In News: It was on August 17, 1947, two days after Independence, that the award of the Boundary Commissions for the partition of Punjab and Bengal was announced.
- The award caused much anguish to the people of the two provinces and also to the governments of India and Pakistan.
- The then Law minister of India, B R Ambedkar, and Minister of Industry and Supply, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, proposed to take the matter of the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the UN (the UNO).
What were the two Boundary Commissions?
- In June 1947, Sir Cyril John Radcliffe, a British lawyer, was made the Chairman of two boundary commissions of Punjab and Bengal and given the task to draw up the new borders of India and Pakistan.
- He was given a period of five weeks to complete this task and arrived in India in July 1947.
- The boundary commissions of Punjab and Bengal also included two nominees each of the Indian National Congress and Muslim League respectively.
- The Punjab commission had Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, Justice Teja Singh, Justice Din Mohammad and Justice Muhammad Munir as members.
- The Bengal commission comprised Justice CC Biswas, Justice BK Mukherjee, Justice Abu Saleh Akram and Justice SA Rehman.
- The Boundary Commissions award was made public on August 17, 1947.
What discussion took place with regard to the awards?
The documents in national archives include minutes of a meeting held at Government house, New Delhi at 5 pm on August 16, 1947, a day before the public announcement of award
- The minutes of the meeting show that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru protested against the award of Chittagong hill Tracts to Pakistan (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh).
- Lord Mountbatten defended the award saying that the Chittagong district had close economic ties with the hill tracts and that the port required proper supervision of the Karnaphuli river which runs through the hill tracts. He made a suggestion of compromise by re-adjustment of territory which was rejected by Nehru and the Liaquat Ali Khan.
- Nehru said that he considered that the award of boundary commission in the Punjab was likely to have a bad effect among the Sikhs, who presented a particularly difficult problem.
- Sardar Baldev Singh said that the reaction to the award would be very unfavourable on the Sikh mind.
- Liaquat Ali Khan said it would have a similar unfavourable reaction among the Muslims.
- He emphasised that complete religious freedom will be allowed.
- Sardar Patel’s view was that the only solution to the Punjab award was a transfer of population on a large scale.
- Mountbatten said that he had spoken to Jinnah about Nankana Sahib.
- “Mr Jinnah had stated that he had it in mind to give the Sikhs any religious assurances that were required in connection with their Gurdwara there. The Governor General suggested that a specific statement on Nankana Sahib might be made by the Pakistan government at the same time as the issue of the boundary commission award.
On Bengal award, what was BR Ambedkar and SP Mukherjee’s note?
- The joint note of the two ministers pointed out that the decision of the award in some vital respects is “unjust and unfair” and against the fundamental policy of the partition and also the terms of reference.
- The joint note delves in great detail about the award pertaining to area and population of Bengal, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Jalpaiguri, Khulna, Faridpur and Barisal.
- Both ministers would in conclusion that the award in Bengal was unjust and arbitrary and will be a source of bitterness and strife now and in future.
- We therefore lodge our protest against the award and cannot accept it as final and conclusive.
- We propose to take up the matter with the Pakistan Dominion immediately. We shall make an attempt to open negotiations with that government and see if any amicable re-settlement is possible.
- If not, we reserve to ourselves the right to treat this as an inter dominion dispute and refer it to the UNO, claiming the inclusion of the areas outlined above into West Bengal.
Source: Indian Express