(Last Updated on : 07-10-2011)
The June 3rd Plan or the Mountbatten Plan was accepted by all three political parties of India. Thus, finally, His Majesty's Government and the Viceroy concentrated on the implementation of the Mountbatten Plan. The achievement of the plan included the verdicts of the provinces and parliamentary legislation when partition was decided upon.
The administrative services and armed forces needed to be divided, assets and liabilities to be apportioned and the boundaries in the disputed areas to be settled.
The provincial Legislative Assembly met on 20 June in Bengal and decided to join the new Constituent Assembly. The members from the non-Muslim majority areas of West Bengal decided by fifty-eight votes to twenty-one that the province should be partitioned and that West Bengal should join the existing Indian Constituent Assembly. On the other hand, the members from the Muslim majority areas of East Bengal decided by 106 votes to thirty-five that the province should not be partitioned. The same majority also voted that East Bengal should join a new Constituent Assembly and that Sylhet should be amalgamated with that province. Though voting in Bengal was peaceful yet Punjab faced communal disorders.
The Punjab Legislative Assembly decided by ninety-one votes to seventy-seven to join a new Constituent Assembly. The members from the Muslim majority areas of West Punjab decided, by sixty-nine votes to twenty-seven, against the partition of the province. Whereas the members from the non-Muslim majority areas of East Punjab decided, by fifty votes to twenty-two, that the province should be partitioned and laid down that East Punjab should join the existing Indian Constituent Assembly. The Sind Legislative Assembly met as well to decide by thirty votes to twenty to join a new Constituent Assembly. The Congress claimed that the voters in the Labour and in the Commerce and Trade constituencies of the district should be allowed to participate in the referendum. A majority of the voters were in favour of separation and joining East Bengal.
Implementation of the Mountbatten Plan in the North-West Frontier Province was little bit difficult. The situation was quite tense due to the communal conflicts in the region. The Mountbatten plan or the June 3rd Plan offered to the voters of the North-West Frontier Province Legislative Assembly the choice either to join a new Constituent Assembly or to continue with the existing one. Another problem that arised in the North-West Frontier Province was problem between Ghaffar Khan and Jinnah. Finally, East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province all voted for Pakistan. Fresh elections were held in Sylhet, in West and East Bengal, and in West and East Punjab, for the election of representatives to the respective Constituent Assemblies.
After the implementation of the Mountbatten Plan and the partition of the country His Majesty's Government drafted the Indian Independence Bill. The Bill consisted of twenty clauses and three schedules. It was introduced in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister on 4 July. The Secretary of State, Lord Listowel addressed foreign and Empire journalists at the India Office, on the same date. He stated that on 15 August India would achieve complete independence; and the people of India would start their new status as other members of the Commonwealth and would gain mutual cooperation; Lord Listowel even put forth that, Indian office would cease to be a separate office and the Secretary of State would not function. The Secretary for Commonwealth Relations would look after the affairs of the new Dominions. There will be no difference in the status of the two Dominions as Pakistan may also become a member of the United Nations Organization.
The choice of Governors General of Pakistan was one of the vital questions after the implementation of the Mountbatten Plan. There was a provision that the Governor-General should be common to both Dominions and that the present Governor-General should be re-appointed. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy, was retained as the Governor-General of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister of India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister of India. Over 560 princely states acceded to India, with the states of Junagadh and Hyderabad annexed after military action. Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the Governor-General of Pakistan and Liaquat Ali Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
A crisis that was apprehended to develop after the implementation of the Mountbatten Plan was the reconstitution of the Interim Government. The Congress had been insisting that the Muslim League was not entitled to be represented in the Government as it had not accepted the Cabinet Mission's long term plan. Tin order of proper functioning of the June 3rd plan, it was essential that both parties should continue to be represented in the central Government until the transfer of power. If the Muslim League members left the Government, or the Congress members resigned, the plan would certainly be wrecked and no other solution would be available for the transfer of power. This was a serious problem to deal with. This was one of the major problems that have prompted Lord Mountbatten to press for the transfer of power earlier. As a result, two separate provisional Governments were established, one for India and one for Pakistan. A similar procedure was adopted for partitioned Bengal and Punjab.
The acceptance of the June 3rd plan resulted in an examination of the steps that would be necessary to effect after the implementation of the Mountbatten Plan. Informal discussions were held that dealt with matters of the division of staff organizations and records, services and institutions, assets and liabilities of the Government of India. The matters discussed were also regarding the future economic relations; domicile, diplomatic relations, as well. It also suggested in particular the setting up of a Partition Council and expert committees to deal with the various matters. Lord Mountbatten eventually set up a Partition Committee, consisting Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Liaqat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar, and Lord Mountbatten as Chairman. This Committee was replaced by a Partition Council after the decision of the partition. The Congress continued to be represented in the Council by Patel and Rajendra Prasad with Rajagopalachari as alternate member; while Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan, with Abdur Rab Nishtar as alternate member, represented the Muslim League. The Governor-General under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the Partition Council continued in existence even after 15 August. Its composition was then altered to include two members drawn from each of the Dominion Cabinets. India's representatives were Patel and Rajendra Prasad, while Pakistan was represented by such ministers as were able to attend the meetings in Delhi.
The Partition Council worked through a Steering Committee of two senior officials, H. M. Patel, I.C.S. who represented India and Chaudhuri Mohammad Ali representing Pakistan. The Steering Committee was assisted by ten expert committees of officials representing both India and Pakistan. These expert committees covered the entire field of administration: organization, records and personnel; assets and liabilities; central revenues; contracts, currency and coinage; economic relations, domicile; foreign relations, and the armed forces.
Implementation of the Mountbatten Plan resulted in the division of the Indian Armed Forces. Both the Congress and the Muslim League insisted that they must have their own armed forces under their control before 15 August. The Viceroy and the party leaders, met on the question of division, whether it would be on a communal or on a territorial basis. The division was finally decided to be on the basis of citizenship. An opportunity should be given to those who happened to be resident in that part of India in which their community was a minority, to transfer their homes and citizenship to the other part. The Partition Council decided that from 15 August the Indian Union and Pakistan would each have within its own territories forces under its own operational control, composed predominantly of non-Muslims and Muslims respectively. The Partition Council decided on the division of three services of the armed forces and the establishment of separate headquarters in India and Pakistan. The existing armed forces had to be sorted out, and had to remain under a single administrative control.
In accordance with the June 3rd plan, it was decided to set up two Boundary Commissions. One would deal with the partition of Bengal, as also the separation of Sylhet from Assam, and the other would deal with the partition of the Punjab. Each Boundary Commission would consist of a Chairman and four members, two nominated by the Congress and two by the Muslim League. Sir Cyril (later Lord) Radcliffe was appointed the Chairman of both Commissions. Other members were all High Court judges. The members of the Bengal Commission were Justices C. C. Biswas, B. K. Mukherji, Abu Saleh Mohamed Akram and S. A. Rahman, while the members of the Punjab Commission were Justices Meher Chand Mahajan, Teja Singh, Din Mohamed and Muhammad Munir.
These Commissions were required to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the respective provinces on the basis of determining the adjacent majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. The Bengal Commission was required in addition to demarcate the Muslim majority areas of Sylhet district and the adjacent non-Muslim majority areas of the adjoining districts of Assam. In Bengal, there were only two groups of districts which were not a cause of anxiety to the Commission. These were the indisputably non-Muslim majority areas of Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly, Howrah and Burdwan, and the Muslim-majority areas of Chittagong, Noakhali, Tippera, Dacca, Mymensingh, Pabna and Bogra. Except for these, all the other areas, including Calcutta, were subject to contention and rival claims. Similarly in the Punjab, the controversy was over the three divisions of Lahore, Multan and Jullundur, as also a portion of the Ambala Division.
Neither Bengal nor the Punjab was able to reach any satisfactory agreement. It was finally agreed that the Chairman should give his own award. Thus, Lord Mountbatten decided to hand over copies of the award to the leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League immediately after he had received them from Sir Cyril Radcliffe. The Congress had claimed for West Bengal about fifty-nine per cent of the area and forty-six per cent of the population of the province. Under the Radcliffe award, only thirty-six per cent of the area and thirty-five per cent of the population were assigned to West Bengal. The total Muslim population of Bengal only sixteen per cent came under West Bengal, while as many as forty-two per cent of non-Muslims remained in East Bengal. The non-Muslims of Bengal complained that the area of West Bengal under the award, as compared with that in the notional division, got smaller by about 4,000 square miles. They protested against the transfer to East Bengal of Khulna and the Chittagong Hill Tracts and deplored the absence of any link between Darjeeling and the rest of West Bengal. The Muslims, on the other hand, deplored the loss of Calcutta, Murshidabad, and part of Nadia district.
In the Punjab the Congress demanded on the basis of the protection of the cultural and religious life of the Sikhs, economic security and a rational distribution of the irrigation system, river waters and canal colonies. Thus, it claimed for East Punjab, the province east of the river Chenab. The Sikhs supplemented the Congress claims by asking for a few more districts such as Montgomery and Lyallpur and certain sub-divisions of the Multan division. The Muslim League on the other hand demanded the three complete divisions of Rawalpindi, Multan and Lahore, and also a number of tehsils in the Jalandhar and Ambala divisions. The Radcliffe award, however, allocated to East Punjab only 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. East Punjab obtained control over three of the five rivers of the united Punjab, namely the Beas, Sutlej and the upper waters of the Ravi. About thirty-eight per cent of the area and forty-five per cent of the population were assigned to East Punjab. West Punjab, on the other hand, obtained under the award about sixty-two per cent of the area and fifty-five per cent of the population, together with a major percentage of the income of the old province. The non-Muslims of the Punjab, especially the Sikhs, bitterly resented the loss of Lahore and the canal colonies of Sheikhupura, Lyallpur and Montgomery, while the Muslims protested against the retention of the Mandi hydro-electric project by East Punjab and the severance of certain tehsils from the notional West Punjab. However, the Radcliffe award satisfied none of the parties. It was arbitrary and unjust to the Hindus of Bengal and the Punjab. Pakistan claimed the award to be a biased decision.