City and County teachers preparing resources based on the Partition archive
The Record Office is delighted to be working with teachers from four schools in Leicester and Leicestershire preparing teaching and learning resources based on the new Partition archive. Watch this space for further developments.
Copyright Leicester Mercury. Permission granted by Editor.
‘DIRECT ACTION DAY’ BLOODSHED IN CALCUTTA
Leicester Mercury, 16 Aug. 1946, p. 4.
Troops were called out this afternoon in Calcutta, where 15 people were killed and some 150 injured – many through stabbing – during the observance of ‘Direct Action Day’. This is the Muslims’ day of protest against the British Cabinet’s Mission Plan for India. One hospital alone treated 120 victims. The office of the Bengal provincial Congress Committee was heavily stoned and several shops were looted.
A PUBLIC HOLIDAY
The Bengal government, which is composed of Muslim League supporters, declared a holiday today through the province. Trams were not running and daily deliveries of food were held up. There was a complete stoppage of all business activities at Karachi, the Muslim League ministry in Sind having declared a public holiday. All the city’s transport services were suspended. At Lahore, in the Punjab, more than 1??,000 Muslims attended a meeting at which the Nawab of Mysore ? , President of the Punjab ? Muslim League, ILLEGIBLE. He renounced his hereditary title of Nawab in pursuance of the League’s position to renounce British- conferred titles. There was a complete stoppage of work by Muslims. British troops are standing by in Bombay, where this afternoon Mr. Jinnah (President of the Muslim League) is to address a mass meeting. Hundreds of Muslim students walked in procession this morning through the principal Muslim areas, raising Pakistan slogans and waving Muslim League flags. All Muslim shops were closed. Meanwhile, Pandit Nehru (President of the Indian National Congress) confirmed that he and Mr. Jinnah had failed to reach agreement over the formation of an interim government, a task which the Viceroy had entrusted to Pandit Nehru. The Congress President indicated that Congress would go ahead, saying ‘we cannot stand still because of this unfortunate lack of cooperation from the Muslim League’.
WHY MUSLIMS OBJECT
Nehru expected to meet Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, in Delhi tomorrow. Congress Party quarters expect that an Indian government, headed by Mr. Nehru, will be in office next week and have freely named him as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Qazi Mohammed Isa, member of the Muslim League Working Committee, said in New Delhi that a Congress-League coalition is not impossible, but that the League would not join and interim government if the Congress Party insisted on including a Muslim among its nominees. ‘That is a point on which there can be no compromise’, he said. Reuter.
RENEWED RIOTING IN CALCUTTA, POLICE OPEN FIRE CASUALTIES: 200 DEAD, 1,500 IN HOSPITAL
Leicester Mercury, 17 Aug. 1946, p. 6.
CALCUTTA. Saturday. Police opened fire several times in Calcutta today, to disperse crowds as disturbances broke out on the second day of the Muslim League ‘Direct Action’ Campaign, with a total death-roll reaching 200, and about 1,500 injured in hospital. Army planes were flying over the city. The city is without trams or buses and there were no deliveries of milk or newspapers today. In the city’s hospitals, choked with victims, surgeons and nurses worked all night at the task of catching up with the arrears of injured, some of them desperately hurt, who were brought in cars or on the shoulders of their friends. Shops are closed today and the normal city life is practically at a standstill. Many people stayed away from their jobs, afraid to venture on the streets. Heavy stone-throwing was going on in some parts of central Calcutta this afternoon, a row of furniture shops was smashed and their contents looted. In some districts, both Hindus and Muslims organized their own ‘defence parties’. An order today prohibited the assembly of more than 5 persons in the streets and the carrying of weapons in Calcutta.
TROOPS PATROLLED STREETS
British troops with fixed bayonets patrolled the streets throughout the night curfew period. The office of the Bengal Congress Committee was attacked three times during the night. Numbers of Congress volunteers, who went unarmed into the riot zones, in an effort to quell mob furies, have still not reported back to their local headquarters. British troops in considerable force moved into Calcutta this afternoon, as the Bengal government confirmed that the army had been asked to help the police ‘consequent on a deterioration in the situation’. No reports of disorders came from other parts of India.
Pandit Nehru, Congress Leader, who has been asked to form an Indian Interim Government, met Field Marshal Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, today, a few hours after his arrival in New Delhi from Bombay.
‘STOP FIGHTING’ APPEAL
Mr. Jinnah said in Bombay today: ‘I unreservedly condemn the acts of violence and deeply sympathize with those who have suffered.’ A joint appeal to ‘stop this fratricidal war at once’ was issued by the local leaders of the Congress Party and the Muslim League in Calcutta today. The appeal said: ‘what has happened is done and finished with. All this warfare must stop. We beg our brethren to listen to us.’
HIDE-AND-SEEK RIOTERS IN CALCUTTA
Leicester Mercury, 19 Aug. 1946, p. 3.
After reports this morning that the tension in Calcutta, scene of three days of blood rioting, was easing, the Bengal provincial Congress Committee office this afternoon stated that crowds were out in the streets, and there had been some cases of looting in the Kidderpore market area. A ration shop was raided and looted by hooligans in the Bazaar area, and in another district two people were severely beaten and a boy was stabbed. A few news hawkers appeared on the streets and there were other signs of a slow return to normal life, some shop keepers resuming business. Most of Calcutta’s newspapers were on sale this morning in the centre of the city, after several days during which some daily papers had to suspend publication, and others appeared considerably reduced in size.
MOBS DODGE PATROLS
A British police officer stated today ‘in the past 72 hours women and children have been chased into houses and stabbed by hooligans. Houses have been raided and the occupants pulled out, stabbed and flung into the streets to die and rot there’. Another police officer said ‘at the site of patrols mobs were taking cover in by-lanes and emerging into the open as soon as they found themselves out of danger. This game of hide and seek went on in many places.’
BENGAL GOVERNMENT’S FUTURE
The Statesman demands that the Governor (Sir Frederick Burrows) shall immediately dismiss the Muslim League ministry in Bengal. Two Congress leaders (Sarat Chandra Bose and Dr. Bidan Chandra Roy) and the Nationalist millionaire businessman, Mr. G. D. Birla, met Sir Frederick today to discuss the situation. The parliamentary sub-committee of the Congress Working Committee, which was making the final decision on names of members of the new provisional government, met again today at the house of Dr. Azad, Congress ex-President in New Delhi. Pandit Nehru was also present. The telephone and telegraph service between Delhi and Calcutta has been suspended ‘until further notice’, the government of India announced officially today. Reuter.
20,000 FLEE FROM CALCUTTA
Leicester Mercury, 20 Aug. 1946, p. 1.
Firing began in the Corporation Street area of Calcutta in the early hours of today, to disperse hooligans. Although Calcutta was free from major trouble in the night, stray assaults and arson was reported from several riot centres. The fire brigade answered 25 fire calls, compared with over a thousand during the past three days. Nearly 20,000 of the City’s panic-stricken inhabitants, most of them carrying their worldly possessions in bundles, were making their way to Howrah station, on the west bank of the river Hooghly to find trains to take them out. The situation is now ‘definitely under control’, according to a Bengal government spokesman. Trams have begun to run again in South Calcutta, and the service may be increased today.
INDIA AT THE CROSSROADS
Leicester Mercury, 19 Mar. 1947, p. 7.
India is at the crossroads. Photographs flown to Britain from the centre of rioting in the Punjab, published in this week’s Illustrated Leicester Chronicle, vividly picture the tragedy of India.
TRAGEDY OF INDIA: PICTURES BY AIR
Illustrated Leicester Chronicle, 22 Mar. 1947, p. 5.
Three illustrations. The captions are:
These striking pictures of the Indian communal riots in the Punjab reveal the centre of the tragedy of the Indian scene today – an India on the verge of self-government which cannot govern itself. The picture above, flown to Britain, shows a street in the Hata Bazaar in the Hindu shopping centre of Lahore. Scenes of terrible destruction were witnessed after the crowds had run riot. Many lives were lost, and arson and looting was rife. While the British government has announced its intention to grant self-government to India in 1948, the latest rioting is an ugly reminder that India might not be ready for responsibility.
Desolation and Destruction in Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs, in the Punjab. This picture shows looters at work during a lull in the rioting. The street wreckage gives the appearance of a blitzed town.
This is what the communal riots mean in human tragedy. It is always the children who suffer most. These child victims in Amritsar look on in bewilderment. Their mother was stabbed to death and the elder child hurt. They were rescued by a British military patrol.
LEICESTERS MOVE TO BOMBAY ‘ACTION STATIONS’
Leicester Mercury, 31 Mar. 1947, p. 1.
BOMBAY. Monday. Troops of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment moved to ‘action stations’ shortly after dawn today in the areas of Bombay where yesterday’s communal rioting cost, according to unofficial estimates, 50 lives and injured about 150 people. Soldiers patrolled riot areas and mounted guard at danger spots as the lifting of a 12-hour curfew brought people streaming onto the streets. Tension was still evident, but apart from two isolated cases of stabbing, there have been no incidents since midnight. A Bombay government communiqué said that the situation was under control today, although there was some tension in areas involved in last night’s disturbances. Reuter.
INDIA TRAVEL WARNING
Leicester Mercury , 1 May 1947, p. 1.
Persons who intend to travel to India during the next twelve months with the intention of leaving India again within a year are strongly advised by the India Office to postpone their intention until such time as the passage situation improves unless they are engaged in essential business in India, and are prepared to wait a considerable time before they can again obtain a passage from India.
‘INDIAN DECISIONS IN FEW WEEKS’
Leicester Mercury , 7 May 1947, p. 1.
New Delhi, Wednesday. Mr. Jinnah, President of the Muslim League,said today that in his opinion decisions concerning the whole of India were likely to be announced in a few weeks. Mr. Jinnah was referring to the visit to London of General Lord Ismay, a senior member of the Viceory’s staff.
FATEFUL DECISION ON INDIA SOON
Leicester Evening Mail , 7 May 1947, p. 1.
Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah, President of the Muslim League, said in New Delhi that in his opinion, decisions concerning the whole of India were likely to be announced in a few weeks. Mr. Jinnah was referring to the visit to London of General Lord Ismay, a senior member of the Viceroy’s staff.
VICEROY FOR BRITAIN, QUICK RETURN
Leicester Evening Mail , 16 May 1947, p. 1.
Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, was expected to leave New Delhi for London this weekend for final discussion with the British Government on plans for the transfer of power to Indian hands. He is said to be anxious to finish his work and return to India in the shortest possible time.
When the House of Commons met today, Mr Anthony Eden, said the House would want to be kept informed of any development of the Indian situation which might arise. He hoped a statement would be made at the earliest convenient opportunity. Mr. Arthur Greenwood, Acting Leader of the House, gave the assurance that a statement would be made. Police patrols were strengthened and military forces called out in the curfew-bound city of Lahore today, after another night of communal violence. Fires were started in several localities and the fire brigade had difficulty in preventing widespread extension of the flames.
VICEROY’S LONDON TALKS ON INDIA NEXT WEEK
Leicester Evening Mail , 17 May 1947, p. 1.
Vital talks in London between Lord Mountbatten, Viceroy of India, and the Cabinet, at which final discussions about the handing over of power in India will be reached, will open in London next week. They will not last for more than about a week. The Viceroy must be back in Delhi to meet the Indian leaders on 2 June. Lord Mountbatten will leave Delhi tomorrow or on Monday. By the middle of the week he will begin his talks with the Prime Minister, Lord Listowel, Secretary for India, and Lord Ismay. After further consultations with the Cabinet Subcommittee, which deals with Indian and Burmese affairs, there will be final decisions by the whole Cabinet. The British government’s views and decisions will be conveyed to the Indian leaders when Lord Mountbatten returns to India about 30 May.
VICEROY HOME WITH TRANSFER PLAN
Leicester Evening Mail , 19 May 1947, p. 1.
As Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, reached London today with his plan for transferring power in India, Reuter messages told of mounting tensions in the communal situation he had left behind him. British troops were patrolling the city and suburbs of Lahore, capital of the Punjab, where 90 persons, including a government officer, were arrested as the city entered its sixth day of communal riots. Viscount Mountbatten landed at Northolt Aerodrome shortly after noon today. With him was Lady Mountbatten. Among those who met the Viceroy were Lord Listowel, Secretary for India. Asked if he had anything to say about the mission to Britain and the situation in India, Lord Mountbatten replied, ‘when I have something to say, I will say it’. He declined to go to the microphone. Lord and Lady Mountbatten drove to Buckingham Palace, where they are staying for the next few days. Arrangements have been made for Viscount Mountbatten to meet the Prime Minister and other Ministers concerned with Indian affairs this evening. Five new riot deaths were announced today and 2 new cases of arson. Army fire brigades were fighting fires still burning after overnight riots in central Lahore, and renewed communal violence was also reported in Calcutta and in Amritsar – the holy city of the Sikhs. Police opened fire on rioters at Lahore, Calcutta and Amritsar. In Calcutta, where further talks on the future of Bengal are to be held between Muslim and Congress party leaders, police opened fire to disperse rioters.
WHILE VICEROY MEETS CABINET MINISTERS, INDIANS SEND PROTEST CABLES TO ATTLEE
Leicester Mercury , 20 May 1947, p. 1.
Cables from India are arriving in London while the Viceroy is talking over his plan for the transfer of power with Mr. Attlee and Cabinet Ministers. Elected representatives of Sind minorities (non-Muslims) in the Indian Constituent Assembly today cabled Mr. Attlee from Karachi, strongly opposing the division of India and the inclusion of Sind in Pakistan (a separate Muslim State). The cable point out that this would result in the exclusion of 1,300,000 non-Muslims from the Indian Union against their wishes. From Calcutta, the Presidents of the Indian National Maritime Union and the Indian Jute Growers’ Association, whose members are mostly Muslims, cabled Mr. Attlee protesting against the proposed partition of Bengal, particularly the proposal to ‘chop off Calcutta from the body of Bengal’. Reuters explain that Hindus include Calcutta, where they are in a majority, in their demand for a separate W. Bengal State. A report that the British Government were considering inviting Indian leaders to London for consultations, which would take the place of the Delhi Conference, was today authoritatively denied in London.
‘COMMUNIST THREAT TO UNITED INDIA’.
Forecasting the unification of India, sooner or later after June 1948, Sir Frederick James, a member of the Indian Legislative Assembly, told the East Indian Association in London today that the movement for union would come, not from external compulsion, but from common need and interest among the separate States. Sir Frederick believed that what was most likely to be common to the new Indian States was that with the disappearance of British imperialism there would be a growing fear of dollar imperialism and Soviet expansionism. ‘Hindustan will probably be shier of foreign capital than Pakistan. A Muslim Government is likely to pursue a more Radical Socialist policy than the government of Hindustan. In short, as in the West, so in the East, the field for private enterprise is rapidly diminishing. Communal conflict will, I believe, gradually disappear or lessen. But Communism will remain, with its imminent and constant threat.’ After the control of Indian had passed out of our hands, Sir Frederick concluded, ‘India’s future will still mean much to Britain. Indeed, perhaps the finest chapter in our relations with that wonderful country is about to be opened’.
WOMEN FLEE FROM LAHORE
Leicester Evening Mail , 20 May 1947, p. 1.
The communal rioting in Lahore has grown worse, with gun battles between rioters and police in which 18 people were killed and 24 injured. Women and children were streaming from the city last night, to seek safety after a sixth day of fighting, burning and looting. British and Indian troops patrolled the city’s almost deserted central streets. Colleges and schools were closed, mills and warehouses idle. The situation was described last night as ‘under control’.
VITAL DECISIONS ON INDIA TODAY
Leicester Mercury , 23 May 1947, p. 7.
At a special Cabinet meeting today, Ministers gave final approval to the terms of the Partition Plan, which will be brought forward if, as seems probable, further efforts to secure a united India fail, when the Viceroy meets the political leaders there on 2 June. The meeting, at 10 Downing Street, lasted less than an hour. Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, did not attend but the sub-committee on India – consisting of the Prime Minister, Lord Listowel, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr A. V. Alexander – reported on the talks they had had with him. Although discussions on the plan for handing over power will end today, there remain other important matters for consideration, and the Viceroy will attend further meetings of Ministers next week, at which these questions will be considered. Statements on the decisions taken in London will be made simultaneously in India and London after the Viceroy’s return to Delhi and the Government’s proposals will be the subject of a debate in the House of Commons.
MORE RIOTS AS VICEROY FLIES TO INDIA
Leicester Evening Mail , 30 May 1947
More civil strife was reported today from the Punjab and Hyderabad State as the Viceroy, Viscount Mountbatten, sped back to India from London bring details of Britain’s latest procedure plan for transferring power to India. He is expected to arrive this evening. Meanwhile, large armed bands are reported to be wandering about the Bidar District of Hyderabad, where 10 people were killed and one injured when police fired on an unruly crowd. The mob resisted the police, throwing stones and firing gunshots. Several Constables were injured by stones, and one by a bullet. From Amritsar, Sikh Holy City in the Punjab, it was announced that communal disturbances there since 5 March had caused 247 deaths and injury to 519. In Sikh-Muslim clashes there yesterday, 5 people were killed. Pandit Nehru, Congress leader and Vice-President of the Interim Government, is today touring the riot areas of Lahore, the Punjab’s chief city, where a sealed envelope from Sir Evan Jenkins, the Governor, was handed him when he arrived by air last night.
BRITISH PLAN TO BE BROADCAST INDIA TALKS ADJOURNED AFTER TWO-HOUR SESSION
Leicester Mercury , Monday 2 June 1947, p. 1.
New Delhi, Monday. Today’s vital conference of seven Indian leaders with the Viceroy on the British Government’s Plan to transfer power to Indians, adjourned after a two-hour session. An official communiqué said, the Viceroy ‘gave the leaders a full account of his discussions, both in India and England, which led up to the formulation of the British Government’s Plan and the arguments which resulted in its adoption.’ Lord Mountbatten’s talks with the Indian leaders will be resumed tomorrow morning. After today’s meeting, Mahatma Gandhi had an hour’s talk with the Viceroy in answer to an urgent summons. Lord Mountbatten will broadcast at 7 pm local time tomorrow (3.30 pm DBST), after which the text of the British announcement will be relayed over all wireless stations in India. Those attending today’s conference with the Viceroy were: Congress Representatives: Pandit Nehru, Vice-President of the Indian Interim Government; Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Home member; and Mr J. B. Kripalani, Congress President. Muslim League Representatives: Mr. Jinnah, League President; Mr Liaquat Ali Khan, Finance Member and League Secretary; and Abdul Rab Nishtar, Communications Member. Sikh representative: Sardar Baldev Singh, Defence Member. All arrived in sleek American cars.
A few minutes before going into the conference, Sardar Nishtar told Reuters Correspondent: ‘as far as the question of one India is concerned – that is dead and buried. There is no prospect of the League’s agreeing to one India. Our minimum demand is Pakistan; we are two nations, and we want two different homes.’ On the suggestion that the Viceroy would offer Dominion status to Hindustan and Pakistan (‘Land of the Pure’ – separate Muslim state), he said he wondered if that meant the British Government’s recognition forthwith of the principle of Pakistan. It was not clear, he said, whether Dominion Status would only be for a period of transition, or longer. The Conference adjourned after a two-hour session, and will be resumed at 10 a.m. (local time) tomorrow after the Working Committees have considered the plan. Lord Mountbatten will meet the Nawab of Bhopal, Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, and 14 representatives of Indian States at 4 pm (local time).
VICEROY SENDS FOR GANDHI BEFORE BROADCAST OF NEW TRANSFER PLAN
Leicester Evening Mail , 2 June 1947, p. 1.
The full text of the British Government’s Plan for the transfer of power in India will be relayed over all wireless stations in India tomorrow, immediately after a broadcast by Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, at 3.30 pm DBST. Lord Mountbatten disclosed the plan in a two-hour session with Indian leaders today. After the meeting, Mr. Gandhi was summoned from Bhangi, in the ‘sweepers’ colony’ to the Viceregal Lodge, where he had a meeting with the Viceroy lasting one hour. An official communiqué said: ‘the Viceroy gave the leaders a full account of his discussions, both in India and England, which led to the formulation of the British plan and of the arguments which resulted in its adoption.’ Mr. Jinnah, Muslim League President, left the Viceroy’s house twenty minutes after the departure of the other leaders. He did not reply when asked, ‘did you get it?’ (a reference to Pakistan). It was learned at New Delhi on good authority that the British Government’s Proposals envisage immediate Dominion status for separate Hindustan and Pakistan, partition of the Punjab and Bengal, and fresh elections in the North West Frontier Province to decide whether it should become part of Pakistan. The two Indias would have complete immunity from any sort? of interference or ?? by the British Government, but would be required to swear allegiance to the British Crown. Also attending the conference were Congress Representatives: Pandit Nehru, Vice- President of the Indian Interim Government, Sardar Vallahbhai Patel, Home Member and Mr. J. P. Kripalani, Congress President. Muslim League representatives: Mr Jinnah; Mr Liaquat Khan, Finance member and League secretary; and Abdul Nishtar, communications member. Sikh representative: Sardar Baldev Singh, defence member…
INDIANS TO VOTE ON PARTITION
Leicester Mercury , 3 June 1947, p. 1.
FREE PARTIES ACCEPT THE VICEROY’S PLAN
Mr. Attlee announced in the House of Commons, this afternoon, that all the free Indian parties had accepted the Viceroy’s plan that HM Government should transfer power now to one or two Governments of British India, each having Dominion status, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made. It was hoped that this would be within the next few months. Mr. Attlee said that the Bengal and Punjab legislative assemblies would be asked to meet in two parts, one representing Muslim majority districts, and the other the rest of the province. Members of the two parts of each Legislative Assembly would be empowered to vote whether or not the province should be partitioned. Mr. Attlee, after expressing gratitude and appreciation of the Government to the great service which the Viceroy has rendered, said the Government had hoped it would be possible for the major parties to cooperate in working out the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of 16 May 1946 and evolve for India a constitution acceptable to all concerned. This hope had not been fulfilled. ‘It has always been the Government’s desire that power should be transferred in accordance with the wishes of Indian people themselves’, said the Premier.
‘This task would have been greatly facilitated if there had been agreement among the Indian political parties. In the absence of such agreements, the task of devising a method by which the Indian peoples’ wishes can be ascertained has devolved on the government. The British Government wished to make it clear that they have no intention of attempting to frame the ultimate constitution for India. This is a matter for Indians themselves. Nor is there anything in this plan to preclude negotiations between communities for a united India.’ The Prime Minister said that it was not the British Government’s intention to interrupt the work of the existing Constituent Assembly.
THE FIRST STEP
‘The British Government is satisfied the procedure I outline embodies the best practical method of ascertaining the wishes of the people of such areas on the issue whether their constitution is to be framed in the existing Constituent Assembly or in a new and separate Constituent Assembly, consisting of representatives of those areas which decide not to participate in the existing Constituent Assembly. When this has been done, it will be possible to determine the authority or authorities to whom power should be transferred. The Provincial Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and Punjab (excluding European members) will therefore each be asked to meet in two parts, one representing Muslim majority districts, and the other the rest of the province. Members of the two parts of each Legislative Assembly, sitting separately, will be empowered to vote whether or not the province should be partitioned. If a simple majority of either part decides in favour of partition, division will take place and arrangements will be made accordingly. For the immediate purpose of deciding the issue of partition, members of the Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab will sit in two parts, according to Muslim majority districts - as laid down in the appendix to the White Paper to be made available – and non-Muslim majority districts.
‘As soon as a decision involving partition has been taken for either province, a Boundary Commission will be set up by the Governor General, the membership and terms of reference of which will be settled in consultation with those concerned. The Legislative Assembly of Sind (excluding European members) will, at a special meeting, also take its own decision on alternatives, whether their [continued on back page] constitution is to be framed under the existing Constituent Assembly or under a new Assembly.’ Referring to North-West Frontier Province, Mr. Attlee said that it was clear, in view of its geographical situation and other considerations, that if whole or any part of Punjab decided not to join the existing Constituent Assembly it would be necessary to give North-West Frontier Province an opportunity to reconsider its position. Accordingly, given such an event, a referendum would be made to electors of the present Legislative Assembly in North-West Frontier Province, to choose whether their constitution would be under that now existing, or under a new Constituent Assembly. Referendum would be held under the aegis of Governor-General and in consultation with the provincial government. In view of the geographical situation of British Baluchistan, it would also be given opportunity to reconsider its position and choose which alternative regarding Constituent Assembly it would adopt.
‘FRESH ELECTIONS WOULD BE HELD IF – ’
‘If it decided that Bengal should be partitioned’, continued Mr. Attlee, ‘a referendum will be held in the Sylhet district to decide whether that district shall continue to form part of Assam province, or be amalgamated with the new province of Bengal. The rest of Assam province will in any case continue to participate in proceedings of the existing Constituent Assembly. If decided that Bengal and Punjab should be participated, it will be necessary to hold fresh elections.’
NOT THE BEST SOLUTION BUT –
The Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, in his broadcast in New Delhi, said he was still convinced that a unified India would be the best solution, but that had been impossible. There could be no question of coercing any large areas so the only alternative was partition. He had proposed to HM Government the immediate transfer of power to one or two Governments of British India, and HM Government had accepted this proposal and were already having legislation prepared for introduction in Parliament this session.
LEADERS ACCEPT PLAN FOR TWIN INDIAN NATIONS
Leicester Evening Mail , 3 June 1947, p. 1.
Congress, Muslim and Sikh leaders formally communicated their acceptance of the British Government’s plan for handing over power to Indians at their 90-minute meeting with the Viceroy at New Delhi today. The view was believed to have been expressed that partition, with all its implications, including defence, external affairs and communications, should be carried out as soon as possible. The present Interim Government, it was understood, would remain in being for another two months, by which time the necessary British parliamentary legislation was expected to have been passed. By that time, too, the stage would have been reached when it would be possible to set up a Pakistan Central Government. Mr. Jinnah, Muslim League President, made the reservation that his acceptance was subject to ratification by the Muslim League Council’s meeting in New Delhi on 9 June. It was later learned that Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League have come into line over the plan. The week’s delay, at first threatened so that Mr. Jinnah could consult the League’s Council, has been overcome.
PREMIER TO SPEAK
Indian leaders will announce their acceptance of the plan in their broadcast later today after the Viceroy’s statement and the announcement of the full details of the plan. Pandit Nehru, Congress Leader and Vice-President of India’s Interim Government, Mr. Jinnah and Sardar Baldev Singh, Sikh Defence Minister, were expected to broadcast appeals for inter-communal concord. The Prime Minister is expected to make a statement in the Commons this afternoon and he will also introduce the fateful broadcast tonight by the Viceroy. The new proposals are believed to provide for twin Cabinets, for separate states of Hindustan and Pakistan, within the British Commonwealth, with freedom to leave it after June 1948 if they wish.
Mr. Jinnah told the Viceroy late last night that, as far as he was concerned, the plan was workable and acceptable. Gandhi told his prayer meeting last night ‘the time is fast coming when India will have to elect its first President of the Republic that is coming into being.’ The Nationalist Indian News Chronicle today summed up reaction to the British Government Plan for India in the headline ‘All Parties Accept New Plan Reluctantly’.
DOMINION STATUS OFFER WAS MOUNTBATTEN’S IDEA
Leicester Mercury , 4 June 1947, p. 1.
Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, disclosed at a press conference in New Delhi today, that it was he who took to London the idea of the Dominion status solution for India. ‘It was completely novel. I brought it home as a surprise’, he said. The Viceroy said that he arrived in London at lunchtime on Monday and by tea time was in the midst of the India and Burma Cabinet Committee meeting. Replying to those who might accuse Britain of having ‘trapped’ India into Dominion status, without the intention of quitting, Viscount Mountbatten asked ‘do you imagine for one minute that the responsible leaders of the parties would have accepted such a solution if it was not the soundest basis on which we could work?’ On the future of the Indian States, he made it clear that while they could not enter separately as dominions, if any State came to him for a separate treaty, economic or military, he would transmit the request to the British Government. So far this question had not arisen. Reuter.
INDIA’S NEW HOPE
Leicester Mercury , Editorial, 4 June 1947, p. 6.
The measure of agreement now reached among the community leaders hold out a greatly improved prospect of settlement in India and the avoid of anarchy and civil war. The Mountbatten-Attlee Plan, which has emerged from recent discussion, surrenders the case for a fully united India within the brief time now remaining before we take our leave, but it is based on the hard facts of the situation. Nothing at all is to be gained by persisting in impossible courses. Our ideal is unattainable for the reason that the Indian communities themselves will not make it practicable. The way of compromise is indeed the only way. The reaching of this present compromise in the face of all the Hindu-Muslim hostilities, so long unyielding, is an achievement which, given a happy issue, may make the British leave-taking not less glorious in its promise for the future of India than our historic past record in the Dominion. It is for the peoples of India not to take this golden opportunity and to make out of it the India they want. Partition is seen to be the only possible beginning of the new era. Two Indias, each with immediate Dominion status, may in time find the way to ultimate peaceful unity. In any case they are very much better than one India hopelessly disunited and slipping into anarchy.
BRITISH WILL ‘QUIT INDIA’ WHEN TOLD
Leicester Evening Mail , 4 June 1947.
‘I mean it sincerely when I say that power will be transferred as completely this year as it would have been by June 1948’, the Viceroy told a press conference at New Delhi today. ‘The British will leave when they are told to leave. May be we shall all be out by the end of this year. May be some will stay a little longer. The British are here as long as they can be of use. When they are not wanted, they will go when asked.’ The Viceroy said it was not an enforceable plan, but depended on mutual good and cooperation. ‘You can no more make the plan work than you can make a horse drink, if you take it down to water’, he said. ‘It would have been a miracle if ever party thought this plan was perfect. It would have distressed me if they had said so, because it would have been insincere.’ Lord Mountbatten said that the Boundary Commission would include representatives of the Indian communities, and ‘there shall be no dictation on the part of any British official. This is your country, and it is up to you to decide what you want to do with it’.
The Viceroy said that it was most gratifying to see the absolute determination of every responsible leader that, whatever solution was finally adopted, was going to be adopted peacefully and without bloodshed. Speaking of his recent visit to London, Lord Mountbatten said, ‘the idea of the Dominion status solution was completely novel. It only came about when the element of speed in the transfer was introduced. I brought it home as a surprise.’
FINAL MUSLIM DEBATE IS HELD IN SECRET
Leicester Mercury , 7 June 1947, p. 1.
New Delhi, Saturday [7 June]. Partition of India was opposed by Jayprakash Narain, leader of the Congress Socialist Party, who told a Lucknow audience that ‘this momentous decision was taken by only a handful of Congress leaders, against the wish of Gandhi, the Father of Modern India, and without the sanction of even the All India Congress Committee. The decisive talks which will mould the future of India were entering a new stage today, as members of the Muslim League gathered in New Delhi for the meeting at which the final Muslim attitude towards the new British proposals will be secretly debated. Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, today resumed with the seven India leaders. A communiqué is expected later. The secretariat of the Constituent Assembly has circulated a letter to all States which have not joined the Assembly, asking them to decide by the end of the month whether they will join or not, New Delhi Radio reported. The Union and Provincial Constitution Committees of the Constituent Assembly were holding a joint meeting in New Delhi today, to decide whether India should be a unitary State, with the provinces functioning as the agents and delegates of the centre, or whether she should be a federation of autonomous units ceding certain powers to the centre, the Radio added.
The Christian Science Monitor , praising Britain’s India plan as a ‘moral triumph’, said that the skeleton unity that may grow in the immediate future offered ‘the greatest hope that fanatical extremism and communal friction can be gradually subdued’. A straw poll conducted in three Indian army commands showed that 95% of 500,000 Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian soldiers favoured common kitchen and messing arrangements, despite their different religious laws about food.
‘I’M NOT EMPEROR’, REBUKES JINNAH
Leicester Mercury , 9 June 1947, p. ?.
NEW DELHI, Monday. Mr. Jinnah sternly rebuked Muslim League demonstrators today for shouting today ‘Emperor of Pakistan’. ‘I am not Emperor’, he said. Mr. Jinnah, President of the Muslim League, had arrived in white robes, smoking a cigar, for today’s secret meeting at which the League’s 300 key men will vote on Britain’s plan for India. Only one of seven speakers in the Muslim League council debate opposed acceptance of the plan. At the same time, a hundred representatives of the Punjab Sikhs were meeting in Bombay to consider the plan. The Sikhs have been offered cultural and religious autonomy within Pakistan by the Muslims, it was authoritatively learned today. Muslims hope that, confronted with the risk of thehomeland being split under partition, the Sikhs will accept unity within Pakistan.
Legislation for the establishment this year of the two Indian Dominions of Pakistan and Hindustan, is now being drafted and will be passed through all its stages in the British Parliament before the summer recess. A good deal of preliminary work has already been done in drafting the legislation in close consultation with the Viceroy. The measure will be a short one of not more than two dozen clauses, as compared with the 300 clauses of the present India Act, which, with its schedules, runs to no fewer than 400 pages. Until the Constituent Assemblies of the two Dominions have framed their ultimate constitution, and they are brought into effect, the existing Government of India Act will continue to operate. The Indian Central Government will, in effect, continue to operate until, with the formation of competent executives in Pakistan and Hindustan, the actual transfer of power can take place.
MUSLIMS HAIL ‘EMPEROR’ JINNAH
Leicester Evening Mail , 9 June 1947, p. 5.
Shouts of ‘long live Pakistan’ and ‘love live the Emperor of Pakistan’ greeted Mr. Jinnah, Muslim League President, as he arrived whiterobed and cigar-smoking, for today’s secret meeting at which the League’s 300 key men will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on Britain’s plan for India. The Council of the League, whose answer was expected to be ‘yes’, are determining the fate of India’s 90 million Muslims and the issue of partition of the country. Outside the conference hotel, armed police arrested about 60 khaksars – Muslims standing for the unity of India – for shouting anti-Muslim League slogans … [Same comment as previous article regarding Sikhs.]
NO FOUL PLAY
Gandhi urged, at his prayer meeting last night, that Indians quarrelling over the partition or unity of Bengal province should not use ‘foul means’ New Delhi radio reports. While he himself hated the thought of the division of India, or of any province, he said, he could never use foul means to attain his ends. ‘Now that Congress and Muslim League have come to an understanding’, he added, ‘why should Hindus and Muslims fight anywhere?’ …
‘MONTY’ TO VISIT INDIA
Leicester Mercury , Tuesday 10 June 1947, p. 5.
[Begins with account of forthcoming visit by Montgomery to India on 23 June]
… Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, was in conference today with the ‘big three’ Congress Party leaders, Pandit Nehru, Vice-President of the Interim Government, Sardar Patel, Home Minister, and Achaya J. B. Kripalani, Congress Party President. He has summoned India’s ‘Big Seven’ Leaders to meet him on Thursday, when final steps are expected to set up a committee to work out the preliminaries of partitioning India into Hindustan and Pakistan, states Reuter.
SIKH PLAN WOULD UPROOT MILLIONS IN PUNJAB
Leicester Mercury, 12 June 1947, p. 5.
New Delhi, Saturday.
A proposal to redistribute populations in the Punjab – made in New Delhi by three representative Sikh organizations – would involve several million Sikhs and Hindus in a vast overland trek across the province.
The Sikh representatives called on the British authorities to direct the Boundary Commission which is to partition the Punjab to ‘make representations for the transfer of Hindu and Sikh populations and property from the western part of the Punjab to the eastern part after partition has been effected’.
The resolution added that in the absence of provision for the transfer of population and property, the very purpose of partition would be defeated.
In Western Punjab there is a Muslim majority. Sikhs and Hindus, who together make up over 11,000,000 of the Punjab’s total 28,000,000 population predominate in the East.
The boundary line of the proposed Muslim state of Pakistan would cut the province into two parts.
In Lahore, high-ranking members of all parties have privately expressed willingness to preserve the province’s unity by a compromise, but under the British Government’s plan partition can be averted on by including the whole area in either Pakistan or Hindustan.
The final decision will be taken on 23 June, when members of the Legislative Assembly, representing Muslim and Hindu–Sikh divisions, will meet separately to vote for or against partition.
Meanwhile, disapproval of the partition plan, which is widespread in Lahore, is apparently increasing with wider appreciation of the extent of the shock likely to result to the Punjab’s economy. Reuter.
TROOPS TO QUIT INDIA BY AUG. 15
Leicester Evening Mail , Tuesday, 17 June 1947, front page.
The withdrawal of British troops from India – there are about 15,000 in the country today – is to be completed by 15 August, says Reuter from New Delhi. A number of British officers of the Indian army will continue to serve until its Indianisation has been completed.
INDIA IN TWO DOMINIONS
Leicester Evening Mail , 4 July 1947, front page.
The Indian Independence Bill, issued today, said that from 15 August this year, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, known respectively as India and Pakistan. The territories of Pakistan will be all territories included in the provinces of East Bengal and West Punjab. The province of Bengal, as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935, will cease to exist and there will be constituted in lieu two new provinces, to be known respectively as East Bengal and West Bengal. For each of the new Dominions, there will be a Governor- General appointed by the King to represent His Majesty for the purposes of the government of the Dominion. The same person may be Governor-General of both the new dominions.
BRITISH RULE IN INDIA ENDS AT MIDNIGHT
Leicester Mercury 14 Aug. 1947 p. 5
British rule in India comes to an end at midnight. Tomorrow India and Pakistan will celebrate the “birth of their freedom” as self-governing dominions. There will be general rejoicing, but at Lahore, the Punjab capital which is to be partitioned between the two dominions, blood is still flowing…
FRIENDSHIP FOR BRITAIN
Replying to the Viceroy’s address, Mr Jinnah thanked the King, on behalf of the Pakistan Government, for his gracious message, adding, “We greatly appreciate his assurance of sympathy and support and I hope you will please communicate to his Majesty our assurance of goodwill and friendship for the British nation, and to him as the crowned head of the British government.” … Jubilation and festival spirit will not last long, however, because partisan feelings are not stifled, disturbances continue and millions are homeless and hungry.
HOLY CITY BLAZES
Within the last three days 200 people have lost their lives in the strife in Lahore into which city a third brigade of troops is today moving to reinforce two brigades already there. Yesterday’s casualty totals in Lahore were given today as 60 killed and 100 injured. Troops patrolling the city last night, in the light of burning buildings, opened fire several times on rioters at the end of a day of looting, stabbing and arson. All night the sky was reddened by fires in Amritsar, the Sikh Holy City in the Punjab, where troops fired several times. In the Majitha area, 20 miles to the north-east, troops shot dead 61 Sikh raiders armed with mortars, Bren and Sten guns.
RIOTS ON INDIA’S INDEPENDENCE EVE
Leicester Evening Mail , 14 Aug. 1947, p. 5.
On the eve of independence, which India will be celebrating tomorrow, a third brigade of troops was moving into Lahore today to reinforce two brigades already struggling against fierce communal violence there. There was rioting in many parts of India. Yesterday’s casualty totals in Lahore were given as 60 killed and 100 injured, bring the death roll for the last three days to over 200. Lahore is the capital of the Punjab province, which is to be partitioned between India and Pakistan. Troops patrolling the city last night, in the light of burning buildings, opened fire several times on rioters at the end of a day of looting, stabbing and arson. All night the sky was reddened by fires in Amritsar, the Sikh holy city in the Punjab, where troops fired several times. In the Majitha area, troops shot dead 61 Sikh raiders, armed with mortars, bren and sten guns.
GANDHI FACES MOB
More than a thousand Hindu youths stormed the house in Calcutta where Gandhi and Husseyn Suhrawardy, Muslim League Prime Minister of Bengal, had moved in to preach by example that Hindus and Muslims should live in harmony. They threw stones and broke windows, and towards dusk forced open the gates and clambered up the walls. Gandhi, appearing at a window above the shouting crowd, told them, ‘if you apply force, you will only be able to remove the lifeless frame of my body and not my living body’.
The King, in a message read to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly by Viscount Mountbatten, on his last day as Viceroy of India, said: ‘I know that I can speak for all sections of opinion within the British Commonwealth when I say that their support will not fail you in upholding democratic principles.’ ‘Tomorrow’, said the Viceroy, ‘two new Sovereign States will take their place in the Commonwealth – not young nations, but heirs of old and proud civilizations – fully independent states, whose leaders whose leaders are statesmen already known and respected throughout the world.’ Mr. Jinnah entered the Assembly beside the Viceroy. The galleries of the small, semi-circular chamber, were crowded with Indians in national dress, and British and Indian officers. Lady Mountbatten sat beside Mr. Jinnah’s sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, in the Distinguished Visitors’ Gallery beside the dais. They clasped hands when the Viceroy mentioned his wife’s interest in the women of Pakistan. Replying to the Viceroy’s address, Mr. Jinnah said, ‘I hope you will communicate to His Majesty our assurance of good will and friendship for the British nation’.
The capital of the new Dominion hailed the eve of freedom with bands and banners, parades, gun salutes and all the brilliant colour of an Indian holiday. Fireworks, flags and extra food rations will be among the many ways in which India will celebrate tomorrow, says a New Delhi message. Political prisoners will be released. Municipal and provincial authorities have sanctioned the spending of thousands of pounds for a ‘fitting and appropriate’ observance of the greatest day in the life of this generation of Indians. But partisan feelings are still not stifled, disturbances continue, and millions are homeless and hungry.
50 KILLED IN LAHORE RIOTS AS INDIA CELEBRATES FREEDOM
Leicester Mercury , 15 Aug 1947 p. 5
As cities and towns throughout the Dominions of India and Pakistan were today wildly celebrating their new-found freedom, renewed communal clashes were reported from Lahore (Pakistan). About 50 people were stabbed to death in the riots, and troops opened fire. No incidents were reported from other centres, where Independence Day celebrations were in full swing…
BIG TESTS FACE INDIA’S NEW RULERS
Leicester Evening Mail , 15 Aug. 1947, front page and cont. p. 4
India’s night of wildest rejoicing, with her diverse millions as one in the happiness of their independence day, gave way to a mourning of solemn ceremonies, when Viscount Mountbatten, the last Viceroy, took the oath as Governor-General of the Union of India in Delhi’s Durbar Hall, and then administered the oath of office to Pandit Nehru as Premier and the new Cabinet. Meanwhile, in Karachi, Mr. Jinnah went to the lawn of Government House, to be sworn in as Governor-General of the new Muslim Dominion of Pakistan. Viscount Mountbatten, after the swearing in, made a state drive to the council chamber where he delivered a message from the King to the Constituent Assembly. ‘Freedom-loving people everywhere’, said the message, ‘will wish to share your celebrations for, with this transfer of power by consent, comes the fulfilment of a great democratic ideal to which the British and Indian peoples alike are firmly dedicated.’ Lord Mountbatten referred to Mr. Attlee as ‘that great friend of India’, Mr. Gandhi as ‘the architect of freedom through non-violence’ and Mr. Nehru as ‘a worldrenowned leader of courage and vision’. Lord Mountbatten said that he proposed to ask for his release in April next year. ‘I feel that, as soon as possible, India should be at liberty, if you so wish, to have one of her own people as her Governor-General.’ The President of the Constituent Assembly, Rajendra Prasad, replying to the Governor- General, welcomed the Indian States which had acceded to the Indian Union and assured the Indian rulers ‘we have no designs against them. We trust they will follow the King of England and become constitutional rulers.’
TRUMPET RANG OUT
Shortly after midnight, Pandit Nehru formally intimated to Lord Mountbatten ‘the Constituent Assembly has assumed power for the governance of India’. Over 2,000 members of the Assembly heard the clock in the dome over the chamber boom out the strokes of midnight as they sat in a hall bedecked with flags under a dazzle of arc lights. Then a trumpet rang out to herald the new era.
CRESCENT AND STAR
Alone and unadorned, amid pomp and pageantry unequalled since the days of Queen Victoria, the Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammed Ali Jinnah today at Government House, Karachi, swore allegiance to the constitution of Pakistan and fidelity to George VI, his heirs and successors, and formally… [cont on p. 4]
150,000 DIED IN PUNJAB RIOTS
Leicester Evening Mail , 16 Sept. 1947, front page.
About 150,000 people were estimated to have been killed in the mass communal rioting in the partitioned province of Punjab, Mr. Sriprakasa, India’s High Commissioner in Pakistan disclosed today.
PAKISTAN WAR TALK DISCOUNTED
Leicester Evening Mail , 29 Sept. 1947, p. ?
Exchanges of views between the British Commonwealth governments regarding the appeal made to them by the Government of Pakistan are continuing today. There have, however, been no major developments during the weekend. The British Government are in the closest touch with the United Kingdom High Commissioners in Delhi and Karachi, and it is assumed that those Dominion governments, including Canada and Australia, who have representatives in India, may also wish to consult their representatives on the spot.
Regarding the talk about the possibility of war, in certain organs of the Indian press, authoritative quarters in London were confident today that both the governments of India and Pakistan were determined to avert any such contingency. There is great sympathy in London with both the two Indian governments in the unprecedented difficulties with which they are faced.
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