Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Partition of India: How migration differed from district to district in Uttar Pradesh, role of officials and politicians in controlling situation

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Just when country was partitioned, some regions saw major disturbances.
There were apprehensions among people regarding their safety in states and mostly in  towns of North India.
But violence was not happening in all the regions. People were abandoning houses, migrating more due to 'fears', rumours or apprehensions of attacks, also local factors in certain districts, towns. 
But there were also districts  that were unaffected. The difference in the situation between Jhansi, Lalitpur on one hand & Jalaun on the other, is important to understand [exodus at one place, peace in other], even now.

Apart from DM, SP and their intent at quelling rumours, controlling situation, the third--Congress district president in that situation, was immensely important. One district saw law-&-order issues, people leaving town due to fear while adjoining district remained in peace.

Congress was then seen as the party that led freedom movement. Its leaders were respected & its district chief wielded clout. So if they wanted peace, held public meet, gave call & assured locals, it had affect and also stopped people from leaving mohallas to a particular town.

There were some who wanted to go because of greener pastures--the educated glass, those in bureaucracy or those traders who were not ready to take chances & were selling property to just leave forever. We are not talking of Punjab & Bengal that were partitioned, directly affected. Within UP, situation in West UP was vastly different from Awadh and Bundelkhand.

'Systems' are in place but they work when there are some people at the top and have the intent to ensure peace, law-&-order. It was seen then, seen later in riots, even now. Things can be handled if officers or leaders who are fair, have commitment & take stand. Else, all fails.

While Punjab saw complete transfer of population and it was a state, along with Bengal, that were directly affected and divided, the other regions that were affected included--Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Migration was from many princely states too--Gwalior, Alwar, and later after 1948, from Hyderabad as well. 

North Indian cities lost huge Muslim population. Many had Muslim percent fall from 30 plus to barely 10-odd. Certain cities in South, like Gulbarga, also had huge fall in Muslim population [percentage]. Cities like Raipur had a drastic fall in Muslim population, as recorded in Census figures in 1941 and 1951.

It was not that there was violence in all these regions. The 'fear', the apprehensions, led to the exodus. Hence, fairness of officials, administration and role of leadership is always important. Cities where the main Muslim leaders, migrated, suffered hugely.

This is just a post, hence, I won't get into it, far. But one example is Khaliquz Zaman. He was not an ordinary leader, a person in constituent assembly, one day giving speech and then suddenly he left. That had a huge psychological impact. 

He was not an ordinary politician. He had been head of civic body of Lucknow for such a long time. He was among the tallest leaders and the manner in which he vanished, was shocking. This dealt a big blow. Seventy years have passed but still in Lucknow, people talk about it.

The role of political and social leadership is important, critical. You should have a leadership, more and more politicians who work on the ground, those who care, who are active, and can have the ability to go and talk to the masses, have a connect with them, apart from taking stand. It's the permanent lesson. 

Lot of oral history should have been preserved. Locals are aware but it was not properly documented--the impact on each district, the cities and towns that saw population reduced in a big way. What was the exact role of politicians and bureaucrats in these places, then!

We should have record, testimony. Though it's not recent past, but its not distant past either. People in individual accounts mentioned, a few about Moradabad or Saharanpur. Some wrote about Lucknow or Agra. However, Uttar Pradesh was affected in a big way. [This is a short post, will be updated later]