(Last Updated on : 19-09-2011)
Two Boundary Commissions were set up in accordance with the June 3rd or Mountbatten plan to deal with the partition of India. The Boundary Commissions were formed to deal with the partition of Bengal, the separation of Sylhet from Assam and the partition of the Punjab. In addition to that it was decided that each Boundary Commission would consist of a Chairman and four members, two nominated by the Congress and two by the Muslim League. Sir Cyril Radcliff was appointed the Chairman of both Commissions with the consent of both Congress and the Muslim League.
The Boundary Commissions consisted of members who were High Court judges. The Bengal boundary Commission included members such as Justices C. C. Biswas, B. K. Mukherji, Abu Saleh Mohamed Akram and S.A.Rahman. The members of the Punjab Commission were Justices Mehr Chand Mahajan, Teja Singh, Din Mohamed and Muhammad Munir. The Commissions were so made that they were to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the respective provinces 26 on the basis ascertaining the neighbouring majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. The Bengal Commission would demarcate the Muslim majority areas of Sylhet district and the adjoining non-Muslim majority areas of the nearby districts of Assam.
In Bengal, there were two groups of districts. In addition to that there were non-Muslim majority areas of Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly, Howrah and Burdwan. The Muslim-majority areas included areas of Chittagong, Noakhali, Tippera, Dacca, Mymensingh, Pabna and Bogra. However, except these areas, other places such as Calcutta, was subjected to contention. In the Punjab, there was controversy and dispute over the three divisions of Lahore, Multan and Jalandhar and the portion of Ambala Division. Thus, neither Bengal nor Punjab was able to reach to any satisfactory agreement.
In this regard, the Chairman of the Boundary Commissions, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, announced to offer a particular award. Consequently, Lord Mountbatten decided to hand over the award to the leaders of the Congress and the Muslim. The Congress claimed for West Bengal about fifty-nine per cent of the area and forty-six per cent of the population of the province. However, the Radcliffe award announced only thirty-six per cent of the area and thirty-five per cent of the population was assigned to West Bengal. Thus, only sixteen per cent of the total Muslim population of Bengal came under West Bengal, while as many as forty-two per cent of non-Muslims remained in East Bengal. The non-Muslims of Bengal protested against the transfer of Khulna and Chittagong to East Bengal. On the other hand, the Muslims criticised the loss of Calcutta, Murshidabad, and also certain part of Nadia district.
The Congress, on the other hand, framed their demand regarding Punjab in order to protect the cultural and religious life of the Sikhs. The decision of demand also depended on the strategic considerations, economic security and a rational distribution of the irrigation system, river waters and canal colonies. This north Indian state, also known as the region of the five rivers such as Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej, consisted of tracts of land lying between two confluent rivers. During the period of discussions of the Punjab Boundary Commission, Bari doab area between Ravi and Beas, and the Bist doab areas between Beas/Sutlej were the main disputed areas. In the Bari doab, there were districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Lahore, and Montgomery. All these districts, except Amritsar, were dominated by the Muslims.
Accordingly, the Boundary Commissions began formal hearings; the East and the West Punjab regions had their own governments. Their territories were provisionally divided by "notional division" based on simple district majorities. In addition to that the Sikhs increased the Congress claims by asking for a few more districts such as Montgomery and Lyallpur and certain sub-divisions of the Multan division. On the other hand, the Muslim League demanded the three complete divisions of Rawalpindi, Multanand Lahore, and a number of tehsils in the Jalandhar and Ambala divisions. The Radcliffe award allocated to East Punjab thirteen districts, comprising the whole of the Jalandhar and Ambala divisions, the Amritsar district of the Lahore division, and certain tehsils of the Gurdaspur and Lahore districts. West Punjab obtained under the Radcliff award about sixty-two per cent of the area and fifty-five per cent of the population. As a result none of the major parties of India, the Hindus and the Muslims were satisfied by the Radcliff award.