The Mountbatten plan – Dr Ramesh Kumar


June 3, 1947 holds importance for the success of the Pakistan Movement, led by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to achieve a separate and sovereign state of Pakistan.

Exactly 74 years ago, the last viceroy lord of British India, Mountbatten, delivered his address on the All India Radio on June 3, 1947 to formally announce the partition plan to divide British India into two independent states, Pakistan and India.

Also known as the June 3 Plan or Mountbatten Plan, it formally accepted the demand of the All India Muslim League for the establishment of Pakistan. On the occasion, the speech of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also broadcast on the radio, which was concluded by the slogan ‘Long live Pakistan.’ His slogan was a clear indication that the destination of freedom was now not far away.

History reveals that the traditional society of the Subcontinent was based on tolerance, solidarity and interfaith tolerance before the arrival of the East India Company. During the British rule, Mahatma Gandhi fully supported the Caliphate Movement, which was run by Indian Muslims to show solidarity with the Turkish Ottomans. Similarly, Quaid-e-Azam was known as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. The two great leaders always maintained a relationship of friendship and respect. Both Hindu and Muslim communities also have a common history of great struggle against British imperialism.

The British prime minister, Lord Attlee, announced in February 1947 withdrawal from the Indian subcontinent, and set a deadline of June 1948 for the transfer of power to the local representatives. In this regard, Lord Mountbatten was sent as the 29th and last viceroy of British India; upon his arrival, he immediately started meetings with local political figures.

The Congress was demanding the British leave India by handing over power to the majority whereas the Muslim League, under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was determined to establish a separate homeland of Pakistan. The viceroy himself was interested in keeping India united. He also desired to become the common governor general of both new countries, something that was rejected by Quaid-e-Azam. He assured the viceroy that the only solution to save India from further chaos was Partition.

After understanding the views of the two major political parties, Lord Mountbatten started working on the partition of India, which required the creation of two independent states. He left for London in May 1947 seeking final approval of his plan. The British Cabinet reviewed every aspect of the plan for ten days. By the end of May, the British government had approved Lord Mountbatten’s plan. The viceroy arrived in India immediately and then on June 3, 1947, the Partition of India was formally announced. Lord Mountbatten’s plan was approved by both the Muslim League and the Congress.

Although the British government had set a deadline of June 30, 1948 for the partition of India, Lord Mountbatten relinquished his responsibilities a year before, resulting in the worst kind of chaos and anarchy throughout the Subcontinent. In his August 11 speech, Quaid-e-Azam appealed to the non-Muslim Hindu minority living in Pakistan not to migrate from Pakistani territories. In response, thousands of Hindu families declared Pakistan, which came into being on the 14th of August 1947, their motherland (Dharti Mata).

It is quite unfortunate that the June 3 plan was hastily implemented. The viceroy completely neglected the division of the population on religious grounds in his plan. A tragic series of riots started in which approximately two million people were massacred in Punjab alone, while more than 20 million people were displaced from their homelands.

In my view, it was a wise decision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to accept the Mountbatten plan. Otherwise, if Britain had gone back without dividing the Subcontinent, the situation here would have been similar to that of Palestine where Israel was established at the behest of world powers but the promise of establishing sovereign Palestinian state is not fulfilled yet.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

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