Mountbatten Plan to Geographical Partition of India : 3rd june 1947

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Mountbatten Plan to Geographical Partition of India : 3rd june 1947
Mountbatten with a countdown calendar to the Transfer of Power in the background

Mountbatten with a countdown calendar to the Transfer of Power in the background The actual division of British India between the two new dominions was accomplished according to what has come to be known as the "3 June Plan" or "Mountbatten Plan".

It was announced at a press conference by Mountbatten on 3 June 1947, when the date of independence - 15 August 1947 - was also announced.

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The plan's main points were:

  • Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in Punjab and Bengal legislative assemblies would meet and vote for partition.
  • If a simple majority of either group wanted partition, then these provinces would be divided.
  • Sind and Baluchistan were to make their own decision.
  • The fate of North-West Frontier Province and Sylhet district of Assam was to be decided by a referendum.
  • India would be independent by 15 August 1947. The separate independence of Bengal was ruled out.
  • A boundary commission to be set up in case of partition.
  • The Indian political leaders accepted the Plan on 2 June.

It could not deal with the question of the princely states, which were not British possessions, but on 3 June Mountbatten advised them against remaining independent and urged them to join one of the two new Dominions.

The Muslim League's demands for a separate country were thus conceded.

The Congress's position on unity was also taken into account while making Pakistan as small as possible. Mountbatten's formula was to divide India and, at the same time, retain maximum possible unity.

Abul Kalam Azad expressed concern over the likelihood of violent riots, to which Mountbatten replied: At least on this question I shall give you complete assurance. I shall see to it that there is no bloodshed and riot. I am a soldier and not a civilian.

Once the partition is accepted in principle, I shall issue orders to see that there are no communal disturbances anywhere in the country. If there should be the slightest agitation, I shall adopt the sternest measures to nip the trouble in the bud.

Jagmohan has stated that this and what followed showed a "glaring failure of the government machinery." On 3 June 1947, the partition plan was accepted by the Congress Working Committee.

Baloji states that in Punjab, there were no riots, but there was communal tension, while Gandhi was reportedly isolated by Nehru and Patel and observed maun vrat (day of silence).

Mountbatten visited Gandhi and said he hoped that he would not oppose the partition, to which Gandhi wrote the reply:

"Have I ever opposed you?"

Within British India, the border between India and Pakistan (the Radcliffe Line) was determined by a British Government-commissioned report prepared under the chairmanship of a London barrister, Sir Cyril Radcliffe.

Pakistan came into being with two non-contiguous enclaves, East Pakistan (today Bangladesh) and West Pakistan, separated geographically by India.

India was formed out of the majority Hindu regions of British India, and Pakistan from the majority Muslim areas. On 18 July 1947, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act that finalized the arrangements for partition and abandoned British suzerainty over the princely states, of which there were several hundred, leaving them free to choose whether to accede to one of the new dominions or to remain independent outside both.

The Government of India Act 1935 was adapted to provide a legal framework for the new dominions. Following its creation as a new country in August 1947, Pakistan applied for membership of the United Nations and was accepted by the General Assembly on 30 September 1947.

The Dominion of India continued to have the existing seat as India had been a founding member of the United Nations since 1945.

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