Two things went viral on the social media on 14th August 2021. An article by Adv. Ashok Bhan, Senior Advocate in Supreme Court of India and a Tweet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Adv. Ashok Bhan, is also a Geo Political Analyst. He has given a very well elucidated account of the hurdles faced by India at the time of Independence in his article titled “Towards United, Integrated, Democratic and Secular India”.
Adv. Bhan mentions the reluctance of 565 Princely States to join Indian Union. This was fanned and supported by British administration, especially Winston Churchill. In the years after the Lahore Declaration of 1929, there were concerted efforts to establish a free and sovereign India. But by 1946, the Churchill administration had devised elaborate designs to create a third province of Princestan owing direct allegiance to British empire. This predictably drew support from Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Fortunately, this sinister move was scuttled by the trio of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and an unlikely allie in Viceroy Mountbatten. Pandit Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” speech and Mahatma Gandhi’s simultaneous efforts to restore peace in Bengal too are mentioned in detail.
After recounting the process of declaration of Independence, creation of Pakistan and India and the establishment of Indian Constitution, the article ends with the more recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370, which was the root cause of all the problems in J and K is history now. Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are racing towards peace and sustainable progress since the abrogation. Pakistan’s vicious plans to keep the Kashmir issue boiling have been humbled by the exemplary political will and diplomatic skill exhibited by Government of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the nation of the traumatic vivisection, population exchange and the genocide that resulted as a result. PM Modi Tweeted a hashtag #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay on 14 August. As usual the Tweet has elicited extreme reactions of support and opposition. The usual suspects from the opposition called it divisive while the Nationalists trended it.
Let us examine if the allegations of Opposition leaders carry any substance. Does talking about “Horrors of partition” amount to divisiveness ? India cannot afford to forget the large-scale massacre of Hindus in the Malabar, triggered by the Moplah riots during Khilafat movement in 1920-21. That was exactly a century ago. Gandhi’s ill-advised support to the Caliphate resulted in annihilation of Thousands of innocent Hindus. Women were raped and killed in front of their families. Dead bodies were thrown into wells. Lakhs were displaced from their homes.
25 years after the Moplah riots, Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s “Direct Action Day” call on 16 August 1946 lead to slaughter of thousands of Hindus in Bengal. The death toll of partition has been placed in a very wide range between 2,50,000 to 10,00,000. Even the conservative figure of 2.5 Lakh deaths is too mind-boggling to forget. But that wasn’t the end of violence. It was just a link in a sequence of horrendous attacks that have continued into our present.
The genocide and exodus of Hindus of Kashmir in 1990 is far too recent to be brushed under the carpet. Either Pakistan or the divisive ideology that gave birth to Pakistan were responsible for all these humongous tragedies. India can ill-afford to forget any of these. At least not as long as Pakistan sits in our neighbourhood.
Right from 1947, Pakistan has never bothered to conceal visceral hatred for India. They have fought wars and lost. They could not hold on to East Pakistan and ended up conceding Bangladesh in 1971. They fought proxy wars in Kashmir. They fought in Kargil, presenting Mujahids supported by Pakistan Army as “Non-state actors”. They fomented militancy and terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir. They triggered bomb blasts in different parts of India. They continued to bluff to the world while they harbored terrorists like Osama Bin Laden. They sent armed terrorists to run amok in Mumbai, killing over Two hundred innocent people. They continue to support terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and rest of India.
Not satisfied with their treacherous activities on the eastern side, Pakistan has created, armed and pushed Taliban into Afghanistan. They began the process in 1994 and are continuing it today. Successive rulers of Pakistan have betrayed every single gesture of peace from India. The “Aman Ki Aasha” efforts had repeatedly turned into “Tamasha” or joke. How can India afford to forget such a gory history of violence, treachery, deceit, terrorism and continued hostility ?
Most sensible and truly sensitive people are rightly worried about Afghanistan. The ruthless ravage of Afghanistan by Taliban is an affront to India too. India has invested a lot of money, hard work and diplomacy into rebuilding a stable and democratic Afghanistan. Fall of Afghanistan could destabilize South Asia and can lead to a war like situation. It could in fact trigger a full blown nuclear war because large scale success on the western side can embolden Pakistan to attempt such actions on eastern front too. Pakistan has always turned their brinksmanship into a weapon against peace. In spite of repeated set backs, they neither learned nor gave up.
When we celebrate the 75th Independence day, we cannot and we must not forget the horrors of partition. Not only horrors of partition but also horrors of Moplah riots, horrors of Direct action day, horrors of Kashmir genocide, horrors of Kargil and horrors of countless terror attacks. PM Modi is right when he reminds us the horrors of partition. We cannot forget our history. Those who don’t learn from history end up making bad history. We can forgive but must never forget !
Some people from the Opposition ranks are rankled by celebration of 75th Independence day. They ask, “Those who had absolutely no role in freedom struggle are celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.” That is trivializing the sacrifices made by Lakhs of Indians. It is time to remind these people that India’s freedom struggle was not just about Gandhi, Nehru and Congress. There were people who fought for independence before them, those who fought along with them and then those who fought for freedom in spite of them. People like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad, Netaji Subhashchandra Bose and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar to name a few.
The difference between the Nationalists and so called liberals is established by the response to the viral article of Adv. Ashok Bhan. The Nationalists have trended the article and shared it far and wide in spite of the fact that it heaps lavish praise on Pandit Nehru. That is a mature approach of putting the nation before ideology. In stark contrast, the Opposition has left no stone unturned to discredit the incumbent Government and undermine the achievements of current leadership. They have placed ideology, party and hatred ahead of nation.
The value of true freedom can only be understood by those who are able to remove the blinkers of prejudice from their eyes. Opposition parties rioted against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), calling it communal. Today, many of those “leaders” are demanding rescue of Sikhs and Hindus from civil war ravaged Afghanistan. Opposition parties also branded abrogation of Article 370 as Anti-minority and communal. Many of them have promised to restore the article if they come to power.
How far are the Opposition leaders from ground reality ? The answer lies in a news report coming from Kashmir. There was a time when unfurling Indian flag in Kashmir was an act of bravery. It required the entire might of Armed forces to do that in Srinagar. On 14 August 2021, Srinagar town ran out of Indian flags because of heavy demand. The people approached the BJP office for more flags and they were more than happy to organise flags for the enthusiastic people. The average Kashmiri people are able to recognize the value of true freedom. From demanding “Bharat se Azadi” to celebrating “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, Kashmir has come a long way. A truly happy 75th Independence day to all “Indians” all over the world !