There are some things which are hard to talk about or are too controversial. We consume a lot of media throughout our day without being aware of how much of it is actually true or false. We as Indians run high on emotion and when it comes to matters relating to our country, we run even higher on emotions. This generalisation is subjective although Internet being the medium where most of the youth gathers their presumably ‘general knowledge’ is a topic of fervent debate. A very interesting event was held at VoW Litfest, on its second day, called – India’s Lost Frontier: NWFP. Raghavendra Singh, the ex General Director of Indian National Archives, wrote a book titled India’s Lost Frontier: NWFP, which he made the nucleus of his discussion.
Raghavendra Singh began the discussion by posing a simple question to the audience: “‘Do you think the past affects our present?”
There was an immediate nod of heads inside the hall. “What did we lose? NWFP? Who gained from it, us or Pakistan?” added Mr. Singh.
Jinnah’s two nation theory is known to everybody and is deemed to be one of the most important reasons due to which Partition of India occurred in 1947. But Raghavendra Singh out of his intellect, posed another twisting yet thought provoking question:
“We all know that NWFP was predominantly Muslim. Approximately 92% of the population was Muslim yet they elected the Congress government which seems strange knowing about the aftermath which occurred. Then why do you think the Two-Nation theory given by Jinnah acquires most of the space when talking about Partition? Couldn’t it be there any other reason?”
Several other questions followed between the curator and the author.
“Do you think that the Pakistani historians are unaware of the fact that NWFP was indeed a part of India that was later given to Pakistan just because of a plebiscite that happened?”
Mr Singh replied: “No I don’t think so. I just feel like they don’t want to talk about it because it’s true that a Congress government was indeed elected by the Muslims of the NWFP reason. Muslim League I feel was a religious movement more than another political party standing in opposition. After the Quit India Movement most of the Congress leaders were in jail. That was the time when Muslim League rallied and marched. Their March was not against the British but against the Congress all alone. But there’s another interesting figure which comes to my mind and he was Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. He was one of the most important Muslim leader in Congress who could easily negotiate between Congress and Muslim League.”
Raghavendra Singh also mentioned his personal opinion that Nehru was to be blamed more than Gandhi. He also said that it was Nehru who was the most discontent amongst all while he was writing his book titled- The Discovery of India. “He couldn’t figure out how minority was given a decisive hand to decide the fate of all the majority.”
“What things did you leave in the book while writing it?”
Laughter followed in the room. “Well I have left writing about Nehru and Edwina. One day a letter was actually retrieved by somebody who gave it to Jinnah and told him to make it public. But he didn’t.”
This fruitful event brought light to many things but most importantly emphasized that too little information could be dangerous to frame our conclusions, which is the hard reality of today.
The session ended with inquisitive questions posed by the audience and a vote of thanks dedicated to the VoW managers. Everybody seemed satisfied and more curious than ever, even the ones who didn’t like the subject of politics.