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Towards independence and Partition

In 1940 the Muslim League passed a resolution demanding "Independent States" for Muslims in the north-western and eastern areas of the country. The resolution did not mention partition or Pakistan.

Reasons for the demand of an independent state by the Muslims

  • The Muslims feared that they may be suppressed by the Hindus as the Hindus were a majority in India.

  • They were apprehensive that Muslims may even go unrepresented in the government.

  • The members of the Muslim League were infuriated when the Congress rejected their desire for a joint Congress- League government in the United Provinces in 1937.

  • A social divide was created between the Hindus and the Muslims increased as the Congress failed to mobilise the Muslim masses.

At the end of the Second World War in 1945, the British opened talks with the Congress, the League for the independence of India. The talks failed because the League saw itself as the sole spokesperson of India’s Muslims. The Congress could not accept this claim since a large number of Muslims still supported it.

  • In 1946 elections to the provinces were held.

  • The divide between the congress and the Muslim League became more evident after the elections. The Congress did well in the "General" constituencies, at the same time the Muslim League succeeded in areas where seats were reserved for Muslims.

The League persisted with its demand for "Pakistan". In March 1946 the British cabinet sent a three-member mission to Delhi to examine the best suited political framework for a free India.

  • It was suggested that India should remain united with some autonomy for Muslim-majority areas.

  • The Congress and the Muslim League were unable to come to a consensus and partition became inevitable.

  • After the failure of the Cabinet Mission, the Muslim League decided on mass agitation for an independent state of Pakistan.

  • It announced 16 August 1946 as "Direct Action Day".

  • Riots broke out in Calcutta which lasted for many days. Thousands of people died in these riots.

  • By March 1947 violence spread to different parts of northern India.

  • Many hundred thousand people were killed and numerous women had to face atrocities during the Partition.

  • Millions of people were forced to flee their homes.

The state of Pakistan was born. The partition brought untold misery to millions of Indians. The joy of India’s independence from British rule came mixed with the pain and violence of Partition.


Scenes of Partition

Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred and millions had to move; Muslims from India to Pakistan, Hindus in the opposite direction."


People on the Move





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