Swarthy, tall — nerly 6% feet — the handsome young Maharaja Yadvendera Singh of Patiala arrived at No. 10, Aurangzeb Road, to keep his appointment with Mr. Jinnah. The June 3 Plan for the partition of the subcontinent had been announced; the Muslim demand for Pakistan had been accepted and although they were not fully satisfied, their objective had been achieved in the main. The Hindu Majority areas were already represented in a sovereign Constituent Assembly. Mr. Nehru had kept his tryst with history but the Sikhs found themselves in the doldrums.
As the Maharaja and his entourage, consisting of three or four other equally sturdy Sikhs, resplendent in their uniforms, waited in the anteroom opposite my office, their lively conversation and bohomie indicated as if they had not a care in the world. Or was it perhaps just a facade! The maharaja, apart from running his own State had recently been given the additional responsibility as Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes. He was burdened with fairly heavy duties. The Sikhs of the Punjab were disillusioned and confused. Their leadership was facing serious crisis. In this situation a section of Sikhs looked up to the Maharaja for guidance. They also had a somewhat muffled feeling that the Congress had betrayed the Sikhs by accepting partition contrary to repeated assurances given earlier. He, therefore, could not be a worried man.
Some Sikh leaders, particularly Giani Kartar Singh, had been busy devising formulae for the protection of the rights of the Sikhs. I had an indication of this when the Giani came to me, after the announcement of the Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946, with the suggestion that the Muslim League should agree to ensure for the Sikhs, what he called the second position in the “B’ Group of provinces. This could not be done in a democratic setup. According to the table of representation prepared by the Mission, on the basis of one representative for one million of population the position was as under: General seats (Hindus) 9; Muslims 22; Sikhs 4; total 35.
raise the number of their representatives to a figure higher than the seats allocated to the Hindus. I told Giani Ji that such a formula would be most unreasonable and I could not put such a proposal before Mr. Jinnah for the simple reason that it would mean reopening the basis of the representation and secondly depriving the Hindus of their legitimate position in Group “B” (consisting of the Punjab, Sind, NWFP and Baluchistan). I suggested that he should consult his friends and come up with something more acceptable. However, before something could be done on those lines the Congress killed the Grouping Scheme. After the announcement of the Plan of June 3, 1947, the whole context had changed.
The generally acknowledged leader of the Sikhs, Master Tara Singh, had gone along with the congress from an early date. Master Tara Singh himself born a Hindu was overzealous. As far back as 1945, at the time of the First Shimla Conference, Masterji addressing a Press conference at the Cecil Hotel had declared that “Pakistan was impossibility.’ Sardar Mangal Singh, a veteran Sikh leader and then member of the Central Assembly, told me afterwards that the statement had been made with the full approval of the Congress leaders. At that time the Sikhs were echoing the Congress mind; in 1946 they were confused, but in 1947 after the Plan of June 3 was announced they were stunned and shocked and it appeared that no one was listening to anybody.
The Congress game had become obvious. Firstly to keep the Sikhs under the delusion that Pakistan could never be established, it would not be viable and will not last more than six months and thirdly that the Muslims and not the Hindus were the main enemies. It is one of the major tragedies of the prepetition developments that Master Tara Singh fell for it hook, line and sinker. Doors for negotiations between the Sikhs and the Muslims were almost closed.
The Press contrived to manufacture and publicize imaginary stories to fan anti-Muslim sentiments among the Sikhs.
One such story as the imaginary incident flashed by the Congress Press that Mr. Jinnan had refused to travel in a car driven by a Sikh chauffeur from Shimla. According to the arrangements made for our return to Delhi from Shimla, we were to drive down to Kalka by car and from there fly to Palam in the personal aircraft of Lord Pethick Lawrence. We were staying at the “Yarrow e and I was in touch with the staff of the Viceregal lodge regarding the arrangements. If there was any question regarding driver I was sure to be kept in the know. Sardar’ Baldev Singh, always at the beck and call of the Congress, made a statement criticizing Mr. Jinnah for showing bias against the Sikhs by refusing to travel in a car driven by a Sikh.
However, the Quaid was not the type of a man to let such an incident go without taking note of it. He promptly denied this in a public statement. Nearly five months later he got an opportunity to confront Sardar Singh Baldev. This happened when, while on our way to London we were forced to land at Malta and spend the night at the Palace, the residence of the Governor. At the dintach table Sardar Baldev Sink? Was sitting next to Mr. Jinnah. The Quaid asked him point blank: “Who told you that I refused to travel with a Sikh driver?” I heard from someone, said Baldev Singh. Mr. Jinnah then said something in rather low but stern terms which I would not overhear, but it must have been something of a reprimand for Baldev Singh literally hung down his head in shame.
In this background, efforts of the Muslim league Leaders could not make any headway with the Sikhs. They had come under the spell of the congress. The Hindu Press managed to extract such statements from the Sikh leaders as “The Sikhs are basically Hindus.” The bravery of the Sikhs was praised openly encourage. Them to fight the Muslinzs. For instance, this is what was said in a report published in the Hindustan Times of New Delhi on March 5, 1947:
“Sikhs are much better organized and much better armed than the Muslims. For some time now they have been preparing for it. Higher British Officers of the Punjab Government told me that if they have to face a similar movement from the Sikhs they would have four times more troublene.
The reference is to the movement launched in the Punjab by the Muslim League in early 1947 which resulted in the fall of the Tiwana Ministry. It was on that day that Master Tara Singh brandished his sword on the steps of the Punjab Assembly and declared war on Pakistan.
But three months later when the Partition Plan was announced and the Sikhs got the unexpected shock, Plan “B” was put in operation by the Congress. This was to reassure the Sikhs that Pakistan would be a stillborn state; that even if it did come into existence it would not last more than six months. This must surely go down as one of the most ignominious blots on the Congress that instead of prevailing upon the Sikhs or using their influence to calm down the Sikhs, the latter were encouraged to wage war against the Muslim. A private army under the command of Captain Mohan Singh (who styled himself as a ‘general’ having served in the INA) was organized. Arms, ammunitions and funds were made available to them by the Rajas of Nabha, Jind and other Sikh Chieftains and the Congress. This was not the first time the Sikhs were exploited by the congress. We have it on the authority of General Sir Francis Tuker, G.O.C.inC. Of the Eastern Command from 1945 to 1947 that:
“Owing to the large number of Sikhs in the INA. and the keen interest taken by the Congress Party in the INA, the Sikhs had begun to come out (Cont. from Page 4, Col. 5) strongly in its support the Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) becoming the center of political activity on behalf of the INA and of its erstwhile leader Sub has Chandra Bose.” (WHILE MEMORY SERVES, by Sir Francis Tuker, 1950 edition — chapter V).
And this fact did not go unnoticed in the Vicergal counsels. Referring to the position of the Sikhs on the eve of the Partition Mr. Campbell Johnson, Press Secretary to Viscount Mountbatten observes:
“.. Baldev Singh, Defense Minister in Nehru’s Government, is, as his speech on 3rd June showed, a man of high character and wide vision, but he is voice in the wilderness, nor does Patiala the leading Sikh Prince, and Chancellor of Chamber of Princes in succession to Bhopal has a decisive influence. Power is passing to the wilder men such as Master Tara Singh and some of the younger INA officers. Rough weather lies ahead of us; in spite of all that has already been achieved, the outlook is still stormy and unsettled.” (See Mission With Mountbatten, by A. Campbell Johnson, first Edition page 118).
This “rough and stormy weather” was mostly meant for the Muslims. And Baldev Singh had to be a voice in the wilderness, for he never was in fact a representative of the Sikhs! He was the Congress nominee masquerading as the Sikh spokesman. The wilder Sikh leaders had their plan ready for the killing of the Muslims. Reports reaching us at No. 10, Aurangzeb Road left no doubt in our minds as to the intentions of the extremist Sikhs, egged on by the congress. After confirmation of these reports the matter was raised at Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan with Lord Mountbatten. Our reports were fully corroborated by intelligence officers from the Punjab. Liaquat Aki Khan then asked the Viceroy to direct stern action against the organizers and instruct the Punjab Governor, Sir Evan Jenkins to arrest Master Tara Singh and other leaders behind the massacre plan. Mountbatten gave a solemn promise and assurance to the Nawabzada that this would be done.
Even at that juncture one could not imagine that the Crown Representative the Governor-general and the viceroy of India piqued as he was at not being nominated the Joint Governor-general of Pakistan and India would stoop and back out of his clear commitment and permit the massacre of innocent people in East Punjab. Mountbatten can never be forgiven for this deliberate indirect encouragement to carnage. Firm action even at that time could have checked the killings as the administrative ability of Sir Evans was unquestionable.
It was in this background that the Maharaja of Patiala had come to see Mr. Jinnah. Any cooperation, understanding or settlement had become almost impossible. The Sikhs had become leaderless, angry and uncontrollable. No one could accept any responsibility. The congress had seen to it. The Maharaja asked the Quaide Azam what would be the terms and conditions if Patiala were to accede to Pakistan. Mr. Jinnah, in a characteristic gesture handed the Maharaja a writing pad and a pen and said: “You write down the conditions, and I shall accept them.” The Maharaja later admitted that Mr. Jinnah had offered almost “everything under the sun.” But the Brahmanic spell had been cast. The Sikhs never realized that they were not really represented in the negotiations for the transfer of power. Baldev Singh had been thrust upon the Sikhs. The so-called Sikh representative was chosen by the Congress and the British. Master Tara Singh, a year earlier in a letter sought certain clarifications from the Secretary of State, Lord Pethick-Lawrence. The noble Lord while refusing to clarify the points, suggested:
“If you and Sardar Baldev Singh would care to see the mission and the Viceroy in the first week of June, we shall be glad to see you.” (Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Master Tara Singh dated June 1, 1946). Willynilly Baldev Singh had to be accepted by the Sikhs!
Mr. Jinnah, who always had a soft corner for the Sikhs, was really disturbed at their attitude. The Punjab League leaders, especially the Nawab of Momdot Malik Firoz Khan Noon and Mian Mumtaz Daultana Shaukat Hayat and others tried in their own way to find a suitable formula to win the Sikhs over and to caution them against the Congress maneuvers but the Sikhs fury had been aroused. Directionless, leaderless, in search of an identity of salvaging an identity destroyed by their own so called leaders they put the blame for their misfortune on the Muslims. The Quaid was deeply hurt at this attitude and remarked more in anguish than in bitterness.
“The Sikhs are not in their senses. By their unwise actions they are applying the axe to their own shins. Wait and see what happens after Hindu India and Muslim India become two independent nations. The Hindus once they are comfortably settled down will turn on the Sikhs and it will only be a matter of time before they cease to be an important, separate and influential community. The Sikhs will then rue the day, but it will be too late.” (Quoted in QUAIDEAZAM AS I KNEW HIM, by Mr. M.A.H. Isphani, First Edition 1966, Page 219).
The recent happenings in India have proved the prophetic words of Mr. Jinnah. Mrs. Gandhi laid a well and deeply planned trap for the Sikhs. Giani Zail Singh was made the President to show ostensible reward for the Sikh; and when the Sikhs walked into Mrs. Gandhi’s parlour the Brahmanic octopus spread its tentacles to squeeze the life out of them in an action to “flush out? The Darbar Sahib.