J & K: Revisiting Partition
by Prakash Nanda on 06 Sep 2008 0 Comment

In recent weeks, many “liberals” have argued in leading Indian publications such as The Times of India and The Hindustan Times that if Kashmiris (Muslims naturally) do not want to remain with India, they should be allowed “azadi,” i.e., to secede from the Union of India and join the previous breakaway rogue-nation called Pakistan. 


The prescriptions of these “liberals” are as astonishing as they are one-sided, for they would never extend to suggesting that Pakistan hold a referendum in Sindh, Baluchistan, or Pushtunistan – areas dying to break free of the shackles of Islamabad. Nor would such solicitude extend to the tribes of the Chittagong Hills Tracts in Bangladesh.


One can legitimately take issue with some aspects of this startling recommendation. While endorsing the Kashmiri separatists’ demand for “azadi”, the liberals have not explained how the separatists should receive this independence. In other words, on what grounds are the separatists demanding independence, and do these celluloid intellectuals – who owe their name and fame to a closed television talk circuit - believe the grounds are just?


Separatists in Kashmir have made it amply clear from every pulpit and at every rally that because the Valley has been carefully cultivated into a Muslim-majority area, Muslims there cannot co-exist with non-Muslims, i.e., Hindus who are otherwise the majority community in India. Thus, though virtually only Muslims live in Kashmir, and it is led by Kashmiri Muslims, the state’s Muslim leaders feel that they want to return to the pre-1947 era when the Great Calcutta Killing coerced Partition. Muslims cannot live in “non-Muslim” India; hence the presence of so many Pakistani flags in separatists' rallies and Geelani’s exhortation for accession to Pakistan


So, sixty years after Partition, when independent India is just trying to shake off the shackles of a crippling Nehruvian secularism that has led to this situation in the Valley, we are face-to-face once again with the old shibboleths of the past. The two-nation theory is being revived and revisited upon us, this time in Kashmir. It is only a matter of time before it extends to other states like Assam and West Bengal, where neighbouring Bangladesh has kindly ‘loaned’ nearly 1.5 crore citizens to help push Hindus away from regions being overtaken by arriving Muslim hordes.


To probe the “azadi” advocacy still further, how should India allow independence to Kashmir Muslims; what would be the modus operandi of this exercise; would it be conditional or unconditional?


This is pertinent because when India was divided in 1947, the population figures were roughly 330, 27 and 30 million in India, West Pakistan, and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) respectively. In terms of area, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh constituted roughly 1.3, 0.3 and 0.06 million square miles respectively. Thus, population percentages were 85%, 15% and land percentages 75% and 25% for India and united West & East Pakistan respectively.

Now – and this is critical – the united Pakistan of 1947 was clearly intended to be for “all” Muslims of the subcontinent, just as Israel was created for all Jews of the world. Thus, if all Muslims of pre-August 1947 India had migrated to Pakistan, they could not have been refused by the new Pakistani rulers. As an aside, scholars may like to examine if the low status of Mohajirs (refugees) in Pakistan has a relationship with the relatively low exodus of Muslims from areas that would remain in India. For the Mohajirs had no local roots, came from a different ethnic, linguistic and social milieu, and could not integrate with the entrenched regional cultures of the provinces that comprised Pakistan on both flanks of Mother India.


Partitions in other parts of the world were always accompanied by a carefully supervised exchange of populations. This was the case with Greece-Turkey, Germany-Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria-Turkey, Poland-Germany, Bosnia-Serbia and Croatia-Serbia, where full-scale exchange of populations were organised, sometimes by the United Nations itself. 

In the case of India, however, the British appear to have deliberately botched things up, and the kind of supervised population exchange that could have averted chaos and bloodshed simply never happened. Between the sheer incompetence of Louis Mountbatten and the pomposity of Jawaharlal Nehru, the partitioned-on-religious lines India was actually left holding more Muslims than either Pakistan or Bangladesh! To digress once again, this strengthens suspicions that the British manipulated the Partition to secure military bases and strategic centres of power for the West, to counter the rising power of the Soviet Union.


Thus, it turned out that India of 1947 was forced to accommodate over 85% of the population (Hindus + Muslims who stayed put) in 75% of her original bhoomi. Pakistan got a much better land deal. This was a double injustice to the dismembered motherland.

It will be said that the father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, talked of a Pakistan where every religious community could reside, and that he did not insist on Hindus and Sikhs quitting Pakistan despite the horrendous ethnic cleansing in some states at the time. But that seems to have been a diplomatic nicety, as Jinnah was the architect of the Lahore Resolution of 1940, and the Great Calcutta Killing of 1946, which made Partition inevitable.


Moreover, the situation today is radically different. In 1947, Hindus constituted over 20% of the population in West Pakistan and 36% in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). Today, ethnic cleansing and forced conversions have reduced them to less than 1% in Pakistan and about 8% in Bangladesh. In sharp contrast, in India the Muslim population has risen from about 10% in 1947 to nearly 14% today. So Pakistan and Bangladesh have a disproportionate share of the original land vis-à-vis India.

In such a scenario, any talk of “azadi” for Kashmir reopens the prickly issues of the 1947 Partition. Glibly suggesting that disgruntled Muslims of Kashmir may be allowed to secede from India, taking the State with them, means opening the door to a piece-by-piece dismemberment of India. With time, Muslims in each district and state with press for freedom, and intellectually-and-morally-challenged analysts will recommend the same, till all is gone up to Kanyakumari.


Actually, Muslims of any state who feel they can no longer live in India must invoke the 1947 treaty to walk into Pakistan forever. It is the country that was created for them. India on her part should demand that Pakistan and Bangladesh adjust the excessive land handed over to them at Partition, and also that Bangladesh compensate India for the unending influx of Muslims who are totally unhappy in that Islamic paradise. Will India’s brain-dead elites dare suggest that as all Bengali Muslims seem keen to return to Mother India, we should have a referendum to annex that country and make it again a province of India?


No chance – their Western ‘friends’ won’t allow such thought, let alone talk. And the ultimate accountability of all anti-Indians in India is to London or Washington.


The author is a senior journalist


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