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THE PARTITION ( 1929-1947)

Below is a discussion of political situations which led to to present subjugation and serfdom of Sikhs.

We will find that most of the (current Sikh) leaders committed two fundamental mistakes.

(1) Firstly, they trusted the Hindu leaders and thus lost the political advantage for the Sikh Nation which they could have derived from the then existing situation. They forgot too soon the less learnt from the betrayal of the Sikhs the Dogra and Poorbia Brahmins after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

(2) Secondly they showed lack of political. wisdom a shrewdness in totally distrusting the Muslims by aligning with whom they could have manipulated the political advantage for the Sikh Nation and thereby created autonomous or independent Sikh state.

The all India National Congress met Lahore in the year 1929 and fixed complete independence as its political goal. One day prior to the meeting of the National Congress, the Sikhs had taken out a 500,000 strong procession with veteran Baba Kharak Singh leading on elephant back. It was most impressive spectacle of human congregation that put the Congress show into shame and shade. It was on this occasion that Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Motilal Nehru and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru went to meet Baba Khark Singh at his place on the Chauburji Road and gave the Sikhs a solemn assurance that after India achieves political freedom no constitution shall be framed by the majority community unless it is freely acceptable to the Sikhs. This promise was then reduced into a formal Policy Resolution of the All India Congress Committee.

Afterwards this policy resolution was repeatedly reiterated, officially and demi-officially, throughout the period upto August 1947, and it was never officially repudiated till 1950 when the present constitution was framed. The trusting Sikhs, who in their daily prayer, extoll keeping faith as the noblest of human virtues, placing complete reliance in this solemn undertaking given to them by the majority community, resisted and refused all offers and proposals made to them by the British and the other people - the Muslims, whom we now prefer to call the Muslim League - proposing to accord the Sikhs a sovereign or autonomous status in the areas constituting their ancestral homeland between the River Ghaggar and the River Chenab.

In the year 1932, at the time of the second Round Table Conference, the British Government through Sardar Bahadur Shivdev Singh, then a member of the Indian Secretary of State's Council, made an informal proposal to the Sikhs that if they dissociate finally with the Congress movement, they would be given such a decisive political weightage in Punjab, as would lead to their emergin a third independent element in India and the British transfer power to inhabitants of this subcontinent. Master Tara Singh promptly rejected the tempting offer.

In the month of July, 1946, the India Congress Working Committee met Calcutta, which reaffirmed the assurance already given to the Sikhs, and in Press Conference held on the 6th Jult there, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru spelt the concrete content of this solemn under-taking in the following flowery words "The brave Sikhs of the Punjab entitled to special consideration. I nothing wrong in an area and a set up in the North wherein the Sikhs can experience the glow of freedom." In these words, an autonomous state to the Sikhs, within India, was promised.

In the early winter of 1946, Cabinet Mission, while at Delhi communicated to the Sikhs through the Sardar Baldev Singh that if the Sikhs determined not to part company with India, the British Parliament, in their solicitude for the Sikh people, prepared to so frame the Independence Act of India, that in respect of the Sikh Homeland, wherever these areas might eventually go, in Pakistan or India, no Constitution shall be formed such as does not have the concurrence of the Sikhs. But Sardar Baldev Singh, in consultation with the Congress leaders, summarily rejected this offer, which went even beyond assurances given by the majority community in 1929 and in 1946 by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in Calcutta.

In April 1947, Mr. Jinnah, in consultation with certain most powerful leaders of the British Cabinet in London, offered to the Sikhs, first through Master Tara Singh and then through the Maharaja of Patiala, a sovereign Sikh state comprising areas lying in the west of Panipat and east of the left bank of the Ravi river on the understanding that this State then confederates with Pakistan on very advantageous terms to the Sikhs. But Master Tara Singh summarily rejected this attractive offer. The Maharaja of Patiala declined to accept it in consultation with Sardar Patel and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.

In the month of May, 1947, precisely on the 17th May, Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan and Sardar Baldev Singh, flew to London on the invitation of the British Cabinet, in search of final solution of the Indian communal problem. When the Congress and the Muslim League failed to strike any mutual understanding and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru decided to return to India, the British Cabinet leaders conveyed to Sardar Baldev Singh that if he stays behind, arrangements might be made: "So as to enable the Sikhs to have political feet of their own on which they may walk into the current of World History." Sardar Baldev Singh promtly divulged the contents of this confidential offer to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and in compliance with the latter's wishes, declined to stay back and flew back to India after giving the following brave message to the Press: "The Sikhs have no demands to make on the British except the demand that they should quit India. Whatever political rights and aspirations the Sikhs have, they shall have them satisfied through the goodwil of the Congress and the majority community."

The British leaders had asked Sardar Baldev Singh to stay behind because the wanted to propose to him that if Sikhs were not ready to enter into the agreement with Muslims, then the Sikhs could be given an independent state which extended from Panipat to Nanakana Sahib with extended excess upto the seashore. The Britishers were ready to station 25,000 British troops and war equipment for ten years and provide help in the administration provided the Sikhs agreed to provide 50,000 soldiers be stationed at Singapore and other colonies to help the Britishers for the next ten years. After ten years the agreement could be reconsidered. Through this agreement the administration and defence of independent Khalistan would have been ensured and there would have been no need to enter into an agreement with either India or Pakistan for the purposes of their administration and defence. Even Muslim League had agreed this proposal because it would give then strong buffer state between Pakistan and India. It was also in the interest British empire as they would still have their feet in this sub-continent. But was unfortunate that there was no leader among the Sikhs with political vision foresight who could see the benefits such an arrangement and demand independent Homeland for the Sikhs.

But after Independence, the Congress leaders forgot their promises given to Sikh people. These very Congress lead adopted every conceivable postureand shrank from no stratagem to keep Sikhs permanently under their political heel, first, by refusing to form a Punjabi speaking state in which the Sikhs might acquire political effectiveness, and second, by not giving Sikhs and Punjab a special status in the Constitution Act of India.

[Courtesy : Dr. Santokh Singh Ji]