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 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 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 who opposed Muslim League with all their resources and might remains buried even today. This criminal silence on the part of the secular state and organisations has only galvanised Hindu communalists to malign the Muslims of India.
One such example is of Allah Baksh 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 Baksh 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 Baksh 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 Baksh 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 Baksh 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, Savarkar and the RSS killed Gandhiji on January 30, 1948 is known by all but how many of us know that Allah Baksh 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 Muslim League. Allah Baksh needed to be liquidated because he was able to muster massive support of common Muslim masses through out India against Pakistan. Moreover, Allah Baksh as a great secularist with massive support in Sind and opposed to the formation of Pakistan could prove to be the greatest stumbling block in the physical formation of Pakistan as without Sind, the ‘Islamic State’ in the west of the country just could not have materialized.
It is a well-known fact that dismissal of Allah Baksh 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 Baksh and his kind of anti-communal politics.
Sind Muslim League leader M A Khushro was put on trial as the main conspirator in the killing of Allah Baksh. 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 later secured acquittal in Gandhiji’s murder case.
It really needs a serious inquiry that why political trends like led by Allah Baksh among Muslims got pushed to oblivion. It suited the British masters and Hindu-Muslim communalists fine. 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 Baksh 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.
It is really shocking that we have Savarkar’s statue in Parliament who was an ideological pal (or counter-pal) of Muslim League but no place for Allah Baksh. It is only a living testimony to the communal political structure which secular India is forced to live today.
Perhaps the greatest contribution of Allah Baksh against communal and two-nation politics was when he joined hands
with Muslim leaders like Mohammed Ibrahim, Hifzur Rehman and Ishaque Sambhali in organizing lower caste Muslim organisations on one platform named as Azad Muslims’ Conference (Independent Muslims’ Conference). It held its session in Delhi from April 27-30, 1940 with 1400 delegates from almost all parts of India attending it. The then British press which was mainly pro-Muslim League had to admit that it was the most representative gathering of Indian Muslims. This highly significant conference was presided over by Allah Baksh and passed the resolutions affirming that ”India would have geographical and political boundaries of an indivisible whole land and, as such, was the common whole land of all the citizens irrespective of race or religion.”
The conference also resolved that Pakistan scheme was ”impracticable and harmful to the country’s interest generally, and of Muslims in particular.” The conference called upon Muslims of India ”to own equal responsibilities with other Indians for striving and making sacrifices to achieve the country’s independence.”
Muslims like Allah Baksh who opposed the Muslim League and challenged its communal politics had done thorough home work as will be clear from the contents of presidential address delivered by Allah Baksh in 1940 Delhi Conference. He advanced historical facts to counter postulations of Muslim League and invited its leadership to respond to the ideological issues raised.
While decrying the concept of a theocratic state itself he said that ”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 made it clear that communalism was the creation of high castes among Muslims and Hindus. ”These feelings and ambitions among those who hope to constitute the ruling caste among Hindus or Muslims, as successors of the present Imperial Rulers, revive and invent excuses for popular consumption from historical or other sources, and by securing the support of groups, manoeuver themselves into a position to play the political chess, which promises a possible prospect of success in their aim of becoming the rulers of the masses either integrally of the entire country or of a delimited region.”
He asked Muslim Leagures, ”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.”
He was right in complaining (which also throws light on how Muslim League got prominence) that, ”Indian Mussalmans have a legitimate cause of complaint against the Congress on the ground that it has not found it possible so far to confer with them for a settlement of the communal issue.”
Allah Baksh in his address defended greatly the composite Indian culture, ”When they talk of Muslim culture they forget the composite culture which the impact of Hindus and Muslims has been shaping for the last 1000 years or more and in which is born a type of culture and civilisation in India in the production of which Muslims have been proud and active partners. It can not now merely by creating artificial States be withdrawn to segregated areas. To art and literature, architecture and music, history and philosophy and to the administrative system of India, the Mussalmans have been contributing for a thousand years, their share of coordinated, composite and syncretic culture which occupies a distinctly distinguished place in the types of civilisations which hold a prominent place in the world. It would be a disastrous loss to civilisation if it was proposed to withdraw all this to two corners of India and leave nothing behind the ruins and debris of this contribution. Such a proposal can only emanate from defeatist mentality. No, gentleman, the whole of India is our motherland and in every possible walk of life we are co-sharers with other inhabitants of the country as brothers in the same cause, viz., the freedom of the country, and no false or defeatist sentiment can possibly persuade us to give up our proud position of being the equal sons of this great country.”
Allah Baksh, while calling upon to guard against communalism, declared that the goal of the anti-communal movement must be, ”to build up a vigorous, healthy, progressive and honoured India enjoying its well-deserved freedom.” These prophetic words of Allah Baksh hold key to the salvation of India even today.
Shamsul Islam, Indian Currents 1 June 2003