Foundation of Muslim League-Toward Muslim Independence:
In 1906 the All India Muslim League was founded.
Formed in Dacca (now Dhaka) at the annual meeting of the Muhammadan Educational Conference, attended by 3,000 delegates, it was created in answer to concerns that Muslims would be oppressed by the Hindu majority if the British ever vacated the subcontinent.
Aga Khan III, Sultan Muhammad Shah (1877–1957), the first president of the league, resigned in 1914 because of his discomfort with its growing anti-British attitude. Jinnah was elected the league’s president in 1916.
The Muslim League was formed in 1906, partly in reaction to the vocal Hindu sentiment to partition of Bengal that they interpreted as being anti-Muslim.
Establishment Of Muslim League:
According To K.K. Aziz:-
“Between 1902 and 1905 Muslim leaders had made some attempts to negotiate with Hindu politicians. Agha Khan had remonstrated with Sir Pherozeshah Mehta about the necessity of persuading the Congress to gain Muslim confidence. When these efforts failed, it was felt that the only hope lay in the establishment of a Muslim political body to secure independent political recognition from the British Government as a nation within nation. The All-India Muslim League was accordingly established in December 1906 at a meeting of Muslim leaders in Decca. The Muslim league was thus a child of four factors: First, the old belief uttered by Syed Ahmed Khan that the Muslims were somehow a separate entity. Secondly, the Hindu character of the Indian National Congress which did not allow the Muslims to associate themselves with other Indians. Thirdly, the agitation against the partition of Bengal which conveyed to the Muslims the Hindu designs of domination. And, finally, the Muslim desire to have their own exclusive electorates for all representative institutions.”
The Simla Deputation 1906
In fact Simla Deputation was in line with a kind of thinking that was developing amongst the Muslims during that time i.e. they had certain interests and they must stand up to protect their rights and unless they do that that objective would not be achieved. The Simla Deputation of 1906 was the first systematic attempt on the part of the Muslims to present their demands, to the British government and to seek their acceptance. The Simla deputation comprised 35 Muslims from all over India. It was a galaxy of Muslims leaders from all the provinces, from one end of India to the other and it had Muslims of all background. Therefore, when in 1906, this deputation called on the Viceroy, it was the most representative Muslim delegation. This delegation was led by Sir Agha Khan and Nawab Mohsin ul Malik served as a secretary and this delegation met the Viceroy in Simla that was why it was called as Simla Deputation. The memorandum which they presented was a kind of demands which were the uppermost in the minds of the Muslims at that time. The delegation emphasized that the Muslims should not be viewed simply in numerical terms but they should take into account their historical importance and the kind of contribution the Muslims had made to British India and keeping in view that importance they should work towards accommodating their demands. The delegation emphasized that democratic principle should be introduced keeping in view the peculiar conditions and circumstances of India. The diversity, the fact that there different kinds of people living in India and the fact that the Muslims consider themselves to be a separate entity, all these things had to be taken into account because the India was not a homogenous amalgamated or monolithic political identity. It was a political identity comprising diversity, divergence in view, divergence in outlook and when you introduce some kind of system then these realities had to be accommodated. In view of this submission they presented some demands:
Representation more than their population because of their importance.
Reservations of Muslims seats in government jobs.
Special share in Municipal or district boards University senates and syndicates
Muslim representation in Viceroy Executive Council.
Muslim University at Aligarh.
The Viceroy was sympathetic towards the demands. It encouraged the Muslims to launch struggle for their rights parallel to the Indian National Congress but it required an organized platform.
Importance Of The Simla Deputation:
According To Dr. I.H Qureshi:-
“The Simla Deputation occupies a crucially important place in the history of Muslim-India. For the first time the Hindu-Muslim conflict was lifted to the constitutional plane. The rift in the society was now to be reflected in legal and political institutions. The Muslims made it clear that they had no confidence in the Hindu majority that they were not prepared to put their future in the hands of assemblies elected on the assumed basis of a homogenous Indian nation. By implication the Muslims rejected the idea of a single Indian nation on the ground of that the Muslim majority had an entity and could not be merged into Hindu majority.”
Minto-Morley Reforms (Government of India Act 1909)
The Government of India Act of 1909—also called the Minto-Morley Reforms for its sponsors, Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound (1845–1914), fourth earl of Minto, viceroy of India, and John Morley (1838–1923), Viscount Morley, secretary of state for Indian affairs.
The Government of India Act of 1909 was aimed at answering growing Indian demands for self-government.
The reforms mandated that legislative councils be established in all provinces and that their members be elected by the population each represented.
However, the councils had only advisory power.
Minority groups, including Muslims, Sikhs, landowners, and the tea and jute industry, would have their own representation in provincial legislative councils.
Many Hindus viewed the changes as proof the British had become pro-Muslim.
Lucknow Pact, 1916:
In October 1916, a group of 19 Muslim and Hindu elected members of the Imperial Legislative Council sent the viceroy a reform memorandum. The British ignored the memorandum, but it became the basis for an agreement on electorates and representation reached by Congress and Muslim League leaders at Calcutta in November 1916 and ratified at Lucknow in December.
Called the Lucknow Pact, the agreement established an alliance between the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress.
It mandated self-government in India with separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims, and it guaranteed a minimum number of representatives to adherents in areas where they were a minority.
Muslims were to have one-third representation in the central government.
The Muslim League dropped its claim to majority status in Punjab and Bengal in exchange for the promise of extra seats in the Muslim minority areas.
It marked the first time Congress recognized the Muslim League as a legitimate representation of the Muslim community.
Although many leading Muslims supported Great Britain during the war, some backed the Ottoman Empire.
As the end of World War I approached, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire became imminent. Muslims of South Asia mounted an effort to save the empire, joining in the Khilafat movement.
In December 1918 the Muslim League passed a resolution to work for the preservation of the caliphate.
Jinnah opposed involvement in international affairs, as Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan had done earlier.
On April 10, 1919, riots erupted in Amritsar in Punjab. In response, a ban was imposed on public meetings. Unaware of the new edict, demonstrators gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh gardens in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. The British opened fire on the crowd, resulting in 379 dead and 1,200 wounded, according to official tallies, though other accounts put the number of casualties considerably higher.
The incident became known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, or Tragedy.
Leaders of the Khilafat movement and the Congress Party issued a joint statement in 1920 calling for a boycott of British goods, schools, and institutions.
This noncooperation movement was led by Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1947), Gandhi supported the Khilafat movement as a way to bring Muslims and Hindus together in the movement for independence.
Jinnah and other Western-educated Muslims, on the other hand, feared that a religious focus would ultimately divide Muslims and Hindus. He favored a secular political leadership, called the movement unconstitutional, and resigned from the Congress Party in protest (1920).
Despite the movement and threats of noncooperation against the British, the Ottoman Empire disappeared with the signing of the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920.
Khilafat Movement ended when the sultan, the figurehead of a much-reduced Turkey, was removed in 1922, and the Turkish government itself abolished the caliphate the same year.
Since the British failed to support the caliphate, Islamic scholars concluded that it was sinful to live in British ruled territory. Hundreds of ulama, or religious leaders, signed a fatwa urging Muslims to immigrate to Islamic lands. In August 1922 thousands of Muslims abandoned their homes and possessions and began trekking to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, bowing to British pressure, closed its border, leaving the would-be émigrés homeless and destitute.
Aims And Objectives Of The Khilafat Movement:
The Muslims demanded that:-
“Jazirat-ul-Arab including Mesopotamia, Arabia, Syria and Palestine with the Holy places situated therein must always remain under the direct suzerainty of the Khilafat.”
Muhammad Ali put forward the demands of the Movement in a speech delivered at Paris on March 21, 1920, by declaring that;-
“The Khilafat shall not be dismembered but that the Khalifah shall have sufficient temporal power for the defence of the Faith, that in the Island of Arabia there shall be exclusive Muslim Control without mandate or protection and that the Khalifah shall remain as heretofore the warden of the Holy places.”
In March 1927 Jinnah convened a meeting in Delhi with some 30 of the subcontinent’s Muslim leaders in an effort to close the gap between Hindu and Muslim aspirations.
At the meeting’s conclusion the leaders unanimously agreed to relinquish the demand for a separate electorate for India’s Muslims if the Hindu leadership accepted what became known as the Delhi Proposals.
These four proposals were that Muslims in Punjab and Bengal have representation in the legislative council in proportion to their population;
that one-third of the seats in the Central Legislature be reserved for Muslims;
that Sind be made a separate province;
That government reforms adopted in the subcontinent be extended to NWFP and Baluchistan.
It was the first and only time the leadership of the Muslim League agreed to joint electorates.
With the Simon Commission failing to come up with a workable political reform plan, the British turned the problem over to local political leaders.
In February 1928 some 100 representatives of Muslim political organizations and Congress met at the All Parties Conference to draft a constitution.
As usual a resolution of the differences between Muslim and Hindu leaders was beyond reach. Minority rights—separate political representation for minority communities—was the primary issue of contention, with Muslims in support and Hindus, who controlled Congress, opposed.
In May 1928, delegates appointed a small committee headed by Motilal Nehru (1861–1931) to draft a constitution. Two Muslims were on the nine-person committee.
After three months, the committee issued the Nehru Report.
It recommended abolishing separate electorates, eliminating any weightage given to minority communities and populations and making Hindi the national language
It further called for reducing Muslim representation in the Central Assembly (from one-third to one-quarter) and rejected the recent acceptance by Congress of the Delhi Proposals.
Muslims refused to accept the report.
Congress ultimately adopted the report and threatened the British government with a disobedience movement if the terms were not implemented into law by December 31, 1929.
Jinnah’s Fourteen Points:
In March 1929 Jinnah articulated an alternative course in a set of tenets that became known as the Fourteen Points.
The Muslim League made inclusion of the demands expressed in the Fourteen Points a prerequisite for their agreement to any constitution.
At a meeting of the All India Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930, its president, Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), raised the possibility that peace would be impossible between Muslims and Hindus unless Muslims were given the status of a separate nation.
He stated that the predominantly Muslim northwest region of the subcontinent was destined to form a self-governing unit.
This was the first public call for statehood for the subcontinent’s Muslims.
”The Hindus and Muslims are distinct nations belonging to different races, speaking different languages and professing different religions. Their behavior is not at all determined by common race-consciousness. Even Hindus are not a homogenous group.. The Muslims demand for the creation of separate state is, therefore, perfectly justified. . . . I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Balochistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-government within British empire, or without British Empire, the formation of the consolidated North-West Indian State appears to me to be the destiny of the Muslims, at least of the North-West India.
First Round Table Conference:
The British central-left Labour Party, had traditionally given more support to the concept of independence for the subcontinent than the Conservatives.
In November 1930 the British convened a Round Table Conference in London involving Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians to discuss new constitutional reforms.
All Congress Party leaders were in jail on charges related to the civil disobedience movement.
73 delegates attended the conference, including Jinnah.
The Muslims insisted on keeping weightage and separate electorates, while the Hindus wanted to end these electoral processes.
The Hindus sought a powerful central government, with the Muslims preferring a loose federation of autonomous provinces.
The Muslim majority status in Punjab and Bengal was also a point of contention, with Hindus opposing their imposition.
The conference ended in January 1931 with an agreement to provide safeguards for minorities in the constitution under a federal system of rule.
Second Round Table Conference:
The second session of the Round Table Conference, convened in London in September 1931, was intended to address the composition of the central government and, more vexingly, minority rights, or the communal issue, as it was known.
Jinnah, Iqbal, the Aga Kahn, and Gandhi attended.
However, the conference ended without results.
On his return to India, Gandhi resumed the civil disobedience movement.
Third Round Table Conference:
The final session, the Third Round Table Conference, in November 1932.
Jinnah was not invited to the conference, because Conservatives, restored to power in England, considered him anti-British for his insistence on equality and self-rule in the subcontinent.
The final session was limited to discussing committee reports and accomplished little.
What came out of the Third Round Table Conference was a white paper, published in March 1933, that became the basis for a reform constitution.
Parliament voted it into law two years later as the Government of India Act of 1935.
Elections were held in the winter of 1936–37.
The Congress Party won about 70 percent of the popular vote and 40 percent of the provincial government seats but through coalitions gained an upper hand in the rule of most provinces.
The Muslim League won only 5 percent of the total Muslim vote and not a single province, including the Muslim majority provinces, in which regional parties (in Bengal, Punjab, and Sind) and Congress (in NWFP) gained control.
It was the actions of the Congress once in power after 1937 elections that convinced many in the League of the dangers of a majoritarian federation. The allegations included the singing of the anti-Muslim song Bande Mataram and discrimination against Muslims in appointments.
Provincial Elections 1937:
According To I.H. Qureshi:-
“A great majority of the Muslim seats was won by the Punjab Unionist Party Of Sir Fazl-i-Hussain. It is true that the Muslim League won only 102 out of the maximum 482 seats but how far did the Congress succeed in capturing Muslim seats? It contested only 58 seats and won only 26. Thus it represents only 5 per cent of India Muslims. Moreover, most of the Congress successes in Muslim constituencies were in the NWFP. It was in the two Muslim provinces of the Punjab and Bengal that the Congress claim of representing Muslims was put to the hardest test, and in both it failed miserably. In the Punjab it captured only 18 seats out of 175 and in Bengal only 60 seats out of 250. Its performance in Sindh was hardly better where it won 8 seats out of 60.”
According To Rushbrook Williams:-
“the Congress leaders, “placed their actions and their consciences at the disposition of an irresponsible central caucus, regardless of their duty to their own constituents, to the provinces over which they were called upon to rule, to the elected chambers whose confidence was their own claim to office.”
In the views of H.V. Hudson:-
“The Congress dictatorship, “vitiated responsible party government, deprived India of half the invaluable experience that she was gaining in the responsibilities of her own government and convinced the Muslims and other minorities that weightages in the legislature and like safeguards were valueless, since all was subordinated to an irresponsible caucus at Wardha.”
Similarly. C.B. Birdwood in his book entitled “A Continent Experiments” compared the dictatorship of the Congress ministries to the Nazi regime in Europe.
For complete Pakistan Affairs notes click here.