Liaquat Ali Khan was unhappy with the post of Finance Minister. He wanted the Ministry of Home Affairs. Chaudhary Muhammad Ali explained Liaquat Ali Khan about the importance of this post. He also accounted him that he could make such a budget which would force the millionaires Congress’s supporters to give up their support. Chaudhary Muhammad Ali was an Indian Audit and Account Service Officer. He had studied economics and law from London. On the suggestion of Chaudhary Muhammad Ali, Liaquat Ali Khan accepted the offer of becoming finance minister and began to object on every penny spent. The Muslim League was eyeing to destroy the government.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad writes that the Muslim League members of the cabinet used to hinder the government actions at every step. Despite being in the government, they were against the government. In fact, they were in the position to demolish government’s every step. The first budget presented by Liaquat Ali Khan was a new blow for the Congress. The declared Congress’s Policy was to eliminate economic disparities and to adopt socialist system gradually in place of capitalist society.
Liaquat Ali Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru had spoken several times on the profits earned by traders and industrialists during the war time. It was also known that the large part of this income was kept hidden from income-tax. Thus, there was an urgent need to take a step for the income-tax recovery by the Indian government. In the budget presented by Liaquat Ali Khan, trade and industry were so heavily taxed that the traders and the industrialists started to yell. Due to this, not only the Congress but trade and industry of the country suffered a great loss permanently.
Liaquat Ali Khan, in his budget speech, proposed the set up of a commission to inquire allegations of non-payments of income tax on the industrialists and traders and troll into the affairs of recovery of old taxes. He announced that this proposal had been prepared based on the Congress' manifesto. The Congress leaders were not in a position to say anything openly for the industrialists and traders. Liaquat Ali Khan had worked cunningly. He had already received the cabinet approval for the budget to be based on the communist policies. He gave no details about the taxes etc. to the Cabinet. When he presented the budget, the Congress leaders were shocked by it. Rajagopalachari and Sardar Patel opposed the budget with utmost indignation. As a finance minister, Liaquat Ali Khan got a right to interfere in every department of the government. He either used to reject every proposal or modify it. The whole cabinet was crippled from his activities. Even worse, not even a single peon could be appointed without his permission. He had left the Congress Ministers bewildered. With the aim to bridge the gap betweenGandhi and Jinnah, Ghanshyam Das Birla explained Liaquat Ali Khan very hard, but nothing happened. At last, upon the request of the Congress, Lord Mountbatten spoke with Liaquat Ali Khan and made him reduce the tax rates.
Demand of two Constituent Assemblies
At the beginning of 1946, elections were held to set up a constituent assembly, with the aim to draft a constitution of the future India. The Muslim League bagged enormous success in these elections, which clarified that the Congress had no option left other than to accept the demand of Pakistan. The constituent assembly started to work for the first time on 9 December 1946, but Jinnah refused to join the assembly. He sought to set up a separate constituent assembly for Pakistan and did not send the league representatives to the meetings of the constituent assembly. Veteran journalist Dr. D.R Manekar writes that Legislative producer committee started functioning in the environment of stress, frustration and uncertainty.
Although some British historians have described the role of British power as a referee in the battle between the Congress and the Muslim League but in reality, the British power used to support the Muslim League more. They were those dishonest referees, who at the first opportunity used to punch secretly the opponent whom they didn’t like. Often, the Congress was used to be rebuked because they launched Quit India Movement against the Britishers while the Muslim League had completely supported the Britishers.
Pakistan without coal and iron
Most Congress leaders were against the partition of India. Some leaders such as Rajaji Rajagopalachari had understood well that it would be better to divide India on reasonable grounds rather than engaging in the affairs of India’s independence. Ghanshyam Birla also agreed with the views of Rajaji. He wrote letter to Nehru:
Any partner in business, if he is not satisfied with partnership, I suppose has a right to demand separation. The separation, of course, has to be on an equitable basis, but I cannot conceive how anybody could object to it. If I were a Muslim, I would not accept Pakistan, because the separated Muslim India will be a very poor state, having no iron and no coal. But that is a look out of the Muslims themselves. I have no doubt in my own mind that, if you offered Pakistan, the Muslims would never accept it. But whether they want it or not, our opposition to it has created a thirst among the Muslims to have it.
Edwina persuaded Mountbatten for partition
The reliability of the Viceroy Wavell ended on the citizens of India when direct action led by the Muslim League caused bloodshed in Bihar and Bengal. He was then replaced by the new Viceroy Lord Mountbatten in March 1947. The latter’s work was only to liberate India and carry the Britishers in their full dignity and peace, out from India.
From 24 March 1947, Lord Mountbatten took over the charge as the Viceroy of India. At that time, India was trapped in a precarious situation. The population of India was around 350 million in which 100 million were Muslim and 250 million were Hindus. The Congress was the country’s largest political party, which believed that it had got the support from 100% Hindus, Sikhs, others, and 90% Muslims.
Whereas, the Muslim League believed that it had got support from 90% Muslims of the country. Mountbatten in India in his first speech said that his office would not be like an ordinary viceroy. In the wake of the British Government’s announcements, he came to find the solution to India’s problem in few months and to transfer his powers by June 1948. He sent his first report to the Attlee Government on 2 April 1947, in which he wrote that the country’s internal tensions are out of range; no matter how quickly the work would be done, there would be a threat of civil war outbreak.
Like the Congress, Mountbatten was not in the favor of partition of India. In those days, his wife Edwina made a visit to the riot- affected areas. Her eyes were pierced seeing the dead bodies of those killed in the communal riots. After returning from riots-affected areas, Edwina explained her husband that the Congress would never accept the division of India; however, if the Britishers didn’t want to be accused of killing of millions of people, then Mountbatten had to divide India forcibly and prepare the Congress for it. Agreeing to her argument, Mountbatten tried to convince Gandhi, Nehru and Patel for the division. Nehru and Patel accepted the offer while Gandhi was unwilling to take it.
Partition- a sheer madness
Upon Nehru and Patel’s acceptance, Mountbatten sent the plan for the division of India to the Attlee Government along with a letter calling partition “shear madness”. He wrote that had these communal riots not left everyone savage, had there been any other option left for the partition, no one in the world would ever forced him to accept this madness. He wanted to “put the responsibility for any of these mad decisions fairly and squarely on the Indian shoulders in the eyes of the world, for one day they will bitterly regret the decision they are about to make.”
Mountbatten had placed the responsibility of the partition of India on the Congress leaders whom he had convinced very hard for it. He must have had used the word “League leaders” instead of “Indians” in his report.
Nehru- A savior
Mountbatten declared the plan that India would be parted in two sovereign countries namely Pakistan and India. Public of any of the eleven British provinces under the British rule could refuse to integrate with any of these -Pakistan or India and could remain individually autonomous. The main reason behind Mountbatten’s plan was that neither India nor Pakistan would be imposed on them. They would be allowed to decide freely whether to be independent or join either of the two countries to form a large group.
When the plan was put forth by Mountbatten before Jawaharlal Nehru, latter slashed it right away and asserted him that it would create a multitude of fragments all over the country. Nehru called it an ulcer which would cause violence and conflict in the country. Menon drew an alternative plan in six hour
After Nehru’s violent outburst, Mountbatten asked V.P Menon, who was playing a double role in Indian Politics as the political aide as well as the Secretary of Ministry of States headed by Sardar Patel, to draw up an alternate plan. Sardar Patel and his close associate V. P Menon had already worked on this matter. Then, V.P. Menon formulated that plan on the papers in merely four hours with the help of a typewriter.
This plan outlined that India would be divided into two parts based on the Dominion status, one representing Muslim-majority Pakistan and the other representing Hindu-majority India. It would be mandatory for the British Province to join India or Pakistan. Punjab and Bengal would be divided based on the population. Native Princes would be freed whether to join India, Pakistan or be independent. Nehru accepted the plan. Mountbatten knew that Jinnah would not accept the offer so readily because latter had demanded entire Bengal and Punjab based on the Muslim population. Still, Mountbatten sent this plan to London for approval.
Afraid of Jinnah
Leonard Moseley writes that Mountbatten became apprehensive of Jinnah after sending the plan to London for approval. He felt that Jinnah could oppose the parted Pakistan. Therefore, he spoke to Jinnah and after gaining confidence from him, he sent a telegram to Ismay in London saying he was sure about Jinnah’s approval. However, he knew that Jinnah could persuade him as Jinnah was an astute negotiator. Mountbatten was not satisfied yet. He devised a contingency plan to deal with Jinnah in case he retracted. This contingency plan had primarily provided that since Jinnah has given rejection to the plan therefore, power is being handed over to the current government.
On Viceroy’s initiative, Gandhi met Jinnah at latter’s residence in Delhi on 6 May 1947. The map of India was propounded between them, in which Pakistan was shown in green color. After this meeting, Jinnah issued a circular which stated that Mr. Gandhi did not value the principles of separation. For him, the separation was not inevitable. However, in Jinnah’s view, it was imperative. It also mentioned that both had pledged to make sincere efforts to maintain communal peace in their respective areas.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s resistance
When Maulana Abul Kalam Azad came to know about Mountbatten’s visit to Simla to negotiate with British Cabinet for the partition of India, then he also visited Simla to meet Mountbatten and proposed him to stand firmly on the cabinet mission plan to avoid the partitioning of India. On this, Lord Mountbatten said that any delay in the transfer of powers would raise doubts among people regarding the intentions of the British Government and bring it into disrepute.
Strategies of Conrad Corfield
Political advisor to Viceroy and Secretary of the Political Department, Sir Conrad Corfield, deeply sympathized with the rights of the Princes. His view was that the interest of India lay within the benefit of the Princes. Like the rulers, he also hated Nehru and the Congress. Conrad admitted that he could see Princely India, which was under Indian Civil Service as Real India more than that two-third of India. He advised the princes to make their organization stronger so as to prevent any interference of the Congress in their states.
To integrate in India or Pakistan, the Chamber of Princes or “Narender Mandal” was divided into two factions, one of which -“United front of Kings” was working particularly for the Nawab of Bhopal. Corfield was promoting this faction. When Mountbatten sent the plan of India’s partition to the Government of London, then Conrad Corfield drove a campaign to protect the interests of his princes in London. Corfield argued that the princes had devoted their powers to the emperor only, not to any other person. Consequently, when the British would withdraw from India, paramountcy would lapse and all the rulers would get their powers back. It must entirely depend on them whether they wish to merge with India, Pakistan or remain independent. Secretary of State of India, Lord Listowel, supported Corfield’s policy and inserted a significant clause in the Indian Independence Bill. Mountbatten and the Congress leaders denounced this policy. In spite of many attempts by them, this clause wasn’t removed.
When Mountbatten went to London to get the approval for the plan of partition by the Cabinet, Corfield in India, instructed the officers of the Political Department to remove the armies from the Princely States, cancel the trains, and end the post and telegraph system. He tried to create a void and disrupted relationship between the states and the Indian Union. He also instructed to destroy the letters and files related to the Princely States. As a result, many important records were burnt down. Overall, four tons of papers were destroyed. On the order of Corfield, the white officers had hurriedly cooked about four tons of files, reports, photographs, documents in which the details of whims, luxuries, cruelties, sexual-pleasure programs and so on of the last five generations of the rulers, emperors, Nawabs, etc. were hammered. Foreign leaders had marked many illustrated and non-illustrated sonnets of exciting adventures of the Indian rulers in secret files. Whimsical and comedic, cruel and venereal, and many such stories of the Indian kings were consumed into ashes. Such moment came several times when the relation of Indian rulers and foreign leaders were on the verge of break-up. Many of these instances must have been burnt in the pyre.
The plea Corfield gave to the Attlee Government for the destruction of these papers and records was that if they could not save the future of our rulers then at least they could save their past so that no one in independent India could use those to blackmail them. Nehru and Patel came to know about the destruction of all the records, closing of the residencies and assigning of the Crown forces and the military camps to different states by the Political department, Nehru in a rage, ordered to stop this agitation immediately as there was a threat to the historical and valuable things of being destroyed in the fire. However, it was too late. In Patiala, Hyderabad, Indore, Mysore, Porbandar, Cochin, and New Delhi and in many other places, almost all files had been burnt.
All India States Peoples’ Conference passed a resolution demanding that the Political Department and all of its agencies should be immediately transferred to the new Indian Government or a new department should be set up under the Central Government to perform the tasks of the Political Department. On 13 June, Viceroy held a meeting where Nehru, Patel, Kripalani, Jinnah, Liaquat Ali, Abdur Rab Nishtar, Sardar Baldev Singh and Corfield were present. Nehru accused Corfield of this incident. He held Corfield responsible for tarnishing the image of the country. Jinnah sided with Corfield and told Nehru if he had to make an allegation without any evidence, then that meeting had no point. According to Corfield, Wakefield had made a plan to send the records of historical significance to the Indian Office in London through the British High Commissioner in Delhi and destroy the records related to the episodes of the personal significance of rulers. It was decided at the meeting that those papers which the British Government did not want to handover to the Indian Government should not be burnt and handed over to the British High Commissioner. Also, the Political Department would be formed to safeguard the interests of the princes. Jinnah also added that the Muslim League would also constitute a Political Department. Corfield objected that before independence, neither the Congress nor the Muslim League could do this; because this would show that the paramountcy had been transferred from the Political Department to all new Political Departments before independence.
Viceroy said that two new departments should be set up, but their name would be Princely Department instead of the Political Department. This should be entirely left up to the states whether they sent their representatives to Delhi, Karachi or their successors called the representatives of the governments at their place.
When Mountbatten returned with an approval of the plan, then Jinnah suddenly demanded of a thousand miles path through Indian Territory to match West Pakistan and East Pakistan. On this, the Congress again got annoyed. However, Mountbatten somehow managed to mediate between both the parties.
Gandhi reiterated his opposition
At the evening prayer meeting of 31 May 1947, Gandhi once again reiterated his opposition to the partition of India. He also mentioned that the Congress Leaders would oppose the partition even if there would be a risk of terrible violence, even if the whole of India would burn down.
Everyone against Gandhi On 2 June 1947, Mountbatten invited Nehru, Patel and Acharya Kripalani (the Congress President) on the behalf of the Congress; Liaquat Ali Khan, Rab Nishtar and Sardar Baldev Singh (representative of six million Sikhs) on the behalf of the Muslim League at his place and handed over the copies of the plan. These leaders took the copies of the plan but were apprehensive of Gandhi’s future move.
The day when Mountbatten went to England, that day also Gandhi, in his prayer meeting, reiterated that they would not “give an inch of land as Pakistan” even if whole India would burn in a fire. However, a month had already passed accepting the consent of the division of India in the Congress Working Committee Commenting on the behavior of Indian leaders on 2 June 1947 at Mountbatten’s place, Mountbatten writes that they all hated Gandhi from inside. They all wanted to target Gandhi through him.
Collins and Lapierre write that on 2 June, after the Congress, the Muslim League and the Sikh Leaders left, Mountbatten called Gandhi and appealed him not to oppose the plan. Gandhi observed that day a vow of silence and wrote to Viceroy that he could not speak that day but would surely discuss it.
Announcement on radio
Accepting of the Mountbatten’s plan by the Viceroy and the Congress Leaders, and partition of India into two newly independent countries by the Britishers were made public on 3 June 1947 at seven in the evening. The Viceroy admitted that since the agreement between the Congress and the Muslim Leaders on a scheme for the country to stay united was not possible, therefore, with independence, the country would be partitioned into Hindustan and Pakistan based on the population.
Nehru dreamt of one nation
Nehru welcomed Viceroy’s declaration warmly and appealed Indians to accept the plan peacefully. He said that India’s Independence was not “one of compulsion or coercion.” If ever India would divide, then the two parts would soon unite and once again intact India would have “stronger and more secure foundation.” Jinnah said in his speech that it was for them then to concede the plan presented by the Britannia Government as a “compromise or settlement.” Leader of Sikhs, Baldev Singh said that it was not the compromise but the settlement. Not everyone would be happy with this, especially Sikhs. But still it was worthwhile. Finally, they were ready to accept it.
Prayer Meeting of June
On 4 June 1947, Mountbatten got the news that in the prayer meeting of that day, Gandhi would appeal Indian citizens to disapprove the plan of partition. Having learned of Gandhi’s move, Mountbatten called him and told him that the entire plan of the partition had been created as per his directions and the decision of the separation should be taken by the people, not by the Britishers.
That day, Gandhi explained at his prayer meeting that nothing would happen by blaming the Viceroy. The answer of whatever was happening or had happened lay inside all of them [public]. He also conveyed to public to see themselves first before saying anything to anyone.
Acceptance of division plan in A.I.C.C.
On 14 June 1947, at the meeting of the A.I.C.C, the resolution dealing with Mountbatten’s plan for dividing the India was moved. Many of the Congress leaders opposed it. However, Nehru, Patel, Govind Ballah Pant and Gandhi intervened in the debate and spoke for the partition. When resolution was put to vote, only 29 voted for partition and 15 voted against. The Hindus from Sindh opposed this resolution.
Indian Independence Act 1947
On 18 July 1947, Indian Independence Act was given the assent and came into force. It was recognized in the act that, on 15 August 1947, with the transfer of the powers by the British Government, two new dominions - Pakistan and India would come into being. The British suzerainty over 565 princely states of India would be ceased, and the treaty relations between the British Crown and Princely States would come to an end, with effect from 15 August 1947.
Formation of Partition Council
The Partition Council, headed by the Viceroy was formed to work in an orderly manner to divide the assets and liabilities. The decisions regarding currency, goods, and even furniture kept in banks, government premises and post offices were taken in the council. In times of partition, it was decided that Pakistan would receive 17.5% of the cash and sterling share kept in the banks. It was also accounted that 17.5% share of national debt of India was to be paid by Pakistan as compensation. Of all country’s vast government system, there would be a division in the ratio 80:20 between India and Pakistan.
There were 18 thousand and 77 miles long roads, and 26 thousand and 421 miles long railway tracks in total, of which 4 thousand and 913 miles long roads, and 7 thousand and 112 miles long railway tracks were inherited by Pakistan. Viceroy’s white golden car came to India and in return, all the cars of Commander-in-Chief and Governor-General of Punjab were bagged in by Pakistan. Viceroy had six gold plated, and six silver plated buggies. Gold plated buggies went to India whereas silver plated buggies went to Pakistan.
Preparation of division of India
The Partition Council was formed, where H.M Patel was the Indian representative and Chaudhary Mohamed Ali was the Pakistani representative. Twenty committees and sub-committees were set up to help them in which nearly hundred high officials were hired. The work of these committees was to prepare various types of proposals and sent those to the Partition Council for approval. By that time, the legislative assembly elected in India was not in existence, due to which the Constituent Assembly was given the dual status of both Parliament as well as the Constituent Assembly.
Before the partition of India, Lord Mountbatten founded two alternative governments from the Interim government to handle the administration of the two countries which were going to come into force on 15 August. Having improved the Government of India Act, 1935, the work of constitution from 1947 to 1950 in India and 1947 to 1956 in Pakistan was taken.
A force of Gurkhas, called as Punjab Boundary Force was formed to maintain peace in Punjab. 55 thousand soldiers were appointed to the force. This force was placed in those areas where the massacre was most likely to occur. The army started its operation from 1 August 1947.
Special trains for the officials
On 3 August 1947, special trains were arranged for the officials willing to go to Pakistan from Delhi to Karachi. These trains, in return, had to carry officials wanting to come to India from Pakistan. By that time, the trains had come in the grip of terrible communal insanity. Therefore, statesman appealed the public not to use the trains. Statesman believed that trains would remain safe, but the trains carrying the officials from Pakistan were also trapped in the communal violence.
Two alternative governments
Before the partition, Lord Mountbatten formed two alternative governments from the interim government of India to administrate the work of both the countries which was going to come into being on 15 August 1947.