Read this article to learn about India’s mission independence and partition of India !
Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946:
The Cabinet Mission had as its members, Pethick Lawarence (Secretary of State for India), Sir Stafford Cripps and A.V. Alexander and reached Delhi on March 24, 1946.
It had prolonged discussions with Indian leaders of all parties and groups. As the Congress and the League could not come to any agreement on the fundamental issue of the unity or partition of India, the mission put forward its own plan which was issued on May 16, 1946.
The main proposals were:
(a) Rejection of the League’s demand for a full-fledged Pakistan.
(b) Grouping of existing provincial Assemblies into three sections. Section A—Madras, Bombay, Central Provinces, United Provinces, Bihar and Orissa, Section B-Punjab, North-West Fronter Province, Sind (Muslim majority provinces) Section C—Bengal and Assam.
The full autonomy of the provinces and the provisions for grouping were meant to give the Muslim League the ‘substance’ of Pakistan.
(c) A Constituent Assembly to be elected by Provincial Assemblies by proportional representation (voting in groups-General, Muslims, Sikhs). This Constituent Assembly to be a 389-member body with provincial assemblies sending 292, chief commissioner’s provinces sending 4 and princely states sending 93.
(d) In the Constituent Assembly, members from groups A, B and C would sit separately to decide the constitution for provinces and if possible for the groups also, then the whole Constituent Assembly would sit together to formulate the Union Constitution.
(e) There would be a common Centre controlling Defence, Communication and External Affairs.
(f) Provinces to have full autonomy and residual powers.
(g) Princely states to be no longer under paramountcy of British government and would be free to enter into an arrangement with successor governments or the British government.
(h) An interim government to be formed from the Constituent Assembly.
The Cabinet Mission Plan was accepted by the Congress and the Muslim League though with mental reservations (The Objection of the Congress to the Plan was mainly its provision of grouping, that of the League to the rejection of its demand for Pakistan).
In the elections to the Constituent Assembly that took place in July 1946, the Congress captured 205 seats and the League 73. The 4 Sikh seats owed allegiance to the Congress, thus Congress had 209 members in an Assembly of 296.
Alarmed at the overwhelming majority of the Congress the Muslim League withdrew its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan on July 29, 1946. August 16, 1946 was fixed ‘Direct Action Day’ by the Muslim League. From 16 August 1946, the Indian scene was rapidly transformed. There were communal riots on an unprecedented scale, which left 5000 dead. The worst-hit areas were Calcutta, Bombay, Naokhali, Bihar, Garhamukteswar (U.P).
The Interim Government—Sept 2, 1946:
The Viceroy invited the President of the Congress Jawaharlal Nehru to form the Interim government which assumed office on September 2, 1946. Initially the Muslim League kept out but later on October 13, decided to join the Interim government to safeguard the interests of the Muslim and other minorities.
The Constituent Assembly with the Muslim League remaining aloof meet for the first time on December 9, 1946 at New Delhi. On December 11, 1946 this Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its President and only two days later Nehru moved his famous “Objectives Resolution”.
Attlee’s Announcement—February 20, 1947:
On February 20, 1947 the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, fixed the deadline of June 1948 by which the British would quite India and envisaged a partition of the country. This was followed by a near chaotic condition in the country as the League resorted to unabashed violence in Calcutta, Assam the Punjab and the North-West Fronter Province. Attlee also announced the appointment of Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy in place of Lord Wavell. Lord Mounbatten, the last British Governor- General and Viceroy arrived in India on March 22, 1947 and immediately began to take measures for the transfer of power.
The Mountbatten Plan—June 3, 1947:
The prevailing communal violence in the country led Mountbatten to announce the partition plan or the June 3rd Plan. The Congress leaders too had come to the conclusion that partition was the only choice to check the widespread communal violence and bloodshed that was ravaging the country. The Plan provided for immediate transfer of power on the basis of grant of Dominion Status.
The important points of the plan were:
1. The Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Bengal would meet in two parts, one representing the Muslim majority districts and the other representing the rest of the Province to vote for partition. If a simple majority of either part voted for partition then these provinces would be partitioned.
2. The Legislative Assembly of Sind would take its own decision.
3. Referendum in North-West Frontier Province and Sylhet district of Bengal would decide the fate of these areas.
4. Independence for princely states ruled out, they would either join India or Pakistan.
5. Provision for the setting up of a Boundary Commission to demarcate boundaries in case partition was to be effected.
Partition of India:
The Plan of 3rd June was accepted by all political parties in the country. The Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab decided in favour of partition of those provinces. East Bengal and West Punjab joined Pakistan; West Bengal and East Punjab remained with the Indian Union.
The referendum in the Sylhet resulted in the incorporation of that district in East Bengal. Two Boundary Commissions one in respect of each province were constituted to demarcate the boundaries of the new provinces. The referendum in the N.W.F.P. decided in favour of Pakistan, the provincial Congress refraining from the referendum. Baluchistan and Sind joined Pakistan.
The Indian Independence Act, 1947:
The Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British Parliament on July 4, 1947 and the Indian Independence Act was enacted on July, 18, 1947. This Act merely formalised and gave legal effect to the 3rd June Plan of Lord Mountbatten.
The Act provided for the creation of two independent dominions of India and Pakistan with effect from 15 August 1947. Pending the adoption of a new Constitution for each Dominion, the existing Constituent Assembly would be Dominion Legislature, and either Dominion and every province would be governed by the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935. Each Dominion was empowered to modify this Act, thought its Governor-General up to March 31, 1948, and thereafter by its Constituent Assembly.
As per the provisions of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, Pakistan became independent on 14 August while India got her freedom on 15 August 1947. M A. Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan. India, however, decided to continue Lord Mountbatten as the Governor-General of India.