By Atta Rasool Malik
Why there was so much rift and rivalry between Hindus and Muslims and how it got intensified and culminated into making of Pakistan ?
Historically, there is no consensus regarding exact origin of Hindu-Muslim enmity in the subcontinent. However, Hindus-Muslims riots have a long history and it doesn’t begin and end with partition of subcontinent. Historian and research scholars see deep rooted division in the Indian society on the basis of caste, geography, ethnicity and religion. However, to few scholars it all began with establishment of British rule in India who divided Indian society through their specific political maneuvers. It may be true but one cannot divide; unless a society is divisible along certain fault lines.
To some, communal hostilities is interest based game of elites. It is power politics. It is a struggle for power sharing, political and economic division of resources between elites. Few other scholars opine that the medieval politics was a feudal and noncompetitive in nature. Power was wielded through sword and not through ballot. After 19th century, power is being welded through ballot; One Man – One Vote. Hence, masses are divided in this struggle for benefit of competing elites on different themes. Since religious differences are more appealing and attractive to masses, so we find increased communal violence in divided societies with introduction of democracy. Dr Ommar Khalidi, India , writes in his book, “Indians Muslims since Independence” that Hindu-Muslim rivalry is not a new phenomenon. It is centuries old but very well managed in the distant past. He says:-
“The first reported communal riots took place in Ahmadabad in 1714, centering on holli celebration and cow slaughter. There was Hindu Muslim riots in Kashmir in 1719, in Delhi in 1729, in Bombay in 1786. Early in Benares bloody riots were reported in 1809. The riots have been witnessed in Moradabad (1833), Shahjehanpur (1837) Kanpur and Allahabad in 1837 and 1852 respectively. Apparent cause was cow slaughter and Hindu religious processions playing music in front of mosques during “namaz” prayer. The cow question has been important at least since the middle ages. Emperor Babur explicitly forbad cow slaughter. His grandson Akbar imposed a ban on cow slaughter in the entire empire. In 1847 the British banned cow slaughter in Amritsar. More or less after every few years there were bloody riots. There were riots in Multan 1922, Lahore 1923. Major outbreak took place in 1924, in Allahabad, Calcutta, Delhi, kohat, lucknow to name a few.”
It is evident from historical records that Muslims rulers handled this sensitive issue of Hindu Muslim rift more maturely than the Hindus rulers/elite who subsequently achieved more influence and power under British rule.
Muslims Re-entry in Indian Politics after 1857
Once All India Congress , (there in after congress) established in 1885, Muslims soon realized that it was anti-Muslim and pro Hindu. Muslims while struggling primarily through platform of Muslim league (established in 1906) won separate electorate for Muslims from British through Minto-Morley reforms 1909 and got acknowledged from congress as just demand through Lucknow Pact in 1916. For Muslims it was safeguard to their fair political representation who took it as a great achievement. However, in Nehru report (1928) submitted to British for political reforms in India greatly shocked Muslims. In the report, congress had suggested that separate electorate for Muslims be abolished. Despite Quaid-e-Azam best efforts, Congress did not agree even to minor changes. However, Quaid-e-Azam convinced British, that Muslims political representation can only be ensured through separate electorate. Congress rule of 1937 [subsequent to election of 1935] brought further distrust. Congress had started resisting fair Muslim representation at different forums.
Days of British in India were numbered due to ever increasing demand of freedom by all communities of India and other great changes in the international system. Muslims were deliberating; how best to safeguard Muslims political interests after departure of British. In few provinces Muslims were in majority, in others they were unevenly spread over entire India . Different formulas for sharing political power between Hindus and Muslims were being discussed. Great poet Allama Iqbal suggested an independent Muslim enclave in the north west of India , comprising Punjab (not divided as of today), Sind, Baluchistan and NWFP. This economically viable and contiguous Pakistan was to rediscover spirit of Islam. It was to remain closely connected to Muslims world. It had to be source of inspirations for entire “Ummah” and ultimately free the humanity from ills of Communism and Capitalism by introducing Islamic political and economic philosophy.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah vision of Pakistan was different. It comprised all Muslims majority provinces and Muslim princely states. It was ‘Indians in focus’ unlike Iqbal who was appealing Muslims of Afghanistan, Iran and sometimes all nations of the East. Quaid-e-Azam though advocated discovery of Islamic spirit like Iqbal, yet primarily cared for Muslims of India . Pakistan with Eastern wing comprising Bengal (undivided) and Assam, Western wing, Punjab (undivided), Sind, Baluchistan and Kashmir and in the center was Muslims princely state of Hyderabad, Junagarh and Manavedar. There was also a peace corridor to connect all these segments. Pakistan was to co-exist with Hindus in complete harmony.
Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad were assuring fair and proper political representation to Muslims in united India . Muslim eague didn’t trust Congress in view of her previous experiences. Later, Gandhi agreed to Jinnah’s demand of Pakistan . However, Jinnah had yet to prove that he was sole representative of Muslim of India in coming election of 1945-46, different factions of Muslim League [ National Muslim league of Sir Shafi] and few other Muslim political leaders [Abul Kalam Azad and Ghafar khan] had questioned the leadership of Jinnah. Later, Mohammed Ali Jinnah in a speech at Aligarh Muslim University, urged all Muslims of India , to help their brethren in the Muslim majority areas, achieve independence from the Hindus, even if they themselves would not be so fortunate. Muslims of majority and minority provinces responded wholeheartedly to Jinnah’s call and Muslim league gained landslide victory. Quad-e-Azam MA Jinnah was sole representative of Muslims and now his demand for Pakistan was to be honored as promised by Congress and British. This was considered grand success of Jinnah and Muslim league and defeat for congress. Later, Pt Nehru and congress earned plum in their caps for handing over truncated and moth-eaten Pakistan .
Pakistan was created but it was neither the dream of Iqbal nor the vision of Jinnah, in fact it was “craftsmanship” of Mr. Nehru. Muslim majority provinces or “rebellious provinces” as were often labeled by the Hindu press were to make Pakistan . However, even the members of the British Boundary Commission were astonished over attitude of Congress’s President Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru in the partition issues. Nehru in connivance with Mountbatten ensured that Bengal and Punjab were not annexed to Pakistan as per their existing administrative boundaries as earlier agreed, but were to be divided from “locality to locality” and street to street on the basis of the Muslim and the Hindu population. This move provided a new justification to communal genocide and resulted bloodbath in Punjab and Bengal.
History bears witness to the fact that Jinnah had no option, except to agree to such “truncated and moth-eaten” Pakistan , as the Jinnah himself called it later on. Princely states of Hyderabad, Junahgarh and Manavader that opted to join Pakistan were forcefully annexed by India on the pretext of majority of the Hindu population, but all established rules and agreed principles of division were violated on the question of Jammu &Kashmir. The newly established state, Pakistan did not inherit administrative infrastructure unlike that of Bharat (India). Military and other financial assets were not handed over to Pakistan .
Congress Attitude of twisting and repudiating the terms agreed with Jinnah embarrassed even Gandhi, who went on hunger strike until his death. This protest accrued Rs. 700 million for Pakistan against all military and cash reserves of the United India . Pakistan faced numerous challenges including a huge flux of refugees' plundered, killed and their women kidnapped. We can imagine this kidnapping from the fact that in rehabilitation program, Bharat (India) returned around 22,000 kidnapped women to Pakistan
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, ironically, is highly criticized in India both by Hindus and Indians Muslims alike. To Hindus, he partitioned India , for Muslims he weakened them by dividing the Muslims population. The fact is that Quaid-e-Azam, throughout his political career, focused on welfare and protection of rights of Indians Muslims. He as a last resort, after being thoroughly disillusioned by congress worked for independent Pakistan . It is by now very clear that Pakistan is not the cause but product of Hindus-Muslims rift and rivalry in general and Congress’ vision-less policies in particular.
Creation of Pakistan brought lot of benefits to the Muslims of present day Pakistan yet it is also true that Pakistani leadership fell short as expected and hence did not bring any moral or material support to Indians Muslims as visualized and promised by founding father of Pakistan . Prolonged India-Pakistan rivalry has added further miseries to Indians Muslims. Not Quaid-e-Azam and Liaqat Ali khan but later leadership of Pakistan did falter in many fields including forgetting Liaqat - Nehru pact and not working for peace with India as envisioned by great Quaid-e-Azam in view of large number of Muslims there in India .
Indians Govt (both central and state) attitude towards Muslims is not fair. Indians Muslims are invariably being insulted and exploited by the Hindus. Islamic identity and confidence of Indians Muslims is being systematically shattered in an organized manner by state sponsored groups. They are being politically marginalized and economically deprived. Even Muslims student leadership is being executed through fake encounters with police and labeled as Pakistan sponsored an easy blame for Indians Muslims.
This is the history of Indian Muslims Vis-à-vis Indian congress but the stories of other communities of Indian tribal regions, Kashmiris, Naxilites, Dalits and Sikhs under BJP are even more tragic. Ill-treated and marginalized communities are sharply moving away from Indian union.
Hindu elite till date has failed to realize that Pakistan was not the cause but product of dogmatic policies of Prejudiced Congress leaders.
Author holds M Phil degree in International Relations from National Defence University Islamabad and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org