Punjab February - March 1947

CMP(A4)  Punjab, February-March 1947
Documents included
  • Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, 29 January 1947 (full text)
  • Sir E. Jenkins to Viceroy Wavell, 3 February 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sir E. Jenkins  to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, 8 February 1947 (excerpts)
  • Viceroy Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence 12 February 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sardar Patel to Viceroy Wavell, 14 February 1947 (full text)
  • Sir E. Jenkins  to Viceroy Wavell, 15  February 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sir E. Jenkins  to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, 25  February 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sir E. Jenkins  to Viceroy Wavell, 3 March 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sir E. Jenkins  to Viceroy Wavell, 5 March 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sir E. Jenkins  to Viceroy Wavell, 17 March 1947 (excerpts)
  • Note by Sir E. Jenkins, 20 March 1947 (excerpts)
  • Sir C. Auchinleck to Mr. Abell, 22 March 1947 (excerpts)
  • Record of Meeting between Lord Ismay,  Sir E. Jenkins, Sir O. Caroe, Sir E. Mieville and others on 14 April 1947 (excerpts)
  • Note by Sir E. Jenkins, 16 April 1947 (excerpts)
From The Transfer of Power 1942-7,  Volume IX The fixing of a time limit and Volume X The Mountbatten Viceroyalty Formulation of a Plan, Eds. Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon.
In the period 1946-early 1947, Punjab was ruled by a Coalition Ministry of Unionists, Sikhs and Congress party members headed by Unionist leader Sir Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana. In the 1946 provincial elections, though the Muslim League  won the largest number of seats (77 out of 175), it had been unable to form a majority coalition with other parties and stake a claim to government.  

In late-January 1947, the Muslim League began an agitation against a ban imposed by the Coalition Ministry  on the Muslim League National Guards. However, even after the ban on the Guards was lifted a few days later, the Muslim League continued its agitation,  claiming that even without a legislative majority it was entitled to use force to bring down the Khizr Hayat Ministry. The League agitation which thus explicitly denied the legitimacy of a Punjabi government with Hindus and Sikhs in it, hence, inevitably grew increasingly communal in tone and more so in its later stages when Hindu and Sikh ripostes to it began.

On  February 20, 1947, the British government announced that it would withdraw from India by June 1948, that is, in approximately 16 months.  This announcement greatly increased the political ferment in Punjab.  The Muslim League's efforts to wield  power over Punjab,  the linchpin province of its envisioned future Pakistan became more urgent. The Unionist Party's proximity to and patronage by the British Indian administration and the British Indian Army had been  the main sources of its power and legitimacy in Punjab.  The Unionist Party thus immediately and swiftly lost prestige and position now that the British had definitely decided to withdraw from the region and effectively ditch their chief subcontinental ally of many decades.

On 3rd March Sir Khizr Hayat finally decided to resign and in the succeeding few days Punjab experienced widespread urban and rural outbreaks of violence resulting in an estimated 3,500 (overwhelmingly non-Muslim) deaths,  widespread abductions of non-Muslim women and forced conversions of non-Muslims, looting and arson and  more than 40,000 non-Muslim refugees. Within days the Congress demanded the partition of the Punjab (this demand  in effect meant that even if India as a whole remained united, the Congress position was that Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs wanted the Punjab province partitioned).

Ian Talbot writes in 'Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India' :
The Punjab had been a powder keg for many months. It is nevertheless significant, that within less than a week of Khizr's resignation, communal violence had reached alarming proportions and the Congress had demanded the partition of the province. For the first time, violence spread from the cities to the countryside and took on the sinister undertones of 'ethnic cleansing'. Whole villages in the Jhelum, Attock and Rawalpindi districts were put to the sword. About 40,000 people, mainly Sikhs had taken refuge in hurriedly established camps. The outrage which many Sikh leaders felt at these assaults which were orchestrated by Muslim National Guards and ex-servicemen[Jenkins to Wavell, 17 March 1947] and condoned by Muslim League politicians[Jenkins to Mountbatten, 30 April 1947] fed a desire for revenge which bred a civil war mentality..

The March violence destroyed any lingering hopes that the Punjab might escape partition... The violence also destroyed the British system of control in the countryside centred around such loyalist political families as the Tiwanas. The collapse of Unionist influence created political and administrative chaos.."
(end quotes)

Thus, in Punjab too as in other provinces, the failure of top political leaders to reach agreement, and the intended use of coercion instead of compromise to advance political demands led to mass-level communal polarization and chaos. This ground situation perversely resulted in greatly  reducing and constricting the options for mutual settlement available to  the British and political leaders, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu to keep Punjab united. This turn of events in Punjab had been foreseen by the British governor, Sir Evan Jenkins who had warned the Punjab Muslim League leadership about it well in advance.
(end comment)

The following are from The Transfer of Power 1942-7,  Volume IX The fixing of a time limit

324 page 571 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Lord Pethick-Lawrence, 29 January 1947

Punjab situation. Continuation my telegram of 27th January. Reports of the speeches made at meeting of January 27th which were available on 28th January showed that Muslim League leaders were bent on defiance and that it would be useless for me to see Mamdot again. Premier after full consultation with his colleagues issued statement about 13-30 hours on 28th January withdrawing ban on R.S.S.S and M.L.N.G. but indicating that general law and order position would be held. During afternoon Muslim League leaders issued long statement and made speeches alleging that by rights they should have been put in office after general election and that they could no longer tolerate denial by coalition  Ministry of civil liberties. They intimated that ban on M.L.N.G.. and its removal were of no (repeat no) importance, that they had intended in any case to take direct action against coalition Ministry and that direct action would be continued until restrictions on processions and meetings were lifted and Ministry resigned. I have so far seen only press summaries of statements and speeches but Shaukat is reported to have said "Khizar Ministry must be made to go no matter what cost to Muslim League. They would put out 15 million Muslims to break law".

2. Muslim League thus place themselves in constitutional position which it is not easy to defend. They failed to form government after general elections and have not yet defeated coalition Ministry in Assembly. Budget begins on 3rd March. Their argument is that because they are largest single party they are entitled to dislodge coalition Ministry by show of force. If this argument is accepted democratic government would become impossible in the Punjab and Muslim League might ultimately suffer more than any other party.

3. Premier had foreseen that [this] constitutional issue and after uneasy day of demonstrations on 28th delivered premeditated counter-attack on night of 28th-29th. All important League Leaders in Lahore including Mamdot, Iftikaruddin, Firoz, Daultana were arrested under Ordinance and sent for detention to places outside Lahore. Press stoppage was put on all news of agitation other than government communiques. Lahore still disturbed today and there have been further disturbances in other districts. No loss of life yet reported and situation generally in  hand. Repeated to Viceroy.

339 page 609 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell (Extract)
Government House, Lahore, 3 February 1947

3. On 1st February I had a long talk with General Messervy, who looked in on me on his return journey from Delhi to Rawalpindi. I also had a talk with Khizar, and suggested that he should now begin to consider his long term position. I pointed out that he could neither keep the Muslim League leaders in detention indefinitely, nor let them out unconditionally in order that they might continue the agitation. Khizar said that he would think the matter over, but until he was clear about the attitude of the Muslim League High Command and probable developments at the Centre, he could make no plans.
8. The resolution by the Muslim League High Command on the Punjab situation was published in the newspapers this morning[n.b.], and does not strike me as very impressive. The Muslim League have certain grievances, but the Punjab Public Safety Ordinance, 1946, was certainly not directed against the League and was not used against them before this agitation began. In fact not a single Muslim League M.L.A. had been arrested or interfered with in any way - the Ordinance was my doing, and I was able to see that it was not abused. The statement does not mention at all the threats of the Punjab leaders to oust the coalition Ministry by a show of force, which is Khizar's real casus belli.

I fear that the League have made it very difficult for themselves to form a Government and have greatly advanced the case for the partition of the Punjab. The agitation cannot fail to be communal, since the Congress and the Sikhs are involved in the attack on the Premier. However, it is possible that the League will in the end be more conciliatory to the other communities, though as a party they are very sadly lacking in brains and political sense.

[n.b.] The resolution on the Punjab situation passed by the League Working Committee at Karachi on 1 February 1947 'noted with grave concern' the serious situation which was developing in the Province. It strongly condemned the order declaring the Muslim National Guards as an unlawful association 'which amounted to a biggest and most high-handed attempt to suppress the activities of the Muslim League in the Punjab.' After commenting on the 'fundamentally unrepresentative and unpopular character'  of the Punjab Ministry, the Committee stated that it was its 'considered opinion and earnest advice to Muslims that they should maintain a perfectly non-violent, disciplined firm and dignified attitude in their protest against repression..."

366 page 654 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
8 February 1947

Muslim League agitation has so far taken normal course of all Indian passive resistance movements. Methods employed are hartals to ensure mass idleness, organisation of processions and meetings in contravention of law and dissemination of exaggerated false stories about roughness of police, heroism of demonstrators and so on...

2. Agitation has sympathy of almost all Muslims official and non-official. But police have been staunch and good humoured. Participants are mainly politicians and their womenfolk and Muslims of poorer classes. Villagers have joined demonstrations in some districts. The objects of agitation are not generally understood and apart from abuse of Khizar and Ministry slogans refer to Pakistan.

3. There has been little violence. One demonstrator died of injuries received in lathi charge in Simla. No other fatal casualty reported.

5. Immediate situation is not alarming. But it might be worsened at any minute by a clash between communities or between demonstrators and police. Former danger is real but communal trouble seldom occurs during a conflict between one community and the Government.
6. Agitation can end only in one of the following four ways. First. By communal outbreak so violent that agitation is swamped by it. Second. By outright defeat of League. Third. By straight defeat of Ministry. Fourth. By a compromise.

7. First is possible but not in my judgment very likely for reason given in paragraph 5. Ministry would probably attempt to remain in office and control situation. Second is most improbable. Like first it would leave Ministry in office. Third is possible but Muslim League would not (repeat not) be able to form stable Ministry. Agitation has convinced Hindus and Sikhs that League want undiluted Muslim Raj. League ministry would therefore not materialise, or if formed with venal support would be overthrown in turn by non-Muslim direct action. Sikhs are of course incalculable and might co-operate with League but I think not. Fourth is most likely ending but much depends on outcome of present controversy at Centre. Compromise would need most skillful handling if split between Premier and non-Muslims is to be avoided. It might take form of abandonment of agitation in return for offer to review working of Ordinance and to enlarge Cabinet. Majority of Muslim League are against settlement but some are in favour.

8. It is quite impossible for one community to rule the Punjab with its present boundaries. Long-term alternatives are therefore reversion to Unionist principles with Muslim domination or partition which would create intolerable minority problems. Effect of agitation is to force second alternative on non-Muslims and to impair seriously long-term prospects of Muslim League and Muslims generally. Muslim League are in fact wantonly throwing away certainty of Muslim Leadership in a United Punjab for uncertain advantages of a partition which Sikhs will gradually now demand.  But nobody has brains to understand this.

383 page 681 (excerpts)
Field Marshal Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
The Viceroy's House, 12 February 1947

It is clear that the Muslim League could not run a stable Government in the Punjab without support from some other party, even if they could win over all the Unionist Muslims. The party strength as on the 11th December was as follows:-

Congress ...........................................48
Muslim League...................................77
Panthic Akali Party............................21
Unionists(including 7 or 8 Muslims)...16

It is unlikely that the Muslim League would secure any firm support from another party for a policy which was based on Pakistan, and I agree with Jenkins' view expressed in his telegram of 8th February that one community cannot possibly govern the Punjab with its present boundaries. It will perhaps only be when the Muslim League have the opportunity of forming a government that they will realise the full facts of the situation.

396 page 710 (full text)
Sardar Patel to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
14 February 1947

You will recall that some time ago I wrote to you regarding the impropriety of Muslim League Members of the Central Government issuing public statements criticising the conduct of the Punjab Government in grossly disparaging terms. You then replied to me  that things would improve but instead I notice in today's Dawn that the Finance Member himself has issued a statement which not only offends in the above mentioned respect, but seeks to draw, from the happening in the Punjab,  portent of what might be achieved on an all-India scale[n.b.1]. Things have been made worse by a clear hint that matters [might] take a violent turn.

2. I also enclose a cutting from the Free Press Journal (dated 7th February 1947) of Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan's speech in Lahore. I would particularly invite attention to the following passage:

"Mohammed Bin Kassim and Mahommed of Ghazni invaded India with armies composed of only a few thousands and yet were able to overpower lakhs of Hindus; God willing, a few lakhs of Muslims will yet overwhelm crores of Hindus."

The parallel drawn significant, particularly in regard to Ghazni's invasion, which consisted of repeated raids on India in which Hindus were killed in thousands and temples were destroyed.

3. I am sure you will not regard with equanimity such utterances of your two colleagues of the Cabinet. A more flagrant breach of the rules of responsibility incumbent on Members of the Central Government would be difficult to find. Instances like this only serve to strengthen our conviction that a corporate body like the Central Government has ceased to exist and that the sooner the present state of affairs is put an end to, the better.

[n.b.1] Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan was reported to have stated that he expected the Punjab Ministry to fall as a result of the League's campaign. He added that the Punjab demonstrations were an indication of what the League could do on an all-India scale if it became necessary although 'I couldn't guarantee that it would remain always non-violent.'

404 page 720 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell (Extract)
15 February 1947

2. It is now possible to get the agitation into rather better perspective. To understand it properly one must go back to the Census tables, the essential figures in which are approximately as follows:-

Population 1941
  (Round Millions)

1. Rawalpindi
2. Multan
3. Lahore
4. Jullunder
5. Ambala



It is obvious on these figures that no one community can rule the Punjab with its present boundaries, except by conquest. The peaceful alternatives are a united Punjab under a Government representing Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, or a partition into two or possibly three separate States.

After Sir Sikander's death the Muslim wing of the Unionist Party disintegrated in circumstances which Your Excellency knows, and since then the Muslim League have been determined- so far as their published policy is concerned- to establish undiluted Muslim rule all over the Punjab. This can certainly not be done by consent, and I am very doubtful whether it could be done by conquest. Members of the Muslim League are in fact much more liberal in private conversation that they are in public, and some of them realise the difficulties inherent in their official policy. But the fact remains that they fought the General Election of 1946 on the extreme demand for Pakistan, and have not since said a word to reassure the Hindus or the Sikhs. Even among the more liberal of them the line seems to be that having established undiluted Muslim rule they will be generous to the minorities.

4. The failure of the Muslim League to take office after the General Election was due more to their uncompromising communal outlook than to any other cause. I believe that the local Congress broke with them on the old question of the inclusion of a nationalist Muslim in the Cabinet, but the underlying suspicion was there. A Sikh, who says he was present in the negotiations between the League and the Akalis,  has told me that the immediate terms offered by the League were acceptable, but that the League leaders bluntly refused to discuss the future of the Sikhs or to give any assurances to them. The Sikhs felt that they could hardly maintain in power a party whose avowed policy was to treat them as inferiors in a Muslim country.

5. Having failed to form a Ministry the Muslim League were inevitably sore...

463 page 814 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab)  to Lord Pethick-Lawrence,   25 February 1947

2. Position has been radically changed by His Majesty's Government's statement of 20th February. Premier is now not prepared to go through with repression, exercise of which could be successfully undertaken but which would not facilitate peaceful transfer of power in 16 months' time.
4. Premier's idea is to endeavour before, during and if necessary after budget session to promote formation of All-Parties Ministry or League-Sikh Coalition. It is clear that in new conditions Ministry cannot carry on for long and that if chaos amounting possibly to civil war is to be avoided there must be a Ministry representing the bulk of Muslims and Sikhs.

5. I do not wish to be alarmist but during next few days and possibly weeks the situation has most dangerous possibilities. Unless Muslim League change their tone completely which seems most improbable there may be an abandonment of present constitution and attempts to establish Muslim or Sikh rule by force. I intend to avoid a Section 93 situation if I possibly can but prospect of independence in 16 months' time is not conducive to moderation and Muslim League will act under instructions from Jinnah who knows little and cares less about the real interests of  the Punjab.

476 page 829 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
3 March 1947

I reported last night to the Secretary of State and Your Excellency by telegram that Khizar had resigned. The following is  a rather fuller account of what has happened.
3. Khizar's anxiety about his position was increased by the Muslim League agitation, and increased still further by His Majesty's Government's announcement of 20th February. As I reported in an earlier letter, the announcement shook Khizar severely on 20th February, and after an attempt to "laugh it off" on 21st (which I thought imprudent to encourage) he became increasingly gloomy.  (Sir E. Jenkins [had] reported that 'on 20th February, when I showed him the text of the announcement, Khizar remarked that it was "the work of lunatics". On 21st February he was in a more complacent mood, and said he took it to be nothing more than "a threat"."). In all our discussions up to 2nd March, however, Khizar agreed to see the Budget Session through.
4. On the morning of 2nd March Khizar telephoned asking if he and Qizilbash could see me in the early afternoon, as he had to address a meeting of the members of the coalition parties at 3 p.m. I duly saw him and Qizilbash at 2.15 p.m. when Khizar made it clear that he was not really interested in his meeting of Assembly members, but wished to ascertain my reactions to his immediate resignation.

He said that he had consulted Zafrullah Khan who had been staying in Lahore for the last few days, and had come to the conclusion that the Muslim League must be brought up against reality without delay. In his opinion they had no idea of the strength of Hindu and Sikh feeling against them and as long as he and his Muslim Unionist colleagues acted as a buffer, they would not change their fantastic and arrogant ideas. He did not feel that the unnatural Coalition Ministry could continue for very long and he was not disposed to lead the Congress and the Panthic Sikhs during the Budget Session only to make it clear to them immediately afterwards that he intended to break the Ministry. He felt that if he attempted to act as a "bridge", he could do nothing effective, and in the meantime communal relations would inevitably worsen. He had not consulted his colleagues, but intended to do so later in the afternoon, and might wish to see me again in the evening.

5. I replied that given his views..
I believed that the Muslim League were bent on forming a Muslim Ministry with the support of a few Scheduled Caste Members whom they expected to buy. If they adhered to this idea, they could not maintain themselves in office for more than a few weeks. The Sikhs would immediately start a most formidable movement, and the Muslim League had already established "direct action" as a legitimate means of attack on a constitutional Government with a technical majority in the Assembly. It was evidently to me that the only Government which could keep the Punjab steady until June 1948 was one representing a large section of all communities or at least the vast majority of the Muslims and the Sikhs.

Khizar admitted that the outlook for Mamdot was very bleak, and said that if he failed to secure adequate support from the Hindus or the Sikhs or both, it would be my duty to go into Section 93. I expressed no opinion on this- provisionally I think that if Mamdot can form a Government of any kind, he must be allowed to go ahead, though the consequences may be very serious and may include an early Section 93 situation.
7. The Budget Session was due to begin at 12 noon on 3rd March with the presentation of the Budget by the Finance Minister. On the morning of the 3rd March I got into touch with the Speaker, canceled my orders fixing dates for business connected with the Budget and the Supplementary Estimates, and arranged for the adjournment of the Assembly. My own idea was an adjournment for a week-that is up to 10th March; but I understand that the Speaker prefers an adjournment sine die, and the House will have to decide what to do. [The Assembly adjourned to a date to be intimated later by the Speaker].
8. I saw Bhim Sen Sachar at about 11 a.m. on the 3rd. He was tired, having been up all night. The Premier's decision had come as a surprise to him and he thought it injudicious; but he spoke without heat, and like other members of the Cabinet has, I think, a genuine regard for Khizar. I told him I was sending for Mamdot and asked him what the attitude of the Congress would be to co-operation with the Muslim League. I am not clear whether he had consulted the Congress leaders in Delhi; but he said that the Congress could not co-operate with the Muslim League unless it was clear that the minorities would be treated as equals and not as inferiors. The arrogance of the Muslim League had created a very bad impression upon the Hindus, and they were not going to submit to undiluted Muslim rule.

Whether the Punjab remained as it was not or were partitioned a stable Government was most necessary and could not be achieved by one community alone.
9. Swaran Singh saw me immediately after Bhim Sen Sachar at about 11-25 a.m. on 3rd March. He also was surprised at Khizar's decision. His views about co-operation with the Muslim League were similar to Sachar's but stiffer. He said that Sikhs would no longer be satisfied with immediate concessions and assurances, which might be repudiated later.

They must have a clear account of the Muslim League's plan for the future of the Punjab and of the position of the Sikhs within this plan. The Sikhs had no intention of being treated as serfs under Muslim masters, and felt that they were strong enough to defend themselves. I told him,  as I had told Sachar, that I might later want his help, and asked, and asked him to prevent the Sikh leaders from making any rash commitments in the immediate future.

Swaran Singh said that he would certainly co-operate with me; but the attitude  of the Sikhs towards the Muslim League is not encouraging. In particular Swaran Singh observed in the course of our conversation that if Mamdot succeeded in forming a Muslim Ministry with Scheduled Caste and miscellaneous support, it would be my clear duty to go immediately into Section 93.

10. Finally, I saw Mamdot at 11-40 a.m. I said that I was charging him with the duty of forming a Ministry. I had no doubt that he was aware of the very heavy responsibility that rested on him and need only say that in my judgment no Ministry formed by one community, with support from miscellaneous elements in the Assembly such as the Scheduled Caste Members, could last for more than a few weeks. He would find the Hindus and the Sikhs, particularly the latter, indignant and hostile, but in my opinion he must do his utmost to come to terms with them. I hoped he would be able to report progress by Saturday, 8th March, at latest- I realised that he would want some time, since the Sikhs would certainly ask for a complete statement of long-term policy on the future of Punjab and the Sikh community; and unless the Muslim League leaders could deal with the minorities as Punjabis negotiating with Punjabis, they would make little progress. I gave him an absolutely free hand and said that I would not interfere at all unless he asked for my help.

493 page 868 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
5 March 1947

Punjab situation. Multan rioting is reported serious with 20 dead, many injured and many fires. Rioting has broken out at Amritsar many(?group omitted) one dead and five seriously injured. There have been incidents in Rawalpindi likely to lead to rioting. Position in Lahore has deteriorated with many dead and widespread incendiarism. We shall be lucky if we escape communal rioting throughout Punjab on unprecedented scale.

2. Mamdot failed to keep appointment at 16-30 hours and asked for time at 18-00 hours. He again failed to come and after denying that appointments were made sent me letter demanding immediate appointment with support of ninety members of Assembly including Muslim League 80, other Muslims 3, Scheduled Castes 4, Indian Christians 2 and European 1. No names were given and I was simply asked to accept assertion that League would in fact command majority. Private information suggests that Mamdot commands only 3 votes outside the League including 1 Muslim and 2 Scheduled Castes.

3. Risk of installing League Ministry of this kind even with assumed Parliamentary majority is enormous. Without such majority installation of Ministry would in my judgment be fraud on constitution and Instrument of Instructions. I should simply be inviting one of Parties to present communal conflict to assume charge of it without even satisfying myself of its Parliamentary competence to do so.

7. His Majesty's Government must be quite clear as to realities. During the next sixteen months order can be maintained in Punjab whether under communal Ministry or Section 93 only by use of force. Under communal ministry British officers and Indian Army will be used to conquer Punjab for the community in power. Under Section 93 administration would have limited tenure and would hand over to chaos.

540 page 965 (excerpts)
Sir E. Jenkins (Punjab) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
Government House, Lahore
17 March 1947

3. Major disturbances in the cities and towns have been confined to Lahore, Amritsar, Rawalpindi and Jullunder. Lesser disturbances have occurred at Ludhiana, Sialkot, Kamoke in the Gujranwala district, Hoshiarpur, and Khushab in the Shahpur district.

In Lahore the rioting differed little in kind from communal rioting of the past. Casualties were fairly heavy, but there was no extraordinary destruction of property.

In Amritsar the main feature of the rioting was incendiarism. Several important streets look as though they had had a heavy raid, with many houses and shops completely down and the road and pavement heaped high with rubble.

The electric transmission lines were broken, and for some time the greater part of the city was in darkness. Casualties were heavy; the Muslims suffered worse than the other communities.

At Multan the trouble was started on 5th March by a sudden procession of non-Muslim students shouting "Qaid-i-Azam murda-bad". Between 12 noon and 3.15 p.m. it is estimated that about 150 people-nearly all Hindus-lost their lives. There was much incendiarism, but the damage as compared with that in Amritsar is small.

At Rawalpindi, as in Lahore, the rioting seems to have followed the pattern of earlier communal riots. I have not been through Rawalpindi City, but from the air it does not appear that many buildings have been burnt. Casualties were fairly heavy.

There is nothing special to note about the other cities and towns. Jullunder had the worst of the lesser outbreaks, and Ludhiana probably came next.

The urban disturbances were brought under control pretty quickly with the aid of troops.

3. The rural disturbances have been far more serious. The major outbreaks are so far confined to the Rawalpindi and Attock districts, the part of the Jhelum district around Chakwal, and the Multan district.

Trains have been attacked in Mianwali, and there is a report in this morning about the looting of an entire train on the Khushab-Kundian line somewhere near the Mianwali borders.

4. In the rural areas gravely affected there has been extreme savagery. In the triangle Taxile-Murree-Gujar Khan there was a regular butchery of non-Muslims particularly Sikhs. Cruelty and treachery seem to have been common. General Messervy told me that he had seen in hospital a child whose hands have been cut off; there are at least two well-authenticated stories of non-Muslims being lured into "peace committees" and then murdered; and in one village, a party of Sikhs, who surrendered to the Muslim attackers on the promise that their lives would be spared, were murdered out of hand. The most brutal killings seem to have been in the triangle to which I have referred, but there has been frightful brutality outside it, and everywhere in the district looting and arson have been common.

In Attock the Chauntra area, which is very close to Rawalpindi, was affected in much the same way. In the rest of the district there seem to have been fewer killings than in Rawalpindi, but quite as much burning and looting. A common method of attack has been for the Muslims in a village to put white flags on their houses and to invite the Muslims of the neighbouring villages to come in and deal with property not so marked.

In the Chakwal neighbourhood of the Jhelum district a large village, Dhudial, was sacked, but the Police and troops were able to inflict fairly heavy casualties on the attackers.

In Multan murder, arson and looting were very much the same as in the districts of the Rawalpindi Division, but the area affected (the Sadar Police Station and part of the Shujabad tahsil) is flat and relatively easy to control. The troops seem to have inflicted fairly heavy casualties on a mob at an early stage, and though the loss of life and property must have been heavy, it is certainly less than that in the Rawalpindi district.

7. It is very difficult to account for this extraordinarily violent rural movement. General Messervy thinks that there are some signs of organisation and conspiracy- in parts of Rawalpindi outbreaks seem to have occurred almost simultaneously, and the raid at Murree to which I referred in my letter of 9th appears to have been carefully planned and carried out. All Muslims in the affected districts seem to be involved in or sympathetic to the movement. The Commander 7th Division told me when I saw him yesterday that attacks on non-Muslims had been led in some cases by retired Army officers-some of them pensioners with honorary Commissioned rank. The Muslim section of the local notables, to whom I spoke at Campbellpur yesterday, were extremely sulky, and though some of them are beginning to be frightened, there is little doubt that they believe that the movement was inevitable and are not prepared to oppose it.

The most probable theory is that the growth of the Pakistan idea from 1943 onwards, the extreme communalism of the election campaign of 1945-46, the frustration which followed it, the propaganda against the Coalition Ministry, the Muslim League agitation, H.M.G's statement of 20th February, and Khizar's resignation combined to touch off an explosive mixture which had been forming for some time. The Muslims say that they were influenced by rumors of a large Sikh Army marching on the north; also that the movement is a spontaneous outburst against black-marketing by non-Muslims. It is more likely that they believe that by exterminating non-Muslims now they will make their districts a safe base for operations against the other communities in due course. No educated man could reasonably believe the story about the Sikh army, and though opportunity had been take to wipe out economic scores, resentment at the controls and the way in which non-Muslims make money out of them was not in my judgment the immediate cause of the trouble.

8. The disturbances have produced a crop of special problems:-
(5) When I was at Rawalpindi yesterday, the total number of refugees was estimated at nearly 30,000, and we must be prepared to receive at least 35,000 and perhaps more from the Rawalpindi Division. The refugees are at present held at various places including a large camp managed by the Army in Rawalpindi Cantonment. We shall probably take over the Military Camp at Wah, which is now vacant, and the old M.T. Centre at Kala near Jhelum.

555 page 996 (excerpts)
Note by Sir E. Jenkins
20 March 1947

Raja Ghazanfar Ali came to see me at 4 p.m. today. He opened in rather a complacent way about the riots in the Rawalpindi and Attock districts and in the Chakwal Sub-Division. He took great credit for having kept Gujrat and the greater part of Jhelum quiet. He scouted the idea that the outbreak was organised or that the League had anything to do with it.

He worked up gradually to the suggestion that I might now put a Muslim League Ministry into power. He suggested a general election and said that this would give the electorate an opportunity of deciding whether the Punjab should be partitioned or not.

I was exasperated by Ghazanfar Ali's complacency and dealt with him rather roughly. I said he did not appear to realise that what had occurred in Rawalpindi, Attock and the Chakwal Sub-Division was a general massacre of a most beastly kind. He could suggest, as he had suggested, in dealing with the conspiracy theory that the non-Muslims had been provocative, but the provocation was certainly not such as to justify the slaughter and savagery that had occurred.

As regards a Muslim League Government, I said I would resign sooner than see one in office at this juncture, and I thought practically every British officer would do the same. The massacre had been conducted in the name of the Muslim League, and senior Military Officers thought that it had been carefully planned and organised. Non-Muslims with some justice now regarded the Muslims has little better than animals, and for my own part I thought that British officers would find it difficult to work with or under such people.

I could see no object whatever in a a general election. It would not alter the basic position that no single community could rule the Punjab except by actual conquest. If a Muslim League Government took office, there would be immediate fighting, and the Government would find it impossible to hold even a single session of the Assembly. I considered Raja Ghazanfar Ali's political views so irresponsible as to be hardly worth discussing.

I said that the troubles of the Muslim League were due to folly and bad leadership. The League had given the impression that the Muslims were a kind of ruling race in the Punjab and would be good enough to treat with generosity their fellow Punjabis, such as the Sikhs, when their rule was established. They could not explain what they meant by "Pakistan", and unless they were prepared to deal with other Punjabis as equals, they would make no progress at all. It was a ludicrous position in which the so-called League leaders had to take orders from Bombay from a person entirely ignorant of Punjab conditions. If Raja Ghazanfar Ali argued, as he did, that the Central picture must be complete before any picture of the Punjab could even be sketched, my reply was that his whole conception of the future of India was topsy turvy. A Punjab divided into two or three States or in a condition of chaos and civil war could not possibly fit into any conceivable all-India picture. Surely the right course was to determine the future of the units in a way acceptable to their inhabitants and then to sketch the all-India picture. (Raja Ghazanfar Ali said that he thought there was something to this.).

At the end of the interview Raja Ghazanfar Ali said that I had distorted and misrepresented the League's views and that he would send me a number of statements by Mr. Jinnah showing that he had never intended to treat the minorities and particularly the Sikhs, in the way I suggested.

I said that the first task now was to restore order. I could not prevent the League from making further blunders. They had already fooled away a kingdom, and it would in my judgment be futile now to attempt any final solution of the Punjab problem until feelings had settled down. The League did not seem to realise that the non-Muslims regarded the Muslims of Rawalpindi and Attock as little better than beasts and hated the League profoundly. It was futile to suggest, as he had suggested, that the League agitation was noncommunal. It was manifestly communal from the first, and could not have been anything else.

560 page 1004 (excerpts)
Field Marshal Sir C. Auchinleck to Mr. Abell
New Delhi, 22 March 1947

My dear Abell,
I enclose an account by General Messervy, GOC-in-C Northern Command, giving his personal opinions on the recent communal outbreak in the Punjab.
I think H.E. may like to see this.
I would like to add that I am in entire agreement with the opinion expressed by General Messervy in para. 9 of the note. Unless effective action is taken by the leaders to compose their differences and restore mutual confidence between the two main communities in the Punjab, I fear that a large part of the Army which is drawn from the Punjab may become infected with communalism. This is a contingency which no one can contemplate with equanimity at this juncture.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Yours sincerely,
                                                                                                                                                                                                C.J. AUCHINLECK

Enclosure to No. 560

Note by General Messervy


1. Causes

The first cause was politico-religious. The Muslim League, though a political party, has been framing its main propaganda on religious lines for some time. This has undoubtedly had a great effect on all Muslims in the Punjab. Pakistan and Islam together provide an almost irresistible force on the minds of the mass of comparatively uneducated Muslims. When the intensive Muslim League campaign succeeded in forcing the resignation of the Unionist Punjab Government and was followed by militant anti-Pakistan statements by Master Tara Singh and other Sikh leaders, Muslim feelings were roused to a pitch of fanaticism. It only needed a spark to set alight the raging fires of religious passion. This was provided by anti-Pakistan meetings and processions in such places as Lahore, Amritsar, Multan and Rawalpindi. In Multan the Hindu-Sikh processionists were even so madly unwise as to raise the cry of 'Qaid-e-Azam Murdabad'. In the predominantly Muslim areas of Rawalpindi and Multan divisions the fires spread rapidly to the rural areas.

There have been also two minor causes. The first is the economic element. Scarcity of cloth and some items of food, such as sugar, has undoubtedly been taken advantage of by the Hindu-Sikh bania community to profiteer and indulge in black-market operations. The Govt. controls were also mostly in the hands of Sikh or Hindu agents and clerks. The Muslim peasant and labourer was only too ready to get some of his own back when he got the chance. The second is the 'goonda' element in every community, which is always ready to take full advantage of such disturbances to practise arson, loot and dacoity.

2. The Course of the Disturbances

In the cities events followed the usual course, well known to us for many years, but attacks were fiercer, more sudden, and more savage than ever. In the rural areas attacks were launched by large mobs of Muslim peasants who banded together from several hamlets and villages to destroy and loot Sikhs and Hindu shops and houses in their area. In some areas arson and loot were the main objects, and casualties inflicted on the Hindu-Sikh community were not great. In others savagery was carried out to an extreme degree and men, women and children were hacked or beaten to death, if not burned in their houses. There were also a number of cases of forcible conversion of males and abduction of females. Having served for 34 years, mostly in the Punjab and with Punjab troops I would never have believed that agitation could have aroused the normally chivalrous and decent P.M. peasant to such frenzied savagery as was widely prevalent. Much of this savagery was undoubtedly deliberately intensified by the wildest rumours, the commonest of which was an impending attack by  a large Sikh Army. It is interesting that on no occasion as far as is known has a second major attack been made on any village or area in a village. The passion of the mob burns itself out and the survivors are generally left unmolested. There has also been a widespread desire to rid many areas of all Sikhs and Hindus, entirely for ever.  Some former sites of houses have even already been ploughed up.

8. Refugees in the Rawalpindi Division

Refugees in the Rawalpindi Division are likely to amount to some 40,000 homeless and largely destitute persons. This is a big problem. We are planning eventually to form camps to take the whole number at Wah and Kala (near Jhelum). Other refugees, who may amount to about an equal number will either be persuaded to return to their homes or be absorbed in other Sikh-Hindu communities in towns or large villages. Some 4,000 have already been absorbed in Rawalpindi City.

9. Prevention of Outbreaks in Other Districts of the Punjab

I have concentrated all available troops in the Punjab. Flag marches and patrols are being carried out widely wherever tension is greatest. But it must be clearly understood that such preventive action is only a palliative. We are dealing with the symptoms of disease and cannot eradicate the disease by military action. The disease comes from the political leaders of all parties. The only complete cure is for them to come to some agreement. An agreement now between the Sikh and Muslim leaders would result in immediate peace in the Punjab. Failing this unlikely contingency the avoidance of provocative statements and the impressing on their followers of the necessity of avoiding bloodshed and protecting minorities is the only hope.
                                                                                                                                                                                    F.W. MESSERVY
                                                                                                                                         General Officer Commanding-in-Chief
                                                                                                                                                                              Northern Command

The following are from The Transfer of Power 1942-7,  Volume X The Mountbatten Viceroyalty Formulation of a Plan.

141 page 231 (excerpts)
Record of Meeting between Lord Ismay and Sir O. Caroe, Sir E. Jenkins, Sir E. Mieville, Mr. Weightman, Mr. Abell, and Captain Lascelles on 14 April 1947

Lord Ismay suggested that each Governor should begin by giving his views on the general proposition which they had just read (i.e., Plan Balkan).

Sir Evan Jenkins said that as he understood it, there was to be complete partition, with separate Constituent Assemblies, and a boundary commission to settle boundaries where necessary. He then gave details and figures of Muslim and non-Muslim majorities in the Province, showing that no demarcation could prevent there being serious minority problems in each of the provinces. The Muslim aim, vehemently pursued, was to dominate the whole Punjab within its present boundaries. The Sikh aim, even more vehemently pursued, was to frustrate the Muslims. The Jats wished to separate and join with the U.P., but their claim was not being very strongly voiced. He doubted whether there was any possibility of an announcement of partition without it being followed up by an immediate blow-up.  There was therefore a military problem of considerable magnitude. His military commander had told him that he would need four operational divisions with an army headquarters to deal with the situation; Punjab troops would not carry out the task.
Sir Eric Mieville asked what were the alternatives to plan of partition. Sir Evan Jenkins replied that there were three alternatives, namely : (a) reversion to unionism (b) partition (c) civil war. If we were unable to get (a) or (b) then there was little option but to withdraw and leave both sides to fight it out. He had no doubt that the Sikhs would fight at some stage, but would rather wait until we were out of the way.

Lord Ismay said that it was not much use talking about 'four divisions of troops', since they did not exist. We should have to do the best we could with whatever troops were available.
There followed some discussion on means of bringing about any form of agreement between Muslims and Sikhs, in which Sir Evan said that the Muslim policy was one of 'daring us to leave' by threatening us with the bogy of the conditions which would be the result of our departure: and that the Sikhs were almost certain to ask for partition on their own terms and would be content to have the Hindus in with them.

160 page 281 (excerpts)
Note by Sir E. Jenkins
16 April 1947

This letter from Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan to H.E. tells only part of the story and that inaccurately. ..

(1) On 24th January the Muslim League started an intensive agitation against the Coalition Ministry. The casus belli was the imposition of a ban on the Muslim League National Guards simultaneously with a similar ban on the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh.  On 26th January the Premier decided to withdraw the bans, and it at once became apparent that the Muslim League intended to continue their agitation. On 27th morning I sent for Mamdot, the League leader, and warned him that if the agitation continued, he would probably reduce the Punjab to chaos and might even force the Ministry out of office. I knew that the agitation could not be kept non-communal.  If the Ministry resigned, it would be my duty to call upon him to form a Government, and I thought it most unlikely that he would be able to do so.
On the night of 3rd March  a very large non-Muslim meeting was held at Lahore, at which violent speeches were made. At this point the non-Muslims were undoubtedly to blame; but they had put up with 34 days of League agitation and were in a hysterical state.

On 4th March rioting broke out in Lahore. On that evening the Coalition Ministers, who had been asked to carry on pending the formation of a new Ministry, told me that they must resign at once, as they could take no further responsibility for the situation. On 5th and 6th March rioting broke out in Multan, Rawalpindi, Amritsar and Jullunder. The non-Muslims were not specially armed at any of  these places, with the possible exception of Rawalpindi, though they undoubtedly gave considerable provocation.  At  Multan the trouble was started by a procession of students, and within three hours the Muslims killed about 120 Hindus.   Casualties were heavy in the other cities also, and except in Amritsar the non-Muslims suffered much more heavily than the Muslims.

By 6th-7th March the trouble was spreading to the rural areas of the Rawalpindi Division and the Multan district. In the Rawalpindi and Attock districts and later in part of the Jhelum district there was an absolute butchery of non-Muslims. In many villages they were herded into houses and burnt alive. Many Sikhs had their hair and beards cut, and there were cases of forcible circumcision. Many Sikh women who escaped slaughter were abducted.

The Muslim League made no efforts to maintain peace and Mamdot made no serious attempt at forming a Ministry. At the time he had no majority and he gave me the impression that he was not anxious to take responsibility for quelling a very serious outbreak of violence.

(2) The total number of dead is not yet known. The latest figure is just under 3,000 and I believe that the final figure may be 3,500. The communal proportions have not been accurately recorded, but I should say that among the dead there are 6 non-Muslims for every Muslim. Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan can hardly realise the terrible nature of the rural massacre. One of my troubles has been the extreme complacency of the League leaders in the Punjab, who say in effect that "boys will be boys". I have no doubt that the non-Muslims were provocative in the cities, but the Muslims had been equally provocative during their agitation and had in particular murdered a Sikh constable in Amritsar.

(3) I was forced into Section 93 in circumstances which were fully reported at the time, and my reasons for getting into this extremely unsatisfactory position were known to Lord Wavell and the Secretary of State. Mamdot had failed to produce a majority, and it was obvious that he could not begin to control the situation.

(4) We are dealing with the aftermath of very serious disturbances. In one Police Station alone of the Rawalpindi district the Police tell me that they are investigating 500 murders. It is quite impossible for me to declare an amnesty, nor can I permit people to retain looted property, abducted women, and so on. In one village of the Attock district the Police found 30 lorry loads of loot.


(9) For what object the British officials in the Punjab, including myself, are "fostering chaos" I do not know. Every British official in the I.C.S and I.P. in the Punjab, including myself, would be very glad to leave it tomorrow. With two or three possible exceptions no British official intends to remain in the Punjab after the transfer of power. Six months ago the position was quite different; but we feel now that we are dealing with people who are out to destroy themselves, and that in the absence of some reasonable agreement between them the average official will have to spend his life in a communal civil war.

(10) The Punjab is not now in a constitutional, but in a revolutionary situation. If a Muslim League Government were formed tomorrow, it would be attacked by the non-Muslims, and particularly the Sikhs, with a violence which might be uncontrollable and would certainly involve frightful slaughter by Police and troops. If Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan means to start an agitation against authority in the Punjab, he will produce very much the same result. He might be reminded that it was the Muslim League, and not the non-Muslims, who first attempted to dislodge a Ministry by force.


CMP(1) -  From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'

CMP(2) -  Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946

CMP(3) -  The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946

CMP(4) - Jinnah  and ML  responses to the CMP 22 May  and June 6 1946

CMP(5) -  Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946

CMP(6) -  Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946

CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946

CMP(7) -  The Congress unease with parity  8-9 May 1946

CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946

CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union

CMP(8) -  More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting  11 May 1946

CMP(9) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946

CMP(10) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946

CMP(11) -   Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946

CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946

CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946

CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946

CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946

CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946

CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action,  July-August 1946

CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946

CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946

CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946

CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947

CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell

CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947

CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946

CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?

CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material

CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947

CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan

Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan

Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942

Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940

Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45

Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan

Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'

Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931

Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928

Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38

Extra(5) -  BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947

Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947

Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43

Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah

Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory

Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies

Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth

Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937

Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43

Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh

Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab

Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto

Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter

Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit

1937-1940(2)  Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert

1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar

1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad

1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh

1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh

1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page

1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher

Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers

Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States

Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments

1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila

1944: Gandhi-Jinnah talks, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)

1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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