Indian Independence Act(15 July 1947)The British government now passed the Indian Independence Act on 15 July 1947. The Act ordered that from 15 August, two independent dominions be established by the names of India and Pakistan. These dominions were to have complete freedom to pass any act or bill they wished and the government of India Act 1935 was to be the Provisional constitution until replaced. Mountbatten appointed the Boundary Commission handed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe to demarcate the borders. The Boundary Commission would have four members, two nominated by the Muslim League and two by the Congress Party. Details hearings were held to determine the boundaries of East and West Punjab and Bengal.
Boundary awardThe Boundary Award was announced on 16 August, two days after the state of Pakistan was created and one day after India became a nation.
- Calcutta, the city where the jute grown in East Bengal was processed, was given to India, although the Muslim League had tried to press for a plebiscite there because it was surrounded by Muslim areas and they were confident of a majority in their favour.
- In the Punjab, the crucial districts of Firozpur and Gurdaspur were given to India. This was to prove the most contentious part of the entire award.
- The Gurdaspur District had a Muslim majority and it was only the sub-district of Pathankot which had a Hindu majority. Even if that tehsil, or sub-district, had been awarded to India, they would not have had a land border between Kashmir and India.By the Award of the entire district of Gurdaspur to India, the whole Kashmir dispute not only became possible, it became inevitable.
- The other district in contention, Firozpur, contained the canal headworks which controlled the water coming into Pakistan. Firozpur also had a Muslim majority and the Pakistanis complained that there had been an alteration to the original map in which Radcliffe had awarded Firozpur to Pakistan.
Quaid as Governor generalHowever, as the Boundary Award was announced on 16 August 1947, once India and Pakistan had become independent, there was little point in complaining to the British. The new governor general of Pakistan, the Quaid-i-Azam, consoled his nation by telling them that although the awards were ‘wrong, unjust and perverse’, there was little choice but to bear the latest blow with courage and hope.
History’s largest migrationThese events occurred simultaneously with the largest migration of people ever seen in history. Many countries would have collapsed under the strain but the vision and courage with which the Muslims won their homeland sustained them through these upheavals. In spite of all the disappointments, nothing could diminish the sheer scale of the Muslims community’s achievement: One of the world’s largest countries had come into being just seven years after the Muslims of sub-continent first demanded a separate homeland.
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