Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How Did India Pakistan Border Come To Be....

The Radcliffe Line had been declared as the boundary between India and Pakistan on August 17th 1947 which followed the Partition of India where the line is named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe. It was he who had commissioned to divide equally 4,50,000 km sq. of territory with 88 million people. The reason in creating the Radcliffe Line was to develop a boundary which would divide India together with religious demographics under the Muslim majority provinces that would become part of the new nation of Pakistan and Hindu and Sikh majority provinces would then remain in India.

The Indian Independence Act 1947 which came into force of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, on July 15th 1947, specified that India would be free from the British rule on 15th August 1947 precisely a month thereafter. Besides this, the act also agreed on the Partition of the provinces of British India into two new nations of the Union of India as well as the Dominion of Pakistan, which would be divided further into Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Pakistan was planned to be the homeland for Indian Muslims, while India with a Hindu majority was intended to be a secular nation.

The Radcliffe Line – Border between India/Pakistan

Partition – Basis of Religious Demographics 

Forty percent of India, prior to Partition, was covered by princely states that were not of British possession and was not part of British India. As a result, the British were unable to provide them independence, or partition them and the rulers belonging to these states were totally independent and could choose which of the two nation they would want to join or even remain independent.

All the rulers, however, decided to join India or Pakistan with the exception of only a small number who did not do so. The Partition of India which was done on the basis of religious demographics, the Muslim majority regions towards the north of India were to become part of Pakistan while Baluchistan and Sindh having a clear Muslim majority, automatically became part of Pakistan.

However, the challenge lay in the two provinces of Punjab with 55.7% Muslims and Bengal with 54.4% Muslims, which did not have any overpowering majority. The Western part of Punjab ultimately became part of West Pakistan while the Eastern part became part of India – Eastern Punjab was thereafter divided into three other Indian states.

Difficult to Draw Line

Bengal state was also partitioned into East Bengal that became part of Pakistan while West Bengal remained in India. After gaining independence, the North West Frontier Province which is situated near Afghanistan voted with intentions to join Pakistan.

However since the population of Punjab seemed to be scattered, it became difficult to draw a line which would divide the Hindus, Muslims and Sikh and hence no line drawn was preferred by the Muslim League which was headed by Jinnah, or the Congress headed by Nehru and Sardar Patel.

Therefore it was decided that a well-drawn line which would reduce the separation of farmers from their field while at the same time would minimize the number of people who would have to relocate, thus reducing the feeling of separation which comes up in a new surroundings.

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