The Two Behaviour Patterns
‘Pakistan and Bangladesh are their fixed deposits. Those are Islamic states. No one else can lay a claim on them. India is a joint account. Plunder it as much as you please.’1 This is how Shri Shiva Prasad Roy, a very perceptive Bengali writer, has summed up the present situation in what is described as the Indian subcontinent now a days but what has been known as Bharatavarsha since time immemorial.
Shri Roy could have easily extended the logic and concluded that Afghanistan was another fixed deposit created by the Muslims quite some time before Pakistan and Bangladesh came into existence. Afghanistan, too, has been an Islamic state since its inception. But Shri Roy is not the only Hindu to have missed that point. Hindu society as a whole has ceased to remember that Afghanistan rose on the ruins of Gandhara and Kamboja, the two ancient Janapadas of Bharatavarsha which had stood guard on our North-Western gateway for ages untold.
Nor would Hindu society like to remember that Baluchistan, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh, West Punjab, East Bengal and Sylhet were constituent units of the motherland a mere 40 years ago. Hindu society would feign forget the Partition in 1947 if the Islamic crusaders inside the residue that is Hindustan did not continue to remind it that Partition was by no means a closed chapter. A proof positive of its own preference in the matter is provided by a plethora of studies on the subject published in this country in the years following 1947.
Stale Studies of Partition
All these studies describe in varying details the British game of divide-and-rule; the growth of Muslim fears of ‘Hindu domination’ after the Indian National Congress was founded in 1985; the rise of the Muslim League as a reaction to ‘Hindu revivalism’ in the wake of the Swadeshi Movement; the sabotage of efforts at Hindu-Muslim settlement by the grant of separate electorates under the Minto-Morley Reforms; the short-lived communal amity after the Lucknow Pact (1916) and during the Khilafat agitation (1920-22) under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and the Ali Brothers; the failure of fresh efforts for a Hindu-Muslim settlement under the initiative from C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru; the mistake made by the Congress when it refused to accommodate the Muslim League in provincial ministries formed in 1937; the ‘resultant’ rise of Muslim separatism culminating in the Lahore Resolution of the League in 1940; the failure of the Cripps Mission due to last minute machinations of Churchill; the move made by Wavell to break the deadlock in 1945 on the basis of the Desai-Liaqat agreement; the ‘torpedoing’ of the Cabinet Mission Plan by an ‘ill-advised’ statement of Pandit Nehru; the Direct Action launched by the Muslim League in August 1946 and the large-scale communal riots; the ‘disillusionment’ of Sardar Patel due to his ‘bitter experience’ of the Congress-League coalition; the award of the Radcliff Boundary Commission and the consequent blood-bath on both sides of the borders; and the final drop of the curtain on a dismal drama when the ‘Father of the Nation’ was martyred by a ‘Hindu fanatic’. The one unmistakable impression which these studies leave on a reader’s mind is that the whole bloody business is by now a part of the dead past and should excite no one except those who specialize in archival excavations. It is regarded as a serious violation of scholarship to see some pattern, psychological or ideological, in these developments.
Of course, the politicians who parade themselves as guardians of Secularism - a doctrine proclaimed after Partition-are not prepared to leave it at that. They tell us, in very grave tones, that the tragedy that took place on the eve of independence has a lesson to teach to the nation. They seem to be convinced that it was ‘Hindu communalism’ which divided the country and killed the ‘greatest Indian born after Gautama Buddha’. And they warn us that ‘Hindu communalism’ which was lying low for a few years is again striving to stage a comeback in order to subvert the secular ‘struggle for national integration’. They are never tired of talking about a ‘Hindu backlash’.2
Some of these secularist politicians swear by Mahatma Gandhi and his sarva-dharma-samabhava. Many more swear by Socialism which gives a good opportunity to the Communists and fellow-travellers to steal the whole show for their own ends. One can also spot, in these secularist ranks, many Mullahs playing the old separatist game under the cover of new slogans. But there are hardly any politicians who dare question the character or claims of this Secularism which has attained the status of a national consensus. The only jarring note is heard when the self-appointed high-priests of Secularism stigmatise some political and socio-cultural organisations as communal, and when the spokesmen of these ‘guilty parties’ bewail that they are being wrongly blamed and spend almost all their time in trying to prove their credentials to the contrary.
A Breath of Fresh Breeze
It is in this stale atmosphere of sterile scholarship and sloganized politics that the book by Shri H.V. Seshadri has come like a breath of fresh breeze. The Tragic Story of Partition3 is not only the latest but also the best study of this subject made so far. It gives us all the facts included in the earlier studies. It also takes into account many known but neglected facts. But what distinguishes it from all other studies, is its deeper probe and wider perspective in the interpretation of all facts and episodes.
This remarkable book has many facets, rich in ideological implications of a far-reaching import. We will take up those facets one by one in the chapters that follow. To start with, we want to take up what we consider to be its most important contribution, namely, the unravelling of two behaviour patterns - Muslim and National - which collaborated closely for years and precipitated Partition in the final round. The Muslim behaviour pattern was characterized by acrimony, accusations, complaints, demands, denunciations, and street riots. The National behaviour pattern, on the other hand, was characterized by acquiescence, assent, cajolery, concessions, cowardice, self-reproach, and surrender.
The two behaviour patterns have remained intact and are still operative. That is why the Partition in 1947 cannot and should not be considered a closed chapter. Moreover, the two behaviour patterns provide the key not only to a correct understanding of the complexities of present-day politics in India, but also to an anticipation of political developments in days to come.
The Muslim Behaviour Pattern
There is plenty of evidence to show that the Muslim behaviour pattern has remained true to type in the years after 1947. We have witnessed an increasing incidence of street riots staged by the same sort of Muslim hooligans, on the same sort of petty pretexts as in the years preceding Partition. Muslim spokesmen, no matter what political platform they use, have levelled the same sort of accusations, namely, that the Muslims are a ‘poor and persecuted minority’ entirely at mercy of a ‘brute Hindu majority’; that ‘Muslim lives, properties and honour’ are not safe in the midst of a rising tide of ‘Hindu communalism’; and that ‘Hindu chauvinism’ is seeking to wipe out all vestiges of Muslim religion and culture. It is the Pirpur Report4 of the Muslim League, all over again.
Next comes the constant complaint that the Muslim community has had hardly any share in the national cake, particularly in the fruits of economic development that has taken place in the years after independence. We are told that Hindu business houses do not give jobs to deserving Muslims, that Hindu bureaucrats discriminate against Muslims in public sector undertakings and state-sponsored welfare projects, and that Hindu-dominated educational institutions deny every opportunity to the Muslims to improve their qualifications. We are also informed that Hindu vested interests conspire with Hindu hooligans, Hindu police and Hindu militiamen to destroy Muslim properties and wreck Muslim business establishments wherever and whenever the Muslims start getting prosperous by their ‘own unaided enterprise’.5
These accusations and complaints have been followed by concrete demands which also remind us of pre-Partition days. The general demand is that Muslims should have not only reservations, proportionate to their population, but also weightages in all sectors and at all levels of national life, particularly the national administration including the armed forces. A few years ago, a Muslim spokesman6 had demanded that 20 percent seats in the Parliament and the State Assemblies should be reserved for members of his community. He also recommended that the remaining 80 percent seats should be filled only by those persons whose selection before elections had been cleared by the same community!
Finally, Muslim spokesmen have threatened that if their complaints are not heeded and their demands not met, ‘the Muslim masses will be forced to launch a struggle for securing justice for themselves’. Syed Shahabuddin, a luminary of the Janata Party, ‘shudders to think of the day when Muslim young men lose patience and take to the streets’.7 At the same time, they have invited all other ‘minorities’ to join them in a ‘just struggle’ for their rights. The ‘other minorities’ comprise not only the Christians but also Sikhs and so-called Adivasis and Harijans. One should not be surprised if the Jains and the Buddhists, the Jats and the Yadavas, the Vaishnavites and the Lingayats also receive similar invitations in the near future. After all, what is Hindu society but a ‘medley of minorities’, each with its own ‘grievances’?
As this Muslim behaviour pattern unfolds further, a demand for separate electorates is bound to be the next logical as well as psychological step. The ‘downtrodden Muslim masses’ will ‘discover’ before long that they cannot expect a ‘vigorous vocalization of their grievances’ from representatives elected by a ‘mixed population’, even when some of these representatives happen to come from their own midst. In due course, pressure will be mounted for constituting Muslim majority districts, divisions and regions wherever the Muslims have a sizable population. These Muslim majority areas will clamour for becoming autonomous units like the Kashmir Valley so that ‘the Muslims can decide their own destiny’. And these autonomous units will wait for an opportune time to federate with Pakistan or Bangladesh under the protection of this or that world-power, depending upon the configuration of world forces at that time. Meanwhile, Muslim majorities can be manipulated in many more districts by mass conversion of the weaker sections of Hindu society with the help of petro-dollars, by mass infiltration from Bangladesh and Pakistan, and by mass breeding in pursuance of ‘divine’ commands conveyed in the Quran and the Hadis. The contours of the campaign can be seen by all those who have not become blinded by secularist slogans, or have not been denationalized by a vote-hungry politics.
The National Behaviour Pattern
There is also plenty of evidence to show that the National behaviour pattern vis-a-vis the Muslim ‘minority’ has also remained true to type in the years after independence. The National leadership is once again responding to this sinister situation in the same sloganized manner as had been stereotyped by its predecessors in the years preceding Partition. This leadership has once again failed to see the long-term strategy at the back of short-term tactics. The scene is once again being dominated by politicians who live from hand to mouth, who cannot see beyond their nose, who run a rat race for winning applause from the Muslims, whose eyes are galvanized greedily on the Muslim vote-bank, and who take the Hindu society for granted.
There are several straws in the wind that is blowing in different parts of the country. Urdu is being recognized as an official language in state after state even though Urdu teachers in schools and colleges have to sit idle for want of students. Academies are being set up in many state capitals in the name of Iqbal, an ardent advocate of Islamic imperialism. Kerala has given a lead in carving out Muslim majority districts, leaving the local Hindu population at the mercy of Mullahs and Muslim hooligans. Bengal under anti-national Communists and U.P. under a crumbling Congress edifice are most likely to walk into this Islamic trap before long. Several enquiry commissions or their reports have been suppressed because the verdict was likely to go or had gone against the Muslims in fixing the responsibility for riots. Jagannath Mishra of Bihar set the record in this race for suppressio veri suggestio falsi when he cooked up a summary of the Jamshedpur riots report in direct contradiction to the conclusions reached by the enquiry commission concerned, and palmed it off on the Parliamentarians and the Press.
Assam is the most poignant pointer to the way towards which things are heading. In the past, the Islamic imperialists who invaded India had to equip and bring along their own armies. But in the case of Assam, the same invader has been assured by the Government of India that he need not bother to bring along his own battalions and that all ammunition and manpower he needs will be supplied to him in India itself, free of cost and in ample measure. It is a different story that the patriots in Assam have fought back fiercely, though with bare hands, to meet and, many a time, repel the rapacious marauder. The Government of India on its part has left no stone unturned to aid and abet the aggressor.
No Warning Voices
In the years preceding Partition, we had Sri Aurobindo, Swami Shraddhananda, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, Veer Savarkar and Dr. Hedgewar who had studied and seen through Islam and who had sounded an alarm. Even Rabindra Nath Tagore had expressed his misgivings after exchanging notes with some Mullahs and Muslims politicians. It is a different matter that their voices had been drowned by the sermons which Mahatma Gandhi poured out in praise of the ‘noble faith of Islam’. What remains significant in that old story is that these thinkers and writers had done their duty by their people. We hardly hear such voices of sanity in our present-day predicament. What we have, instead, is a large number of self-righteous or self-seeking politicians, hand-in-glove with scholars and scribes who have never done their homework in Islamic theology or Islamic history or Islamic theory of the state, and whose stock-in-trade is finding faults with a prostrate Hindu society.
The Tragic Story of Partition by Shri H.V. Seshadri, therefore, is a very welcome publication. It could not have come at a more opportune moment.
Shiv Prasad Roy, Dibbagyen Noy, KaNDagyen Chai, Calcutta, 1982. ↩
The latest phrase patronised by Secularism is ‘Hindu fundamentalism’. ↩
H.V. Seshadri, The Tragic Story of Partition Bangalore, 1982. ↩
A report published by the Muslim League in 1938 listing ‘atrocities committed against the Muslims’ by the Congress Ministries since 1937. It has been reprinted recently from New Delhi. ↩
The noted journalist Kuldip Nayar swallowed this Muslim thesis and tried his best to popularise it after the Moradabad Riots. Many other Hindu-baiters have been retailing it with airs of profound scholarship. ↩
Imam Abdullah Bukhari of Jama Masjid, Delhi. ↩
He is now in the Janata Dal. ↩