On 14th and 15th August, as the British left India handing it over to the Indian elitists and capitalists, India also underwent partition from both of its opposite sides, Punjab and Bengal, leading to a large-scale massacre where brothers killed each other in the name of religion. From the subcontinent’s origin, historians have gone back into time and analyzed history in their own ways, which has suited their own political gains. Oriental and Utilitarian British historians have for years shaped history in a way that has seeded communal hatred amongst Indians, which has caused right-wing groups across the nation to analyze Indian History that gives superior position to Hindus and revere the Hindu kings as kings of the Golden Age and the Muslim Kings as kings of the dark age. For years, various factions of the right-wing have imposed the partition on the shoulders of Gandhi. As the partition took place, and a there was no source of authority, chaos broke in the Punjab region, with people in power such as police authorities and administration committing atrocities against women and people from other religions, as it is the same situation today in many parts of the world where authorities are known to suppress attack the feeble. In order to trace the 1947 fiasco, we need to go back to 1857 and understand the sequence of events starting from the revolt of 1857 and study a 90-year chain which led to the creation of India and Pakistan as two different nations, who today are at a constant war of words and power owing to autocratic democratically elected heads of the two nations.
After the revolt of 1857, headed by the last Mughal scion, Bahadur Shah Zafar, the British power shifted from the Company rule to the Crown Rule under the Government of India Act 1858 which also came to be known as the ‘Act For The Good Government Of India’ which abolished the East India Company and transferred the powers of government, territories, and revenues to the British crown. The Act ended the system of dual governance by abolishing the Board of Control and Court of Directors, naming Lord Canning as the first Viceroy of India. post 1857, after the Victoria Proclamation 1858, the British created an imperial strategy, where Christianity was to be separated from British Rule, recognizing the sensitivities of the Indian aristocrats and dismissing notions of equality between the rulers and the subjects which changed the way how British officers treated Indian sepoys. As a part of this imperial strategy, the British also started recruiting armies for the empire from rural Punjab with the aim to make the soldier, the empire’s agent in his village. The British continued with their policy of martial race and divide and rule and introduced the Indian Councils Act of 1861 which is considered as one of the most important landmarks in the constitutional and political history of India. The act led to the establishment of new legislative councils for Bengal, North-Western Frontier Province (NWFP) and Punjab, where the Maharaja of Patiala was nominated as a member of the legislative council by the then Viceroy (Lord Canning). The act particularly empowered the Indians as this was the first time, they were made a part of the lawmaking process. In the 1880s, the British started studying the population of Punjab, owing to their primal aim of differentiating between different classes. Thus in 1881, the British held a pan India census, which they believed was essential for governance as it fitted perfectly with their imperial strategy as it recorded caste, sub-caste, and religion along with the numbers from each category, which helped them in amassing ammunition for political warfare. The Britons also studied the composition of tribes and castes in Punjab, as they believed that people of a single caste or tribe lived in the same province. But after the census, every district came across as a mixture and there was no correlation found. In the late 1880s to make the physical distance between the capitalists and the working class, the British created canal colonies which lead to internal migration within Punjab. The Britons specifically granted land to farmers who moved to the western arid land of Punjab, where the canal colonies existed and as a result of it, the population went up in the areas of Sahiwal and Multan. The composition of the canal colonies was also very motley as two-third of the migrants were from the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities. The canal colonies held a very high political value for the empire as it became a tool that the British would reward Indians with their loyalty towards the Raj, which even helped them strengthen their military and administrative control over Punjab. The emergence of these canal colonies also led to the establishment of markets, as they led to the development of railway lines, which enabled the transportation of goods and business tribes to start doing business, which led to the creation of townships and guilds. This became an economic mainstay for the Raj from Punjab, as they exacted dues from the people from everything and anything the colonies produced and sold. This spread classism in Punjab, as the canal colonies became a capitalist area and although the agriculture production and revenue were raised, but people from the lower rungs and especially people from the Arains, Sainis and Kambohs community suffered as they didn’t get their share of the distribution of income and wealth. This seemed as the first eminent clash between the people of Punjab. As the 20th-century cam near, there emerged another conflict within Punjab, which was a language conflict, as the journals being printed in Punjab were written in different languages (English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi) and this stirred a debate on which language shall be the language of the people, as the journals were a popular way of influencing the masses towards a particular sect or ideology. This was also the time when the 1900 Lahore Session of Congress took place which was attended by Lala Lajpat Rai. With Lala’s control over Punjab and Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s control over Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal’s control over Bengal, it gave rise to the Lal-Bal -Pal trio. As time went on, Bengal was partitioned in 1905 and interestingly enough, it was the same year when Fazl-i-Husain, who later went on to become a scion of the entangled Punjab politics joined the INC and went to the launch of Muslim League in Dhaka in 1906. In the same year, the British introduced the colonization bill of 1906 which empowered the provincial government to enforce its conditions of tenure in colony lands by summary or executive process, without initiating proceedings in civil courts. The bill caused massive uproar, which resulted in the printing of journals opposing the bill and the situation turned out of hand for the British, as opposition towards the bill united Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims of Punjab. Opposition towards the bill also started protests which were headed by Lala Lajpat Rai, Ajit Singh, and Umar Hayat Khan Tiwana who was one of only a few Indians who was a member of the Punjab Legislative Council. Lajpat Rai and Singh were arrested by British officials and sent to Burma which was a ghetto created by the British for the people who were not cordial with exploitative British Raj. Eventually, after the massive uproar, both Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh were released and the bill was taken back. In 1909, the Morley Minto Reforms were introduced in the British parliament. The reforms attracted massive opposition from London itself with even Lord Curzon being against the reform as the act permitted the election of a few Indians to provincial councils and to a new all-India Imperial Legislative Council, with the franchise restricted to few educated ones. For the first time, the act provided for the association of Indians with the executive councils of Viceroy and Governors. The act also accepted the concept of ‘separate electorates’ and introduced a system of communal representation for Muslims, which legalized communalism and gave the tag of ‘Father of Communal Electorate’ to Lord Minto who was the then Viceroy of India. The period from 1909 to 1919 was a period of tensions and distrust in Punjab, as combatant militancy grew. In 1914 and 1915 Punjab saw bomb attacks and gang robberies. This was also the time when the 1st World War was taking place and the British were planning for the gradual introduction of responsible government in India. Thus in 1917, the British government for the first time announced that its main objective was the gradual introduction of responsible government in India, which lead to the enactment of the Government of India Act 1919 which came to be known as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. The act relaxed the central control over the province by demarcating and separating the central and provincial subjects while the structure of the government continued to be centralized and unitary. The bill also introduced Dyarchy, bicameralism, and direct elections in the country along with extending the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates. The year 1920 saw the launch of the non-cooperation movement which proved to be very useful for the Congress, as people started attaching the freedom struggle with the Congress and over six million people joined the Congress. While on one hand the movement for freedom wad growing strong, on the other hand, large scale communalization and polarization had taken place and the seeds for partition had already been sown with separate electorates. 1923, was the year of the big turn for Punjab, as two political strongholds, Fazl-i-Husain and Chhotu Ram created the Unionist Party with British backing on the foundations of the agriculturist ideology created by the Punjab government. With immense encouragement and backing from the Raj, the party was created to champion the interests of Punjab’s landed peasantry. Fazl-i-Husain became the face of the unionist party and soon became India’s most significant Muslim politician as of 1924. In 1926 elections took place across the country, and the year 1927 was a whirlwind for the country as the British government announced the appointment of a seven-member statutory commission under the chairman of Sir John Simon to report on the condition of India. The British refused to include a single Indian in the body and asked the body to tour and India ad propose constitutional reforms. Political action had been stagnant since the Non-Cooperation and the commission injected life into the political scene, that activated the masses and enraged them which caused spontaneous protests in the latter part of the year. While the entire nation vehemently boycotted the Simon Commission, the Punjab legislative council influenced by Fazl, appointed a committee to assist Simon. In 1928, came the land revenue tax, where the British had increased the tax on the land. This was one of the first few instances where the Unionists tussled with the Raj. Fazl, being in servitude of the British, held talks with them and reduced the tax which won him the support of landowners of all faiths and especially people from the Congress. The period between 1929 to 1935 was of superior importance for the Punjab region. In late 1929 the Congress held its Lahore session which was presided by Jawaharlal Nehru, where he announced Purna Swaraj or Complete Independence from the British Rule. Soon in 1930, Gandhi announced the civil disobedience movement. With massive opposition against the Simon commission, a goal of Purna Swaraj and a march being held in Western India by Gandhi, led to a rise in the nationalistic aspirations of the people. 1930 was also the year that saw the creation of the Idea of Pakistan, as Sir Mohammad Iqbal (Knighted in 1922) articulated a separation wish in a Muslim League meeting he was presiding over. 3 years later, a Gujjar born in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, Chaudhary Rehmat Ali, envisaged a sovereign Muslim state which he called Pakistan. 1930, civil disobedience movement had led to massive arrests across the nation and thus 1931 saw two crucial deals, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact and the Second Roundtable Conference.
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