Partitioned Histories: The Other Side Of Your Story

Partitioned Histories: The Other Side Of Your Story

The book draws on the ability of a human mind to compare and contrast multiple versions of India and Pakistan’s shared past, and to critically analyse the subjectivity of history and to draw one’s own conclusions.

The content of the book

The book has been purely researched from textbooks being taught in schools in the province of Punjab, Pakistan and the state of Maharashtra, India.

The book places Indian and Pakistani textbook narratives side-by-side to highlight the contrast between them, and to point to areas of convergence. The purpose is to introduce people to multiple versions of a shared past and to jolt their conscience into accepting, for starters, that parallel realities can exist in the form of perspectives, whilst being backed by equally.

Key Features

National Narratives

Textbooks have the widest outreach compared to any other literature. "Partitioned Histories: The Other Side Of Your Story" offers an opportunity to study the literature that arguably plays the most significant role in defining national narratives

Access to the ‘Other Side’

Few people get a chance to meet their alleged ‘enemies’. Even fewer get a chance to learn what they think. "Partitioned Histories: The Other Side Of Your Story" offers a unique insight into the literature that shapes the identity of the ‘other side’

Illustrations

Each chapter is supplemented with a illustration of the underlying story. To preserve the story from the illustrator’s personal perspective was a challenge that had the entire team going through multiple iterations.

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Chapter 2

The Mountbatten Plan

Pakistani version:

Formation of the Plan

Lord Mountbatten was appointed the last Viceroy of India in March 1947, and he presented his 3rd June Plan the same year. The Plan outlined the structure of the partition of the Indian sub-continent. Mountbatten was partial towards India and a conspiracy was planned by the Congress in collaboration with Lord Mountbatten. In fact, there was no doubt that Mountbatten was strongly biased in favour of the Congress. There is no denying that Mountbatten was close friends with Nehru, who by this time was virtually the Prime Minister of India. It is therefore generally agreed that the Mountbatten Plan led to Pakistan having to make severe concessions. Furthermore, Mountbatten’s close relationship with the Congress meant that the Plan stated that the two communities could keep negotiating for a united India. The Congress, in giving their support to the Plan, seized this opportunity. They thought that the partition would not last long and the notion of Pakistan as its own nation was simply unrealistic, meaning that India would soon be united under the Congress. It was Pakistan’s bad luck that Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy. He forced Jinnah to accept boundaries that divided the two provinces, Punjab and Bengal. These boundaries were disastrous but Mountbatten threatened that there would be no Pakistan at all unless they were accepted. He then blamed Quaid-i-Azam for the violence and bloodshed that followed partition.

Indian version:

Acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan

The historic announcement was received with mixed feelings by the public. Many Indian nationalists deplored the partition of India while the Muslim League was not fully satisfied with the way Pakistan was to be divided.[5]

The Congress felt that the solution to the communal problem lay in the partition of India. Moreover, it felt that a further delay in the transfer of power could move the country towards civil war. Lastly, Congress leaders felt that partition would rid the Constitution of separate electorates and allow India to develop a truly secular and democratic polity. Therefore, it accepted the terms of the Mountbatten Plan, albeit unwillingly.[6]

On the basis of the Mountbatten Plan and after securing an agreement from leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and British rule in India came to an end on 15th August 1947.[7]

Chapter 1

The Partition of Bengal

Pakistani version:

Curzon believed that with a population of 54 million, Bengal was too large to be governed as a single province. Therefore, Dhaka, Chittagong and Mymensingh were merged with Assam to make the province of East Bengal.[5] He felt that the Muslims in East Bengal would be better off in a separate province governed by Dhaka.[6] However, the Hindus saw it as a deliberate plot to partition their most educated and politically active province.[7] They were not ready to accept any step that would benefit the Muslims.[8]

The Reaction of the Hindus to the Partition

Whether the decision was made due to political or administrative reasons was unclear but the Hindus cynically viewed it as a practice based on the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British.[9] They saw it as an attempt to weaken Hindu unity and the Hindu dominated Congress started demanding reforms.[10] The Hindus were furious. The Congress opposed the violent protests that spread across Bengal. The party under Pherozeshah Mehta, a Parsi, acted to oppose the partition by boycotting British goods under the Swadeshi Movement.[11] British cloth was burnt and it became honorable to wear locally produced cloth; this drastically affected British sales.[12] The Congress also organised angry protest meetings throughout India and sent petitions to the government.[13][14] They freely damaged government and public property[15] and an assassination attempt was made on future Viceroy Lord Minto.[16] The Hindus saw it as a blow to their efforts to gain self-government and called the day that Bengal was partitioned ‘the day of mourning.’[17] In 1906, they also added the demand of self-government to their protests.[18]

The Reaction of the Muslims to the Partition

Muslims, on the other hand, supported the decision to form a Muslim majority province of East Bengal and promised loyalty to British rule. They were delighted because the decision changed their situation overnight. The British had mistrusted them since 1867 (sic) and had denied them education while Hindus not only took all the advantages but they even attempted to replace Urdu with Hindi. Now they could finally live in a Muslim majority province and escape the oppression inflicted upon them by the Hindus.[19] They were now content with the British, and the Muslim League condemned the protests and boycotts of the Congress.[20] However, the Muslims were not organised enough to counter Hindu agitation.[21]

Indian version:

Bengal was the nerve centre of Indian nationalism. The British, in an effort to weaken the movement and the freedom struggle, implemented a policy of divide and rule – i.e. dividing the state on the basis of religion.[2] The partition was meant to reduce the influence of Bengalis by placing them under two administrations, thereby reducing them to a minority within Bengal itself.[3]

Indian nationalists condemned the partitioning of the province and saw it as a deliberate attempt to divide Bengalis on religious lines. The nationalists were also upset at the manner in which partition took place, because it showed no regard for public opinion within Bengal.[4]

The Anti-Partition Movement

The people of Bengal were enraged by the partition of Bengal on 16th October and they observed the day as a national day of mourning. Protest meetings were organized by eminent leaders such as Surendra Nath Banerjee, P.C. Ray, and B.C. Pal throughout Bengal to condemn the government’s decision and the national song Vande Mataram was sung everywhere. Rabindranath Tagore, a leading Indian poet and writer, too joined the protest movement and organised the Rakhi Bandhan program.[5]

There was a rise in patriotism and Indian leaders wanted to retaliate against the British. The Swadeshi Movement, which involved the boycott of British goods and institutions, was launched with fervour. The Swadeshi Movement stirred the conscience of the people and they began to boycott all foreign goods. People from all walks of life, from zamindars to sanyasis, joined the movement. Students boycotted all government-run schools and colleges and they joined the movements in large numbers. The movement soon spread to the rest of the country, thereby widening the scope of national movements against the British. Sensing the intensity of the Swadeshi Movement, the British annulled the partition of Bengal in 1911.[6]

Chapter 2

The Mountbatten Plan

Pakistani version:

Formation of the Plan

Lord Mountbatten was appointed the last Viceroy of India in March 1947, and he presented his 3rd June Plan the same year. The Plan outlined the structure of the partition of the Indian sub-continent. Mountbatten was partial towards India and a conspiracy was planned by the Congress in collaboration with Lord Mountbatten. In fact, there was no doubt that Mountbatten was strongly biased in favour of the Congress. There is no denying that Mountbatten was close friends with Nehru, who by this time was virtually the Prime Minister of India. It is therefore generally agreed that the Mountbatten Plan led to Pakistan having to make severe concessions. Furthermore, Mountbatten’s close relationship with the Congress meant that the Plan stated that the two communities could keep negotiating for a united India. The Congress, in giving their support to the Plan, seized this opportunity. They thought that the partition would not last long and the notion of Pakistan as its own nation was simply unrealistic, meaning that India would soon be united under the Congress. It was Pakistan’s bad luck that Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy. He forced Jinnah to accept boundaries that divided the two provinces, Punjab and Bengal. These boundaries were disastrous but Mountbatten threatened that there would be no Pakistan at all unless they were accepted. He then blamed Quaid-i-Azam for the violence and bloodshed that followed partition.

Indian version:

Acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan

The historic announcement was received with mixed feelings by the public. Many Indian nationalists deplored the partition of India while the Muslim League was not fully satisfied with the way Pakistan was to be divided.[5]

The Congress felt that the solution to the communal problem lay in the partition of India. Moreover, it felt that a further delay in the transfer of power could move the country towards civil war. Lastly, Congress leaders felt that partition would rid the Constitution of separate electorates and allow India to develop a truly secular and democratic polity. Therefore, it accepted the terms of the Mountbatten Plan, albeit unwillingly.[6]

On the basis of the Mountbatten Plan and after securing an agreement from leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and British rule in India came to an end on 15th August 1947.[7]


1 Muhammad Hussain Choudhary, et al. Pakistan Studies Class 9th, 1st edn. (G.F.H Publishers, 2014), p. 40 2 Nigel Smith, Pakistan: History, Culture and Government. (Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 106 3 Ibid 4 Ibid p. 105 5 Ibid p. 106

Chapter 3

The Congress Rule

Indian version:

The most significant of these Acts was the Government of India Act of 1935. The Act provided for the formation of a federation of British administered provinces and Indian princely states, who refused to join the federation because they feared that they would lose their autonomy by doing so.[3]

Undeterred, the Congress still decided to take part in the provincial elections that were to be held under this Act. The elections were held in eleven provinces in the country in 1937 and the Congress was able to secure an emphatic victory in eight of those. In the remaining three provinces, no single party could secure a clear majority and mixed governments were formed instead.[4]

During its tenure that lasted two years, the Congress is noted for doing a great deal of useful work for the people during this time. They ensured the release of political prisoners from jail. Apart from introducing ‘Basic Education’, the Congress also took initiatives to improve the condition of the Dalits or the untouchable castes. Finally, liquor was prohibited and an Act was passed to give debt relief to peasants.[5]

Pakistani version:

The Impact of Congress Rule on the Muslims

In 1937, the Congress won the elections held under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 by an overwhelming majority. While the Muslim League was disappointed that they did not gain many votes, nothing would prove to be as big a vote catcher as the actions of the Congress itself in the years between 1937-39. These actions convinced millions of Muslims that Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam as he was popularly called by that time, had not been exaggerating when he had warned of the dangers of Congress rule. Many perceived that the Congress was aiming to destroy Muslim identity and culture by submerging it in Hindu nationalism.

Some of the most invasive measures introduced by the Congress included the compulsory singing of the song Bande Matram before the start of official business everyday in provincial assemblies. This Hindu nationalist song, which became the new national anthem, encouraged the expulsion of Muslims from India. A ‘Basic Education’ scheme (later known as the Wardha scheme) was also launched by Gandhi, making it compulsory for all students to learn how to spin cotton, as well as making Hindi the medium of instruction. Religious teaching was also removed from schools. Furthermore, one local board in the central provinces instructed all boys Urdu schools to require their Muslim pupils to bow to portraits of Gandhi.

This was all evidence that despite legal safeguards, Muslims could not trust the Congress to protect their rights. They felt harassed and attacked. In some places, Hindu extremists behaved in appalling ways. They forbade Muslims from eating beef and punished them harshly if they slaughtered cows. Mosques were attacked and the azaan (call to prayer) was forbidden. Noisy processions were organised near mosques at prayer time and at times, pigs were pushed into mosques. Sometimes there were anti-Muslim riots in which Muslims were attacked and their houses and property were set on fire. The doors of government services were closed to the Muslims, and they were massacred at many places, all while the flag of the Congress flew high everywhere. Even the Viceroy Linlithgow talked about the many instances of oppression occurring against the Muslim population. Although these incidents were not entirely widespread, this discrimination along with the other grievances against the Muslims explains why many Muslims saw the period 1937-39 as one of ‘Congress tyranny.’


6 Farooq Naseem Bajwa, Pakistan: A Historical and Contemporary Look, Revised edn. (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 121

Chapter 4

The Princely States

Pakistani version:

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir held a strategic location because of its borders with Tibet, China, Afghanistan and Russia.[6] The issue of Jammu and Kashmir was a complicated one. The allocation of Gurdaspur to India in the Radcliffe Award provided India access to Kashmir;[7] this became the basis of strengthening India’s claim to Kashmir. Moreover, Muslims were in the minority in all the states except Jammu and Kashmir. This became another point of contention between India and Pakistan. Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja in power but its population was mainly Muslim. The maharaja, Hari Singh, wanted to declare complete independence as he did not want to be a part of either of the two countries and therefore delayed accession.[8] In September 1947, he began forcible expulsion of Muslim Kashmiris.[9] The Kashmiris, specifically ex-soldiers from Poonch with the help of tribesmen from the Pakistani North West Frontier Province (NWFP), decided to retaliate and overthrow him in October 1947.[10] The maharaja was forced to accede to India in return for Indian assistance to restore him to power. Indian forces were sent to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Pakistan refused to accept this military intervention by India and Jinnah mobilised the Pakistan Army to support the Kashmiri and Pathan forces in the area to fight the Indian forces. Indian troops had taken over Srinagar and after months of fighting, India took the issue to the United Nations. A ceasefire was agreed upon and in January 1948, Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan. India, however, received a larger share, including the capital Srinagar.[11] The accession of the maharaja worried Mountbatten as he realised that with the Muslim majority population in Kashmir, the forced accession would not be in India’s long-term interests. He also believed that with many Muslim princely states surrounded by Indian territory, there was little India could now do morally if they decided to accede to Pakistan.[12] Mountbatten pushed Nehru to accept the accession of the Hindu maharaja of Kashmir and promised that a plebiscite would be held once the situation normalised. The plebiscite would be to determine what the local population wanted.[13]

Indian version:

The Kashmir problem

Harising (sic), the ruler of the princely state of Kashmir, had decided to keep Kashmir independent. However, he was instigated and pressured by Pakistan to accede with them. Matters reached a boiling point when Pakistan-backed armed intruders attacked Kashmir in October 1947 and prompted Harising (sic) to sign the Instrument of Accession with India. Due to the terms of accession, the Indian Army came to Kashmir’s defence and won back a major portion of the state. However, even today a part of it remains under Pakistan’s control.[12]


7 Nigel Kelly, The History and Culture of Pakistan, New edn. (Danesh Publications Pvt Limited, 2014), p. 83 8 Nigel Smith, Pakistan: History, Culture and Government. (Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 86 9 Ibid 10 Nigel Kelly, The History and Culture of Pakistan, New edn. (Danesh Publications Pvt Limited, 2014), p. 83 11 Prof. Ibrahim Shamim et al., Social Studies 8, 2nd edn. Punjab Textbook Board, (Munawar Publishers, 2014), p. 82 12 Nigel Smith, Pakistan: History, Culture and Government. (Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 86 13 Nigel Kelly, The History and Culture of Pakistan, New edn. (Danesh Publications Pvt Limited, 2014), p. 83

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