Former British PM had envisaged Bengal as a separate state rather than a part of Pakistan in 1947
NEW DELHI - Former British prime minister Clement Attlee told the US ambassador to the UK in June 1947 that he believed Bengal would opt to be an independent state instead of joining either India or Pakistan, according to a media report on Friday.
Dawn said in a report from Washington that historical documents released recently by the US State Department show that the US was the first country that Attlee briefed on his plans to divide India.
On June 2, 1947, the US Ambassador in the UK, Lewis Williams Douglas, sent an "urgent and top secret" telegram to Secretary of State George Marshall, stating that the same afternoon Attlee had called him to his office and shared with him "advance information" about the partition plan.
The next day, Viceroy Louis Mountbatten broadcast the plan to the Indian people while Attlee presented it to the British parliament.Attlee told Ambassador Douglas he wanted elected representatives from Punjab and Bengal to decide which of the two major dominions these provinces would join.
If they failed to do so, those two provinces would be partitioned between India and Pakistan. Attlee said he thought a division of Punjab is likely , but added that there was a distinct possibility Bengal might decide against partition and against joining either Hindustan or Pakistan .
In that event Bengal might form a separate dominion , an alternative also open to Punjab, but which he thought it improbable that it would elect to do, Attlee told Ambassador Douglas.
The envoy noted that the British prime minister was in sober mood, at times tinged with sorrow while discussing the partition plan with him.
In his own words he has been working on the Indian problem for 21 years and that the viceroy would make one last attempt to secure acceptance of the Cabinet mission's plan .
Failing such acceptance, which Attlee believed most unlikely , the viceroy would lay before Indian leaders a procedure for the partition of India into a Hindustan dominion and a Pakistan dominion .
Attlee told the US ambassador that power might be transferred to Hindustan sometime in August.
Pakistan, being without administrative machinery, power transfer to it might be delayed until this was available, the prime minister said.