Celebrating Independence: Why remembering Partition Horrors

The Partition Horror Remembrance Day selectively wants to project the killings and mayhem which Hindus faced, the truth is the Hindu-Sikhs coming from Pakistan (West and East) and Muslims migrating from India to Pakistan both suffered immensely. As such if we see...

Celebrating Independence: Why remembering Partition Horrors
Why remembering Partition Horrors

Ram Puniyani :

We celebrate Independence on 15th August 1947, while Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day on 14th August. It was a massive struggle by the people of India which got us freedom from the clutches of colonial rule. Celebration of Independence Day reminds us more of the anti Colonial struggle and as the title of a book by Surendranath Bannerjee says, India: ‘Nation in the making’, it tells us we became an Indian nation during the colonial period. It reminds us of the great struggles launched by people of India under the leadership of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, (1920, 1930 and 1942 in particular). It reminds us of the revolutionaries like Bhagat, Singh, and Chandra Shekhar Azad, who bravely faced the gallows or bullets on their chest for the sake of freedom of the country. It reminds us of how Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and people of all religions struggled shoulder to shoulder to throw off the yoke of Colonialism.

From last three years, the Modi Government has begun the observance of ‘Partition horrors remembrance day’ on 14th August; accompanied by a propaganda blitz that partition was due to Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan, Muslims were adamant for a separate nation and Nehru in his lust to be the Prime Minister let the partition take place. Seventy one years after Independence; this Government announced the observance of this day, prepared exhibitions showing the tragedy of Hindus being displaced and being slaughtered during the migrations. A new narrative has been given boost, the communal narrative, which has nothing to do with the truth and aims at intensifying the Hate.

This narrative being spread through well oiled machinery, which includes the ground level work, Godi, media to social media and word of mouth rumors has nothing to do with the truth. It focuses on Jinnah, saying that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations and cannot live together. Lies have their own role in spreading Hate, but it seems half truths are more dangerous. While Jinnah did get the Pakistan resolution passed in 1940, it was a culmination of the two parallel and opposite phenomena, Muslim Communalism (Muslim League) and Hindu Communalism (Hindu Mahasabha and RSS), which culminated in the Pakistan resolution.

As such both these communalisms (Hindu and Muslim) have run simultaneously. The coming together of various associations like Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Madras Mahajan Sabha and Bombay Association to form Indian National Congress (INC) in 1885, represented the newer social classes of businessmen, Industrialists, working classes and educated classes, (Along with the process of reaching education to dalits and women). In response the old ruling sections of landlords and kings (Muslim and Hindu, both) came together to form United India Patriotic Association (Sir Syed Ahmad and Raja Shivprasad Singh of Kashi) , proclaiming their loyalty to British rule. In due course the Hindu and Muslim components of this formation separated as Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League. Some upper caste-educated elite joined them later.

While National movement led by the INC talked of composite nationalism, Muslim League harped on Muslim Nation, and Hindu Mahasabha and RSS talked of India being a Hindu nation. Articulation wise it was Savarkar, not Jinnah, who articulated the two nation theory first. In his book Hindutva or who is a Hindu Savarkar said there are two nations here, Hindu and Muslim in 1923. Golwalkar of RSS took it further in his book ‘We or our Nationhood defined’ not only to eulogize Hitler but to relegate Muslims to second class citizenship, “the non-Hindu people in Hindustan… must entertain no idea but the glorification of Hindu nation i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this land and its age old traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in this country wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.” 

Savarkar goes further to re-emphasize the two nation theory, “As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India. Several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation …Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main: the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.”

As far as blaming Nehru for greed for power and thereby hastening the partition is concerned, the truth is somewhere else. It was Sardar Patel who first conceded the Mountbatten proposal for partition. It was British colonialists who realized that it was not possible to rule India in the aftermath of 1942 Quit India movement. As they decided to give independence they also wanted to ensure to preserve their political and economic interests. British Academic David Sanders notes, “Atlee’s government ‘had recognized that the Raj could not be preserved in the face of continued and growing nationalist-inspired civil disorder.’

As such the colonial powers knew the main leadership of freedom movement was left of the center and was more likely to ally with Soviet Block than the imperialist block, so they also wanted to ensure that they have an ally, subjugate state, here in South Asia, so the partitioning of the country was their goal.

The Partition Horror Remembrance Day selectively wants to project the killings and mayhem which Hindus faced, the truth is the Hindu-Sikhs coming from Pakistan (West and East) and Muslims migrating from India to Pakistan both suffered immensely. As such if we see the whole process of two nation theory, communal violence was equally promoted by the politics of communal streams, Hindu and Muslim.

Partition Horror Remembrance Day (PHRD) and related activities have the agenda of intensifying propaganda against ‘Muslim separatism’ in the guise that it was Jinnah who was for partition-Pakistan; it also aims to intensify its ceaseless propaganda against Nehru (His ambition to Prime Minister etc.). So Independence Day is being presented in parallel to the PHRD, which is a redundant exercise in our national life. But all the same it is yet another tool in the hands of communal forces to drive the wedge between the communities and to defame those who struggled ceaselessly for the freedom of the country.