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A Forgotten Anniversary

‘Muslims Against Partition’

Shamsul Islam

The search for the real culprits behind the Partition of India in 1947 seems to be an endless exercise. It is despite the fact that there is no dearth of writings on the Indian Freedom Struggle against the British rule in India and specially partition of the country on the basis of religion.

Historians have rightly held the Muslim League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, basically responsible for this unnatural and tragic Partition which became a kind of license for both Hindu and Muslim communal elements to indulge in mass butchery of innocent children, women and men.

However, there has always been a school of historiographers under the influence of Hindutva which has been spreading the canard that all Muslims in pre-Partition days supported the Muslim League’s call for Pakistan. Hindutva tries to cover up the fact that it subscribed to the two-nation theory like Muslim League long before the latter subscribed to it and wanted to have an exclusive ”Hindu Rashtra” on the lines of ”Islamic State” of Muslim League.

Unfortunately, this kind of discourse has secured more credibility specially among the Hindu middle class with the recent upsurge of anti-minorityism led by Hindutva fascism. The crucial fact should not be missed here that Hindutva has mainly succeeded in its attempts because facts of significant contributions of those Muslim individuals and organisations that opposed Muslim League with all their resources and might remains buried even today.

One such example is of Allah Bakhsh who at the grassroots level among Muslims of India organised an effective and massive opposition to the nefarious designs of Muslim League in pre-Partition days. Allah Bakhsh was the Premier (those days chief minister was known by this designation) of Sind during the eventful days of ‘Quit India’ Movement of 1942 as head of the ‘Ittehad Party’ (Unity Party) which did not allow Muslim League to have any foothold in the Muslim majority province of Sind. Allah Bakhsh and his Party were not part of the Indian National Congress but when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a derogatory reference to the Indian freedom struggle and the ‘Quit India’ Movement in a speech in the British Parliament, Allah Bakhsh renounced in protest all titles conferred by the British Government.

While announcing this renouncement he stated: “It is the cumulative result of the feeling that the British Government does not want to part with power. Mr Churchill’s speech shattered all hopes.” The British administration could not digest this dissent of Allah Bakhsh and he was removed from office by the Governor, Sir Hugh Dow, on October 10, 1942. This great sacrifice of a Muslim leader for the freedom of the country remains unknown even today.

The fact that Nathu Ram Godse, closely associated with Hindu Mahasabha, VD Savarkar and the RSS killed MK Gandhi on January 30, 1948 is known by all but how many of people know that Allah Bakhsh a great fighter for the independence of a united India and prolific opponent of the idea of Pakistan was murdered on May 14, 1943, in Sind by professional killers hired by the Muslim League. Allah Bakhsh needed to be liquidated because he was able to muster massive support of common Muslim masses throughout India against Pakistan.

It is a well-known fact that dismissal of Allah Bakhsh Government in 1942 and his murder in 1943 paved the way for entry of Muslim League in Sind. One could see the open ganging up of the British rulers and Muslim League in political and physical liquidation of Allah Bakhsh and his kind of anti-communal politics. It is important to remember that after the assassination of Allah Bakhsh Hindu Mahasabha led by Savarkar joined the coalition government in Sind led by Muslim League.

Sind Muslim League leader M AKhuhro was put on trial as the main conspirator in the killing of Allah Bakhsh. He was found not guilty, as the state could not produce an ‘independent’ witness to prove his involvement. Significantly, it was the same ground on which Savarkar secured acquittal in Gandhiji’s murder case later.

It really needs a serious inquiry that why powerful anti-two nation political trend led by Allah Bakhsh among Indian Muslims got pushed to oblivion. It suited the British masters and both Hindu-Muslim communalists. They saw India as a land of perpetual conflicts among religions. But the Indian secular state, which has the name of Sind in its National Anthem, became totally unmindful to this legacy which stood for a secular, united and democratic India. Allah Bakhsh spent all his life countering communal politics of Muslim League and its two-nation theory. In fact he laid down his life for this cause.

Within 5 weeks of the Pakistan resolution of the Muslim League at Lahore, Indian Muslims organised MUSLIM AZAD CONFERENCE in Delhi (Queen's Park, Chandni Chowk) between April 27-30, 1940 (it was to conclude on April 29 but was extended by one day due to tremendous participation and large number of issues to be deliberated) with 1400 delegates from almost all parts of India attending it.

The leading light of this conference was former Premier of Sind, Allah Bakhsh who presided over the conference was one of such heroes. The major Muslim organisations represented in this conference were All India Jamiat-ul-Ulema, All India Momin Conference, All India Majlis-e-Ahrar, All-India Shia Political Conference, Khudai Khidmadgars, Bengal Krishak Proja Party, All-India Muslim Parliamentary Board, the Anjuman-e-Watan, Baluchistan, All India Muslim Majlis and Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadis. The Azad Muslim Conference was attended by duly elected delegates from United Province, Bihar, Central Province, Punjab, Sind, NWF Province, Madras, Orissa, Bengal, Malabar, Baluchistan, Delhi, Assam, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kashmir, Hyderabad and many native states thus covering the whole of India.

There was no doubt that these delegates represented “majority of India’s Muslims.” Apart from these organisations a galaxy of leading intellectuals of Indian Muslims like Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari (who was in the forefront of struggle against the communal politics of Muslim League, died in 1936), Shaukatullah Ansari, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Syed Abdullah Brelvi, Shaikh Mohammed Abdullah, AM Khwaja and Maulana Azad were associated with this movement against Pakistan. Jamiat and other Muslim organizations produced large number of booklets in Urdu against Two-nation theory and in support of co-existence of Hindus and Muslims in India.
The conference resolved that Pakistan scheme was “impracticable and harmful to the country’s interest generally, and of Muslims in particular.”

While decrying the concept of a theocratic state itself he said:

“It was based on a false understanding that India is inhabited by two nations, Hindu and Muslim. It is much more to the point to say that all Indian Mussalmans are proud to be Indian Nationals and they are equally proud that their spiritual level and creedal realm is Islam. As Indian nationals-Muslims and Hindus and others, inhabit the land and share every inch of the motherland and all its material and cultural treasures alike according to the measure of their just and fair rights and requirements as the proud sons of the soil…It is a vicious fallacy for Hindus, Muslims and other inhabitants of India to arrogate to themselves and exclusively proprietary rights over either the whole or any particular part of India. The country as an indivisible whole and as one federated and composite unit belongs to all the inhabitants of the country alike, and is as much the inalienable and imprescriptible heritage of the Indian Muslims as of other Indians. No segregated or isolated regions, but the whole of India is the Homeland of all the Indian Muslims and no Hindu or Muslim or any other has the right to deprive them of one inch of this Homeland.”

He asked the Muslim Leagures and other flag-bearers of Muslim separatism a question based on Islamic historical experiences:

“Had the imperialistic structure of society been a guarantee of the prosperity of the Muslim masses and had empires not carried the germs of their own decay in them, then the mighty Omaiyad, Abbasid, Sarasenic, Fatimide, Sassanic, Moghal and Turkish empires would never have crumbled, leaving 1/5th of the human race, who live by Islamic faith in the condition in which they find themselves today-disinterested, and destitute in the bulk. Similarly those Hindus who entertain similar dreams, and who out of tendentiously written pages of history or out of the stimulating examples of the modern imperialists select ingredients for the nourishment of their imperial dreams, or dreams of exploitation, imposition and domination will be well advised to discard such ideals.”

Allah Bakhsh in his address defended greatly the composite Indian culture.

[For detailed study of Azad Muslim Conference read author’s book MUSLIMS AGAINST PARTITION OF INDIA: REVISITING THE LEGACY OF PATRIOTIC MUSLIMS (5th edition published by Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Delhi with website: www.pharosmedia.com). It is also available in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Kannada, and Punjabi.]

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Vol 56, No. 46, May 12 - 18, 2024