The Sikh Community During the Partition of India – British Aversion to Their Demands
The independence of India on August 15, 1947 synchronized with the Partition of Bengal and the Punjab provinces of India. The partition of these regions was a phenomenon marked with communal turbulence causing unprecedented massacre and migration of the human population. The British Punjab was an important province due to its geo-strategic significance and its status as the ‘granary of India’. The Punjab under the British was not amenable to partition due to its demographic composition, but the communally charged atmosphere of the 1940s made it imperative to draw a dividing line. The Muslims led by Jinnah succeeded in getting Pakistan and the Hindus could claim India to be their home country. The Sikhs suffered very heavily during the partition but still had most of their demands unheeded and unfulfilled. Neither was the demand for a Sikh state ever taken seriously, nor was sufficient territory ceded for the Indian Punjab as demanded by the Sikhs. The pleas of Sikh leadership for stopping the massacre of their co-religionists fell on deaf ears and they had to suffer heavy causalities. This happened in spite of the fact that the Sikhs had collaborated closely with the colonial power. The present paper endeavors to examine various demands of the Sikh leadership put to the British before the Partition. We also seek to understand the factors which contributed to the failure of the Sikh political leadership to protect the interests of their community.
Keywords— Partition of India, British, Congress, Sikhs, Pakistan.