Sometimes unearthing truth may not be accepted by the people as accepting the truth is always courageous and most of the people avoid it. The independence of India was obvious after 1940. The British Government took much lesson from the Second World War. Escape of Subash Chnadra Bose from British custody, going to Germany, formation of I.N.A. with the help of Rash Bihari Bose and their active participation to oust British Raj from Indian Territory conveyed a message to the British Government that their time to rule India was going to end very soon.
The British Government was under tremendous pressure both from outside and inside. At that material point of time there were two major political parties in India viz, Indian National Congress and All India Muslim League. To me these two political parties cannot deny their responsibility of Partition of India. In some parts of British India, Hindus and other non-Muslims were in majority and in some parts Muslims were in majority. Initially All India Muslim League had not advocated for separate State for Muslims but gradually voice for separate Muslim State had been raised by educated Muslim personalities, namely, Md. Iqbal, Md. Jinnha, Aga Kha and others.
Md. Iqbal being a lawyer, poet and politician seeded the concept of separatism in the mind of other Muslim leaders before his death in 1938.It is an irony to say that Md. Iqbal’s grandparents were Hindu and belonged to Kasmiri Bhamhin family but subsequently they migrated to Punjab in 19thcentury. Having Hindu origin Md. Iqbal had no belief in Hindu Muslim unity. He had deep faith in Jinnha and believed that it was only Jinnha who could fulfill the desire of the Muslims by giving a separate State. Iqbal elucidated to Jinnah his vision of a separate Muslim state in his letter dated 21st June 1937:
“A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why should not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengalbe considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are.”
Such mindset was not unexpected from Iqbal as he was not only die heart supporter of the Muslim League but he was President of Punjab Muslim League also. In November 1926 he contested for a seat in the Punjab Legislative Assembly from the Muslim district of Lahore, and defeated his opponent by a margin of 3,177 votes. He had difference of opinion with many Muslim leaders of his time including Jinnah.. Despite having differences he worked constantly to encourage Muslim leaders and masses to support Jinnah and the League. Speaking about the political future of Muslims in India, Iqbal said:
“There is only one way out. Muslims should strengthen Jinnah’s hands. They should join the Muslim League. Indian question, as is now being solved, can be countered by our united front against both the Hindus and the English. Without it, our demands are not going to be accepted. People say our demands smack of communalism. This is sheer propaganda. These demands relate to the defense of our national existence…. The united front can be formed under the leadership of the Muslim League. And the Muslim League can succeed only on account of Jinnah. Now none but Jinnah is capable of leading the Muslims.”
As a poet Md. Iqbal is always remembered by the Indians for his extraordinary writing “Saarey jahan say accha Hindustan hmaara” (India is the best nation on earth).Literature is the reflection of mind of the writer. I am of the firm view that Md. Iqbal is exception to that idea. If not, why did he develop an idea amongst Indian Muslims to form a separate nation of their own? I believe that even Md. Iqbal would not explain it if he would have been alive today. Unfortunately, we are ignorant about the said role of Md. Iqbal and still we sing his song “Saarey jahan say accha Hindostan hmaara” in the name of Nation’s pride and integrity.
The effect of Iqbal’s thought came into reality in All India Muslim League Convention in 1940 at Lahore and Jinnah put forward the demand of separate State for Muslims in the said convention. Although leaders of the Muslim League believed that Indian National Congress is a platform of Hindus, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad being a leader of the Indian National Congress had strong belief in Hindu Muslim unity. Speaking vehemently against Jinnah’s Two Nation Theory ? the notion that Hindus and Muslims were distinct nations? Azad lambasted religious separatism and exhorted all Muslims to preserve a united India, as all Hindus and Muslims were Indians who shared deep bonds of brotherhood and nationhood. In his presidential address of Indian National Congress at Ramgarh, Azad said:
Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands of years Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.”
Azad had grown increasingly hostile to Jinnah, who had described him as the “Muslim Lord Haw- Haw ” and a “Congress Showboy.” Despite being a learned scholar of Islam and a Maulana, Azad had been assailed by Muslim religious leaders for his commitment to nationalism and secularism, which were deemed un-Islamic. Muslim League politicians accused Azad of allowing Muslims to be culturally and politically dominated by the Hindu community. Azad continued to proclaim his faith in Hindu-Muslim unity:
“I am proud of being an Indian. I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice and without me this splendid structure is incomplete. I am an essential element, which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.”
On 8 August 1942 launched the ‘Quit India’ movement at the All India Congress Committee session in Bombay. On the next day, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and many other leaders of the Indian National Congress were arrested by the British Government. Disorderly and non-violent demonstrations took place throughout the country in the following days.
In this context, it is pertinent to mention the role of the Communist Party of India. Communists not only kept out from ‘Quit India’ movement but they at many places actively intervened so that strikes do not disrupt production which might hamper war efforts. Their political campaign was totally ineffective and it thoroughly isolated them from the entire segments of the public who came forward to participate in the ‘Quit India’ struggle?
In September 1942 the Communist Party of India adopted a resolution in its central committee meeting suggesting the conviction of the party on communal division of India. The resolution said as follows:
“Every section of the Indian people which has its contiguous territory as its homeland, common historical tradition, common language, culture, psychological make-up, and common economic life would be recognized as a distinct nationality with the right to exist as an autonomous state within the free Indian Union or federation and will have the right to secede from it if it may so desire”.
Non-participation of the Communists in Quit India Movement against the colonial oppression was the opportunism of the worst kind. It was apparently their tactical alliance with Muslim League to “precipitate nation-wide disintegration”. Their desired objective was not only to break India into Hindu India and Muslim India but also into various linguistic and ethnic nations with sovereign political entity.
Therefore, it is wrong to say that the British Government alone played the card of communalism for division of the British India. It is the British Indians who actually played that card and the British Government had taken that opportunity. There lies the truth behind the mid-night mist.