Why was the Partition of India Necessary?

1. Religious hostility between the Hindus and Muslims

The Hindus made up almost two-thirds of India’s population of 400 million, with the rest consisting mainly of Muslims. In the 1937 elections, after the Hindu National Congress party had won in 8 states out of 11, they had called upon the Muslim League to merge with Congress, alarming the Muslim league. The Muslim league feared that the Hindus would dominate and independent India. As a result of this, the Muslim League leader, M.A. Jinnah had demanded a separate Muslim state, called Pakistan.

2. Failed attempts of compromise

The British had attempted to draw up a compromise solution which would be acceptable to both the Hindus and Muslims, however this failed. The British had proposed a federal scheme in which the provincial Governments would have greater control and power than the central Government. This scheme would enable provinces with a Muslim majority to control and handle their own affairs. Both parties had accepted this idea however they had failed to agree on the details.

3. Break outs of violence in August 1946

In August of 1946, when Lord Wavell (The King’s representative in India) invited Jawaharlal Nehru to form an interim Government, violence had broken out in the city Calcutta. Fierce rioting in Calcutta resulted in the deaths of 5000 people. This violence was the Muslims who had set about to slaughter Hindus. Soon the Hindus began to retaliate, India at this point in time, seemed on the brink of a civil war.

4.Lord Louis Mountbatten decides on Partition

The British government had realized that they lacked the military power to control the situation in India, therefore they had announced in early 1947, that they would leave India no longer than June 1948. Lord Louis Mountbatten was sent as the new viceroy. Mountbatten soon decided that the partition was the only way to avoid a civil war, realizing that either way there would probably be bloodshed whatever solution they tried. Mountbatten felt that the partition would produces less violence if Britain insisted on the Muslims to remain as part of India. Mountbatten had worked up a plan for dividing the country within 6 weeks, preparing India for the British withdrawal. Mountbatten’s plan had been accepted by Nehru and Jinnah, however Mahatma Gandhi still hoped for a united India. Fearing that a delay would cause more violence and uproar , Mountbatten brought the British withdrawal date forward to August of 1947.

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