Punjab’s Partition was ethnic cleansing, says Professor Emeritus at Stockholm University
New Delhi, February 25
For the first time, new facts have come to light about Partition, tracing Punjab's transition, from the land of pluralistic culture to a centre of horrific bloodbath and forced migration.
Put together into a book by Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Stockholm University, and the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, these facts build the theory of ethnic cleansing of minorities during India’s Partition. They use secret British documents and 230 interviews with survivors in both East and West Punjab to reveal how criminal gangs operating at the time coupled with the weak stances taken by partisan politicians and the waning authority of the British led to the death of at least five lakh Punjabi Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The peak period of violence was August to November 1947 when 10 million were forced to cross the border demarcated by the Radcliffe Award.
“The first case of ethnic cleansing after World War II took place in Punjab. My work is the first academic account on the Partition of Punjab and presents evidence of what happened in East Punjab and West Punjab before and after the transfer of power. The magnitude of the testimonies presented here is incomparable,” Prof Ahmed told The Tribune after he introduced the work at a seminar in Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
Considering no official documents are available from either India or Pakistan on that period, the work titled "The Punjab, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy Through Secret British Reports and First Person Accounts”, is of extreme importance. Current works on the subject are limited in scope.
The question the author answers in the new research, which chronicles week to week account of Partition, is why Punjab was partitioned considering it had 53 per cent Muslims, 30 oer cent Hindus and 14 per cent Sikhs.
“The Punjab Partition puzzle is that the division was agreed upon at an all-India level as part of the overall plan to partition India. In Punjab, the Sikh leaders were adamant that if India was divided on religions lines, so should Punjab be, this when the Punjab province was a Muslim majority province. The Muslim League agreed to the division because had they not, there would have been no Pakistan. But the question is why Punjab had to be partitioned and what led to the communal divide,” says Prof Ahmed .
The conclusion he draws is that Muslims of undivided Punjab first unleashed violence on the Sikhs and Hindus in the Muslim-majority districts of northern Punjab in March 1947. But at the end of the year, more Muslims had been killed in East Punjab than Hindus and Sikhs in West Punjab.
“The British ignored repeated warnings from the Punjab Governor who said bloodbath was inevitable were Punjab to be partitioned. Yet troops were not made available. When the Partition process culminated, unwanted religious minorities had been eradicated on both sides,” Ahmed says.
He says until August 4, 1947, the Punjab administration had reported 5,200 killings. It was after the transfer of power that mass killings began and because the Muslims were attacked much later in July 1947 by Sikhs and Hindus and began migrating to West Punjab (except from Malerkotla) from August 12, they faced larger casualties than the Hindus and Sikhs who began migrating post-March 1947.
The book chronicles the decline of communal harmony in Punjab with the decline of the Punjab Unionist Party and the rise of the Muslim League. The author quotes records to show how Hardit Singh, the then spokesperson for Sikhs, declined Jinnah’s offer to join Pakistan. “Hardit Singh asked Jinnah what would happen to his word after him, and Jinnah replied that Pakistan would honour his word like the word of God. Hardit Singh knew which side to opt for,” says Prof Ahmed.
WE DON'T EXPECT THE MUSLIM AUTHOR TO PUT THE BLAME FOR SEPARATISM, VIOLENCE AND TREASON ON THE MUSLIMS WHOSE HOLY BOOK IS NOTHING BUT ANTI KAFIR TIRADE AND HATE PREACH.
IT WAS SO NATURAL FOR MOHAMMED ALI JINNAH TO ASK FOR BREAK UP OF INDIA THAT NO MUSLIM OPPOSED HIM AND NO HINDU THREATENED TO SUE HIM FOR PREACHING HATRED.
IT IS ACADEMIC AND FUTILE TO SEE WHICH SIDE SCORED MORE KILLINGS. THE CORE ISSUE IS THE EVIL THAT WAS THE DEMAND FOR PARTITION AND ON THIS COUNT THE INDIAN MUSLIMS WERE THE "DEVILS" WHILE THE HINDUS TOO DISUNITED AND TOO WEAK TO RESIST OR COUNTER ATTACK. FURTHERMORE, THE HINDUS CHOSE THE WORST LEADERS WHO DELETED THE WORD "PARTITION" AND ANY MENTION OF "UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER OF HINDUSTHAN" FROM THEIR CONSTITUTION.
FOR THE COMMON MAN "THEIR EXCELLENCIES" WERE EITHER "SONS OF BITCHES" OR "SONS OF GOATS" WHO MOVED THE CAPITAL OF PUNJAB FROM LAHORE TO UNION TERRITORY WITHOUT BATTING AN EYELID. AND WHAT WAS THE IQ OF THAT IMBECILE IN POST PARTITION BLEEDING BHARAT, MK GANDHI, WHO WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO APPEASE AND EMBRACE THE MOHAMMEDANS, CHANTING, “HINDU-MUSLIM BHAI BHAI!”?