31 October, 2020

Notional Divide

With a month for transfer of power and the formal Radcliffe award, confusion reigns as millions wonder on which side of the border they will end

Notional Divide

ON his first visit to Lahore on July 14, Sir Cyril Radcliffe found the heat appalling. It felt like the mouth of hell, he commented later. The political atmosphere was no less fiery. Stabbings continued;

Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders angrily differed on where Punjab should be partitioned. The undefined option given to the Boundary Commission to take "other factors" into account encouraged claims based on a wide range of considerations. Lahore became the main victim of the haste to demarcate the border. As it was the intellectual, cultural, financial and historic capital of the region, each community claimed to have contributed to its status and prosperity. Radcliffe was inundated with memoranda urging him to consider a wide range of "other factors", not only religion, in demarcating the border.

The Muslim League wanted only religion to be taken into account. This prompted Jinnah and Liaquat Ali to call on the Viceroy to express their indignation against a statement in the British Parliament that "special factors were being...



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