Lost and Sought in Seven Decades: Peeping through Indo-Pak History

Baaghi is committed to truth and bringing to its readers the analyses on historical events objectively and dispassionately. Those who are firm believers of state-authored textbook history in subcontinent are on higher risk of being offended and agitated. It is recommended to kindly treat history as a sacred thing which we owe to our posterity in purest of its form and content. With this view, Baaghi brings you some nuggets of events that led to the partition of Indian subcontinent. While some call it "independence", others may term it the saddest incidence of the history of region where the arms of this mighty subcontinent were chopped off. But dismemberment of United India was not the only tragedy people saw. It also brought a bloodshed, human misery and destruction with it, rarely found in recent history. 

Not one factor or actor of the time, however, could be accused of this gory episod. There are many. In fact all the elements of subcontinent's political mainstream, now seem to be accomplice in this, when we peep through history pages today. Here we reproduce two important documents from the archives of partition papers, resting peacefully in British Library, United Kingdom. For the ease of researchers, the document number has also been given whereby you can reach it from the Library.


Text of the Second Resolution passed by the All-India Muslim League Council at Bombay on 29 July 1946.


Resolution No. 2

Whereas the Council of the All-India Muslim League has resolved to reject the proposals embodied in the Statement of the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy, dated 16th May 1946, due to the intransigence of. the Congress on one hand, and the breach of faith with the Muslims by the British Government on the other; and

Whereas Muslim India has exhausted without success all efforts to find a peaceful solution of the Indian problem by compromise and constitutional means; and

Whereas the Congress is bent upon setting up Caste-Hindu Raj in India with the connivance of the British; and Whereas recent events have shown that power politics and not justice and fairplay are the deciding factors in India affairs; and

Whereas it has become abundantly clear that the Muslims of India would not rest contented with anything less than the immediate establishment of Independent and fully sovereign State of Pakistan and would resist any attempt to impose any constitution-making machinery or any constitution, long term or short term, or the setting up of any Interim Government at the Centre without the approval and consent of the Muslim League.

The Council of the All-India Muslim League is convinced that now the time has come for the Muslim Nation to resort to Direct Action to achieve Pakistan, to assert their just rights, to vindicate their honour and to get rid of the present British slavery and the contemplated future Caste-Hindu domination.

This Council calls upon the Muslim Nation to stand to a man behind their sole representative and authoritative organisation, the All-India Muslim League, and to be ready for every sacrifice.

This Council directs the Working Committee to prepare forthwith a programme of Direct Action to carry out the policy enunciated above and to organise the Muslims for the coming struggle to be launched as and when necessary.

As a protest against and in token of their deep resentment of the attitude of the British, this Council calls upon the Mussalmans to renounce forthwith the titles conferred upon them by the alien Government.


Having read the above Resolution, it would be interesting for the readers to go through following secret report that was submitted to the then Viceroy, Lord Wavell. This report covers the event of a massacre that followed the above resolution and the Direct Action Day. According to newspaper reports (Archives …) the post Direction Action events rendered around 4000 people killed and more than 100,000 displaced in the West Bengal especially Calcutta, in the wake of worst communal violence, termed as Great Calcutta Kilings. Sir John Burrow wrote this report with the perspective of British Governor of Bengal, and in quite detail. For the purpose of brevity, the report has been extracted by the British Library as under:


An extract of a secret report written on 22 August 1946 to the Viceroy Lord Wavell, from Sir Frederick John Burrows, concerning the Calcutta riots.

[IOR: L/P&J/8/655 f.f. 95, 96-107]


22nd August 1946

Dear Lord Wavell,

The series of telegrams, beginning with No.192 of August 16th, will have kept you apprised from day to day of the board outline of the appalling disturbances that have occurred in Calcutta. In this letter I am attempting to give a fuller picture of the setting, the course of events, and my preliminary conclusions. It is too soon to expect a very accurate account even of the disturbances themselves, far less to attempt a balanced judgement either of the causes of the riots or the wisdom of the measures taken to quell them. I shall try to be as objective as possible, and shall in particular exclude all reference to food and relief, (about which I shall address you separately as soon as possible), and to the repercussions on my Ministry. I am sending a copy of this letter to Pethick-Lawrence by safe hand on a York plane.

2. The setting. Omitting the more remote causes of the riots – the long struggle for power between Hindus and Muslims, in which Calcutta is a focal point, the weakening of our authority which is an inevitable consequence of our impending departure, the dislocation of the normal life of Calcutta by war and famine, and the presence of a Muslim Ministry in a predominantly Hindu city – the proximate cause was the resolution of the Council of the All-India Muslim League passed at Bombay on July 29th, calling on 'the Muslim nation to resort to direct action to achieve Pakistan', and the consequent fixing of August 15th as 'Direct Action Day'. I enclose a cutting from the "Star of India" of August 9th – it was repeated in subsequent issues till the 13th – giving the programme for 'Direct Action Day' in Calcutta.

3. The decision of my Ministry to declare a holiday under the Negotiable Instructions Act on August 16th has been a matter of some controversy. …… It is easy to be wise after the event and to say that the trouble would not have occurred if there had not been a holiday, "for Satan finds some mischief still, for idle hands to do". I disagree; many of the mischief-makers were people who would have had idle hands anyhow. If shops and markets had been generally open, I believe that there would have been even more looting and murder than there was; the holiday gave the peaceable citizens the chance of staying at home. There was an adjournment motion in the Legislative Council on August -15th about the declaration of a holiday. The Chief Minister, defending the decision, said that though the Muslims would observe the day peacefully and in a disciplined manner, there was always a danger of conflict arising; Congressmen had in the past enforced hartals by violence, and Muslims might be tempted to follow their example, which in the present political atmosphere was bound to five rise to communal conflict. It was to minimize the risk of such conflicts that he had declared a holiday. ……

4. As regards the probabilities of trouble and its possible extent, we found it extremely difficult to arrive at any confident appreciation in advance. Outwardly both major parties and also the independent Schedule Caste leaders, who had announced their intention to support the Muslim protest, had emphasised the necessity of keeping the peace. On the other hand the atmosphere was admittedly explosive and we realised – and I impressed it on my Chief Minister and all his colleagues – that the League were playing with fire. ……

5. Narrative of events. ……

6. Friday, August 16th. Even before 10 o'clock Police Headquarters had reported that there was excitement throughout the city, that shops were being forced to close, and that there were many reports of stabbing and throwing of stones and brickbats. The trouble had already assumed the communal character which it was to retain throughout. At that time it was mainly in the northern half of the city. (Later reports indicate that the Muslims were in an aggressive mood from early in the day and that their processions were well armed with the lathis, iron rods and missiles. Their efforts to force Hindu shops to close as they passed through the streets were greeted with showers of brickbats from the roofs above – indicating that the Hindus were also not unprepared for trouble – and from this sort of exchange of missiles, matters soon degenerated into arson, looting and murder). The situation deteriorated during the forenoon and at 2.40 p.m. the Chief Secretary rang up my Secretary to say that the position had become so serious that he supported the request of the Commissioner of Police that the Army should be called in at once in aid of the civil power. …… Ten minutes later the Commissioner of Police reported that the Chief Minister had already agreed to the calling in of troops. He added that the Police had used tear-smoke on crowds frequently and that the situation was bad in Harrison Road, Wellington Square and Corporation Street. ……


Yours sincerely,

(Sgd.) F. J. Burrows.

His Excellency Field Marshal the Right Hon'ble Viscount Wavell, G.C.B., G.H.S.I., G.H.I.E., C.M.G., M.C.

Viceroy and Governor-General of India, The Viceroy's House, New Delhi.