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  • Writer's picturePritika Chowdhry

The Partition of India, the First War of Independence, and the Birth of Pakistan

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

The Partition of India took place on 15th August, 1947. It was a watershed event that divided British India into two parts — India and Pakistan. This year is the 75th anniversary of the Partition, and it is a good enough reason to brush up on your history knowledge! So, here are some basic facts about the Partition of India in plain English.

Who were the major players involved in the Partition?

The Partition of India took place between Hindu nationalist leaders such as Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastry, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, and Muslim League leaders such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The former wanted to create an independent state called Hindustan (India) while the latter wanted to form a separate country for Muslims called Pakistan.

Why did the British decide to divide India into two countries?

The British had long played the game of "divide and rule" between Hindus and Muslims in India. They had created similar ethnic divisions in other countries they had colonized such as Palestine and Ireland. After World War II, the British government granted India its independence, but on the condition that British India would be split into two new states – India and Pakistan. This decision was made by Lord Mountbatten, who was the last viceroy of India. He had been appointed as such by King George VI.

How was India divided?

British India was divided into India, East Pakistan, and West Pakistan in 1947. The latter two were separate by 2000 kilometers of India's land mass. East and West Pakistan, split into Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1971.

What happened after the Partition?

After the Partition, the Indian subcontinent became divided between India, and East and West Pakistan. Both countries were formed with the help of the United Nations. In 1971, East Pakistan waged a War of Liberation and separated from Pakistan, which led to the birth of Bangladesh.

What impact did it have on the people living in the new states?

The Partition had an enormous effect on the lives of millions of people who lived in the newly created states. Violent and bloody communal riots erupted all over India but particularly on the newly created borders. Many people fled their homes because of fear of violence. Others left because they felt unwelcome in one state or another. In addition, the partition caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. 20 million people crossed the new borders, creating the biggest migration in the history of the world. 2 million people were killed in the Partition riots.

What role did religion play in the Partition?

The partition of India was not just a political event; it also involved religious differences. Muslims were a majority in the new state of Pakistan, while Hindus were a majority in the Indian state of India. Tensions had been building between the two groups for decades. The British had been strategically creating mistrust between Hindus and Muslims by creating policies based on religious identity.

Is there a memorial or monument to the Partition of India?

Surprisingly, no official monument or memorial exists in India or Pakistan to the Partition. However, several citizen memorials have been created by individuals in the last decade, such as the Partition Museum in Amritsar, the 1947 Partition Archive, and the Partition Anti-Memorial Project.


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