17 January, 2022


The Hidden Story Of India’s Partition And Its Mistakes

By Mohammed Jehan Khan

Mohammed Jehan Khan

Mohammed Jehan Khan

Today the development of the modern nation states (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) throughout the Indian subcontinent is a fascinating and heartbreaking process. 67 years ago, subcontinent Muslims were a part of the British Raj, a large multi-ethnic state which came under the British Empire. This period of the subcontinent, is what most scholars refer as the golden age of South Asian Muslims. Undoubtedly this generation has produced some great Muslim scholars, poets and scientists.

Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lived in peace, there were no Talibans, no RSS Hindutva extremists, no Lakshar-E-Taiba, there were no Baluchistan freedom fighters, no Kashmiri separatist movements, there was no military oppression in Kashmir – what they had was a peaceful life. However a complex and intricate course of events in the 1940s and 70s brought about the end of the domination of Muslims in the region and the rise of these new nations with borders running across, diving Muslims from each other, creating rifts and inciting them to take arms and blast innocents, all in the name of a religion that forbids killing or harming any innocents.

It is an undeniable fact that the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh has brought a great misfortune to the subcontinent Muslims. Apparently the partition of India weakened the subcontinent Muslims, and devolved their power into four different and opposite extremes. It is the root cause of the ongoing Kashmir crisis, Bangladeshi liberation war that took four million lives and created an Indian dominated vassal state in greater Bengal region ruled by two corrupted families, the Kargil war and the Operation Polo that annexed the Hyderabad State to Indian union and ended the monopoly of Muslims in the Deccan.

After the annexation of the Muslim-ruled state of Hyderabad by India in 1948, about 7,000 Muslims were due to emigrate to Pakistan at their own will from India. Most Muslims, however chose to stay in India. There was widespread violence against the Muslims as an aftermath of the ‘Police Action’ and Nehru had a committee investigate the pogrom against Muslims, but the resulting Sundarlal Report was never made public. An estimated 50–200,000 Muslims are believed to have been killed, and 120,000 Muslim women were abducted and raped during the riots. Many of the Muslim women refused to go back to Pakistan fearing that they would never be accepted by their family.

The first generation of Pakistan’s leaders did not share Ali Jinnah’s idea of creating a separate Muslim state by tearing up the greater Indian subcontinent. For example, Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the most respected Indo-Pak poet had not demanded the establishment of Pakistan in his famous Allahabad address in 1930. He had in fact demanded the creation of Muslim states in the Muslim majority regions. Moreover, he was proud to proclaim himself as a part of Hindustan.

In 1910 Sir Iqbal openly quoted the following at Government College, Lahore, now in Pakistan:

Madh’hab nehin sikhata Apas meṉ bair rakhna
Hindi hain ham, watan hai
Hindustaṉ hamara hamara…

Religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves
We are of Hind, our homeland is Hindustan.

Today this song of Iqbal is known as ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha’ and has remained popular in India after independence.

Certainly the younger generations of Pakistan and Bangladesh may not have a proper sense of the losses and gains that were suffered by both sides and so any doubts may evaporate with time. It is natural that they feel closer nationalistic ties to modern day Pakistan and Bangladesh and not to a greater subcontinent that was bitterly divided over half a century ago. The older generation that witnessed the bloodshed and migration, meanwhile, has good reason to second guess partition given the current political instability.

Even today there is increasing ghetto-isation and isolation of Muslims in certain areas in India. We mustn’t forget that in much of India prior to 1947, Muslims and Hindus for the most part lived harmoniously. Since Partition, with the riots and killings between the two religious communities, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have struggled to maintain normal relations. One of the biggest debates occurs around the disputed region of Kashmir, over which there have been three wars, and the reasons for the wars have related only to the confusion over partition.

There is no right or wrong answer as to whether the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent was a mistake. Were mistakes made? Sure. Are mistakes still being made? Absolutely. The fact remains that for Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, it is far too dangerous to acknowledge such a question publicly because to question partition is to question the legitimacy of those newly formed states. Now is no time to think of what mistakes were made. Think instead of what should be done to ensure the unity of Muslims and Hindus in this region.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    “if you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven.” if not “be ready for the fire.” Ahmed Shezad(PAkistani Opener)

    So Jehan, the solution is clear. The only way to build Muslim Hindu unity is for all Hindu to convert to Islam. If not you, you know… fire, BIG fire!..

  • 1

    Do you mean to say SL’s partition in 2017 will wipe out Tamils from Colombo?

    May be.

  • 2

    You brown people living in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are not educated and civilized enough to appreciate and enjoy freedom.

    When we the British gave you independence to run your own affairs you started killing each other then broke into little groups to start your petty quarrels which eventually overcame and overwhelmed you. Is there a sense in giving a sharp knife to a monkey?

    In all these countries you people are fighting like animals. You have text book education only and when it comes to practical applications you have no idea how to apply your theory into practice. You need lower level workers to survive because of your lack of practical knowledge. That makes fools of yourselves when you are given important jobs in the West. A western educated Indian Engineer or a Doctor is far more accomplished and superior in knowledge than the same category of graduate educated in your four countries.

    The so called educated people from these four countries, so called doctors, engineers, accountants come here with your BScs, MScs and PhDs and have to be re-trained in practical applications of the theory you have learnt. Just a bunch of book worms. Most of you even do not have basic table manners and do not know how to use a toilet or a bathroom.

    Even though you boast of thousands of years of civilization and religion you do not have basic human tolerance. Therefore it is very easy for outsiders to create disharmony and hatred among you all.

    When it comes to honesty you have never heard of the word. The world’s biggest thieves and crooks are from your countries. Starting from your top level politician all the way down to the lowest paid clerk you all are evil and corrupt.

    Andrew Stuart / Scotland

    • 7

      Andrew old chap you make Indians, Pakis, Banglas sound as barbaric as English, Germos, Froggos, Ruskis and the Latinos. What happensed in Asia looked liked tea parties compared to what you barbaric hounds have been upto during the past five centuries. Trenches, gas chambers and now nukes you lot are certainly innovative agents of killing. Good luck with Ukraine; you may soon find yourself having fun and game again. I’ll keeing an eye on the scoreboard.

  • 4

    The idea of “nation-states” such as those described in the article is a relatively new formulation in the world. Throughout most of human history up through to the modern industrial age there were no nation-states, but kingdoms or fiefdoms that were continually being acquired and reacquired by one powerful faction (usually united under an ethnic/religious umbrella) or another.

    Europeans were the first to kill each other in attempts to form nations, in modern history, and now non-Europeans are following suit. With the rise of
    non-state militas/terrorists/liberation fighters, the notion of nation-state is being challenged to the hilt. Sri Lanka was a good example until the defeat of the LTTE. Syria/Iraq are the latest casualty.

    Unless the different ethnic/religious groups that co-habit a state decide its better for all to live in peace with authentically shared-governance, the boundaries of such states will start to fluctuate with time and changing global power dynamic, as they have for the majority of human history. And like in history massacres will continue in the name of one group or another.

    Perhaps our hindu/buddhist ancestors were right – history does go in cycles, and we might be at the dawn of yet another kaliyuga.

  • 7

    Ali Jinnah was the cause of partitioning India and Pakistan despite Gandhi’s call for unity. Today India is marching towards development while Pakistan is still bleeding. Short-sighted policies of Muslim leaders were the cause for it. Moreover the number of Muslims in India are greater than the number of Muslims in Pakistan which shows Muslims wanted to be within a united India. Today though there are more than fifty Muslim States they wanted to live in western democratic countries (Muslims are reluctant to reside in their Muslim countries) where they wanted their culture to be imposed and Belgium had stated that Muslims should adapt themselves to suit the Belgian culture and not to make any attempts to introduce or influence Sharia Law or to go back to their countries. As such, I wonder whether India would tolerate the introduction of Sharia Law. It is time for Muslims to reconsider their backward thinking.

  • 2

    The first step towards unity is for Pakistan to stop trying to bomb the civilian population of India. Even recently a Srilankan was used in south India as a spy to create violence in Tamil Nadu. Pakistan has free access to the criminal elements in SriLanka. So south India becomes an easy target now.How can we speak of unity, when Muslims try to seek violence to acheive their goals,not only in the Indian subcontinent but all over the world.

  • 5

    The predicament of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in Kashmir, Bangladesh and Pakistan is rarely documented. Muslims have a ghetto mentality and can never think beyond their community. This author is one example of such a blinkered obsession. The Razakars in Hyderabad in 1948 and in Bangladesh in 1970 simply went berserk killing tens of thousands. Non Muslims were kicked out of the Kashmir valley. Its time for Muslim introspection rather than blame the outsider in a knee jerk manner.

  • 0

    Bedrock Barney,

    Shezad is only 21 years old and immature. Must you include his silly quote in such complex issue discussed by the writer? Really, now. Stuart from Scotland is right when he says we quarrel among ourselves.

    The Scots put down the spear 300 years ago and surrendered to the great English people who taught them the Queen’s language and how to venerate her and her English people. Till this day they are ever grateful to the English as was shown in the recent referendum.


  • 1

    Andrew Stuart,

    You are right. We should be ever beholden to the English.

    The Scots put down the spear 300 years ago and surrendered to the great English people who taught you the Queen’s language and how to venerate her and her English people. Till this day you Scots are ever grateful to the English as was shown in the recent referendum.

    Good luck.


  • 4

    A Muslim can become a president in Hindu dominated India . Many Muslim youths can dominate in bollywood cinema . Can you make a Hindu MP or politician in Pakistan or Bangladesh. How many thousands of mosque in India . Show a single Hindu temple in Muslim countries . Indians are very tolerant of other people but not Muslims who always want dominate others.

  • 0

    The rape of a large number of women and their refusal to return back has not happened in the case of muslims; it happened in case of Hindus.

    I don’t discount the fact that many muslim women were raped during the partition riots. Such things predominantly happened in Punjab and Bihar, by Sikhs and Hindus. But the numbers were miniscule compared to what muslims did to hindu and sikh women, including children. The rapes committed by sikhs and hindus in Punjab and Bihar were exceptions and were primarily retaliatory actions after they found that rape was used as part of jihad by the muslims. Yet, such rapes against muslim women neither were religiously accepted nor were justified by Hindu or Sikh religious leaders. But in case of Islam, it was hailed as a noble deed acceptable to Allah and his messenger.

    Please read this well researched article:

    Rape or any form of violence against women and children are despicable. But, in this modern world, only one religious community hails it as part of sunnah – example shown by God’s messenger. How many muslim scholars condemn rape and slavery, condemn the actions of mohammed and his companions?

    I am not for opening old wounds, but this website which is doing yeomen service for all communities of Sri Lanka should not encourage such baseless and false propaganda by fundamentalist muslims. Allow secular, moderate muslims to voice their grievances, views but if you allow such articles, then your credibility would be lost.

  • 1

    what is this subcontinent nation?
    Is the athor saying muslims will dominate subcontinent had india-pak partition did not happen? :) not a bad thing at all neda..

    between Pakistan was formed to protect muslims in subcontinent. It was for muslims.
    But urdu speaking muslims oppressed bengali speaking muslims heading the way for creation of bangladesh.

    No patritoic pakistani would say partition was a mistake and no bangladeshi would say creation of bangladdesh is a mistake.

    what is more important? maintaining muslim dominance in subcontinent (which you did not have in reality) or having a good life enjoying your culture? That is what pakistania nd bangladeshis chose…

    you say in a tone of sadness young generations of pakistan and bangladesh are having allegience to their nations. So what is wrong in that? Isnt that how things should be? Is not trying to form a muslim empire in the name of once unsuccessful caliph the root of the problem for muslims?

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