Modifying Punjab boundary

THIS refers to V.N. Datta’s letter (Oct 15). I agree that the Punjab Boundary Award was modified at the last moment. With the passage of time, this has been accepted by all. The main problem is the study as to why was it modified?

I do not agree with Dr Datta that the Punjab Boundary Award was modified under pressure of some individuals or to oblige a friend. There are political compulsions for these modifications. The Boundary Awards of Bengal and Assam were not modified.

When I questioned Lord Radcliffe during an interview in 1964 whether advanced information about the boundaries of Bengal and Assam was supplied, his reply was in the affirmative. When I asked whether the advanced information about Punjab Boundary Award was supplied, his reply was, “I do not remember”. (For detailed interview see my book, Select Documents on Partition of Punjab, Page 744).

Political circumstances that compelled Lord Mountbatten to get the Punjab Boundary Award modified have been described by him in his letter to Lord Ismay which I discovered from the Centre for Military Archives, King’s College, London.

Lord Mountbatten’s letter to Lord Ismay refers to the Sikh problem thrice. Major Short who was specially invited from England to pacify the Sikhs clearly stated “to trim a trifle” and Justice Mehar Chand Mahajan’s advice to me to see Justice Harnam Singh indicated that Punjab Boundary Award was modified due to Sikh problem in Punjab. Consequently, the Akali leadership rightly claimed that they had brought the Ferozepore and Zira tehsils to India.

KIRPAL SINGH, Chandigarh


The terms of reference of the division of Punjab also included other factors besides the communal majority and contiguity factors. The change, if any, regarding Ferozepore District was done by the Chairman taking into view of the Ferozepur Head Works controlling the Ganga Canal supplying water to Bikaner State. Fazilka tehsil was non-Muslim majority area which could not go to Pakistan. Moreover, in Gurdaspur district, Muslims constituted a thin majority 50-04 per cent of which Tehsil Fazilka was a non-Muslim majority area which could not go to Pakistan. As such Cyril Radcliffe awarded Shakargarh tehsil to Pakistan and Gurdaspur and Batala tehsils were given to east Punjab.


Bahadur Shah Zafar: Traitor or martyr?

IN his book review of Mahdi Husain’s book Bahadur Shah Zafar and the War of 1857 in Delhi (Spectrum, September 3), V. N. Datta has rightly concluded that after reading the aforesaid book, “the reader cannot say whether Bahadur Shah was a traitor, martyr or a victim of unsmiling fortune”.

The fact of the matter is that Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775-1862) ascended the throne in 1837. A skilled horseman, he was also dexterous in other military arts, such as swordsmanship, shooting with bow and arrow and firearms. He was a fine calligraphist. And a student of Sufi philosophy. A Persian scholar of eminence, he was also a poet, whose ghazals, particularly those composed during his exile in Rangoon, occupy a place of honour in Urdu literature, for reasons of their emotional and musical content.

Though the De Jure king and sovereign of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar looked upon the British intruders as his subjects, who owed allegiance to him under the terms of the Diwani of Bengal signed by his grandfather, Shah Alam in 1765. Nevertheless, The East India Company and the British authorities treated him as a pensioner entitled only to a monthly pension of Rs 1,00,000 in addition to the nominal status of a king, whose jurisdiction lay within the walls of the Red Fort (Qila-e-moala).

When the rebellious sepoys and officers from Meerut forced their way into the Red Fort on May 11, 1857, they made the 82-year-old Zafar give them, though reluctantly, his support and blessings, even when he had declared that he had no funds, no provisions, and no resources to wage a war against the British. In the months that followed, he played more than a passive role.

However, when Delhi fell towards the end of September 1857, he even resorted to hiding in Humayun’s tomb, but was captured by Lt William Hodson, and was tried by a military court on charges of treason and murder. The sovereign of India was made to stand in the court in tattered clothes like an ordinary criminal.



An Islamic poet

This refers to Bhagwan Singh’s brilliant letter “Allama Iqbal was against pluralist society” (Sept 24). Bilal Ahmad Shamim’s statement in his letter (Sept 3) that Iqbal was not against a plural society was a fantastic product of his imagination. Likewise, his comments that Sikhs became angry on being reminded of their Hindu roots were neither desirable nor necessary.

Allama wrote very few, but very beautiful, patriotic poems. However, his love for his country was ephemeral. It was supplanted by love of Islamic millat. He demanded a separate state for Indian Muslims on the basis of his two-nation theory. M. A. Jinnah’s persistent pursuit of the same resulted in the creation of Pakistan where he is remembered as the Poet of the Muslim nation.

K.P. SINGH, Patiala



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |