Pakistan Movement During the Early 20th Century


Pakistan Studies 2059

Pakistan Movement During the Early 20th Century

Pakistan Movement During the Early 20th Century

Key Question 6: How far did the Pakistan Movement develop during the early 20th century?

Partition of Bengal 1905 - 1911


• The partition of Bengal controversy is the most significant event in Lord Curzon’s time in India.

• Since Bengal was the biggest province with a population of 54 million, he believed diving it would be an efficient move to handle its administration.

• It was under the control of one lieutenant Governor only and comprised of Orissa, Bengal, and Behar.

Following are the major reasons for the decision of Partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon:

Reasons for the Partition:

• It was the biggest province with dense population, deep jungles and marshy areas making it difficult to keep an eye and manage.

• It had a population that was ten times greater than Britain population making it difficult to be handled by only one Lieutenant.

• Due to many forests and rivers, the resources of communication were also minimal.

• It was difficult to maintain proper law and order in the province because of the lack of police.

• For the promotion of trade in trade using Port of Chittagong, the partition of Bengal seemed a great decision.

• Lord Curzon’s intention to divide Bengal was also political.

• He thought that the Muslims of East Bengal will be better off in a separated province that will be governed from Dhaka. 

• The partition was in favor of the Muslims because in the East Bengal they were in poor conditions and crushed under the Hindu landlords.

The Partition:

• In October 1905, the partition of Bengal came into force.

• After the partition, there were two provinces of manageable sizes, the East Bengal and the West Bengal.

• The East Bengal had a population of 31 million with 18 million Muslims and it included Assam along with Mymensingh, Chittagong, and Dhaka as its capital.

• Calcutta was made the capital of West Bengal. It had a total population of 54 million with 45 million Hindus.

Muslims’ Response:

• It received a positive response and they welcomed the partition of Bengal.

• It was believed that the partition will bring favorable results for the Muslims of Easy Bengal socially and economically.

• The Muslims were positive that they will be free from Hindu dominance and will get equal opportunities.

• Since Dhaka was supposed to be the capital it was considered that the chances of advancement of Muslims will be great as it was the center of Muslim culture.

• It could have resulted in an uplift of Muslims' involvement in politics too.

Hindus’ Response:

• The Hindus of West Bengal considered themselves superior to the Muslims of East Bengal.

• The decision of giving Muslims a separate province where they will be in clear majority hit the Hindus a deadly blow.

• Hindus considered Lord Curzon’s decision of partition as devilish and branded his of using the policy of ‘divide & rule’.

• The Hindu traders and landlords wanted the status quo and every chance to exploit Muslims with their cruelty.

• The Hindu lawyers were also upset with the partition as they believed it will affect their practice and East Bengal will have their own courts.

• In Bengal, the Hindu press was also afraid as they believed their business will also be affected as the partition will allow Muslims to start their own newspaper.

• Murder attempts by Hindu extremist increased on Muslims leaders and British officials.

• Hindus boycott British goods.

Reversal of Partition:

• When Lord Harding became the Governor-General of India, Hindus became active.

• They sent a representation to Lord Harding to cancel the partition of Bengal decision.

• In December 1911 on the occasion, holding of ‘Darbar at Delhi’, George V visited India and announced the cancellation of partition.

Muslims’ Reaction on Cancellation of Partition:

• The cancellation shattered the hopes of Muslims who were relying on the British's promise to divide Bengal.

• At that moment, they realized that to get fair treatment in India, they must use the Muslim League to speak for their rights and the party prosper.

• The disappointment and anger served as a fuel to quicken and strengthen Muslim politics.

• The Muslims realized that they cannot rely on the British to give them any sort of power.

The Simla Deputation 1906


• Following the advice of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the Muslims stayed away from the Congress as it was a party to speak for Hindus only.

• By 1906, it was clear that to speak for the rights of Muslims, a political party must be formed.

• After the Liberal Government’s joining it seemed likely that elections will be conducted for the extension of representative government. 

• Therefore, a deputation led by Sultan Muhammad Shah and Agha Khan, comprising of thirty-six Muslims met the new viceroy, Lord Minto at Simla.


• The British happily accepted the demand of separate electorates and decided in favor of the Muslims.  

• This showed that they are trying to improve their relations with Muslims and are ready to work with them.

• This also strengthens the two-nation theory, showing that the Hindus and Muslims are two different nations with different ideologies, beliefs, and religions and cannot live together. 

• With the Simla Deputation’s success, the rivalry between these two communities as well as the parties also increased.

• The success made Muslims realized their strength and they were motivated to have their own political party that will become their voice to protect their political rights. 

• Hence, the Muslim League was immediately formed to uplift their rights and status politically.

• This can also be considered as the first building block towards the formation of Pakistan.

All India Muslim League

Reasons for the Formation of Muslim League:

• In 1898, the Indian National Congress demanded the Hindi language to be declared as the official language.

• The Hindu extremists led by Arya Samaj wanted Muslims to be converted to Hinduism forcefully.

• The ever-increasing tension and differences between the Muslims and Hindus.

• The impulsive and extreme reaction of Hindus on the partition of Bengal decision.

• In 1906, the president of the National Congress refused to accept Muslims as a prominent group in India.

• The success of Simla Deputation in 1906.

• 1906 at 20th session of the Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka, Muslim League was formed.

• It was chaired by Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk.

Aims and Objectives of the Muslim League:

• To protect the interests and rights of the Muslims of India by presenting their needs to the British Government respectfully.

• To promote a loyal relationship between the Muslims and the British Government to remove any misconceptions regarding the Government's decisions and actions.

• To protect Muslims from the feelings of hostility towards other communities without any prejudice.

• To counter the growing influence of the National Congress.

The Morley-Minto Reforms-1909


• The Morley-Minto Reforms is the famous name given to 1909 Indian Councils Act.

• Lord Morley, Head of Indian office announced that the government wants to introduce new reforms for India.

• These new reforms will allow the locals of India to have more power in the legislative affairs.

•  A committee was established to propose a report of reforms.

• The committee submitted the report, after Lord Minto and Lord Morley's approval, the British parliament passed the Act of 1909.

Importance & Reforms:

• The members were increased to 60 for the Imperial Council.

• The members of the Central Executive Council increased to 60.

• The members of the Provincial Council increased to 50 and 30, in big and small provinces respectively.

• Separated electorates for the Muslims.

• The Indians were given more advisory power, but they didn't receive any power to change the law.

World War I


• It lasted from 1914 to 1918.

• It brought with its great political change in India.

• The British opened their minds for self-government in India.

• The British also agreed that Indians should have greater power in the Government.

• The process of British to handover India was slow and resulted in frequent protests.

Impact of the WWI on the Sub-Continent:

• In 1911, to avoid making political situations worse in India, the British realized they need to give more power to the Indians.

• After 1913, the Muslim League joined hands with Congress to demand self-government sharing their common anger towards the British.

• The great power in Europe was preparing for war and Britain could not afford to upset the Indians.

• In 1913, Muhammad Ali Jinnah emerged as a great Muslim leader and spokesperson.

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah was an idealist i.e. he believed that Muslims and Hindus can work together. He was a member of Congress and Muslim League both.

• Britain was engaged terribly in World War I by 1916.

• At that time, the Indians contribution to the war was enormous, both in the form of men and weapon.

• Many Indians supported Britain in the war and believed that it was the right time to make demands for their rights.


The Lucknow Pact 1916


• When the Muslim League was formed, one of its major objectives was forming a friendly relationship with the British.

• The reversal of the Partition of Bengal changed that objective and decided to work with the National Congress to put pressure on the British government.

• In 1916, Muhammad Ali Jinnah persuaded the Muslim League and Congress to meet in Lucknow.

• In the Lucknow session, Jinnah represented the Muslim League and Mahajan represented congress.

Demands of the Lucknow Pact:

• The Congress admitted that Muslims has the right for separate electorate for Provincial Legislative Councils.

• The Congress also agreed for Muslims to have one-third seats in the council.

• The Congress made concession that if three-fourth of the community’s members did not give their support then no Act will be passed.

• Both parties also demanded the increase of seats of the Council.

• They demanded the autonomy of all provinces.

• They demanded the protection of the rights of minorities.

Importance of the Lucknow Pact:

• It brought the Muslim League and National Congress to work together.

• It made the Hindus accept first time, that there should be separate electorates for Muslims.

• The Muslims realized that their chances of success will increase if they stand with Congress.

• It put pressure on Britain to make concessions for the Indians.

The Rowlatt Act-1918 & Amritsar Massacre-1919


• After the Lucknow Pact in 1916, both Hindus and Muslims started working together for self-government in India.

• It was a brief period of Hindu-Muslim unity.

• The British Government formed a committee under Justice Sidney Rowlett to investigate their activities secretly.

• In April 1918, Rowlett presented his report to the British Government.

Rowlatt Act 1918:

• In the Imperial Legislative Council, the British Government introduced a bill, named as ‘Rowlatt Bill’ that gave great and boundless power to the police and administration.

• The Rowlett Bill give authority to the Government to put anyone under house arrest without giving a definite reason, the accused cannot get a lawyer and will not have any right to appeal.

• All the 23 non-official members in the Imperial Legislative Council voted against the bill even the officials who were loyal to the British Government.

• Even then, the bill was passed and decreed as ‘Rowlatt Act’.

• Following this Muhammad Ali Jinnah resigned from the Imperial Legislative Council as a protest.

Amritsar Massacre 1919:

• As a result of the Rowlett Act Gandhi also initiated his non-violence movement and strikes started all over India.

• The Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer who hated Indians and believed in British dominance by force banned all protests and public meetings.

• The Government even banned leaders of Amritsar, Dr. Satyal and Dr. Saifuddin from making speeches to handle the political unrest in Punjab.

• Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew were later arrested.

• In April 1919, a large crowded gather to demand the release of their leaders and the police opened fire to disperse them.

• General Dyer ordered to leave for Amritsar, he followed his order and left with 2 armed vehicles, 710 sepoys, and 475 soldiers.

• On April 13, 1919, he tortured around the city and announced that if any public meeting or procession will be done against the orders then the force will be used against them.

• General Dyer received news that at Jallianwala Bagh, a meeting is held without wasting time he reached there 90 men and asked them to open fire.

• The troops kept firing for fifteen minutes straight that left 1200 injured and 379 dead at the spot.

• Dyer believed Jallianwala Bagh meeting was a conspiracy to overthrow the British government but the Hunter community concluded that neither the Jallianwala Bagh meeting or any other public gathering in Amritsar has to do anything to overthrow the government.

• After the Amritsar massacre, martial law was imposed all over Punjab.

Montague–Chelmsford Reforms (The Government of India Act) - 1919


• In 1917, Lord Montague, State Secretary carried a fact-finding tour of India along with Lord Chelmsford, the Indian Viceroy.

• For this, they held meetings with government and non-government people.

• They both prepared a report and presented it to the British Parliament.

• The report was approved and became the Act of 1919, commonly known as Montague–Chelmsford Reforms.

• The Indians were not happy with the Act 1919 and oppressed it.

Main Features of the Act 1919:

• There will be two houses in the National Parliament i.e. Legislative Assembly and Council of State.

• There will be 144 seats (103 will be elected) in the Legislative Assembly.

• The two houses can discuss the budget and pass new laws.

• The viceroy will be appointed by the British Government and have a veto power to pass new laws and cancel any decisions.

• A system of Dyarchy will be introduced to all provinces.

• Only 2% of Indians will be allowed to vote depending upon their wealth.

• New reforms will only be introduced after every ten years.

• There will be separate electorates for Muslims and Hindus.

Non-Cooperation Movement

• In 1920, Gandhi launched the Non-cooperation Movement.

• The main causes for the launch of the movement were as follows:

a) Rowlatt Act.

b) Amritsar Massacre.

c) Disappointment from Montague Reforms.

• It was a mass movement in which lawyers gave up their practice and British clothes were set to fire.

• There was opposition against the British all over and jails were filled with political leaders.

• The widespread violence made Gandhi call of the campaign.

Communalism After WWI

• Post WWI the relation between Hindus and Muslims improved.

• After the end of the Non-Cooperation Movement, the Hindu beliefs gained more exposure and influence.

• In 1877, Arya Samaj founded by Dayanand Saraswati to pure Hinduism.

• In 1932, Pandit Mohan Malavia won elections of 1923 under the name of ‘Swaraj Party' formed a political party, Hindu Mahasabha.  

Delhi Proposals 1927

• In 1927, a conference for all Muslims was called in Delhi by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

• In this conference, the future of constitutional reforms and separate electorates was discussed.

• After discussion, a proposal was made that is famous as, ‘Delhi Proposals'.

• The proposal demanded the separation of Sindh from Bombay with full provisional status.

• In Punjab and Bengal, more reserved Muslim seats were demanded.

• One-third seats in the central legislature were demanded, for the Muslims.

• If these demands were accepted only then Muslims would have given up their right for separate electorates.

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