Sunday, May 13, 2012

Secret History: Bloody Partition of India 1947.


"The street was short and narrow. Lying like the garbage across the street and in its open gutters were bodies of the dead," writes Bourke-White's biographer Vicki Goldberg of this scene. ---- In pictures: India's partition  -----Three months before the partition of the subcontinent, in an interview with Doon Campbell of Reuters, Jinnah firmly stated: "The new state will be a modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of religion, caste or creed." He repeated this on August 11, 1947, whilst addressing the members of his Constituent Assembly, making it doubly clear to them that religion is not the business of the state. He told them: "You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State." He could not have been more explicit. ---- Our learned men have it that the first steps taken in the Republic of Pakistan towards the framing of a constitution was the moving of the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly on March 7, 1949, by the prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. The view is that this Resolution was intended to be a mish-mash of the general principles of an 'Islamic' state and the accepted concepts of a modern 'democratic' state. What the mish-mash has resulted in is a variety of conflicting interpretations, the orthodox and the obscurantists claiming that the Islamic tenets dominate and the more progressive, forward-looking plumbing for the democratic parliamentary way of governance. ----- When it was moved, the non-Muslim members of the Assembly expressed their fears that were the Resolution to be passed maulanas would gain the upper hand, and some questioned the phrase stipulating that the "state will exercise authority within the limits provided by Him." What are the limits proscribed by God, they asked, and who will define those limits? Will it be the mullas or the gentlemen of a more liberal bent of mind? Could a non-Muslim become the head of state, for example? Liaquat Ali Khan's response was rather ambivalent--in an Islamic state, he said, it would be "absolutely wrong to say that a non-Muslim cannot be the head of administration under a constitutional government." Maulanas held differently and firmly : "The Islamic state means a state which is run on the exalted and excellent principles of Islam [and it] can be run only by those who believe in those principles....". ---- Dispute and divergence of view, disagreement and differences from day one. Yet, the honourable gentlemen of the Assembly, most of whom must have been present on August 11, 1947, when Mohammad Ali Jinnah laid down for them the principles which he wished to be embodied in the constitution of his country, took it upon themselves that day to repudiate the man responsible for putting them where they were. ---- Hasan Zaheer, of the erstwhile all-powerful CSP, in his book 'The Separation of East Pakistan', writing on constitution making, has this to say on the contentious Resolution: "Liaquat Ali Khan, while moving the Objectives Resolution, claimed that since it provided for the exercise of power and authority of the state 'through the chosen representatives of the people', the Resolution naturally eliminates any danger of the establishment of a theocracy. ------ Little did he realize the opening that the Resolution was giving to the obscurantists and what the Munir Report called 'political brigands and adventurers, even nonentities' to exploit the name of Islam in mundane political affairs and jolt the foundations of the state from time to time. None of the three covenants of the Muslims of the subcontinent, which spelled out the unanimous demand for a separate Muslim homeland, or homelands--the Lahore Resolution of 1940, the Madras Resolution of 1941, and the Pakistan Resolution of the Legislators' Convention of 1946--or the debates leading to these resolutions had mentioned anything about an Islamic state. Over the years, the Resolution proved a perennially divisive point of reference in the polity of Pakistan." ----- It is this Resolution which forms the preamble to the Constitution of 1973, and it is this Resolution which, as Article 2A, is a substantive part of the Constitution, and which has more than proven that it is indeed not only highly divisive but also destructive. And, to boot, our great makers, breakers and amenders cannot even get it right. In the preamble, in one sentence, the original resolution has been adhered to: "Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures;" whereas in Article 2A which forms the Annex to the Constitution in the very same sentence the word "freely" has been omitted. Whether this was done wittingly or unwittingly is not known, but the question is that after the passage of 16 years since 2A was inserted by PO No.14 of 1985 why has it not been corrected? Is there a motive behind the omission of the highly pertinent and important word? Were our amenders plain sloppy, or were they wicked? REFERENCE: Back to Jinnah By Ardeshir Cowasjee 03 February 2002 Sunday 19 Ziqa'ad 1422 http://archives.dawn.com/weekly/cowas/20020203.htm Special Thanks to BBC for the Picture http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/06/south_asia_india0s_partition/html/7.stm

Blatant and Flagrant Racism of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in 1887

"QUOTE"


A LECTURE was given by the Hon'ble Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, before a large and very influential audience of Mahomedans in Lucknow, on 18th December, 1887, at 8.30 P.M., in the Baradari, Kaisarbagh, on the attitude the Mahomedan community ought to assume towards the Government, the political questions of the day, and the Bengali movement. The meeding was attended not only by the Mahomedans of Lucknow, but by gentlemen who had come from all parts of Upper India to be present at the Mahomedan Educational Congress. It represented the intellect and the aristocracy, the brain and the muscle, of the Mahomedan community. There were present the taluqdars of Oudh, members of the Government Services, the Army, the Professions of Law, the Press and the Priesthood; Syeds, Shaikhs, Moghals and Pathans belonging to some of the noblest families in India; and representatives of every school of thought, from orthodox Sunni and Shiah Maulvis to the young men trained in Indian colleges or in England. The Syed's speech lasted an hour and a half, and was delivered with great eloquence. It was received with enthusiastic applause. The chair was occupied by Munshi Imtiaz Ali, the [[2]] legal adviser of the Oudh Taluqdars' Association, a distinguished pleader belonging to an ancient and noble Arab family of Oudh. The speech was delivered in Urdu, taken down by Munshi Aziz-ud-din, and afterwards revised by Sir Syed himself. The substance of the lecture was as follows:--


{10}[*10*] Think for a moment what would be the result if all appointments were given by competitive examination. Over all races, not only over Mahomedans but over Rajas of high position and the brave Rajputs who have not forgotten the swords of their ancestors, would be placed as ruler a Bengali who at sight of a table knife would crawl under his chair. (Uproarious cheers and laughter.) There would remain no part of the country in which we should see at the tables of justice and authority any face except those of Bengalis. I am delighted to see the Bengalis making progress, but the question is — What would be the result on the administration of the country? Do you think that the Rajput and the fiery Pathan, who are not afraid of being hanged or of encountering the swords of the police or the bayonets of the army, could remain in peace under the Bengalis? (Cheers.) This would be the outcome of the proposal if accepted. Therefore if any of you — men of good position, Raïses, men of the middle classes, men of noble family to whom God has given sentiments of honour — if you accept that the country should groan under the yoke of Bengali rule and its people lick the Bengali shoes, then, in the name of God! jump into the train, sit down, and be [[12]] off to Madras,/6/ be off to Madras! (Loud cheers and laughter.) But if you think that the prosperity and honour of the country would be ruined, then, brothers, sit in your houses, inform Government of your circumstances, and bring your wants to its notice in a calm and courteous manner. REFERENCE: SPEECH OF SIR SYED AHMED AT LUCKNOW [1887] http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00islamlinks/txt_sir_sayyid_lucknow_1887.html

"UNQUOTE"

Secret History: Bloody Partition - 1

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WegxL_jF-Ro


“PEOPLE from both sides behaved like beasts,” says Sarjit Singh Chowdhary, a retired brigadier, offering an indisputable overview of the events in Punjab during the year that India was partitioned. His testimony is among the innumerable first-person accounts that comprise the core of Ishtiaq Ahmed’s meticulously researched thesis on the direst events of 1947, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (Oxford University Press). Essentially an invaluable oral history of events in the Punjab during that decisive year, it serves as an overarching cautionary tale. A number of themes emerge from its pages as the circumstances of 65 years ago are graphically resurrected in the words of those who experienced them firsthand. Among the crucial incidents that preceded the bloodbath was Master Tara Singh’s provocative waving of the kirpan outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore following the resignation of the Unionist-led Khizr ministry, in the wake of a Muslim League agitation. Here, one of the numerous counterfactuals of that period rears its head. The League, hitherto not particularly influential in provincial affairs, won the largest number of seats in the 1946 elections but fell short of a majority. A coalition with the Congress was within the realm of possibility, but the largest nationalist party’s hierarchy decided against it. On the one hand, its demurral is perfectly understandable. On the other, it is hard not to wonder whether such an arrangement might not have saved lives. Some of the initial instances of communal strife involved attacks by Muslim mobs on Sikhs in villages near Rawalpindi in March 1947, as well as clashes in the garrison town itself. There was turmoil in Lahore during the same period. It was still unclear at that point whether a Muslim-majority state called Pakistan would emerge — and the question of the shape it might take was even murkier. Many Sikhs and Hindus believed, for instance, that if a divide occurred, Lahore would be a part of India; after all, much of the city’s property belonged to non-Muslims, and it hosted crucial Sikh shrines. At the same time, quite a few Muslims in Amritsar and Jalandhar expected those cities to be assigned to a putative Pakistan, notwithstanding their non-Muslim majorities. These seemingly unrealistic notions were prodded in some cases by political leaders. It’s useful to remember, though, that in those days reality was a rapidly morphing construct. As Ishtiaq Ahmed points out time and again, the Radcliffe boundaries — delineated by an Englishman who had arrived in India for the first time just a few weeks earlier — were officially announced a couple of days after partition. The mid-August cut-off point wasn’t public knowledge until Lord Mountbatten’s June 3 announcement. The haste with which the British colonial power withdrew from the subcontinent has often been cited as a leading cause of the gory disarray that followed. After all, the initial deadline for the transfer of power was June 1948. Whether the Punjab situation would have been ameliorated to some extent by a longer deadline and an earlier demarcation of the new international boundary is a moot point, although it’s certainly possible that a more orderly transition would have facilitated a less rancorous divide. It might have helped, too, had Mountbatten been able to fulfil his ambition of serving as governor-general of both countries in the immediate aftermath of independence. Another question that the book raises is whether a division of Punjab was an inevitable consequence of the subcontinent’s partition along communal lines. The Muslim League was keen to claim the province as a whole, and entered into comprehensive negotiations with the Sikh leadership as a means of facilitating this outcome. The Sikhs were understandably wary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s assurances of virtual autonomy, given the focus on Islam as a determining factor for the forthcoming divide. The vast majority of witnesses, including many of those who lost most of their families in the Punjabi holocaust, testify to a broad communal harmony in the run-up to 1947. Some Muslims resented the deplorable Hindu tradition of excluding them from kitchens, but many others accepted the prohibitions on breaking bread together as a cultural norm. The extent to which class resentment might have contributed to the conflict is insufficiently explored in the testimonies, possibly because it was largely a subliminal factor. It is universally accepted that innocents were subjected to the vilest atrocities, but it’s vital to remember that they were perpetrated by Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus alike — with reports or experiences of incredible cruelty elsewhere commonly cited as a provocation. It is perhaps even more important to note the innumerable instances of folks from all backgrounds keeping their heads when all about them were losing theirs, and not letting the vitriol that was seeping through the land of the five rivers poison their hearts. An incredible number of survivors acknowledge that they owe their lives to awe-inspiring acts of kindness by friends, neighbours and sometimes even strangers belonging to supposedly rival communities. In some cases, political affiliations clearly played a role: for instance, nationalist Muslims resistant to the clarion call for a separate homeland and communists on both sides of the deepening divide often did what they could to ameliorate the consequences of the communal frenzy that climaxed in the weeks following freedom at midnight. The appearances of the resolutely secular Jawaharlal Nehru are often cited as a crucial factor in quelling or pre-empting outbreaks of violence. By the same token, the instigative acts and rhetoric of the Muslim League National Guard, the RSS and the Akalis frequently figure as retrograde influences. Could anything short of a renunciation of the partition project have prevented the bloodbath? Eventually, well-armed military escorts protected many a refugee convoy. It should, of course, never have come to that. Although the tragedy lies 65 years in the past, it has vitiated relations between India and Pakistan ever since and continues to undermine the powerful logic of harmonious coexistence. Ishtiaq Ahmed’s probingly piteous account of how the Punjab suddenly went pear-shaped in 1947 ought to serve as prescribed reading particularly for those who continue to pursue the pathetic notion that the carnage was either inevitable or necessary. REFERENCE: Blood on the tracks of history Mahir Ali 18th April, 2012 http://dawn.com/2012/04/18/blood-on-the-tracks-of-history/

Secret History: Bloody Partition - 2

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w78ZCAQz0KU


ILYAS Chattha’s book, Partition and Locality: Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947–1961, aims to “further the study of the impact of Partition and its aftermath in the Pakistani Punjab.” (page 252) On that score at least, it has succeeded; and then some. By its own modest admission, this book is the latest offering to the vast corpus of literature that already exists on Partition. That in itself is reflective of Partition’s enduring legacy (enough for it to become a proper noun). Not only is it a wound that has yet to completely heal but it is also an event, or as some would argue, a process, that has yet to be fully understood. Indeed, Chattha too, as with virtually everyone who has ever worked on Partition, tries to grapple with how communities living relatively harmoniously over generations could turn on one another so viciously. As he suggests, there certainly were societal divisions and conflicts, religious and otherwise, but none that would warrant the sheer barbarity and visceral hatred that characterised Partition. To make sense of this, Chattha looks at the cities of Sialkot and Gujranwala and their experiences of Partition-related violence, resettlement, and recovery. This focus on localities is a welcome approach and one that is a distinguishing feature of the recent writings on Partition. Even in those instances, however, Lahore and Amritsar have predictably attracted greater attention in relation to other districts and towns. In contrast to its regional and national variants, this approach highlights the differentiated nature of violence and recovery across various localities.

Despite this variation, both Sialkot and Gujranwala have much in common. According to the author, both were plagued by intense violence and the consequent migration of Hindus and Sikhs. Both also played host to large numbers of Muslim refugees and managed to recover and develop following the chaos of Partition. That said, much the same could be said about any other district in central and northern Punjab. What marks them out though, are their contrasting local and industrial profiles. Gujranwala’s position in central Punjab distinguished its pattern of violence, resettlement, and recovery from Sialkot which was a thriving industrial city, remade into a border town by a callously drawn line which divided the subcontinent in August, 1947.

In the first of the three parts to the book, Chattha examines the pre-Partition history of both cities. Starting from pre-colonial times through to 1947, he sketches a brief history of their differentiated patterns of urban settlement and economic activities. The “colonial inheritance” of both cities is also examined in detail, which makes for interesting reading in its own right. Gujranwala and its satellite towns were important sites within the railway network while their artisan castes, especially the Muslim Lohars and Tarkhans, were renowned for their skills in metalworking and carpentry. Sialkot, on the other hand, became a thriving export-led industrial centre for surgical and sports goods. Having introduced us to both cities, Chattha then embarks on the second section of his book which looks at the patterns of violence and displacement that began in March, 1947. This is where the book gets really interesting. While recognising the “spontaneity” of Partition violence, he also emphasises its organised nature. This is a very important argument. While other historians have also looked at the meticulous planning and organisation that went into massacres and forced evictions, Chattha masterfully locates the agents that were involved in violence and examines the local specificities that led to violence in both Sialkot and Gujranwala.

The case of Gujranwala is particularly interesting. In this instance, violence against Hindus and Sikhs was orchestrated by the Lohars who drew on an ample stockpile of weapons — knives, daggers, swords, carbines et al. — which they were famous for producing. Among many incidents, this group, in connivance with individual railway drivers who were at times drawn from the same caste, ambushed trains carrying Hindu and Sikh refugees to India. What followed was a systematic slaughter of non-Muslims and the looting of their possessions. In both cases, violence accompanied and was often encouraged by the rapid breakdown of state authority. This in turn was further worsened by the active participation of policemen and state functionaries whose job it was to ensure law and order. For a visual depiction of this trend, look no further then the scene in the movie Earth in which Amir Khan expresses his satisfaction at the firemen pouring fuel onto the flames consuming the houses of non-Muslims in Lahore. As with Amir Khan’s character, the actual protagonists involved in massacres, rapes, forced conversions and looting justified their actions in terms of seeking revenge for their hapless co-religionists who were being put to the sword in East Punjab. As should be obvious, the killing teams in East Punjab used exactly the same justifications for their actions. Having established that, the author then leads us into the third part of his book which examines the post-Partition period and the challenges of resettlement and economic recovery in both cities. Both localities were demographically transformed by the en-masse migration of non-Muslims and the influx of Muslim refugees from East Punjab. Chattha makes the interesting point that this displacement created opportunities for both locals and refugees in different sectors of the economy. In this sense, both cities also ‘gained’ from Partition. Also intriguing is his analysis of the state’s role in refugee resettlement and economic development.

The real strength of this book though, is in the source material that Chattha has collected. Amongst the many materials this book is based on, are FIRs that he has collected from thanas. As someone who has had the distinct privilege (sarcasm intended) of working in Pakistani archives and record offices, I can only admire Chattha for his perseverance in getting hold of these records. He also supplements these sources with his use of interviews with both the perpetrators and victims of Partition. Particularly poignant are the accounts of “dindars” who chose conversion to Islam over certain death and dispossession. One only wishes, though, that more space could have been devoted to what is undoubtedly the strength of this book: its superb analysis of localised violence. That in itself would have made a great monograph. But in dwelling on the pre- and post-Partition period this book reads more like a collection of distinct (though well-argued) sections rather then a harmonious whole. Returning to one of his important arguments in relation to organised violence, Chattha suggests that “violence was politically, rather then religiously or culturally motivated. The political aims were not so much tied into the wider All-India issues but were to attain local power and territorial control.” (page 255) Like others, I am also sympathetic to this view. Yet, (and this is a general comment, not a criticism of this book) these explanations often betray an eagerness to understand violence in largely functionalist or materialist terms.

Clearly, barbarity is more comprehendible when wrapped up in motives considered to be ‘rational’ and ‘calculated.’ And yet, there remains the uneasy ‘irrationality’ of violence to contend with, which invokes the abstract (read incomprehensible) notions of ‘community’ and ‘faith.’ Both can’t be easily reconciled, especially by those who despair at the sheer ‘irrationality’ or ‘madness’ of Partition violence. And so we end from where we began. Does this book advance our understanding of Partition? The answer to that is unequivocally yes. And yet, as any historian would acknowledge, there are no easy answers. This is where writers like Saadat Hasan Manto and poets like Amrita Pritam step in; for they evocatively capture the sense of bewilderment that lies behind any work on Partition. And therefore, even after all is said and done, Partition continues to defy comprehension. For the moment though, Ilyas Chattha’s book is as good. REFERENCE: COVER STORY: The bewildering violence of Partition Reviewed by Ali Raza 15th April, 2012 The reviewer has a PhD in South Asian History from Oxford University Partition and Locality: Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947–1961 (HISTORY) By Ilyas Chattha Oxford University Press, Karachi ISBN 9780199061723 http://dawn.com/2012/04/15/cover-story-the-bewildering-violence-of-partition/

Secret History: Bloody Partition - 3

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_ffnvBcUXc


YOU have to take a maulana seriously when he says that founding a modern state on the basis of religion is no guarantee of its success. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was one such person whose 54th death anniversary passed quietly by on Feb 22. The life and works of this multidimensional man have indispensable value for aficionados of Urdu, students of the Independence movement and those concerned with the future of South Asia. My intention here is not to write a hagiographic portrait of Azad, but to pick up vignettes to shed light on his personality and relevance. Azad was a firm believer in unity in diversity but the unwavering nationalist was let down by key Congress leaders in the run-up to Partition, a disappointment he did not divulge during his lifetime but that he instructed be incorporated in the posthumous edition of his book India Wins Freedom. His assessment of the personal and political characteristics of the domineering figures of the 1940s helps us understand not just the high politics of Partition but also the resultant bitterness that afflicted Azad until his death. Jawaharlal Nehru and Azad were more than lifelong political comrades. Azad’s affection for Nehru was based on a personal bond that evolved over years of friendship. But he was mindful of Nehru’s weaknesses which at crucial times clouded his political judgment. He felt Nehru was an ‘impulsive’ man, prone to succumbing to flattery. In his Ghubar-i-Khatir (1946), a masterpiece of Urdu prose, Azad mentions how in Ahmednagar Fort prison he would be up before dawn and at that quiet hour, the only disturbance would be Nehru’s mild snores and sleep-talk — always in English. Azad observes that sleep-talk is often the trait of people guided more by emotions than reason. “Whether awake or asleep, Jawaharlal’s actions are dictated by emotions,” he wrote. Azad was saddened when his favourite, Nehru, conceded to the idea of Partition. He warned that “history will never forget us if we agree to Partition. The verdict would be that India was divided not by the Muslim League but by Congress”. Moreover, for Azad, “Vallabhbhai Patel was the founder of Indian partition”. Patel was a pro-Hindu Congress leader who became independent India’s first home minister and deputy prime minister. These harsh assessments, as Azad had willed, appear in posthumous editions of India Wins Freedom. To avoid cracks in Congress unity, he chose not to make disagreements public during his lifetime. Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Azad followed divergent political paths. Both towering Muslim politicians, they often clashed politically about the future of India and the place in it of Muslims. According to Azad, “Pakistan was for Jinnah a bargaining counter” and the division of India, instead of resolving the communal problem, would turn it into inter-state rivalry with Muslims in Hindu-majority regions being in a state of permanent disadvantage. Azad chose to remain quiet about the role of Congress stalwarts in expediting Partition and blamed Jinnah for India’s division. In retrospect, a more valuable contribution may have been calling the bluff of the likes of Patel instead of staying quiet in the name of party unity. Partition continued to haunt Azad after 1947. Presciently, he warned that dividing India on religious grounds would turn the communal conflict into inter-state rivalry leading to militarisation at the expense of human development. He reminded the Muslims who were leaving for Pakistan that religious affinity would not override cultural differences between the migrants and the natives. For him, a shared religion was an inadequate foundation for a state in South Asia given the religious and cultural diversity of the region. In Pakistan, the elite did not heed the pitfalls identified by Azad. He blamed Congress for not accommodating the demand for regional autonomy as propounded by the Muslim League. Post-Independence Pakistan’s ruling elite repeated that mistake, leading to the break-up of the country in 1971. The event also proved Azad right in his belief that religion cannot be the foundation of a state in ethnically, denominationally and religiously diverse societies. The Islamisation of Pakistan has strengthened sectarianism, leaving Muslim and non-Muslim in a state of perpetual vulnerability. Over-centralised states identified with a particular religion cannot come together to form a peaceful region for South Asians. The Muslims in Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva-inspired India, Hindus in Buddhist-dominated Sri Lanka or non-Sunnis in Islamic Pakistan will always be vulnerable citizens, and states not at peace within will not be at peace with each other as neighbours. Azad dreamt of a decentralised subcontinent where diverse ethnic and religious groups could live without fear in a composite culture. Partition shattered his dream and today’s Pakistan, with its rising tide of religious intolerance, would be Azad’s nightmare. What he proposed for undivided India in 1946 — a decentralised state with equal respect for all religions — is precisely what Pakistan needs in 2012. I would conclude with two assessments, one about Azad and one that he made. Azad was president of the Congress party in 1940 and wanted to start a dialogue with Jinnah about the future of India. Jinnah refused to engage in parleys, dubbing Azad a Congress ‘show boy’. Observers may point out that the description would not fit Azad who earned his place in the frontline of the anti-colonial movement. Ghubar-i-Khatir remains readable not only for its flowing prose but also for its superb collection of quoted Persian and Urdu couplets. Being a lover of Urdu and Persian poetry, Azad nevertheless chose to ignore Iqbal and did not include any of his work. Jinnah’s assessment and Azad’s omission might be seen by some as having been dictated by political partisanship. REFERENCE: Politics of Azad 28th February, 2012 http://dawn.com/2012/02/28/politics-of-azad/

Secret History: Bloody Partition - 4

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET008XH17J8

The communal riots of 1947 have been the subject of literature, films and scholarly research. Yet, despite scores of works on the subject, there was still a need for an objective and scholarly account of the way they happened in undivided Punjab. This need has been filled by Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed who was already well-known in scholarly circles for his work on social science issues in the Asian context (State, Nation and Ethnicity in Contemporary South Asia (1998) and an edited book on religion in Asia). But his latest book is so magisterial in its thoroughness and so meticulous in its research that it should establish him as a major historian of contemporary South Asia. The book begins with a theoretical introduction which describes what ethnic cleansing is and then goes on to give a historical background of the Punjab and the genesis of its partition. This is followed by three 'stages'. The first is the period between January 1945 till 31 March 1947. This is the period of the violence against the Hindu and Sikh population of northern Punjab, especially the area around Rawalpindi. Then comes the period between 24 March till 14 August when, among communal attacks on both sides of the border, the main tragedy was the attack and arson of the Hindus of Lahore. Then is the third stage from 15 August till 31 December of the year when, though the attacks on the Hindus and Sikhs did continue in West Punjab, the real crisis was in the East Punjab where much of the Muslim population was killed or forced to flee to Pakistan by armed Sikh bands. The same kinds of events took place in the princely states of the Punjab and have been described in detail. In the end there are Ahmed's analysis and conclusions which help us answer questions about whether there were organized plans by the Muslims to drive the non-Muslims out of the Punjab or vice versa. In the end, as at the end of each chapter, there are lists of sources used and names of interviewees. This is followed by annexures and an index which make the book very useful for scholars. All accounts establish the fact that pre-Partition Punjab was a tolerant and peaceful society in which Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus lived mostly peacefully. The Hindus did have religious restrictions in terms of eating or mixing too intimately with Muslims, and these must have been resented by some people; but they did not translate into violence. However, the Hindus and Sikhs were generally richer and if they were moneylenders there is ground to believe that they were resented by the Muslim peasants who owed them money. Yet, there is incontrovertible evidence that communal hatred was injected into the equation when the Muslim League used the evocative symbol of religion and promised an Islamic state to the ordinary gullible people. The slogans they used against the Unionist government of Sir Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana included the most scurrilous attacks on him and his family and portrayed him as an enemy of Islam. From 24 January to 26 February 1947 the Muslim League confronted the Khizar Minstry directly by force and there was much incitement to violence. On 02 March Khizar resigned and from then on the Sikhs and Hindus knew that they would be discriminated against in a Muslim-dominated Punjab. Meanwhile it was becoming clear that the Punjab would be partitioned and this urged the Sikhs to demand a state of their own which would contain Lahore, Nankana Sahib and other Sikh holy places. The violence was precipitated by Master Tara Singh's brandishing of his dagger (kirpan) and aggressive speeches by Hindu Mahasabha leaders. Violence was thus triggered, but the Hindus and Sikhs were quickly outnumbered. Moreover, when it spread to Rawalpindi, it became almost a communal cleansing. Hindus and Sikhs were killed, burnt and the women were raped in attacks which seemed to have been planned by former soldiers. The lower strata of the police did nothing to stop the carnage. But what is especially shocking and inexplicable is that the army, which was still under British officers, did not reach the villages in time to save people. These atrocities had their blowback effect, as we shall see later. REFERENCE: Chain of events Books By Dr. Tariq Rahman Dr. Tariq Rahman reviews an extraordinary new work that traces the causes - and apportions the blame - for the seemingly random violence that erupted across Punjab in 1947 TFT CURRENT ISSUE| April 13-19, 2012 - Vol. XXIV, No. 09 http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120413&page=16

Secret History: Bloody Partition - 5

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG-jrGyqRfI


In Stage Two, Ishtiaq Ahmed reaches the conclusion that the roughs (badmashes) of Lahore and Amritsar, who were mostly Muslims, had a predominant role in the carnage. The roughs of Amritsar sent bangles to their counterparts of Lahore, signifying that they were not avenging attacks on Muslims in the Sikh areas. This resulted in a quantum leap in violence against the non-Muslims in Lahore. The fire at Shahalami Gate of June in which the Hindus were harmed on such a massive scale left them completely disillusioned. After this they started leaving for India en masse. The role of some officials, including police and judicial functionaries, has been described probably for the first time by this author. In the Eastern Punjab the Sikh armed groups started attacking Muslims even from early in the year, but the communal cleansing started only in August when the Sikh leadership knew they would lose by the division of the Punjab without accommodating their demands. Here the atrocities of Rawalpindi and Lahore were repeated on an even bigger scale: murder, arson, rape and pillage were reported on a staggering scale. Here too some functionaries of the state aided and abetted the attackers and even some of the rulers of the Punjab princely states such as the Maharajah of Kapurthala and the Maharajah of Patiala abetted the violence against Muslims. The most important contribution of the author is that he maintains his scholarly objectivity in a subject in which his own emotions are obviously deeply involved. He reaches the conclusion that there was no plan by the Muslims in general or the Muslim League in particular to cleanse Pakistan of non-Muslims. However, in the case of Sikhs, the author concludes that some Sikh leaders such as the Akalis and rulers did have a contingency plan to use force against Muslims in case they did not obtain a Sikh state. Whether this conclusion is correct or otherwise can only be contested by someone who has as formidable a knowledge of this subject as Ishtiaq Ahmed, so I will not argue about it here. However, one thing does seem obvious: the Pindi riots injected the spirit of vengeance among the rank and file of Sikhs in East Punjab. The non-Muslims who left Northern Punjab from March onwards, and the Hindus of Lahore with their tales of atrocities, could not but have created an implacable desire for vengeance among the armed Sikhs. But, being of Pakistani Muslim origin does not mean that in this particular the author is siding with his co-religionists. On the contrary, Ishtiaq Ahmed is probably the only historian of Pakistani origin who suggests that the 'demand for a partition of India on a religious basis was inherently discriminatory' (p. 544). He also points out that the Muslim League leaders were 'fatuously complacent and irresponsible since they did not realize that their Pakistan scheme would inevitably imperil the lives of millions of unarmed Muslims' (p. 545). I would go further and add that if the leaders of the Muslim League had stopped Muslims for using violence against non-Muslims in the Rawalpindi area in March and used the army to help them cross over to India in peace the massacres would not have taken place or, at least, not in the present-day Pakistan area. And it would not have taken place in East Punjab if the Congress and Sikh leaders had pacified the Sikhs and used the army to help Muslims emigrate to Pakistan. But, unfortunately, neither the Indian nor the British leadership took any effective step to save human lives. Ishtiaq Ahmed suggests that Mr Jinnah's decision to become the Governor General of Pakistan instead of allowing Mountbatten to become the joint Governor General of both dominions harmed the Muslims and Pakistan as Mountabetten was no longer responsible for both sides after 15 August. REFERENCE: Chain of events Books By Dr. Tariq Rahman Dr. Tariq Rahman reviews an extraordinary new work that traces the causes - and apportions the blame - for the seemingly random violence that erupted across Punjab in 1947 TFT CURRENT ISSUE| April 13-19, 2012 - Vol. XXIV, No. 09 http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120413&page=16

Secret History: Bloody Partition - 6

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YIInIBaEng


The research methods used by Ishtiaq Ahmed contribute to the authenticity of this work. He uses government reports, letters of officials, intelligence reports, autobiographies, eyewitness accounts and a very large number of interviews of people on both sides of the border. This is a magnum opus, the one major work one writes in a lifetime, and it must have taken the author years of meticulous recording, reading and interviewing. Moreover, as he was dealing with a very emotional subject, the interviewing must have had a deep personal effect upon him. As such, the author should be commended for having written such a masterly account of the partition of the Punjab.


Among the few minor improvements I would suggest are that references to scholarly accounts of language and education, especially with reference to Punjabi, should be added. The author makes no mistake when he refers to these factors but he gives no reference to recent scholarly sources, which needs correction. Another omission, and this is more serious, is the reference to Hobbes while talking about human nature (p. 560), whereas one of the most influential accounts of how ordinary people commit evil by Philip Zimbardo (The Lucifer Effect, 2007)-that certain contingent conditions make us play roles which dehumanize us if differentials of power exist between groups-as well as other theories of how we focus hatred on the out-group and love on the in-group, effectively dehumanizing it, are missing. For a masterly work like this, one would like some inclusion of such theories to explain why people go berserk in such situations like the ones that arose in 1947.


But these are minor quibbles that do not detract from the scholarly stature of the book. I would like to sum up by congratulating the author for undertaking this work, which will remain a milestone in our understanding of the Partition and the roots of violence which threaten this ancient cradle of civilizations. If we have to exist at all, especially when we are nuclear-armed nations, we need to come to terms with the ghosts of 1947 in order to build a South Asia on the model of the Schengen states. This is only possible if, among other things, we understand the past we share, which Ishtiaq Ahmed's work will help us to do. I recommend the book to not only scholars on South Asia but all interested readers and the media. REFERENCE: Chain of events Books By Dr. Tariq Rahman Dr. Tariq Rahman reviews an extraordinary new work that traces the causes - and apportions the blame - for the seemingly random violence that erupted across Punjab in 1947 TFT CURRENT ISSUE| April 13-19, 2012 - Vol. XXIV, No. 09 http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120413&page=16

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