Those Fifteen Days - National Scenario During Independence - 13

Those Fifteen days 
13th August 1947 

- Prashant Pole 
Mumbai, Juhu Airport 

Eight to ten women are at Tata Air Services counters. All are disciplines and their faces reflect utmost confidence. All of them are volunteers of “Rashtra Sevika Samiti”. 

Pramukh Sanchalika, Laxmibai Kelkar also known as “Mausiji”, is about to leave for Karachi. From the chaos and anarchy-like atmosphere there, a Sevika from Hyderabad, (Sindh) has sent her a letter. Sevika’s name is Jethi Devani. The Devani family is a simple family of Sindh who is working with Sangh. 

After receiving Jethi’s letter, Mausiji couldn’t hold herself. To help Sevikas of Sindh, she decided to immediately go there to help. It’s only been eleven years that Rashtra Sevika Samiti has been formed. But Samiti’s work is progressing fast, so much so that it has reached the border states of Sindh, Punjab and Bengal. 

Tomorrow, Kayede Aajam Jinnah is about to take his oath in Karachi. There will be celebrations of independence all around. Still it is important to pay a visit. That is the reason that Mausiji, along with her collegue Vanutai Kalamkar, is present at the airport. 

The aircraft has a capacity to seat 40 to 50 passengers but only two women dressed in 9-yard Maharashtrian sari. Not many Hindus are present in the aircraft. Jaiprakash Narayan, who is keeping alive the socialist ideology in Congress, is also present in the plane. A gentleman from Pune, whose surname is Dev is also there & Mausiji has recognised him. But both of them got down in Ahmedabad. Mostly all the passengers who boarded from here are also Muslims and among them are these two women! 

A few enthusiastic passengers are raising slogans of “Long live Pakistan”. A couple of passengers also shouted, “We have fought and taken Pakistan, now laughingly take Hindustan”. But Mausiji’s self-confidence was unshaken. Her decision was final. Hardness on her face was there to stay. Looking at that, slowing people raising slogans for Pakistan, became quiet. 

Multan – Lahore Rail Track, North Western State Railway 

Before Lahore, there is a station called Riyazabad. Its 11 in the morning. No rain at all. Skies are clear. There are at least 100 to 200 Muslims waiting on the station, with swords and knives. 

A train bound for Amritsar and then Ambala is slowly entering the station. On the platform, there is not a single soul, apart from these armed Muslims. Station Master is hiding in his cabin, locking its door. His assistant is working on Morse Code and trying to send this information to Head Office, but his hands are trembling too. This is the reason why with the sound of kat-kat, kat-kat, the telegraphic language of “Dish-dash” is getting wrong every time. 

It was extremely quiet, till the train arrived on the platform. Slowly train enters and a loud whistle blows. Within seconds, with the loud cries of “Deen-deen, Allah-o-akbar” are accompanied by the cries of “Kill them, kill them all”. Many Hindus and Sikhs from Multan and West Punjab’s villages had left all their belongings and properties and were travelling in this train to seek refuge. But here on this station, they were all pulled out of their compartments and beheaded with sharp swords right there. 

Peeking from his office window, the scared station master was watching all this but couldn’t do anything. Unknowingly, he started counting dead-bodies. Till now, in the first instance, Muslims had killed 21 Sikhs and Hindus. Their protesting, crying women and girls were hauled by these Muslim goons over their shoulders and carried out amidst laughter and jubilation. There is no count of how many more Hindus-Sikhs would have been killed. He tells his assistant to send all this information via Telegraph, to the Head Office. 

But censorship has been imposed on Punjab and who knows how many such vital news has been censored! 


Tomorrow, before Pakistan is independent, a serious meeting between India, Pakistan & British officers is going on. The meeting has been convened so that the political division of administering India and Pakistan can easily take place. Business, Telecommunications, Infrastructure, railways, customs etc many issues are being discussed in this meeting. At last it was decided, that as of now Undivided India’s rules and laws will be applicable in both the countries till March 1948. After March both countries will execute their own rules and administration in their respective regions. Post and telegraph too will be common between the two till March 1948. Citizens of both countries will be able to commute across the borders without any difficulty. 


The biggest challenge looming in front of the Nehru government is to replace the outgoing British officers with equivalent Indian officers. The Chief Justice of undivided India, Sir Williams Patrick Spanze will retire tomorrow. He will leave his position. So, who will be the best suited to replace him? A few names have come to notice but the most suitable found amongst them is Sir Harilal Janakidas Kania, from Surat Gujrat. 

Sir Kania, a lawyer, hails from a middle-class family of Surat. He is working as a Judge in Mumbai High Court since 1930. 59 years old Sir Kannia is an Associate Judge in the Supreme Court. The current Chief Judge of India, Sir Williams Patrick Spanze has been appointed as the Chairman of India-Pakistan Arbitration Tribunal. 

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Many Indians who fought from Indian National Army, at present, gathers in various British & French localities of Germany. However, now all these soldiers and officers may apply for Indian Passports and freely travel anywhere. Paris based “Indian Military Mission” announced this today. Dr Harbans Lal, is amongst these prisoners. Mr Lal has been a Lieutenant in Netaji’s “Indian National Army”. Dr Lal, with other prisoners is scheduled to return to India. 
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151, Beliaghat 

Haidari Manzil, 3:00 PM 

Gandhiji reached Haidari Manzil in an old Chevrolet, from Sodepur Ashram. He is accompanied by Manu, Mahadev Bhai and 2 other workers. Behind him in another car, four-five more workers have arrived. It has rained recently. It’s muddy all around. Many people are standing in front of Haidari Manzil. Most of them are Hindus. 

AS Gandhiji’s car stopped, fervent sloganeering in his name started. But this time, the slogans are not hailing him… they are in fact cursing him. After alighting from the car and hearing these curses, Gandhiji’s demeanour was a bit shaky but he could successfully keep his face expressionless. 

Slogans continue… “Gandhi go away”, “Go to Noakhaali and protect Hindus”, “First save life of Hindus, then place for Muslims”, “Betrayer of Hindus - Gandhi, go away”, Slogans were accompanied by bottles and stones. Gandhiji stops for a moment. Calmly, he turns back. Straightening his shawl with his hands, he appeals the crowd to be calm and the crown becomes somewhat calm too. 

In a low voice, Gandhiji begins to say, “I am here to serve Hindus and Muslims equally. I will be staying here under your guard. If you feel like, you may attack me right here, while I am staying with you all in Beliaghat. I am also saving Hindus of Noakhaali. Muslim leaders have taken an oath to help me do the same. Now I appeal to you Hindus that no harm to come to Muslims living in Calcutta.” 

Leaving the stunned crowd, Gandhiji enters Haidari Manzil. 

But the crowd was only quiet for next few minutes. As Martyr Suhravardi arrives at the venue, the crown again became angry. Their anger almost blasted off. The villain, who killed five thousand Hindus, Suhravardi was going in front of them and which Hindu could remain calm now? The crowd surrounded the building, and many youths continued to pelt stones at Haidari Manzil. 

In undivided India, it is the first time that most respectful Gandhiji has to face such an offensive and insulting situation. 
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Almost at the time of landing of aircraft that carried head of “Rashtriya Sevika Samiti” to Dreegh Road’s airport, another aircraft was landing at the Royal Air Force Airport which was located in Maoripur, Karachi. This special Dakota aeroplane was bringing the Governor General of Undivided India – Lord Mountbatten. 

From the aircraft emerged Lord and Lady Mountbatten. For their welcome, to-be-appointed Pakistani highest officers were present. Jinnah was not at the airport. Mountbattens were informed that Kasyade Aazam and his sister Fatima were waiting for them at their government residence. 

Residence of Jinnah at Karachi – Bungalow of Sindh’s Governor. Constructed in Victorian style, the halls of this huge villa has been grandly decorated. The whole place is looking like a set from a Hollywood movie. Amidst the royal decoration, Kaayade Aazam Jinnah and his sister Fatima gave a royal welcome to Mountbattens. 
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Lahore. 4:00 PM 

Tajjuddin, a resident of Temple Road. A poor, a simpleton, he sells Naan & Kulche (Indian flat breads) on this road. But since this morning, something has happened to change his mindset. Almost all friends of Tajuddin were members of “Muslim National Guard”. All of them and also Muslim Hawaldaar at the police station has told him this morning that the big Gurudwara on the Temple Road must be attacked and abrogated… it was the call of our religion. 

Tajuddin didn’t know anything other than “Naan” & “Kulcha”. But he was greatly impressed by these talks. He closed his shop in the afternoon itself and joined his friends to attack the Gurudwara. 

Mojhang’s “Cheveen Paatshashi” Gurudwara located on Lahore’s Temple Road is one of the most pious worshiping spots of Sikhs. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh has built this Gurudwara. In 1619, Guru Govind Singh and Diwan Chandu had visited Lahore. This Gurudwara was built on the same place where they had stayed. 

The routine prayers, and ‘Langar’ is going on the Gurudwara. For security, there are only four ‘Nihang’ devotees who are posted with their swords. Mostly, Sikhs are a business class community and morning time is important for business. Therefore, almost all members of the Sikh community will gather towards evenings. At present, very few people are present in the Gurudwara. 

Exactly at 4:00 PM, Muslim National Guard attacked this Gurudwara. Tajuddin was leading them. He hurled the first petrol bomb. Fifty to sixty Muslim goons were face to face with only four ‘Nihang’ devotees. How long could they have lasted? In spite of that, with unparalleled bravelry, they killed three or four Muslims and injured seven or eight of them. But at last, all four ‘Nihangs’ fell in their own pool of blood. 

This ‘Cheveen Paatshahi’ Gurudwara that was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was full of innocent, not guilty Sikhs. 
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Capital of North West Frontier Province. In a huge house in the region of Peshawar, a 57year old Khan Abdul Gafar Khan was sitting in a distracted condition – alone and pensive. 

Khan Abdul Gafar Khan – a heavy-duty name matching with a heavy-duty personality. A universally accepted leader of North West Frontier Center. Khan Saheb is a true follower of Gandhiji. That is why he has been nicknames as Frontier Gandhi. But amongst the Pathan community, he is better known as “Badshah Khan”. Frontier Khan had united all the illiterate, tribal population of this mountainous region under the flag of Congress. 

That is why in the election of 1945, this region which has majority Muslim population, Congress had won in a huge way; Muslim League didn’t get much benefit out of this election. Now that India will be divided, the big question in front of the Pathan population is which way to go? Since olden times, there is enormous amount of hostility between Pakistani Punjabis and Pathans. That’s why the Pathans in this region wanted to join India. The majority votes in Regional Assembly were also skewed same way. Only question was of geographical closeness. But it was reasoned that even lies od distances exist between Eastern and Western Pakistan. Another thing was that if the State of Kashmir goes with India, then this issue will be sorted out because Southern Gilgit is connected geographically, with North West Frontier Province. 

But Nehru put an obstacle by saying that there must be referendum in the region about it. The working committee of Congress too favoured him. Sardar Patel opposed it vehemently. His view was that Regional Assemblies must finalise whom they want to join. We have done the same for other states of our country. That is the reason that where ever there is a Muslim majority, they have opted to join Pakistan. On these just lines, North West Frontier Province must be a part of India because, Congress is ruling there. But Nehru was adamant on his view. He said he is a follower of Democracy and that people of the region should be free to decide what they want. 

Badshah Khan Came to know from the newspapers about the decision to hold a referendum in his region. The person who had worked hard in this difficult and Muslim majority region to make it a Congress region, he was not taken into confidence by Nehru before such a decision. And so after coming to know of this news, Khan Gafar Khan in a very sorrowful note said, “Congress has given this region to the Muslim League on silver platter.” 

The process of referendum in this region began on July 20th, 1947 and it lasted for about 10 days. Before and during the referendum, Muslim League provoked religious sentiments on a large scale. Witnessing this, Congress boycotted the referendum. Badshah Khan was worried of the extent of their troubles which has cropped up due to Nehru’s blunders. 

This voting was only and only a way to cheat people. The six tribes on whom Khan Abdul Gafar had his influence were stopped from voting. Out of a population of 65 lakhs, only five lakh seventy two thousand people were given the right to vote on this matter. Tahsils of Saval, Deer, Amb and Chitral didn’t have any voting. 

Out of the total voting population only 51% participated in the process. There were green boxes for those who wanted to be a part of Pakistan whereas for those who wanted to join India had to put in their votes in red boxes. 2,89,244 votes were cast in favour of Pakistan. Despite the boycott by Congress, votes in favour of joining India were 2,874. It translates to say that that out of total thirty- five lakh population, only approximately 3 lakh votes were cast in favour of joining Pakistan. 

Badshah was upset with the fact, “Both Gandhi and Nehru have left us unclaimed and that too in front of Pakistani wolves. These emotions were constantly making a home in his mind. 

That’s why, their party colleagues were constantly asking him from Peshawar, Kohat, Baanu, Swat regions that “Should we get displaced to India? But Frontier Gandhi had no answers to give them on this subject. 


Kaayade Aazam Jinnah’s residence. 9:00 PM 

On the eve of Pakistan’s Independence Day, to welcome Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah has organised a ‘royal feast’. A few ambassadors and statesmen of other countries are also present there. The most expensive liquor is being served like water. But the host of this grand party is away from the everything – aloof. 

Before the formal dinner began, it is time for the host to say a few words. Jinnah placed correctly, his monocle at his nose and started to read. “Your Excellency, Your Highness, His Majesty the King – I am pleased to toast for long life and healthy life for you all. We applaud His Excellency Lord Mountbatten for his efficiency and deftness that he has executed all principles and ethics during the June 3rd meeting. Pakistan and India can never forget your contribution for us. 

What an Irony… that for Islam and Islamic values, the country which is about to be born in a day’s time, is being welcomed by serving alcohol and liquor. 
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All India Radio, Lahore Center. 11:50 PM. Announce on the radio -: This is All India Radio, Lahore Center. Please wait for our announcement in a short time. For next 10 minutes, a piece of music instrumental plays. 

Exactly at 12:01 AM – 

“Assalaam Waalekum. You are welcome to the Pakistan Broadcasting Service. We are speaking from Lahore. Welcome to the independent morning!” 

And hence the announcement of the birth of Pakistan was done. 

Prashant Pole

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