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Lahore 1940: Last stand of the Indian Muslim League

Despite the best efforts of a bunch of Indian Muslims committed to secularism, the British managed to carve out Pakistan — to retain a toehold for themselves & their allies

AKHILESH MITHAL  10th Jun 2012

The Indian Muslim League in 1940

he 1947 partition of India into the two dominions, India and Pakistan, was first formally suggested in the annual session of the Indian Muslim League held on 27 April 1940 at Lahore. The Muslims of India who were opposed to the Partition held a three-day conference in the gardens adjacent to the Delhi Railway Station under the chairmanship of Khan Bahadur Allah Bukhsh Prime Minister of Sindh.

The claim of the Muslim League – to be the sole and only representative of the Muslims of India – was contested. Allah Bukhsh pointed out that the Congress representative role was demonstrated by their being in power in seven provinces and controlling power in the eighth. As against this, the Muslim League was nowhere.

'But what credentials beyond public meetings did the League present to be recognised as the representative of the majority of Indian Muslims? The only way to test its representative character would be to send the League to the polls on the specific issue of the policy it has declared at Lahore.'

'For whatever may have been its support before, in the provinces where the Muslims are in a minority, it has definitely injured it beyond repair by throwing the minority Muslims overboard and propounding a wholly impracticable scheme of creating a sovereign state of some crores of Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan and Baluch Muslims in the north-west and another of two-and-a-half crores of Assamese and Bengali Muslims in the north east separated by a thousand miles.'

Allah Bukhsh went on to demolish the 'two nation' theory. He stated, 'Indian Muslims are proud to be Indian Nationals and they were equally proud that their spiritual and creed was Islam. A majority of the 90 million Indian Muslims who are the descendants of the earlier inhabitants are in no sense other than sons of the soil with the Dravidian and Aryan and have as much right to be reckoned amongst the earliest settlers of this common land. The nationals of different countries cannot divest themselves of their nationality merely by embracing one or the other faith'.

he resolution passed by the conference reads: India with its geographical and political boundaries, is an indivisible whole, and as such it is the common homeland of all its citizens, irrespective of race or country, contain the hearths and homes of the Muslims and the cherished historic monuments of their religion and culture which are dearer to them than their lives. From the national point of view every Muslim is an Indian. The common rights of all the inhabitants of the country and their responsibilities in every walk of life and every sphere of activity are the same'.

'The Indian Muslim by virtue of these rights and responsibilities is unquestionably an 'Indian national' and, in every part of the country he is entitled to equal privileges with all other Indian nationals in every sphere of governmental, economic, and other national activities. For that very reason, Muslims owe equal responsibility with other Indians for striving and making sacrifices to achieve the country's independence'.

The visas required to travel from India to Pakistan are ever more onerous. It is time to consider whether it would serve our long term interests if visas were abolished in all areas that were ever India

The next paragraph addresses the allegation that 'a section of Indian Muslims was helping Britain to deny freedom to India'. 'This conference unreservedly and strongly repudiates the baseless charge levelled against Indian Muslims by the agents of British Imperialism and others that they are an obstacle in the path of Indian freedom and emphatically declares that the Muslims are fully alive to their responsibility and consider it inconsistent with their tradition and derogatory to their honour to lag behind others in the struggle for the country's independence'.

The resolution was passed unanimously. Maulana Habibur Rehman moved another resolution. This conference considers that any scheme which divides India into 'Hindu' India and 'Muslim' India is impractical and harmful to the people of the country generally and particularly to Muslims'.

'This conference is convinced that the inevitable path of such a scheme will be that obstacles will be created in the path of Indian freedom and British Imperialism will exploit it for its own purposes'. Despite all this, the British Government remained adamant in proclaiming Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League as the sole representatives of the Muslims of India. Leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of the N.W.F.P. Khan Abdul Samad Khan of Baluchistan were ignored and the scheme to divide the country into Hindu India and Muslim India was carried out.

It is obvious that Pakistan was created to help the British and their allies to retain a toehold in what used to be India. Today, the formula for treating the Pakistanis is 'reciprocity'.

The visas required to travel from one country to the other are ever more onerous. It is time to consider whether it would serve India's long term interests if visas were abolished (unilaterally to begin with) in all areas that were ever India.

A Nepalese can come and go as he likes. Why not a Pakistani, a Bangladeshi, a Burmese national or one hailing from Aden?

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