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History Taught In Pakistan
#8

Unmasking Jinnah’s Communalism: Sieving Facts from Fiction
By Dr. Vijay Rana

How can Jinnah, the lifelong campaigner for separate communal electorate, the advocate of two-nations theory, the opponent of 'Hindu Tyranny' and the initiator of India’s first mass violence campaign, the Direct Action Day, be described as a secular leader? Dr Vijay Rana tells you the true story of Jinnah, what many eminent historians and leading editors have assiduously tried to hide from you.

Even if the Aryans come out of their graves to tell us about their place of origin, some of our historians will refuse to listen to them. Blinded by their own ideologies, both the leftists and rightist historians have a long history of disputing the simplest facts such as the grass was green or sky was blue. Now Advani, though unwittingly, has given us an opportunity to debate the question that has haunted India since its partition in 1947. Was Muhammad Ali Jinnah a secular leader or a Muslim communalist?

In the last few days we have seen a blatant parody of facts and unashamed distortion of truth, that the most effective protagonist of Two-Nations Theory was a secular leader. Partition didn’t happen a thousand years ago. The eyewitnesses are around. Publications, audios and video films of Jinnah’s speeches are available. Yet India’s leading politicians, historians, journalists and commentators are engaged in a free for all history.

Some have accused Gandhi of introducing communalism in Indian politics. Others have blamed Nehru for wrecking the Cabinet Mission plan for a united India. They have argued that Jinnha was only responding to Hindu communalists of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha, thus accepting Jinnahs’s logic of an oppressive Hindu raj determined to ‘annihilation’ the Muslims and their culture in a free India. Others have come to the conclusion had the Congress accepted Jinnah’s demand of separate communal electorates and his sole right to represent Muslims, India could have been saved from the partition. They have been in effect arguing in favour of an internal communal separation of Hindus and Muslims in the independent India.

How interesting? Had we accepted Jinnah’s demands and saved India from partition imagine what kind of India we would have been living in? Muslims only voting for Muslim candidates and Hindus voting for only Hindus. And Congress or any other party could not have a Muslim minister because in Jinnah’s India only Muslim League could have appointed Muslim ministers.

Yet many of India’s secular stalwarts are not prepared to call Jinnah a communal leader. In a recent television programme India’s two leading historians made astonishing assertions. Presenter Karan Thaper asked a simple question, “was Jinnah communal?” Professor Mushirul Haq, the Vice Chancellor of Jamil Milia University, Delhi would only go as far as calling Jinnah ‘a Muslim sectarian’. Whereas the veteran historian Prof Bimal Prasad would only describe Jinnah as ‘a Muslim nationalist’. Both of them, despite being repeatedly questioned, refused to call Jinnah a communal leader.

The scholarly lawyer AG Noorani writing in the Frontline, went a step further arguing that Jinnah was ‘truly a great man. His political record from 1906 to 1939 reveals a spirit of conciliation and statesmanship, which Congress leaders did not reciprocate.’ ‘Indians must begin to acknowledge, advised Noorani, ‘his greatness and the grave injustice the Congress leaders did to him.’ In this article, Noorani conveniently skipped any mention of Jinnah’s words or actions relating to his most active years, 1940-47. Because it was during these years Jinnah was hawking his favoured theory that ‘Hindus and Muslims are two nations and they cannot exist together’.

But the most ingenious distortion of history came from the Indian media’s darling, the British author Patrick French. He wrote in the Outlook that ‘Gandhi was a wily politician and Jinnah remained a secularist till his death.’ He argued that partition occurred because the Congress refused to accept Jinnah’s ‘justifiable demands’.

Then Ayasha Jalal, the Pakistani professor of history at the Tufts University, USA, wrote in the Outlook: ‘It was the Congress backed by the extreme right wing Hindu Mahasabha which plumped for a partition of the two main Muslim-majority provinces of India, the Punjab and Bengal, opposed by Jinnah and the League.’

Prof. Jalal must be at the forefront of the ‘Fictional school of History’. Imagine Nehru and Patel working in harmony with Hindu Mahasabha to achieve partition. Can you really believe it? Perhaps the Outlook can.

Interestingly, none of these protectors of Jinnah’s secularism mentioned, for once, Jinnah’s call for Direct Action on 16 August 1946 that unleashed an unprecedented wave of communal killings in the human history.

There is a mountain of evidence, surprisingly invisible to these eminent historians, proving that Jinnah began his political career as a secular leader but as the years passed by he was increasingly obsessed by and progressively dedicated to communal politics.

Whereas Gandhi lived and died for communal harmony, mutual tolerance, non-violence and peaceful resolution of disputes, Jinnah, always scornful of Gandhi, thrived on Hindu-Muslim strife, subscribing to the historically mislaid fear of the Hindu tyranny over Muslims in an independent India, a theory originally propounded by Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan as early as in 1888.

Jinnah’s conversion from a secularist to communalist was quick and continuous. After finishing his studies in England, Jinnah returned to India in 1896. In December 1906, he joined the Congress party as the personal secretary of the party president Dadabhai Naoroji.

He believed in the national unity and vigorously opposed the Muslim League demand of separate Muslim electorate as divisive, soon winning praise from poetess Sarojini Naidu as ‘the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. Ironically, four years later in 1910, it was under this system of separate electorate, where only Muslims could vote for a Muslim candidate, that Jinnah was elected to the central legislative assembly as a Muslim member. This was the first step he unwittingly took on the long road to communalism.

Jinnah’s belief in Congress secularism soon began to waver. In 1913, he joined the Muslim League. A glance at the speeches, pamphlets and propaganda would reveal that the League leadership was avowedly communal, staunchly anti-Congress and openly anti-Hindu. Have a look at the speech of Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, one of the founders of the Muslim League: ‘God forbid, if the British rule disappeared from India, Hindus will lord over it, and we will be in the constant danger of our life, property and honour.’ The question must be asked what was our ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity doing in the company of these rabid communalists. Within seven years of his entry into politics, a secular Jinnah has become, as Prof Bipin Chandra puts it, ‘a communal nationalist’.

Yet not all was lost. Despite sharing Muslim League’s communalist ideology and following it’s separate electorate agenda, Jinnah still talked about Hindu-Muslim unity. He was one of the driving forces behind the Congress-League pact of 1916.

But we must also look at the price our ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity was demanding. Jinnah was able to persuade the Congress party, now led by Tilak, to accept separate communal electorate and also a provision of communal reservations in the legislature.

Pakistani sources (Story of Pakistan) describe Lucknow Pact as a major milestone on the road to Pakistan. ‘As Congress agreed to separate electorates, it in fact agreed to consider the Muslims as a separate nation. They thus accepted the concept of the Two-Nation Theory.’

Later in 1936, Jinnah himself cited Lucknow Pact as the Congress admission of Hindu-Muslim separation: “When the Hindus accepted a separate identity for the Muslims through the Lucknow Pact in 1916, how can they now object to Pakistan?”

Interestingly, most of our history books still tell us that Lucknow Pact was a major triumph of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Many of our historians could be found blaming Gandhi for introducing communalism in the Indian national movement. In 1920, Gandhi made one more attempt for Hindu-Muslim unity by supporting the Muslim demand of retaining the pre-war status of the Ottoman Caliph. Jinnah opposed this Khilafat movement. His opposition was primarily focused on Gandhi, whom he considered a pseudo-religious upstart.

When Gandhi launched non-cooperation movement in 1920, Jinnah walked out of the Congress party, telling his friend, journalist Durga Das that in Gandhi’s Congress there was no place for him as ‘Gandhi worships cow and I eat it’, a argument he later repeated in his public speeches.

Despite clear and unequivocal communal rhetoric he was still given the benefit of doubt. He had transformed ‘from a nationalist into communal nationalist and then into liberal communalist,’ wrote Prof. Vipin Chandra. Whatever the fudging one thing was clear that by 1920 his belief in secularism, as preached by the Congress, had completely evaporated.

For next ten years as the President of the Muslim League Jinnah dedicated himself to strengthen the League, a party that claimed the exclusive right to represent the Muslims of India. In 1929, Jinnah came up with another plan demanding 33 percent representation for Muslims in the federal and provincial assemblies and ministries. A community could, Jinnah proposed, abandon its right of separate electorate if it wished. The plan was rejected by the Congress.

Between 1931-35 Jinnah left Indian politics and decided to set up his legal practice in London. But then in 1935 he moved back to Bombay. In the 1937 elections the Muslim League performed poorly, only getting 4.6 percent of the Muslim votes, whereas the Congress was able to form governments in seven of the eleven British Indian provinces. In 1939, when the Congress ministries resigned protesting against the British decision to push India in the War, Jinnah, by now a fierce opponent of the Congress rule, asked Muslim to observe a nationwide ‘Day of Deliverance’.

Another powerful influence that inspired Jinnha’s communal politics was poet Iqbal, the author of Tatana-e-Hindi - ‘Saare Jahan se Achcha Hindustan hamaara.’ Iqbal, another ex-ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, in his later years dreaded the prospects of democracy in India. Like Jinnah, he too believed that Muslims must be rescued from the imminent Hindu domination. Later, he wrote Tarana-e-Milli, anthem for the Muslim community, invoking the memories of Muslims conquerors of India.

He wrote eight letters to Jinnah telling him that he was the ‘only Muslim in India’ who could ‘safely guide the community through the storm’. He advised Jinnah to turn the League ‘into a body representing the Muslim masses’ and to demand the creation of ‘a free Muslim state or states’. Iqbal died shortly after writing these letters in 1937.

If Iqbal was the Mazini of Pakistan, laying the intellectual and ideological foundations, Jinnah took upon the role of Garibaldi, to execute that vision by all possible means with complete disregard to consequences, moral and human. As the Pakistani Prof. Akbar Ahmed writes: ‘Until now, Jinnah had spoken of separate electorates, minority representation and constitutional safeguards. Now he would use Islamic symbolism to represent Pakistan. The moon of Pakistan is rising, he would say. He would choose the crescent for the flag of Pakistan. Something had clearly changed in the way Jinnah was looking at the world.’

Over the years a great myth had been created that Jinnah really didn’t ask for Pakistan. That the word ‘Pakistan’ does not figure in the famous 1940 Lahore resolution.

But let’s look at the speech Jinnah made accompanying the resolution. He traced the history of ‘mutually separate’ cultural and religious traditions of Hindus and Muslims. ‘The cow that Hindus worship, Jinnah says, Muslims eat, the villains that Hindus malign, Muslims idolize and so on … The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures,’ Jinnah concluded. (Akbar Ahmed)

During the 1940s his tone, language and argument, while opposing Gandhi, Congress and Hindus, was brimming with hate and even abuse. His speeches were remarkably similar to the speeches of Hindu fundamentalists like Savarkar and Golwalkar. If Jinnah’s Islam was in danger of Hindu raj, so was Golwalkar’s Hindutva in danger of Islam. The only difference was that Jinnah drew crowds much bigger than Golwalkar or Savarkar ever did. A rational historical assessment would suggest that Golwalkar and Sarvarkar, despite substantial potential to vitiate the communal relations, always remained on the margins of Hindu society, but Jinnah, to the great anguish of leaders like Maulana Azad, was successfully poisioning the Muslim minds, openly provoking them for communal bloodshed.

In March 1940, Jinnah in a speech at Aligarh Muslim University accused Gandhi ‘to subjugate and vassalize the Muslims under a Hindu Raj’. Similarly, in a scathing attack on Gandhi, the RSS chief MS Golwalkar said: “Those who declare ‘no Swaraj without Hindu-Muslim unity’ have thus perpetrated the greatest treason on our society.’

While Golwalkar blamed Gandhi for asking ‘Hindus to submit meekly to the vandalism and atrocities of the Muslims’, Jinnah in his presidential address to the League, in April 1941, said, in a united India ‘Muslims will be absolutely wiped out of existence.’ He said Pakistan was essential ‘to save Islam from complete annihilation in this country.’ During the 1946 elections, he often described Congress as ‘caste Hindu Fascist Congress’.

In March 1944, addressing the students of the Ailgarh Muslim University Jinnah declared: <span style='color:red'>“Pakistan was born when the first Muslim landed in India in 712 A. D.” He asked the students to be prepared to shed their blood, if necessary, for achieving Pakistan. </span>This was an ominous pre-warning to what he was going to do next, to launch a murderous campaign to achieve Pakistan.

While preparing for ‘shedding the blood’ Jinnah was still officially negotiating with the Congress. Though the British pretended to be the honest brokers, every time they put forward a proposal for India’s independence, Jinnah’s goal of Pakistan looked increasingly probable.

In the August offer of 1939, the British came up with the idea of ‘communal veto’. They resolved not to leave India unless the minorities approved of any future constitutional arrangement. So Indian freedom was now subjected to Jinnah’s endorsement.

The 1942 Cripps proposals offered ‘provincial option’, allowing provinces to opt out of the future Indian federation. That’s what exactly Jinnah was fighting for, the Muslim provinces’ right to opt out of India.

In the 1945 Simla Conference, Jinnah fought for Hindu-Muslim parity in any future government. He also insisted that in any interim government all the Muslim ministers would have to be nominated by the League. He was in effect asking Congress to renounce its national and secular character and reduce itself merely to be a Hindu party.

In 1946, the British government sent a mission of three cabinet ministers for a final rapprochement between the Congress and the League. The Cabinet Mission plan provided for a loose center controlling only defense, foreign affairs and communications. Provinces were to be divided in three groups. Group A comprised of Hindu majority provinces of UP, Bihar, CP, Orissa, Madras and Bombay. Group B included the Muslim majority Punjab, Sind and NWFP and Group C consisted of the Muslim majority Bengal and Assam. The provinces were allowed to opt out of these groups after the first election.

The Congress accepted the plan and so did the League. Many believed, and some still rather deludingly believe, that Jinnah had thus abandoned the idea of Pakistan. But let’s not fool ourselves and have a look at the League’s acceptance document drafted by Jinnah. The League had accepted the plan with its own spin, ‘inasmuch as the basis of and the foundation of Pakistan are inherent in the Mission’s plan by virtue of the compulsory grouping.’

Even this acceptance was hastily withdrawn after Nehru pointed out that it would be the newly formed constituent assembly that would finally decide the composition of provincial groups.

In his autobiography ‘India Wins Freedom’ Maulana Azad blamed Nehru for wrecking this final bid to save India from partition. It’s sad that Azad, the greatest Indian Muslim who fought against the communalism of the League, who devoted his life to the creation of a secular and democratic India and who often suffered Jinnah’s humiliating jibes as ‘the Congress show-boy’, did a great disservice to the understanding of the partition.

The theory of ‘bargaining counter’ is supported by many, from Azad to the Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal and the eminent jurist M. C. Chagla, who wrote in his autobiography, ‘Roses in December’: “To him (Jinnah) it was more of a bargaining counter, and if we had bargained properly, he would have given up the idea of Pakistan and accepted a united India.”<b>

If we go by this thesis of Jinnah’s demand of Pakistan just being a bargaining counter, than one must ask why Jinnah was provoking his own people to fight for Pakistan. Why was he frightening millions of Muslims of the impending specter of Hindu tyranny? If the bargaining counter theory is to be believed then Jinnah comes out as a diabolical figure fooling his own community and building up false hopes.</b> He was provoking Muslims to ‘shed blood’ at one hand and negotiating power sharing deals with the Hindu leaders on the other hand.

In August 1946, Jinnah breached another boundary of sober and sensible politics. The one time advocate of constitutional propriety now espoused violence and even terror.

How would the defenders of Jinnah’s secularism support his call for Direct Action: ‘This day we bid good-bye to constitutional methods,” he declared. “ We have forged a pistol and we are prepared to use it,” he declared.

On 16 August 1946, the frenzied League mobs rampaged Hindu neighbourhoods in Calcutta. Hindu communal groups retaliated with equal brutality. Ten thousand innocent lives were lost in just five days in the Great Calcutta Killings. Quickly the fires of communal hatred spread from Bengal to Punjab consuming millions of lives. They burnt until Jinnah got his precious ‘Muslim homeland’.

As soon as he became Governor-General, Jinnah in a dramatic u-turn advised Muslims in Pakistan to live peacefully with their Hindu neighbours. His followers wondered if it was not possible for them to live with Hindus in India, how could they live with Hindus in Pakistan. They refused to listen to him. <span style='color:red'>When Pakistan was born in August 1947, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians formed 26 percent of its population. Today less then three percent of them are left in Pakistan.</span>

This is not ancient history buried under the multiple layers of unexcavated earth. Any historian, true to his/her profession, with elementary knowledge of Jinnah’s beliefs, actions and legacy could easily conclude that he used and abused Muslim faith and consciousness for his political ends. For a historian such a man cannot be secular. Flight of imagination is the exclusive preserve of fiction writers.

Journalist and broadcaster Vijay Rana, after doing his D Phil on India’s transfer of power from Allahabad University, moved on to the BBC in London in the early eighties. He now edits www.historytalking.com, a web-radio dedicated to South Asian oral history and heritage. Email: editor@historytalking.com
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