities have been butchered by the overwhelming majorities.”


Thus, scouting any suggestion that there could be peace and amity in the country, he advocated exchange of population-the uprooting of millions-and as it later turned out to be, of over twelve millions, and the butchering of about a million. This was the direction in which the Muslim League was inevitably leading the country.


What shocked the conscience of India even more than Calcutta, was the large-scale murder, loot, arson, rape, abduction and forced marriage of Hindu women in the Noakhali District of Eastern Bengal. This time the trouble came about in the October of 146. It appears the League enthusiasts were on the look-out for an area of operation where they could be sure of very little resistance and where they could demonstrate to the Hindus in action as to what was in store for them in case they did not accept the Muslim League demand of Pakistan. In Calcutta the Hindus-although on the first two days they were completely surprised, and reeled under the sudden blow, and lost more than a thousand in killed-yet on the subsequent days they rallied and gave the Muslims as good as they got. The Muslim League perhaps realized the folly of having tried out Calcutta. A better spot should be selected, and this time it was Noakhali and the adjoining area of Eastern Bengal.


The district of Noakhali is almost at the extreme end of Eastern Bengal, surrounded by heavy Muslim majority areas. This district itself has perhaps the lowest percentage of non-Muslim population-the Muslim percentage being as high as 81.5. So, while it was particularly dastardly of the Muslims of this area to have chosen to fall upon the Hindus of this area, it was, from the point of their own scheme, a fit choice; for its very sparse Hindu population could offer little resistance to their onslaught. Attacks on a scale as large as Noakhali also occurred in the district of Tipperah, neighbouring on Noakhali, and with a Muslim population of 77.0%.


As the trouble broke out, for some time the country did not know about it. Noakhali is a far-away part of Bengal, and the Muslim League Ministry of Bengal did not allow the news of the carnage to trickle though as long as they could help it. So, the assailants had it all their own way for several days, unchecked.


The horror and the underlying conspiracy of this occurrence can best be described in the words of Shri S. L. Ghosh of the A. B. Patrika, quoted above. Says Shri S. L. Ghosh


“The four days’ delay in receiving the news indicates at once the magnitude of preparations of the lawless elements as well as the criminal inefficiency of the administration machinery. It took ten days, fraught with horror, disgrace and torture for nearly two lakhs of Hindus for the Army to reach the neighbourhood of disaster, another ten days for them to move into the inner fringe of the disturbed area, and over a month to comb the interior of the devastated countryside.


“The horror of the Noakhali outrage is unique in modern history in that it was not a simple case of turbulent members of the majority community killing off helpless members of the minority community, but was one whose chief aim (to quote Dr. Syama Prosad Mookerjee) was mass conversion, accompanied by loot, arson and wholesale devastation……… No section of the people has been spared, the wealthier classes being dealt with more drastically. Murder also was part of the plan, but it was mainly reserved for those who were highly influential or who resisted. Abduction and outrage on women and forcible marriages were also resorted to; but their number cannot be easily determined. The slogans used and the methods employed indicate that it was all part of a plan for the simultaneous establishment of Pakistan. The demand for subscriptions for the Muslim League and for other purposes, including conversion ceremonies, showed that mass attackers, and their leaders were inspired by the League ideology.


“Apparently, the strategy of terrorisation adopted in Calcutta had failed to achieve the objective of recognition of Pakistan. The zealots of Pakistan in Noakhali and the southern portion of Tepperah, therefore, sought to make that muslim-majority area exclusive to a certain community, and thus convert it into the fortress of Eastern Pakistan, by forcible mass conversion of the other community…… (The League) leaders tried to minimize the enormity of the crimes…… they tended to confirm the impression that they were in close sympathy with the attackers and their nefarious policy and that this was the second phase of the direct action plan of the Muslim League to achieve Pakistan.


“It is false to suggest that the perpetrators were a gang of hooligans or that they mostly consisted of outsiders. The local people were the perpetrators in many cases and there was a general mass sympathy for what happened.


“The total number of evacuees, those, that is, who could leave the area of the disturbance alive, will be somewhere between 50 to 75 thousands including men, women and children of all conditions and castes.


“Over and above these persons, there will be another 50,000 or even more who are still living within the danger zone in what may be called the no man’s land. Theirs is the most tragic fate. They have all been subjected to conversion and are still under the clutches of their oppressors. Most of them have lost everything, and they suffer from both physical and mental collapse. Their humiliation and torture know - no limitations. Their names have been changed; their womenfolk insulted; their properties looted; they are being compelled to dress, to eat and to live like their so-called new brothers in faith. The male members have to attend the mosques, Maulvies come and train them at home; they are at the mercy of their captors for their daily food and indeed for their very existence. . . .”


These occurrences shocked Mahatma Gandhi, and indeed the whole of India, very deeply. The Mahatma asked Acharya Kripalani; President of the Congress, to go to Noakhali and to see what could be done to bring relief to suffering humanity there, and to try to restore good relations between the communities there. Not long after, the Mahatma himself went there, and made his famous village to village, nay house to house trek, trying to restore good-will. How little the Muslim League fanatics cared for the Mahatma’s noble teaching was made abundantly clear by what happened hardly within a month of the Mahatma’s pilgrimage to Noakhali, in the North-Western Frontier Province, and another two months after that in the Punjab.


Acharya Kripalani’s account of what he observed in Noakhali substantiates the statement of Dr. Mookerjee reproduced above. Said the Acharya


“Next morning (October , 146) we visited the interior of one of the affected areas. The place was Charhaim. Charhaim village and the surrounding areas are occupied by Namasudras (scheduled castes) numbering about 0,000. It was completely destroyed. Most of the houses were burnt. People were living in sheds, built from the ruins of their houses. All their property had been looted. Cash, ornaments, utensils and clothes, and cattle also, had been taken away by the raiders. All the males and females had only the clothes they were wearing. They had no food to eat. Their condition was pitiable in the extreme. There had been cases of murder, but it was not possible during the short time at our disposal to ascertain the number of the killed. Cases of abduction were reported to us. Even after looting and arson the villagers were obliged to embrace Islam; They had to perform ‘Namaz’ and recite the ‘Kalma’……… All the images of the houses were broken and temples looted and destroyed. The conch-shell bangles of women and vermillion marks, signs of their married life, were removed.”


This was a fairly representative area. Acharya Kripalani arrived at certain conclusions regarding the Noakhali trouble, which are as follows-


1. The attack on the Hindu population in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah was previously arranged and prepared for. It was deliberate, if not directly engineered by Muslim League. It was the result of Muslim League propaganda. The local evidence all went to prove that prominent League leaders in the villages had a large hand in it.


. The authorities had warnings about what was coming. The warnings were conveyed to them orally and then in writing by prominent Hindus in the areas concerned.


. The Muslim officials connived at the preparations going on. A few encouraged. There was a general belief among the Mussalmans that the Government would take no action if anything was done against the Hindus.


4. The modus operandi was for the Muslims to collect in batches of hundreds and sometimes thousands and to march to Hindu villages or Hindu houses in villages of mixed population. They first demanded subscriptions for the Muslim League and sometimes for the Muslim victims of the Calcutta riots. These enforced subscriptions were heavy, sometimes amounting to Rs. 10,000 and more. Even after the subscriptions were realized, the Hindu population was not safe. The same or successive crowd appeared on the scene later and looted the Hindu houses. The looted houses in most cases were burnt……… Sometimes before a house was looted the inmates were asked to embrace Islam. However, even conversion did not give immunity against loot and arson.


The slogans raised by the attacking Muslim crowds were those of the Muslim League, such as ‘League Zindabad’ ‘Pakistan Zindabad’; ‘Larke Lenge Pakistan’, ‘Marke Lenge Pakistan’.


5. All those who resisted were butchered. Sometimes they were shot, for the rioters had a few shot-guns with them.


Sometimes people were killed even when there was no resistance offered or expected I have on record cases where 50 to 60 members of one family were brutally murdered. Some families lost all their male members.


6. (Is about the description and habitat of those who indulged in these crimes.)


7. Even after looting, arson and murder the Hindus in the locality were not safe unless they embraced Islam. The Hindu population therefore to save themselves had to embrace Islam en masse……… All the images of gods in Hindu houses were destroyed and all the Hindu temples of the affected area were looted and burnt.


8. There have been cases of forcible marriages There have been cases of abduction.


. “For obvious reasons it was not possible for me to ascertain the cases of rape. But women complained to Mrs. Kirpalani of having been roughly handled, their conch-shell bangles, the symbol of their married life, having been broken and vermillion marks removed. At one place they were thrown on the ground by the miscreants who removed their vermillion marks with the toes of their feet.”


10 to 1 are about post-riot conditions.


14. The police did not function during the riots. They are doing merely patrol duty now. They say that they had and have no orders to fire except in self-defence. The question of definding themselves never arose, because they did not interfere with the rioters.


“The areas visited had already been devastated and all that I could see were burnt houses and helpless Hindu villagers whether converted or not.”


Scouting any suggestion that the trouble may be economic the Acharya added, “Not a single rich Muslim house had been looted. To me it appeared to be absolutely communal and absolutely one-sided.”


The Congress Working Committee meeting came soon after at Delhi, and its resolution on East Bengal contained the following observations


“Reports published in the press and statements of public workers depict a scene of bestiality and medieval barbarity that must fill every decent human being with shame, disgust and anger.


“The Committee hold that this outburst of brutality is the direct result of the politics of hate and civil strife that the Muslim League has practised for years past and of the threats of violence that were daily held out in past months.”


This extensive account has been given of Noakhali for this reason, that coming soon after the Direct Action and Calcutta, this was the first large-scale beginning of that wholesale elimination of entire communities, that ‘genocide’ which from now on became the settled programme and policy of the Muslim League, not expressed or admitted officially, but nevertheless pursued and countenanced by it with vigour and with great satisfaction. It was clear after Noakhali as to what India was to expect in the coming months-mass attacks on minorities in Muslim-majority areas, co-operation of Muslim police and the officials with the assailants, indifference of the British bureaucrats, and the hypocritical fathering of the League leaders of the responsibility for these occurrences on the minorities themselves. In the case of Calcutta the League leaders blamed it all on the Hindus-in the case of Noakhali and Tipperah, the figures of casualties and damage were understated to ridiculous figures, or just not noticed. Had there been any regret expressed by the League on these happenings, had they sat up and realized the horror of what had happened and had their conscience pricked them, perhaps the recurrence of large-scale destruction like Noakhali would not have been possible. But the Leaguers viewed these happenings with glee. The programme was working according to plan.


Exactly the same pattern as in Noakhali and Tipperah was repeated during the next five months in other parts of India. These features were common to all these occurrences.


1. Places of occurrence were all heavy Muslim-majority areas-the minority attacked were Hindu or Hindu-Sikh. Successively they are Noakhali and Tipperah (October, 146) Hazara (December, 146 and January, 147); Rawalpindi (March, 147 For several weeks); Jhelum, Attock, Campbellpur, Dera Ismail Khan, Hazara, Multan, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sargodha (all as before-mentioned). Lahore and Amritsar towns had an overwhelming Muslim majority in their populations though in the latter district as a whole the non-Muslims outnumbered the Muslims by a small percentage. In both towns from March, 147 onwards terrible outrages were perpetrated by Muslims on Hindus and Sikhs, the decisive result in either case being obtained only on the partition of the Punjab.


. Preparations were made by the Muslim League for attack on the minorities in every case a good time before the actual occurrence. Arms had been collected and distributed. Sufficiently large quantities of petrol and other inflammable substances had been hoarded for incendiarism. Training in swift methods of arson, stabbing, disposal of looted property and the killed had been imparted in the centres of the Muslim National Guards. Muslim police and officials had joined in hatching the plans with the Muslim League leaders and Muslim National Guard workers. The Muslim masses had been aroused to a pitch of anti-Hindu-Sikh fury by violent League propaganda.


. The attacks were simultaneous, widespread and in places so open and so sure of non-interference by the authorities that the assailants collected and marched with drums beating, shouting Muslim League slogans, and even making military formations. There was nothing secret about these attacks, as the police were already on the side of the attackers.


4. Large-scale arson, murder of males, abduction, rape and dishonour of women, brutalities to children, looting, forcible conversions etc. all these features were common to the localities affected. Those attacked were first asked to pay sums of money to pay off the invaders; then followed more demands, and attacks by outsiders. Local Muslims (that is, those of the village actually attacked) sometimes out of long habits of neighbourly intercourse, kept out of the actual attack, though of course they were in league with the invaders and abetted and helped them.


5. The victims were given no quarter when beseiged. Places of worship were desecrated, and religious feelings were outraged with fiendish gusto. Shaving of Sikhs, feeding of Hindus and Sikhs on beef, circumcision of Hindus and Sikhs, marrying away young girls and widows of Hindus, and Sikhs to Muslims-these practices were resorted to.


6. Police and the officials seldom appeared on the scene till long after the beseiged had been killed and their houses burnt and looted.


7. Muslim League leaders and Press said nothing in condemnation of these outrages. On the other hand, they trotted out imaginary stories of provocation by the non-Muslims, and of supposed retaliation by Muslims. This in every case kept up the morale of the assailants. .


This pattern was repeated in every one of the places that have been mentioned; and while the area of operations was necessarily limited while British power was still there, on the establishment of Pakistan it became general mass murder in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind, Baluchistan and raider-held Kashmir.


Hindu Holocaust Day - August 14 Every Year. Lest we forget ...


Lord Louis Mountbatten


Lord Louis Mountbatten, India’s first governor-general, had strongly felt that it was the Maharaja who should have the final word on whether to join the Jammu and Kashmir principality with India or with Pakistan or remain independent.Equally strongly, Mountbatten also recommended internationalisation of the Kashmir issue following the clash between India and Pakistan over the state’s status in 147.In hindsight, these besides the other recommendations he made, ensured that the state remained a bone of contention between the two countries in future and prevented the two neighbours from striving for peace in the region.Sample this When Pakistani tribals invaded the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir on October , 147, Maharaja Hari Singh asked India for help but Lord Mountbatten held back. His argument was that he would not be able to send in troops at that juncture as General Claude Aunchinleck was the joint commander of Indian and Pakistani troops and Mountbatten did not want a situation wherein British forces faced British forces in war.Maharaja Hari Singh had to decide on accession to India or Pakistan before help could be sent. Time was running out. Tribals had penetrated deep and if Srinagar airport was captured, it would be difficult to send in Indian troops. On October 6, 147, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in favour of India.Mountbatten, however, ruled that the accession was temporary and that the people of the state would finally decide to go with India or Pakistan on the basis of a referendum under the UN aegis.Somehow, Nehru agreed to Mountbatten’s caveat with fateful consequences.Vallabhai Patels strongly objected to the suggestion but the Indian Cabinet referred the entire conflict to the United Nations Security Council. Many round of negotiations later, a ceasefire was negotiated in January 148. On August 1, 148, the Security Council submitted a resolution that was to shape the terms of India-Pakistan engagement on Kashmir for half a century.The August 1 resolution, which both India and Pakistan agreed to honour, had three parts. The first part called for a ceasefire to come into force. The second part mandated that since the presence of troops of Pakistan constitutes a material change and since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops. Pakistan also committed to use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal of tribesmen and other forces present there for the purposes of war. Section B of this second part of the resolution held that when the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) certified that Pakistani tribesmen and troops had withdrawn, India would withdraw from the State and all but a minimum level of force will be kept back to maintain law and order. Subsequently, Part Three of the resolution mandated, the future of Jammu and Kashmir would be decided in accordance with the will of the people.Lord Mountbatten’s suggestion ensured that Kashmir remained a simmering pot of discontent. His suggestion of UN intervention also ensured that western powers would always be in a position to meddle in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir.The suggestion of a plebiscite under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah would probably ensure the merger of the state with Pakistan and the British knew India would never accept it. Tension would continue unabated as Pakistan would always refer to the plebiscite issue and harp on the UN charter to resolve the problem.For the British, Kashmir always was important outpost to Central Asia. They had a pro-British man on the throne of Jammu and Kashmir, and later, they organized the Gilgit agency to monitor Soviet Russia from Kashmir.By keeping control over Kashmir, the British also ensured that the region’s largely Muslim population would also serve as a conduit through Pakistan to the Islamic world.


The 146 Cabinet Mission


When the Cabinet mission arrived in Delhi in March, it had three members, Cripps, A.V. Alexander and Pethick-Lawrence. They would work in close conjunction with the Viceroy who was assured that it was not intended that he should be treated as a lay figure.


The Missions task was to try to bring the leaders of the principle Indian political parties to agreement on two matters


The method of framing a constitution for a self-governing, independent India


The setting up of a new Executive Council or interim government that would hold office while the constitution was being hammered out.


The main problem was, as it always had been, the Hindu-Muslim partition. Congress wanted a unified India and the Muslim League wanted a separate, independent Pakistan. The Mission set to work at once, spending two weeks in lengthy discussions with representatives of all the principal political parties, the Indian States, the Sikhs, Scheduled Castes and other communities, and with Gandhi and several other prominent individuals. But at the end of these discussions there was still no prospect of an agreement between the parties and the mission decided to put forward the two possible solutions for consideration.


A truncated Pakistan, which Wavell had wanted to tell Jinnah was all he would get if he kept insisting on a sovereign Pakistan.


A loose federation with a three-tier constitution - provinces, group of provinces and an all-India union embracing both British India and the Indian States, which Cripps had devised with the help of two Indian officials, V.P. Menon and Sir B.N. Rau. The Union would be limited to three subjects, foreign affairs, defence and communications, with powers to raise funds for all three; all other subjects would vest in the provinces, but the provinces would be free to form groups, with their own executives and legislatures, that would deal with such subjects as the provinces within the group might assign them. In this way the Provinces that Jinnah claimed for Pakistan could form Groups or sub-federations and enjoy a large measure of autonomy thus approximating to Pakistan.


After some demur, Jinnah agreed to the federation plan, Congress also reluctantly agreeing and both parties were invited to send representatives to discuss it with the Mission at Simla. A week of discussions led to no agreement and the Mission decided to refurbish the plan to meet the views of the parties as far as possible that had been expressed at Simla. The final statement of the plan was published on May 16th.


The statement rejected decisively a wholly sovereign Pakistan of the larger or the smaller truncated variety. It went on to commend the plan for an all-India Union, with a three-tier constitution and went on to indicate the method how it should be brought about. A Constituent Assembly was to be elected by members of the Provincial Legislatures and after a preliminary full meeting, at which an advisory committee would be set up on fundamental rights, minorities and tribal areas, would divide into three Sections - Section A consisting of the representatives of the six Hindu-majority provinces; Section B of the representatives of the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province and Sind; and Section C of the representatives of Bengal and Assam. These sections would draw up constitutions for the provinces included in them and would also decide whether a group should be formed and, if so, with what subjects; but a province would have the option to opt out of a group by a vote of its legislature after the new constitutional arrangements had come into operation. Finally the Constituent Assembly was to meet again as a whole, this time along with representatives of the Indian States in appropriate numbers to settle the Union Constitution.


The Statement was well received and was widely accepted as clear evidence of the British Governments genuine desire to bring British rule in India to a peaceful end. Gandhi pronounced it the best document the British Government could have produced in the circumstances. Jinnah was less enthusiastic, but both sides gave it consideration. Congress wanted to interpret the statement as meaning that provinces could choose whether or not to belong to the section in which they had been placed, but the Mission countered this with a further Statement on 5th May, in that the provinces in each section were an essential feature of the scheme.


Wavell and the mission wrote to the Indian states rulers, warning them that when Britain quit India it would cease to exercise the powers or shoulder the obligations of paramountcy. They would not in any circumstances transfer paramountcy to an Indian Government, but the ending of the relationship would leave a void, and it was suggested, would be best filled by entering into a federal relationship with the new Government of India as units in the proposed Union. They would retain their internal sovereignty and all their powers save those ceded to the Union in connection with the three subjects of foreign affairs, defence and communications. The Princes were reasonably content with this.


While the League and Congress were giving thought to the Statement of May 16th, the Mission went about the formation of a new executive council or interim government, but they also prepared and sent home a breakdown plan. The plan followed the premise that one of the main parties would reject the proposals. If the Muslim League rejected the proposals, Congress would go ahead on the premise that parts of the country not willing would be left out of the union. If Congress dismissed the proposals, it might be followed by a threat to seize power in another Quit India movement. Wavell proposed that the British should then withdraw from the six Hindu-majority provinces and allow them to become entirely independent but retain control of the other provinces until fresh arrangements acceptable to their population could be made.


However, discussion regarding the formation of an interim government which the Mission decided should be initiated by Wavell, was opened by him with the party leaders while they and the mission were still in Simla. The members of the interim government, except the Viceroy, would all be Indian and it would be, as far as possible, like a dominion government, but the Viceroy, in light of the existing constitution, would still retain overriding powers. Congress accepted these stipulations with a bad grace, but pleased Jinnah and the League who were happy to accept any check to Congress dominance of the interim government.


Discussions were still in progress when, on 6th June, the Muslim League voted to accept the constitutional proposals. The acceptance was said to be in the hope that it would ultimately result in the establishment of a complete sovereign Pakistan. The Congress working committee delayed giving their verdict, and further discussions about the interim government failed to bring about agreement as the League wanted parity with Congress and the exclusive right to nominate all Muslim members, both of which had been rejected by Congress.


The Mission, who were impatient to end their work and head home, decided to put forward compromise proposals. On June 16th, the Viceroy announced that discussion with the parties would not be further prolonged and that he was issuing invitations to fourteen named persons to serve as members of an interim government, Six were Hindu members of Congress including one member of the Scheduled castes, five were members of the Muslim League, and the remaining three a Sikh, a Parsee and an Indian Christian. The message also included a statement that stated


In the event of the two major parties or either of them proving unwilling to join in setting up a coalition government on the above lines, it is the intention of the Viceroy to proceed with the formation of an interim government which will be as representative as possible of those willing to accept the Statement of May 16th.


With the Muslim League ready to accept, Congress appeared to be on the verge of accepting until Gandhi intervened. Gandhi took his stand on principle, regardless of practical consequences. He said that acquiescence by Congress in the non-inclusion of a Congress Muslim in the interim government would be, he argued, the sacrifice of a vital principle to which Congress, as a national party with a Muslim president, could never agree at any time or place or in any circumstances. They rejected the interim government proposals. The Mission took the statement of June 16th to mean that Congress had agreed with the May 16th Statement that it was no longer possible to proceed with the formation of an interim government. Jinnah was infuriated by this interpretation, and now felt outwitted by Congress and tricked by Cripps. He declared the Missions interpretation had been dishonestly concocted by the legalistic talents of the Cabinet Mission and charged the Mission and the Viceroy with breach of faith. He also stated that the Congress acceptance of the May 16th Statement had not been genuine.


Wavell agreed with this view, but the mission wanted to try and salvage something and in a valedictory statement they expressed they gladness that Constitution-making can now proceed with the two major parties and their regret at the failure to form an interim coalition government, but said that after the elections to the Constituent Assembly had finished, the Viceroy would make fresh efforts to bring one into being. Meanwhile, a temporary caretaker government would be set up. The mission left bearing a note from Wavell that the government should be prepared for a crisis in India and must therefore have a breakdown policy in readiness.





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