Digital Dimdima
Under One Flag
The Light Has Gone Out
India Wins Freedom
Apostle of Peace
The Last War of Independence
Quit India
Leave India to God… or to Anarchy
Gandhi and Ambedkar
A Pinch of Salt!
Saga of Indian Revolutionaries
Bardoli
Gandhiji Withdraws from Political Activities
The Himalayan Blunder
A People Reject Their Rulers
Jallianwala — The Aftermath
Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh
The Gentle Satyagrahi
Gandhi in Champaran
Carrot and Stick
Revolutionaries Outside India
Heroes and Martyrs
Gandhi in South Africa
From Swadeshi to Swaraj
Swadeshi Enterprise
The New Spirit of India
The Great Divide
Partition of Bengal
The Battle is Taken to the Legislature!
The Monk Who Shook The Nation
Father of Indian Unrest
An Old Man's Dream
Women : Crossing the Threshold
The Battle Lines are Drawn
The Battle For A Free Press
Pressing On !
Europeans Take To The Street!
The British Raj in Black and White
Mamool Raj
The One-Man Army
Hunger Deaths
The Delhi Durbar
Return to Swadeshi
Barbarous Britannia
‘Rani Ka Hookum’
Perishing in Peace
The Blue Mutiny
English Education
The Trial of the Last Emperor
Roll of Honour
The Empire Strikes Back
British Authority Collapses
Sepoys on the Move
Tribal Uprisings
The Empire Builders
For God and Country

"The Light Has Gone Out"

Lord Mountbatten was a man in a hurry. He wanted to get Britain out of India in double-quick time. The decision to partition the country was taken on 3rd June, 1947 and the division of assets between India and the new country that was to be formed, was done in just 72 days. In contrast, when the British had decided to separate Burma from India (it was done in 1937) they had given themselves 11 years to accomplish the task.
The army top brass had expected that Muslim soldiers would opt for Pakistan. They were surprised when many Muslim soldiers said they would stay on in India. The transfer of the bureaucracy and railway employees posed a big problem. A hundred thousand railway employees had to be shifted from India to the newly-formed Pakistan and nearly an equal number had to be brought back to India. This threw railway services into disarray at a most crucial time.
The Boundary Commission entrusted with the task of establishing the boundaries of the two countries had its report ready well before 15th August, 1947 but Mountbatten wanted its decisions to be announced only after the transfer of power so that Britain would not be held responsible for the consequences.
As a result the people in some areas in the northwest did not know to which country they belonged. Those who wanted to be part of the new country raised the Pakistan flag on Independence Day and those who wanted to stay with India raised the Indian tricolour. When the Boundary Commission award was announced all hell broke loose. In western Punjab, Muslims killed their Hindu brethren or drove them out of their homes which they then occupied. In eastern Punjab and further down up to Delhi and beyond, Hindus and Sikhs retaliated in equal measure, rendering lakhs of Muslims, homeless. Thus began the great exodus — Hindus moving from Pakistan to India and Muslims, from India to Pakistan. Millions crossed the Indo-Pak border — by train, truck, cart or on foot. Two lines of refugees moving in opposite directions would sometimes cross paths and then both sides would give vent to their fury by attacking each other.
Gandhiji wanted to go to Pakistan on a mission of peace but first he wanted to restore law and order in Delhi. Refugees who were pouring into Delhi were forcing their way into Muslim houses and throwing out the owners as they themselves had been thrown out in Karachi and Lahore.

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