An impossible agenda
By Manju Gupta
In response to the March 1940 resolution of the Muslim League for the creation of Pakistan, a number of observations were made. One of the most important ones was that no matter where the line of demarcation was drawn, there would be Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs on either side in a minority. They would overnight become foreigners in their own homes. Mohammad Ali Jinnah initially evaded this question, but later began to promise protection to the minorities. However, there was no question of the Hindus and Sikhs obtaining citizenship or equal status with the nationals of Pakistan. If they could, then why divide India was his question. Not satisfied with his own logic, he suggested an exchange of population as the realistic solution.
Ever since the British captured power and with the consequent displacement of Muslim rule, there was a widespread feeling that Dar-ul-Islam in India had to be replaced by a Dar-ul-Harb or a land of struggle. Islam decreed that a jehad has to be fought for acquiring Dar-ul-Islam, particularly as Dar-ul-Harb could not be tolerated indefinitely. The solution for the Muslims there was hijrat or migration to a land of Islam. It is this that the author Prafull Goradia seeks to convey through this book under review. He further adds that nearly 20,000 Indian Muslims succeeded in entering and settling in Afghanistan. For the Muslim leaders the idea of transfer of population was not novel; even Prophet Mohammed had undertaken hijrat from Mecca to Medina while founding Islam.
While the leaders in Pakistan were keen to forcibly drive away the Hindus from Punjab, the Muslim League'sobjective was to undertake ethnic cleansing soon after Partition. In fact, the Dar-ul-Islam pursued by the Muslims was for all Muslims of the subcontinent. Why should those, who happened to be in Hindustan, be condemned to live indefinitely in a hopeless Dar-ul-Harb?
The author says that the Muslim League'sdesire for an exchange of population was loudly voiced and widely debated. It carried on Direct Action, following the Great Calcutta Killings of August 1946, especially in the Punjab, where it felt that ethnic cleansing was most necessary. Then came 1947, the riots escalated, ensuring emigration of Hindus, including the Sikhs. He corroborates his observations by reproducing clippings from the newspaper Dawn of Pakistan, which was founded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and was published as a daily from Delhi before shifting base to Karachi. The author also traces history to show that the Hindus and the Hindu women particularly enjoyed a much higher status during the Vedic and post-Vedic times. It was with the advent of invaders, beginning with Muhammad bin Qasim that the purdah system was introduced as an offshoot of the burqa. Girls were married young by their parents to hand over their responsibility. Temples were desecrated and converted into mosques and dargahs by the Muslims. Vivisection of India was the persistent demand of the Muslim League. ?In other words, Partition need not have taken place but for the reason of a minority unwilling to merge into the natural mainstream.?
The author even quotes from sections of the Constitution, for example, Articles 29 and 30, which were proposed early in 1946 to persuade the Muslims to withdraw their insistence on Partition, but remained in the supreme statute even after 1947.
The author has devoted a number of chapters to portray Jinnah'slifestyle and character, but on reading carefully, one feels his fury is directed more at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru than at Jinnah: ?Although Jawaharlal Nehru called himself a British Prime Minister of India, he was actually playing the role of a Muslim although he happened to be a Hindu. He had come to be known as a Fabian or non-relenting socialist.?
After tracing the record of events that took place prior to Partition, the author goes to the point when the reactionary Muslim Women Bill was passed to overrun the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case. The author laments, ?Yet the country has been, by and large, unhappy. Even secular fundamentalists are unable to find further ways to appease Muslim opinion.? In the midst of such hopelessness, patriotic citizens search for solutions anywhere and everywhere.
The author'smain grouse is that apart from vivisection of India as demanded by Jinnah, an exchange of population or hijrat whereby all non-Muslims could migrate to Hindustan and all Muslims would inhabit Pakistan was not done and this remains till today an ?unfulfilled dream?.
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