Friday, June 9, 2023

Would Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose have stopped the unfortunate partition of India?


By R.K. Sinha

Would the dream of Pakistan have ever turned into reality if Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was alive? Would he have been able to convince Muhammad Ali Jinnah that the partition of India would benefit no one? This question, though imaginary, is in itself of core significance.

It was during the lifetime of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose that the All India Muslim League had passed the resolution for the formation of Pakistan. On March 23, 1940, Jinnah had openly expressed his acutely sectarian thinking while addressing a gathering at Minto Park, just next to the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. In his 2-hours long and aggressive speech at the conference, Jinnah relentlessly cursed Hindus. He said Hinduism and Islam are two incompatible religions. Both have very distinct views, traditions, histories, and heroes. Thus, the two cannot co-exist.

During his deliverance, Jinnah also ill spoke of Lala Lajpat Rai and Dinbandhu Chittaranjan Das. Undoubtedly, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose must have read excerpts from Jinnah’s hate speech. The Pakistani writer, Farooq Ahmed Dar, has written in his book ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan: Formation and Challenges’ that after the Muslim League passed a resolution in favor of Pakistan, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, in his capacity as Congress President, urged Jinnah to relinquish his appalling demands for a separate nation.

He also proposed to make Jinnah the first Prime Minister of post-independence. A similar proposal was also extended by senior Congress leader, C.Rajagopalachari to Jinnah. However, the adamant Jinnah did not respond positively to either offer. The rest, as we know it, is history. Subsequently, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose left the country via Peshawar, to free India from the clutches of the British. Then, he lived in numerous countries across the globe. 

Netaji formed the Azad Hind Fauj in Singapore. He must have lost track of Jinnah and the Muslim League’s activities after leaving the country. As far as we’ve been told, it is said that he passed away in a plane crash in 1945. But, so far no proof of this has been found. For 70 years, the Congress government only told the story of the plane crash to the public. The Modi government made public the secret documents related to Netaji. Now new facts seem to be coming forth every day.

However, one can only speculate and imagine how he would have reacted to Jinnah’s call for direct action on August 16, 1946, had he not died. In a way, it was the beginning of riots against Hindus. Then there was the Muslim League government in Bengal. He openly supported the rioters. Around 5000 innocent Hindus of Kolkata were killed in those riots. Among those who died, the majority were Oriya laborers. After that, the riots spread all-round like wildfire.

In May 1947, the goons of the Muslim League fiercely attacked the Hindus and Sikhs in Rawalpindi, openly looting their property and the honor of women. Sikhs and Hindus were wealthy and prosperous in Rawalpindi. Their property was the prime target. Jinnah neither appealed to stop those riots nor went to any riot-prone area. The riots had soon reached East Bengal. There too, thousands of Hindus were massacred. Later, Mahatma Gandhi intervened to put an end to the series of horrific riots.

Of course, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose would have taken to the streets with public power against Jinnah’s direct action. He was the mayor of Kolkata in 1930 and was aware of every corner. He would have fought Jinnah and Muslim League goons on the streets as a militant leader. Netaji was not one to sit at home and watch the situation. But alas, he had already left the world before that. However, it is fair to say that if he lived, then the history of India as we know it would have been different today, and probably the country would not have been divided.

He also had a tremendous impact on Muslims. One of his most prized companions in the Azad Hind Army was Shahnawaz Khan. Apart from that, the number of Muslims in the Azad Hind Army was also very high. Netaji’s personality was very miraculous and secular. Note that the consequences of the partition were mainly faced by Bengal and Punjab, as these ended up divided. Bengal was the planetary state of Netaji. In both these states, Muslims and Sikhs also considered him their hero. He was and still is respected by the Namdhari Sikhs.

As Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday approaches, elderly Sikhs remember him with profound respect and gratitude. Netaji’s relationship with the Namdhari Sikhs was established in the early 1940s. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was in contact with the Indian society settled in Thailand to liberate India from the slavery of British rule. One day Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited the residence of Sardar Pratap Singh, the head of the Namdhari Sikh fraternity of Thailand. When he arrived, members of all the fraternities were present there. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose called upon all of them to help him with funding, money, etc. so that India could overthrow the British government.

After that, Namdhari Sikhs and the other Indians present there started giving their money, jewelry, and other items to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He was closely watching all this but could not believe that his host did not offer anything until the end. Then he asked Sardar Pratap Singh, “So you do not want Mother India to be free from the chains of slavery?” In response, Sardar Pratap humbly said, “Netaji, I am waiting for all those present to give whatever they have to give from their side. After that, I will give you an equivalent amount to match theirs separately.” Upon hearing this, he heartily embraced Sardar Pratap Singh. Even today, the family of Sardar Pratap Singh resides in the capital city, New Delhi. 

However, it is disheartening that when the matter of the country’s partition came forth, such an illustrious son of Mother India had left the world.

(The writer is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP)

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