May 31, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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India and Pakistan tragically split after gaining independence from the British

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India and Pakistan celebrate their independence in August, recalling the shock and tragedy of the partition of the two countries that were once British colonies of the West Indies.

After the British left, religious differences led to a religious genocide in 1947, which killed between 500,000 and two million Pakistani-Indians.

India had a population of about 400 million by the middle of the 20th century, 75% of whom were Hindus. That is, the temple of the gods created by Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva belonged to the ancient polytheistic religion of Hinduism. The remaining 15% of the population are Muslims, a monotheistic religion whose worshipers worship the same God Allah, with the partition of India and Pakistan, both Hindus and Muslims experienced the largest mass migration in recorded history. About 14 million people migrate from one region to another because of their religion.

We know that since 1900, when the British considered Hindi as the official language of India, Muslims feared that their culture and religion would be suppressed. Therefore, the Muslims believed that their social and political interests should be completely different from those of the Hindus.

The pulse between Hindus and Muslims after independence from the British

During World War II, the independence movement of India under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi gained great relevance against the worn-out British Empire that fought against the Nazis. In a few years, even though Muslims won a prominent place in the provincial elections, the idea of ​​a separate Muslim state from the Hindu state was increasingly strengthened. The idea was represented by lawyer and politician Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah was the leader of the Pan Indian Muslim League, which, through the 1940 Lahore Resolution, proposed the creation of a completely Muslim nation: the Nation of Pakistan.

Mahatma Gandhi (right) and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the guardian of a separate Muslim country, posed on the steps of Jinnah’s house, where the two discussed the Hindu-Muslim conflict. Photo taken in Mumbai, India on September 9, 1944. © AB

In complete opposition, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of the Indian National Congress, rejected Indian secession and the Muslim nationalist movement.

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But India’s interests in maintaining a single nation were severed when the British bet on the demands of the Muslims and carried out the partition of the country before abandoning the monarchy or colonial rule.

Controversial plan of the British to divide India into two parts

For five weeks, Cyril Radcliffe, a lawyer elected by the British authorities, was in control of drawing one of the most controversial boundaries in contemporary history. They were 2,900 km between the Indian subcontinent and the western part of Punjab, which would give Pakistan its name. Radcliffe, on the other hand, segregated part of the land of the state of Bengal from the Hindu territory, and with a Muslim majority it would be under the control of Pakistan. But the fact that the two new Muslim territories were separated by a distance of more than 2,000 km was passive and thus the division was heavily criticized.

However, Jinnah’s dream, proposed at the League Conference in Lahore in 1940, was fulfilled by a Muslim country separated from the Hindu state.

A motorcyclist passes a happy Independence Day billboard with pictures of founding leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah and national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal on display for the Pakistan Independence Day celebrations in Islamabad, Pakistan on 13 August 2020.
A motorcyclist passes a happy Independence Day billboard with pictures of founding leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah and national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal on display for the Pakistan Independence Day celebrations in Islamabad, Pakistan on 13 August 2020. © Anjum Naved / AP

In this way, on August 14, 1947, as Jinnah’s Prime Minister, Pakistan was born as a new state. One day later, on August 15, Nehru did the same and declared India’s independence.

The world’s largest mass migration leading to religious genocide

At this point in history, thousands of Muslim families who had lived in India for decades made a trip to settle in Pakistan, while Hindu families in Pakistani territory entered the new and limited Indian frontier. The number of immigrants was established between 10 and 15 million, of whom the poor, the majority, traveled as cattle. The middle class did it on trains and the rich on the plane.

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As a result of this problem, thousands of troops were mobilized in the border areas.

So they organized as fighters to attack cities, trains and immigration centers from August 1947 until the end.

With the independence of the two countries, a war for control of the Kashmir region was also provoked, which has not been resolved to date. Saddened by the massacres, trains full of bodies and the deaths of 500,000 to two million people, Mahatma Gandhi was also attacked by nationalist violence in January 1948 by an Indian extremist who rejected the principle of inter-religious tolerance.

In 1971, East Pakistan, formerly the state of Bengal, gained independence from Pakistan and was formed as a new country, Bangladesh. For their part, India and Pakistan have never softened the hard edges, and to this day there is a shock from the human tragedy experienced by the partition of the two countries at the moment of independence.