13 June, 2021

The Ants Write Their Own Script

Did Partition's onus rest only on its grand players or did the untold story lie outside conference chambers?

The Ants Write Their Own Script
British civil servant Irish Portal captured the mood in the early ’40s when he said "you must never take land away from people. People’s land has a mystique. You can go and possibly order them about for a bit and introduce some new ideas and possibly dragoon an alien race into attitudes that are not quite familiar to them". But then, he added, "you must go away and die in Cheltenham".

Stanley Wolpert revisits the transfer of power in mid-August 1946. Starting with the indictment of Admiral ‘Dickie’ Mountbatten, Britain’s last viceroy in India, he concludes his story with the failure of M.K. Gandhi and M.A. Jinnah to stop the runaway juggernaut to Partition. In the course of this journey, he covers some of the familiar landmarks until we reach the parting of ways, the only seeming solution to an intractable problem.

Nehru conceded that he and his Congress colleagues were tired men and getting on in years. He mentioned that they could not stand the prospect of getting to prison again, and if they had stood out for a united India, prison obviously awaited them....

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