The Partition of 1947


I am writing to thank you for the very important article that has been carried in the August 15-31, 2017 issue of MEL that is entitled `Partition of 1947 - A terrible tragedy engineered by the British colonialists.' In particular, I am struck by the opening sentence of the article, cf., `The Partition of 1947 haunts the peoples of India, Pakistan and Bangaladesh even today.' This sentence conveys a large number of important concepts that anyone who is interested in the welfare and progress of the peoples (note plural) who live in these countries. Furthermore, while `unifying' the people of `India' and `Pakistan' separately, it also divided the people of Punjab and of Bengal along religious lines. This starting point of so-called independence has been the basis of the tragedies that have visited these peoples and are continuing to visit them. And one should not forget the division of Kashmir whose people are even today paying the price of that terrible communal Partition. Of the many daily tragedies that visit the peoples of these countries, the hostile, war-like situation is not the least important. The border between India and Pakistan is one of the most active borders in the world with a constant `no-war, no-peace' detente prevailing between the two parties.

This situation is the basis of ugly chauvinism on both sides, with the ruling circles on each side stoking hatred for the other on a daily basis. Besides, the formation of these countries has led to the negation of the national rights of the constituent nations of the two countries. These countries are the seats of the most inhuman conditions for a vast majority of the people in each of these countries, who face indignity, poverty and destitution on a daily basis. The prevailing capitalist systems in these countries have provided nothing but a harvest of despair for the people.

The article provides a succinct summary of the true aims of the Partition. It was to keep the interests of the British colonialists intact without the fear that it would be a complete loss. It was also an opportunity to hand over the colonial apparatus to their trusted partners, in the brown sahibs that were to inherit the two countries. This latter was the most reactionary, self-conscious class, for who there was no greater threat than that of revolution. For them, the communal Paritition was a small price to pay for their ascendancy to power in the two segments. They were the most rapacious, self-centered alliance of big landlords and industrialists, who also saw this as an opportunity to themselves rise as masters of the lands that they saw as their own.

These events occurred at a time when the lands that constituted India and all other colonies in all continents were suffused with enthusiasm for liberation and socialism. The example of Soviet Union filled the people with hope, and the revolutionary tide was in full flow. By hatching plots systematically and diverting this energy and by engineering the Paritition, the British colonialists succeeded in keeping their colony away from revolution and in perpetual conflict, and as a partner in their machinations until today. The article systematically discusses various secret documents that were declassified much later that shows the thinking of the ruling circles including that of Winston Churchill, Mountbatten, Wavell and assorted military leaders that took stock of the situation and decided to hand over the reins of formal power as early as August 1947, ahead of other plans, as the danger of revolution grew. By engineering blood-baths in cahoots with the Indian ruling circles, they managed to divide the countries and create the conditions for perpetual conflict. The fact that the revolutionary tide was in flow was seen in many events preceding the Paritition which filled the Indian ruling circles with fear, such as the Royal Navy mutiny and other uprisings, including in the Army and in the Air Force. This, for them, was an intolerable state of affairs and helped them make up their minds and go for a Partition. The factions that had been nurtured and encouraged by the British colonialists lining up behind the Congress and the Muslim League, entered an entente with the British colonialists, and dealt a stunning defeat to the peoples of the lands that constituted India. Thus, to this day these peoples have not been liberated and the task remains unfulfilled.

The present article is a fine scholarly contribution that clears the air surrounding the circumstances of the Partition. A careful study of this article is a must as the masses and the working class prepares for the next round of struggles. It is a valuable tool to fight chauvinism and confusion in the rank and file of the revolutionary forces. I thank you again for carrying this article.

A. Narayan


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letters    partition    Sep 1-15 2017    Letters to Editor    History    2017   

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