Pakistan celebrated its Independence Day on Saturday, a day ahead of India's day of liberation. The day India was liberated, it was also partitioned and our neighbouring Pakistan was carved out from it. The event witnessed millions of people being displaced and lakhs of them losing their lives as riots broke out. Among the many states, Noakhali district in West Bengal (close to Bangladesh) and Bihar witnessed large-scale violence and massacres.
Here's a brief insight into how the partition took place despite people from the countries fighting a common enemy – The British.
Sarah Ansari, a professor of history from Royal Holloway, University of London stated that the partition of India was a “last-minute” choice by which the British decided to seal an agreement over how independence in the country will take place. Moreover, Ansari also states that organisations that were representing minority interests at that time had doubts about a united India.
The Indian National Congress (INC) demanded a united India, which would be run on principles of equality and secularity. However, people from the minority groups felt that a united India would establish political dominance of the numerically stronger Hindus. So far they had been protected and supported by a system of reserved legislative seats and separate electorates created by the British.
Besides, a fear started to take root among the Muslims that they would lose the rights or protection given to them by the British. During that time, the All-India Muslim League, which was headed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had won a majority of Muslim votes in provincial elections held in 1945-46. This win supported the party’s claim to voice their concern for the subcontinent’s Muslims.
Later in March 1940, the Muslim League passed a resolution demanding the creation of “separate states” to accommodate Indian Muslims. Post the Second World War, the British decided to free India. Then in March 1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was the new viceroy of the country, promised to process the agreement on independence by August that same year.
A new country, Pakistan, was created on 14 August, 1947 with an eastern and a western territory that was separated by 1,700 kilometres of Indian territory.
During the processing of the agreement, new borders were drawn in the country by a Boundary Commission which was led by British lawyer Cyril Radcliffe. Later, Radcliffe clarified that he had relied on outdated maps and census materials in splitting the key provinces of Punjab and Bengal.