Review Article

Muslims Against Partition

Madhusudanpal Vedantatirtha

The book [Muslims Against Partition by Shamsul Islam] under review, published by Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd., D-84 Abul Fazl Enclave-I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi-110025, priced Rs 250.00 only, is a product of serious and painstaking research by Shamsul Islam on the history of criminal conspiracy hatched by the British Government of India to break the backbone of the Indian nation since they defeated India's First War of Independence, 1857-1859, by surreptitiously injecting the poison of Hindu-Muslim religious divide and of how India's political leaders gradually fell prey to the trap, and of how, anticipating a huge carnage if the evil design of the rulers along with their stooge elites is realised, a small yet expanding group of Muslims under the leadership of Allah Bakhsh of Sind province with his Ittehad Party and Azad Muslim Organisation stood as a stumbling block against the evil design of the Muslim League during early 1940s for which he was done to death by the conspirators in order to facilitate Partition to meet their narrow ends. Reading the book it will appear that all political parties, Congress and Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, RSS and their equally communal Muslim counterparts and the contemporary political leaders of all hues were equally responsible for the Partition leading to riots, carnage, mutilation and rape etc on an unprecedented scale killing about ten million Indians and maiming and injuring other three to four million innocent Indians plus affecting properties worth tens of millions in terms of Indian Rupees which had high values in the World War-II international currency market.

First and foremost, let it be clear that the sparks that emitted at the Barrackpore military cantonment under the leadership of Mongal Pandey could not be kept confined within the confines of the British military establishment. It started as a Sepoy Mutiny to the Company & British rulers but quickly spread throughout north India as a War of Independence led by Hindu and Muslim Princes and Princesses. At the outset it must be stressed that Bahadur Shah Zafar was unanimously declared as the undisputed ruler of Independent India on May 11, 1857 by the revolutionary army, more than eighty percent (>80%) of which were Hindus. Nana Saheb, Tatia Tope and Laxmi Bai played prominent role in this decision. The command of the revolutionary army was in the hands of Bakht Khan, Girdhari Lal, Ghaus Mohammed and Heera Singh, a joint team of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Thomas Lowe, the military officer who played an important role in defeating Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi at Gwalior wrote that the Rajputs, Brahmins, Mussalmans and Maharattahs, they all joined in the cause; the cow-killer and the cow-worshipper, the pig-hater and the pig-eater, the crier of Allah and Mohammed his prophet and the mumbler of mysteries of Brahma. M R Gubbins, the revenue chief of Oudh during the rebellion later wrote. "On June 1, 1857 the British army was confronted by the rebel sepoys outside Mainpuri in which the latter were victorious. Those members of the British army who escaped narrated the fact that the commander of the rebels while addressing his sepoys proclaimed, "Hindoos and Mussalmas were all one, and the King of Delhi was their sovereign and to him they would march". The Rebel Anthem of the War of Independence, 1857, penned by Azimullah Khan in Urdu when translated reads "We are its owners, it belongs to us. It is our holy land; lovelier than paradise. / It is our Hindustan, our own. The whole world sparkles with its spiritualism. / It is old and comfortable; it is unique in the world. Ganga and Jamuna irrigate its lands. / On top snow-clad mountain guards us. On the lower end you can hear roaring of sea. / Its mines produce gold, diamond and mercury. Its greatness is renowned throughout the world / The British came from far away, played a trick. Our dear land was looted with both hands. / Martyrs are calling you, country-fellows, Break shackles of slavery, spit fire / Hindu-Muslim-Sikh are our dear brothers. This is the flag of independence, salute it". The rebellion forged on Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Jain unity spread its wings across north-western India and recaptured Delhi, declaring it as the Capital of India in May 1857 and the revolutionaries set Bahadur Shah Zafar on the Emperor's throne. During Juneā€”September, 1857 the British army encircled Delhi but could not break into Delhi, being gallantly defended by the revolutionary army, the majority of which comprised Hindus and led by Commander-in-Chief Mohammed Bakht Khan. Documents show that the British failed to create communal divide among the revolutionary soldiers and common people of Delhi in spite of efforts by their agent-provocateurs. In another incident at the same place, some unused canons, repaired and made useable was mounted on the boundary wall but before firing the first canon, in the presence of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Hindu priests performed Aarti, garlanded it and blessed it with Vedic hymns. In another theatre of war of Independence on the outskirts of Delhi in what is now Haryana, the Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar appointed Hukumchand Jain and Muneer Beg as commanders of the region. They led many successful military campaigns but due to the treachery of rulers of Patiala, Nabha, Kapurthala, Kashmir and Pataudi, Hukumchand and Muneer were captured. The British were so extremely worried by the unity of people of two religions that they decided to kill them in the most horrendous and sickening manner. After hanging these two heroes to death Muneer Beg, a Muslim, was cremated and Hukumchand, a Jain, was buried and when Hukumchand's 13-year-old nephew protested, he too was hanged. The book under review, in short, vividly exposes the barbarism of the British and their stoogers during the 1857-59 war of Indian Independence at the backdrop of unity of revolutionary Indians of all religions.

Allah Bakhsh captured this spirit of unity, solidarity and patriotism effectively forged in India's first War of Independence and wholeheartedly dedicated himself to keep India united under all adverse circumstances. He organised the Azad Muslim Conference independent of Congress and Muslim League in Delhi from 27 to 30 April, 1940 with about 1400 delegates from all over India. Some notable organisations sent their representatives to the conference. Some elected members of Assemblies of Provinces and native slates also participated. The delegates represented the majority of India's patriotic Muslims. The Azad Muslim Conference was a huge success. M N Roy wrote, "We welcome the mobilization of Muslim opinion against the anti-national scheme for the partitioning of the Indian nation". But the conspirators of Partition, both covert and overt as well as their British masters were rattled with extreme fear and vowed to kill him. Allah Bakhsh almost blocked entry of the Muslim League singlehandedly in his province, Sind, with the help of the Sind People's Party (renamed later as Ittehad or Unity Party) that he founded in 1934. However, ultimately the conspirators managed to kill him. Thus the stiffest hurdle against Partition of India, the most powerful Muslim public opinion maker against Partition was eliminated to pave the way for Partition. Immediately after the dismissal of Allah Bakhsh government in 1942 in the Sind province, the British governor appointed a coalition of Muslim League and V D Savarkar led Hindu Mahasabha to form a government in Sind. But, as the circumstances later unfolded, the two apparently antagonistic protagonists of hate-politics, Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha, were appointed essentially to execute Allah Bakhsh's assassination plot! His murder exposed a queer case. The murderers and some conspirators were booked, the litigation progressed and at last the accused were acquitted of all charges because, as the Judge observed, "no criminal offence has been proved against any of the accused, though I do not agree with them that the whole prosecution case is necessarily false and concocted. I have only held the charges to be not proven and have given the accused the benefit of doubt". If this not strange, what else is?

The author, Shamsul Islam, is harsh on the Muslim League but comparatively soft on Congress leaders including Gandhi. In this British game of breaking the legacy of India's First War of Independence of ignoring the call of the great revolutionary poet of the War of Independence, Azimullah Khan to spit fire on the face of the British rulers and to uphold Hindu-Muslim-Sikh unity in this dirty game of breaking the legacy of the most popular Emperor that India had ever seen, Bahadur Shah Zafar, as well as of Maharani Laxmi Bai et al, both Congress and Muslim League were parties. The author sees through one aspect of the story of Partition only which the title of the book signifies. But the other side is equally heinous and guilty. Otherwise how can one justify sending the jewel among the sons of India to oblivion while deifying others who were party to or succumbed to the evil design of the British rulers to break the spine of the Indian nation and cripple it for centuries to come? The Muslim leaders within the Congress and elsewhere who sent goody messages to the Azad Muslim Conference mentioned above paid only lip service to Allah Bakhsh's cause. They were afraid of coming into the open and join and strengthen Allah Bakhsh's hands. They were careerists indulging in wait-and-see policy weighing options that would fetch bounties for them in future. It is true that these people obtained largesse from the proverbial "Kalnemi's Lanka Division" later on but they were not reliable at the crucial time, they could not be trusted. The author missed on this point. It may also be added that the British conspiracy of tearing through the Hindu-Muslim amity was hatched as long as before the Battle of Palassy of 1757 in Bengal. A meeting of petty overlords in Siraj-ud-doula's domain, Bengal, took place to consider a British allurement proposal which Rani Bhabani, as president of the meeting, rejected against the majority view of acceptance and warned others of the danger of rift between Hindus and Muslims that the proposed move of siding with the British would bring about. Rani Bhabani's prediction proved to be true about 200 years later! However when the East India Company rule was firmly rooted in Bengal later on, Rani Bhabani was subjected to persecution and in those trying times, other overlords did not come to her rescue. However the author has splendidly unearthed and restored the spirit of the patriotic Muslims, their resolve to stay united with the Hindus and their agonies and sadness in the face of the superimposed Partition. When Allah Bakhsh's dream of a United India is more severely facing threat today than ever before, a reading of this book is highly recommended. The book has indeed appeared before the people as a great solace in the midst of the vicious atmosphere of communal suspicion, now prevailing in the country.

Vol. 48, No. 36, Mar 13 - 19, 2016