Since 16 August 1946, that is, when the League announced direct action at the behest of Jinnah, there were continuous communal riots in the country. The national government was proving unsuccessful in suppressing these riots because the League members who were in the government were encouraging these riots. In the past, the British Indian government was always successful in suppressing such riots, but it seems that now the British bureaucracy was deliberately adopting a neutral attitude towards the riots. When the riot victims sought help from the government, she would ask them to approach Nehru and Patel.
Thus it was decided to free India which was burning in the fire of communalism.
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On 20 February 1947, the Prime Minister of England, Clement Attlee, made a statement before the House of Commons that by June 1948, he intended to free India and hand over power to the Indians. But it was also clarified that if a constitution was not framed till then, the British government would have the right to delegate power to whomever they wanted. Gandhi called this statement ‘the greatest act of the British nation’ but he was not ready to accept the creation of Pakistan in spite of the riots. Attlee also said that Lord Mountbatten is being sent to India in place of Wavell, whose main task will be the transfer of power.
Lord Mountbatten as Governor-General of India
Lord Mountbatten has sworn in as Viceroy on 24 March 1947. His task was to assimilate British power from India. Because this strange act required powers. Therefore Mountbatten had put a condition in order to do this work properly that he would not have to repeatedly consult with the Home Government, nor would the Home Government interfere with the truth. Attlee and his cabinet accepted this condition. This was the reason that while Mountbatten’s predecessor viceroys persuaded the Indian leaders in favor of their decision, Mountbatten also tried to impose the decision. He could do this also because of his personality and ability.
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Options in front of Mountbatten
Lord Mountbatten had two plans from which he had to choose one option.
First to provide autonomy to the provinces by maintaining the unity of India and
Second, the division of India into two sovereign states on the basis of the majority of the sects.
Lord Mountbatten started carrying out his work when he reached India and started talking to Congress, League, and Akali leaders to know their views. In addition to consulting his personal counselors, he called the governors of the provinces for consultations. Keeping in view the whole cycle of events, he and his advisors came to the conclusion that the transfer of power could not be stopped till June 1948. He concluded that this work should be done by December 1947 or even earlier, as the situation was getting worse day by day. Riots were increasing in both the sects and the clouds of violence were getting thicker, especially in the western provinces.
Project Draft of the Montbatten Plan
Lord Mountbatten came to the conclusion along with the quick transfer of power that the partition of India and the establishment of Pakistan had become necessary and instead of imposing the decision of the British government, Indian leaders should be prepared. Although the Congress, especially Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Kalam Azad, were committed to a united independent India, Nehru, Patel, Lady Mountbatten, and V.P. Menon were fed up with the behavior of the Muslim League and agreed to partition. A section of the Congress, which was very much opposed to partition and led by Maulana Azad, did not believe that because the real power (de facto) had come in the hands of the Congress and in the hands of the British government only legal power (de jure) ) so the Congress should not hasten the transfer of power. (India Wins Freedom – Maulana Azad AK Calcutta 1959)
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On the other hand, HV Hudson was of the opinion that the transfer of power should have happened 1 to 10 years ago. Hudson agreed with Lord Mountbatten that the situation had now deteriorated to such an extent that waiting any longer would lead to an increase in communal riots and anarchy. (Hodson, H.V.The Great Divide London, 1969) But it seems that Congress was fed up with the continuous struggle of so many years and now they wanted to come to power as soon as possible. After this, after consulting the leaders of all the parties, Mountbatten asked his personal staff, who were in favor of the creation of Pakistan, to outline a plan, but he did not ask V.P. Menon, who was then the government’s constitutional adviser, was not involved in the formulation of this plan. This plan is called the first draft of the Mountbatten plan.
Mountbatten, after showing this secret plan to Nehru and Jinnah, sent it to Prime Minister Attlee in England. Both parties were unhappy with the plan. In fact, the demands of the League had been increasing since the presentation of the demand for Pakistan in 1940 and now it was opposing the partition of Punjab and Bengal along with insisting on five-six provinces and a buffer zone. On the other hand, Congress was insisting on the division of Punjab and Bengal. When the plan reached India on 10 May after the approval and changes of the cabinet, the Viceroy showed Nehru the revised plan before gathering all the leaders.Nehru did not accept this plan at all. He condemned it and presented a letter full of objections to the Viceroy.
Now the Viceroy invited Menon and asked him to submit a new plan. (Tara Chand Op. Cit. 512) Mountbatten praised Menon on the preparation of the plan and sent its outline to the Minister of India. Keeping this new situation in mind, the Prime Minister called the Viceroy to London. Consulted with Viceroy Nehru, Patel, Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan and Baldev Singh. The Sikh leaders in their conversation with Lord Mountbatten emphasized the partition of Punjab, though the Viceroy warned them that in this way the Sikh community would be divided and their most fertile land would be snatched from them. Sikh leaders also suggested a separate Sikh state in the British Commonwealth, but Lord Mountbatten, like the Khan brothers’ suggestion of Pakhtunistan, rejected it because they wanted to implement their plan quickly and to consider any new demand. were not ready.
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The effect of Mountbatten Plan on the North-Eastern Frontier Province (N. W. F. P.) also needs to be briefly discussed. During the Khilafat movement of 1919, at the behest of Gandhi, 6 percent of the Hindus of that province had supported the Muslims. Due to this the Congress became very popular in the Frontier Province and at the same time two Congress leaders named Khan Bhai emerged who dominated the politics of the Frontier Province for a generation.
Among these Khan brothers, the elder brother’s name was Dr. Khan Saheb, who later became the Chief Minister. Younger brother Kahan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bahadur Khan) became famous as Frontier Gandhi or Frontier Gandhi and he gave birth to a paramilitary organization named Khudai Khidmatgar around 1938 which was also known as ‘Lal Kurti’ .
According to Hudson, becoming Congress followers by the Pathans of this province was not because of the love of Hindus, but they had to get out of the clutches of the British with the help of a powerful party like Congress. They were not ready to even think of subjugating the Hindus because they had kept them as slaves in the past. This is proved by the demonstrations that took place in 1946 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited the province. In the assembly elections of December 1945, the Congress had secured 30 out of 50 seats in this province and Dr. Khan Saheb became the Chief Minister who was opposed to Jinnah, Muslim League and Partition along with his younger brother.
According to Maulana Azad, when the Congress Working Committee meeting began on June 3, 1947 to consider the Mountbatten plan, the North Eastern Frontier was the first to become the subject of discussion, as the demand for Partition and Pakistan was accepted as per the plan. Although Gandhi was unhappy with the Partition, he remained silent in the Congress Working Committee meeting. Where Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who was present at that time felt very sad. He was stunned (astonished) for a few minutes and not a word came out of his mouth. Thereafter, he repeatedly appealed to the Congress Working Committee not to do so as it was a betrayal of the people of the Frontier Province and tantamount to throwing them to the wolf of the League.
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Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan further said that his enemies would make fun of him and say that now that the Congress needed to negotiate with the League, he did not even consult the Khudai Khidmatgars. As a result of this appeal, Gandhi met Lord Mountbatten who asked Jinnah to give justice to the Khidmatgars. But talks between Ghaffar Khan and Jinnah were of no use because Jinnah was aware that under the Mountbatten plan, the border province would have to be included in Pakistan in terms of population and geography. Although Lord Mountbatten was in favor of holding a plebiscite, the Khan brothers now believed that this referendum should be on whether the Pathans wanted to join Pakistan or create a separate province of Pakhtunistan. But Lord Mountbatten was not ready to accept any new demand in his haste to implement his plan. Due to the Khan brothers boycotting the plebiscite, the decision went in favor of Pakistan. After this, although the Khan brothers were ready for a settlement, Jinnah and the new Chief Minister of the Frontier Province, Abdul Qayyum Khan, accused him and other Khudai Khidmatgars of segregation and imprisoned them for six years without trial.
All the leaders had approved the new plan. The reason for the quick acceptance of Pakistan’s demand by the Congress was the situation getting out of hand due to the attitude of the Muslim League. The Congress felt that anarchy-like situation had increased in the country. GB Pant was of the opinion that “today we have to choose Pakistan or suicide.” Another advantage of accepting Pakistan’s demand, according to Pant, was that India could establish a powerful federation.
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Patel was also of the opinion that if Muslims are kept forcibly in India, then no progress can be possible. Keeping in mind the deteriorating day by day conditions, Patel told Mountbatten that “you will not govern yourself and you will not let others do either”. Similarly, in one of his speeches, while describing the situation before the transfer of power, he said that “If it continues like this, … we will not be one Pakistan but many Pakistan will be made. Purshottamdas Tandon of Congress itself.”had strongly criticized the Congress for accepting the demand of Pakistan. After returning to England on 31 May, Mountbatten called all the leaders on 2 June and presented a new plan to him, which contained the following main suggestions.
* The Constituent Assembly would continue the work of making the constitution but would not apply to those areas which would not be willing to do so.
* The legislatures of Punjab and Bengal will be divided into two parts on the basis of Muslim and non-Muslim districts.
* The Viceroy will decide the way of knowing the wishes of the people of Balochistan.
* Elections will be held in Punjab, Sylhet in Bengal to elect the representatives of the Constituent Assemblies.
* The Power of Paramountcy will be returned to the Indian kings.
Mountbatten asked the leaders to give their reaction to the plan before midnight, saying that the date of transfer of power by England to India was near lane. Upon receiving a message from Churchill that the cancellation of the plan would mean the death of the dream of ‘Pakistan’, Jinnah agreed. Congress had already given its approval.
Gandhi’s despair over the partition of India is evident from his words. …… I hope God will save me from further humiliation. ,
Based on the Mountbatten plan, an act was passed by the British Parliament in July 1947, which the British Parliament proposed the Indian Independence Act on July 4, 1947. Attlee introduced the Mountbatten Plan as a bill in the House of Commons on 15 July 1947 and in the House of Lords on 16 July 1947. After its passage on 18 July, it was signed by the emperor.
By the Indian Independence Act 1947, two independent nations named India and Pakistan were created, which would come into existence on 15 August 1947 – this act had the following provisions –
* From August 15, 1947, two dominions will be established in India and the power will be transferred to them. All the provinces except Sindh, North-Eastern Frontier Province, West Punjab, East Bengal, Balochistan and Sylhet district of Assam were to join India.
* Radcliffe Commission was established by the Governor General for the partition of Punjab and Bengal.
* By declaring the legislatures of both the dominions sovereign, they were given the right to make their own constitutions.
*The Governor General was to be appointed as the constitutional head on the suggestion of the ministries of both the dominions. Pakistan chose Jinnah for the post and India chose Lord Mountbatten.
* Governance was to be carried out according to the Government of India Act of 1935 till the making of the new constitution, but the special powers of the governors were to be taken away.
* India Minister and India Office were to be abolished from 15th August.
* Indian kings were given the right to join any state in India or Pakistan.