Important Factors to Stoke the Flame of Violence in the Partition of India
British India became Independent in 14th August 1947. It was partitioned on the basis of Two Nations Theory (Two Different Religious lines) into two Independent countries Pakistan and India. The partition was accompanied by excessive violence. Approximately, more than one million people were killed and more than 15 million people migrated as a direct result of the partition. Therefore, we are asked to explain the following topic: Important Factors to Stoke the Flame of Violence in the Partition of India. Three major factors that made Pakistan and India prone to violence are the following descried below:
The ethnic geography of the state describes whether a state is ethnically homogeneous or is consist of several ethnic groups. In India ethnicity was primarily linked to religion. There was two major religion in British India, Islam and hinduism. At the end of World War II, there was majority of Hindus and Sikhs in British India and Muslims were in Minority. The British Rule in India and the Majority of Hindus had been promoting the difference between the Ethnic groups by institutionalizing these difference in both social and political lives. Even drinking water was labeled as Hindu-Water and Muslim-Water. In Politics, separate electorates were given to different religious groups.
Because of those ethnic issues The All India Muslim League was came into being in 1909 and they further emphasized the ethnic difference between Muslims and Hindus and claimed that Muslims would only be free if they would have their own independent state and proposed two nations theory based on these Ethnic Difference.
Symbolism was used to enhance further ethnicity and provoke violence. The emphasis on the differences between Hindus and Muslims in the early 1940s was further enhanced by the fact that less and very less people (nearly round to nothing) saw the Indian National Congress as a representation of all Indians regardless of their religion. Indians National Congress was only working for the welfare of Hindus. For example, once in an office, Congress proposed BAN on Cow Slaughter. Therefore, Muslim members of the Congress realized that they would suppressed minority forever if they didn’t strive to get their homeland. Now Symbolism and Ethnic Difference was changing the Hindus and Muslim into Enemies. Now they were realizing their cultural difference, languages, colors, events and even the ways both were living.
Moreover, Flags were powerful images to underline the different Ethnicities. The Pakistani Flag with the Green surface with Moon and Star and white strip is the clear example of this. It is based on Muslim League Flag and includes the Green surface, moon and star as a Commitment to Islam. The thin white strip represents the minorities living in Pakistan.
The enhancement of ethnicity and symbolism led to huge destruction of human lives at the time of Migration during the partition of India. Due to which Muslims started killing to Hindus and Hindus started killing Muslims. For many people this view, that differences between members of groups are unchangeable, made violence a much more acceptable solution to cope with the conflicts that arose in the Indian subcontinent in 1946 and 1947.
Weak states are the states that lack political legitimacy, politically sensible borders and political institutions capable of exercising meaningful controls over their territory. It is disputable at which moment the British in India had lost political legitimacy, but until 1945 they were capable of exercising control over India’s territory. The political legitimacy of the British Rule had been declining since the end of the 19th century. Rich Indians got the opportunity to educate themselves in English universities and saw that they were second class citizens of the British Empire. Dissatisfied with their position, they organized themselves in the Indian National Congress. Decades later, under the leadership of Gandhi, Congress was transferred from a small organization of rich, highly-educated Indians into a mass-based organization with branches all over India. When British India was finally partitioned, Congress in India and the Muslim League in Pakistan had political legitimacy to rule the new-born states.
The quick transition also influenced the process of border making. The border commissions only had six weeks to decide where the borders would be located. The fact that the locations of the borders were not made public until August 17th, 1947 contributed to further enhancement of the general unrest. Also, once made public, the borders were disputed. Many people had expected India or Pakistan to be larger countries than they eventually became.
The British wanted to speed up the transition from a British colony into two independent states. This was done by expediting the date of independence ten months, while government officials had suggested that it would take a lot more time to divide all the administrative facilities into a Pakistani and an Indian part. Especially in Pakistan, new institutions to rule the state had to be created in a very limited time. At the date of the Partition, many of these institutions were not even housed yet. Government officials often worked in tents while the offices to house the different governmental institutions were built. This, in combination with inexperienced government officials and politicians, reduced the efficiency of the new governments. Neither of the governments had fully-functioning, capable institutions in the first months after Partition.
Intra-state Security Concerns:
The Indian Army consisted of more than 2.5 million soldiers at the end of World War II. It had fought for the British cause, both in Europe and in Asia. However, an army of this size was too expensive to maintain after the war. A major reorganization came into action. With the future independence in mind, the British had two goals: drastically reducing the number of soldiers and replacing British officers with Indian officers. The number of soldiers dropped from 2.5 million to 800,000 in October 1946. The number of soldiers further declined to 387,000 by April 1947. The societal, political and economic consequences of a major reorganization were not taken into account. It was already acknowledged in early 1947 that a reorganization on this scale would make the army more prone to ethnic division.
The army had been relatively less susceptible for ethnic division based on religion than the general population. Army divisions were religiously heterogeneous and consisted of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Historically, most soldiers for the Indian Army were recruited in Punjab. Many returned home because of the major reorganization. Intelligence operations soon received information that increasingly more volunteer paramilitary movements came into existence. The ‘volunteers’ in these organizations were often very well drilled and trained in military skills. These paramilitary movements were able to get access to weapons partly because of the fact that many U.S. arsenal and weapon depots from World War II were not destroyed when the U.S. forces left India. Many of these weapons were seized and given or sold to paramilitary organizations. Communalism, the tendency to feel strongly aligned to the own ethnic group rather than to society as a whole, was further heightened because the army was divided into an Indian army and a Pakistani army. This division was made along religious lines. Muslims would join the Pakistani army and Hindus and Sikhs would join the Indian army. The British officers of the Indian Army started leaving India two days after the date of the Partition. This was not only Britain’s wish. Nehru, for example, stated that day that “foreign armies are the most obvious symbol of foreign rule. They are essentially armies of occupation and, as such, their presence must inevitably be resented.” The Punjab Boundary Force (PBF) was created to fill in the vacuum that came into existence when the British left Punjab, the area that was most affected by the Partition violence. Its task was to prevent outbreaks of violence in Punjab. It consisted of 25,000 soldiers only, too few and too underequipped to be able to prevent all the violence from happening.
The first major implication was that the Indian Army became much weaker, both because it was reduced to a significantly smaller army in a very short amount of time and because the transition from a British led army to an Indian led army meant that communalism increased. Soldiers started to feel more loyal to their coreligionists than to the army itself. The second major implication was that a great number of soldiers was sent home, which was for most of them Punjab. This led to a militarization of Punjab. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs all started to organize and arm themselves. The knowledge of the Indian Army veterans contributed to the professionalism of the paramilitary organizations in the province. This combined with the availability of large numbers of (fire) weapons made Punjab increasingly more prone to conflict. The Punjab Boundary Force did not have the means to provide security in Punjab. The result was that the government temporarily could not remain order.
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