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The Movement for Independence, Indian Independence

Louis Mountbatten, Lord Mountbatten, Sikh community, nonviolence, self-rule

As independence approached and Hindus and Muslims continued to fight and kill each other, Gandhi once again put his belief in nonviolence into play. He went on his own to a Muslim-majority area of Bengal, placing himself as a hostage for the safety of Muslims living among Hindus in western Bengal. With the British army unable to deal with the threat of mounting violence, the new viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, decided to advance the schedule of the transfer of power, leaving just months for the parties to agree on a formula for independence. Finally in June 1947 Congress and Muslim League leaders, against Gandhi’s wishes, agreed to a partition of the country along religious lines, with predominantly Hindu areas allocated to India and predominantly Muslim areas to Pakistan. They agreed to a partition of the Muslim-majority provinces of Punjab and Bengal as well. Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh refugees numbering in the millions streamed across the newly drawn borders. In Punjab, where the Sikh community was cut in half, a period of terrible bloodshed followed. In Bengal, where Gandhi became what Lord Mountbatten called a “one-man boundary force,” the violence was insignificant in comparison. On India’s independence day, August 15, 1947, Gandhi was in Calcutta rather than Delhi, mourning the division of the country rather than celebrating the self-rule for which he had fought.

Article key phrases:

Louis Mountbatten, Lord Mountbatten, Sikh community, nonviolence, self-rule, hostage, partition, Calcutta, transfer of power, Hindus, Pakistan, millions, Delhi, Congress, belief, comparison, half, schedule, formula, division, parties, country, play, months


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