By: Ashok Singhal
On August 15, 1947, the Indian subcontinent was filled with joy and celebration as it achieved its long-awaited victory of independence. The era of British colonial rule, which lasted for almost two centuries, had come to an end. Since the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British had been slowly tightening their grip on India until the call for independence became too loud to ignore. Many brave martyrs sacrificed their lives to free their motherland from foreign oppression and to see the sun in the sky of freedom. The dream of a united India, free from foreign rule, had been the driving force behind these heroes.
However, the end of colonial rule was not the end of India’s struggle. The seeds of division, sown by the British themselves, who had used the policy of “divide and rule” to maintain their hold over India, later became a guiding principle in every aspect of our national life. The Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, raised a demand for a separate nation for the Muslims which led to the formation of Pakistan. This further paved the way for a tragic partition that still remains a significant event in world history. The idea of a divided India was a severe blow to the unity and integrity of the country that had been fought so hard for.
The event that unfolded between the nights of August 14-15, 1947, constituted a profound disappointment to the dreams and aspirations of countless fighters and martyrs who had dedicated themselves to the vision of Akhand Bharat and the hope of an independent motherland. The deep-rooted unity of India is an integral part of its national identity, which should have never been compromised for expedience. This enduring national vision was utterly shattered among the people on the night of August 14-15, 1947. After the British left, the Indian leaders had a more challenging task on their shoulders: establishing a new independent nation. They had to navigate through complex issues such as economic development, social inequality, and political instability.
The partition of India in 1947 marked a darker chapter in the country’s history. The idea of a united India was replaced by two separate nations, India and Pakistan, each with its own set of challenges to overcome. It was not only a geographical separation but also a division based on religion – Hindus and Muslims. The events that followed were etched in the nation’s collective memory with deep sorrow. People of different religions, including Hindus, Sikhs, and others, had hoped to live freely under the shade of India. Instead of peace and unity, the country was plunged into chaos and violence.
The tragic partition left a permanent scar on the nation’s psyche, a reminder of the cost of division and hatred. Thousands of loving and devoted children of the motherland were snatched away from their homes overnight. They found themselves as subjects of a fanatically anti-Hindu state. The birthplace of the Vedas and the Upanishads soon found itself in a war zone. The River Sindhu became foreign in its own land. Numerous brothers and sisters who found themselves on either side of the border became foreigners to each other. The unspeakable atrocities that occurred claimed many lives. Thousands suffered from religious persecution, including women who were kidnapped, raped, and subjected to humiliating treatment.
In order to ensure their own safety, everyone crossed the boundaries set by this border. This was a significant moment in Indian history, showcasing the largest migration of humans. Unfortunately, this migration resulted in widespread suffering for those affected. Tragically, over five hundred thousand lives were lost during this period of time.
Assam was one of the major provinces to witness India’s partition. It was during that time the question of joining East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, arose. Areas dominated by Bengali-speaking Muslims were created under the leadership of the All India Muslim League to join East Pakistan. This concern of separation emerged because of the creation of religious and linguistic differences between the Hindu-majority Assamese and Muslim-majority Bengali-speaking people. A sum of people supporting the Muslim League also wanted Assam to be a part of East Pakistan. It was during this tumultuous period that Assam’s first Chief Minister, Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi, displayed his political prowess in safeguarding the future of Northeast India from the abyss of uncertainty. He ensured that the region was given rightful autonomy and was allowed to preserve their cultural and social unity despite the upheaval of partition.
Another prominent figure who played a significant role during these challenging times was Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. In order to ensure the future security of Assam, he organized national unity in a strong and unbreakable manner, despite the divisive politics of partition. His invaluable contribution towards the unity of the nation paralleled that of Gopinath Bordoloi.
Although India became independent, it was left with misery, oppression, and at the same time, an indescribable disintegration of unity. Partition has set a shining example of how the diplomacy of communalism can be injected to eliminate the unity of a nation to serve the interests of foreign powers. Our brave freedom fighters did not lay down their lives to create a religiously divided country, dividing Akhand Bharat in a fragmented manner. The divisive and power-driven politics pursued by Mohammad Ali Jinnah has resulted in repeated attempts to shatter the unity of India in contemporary times. Thus, in today’s world, it is our responsibility to safeguard our nation from divisive elements that seek to undermine our unity and peace.
No one can forget the tragic story of partition to this day. In order to commemorate those who gave their lives in the name of our motherland, the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has decided to observe August 14 as “Partition Horrors Remembrance Day” as part of the “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, to pay tribute to the brothers and sisters of the nation who lost their lives in the clutches of oppression during partition.
As we celebrate India’s Independence Day, my hope is that our nation will continue to thrive and remain united. I would like to convey my sincere regards and heartfelt gratitude to all individuals who shower our motherland with great love and devotion, while working tirelessly towards its progress every day. To all my fellow citizens, I offer my utmost respect and admiration – Bharat Mata Ki Jai.