by Vikas Kamat
First Online: May 04, 2005
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014
The partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947, following World
War II is perhaps the most tragic of all political events to affect India in its
long political history. The partition divided Hindus and Muslims who had lived
together for hundreds of years. It led to endless boundary disputes, three wars between the two neighbors,
a nuclear powered arms race, and state sponsored terrorism. The agony and
horrors of partition also gave rise to a new genre of moving art and
literature of India.
Reasons for Partition
The British who had followed "Divide and Conquer"
principle to rule India, had to yield to the "Divide and
Relinquish" demands of Muslims --
especially the charismatic Mohamed Ali Jinnah.
The British overestimated the popularity of Muslim
League that pressed for creation of Pakistan, and didn't understand the
fact that there were Muslims living in every village of India, and possibly
couldn't be relocated to Pakistan.
Some Congress leaders would rather have an early freedom for
India rather than convoluted delays in settlement by not agreeing to divide
Creation of Pakistan
In what is termed as the greatest human migration, some
15 million people were displaced from their homes as a result of the partition
with Hindus in Pakistan moving to areas in Punjab and other bordering areas.
Many Muslims left India to succeed in Pakistan ("Land of the Pure")
especially many writers and intellectuals. The partition was marred by large
scale violence with death of a million (some estimate it up to 1.5 million)
citizens and countless others suffering.
While Gandhi himself was opposed to partition of India, in the
end, he could not stop the unfolding of the history and many Hindus blamed his Muslim-appeasement
stance. A Hindu fanatic assassinated Gandhi in 1948 in the aftermath of the
Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the "Father of
Pakistan", himself passed away barely an year after India's partition.
Creation of Bangladesh