To demarcate the boundaries between India and Pakistan upon the partition of India, the Radcliffe Committee was appointed on 27 June 1947. It was named after a noted lawyer of England, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was the chairman of this Committee. Radcliffe made his maiden visited Delhi on 8 July 1947. A board of four judges was deputed in each province to assist him. Of all these judges, half were appointed by the Congress and half by the Muslim League. Writing a letter to Mountbatten, Governor of Punjab demanded that the report of Radcliffe Committee must be generated prior to independence in order to end people’s rout. Even the Partition Committee also appealed the same to the Viceroy.
Sir Cyril Radcliffe was a prominent barrister in England. He had never visited India before. People gathered around him in droves and tried to impress him, wherever he went. A flick of his pen could save or demolish them. They could go beyond any limit to impress that Britisher. Radcliffe was showered with maps, signatures, bribes, and threats.
Although the report was ready by 9 August 1947, Mountbatten decided to delay it from being public in order to prevent a widespread disorder on Independence Day and finally presented it on 17 august 1947 which resulted in a prevalence of dilemma in Punjab and Bengal. Neither side was happy with Radcliffe’s work. They had heavily criticized Radcliffe; frustrated Radcliffe thus refused to accept the remuneration of two thousand pounds.
Radcliffe’s fear- “people would shoot me”
Radcliffe flew to England and decided never to visit India again. He admitted that the Indian leaders had asked him to do an onerous task to draw them a line on or before 15 August 1947. So he “drew them a line”; what more they expected from him in such situation. He later remarked, “I suspect they’d shoot me out of the hand, both sides.”
Demand of Taj Mahal by Muslims
After the announcement of the date of partition, some Muslim fundamentalists wanted Taj Mahal to be dismantled and shipped to Pakistan where it should be built afresh. However, their demand lacked strength.
Birth of Pakistan
Jinnah left India for Karachi on 7 August 1947. The next day, Sardar Patel said, “the poison has been removed from the body of India. We all are one and indivisible. You cannot divide the sea or the waters of the river. As for the Muslims, they have their roots, their sacred places and their centers here. I do not know what they can possibly do in Pakistan. It will not be long before they return to us.” India was partitioned on the basis of religious demographics on 14 August 1947.
The partition gave birth to two states- the Muslim-majority Dominion of Pakistan and the Hindu-majority Union of India. Lord Mountbatten addressed in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and declared Pakistan as completely independent nation on 14 August 1947. The Viceroy flew back to Delhi on the same day (14 August 1947) and at midnight; he announced the independence of India in the Constituent Assembly of India.
Soon after the end of the British Raj, a Governor-General was to be appointed for India and Pakistan. It was provided in the Indian Independence Act that a person might be appointed as a Governor-General for both the countries. It was being assumed that Mountbatten would be suitable and would be appointed as the Governor-General for both the countries for some time. But only India appointed Lord Louis Mountbatten as its first Governor-General while Jinnah became the Governor-General of Pakistan. Several years later, when Mountbatten came to India, Pakistan didn’t allow his airplane to fly over Pakistan.
Largest escape in the human history
The line drawn by Radcliffe had left 5 million Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistani-Punjab and 5 million Muslims in Indian-Punjab. Eventually, about hundreds of thousands of Muslims migrated to Pakistan from India and vice-versa. By estimating the number, Michael Bricher writes that under fear, rumor, madness, and approximately 12 million people crossed the boundaries between India and Pakistan. By other estimates, around 5 lakh people died or were killed before the end of a year. Delhi’s street was filled with refugees. Moseley writes that post- partition, migration unleashed gruesome violence in the subcontinent. Over 6 lakh were killed, 14 million fled away from their homes, 1 lakh women were abducted or forced into trafficking. Children were harassed, and many women were raped. Even worse, the womb of pregnant ladies was ripped off. Sikhs and Hindus dwelling on North-western Frontier for generations fled their homes and hearths towards East (communities of Hindus and Sikhs) in search of protection. Some traveled on foot, some in bullock carts, some crammed into Lorries and some clung to the sides and roofs of trains. Along the way, they collided with the Muslims, who were fleeing to seek refuge in the west. Riots turned into rout. By the summer, when the official announcement of the creation of the new state of Pakistan had been made, approximately ten million people- Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were caught up in chaotic transition. Nearly 1 million people were killed with the arrival of monsoon. Whole of northern India was under arms, terror and hide and seek.
It is evident from the above facts that abusing the chancellor post of Narendra Mandal, Nawab of Bhopal did not want a strong union to be built at the center. In such situation, the king of Bikaner, Sudal Singh, came forward on national political stage to lead the kings of the country. On 10 April 1947, key cities such as Baroda, Patiala, Bikaner, Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Rewa, announcing their participation in the constituent assembly, destroyed the plans of the Nawabs. The rulers wanted that the paramountcy should lapsed immediately so that they could negotiate for their rights firmly but the British Government believed that the dilution of sovereignty for the British India as well as the dilution of paramountcy for the princely states should not be on different dates.
The Rajputana states had turned the history of the country, which was standing on the door to independence, into a right direction forever. However, the Rajputana kings had made surety that the charges of being an enemy of the country’s democratic progress would not be imposed on them.
Issues of the native states
According to section 8 of India Independence Act, 1947, from 15 August 1947, the British suzerainty over the princely states was to be diluted, and the powers were once again to be transferred to the princely states. Thus, the princely states were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent. At the time of independence, the Hindu states were in a majority in India. The rulers of Hyderabad, Bhopal, Junagadh, and Tonk etc. were Muslims but the most of their people were Hindus. Whereas the ruler of Kashmir was Hindu but most of the people there were Muslims. In this way ethically, states of the country and their citizens were associated with the Hindu-majority areas of British India.
At the time of independence, there were 566 princely states in India. Only 12 states of them– Bahawalpur, Khairpur, Kalat, Las Bela, Makran, Kharan, Amb, Chitral, Hunza, Dir, Nagar, and Swat were surrounded by Pakistan. These were to be integrated into Pakistan. Rest 554 states were to remain in India. Except Junagadh, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir, remaining 550 princely states agreed to integrate in India before 15 August 1947 with the efforts of Sardar Patel. Junagadh, Hyderabad, Bhopal, and Kashmir refused to join India. Some Hindu states began to dream of living independently of India and Pakistan.
The Congress reckoned that when the British Government would transfer the power to Indian Government, then suzerainty of the British Government over the princely states would automatically move to the Indian Government. Small states had no choice other than to join the Indian Union, but large and capable states had a different situation. Travancore, Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Mysore, Indore, Bhopal, Nawanagar, even the small principality Bilaspur dreamed of being truly free.
The Alwar ruler said in the meeting of Narendra Mandal held at Bombay on 3 April 1947 that the Governors of princely states must not integrate into the Hindi Union. On 5 June 1947, Bhopal, Travancore proclaimed to exist as a separate state. Hyderabad also showed its willingness to remain aloof. Such similar announcement was also expected from Kashmir, Indore, Jodhpur, Dholpur, Bharatpur and another group of states.
In this way, the ambitions of the rulers of some princely states had become the threat to the country’s integrity. The Governor of Madras and later on Britain’s first High Commissioner of independent India, Sir Archibald Nye had doubt in negotiating any treaty with the princely states. Mountbatten told Sardar Patel that he could secure the rulers’ accession to India and could make them drop the idea of remaining independent on the following terms-the rulers would be allowed to retain their positions, estates, and properties; there would be no arrest; there would be the guarantees of privy purse and they would not be prevented from accepting the honor given by the British Government. Patel put the condition before Mountbatten that he would accept all the above stipulations provided Mountbatten bagged all the princely states into the lap of India.
Tej Bahadur Sapru was so surprised on the foolish thinking of the states whether small or large, that they would be independent and would be able to maintain their independence. Lords of adversity foretold that India’s Independence boat would collide with the rock of the states.
Take care of your “babies”
After the announcement of the independence of India, the cartoon titled “YOUR BABIES NOW” by David Low was published in London Evening Standard wherein the problem of the Indian rulers was portrayed accurately before the Indian leaders. In the said cartoon, Nehru and Jinnah, sitting on separate chairs, were shown. Some children were sitting in their lap. Britain was shown as a nurse, who was going away with the union jack. Children sitting in the lap of Nehru were delineated as the problem of rulers, who were screaming and kicking to his knees.
On one hand, the Congress presented strict policy against the princely states, on the contrary, the Muslim League adopted an exceedingly naïve attitude towards the princely states. It was convenient for the Muslim League to do so. Jinnah was trying that a large number of states declared their independence and joined Pakistan so that the Indian Union could become permanently weak. Jinnah wanted to convey it to the rulers that the Congress was the common enemy of both the Muslim League and the princely states. He also attempted to attract the Rajput states to Pakistan by giving them lucrative offers. He assured the princely states that the Muslim League would not interfere in their internal affairs and if they wished to settle independent, then also they would not be given any trouble from Muslim League’s side. A secret campaign was being carried out among the rulers of Rajasthan by the Muslim League that they (Rajasthan) should join Pakistan, not the Hindi Union. Mountbatten’s attitude was incredibly soft towards the Nizam of Hyderabad. Jinnah used Corfield and Nawab of Bhopal to make India paralyzed.
Attitude of the rulers
Maharaja of Travancore accepted to send a merchant from his place to Pakistan on 11 June 1947. Maharaja of Jodhpur and the rulers of many other small states were looking to the consequences of the revolt carried out by larger states, pursuant to which they wanted to follow up.
Baroda Maharaja Pratap Singh’s dismissal
Baroda Maharaja Pratap Singh wrote Sardar Patel a letter that unless he was chosen as the king of India and unless the Government of India accepted all his demands, he would not cooperate and nor would cooperate in suppressing the rebellion by Nawab of Junagadh. Upon this, the Government of India instead chose to appoint Maharaja Pratap Singh’s son, Fateh Singh as the Maharaja of Baroda. After seeing Indian Government’s rigid attitude, Maharaja Pratap Singh started acting humbly like country’s servant. He also dissolved the State Union, which he had created to prevent the merger of the princely states. He finally came to the conclusion that joining hands with the Indian Government and receiving their protection was the only option left with him. It also came to his mind that instead of being a ruler and living on the will of rebellious people, living under the patronage of the Indian Government would be far more suitable.
Bhopal Nawab’s plot
Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan, was working covertly as a pro-Muslim, pro-Pakistani and anti-Congress but, after the partition of India was finally decided, third front leader Nawab of Bhopal opened his fist and directly went in the support of divisive Muslim League and became the close advisor of Jinnah. He was included in that plan of Jinnah in which more and more of rulers were to be encouraged to join Pakistan and announcement was to be undergone by them to remain autonomous. Secretary of Ministry of States, A. S. Pai sent Sardar Patel a note sheet stating that Nawab of Bhopal was working for Jinnah. Nawab wanted that the states situated along the route from Bhopal to Karachi should be amalgamated into one unit and should join Pakistan. Therefore, he drew a plan with the consent of Jinnah to include Baroda, Indore, Bhopal, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer in Pakistan. The biggest hurdle in this scheme could arise from the presence of Baroda and Udaipur. Maharaja of Jodhpur took the responsibility for securing the consent of the states described above. In this way, a map to break India into smithereens was prepared.
Involvement of Dholpur Maharaja in the plan
Hamidullah Khan also involved Maharaja Rana of Dholpur Uday Bhanu Singh in his plan. Uday Bhanu Singh was considered as a polyhistor, intelligent and efficient ruler of the main state of Jat. However, he was not ready acceding Dholpur into the Indian Union, come what may! On Jinnah’s cue, the Nawab and Maharaja Rana talked to many rulers of the states such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, and Jaipur, etc. and invited them to meet Jinnah. Maharaja of Alwar among the Hindu rulers was also there, to accompany the Nawab.
Corfield, through residents and political agents, motivated the rulers of the states to stay different from the Indian Union. Corfield wanted at least 2-3 states, wherein Hyderabad topped on his list, to escape out from the clutches of the Congress. He also wanted to make as difficult as possible for the other states to join India. Corfield publicized among the states that the states had three ways instead of two, that they could join any of the two dominions or stay independent. With the efforts of Corfield, Travancore, Hyderabad announced to remain independent and showed their reluctance to join any of the dominions.
Establishment of the Department
of States On 5 July 1947, the Ministry of (Princely) States headed by Sardar Patel came into being. Congress believed this “Iron Man” of the party could cajole, out-maneuver these princely states to accede to India. He alone was enough to head-on the plans of Hamidullah, Corfield, Ramaswamy Iyer and circumvent the independent states into the Indian Union. V.P Menon was appointed as an advisor and secretary of Patel. He was the only officer who could solve the complex problem of the states. The great combination of factors of Patel’s personality and Menon’s mind proved dire in rulers agreeing to integrate with India. Seasoned politicians such as Sardar K.M Panicker, V.T Krishnamachari; distinguished minister of the Indian States and senior officials of Indian Civil Service such as C.S Venkatachar, M.K Vellodi, V. Shankar, Pandit Hari Sharma were working in backstage. Patel said to Menon that Pakistan was working on an idea of merging some border states with them. The situation was such hideous that the independence they labored for after facing so much of difficulties could vanish from the doors of the states.
Merger on three subjects
Five weeks were left from the date of independence. On one hand, Corfield was engaged in the work of dissolution of the central authority from the states before the end of the British power due to which all the arrangements would be being canceled one by one. On the other hand, Sardar was in pucker that before 15 August, how the matter regarding every system of the rulers such as the army, post which the Britishers had begun to cancel, could be tackled. Menon suggested Sardar to put pressure on the rulers over three subjects for merger namely- defense, external affairs, and communications. After securing the permission from Patel, Menon sought help from Mountbatten in this regard. Menon told the Viceroy if all the states united with India, then the degree of the wound of the division would decrease to some extent, and if Mountbatten gave support in this matter, then the citizens of India would owe him a debt of gratitude for centuries. Eventually, Mountbatten gave a green light to the matter.
On 5 July 1947, Patel appealed the rulers to integrate into the Indian Union before 15 August 1947. The princely states had to entrust the 3 subjects of the public interest – defense, foreign affairs and communications, the assent of which they had given earlier in the Cabinet Mission. Neither the Indian Union had asked anything more than this nor had a desire to interfere in the internal affairs of the Princely states. He assured that the policy of States Department would not be of domination over the States.
The Congress was never against the rulers. The Indian rulers had always expressed their faith towards patriotism and public welfare. Patel also warned the rulers that if any of the rulers thought that the British paramountcy would be transferred to him, then this would be his mistake. Paramountcy lay inside the citizens of India. This declaration was of a kind to invite the rulers on equal existence to join Independent India. In Sardar’s words, this proposal was better than the subordinate treaty set between the rulers and the British Government in the past. In this way, the first dice was thrown by Menon and Sardar to persuade the states to accede to India, the result of which was that Bikaner ruler Saadul Singh accepted the Sardar Patel’s declaration once again and requested his brother rulers to hold the extended hand of friendship and give their full support to the Congress so that India could attain its goal at much faster pace.
However, most rulers believed that they should have listened to Corfield instead of Patel.