Who was responsible for Partition

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Jaswant Singh’s latest book has raised a fresh controversy on who was responsible for the partition of India. Some think it was Jinnah while others say it was Nehru/Patel. The truth is that the seeds for Partition were sown atleast eighty years before partition actually took place.

This article seeks to share some insights and is not meant to be an exhaustive piece on the reasons for partition or the events that led to it. It covers:

•    Former foreign J N Dixit’s views on partition.
•    Cause for 1857 Mutiny in brief.
•    Status of Muslims around 1857.  
•    Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and the two nation theory.
•    Role of British principal of Aligarh Muslim University in encouraging Muslim separatism.
•    Was the idea of a separate nation conceived after 1935 or when? Impact of the Khilafat Movement.
•    Why Dr B R Ambedkar suggested that Hindus concede Pakistan?

1. In his book ‘Anatomy of a Flawed Inheritance’, former foreign secretary J N Dixit wrote, “The partition of the sub-continent, in a manner, has its roots in Islamic ethos. It goes back to the Prophet’s journey from Mecca to Madina in 622 A.D. in the face of persecution and harassment, known as Hezira. The concept of Hezira is generally acknowledged as a norm, to the effect that Muslims do not live in tyranny or oppression from peoples of other faiths. They must remake their lives in order to practice their faith. Where Islam is not dominant, it is Dar-ul-Harb. It is necessary to move to Dar-ul-Islam. This was the sub-conscious logic underpinning the demand for Pakistan by Chaudhury Rahmat Ali of Cambridge, later on endorsed by Allama Iqbal and concretized by Jinnah.

The demand for Pakistan came from areas where there were sizeable Muslim minorities desiring to escape from anticipated or imagined thrall of Hindu domination. It was, in fact, the concept of Hezira transmuting itself to 20th century sub-continental politics!
A host of prominent Muslim leaders did not buy the two nation theory or the sub-conscious negative theological impulses which gave consent to it.”

Partition was as much a result of what Mr. Dixit wrote as it was the British’s desire to perpetuate the Hindu Muslim divide. The article restricts itself to some key events post 1857 and the British role in promoting separatism.

2. Dr B R Ambedkar wrote in 1941, “The curious may examine the history of the 1857 Mutiny, if he does, he will find that in part at any rate it was actually a Jihad proclaimed by the Muslims against the British that owing to the occupation of India by the British the country had become Dar-ul-Harb”. Thoughts on Pakistan

This statement is substantiated by Prof Sheshrao More in the book ‘The 1857 Jihad’ published by Manas Publications. It is because the Muslims took an active part in the 1857 mutiny that the British were anti Muslim in the initial years post mutiny.  

By trying to establish Muslim rule over India the community wanted to make India Dar-ul-Islam once again. This reiterates the point made by Mr  J N Dixit above.

With the advent of British rule Muslim insecurity leapfrogged. One wonders why the former rulers were insecure. This is what the next section explores.