Kids Corner

Partition

August di Pandraahn
The Fateful Fifteenth of August

by Principal SATBIR SINGH, Translated from Punjabi by HARPREET SINGH

 

 

Whenever the 15th of August comes around, it brings with it a cluster of memories - bitter, mostly, and some sweet.

Some of these memories have been engraved on the pages of history, while some are still fresh like dew drops in the morning. However these remembrances will remain ever new - that we left the lively processions of Jehlum, left the cold water-wells in the gurdwara courtyard, we left our homes in Bagh Mahal.

Amidst the salvos, burning fires, roaring cries of Sat Sri Akal and Allah-hu Akbar and flashing knives, in the custody of soldiers, under the shade of guns, breathless and in suppressed voice, promising “we're never going to return”, we leapt the “Atari”.

As long as the body breathes, those moments can’t be forgotten but some memories are such that for them, more than in the corners of the heart, we need to search for them in the pages of history.

According to learned people, the age of a generation is 20 years. Mostly in the span of 20 years, the old generation is replaced by the new.

On August 24, 1945, the Japanese (following the Germans) surrendered before the Allies. 60 years have passed since then.

But today I want to tell the present Sikh generation some of the heart-rendering, yet miraculous, memories so that they don’t commit the mistakes because of which our quom has stumbled and suffered for the last five to six decades and is still suffering.

On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered before the Allied nations. Churchill, in order to take advantage of his popularity, ordered general elections in Britain. But to his surprise in the July elections, the English people - thinking of Churchill as a tired war general - rejected him and the control of government was vested into the hands of Labour Party leader, Atlee.

On August 6 and 9, Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the targets of the atomic wrath of America, forcing Japan to surrender. In India, talk of independence was gaining momentum. After a long world war, Britain was reeling under an economic disaster.

Atlee, apart from announcing his economic policy, also let the people know about his and his party’s political policy. It was widely clear from Atlee’s speeches that the British were ready to leave India. But, at the same time, they were worried about in whose hands they would leave India.

The Congress Party reiterated its position that the British should just leave India, leaving all else to be taken care of by Indians. But Muhammad Ali Jinnah told the British in very clear words that they should, before quitting India, divide it. Instead of ‘Quit India’, he raise the slogan, ‘Divide and then Quit India’.

He went further to say that “we shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed”.

Based on this, new elections were held.

Sikhs were being ground between the two grindstones. Due to lack of political farsightedness and acumen, they could not come forward with a solid proposal and could not make their point of view clear to the others. However, they continued to maintain that the Sikhs were a third Quom (nation) on the subcontinent.

General elections in Punjab were fought in alliance with the Congress, so  they left some of the seats for the latter. Shrimoni Akali Dal won 23 out of 32 seats.

The British accepted the concept of the third quom but its leaders were unable to put forth what this third quom wanted. And if they came up with something, they were unable to stick to it. Each day, with the new rising sun, new words, new schemes.

Guru Gobind Singh ji, in his last orders to the panth, had said: ‘Study politics!’

But unfortunately, none of the leaders did study politics. Politics of Sikh leaders revolve around shrimoni committees or, at best, the membership of the assembly. Clever people were busy playing their tricks but our leaders were still busy in deciding what stand they should take.

In the year 1946, many schemes were made and then rejected. The environs which we today seek to make and the self-decision-making of which we we are talking about today, the same could have been achieved at that time, only that a strong will and determination were needed to present our ideas.

The high dignity of political place that we have fallen from can be estimated from the fact that the three Indian representatives were called by the Labour party to England - J.L Nehru, Jinnah and Baldev Singh. But unfortunately for the Sikhs, Sardar Baldev Singh kept telling the British that J.L Nehru was his leader and Atlee also said that when the representative of the Sikhs was not conscious about his separate identity, there seemed to be no need to recognize their separate representation.

Atlee has written this in his autobiography: “As It happened”. He also writes that the Sikh leadership was not of a high standard and hence it couldn't achieve anything fruitful for its people.

Finance Minister of the joint government. Liaquat Ali Khan, showed stars in broad day light to  Vallabh Bhai Patel and, according to Maulana Azad’s book, ’India Wins Freedom‘, Patel was the first one to accept Pakistan.

By the efforts of Lady Mountbatten, Nehru also agreed on the division of India, and thus Pakistan came into being. Gandhi was only told about the decsion, no one asked him about it. On accepting the division of country J.L Nehru, Jinnah and Baldev Singh broadcasted their speeches .At the end of his speech, Nehru said ‘Jai Hind’, and Jinnah ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. When Baldev Singh ended his speech, he raised no slogan, no fateh, no victory cry.

Sikhs got nothing, while one glorified the Hind and other asked for the wellbeing of Pakistan.

For Sikhs, the big question was:  who should they glorify and for whose wellbeing should they pray. The Third Quom was suffering, and in reality it had to swim ‘the river of blood’.

This was our condition politically at the time of partition. Our quom could then have taken all that we are feeling short of now, but our leaders - due to their lack of farsightedness - have endangered our very existence. The lack of political intelligence among Sikhs has been sketched by writers, scholars and diary writers.

V. Campbel Johnson, principal secretary to Mountbatten, writes in his book, ‘Mission With Mountbatten’:  “Sikh leaders were unable to tell us what they wanted? They only repeated, don’t make Pakistan, but now Pakistan was a reality."

Therefore those blank-minded leaders could not put forth any point.and when they lost the political game, they started using other means to achieve their ends .Here it is important to mention that at that time Sikhs lacked in high standard leadership or they did not let high standard leaders to come near them.

Very few people know what Baldev Singh said in his lecture at the Shimla Boat Club shortly before his death. He said that the British and Jinnah were ready to give the Sikhs such areas where they were to enjoy full autonomy. But it was he who refused to accept this demand.

Mountbatten had also realized that without creating Pakistan, no fruitful outcome could be expected. Campbell Johnson, when collecting the doodles after a meeting, found that Jinnah had drawn a palace and upon it a flag and had written the words: "Pakistan Zindabad".

Today what we say does not matter much .But this is an oft-repeated truth that if Sikh leaders had taken calculated steps then, our quom could have gained a place of repute then and there. But our 'leaders' decided to align their destinies with India with the hope of getting respect. 

But in the last 60 years, there has been a constant betrayal of this idea.

It needs to be realized that in the wellbeing  of Sikhs also lies the security and safe-guard of this nation.

 

August 12, 2011 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversation about this article

1: Satinder Singh (New Jersey, U.S.A.), August 12, 2011, 8:48 AM.

"Baldev Singh kept telling the British that J.L Nehru was his leader"...."Sikh leaders were unable to tell us what they wanted? They only repeated, don't make Pakistan." Where do we find these guys? The Baldev Singhs, the Badals, etc. I mean, look at the size of their guts. If you don't exercise the body, how can you exercise the mind. Then we are where we are! Tragic.

2: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), August 12, 2011, 10:08 AM.

Wonderful and important but just as we suspected and have heard. Few surprises. And also, to understand history, it is important not so much to blame the players of the past but to understand why we are where we are and how to face - better yet, define - what happens next.

3: Harpreet Singh (California, U.S.A.), August 12, 2011, 2:31 PM.

Dr. I. J. Singh ji: You make an excellent point. We need to get away from blaming the players of the past and we need to start analyzing why they failed. As Roosevelt said: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." We spend so much energy blaming leaders, past and present, but we fail to analyze why such leaders were or became what they were, or did what they did. We need to stop discussing people, learn from events and formulate ideas for the future. The only Sikh History books I have seen which moves on from this smallmindedness are Ajmer Singh's books: "Kis Bidh Ruli Patshahi", "20 Sadi di Sikh Rajneet" and "1984 Unchitweya Kehar". These books are ground-breaking in their analysis of Sikh history. For the first time, I have seen a Sikh history book written with Sikh readers in mind. These books have been hammered very badly by the so called "intelligensia" which is at the beck and call of Punjab's universities and their Government of India puppet-masters. Unfortunately, the very small section of Sikhs that is interested in reading history in India is under very heavy influence of the very same lot. The younger sections of the Sikh population in the diaspora don't know enough Punjabi to read these books. These books deserve to be translated into English and discussed in panthic forums.

4: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 12, 2011, 5:01 PM.

"An army of lions, led by asses." This was then, as it is now. S. Kapur Singh has related the great betrayal in his book. "Sacchi Saskhi", as well as in Sangat Singh's (not me) "The Sikhs in History", where the latter has also commented at length of this treachery. The British were keen to carve an autonomous homeland for the Sikhs but we were not ready. Baldev Singh had then newly been elected in 1946 as a Minister in the interim govt. That in itself was a glorious, ultimate moment for him, and an end in itself. He was totally under the spell of Nehru and ready to be fed off his hand and wag his tail at his Master's Command. The savvy and wily Nehru took the fullest advantage. By the time Baldev Singh woke up to the sense of betrayal of the Sikh cause, it was too late. He wanted to make a clean breast in his planned memoirs of the treachery by the various actors including himself. But, time was no longer on his side. He died soon after, before his confession could be published. There were other instances during the British period when, to make amends soon after the Amritsar massacre, British offered a Sikh University in line with the Aligarh Muslim University. Since this offer was conveyed through the then Maharajah of Patiala, it was summarily rejected, saying in a telegram, that the Maharajah of Patiala was not the leader of the Sikhs.

5: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), August 13, 2011, 7:10 AM.

The other issue is that once India got independent, Nehru walked away from all the promises he had made to the Sikh leaders. He did exactly what all corrupt politicians do. Now that six decades have gone by, Sikhs and Sikh leaders should learn a lesson and make good out of this, but the history should be maintained. Look at the movie on Gandhi: financed and whetted by the Indian government, it carefully kept out all references to Sikh contributions ... which were far greater than the rest of the country put together!

6: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), August 13, 2011, 9:45 AM.

The crux of this disturbing and sad period of history is the failure of the British to defeat the great Emperor Ranjit Singh (The Lion Of Punjab), so they stole his Empire after his death and set about to obliterate his legacy, piece by piece. When they left the subcontinent, they gave 62% of his Empire to the Muslims and 38% to the Hindus, thus completing the dismantling of Ranjit Singh's empire. The 62% they gave to the Muslims became the centre-pin of the world's first Islamic Republic, Pakistan, and that decision was the worst they ever made as the repercussions are in the news every single day - (80% of the world's terrorism, unprecedented criminality and sectarian and religious violence). The 32% given to the Hindus was not much better, where they are in the process of trying to destroy the Sikh Nation and Hindu-ize the Punjabis through language and politics. We need to rekindle the legacy of Ranjit Singh who ended almost a thousand years of barbaric invasions into the land, and as successful Sikhs buy up Punjab and turn it into an ultra-modern state.

7: A. J. Singh (San Francisco, California, U.S.A.), August 13, 2011, 9:48 AM.

It is rather unfortunate that we have not learnt any lessons from history. This is why we are still unable to define where we are and what happens next. It has been 64 years since the partition, and now Sikhs are dispersed all over the world. Historical ties do bind us to the subcontinent, and almost 80% of Sikhs still live in India, but we ought to build a global community - a community without borders, where we embrace our history and preserve our heritage. Sikhchic.com is an excellent effort in that respect, and allows us to engage in dialog and debate on matters of importance that fall off the radar into an otherwise vacuum of leadership. How about a face-to-face Roundtable on that, perhaps at the Macauliffe Manor in Canada? [EDITOR: We are game. The Manor is all yours for this purpose. Put together a group, set a date, etc., and we'll gladly host it, bells, whistles and all!]

8: N. Singh (Canada), August 13, 2011, 11:18 AM.

Could someone please elaborate on where this comes from: "Guru Gobind Singh ji, in his last orders to the panth, had said: 'Study politics!' Where can I find reference to this? Thanks.

9: N. Singh (Canada), August 14, 2011, 12:42 AM.

Okay, I found the source. It is from the 52 Hukams of Guru Gobind Singh. Here is one of particular interest: #27 - "Rule Independently. In the affairs of government, do not give people of other religions authority/ power" ... is this why Maharaja Ranjit lost Punjab? #28 is - "Study politics" and #29 - "With the enemy, practice/ deploy the various techniques/ tactics of diplomacy (saam, daam, dand, bhed)". No wonder we are floundering ... no one is following even these basic principles, let along the more stricter discipline of Sikhi!

10: Gurmeet Kaur (Canada), August 14, 2011, 11:20 AM.

It is a shame. Most people have probably never even heard of the 52 hukams.

11: Jodh Singh (Jericho, New York, U.S.A.), August 14, 2011, 1:06 PM.

Dr. I.J. Singh has raised an excellent point as to what now? My plea would be for long-term planning and setting up a think tank consisting of, to begin with, our retired, self-sufficient and selfless scholars. We need to improve the quality of education in Punjab.

12: N. Singh (Canada), August 14, 2011, 2:36 PM.

Gurmeet ji: This is totally true, and unfortunately until today I was one of them! However these are life changing and have truly opened my eyes. For the past 2 odd years I have been regularly coming to this site with the view a) to learning something, b) in the hopes that I might be able to give a different viewpoint. Imagine my surprise when I learn that nothing I have been trying to say is new ... it has already been said by our Guru in his 52 Hukams. For example, with regards to the treatment of women, #16 - "Do not silence your wife (implying equality in thought and speech as well as in action)". #27 - speak directly to the issue of Khalistan (why are we even debating this?). #49 - Believe a Sikh ... implying we must give some 'preference' to each other in addition to helping others. #37 - Do not partake of alcoholic drinks. It is all clearly stated ... what exactly is the problem, people?

13: N.S. Dhesi (United Kingdom), August 15, 2011, 5:44 AM.

The Sikh Quom that smashed the Afghans, shook the Mughal Empire and eyeballed the British, has degenerated into a caste-ridden circus, with self-appointed sants and babas galore. The gurdwaras are run as personal fiefdoms with strong armed guards. !

14: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), August 16, 2011, 7:22 PM.

The glory of Sikhism is its universality which has always worked to knit diversity in caste, creed, race and sex, into one unit. This social consciousness is outside the realm of political activities. In a true democracy, there is no place for politics couched in religion. Politics covers a range of subjects which are subject to the changing conditions of society. For example all Sikhs, poor or rich, cannot be expected to view economic matters in the same manner. What happens next is the main question for Sikhs. The answer is simple - keep politics out and create social consciousness amongst Sikhs.

15: N.S. Dhesi (United Kingdom), August 17, 2011, 3:42 AM.

Sardar Ajit Singh ji: The glory of Sikhism has been hijacked as an ally in all kinds of power struggles. Since the beginning of time, the ignorant have always screamed the loudest, herding the unsuspecting masses and forcing them to do their bidding. They have defended their worldly desires by citing scriptures they did not understand. They celebrated their intolerance as proof of their convictions. Now, after all these years, the sants, babas and self-serving bigots have eroded everything of value in sight. As you have said: "What happens next is the main question ..." The answer is simple. Back to the pillars of Sikhi: Naam juppna, Kirat karni; Vund chhakkna". A Sikh needs to constantly attack and overcome ahankaar (ego) and lobh (greed) which seem to be so rife in the fiefdoms of the day.

16: R. Singh (Canada), October 26, 2011, 2:41 AM.

We are still being led by those who have no sense of Sikhi, with our consent, except in terms of lip service. Our new generation understands Sikhi ... and those who do observe it in BOTH form and substance. How long will such a facade last? If we build a strong foundation, the building will be strong.

17: Raminder Singh (Pune, India), February 04, 2014, 1:34 AM.

It's good to hear about Ajmer Singh ji, Kapur Singh ji, and Sangat Singh ji. I agree yjat average and weak minds talk about events and people. The thoughts of great writers such as Ajmer Singh and Kapur Singh should inspire us, they have put our history, and the creation of Punjab state in the right frame. Kapur Singh aptly described the divide as creating a zila parishad for Sikhs. Embroiled in sin. However, I do not agree with the 52 hukams. They are claimed to be written by some RSS ideologue. Our political thought as rightly put up by Sirdar Kapur Singh comes from Panth, Sangat, Sarbat Khalsa, Laws and collective decision making similar to a people's government. According to him, Miri and Piri have the same significance. I am surprised the Akal Takht is missing from all this action. The Akal Takht was designated to keep our political opinion within the values of Panth Khalsa, Sarbat Khalsa ... or call it the democratic way of full participation of the people. By relying too much on Baldev Singh and others, we failed the Hukam of Guru Gobind Singh of not falling prey to brahminical shenanigans. This happened in the past when Ranjit Singh was head of one misl, not all. Ranjit Singh opened the door to a traitor, the Hindu Dogra Gulab Singh of Jammu, who in turn made Taj and Lal (the traitors) chiefs of the Khalsa Army. (Read Khalsa Raj, by Kapur Singh). One Tarsem Singh of Delhi claims Baldev Singh was paid a bribe of Rs. 500 by Nehru per day during the period, and was promised a defense post in independent India. Now, that is past, forgone 65 years back. Yes, our so called leader was corrupt. Today, the only way out is to spread our wings democratically. Get our members in parliament. Protest against the looters of our land. Get our institutions democratically elected. Akal Takht, SGPC and every other institution in India is under siege!

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The Fateful Fifteenth of August"









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