TODAY -

The Dawn Of Indian Independence
- Part 2 -

DIPR *



Historic Compromise

Lord Mountbatten mediated between the Congress and the Muslim league to persuade them to reach a compromise on the issue of Pakistan. Originally the Muslim League claimed the provinces of Assam, Bengal, Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and British Beluchistan. The basis of their claim was that these were Muslim majority provinces.

Further scrutiny showed that if the district of Sylhet was taken out of Assam, the Muslims were not in the majority in the rest of Assam. What about Bengal? If you partition Bengal into West Bengal and East Bengal, the Muslims were in the majority only in East Bengal. The Hindus were in the majority in West Bengal. Likewise if Punjab is partitioned into East Punjab and West Punjab, the Muslims were in the majority only in West Punjab. As regards North-West Frontier Province, Sind and British Beluchistan, these were clearly Muslim majority provinces. So the Muslim League was asked to give up its claim to East Punjab, West Bengal and Assam minus Sylhet. It agreed.

Likewise the Congress was asked to give up its claim to East Bengal, West Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and British Beluchistan. It agreed. The loss to the Muslim League was a gain of the Congress. As regards the problem district of Sylhet, both sides agreed that a plebiscite should be held. This plebiscite was held. Most parts of Sylhet opted for Pakistan but the easternmost part called Karimganj opted for India.

As a result of the talks held at the instance of Lord Mountbatten, Pakistan now became a certainty; but a small problem still remained. When Pakistan is carved out of the existing territory of India, a major portion of India will still remain. What should this remaining portion be called. The Muslim League originally wanted to call it Hindustan while the Congress desired to retain the name India. Ultimately it was agreed that it should retain the existing name India.

Lord Mountbatten promptly intimated the outcome of these talks to the Secretary of State for India who in his turn placed it before the Cabinet. On the basis of the result of the agreement between the Congress and the Muslim league, the Indian Independence Bill was drafted. This Bill was passed by both houses of the Parliament and it received the Royal assent. All these happened with amazing speed. Legislative drafting is a difficult art; but the British are past masters at it. The Government of India Act, 1 935 is an exquisite piece of legislative skill. Many of its provisions are now surviving under the changed circumstances as Articles of the Constitution of India. The Indian Independence Bill was now the Indian Independence Act, 1947.

The Indian Independence Act, 1947

This Act came into force in India on 1 5 August 1 947. It is said in common parlance that the British partitioned India. But actually they partitioned only British Indian provinces leaving the Indian States to determine their own future as they thought fit. This decision of the British Government was the proper course. The Indian States were never annexed by the British. They were kept under the suzerainty of the British Crown. They were therefore within the British Empire but their territories were not British territories.

Under Section 7(1) (a) of the Indian Independence Act, 1 947 the territory of British Indian Provinces was partitioned into two parts constituting them into two independent sovereign Dominions i.e. two sovereign Dominions independent of each other. These Dominions were the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan.

Under Section 7(1) (b) of this Act, Paramouncy of,the Crown over Indian States lapsed. When Paramouncy lapsed, sovereignty immediately reverted to the Indian States and all of them got Independence. Thus British Indian Provinces and Indian States got Independence at one and the same moment under the same section of the same Act. This is a triumph of the Congress. Indian States, French India and Portuguese India were integral parts of India and the Indian National Congress struggled for the independence of the whole of India.

In Manipur

The Manipur State Darbar was closely following the events in India with the help of the radio and newspapers published in Calcutta. On 6 January 1947, the All India Congress Committee consented to the partition of the country by a majority vote - 99 votes for partition and 52 votes against partition. On 3 June 1 947 Lord Mountbatten declared the British Government's decision to partition India. On the next day i.e. 4 June 1 947 the Manipur State Darbar by its Resolution No. 29 firmly and solemnly advised His Highness the Maharajah to join the Constituent Assembly.

There was one and only one Constituent Assembly at this time. Pakistan, which was a certainty now, would get one constituent assembly; but it was not in existence now. By Constituent Assembly, the Darbar meant the Constituent Assembly of India. The Darbar recommended also Shree Girija Shakar Guha for nomination by His Highness as the representative of Manipur in the Constituent Assembly.

An Indian State could join the Constituent Assembly only after acceding to the Dominion of India. The Government of India Act, 1 935 which extended to the whole of India was in force with some amendments till 25 January 1 950. There is a Section in this Act which enables Indian States to accede to the Dominion of India by signing the Instrument of Accession. On 1 1 August 1947 His Highness Maharajah Bodha Chandra signed the Instrument of Accession for the accession of the State of Manipur to the Dominion of India.

By merely signing the Instrument of Accession, an India State could not accede to the Dominion of India. It requires acceptance by the Governor General of India. The Kalat of Beluchistan wished to accede Beluchistan to the Dominion of India. Sardar Patel denied this accession. Rulers of about 552 India States including Manipur signed the Instrument of Accession before 1 5 August 1 947. These were accepted by the Governor General of India and they became integral parts of the Dominion of India.

Dawn of India Independence

While half of the world was slumbering on the night of 14-15 August 1947, India woke to Freedom. On the 15th August 1947 attainment of Independence was duly celebrated. His Highness the Maharajah welcomed the peaceful transfer of power by Britain to 'us Indians'. His message was published in the Manipur State Gazette in its of 13 August, 1947.

A facsimile of the relevant page of this issue of the Manipur State Gazette is published herewith.

The Constituent Assembly adopted on 22 July 1947 the National Flag. This is a tri colour flag with the Ashoka Chakra in naval blue in the white band of the flag. It was hoisted at Kangla on 15th August, 1947 at Kangla which was the seat of government for about 2,300 years.

Concluded...


* This is an article published by DIPR (Department of Information and Public Relations) Manipur in their Journal "Manipur Today" on the eve of Independence Day , 15 August 2010
This article was webcasted on September 02 2010.



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