Although the principle of religious majorities was followed for the partition of India, yet it was full of practical problems.” Examine.
The actual partition was accomplished by the so called 3 June plan or Mountbatten Plan announced by Mountbatten on 3 June 1947. The major points of this plan were as follows:
- Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in Punjab and Bengal legislative assemblies would meet and vote for partition. If a simple majority of either group wanted partition, then these provinces would be divided.
- Sindh was to take its own decision.
- The fate of North West Frontier Province and Sylhet district of Assam was to be decided by a referendum.
- India would be independent by 15 August 1947.
- The separate independence of Bengal was ruled out.
- A boundary commission to be set up in case of partition.
Thus, the principle of religious majorities was followed for the partition. However, there were several difficulties of this division. Such difficulties are discussed below:
Problems of East and West
India did not have a single belt of Muslim Majority areas. There were two areas of concentration, one in the west and one in the east. So, though division produced two countries, it actually resulted in three geographical pieces. The east Pakistan later became Bangladesh.
Merger of NWFP
Not all Muslim majority areas wanted to be in Pakistan. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the undisputed leader of NWFP staunchly opposed to the two nation theory. But ultimately the NWFP was made to merge with Pakistan against the wish of these leaders.
Difficulties related to provinces of Punjab and Bengal
Punjab and Bengal were the two Muslim majority provinces of British India. But there were many large areas within these provinces which had non-Muslims in majority. Thus, it was decided that these two provinces would be bifurcated according to the religious majority.