Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sikh-Jinnah Meeting

Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed writes in the Daily Times:

 In a meeting in May 1947 sponsored by Lord Mountbatten to help the Muslims and Sikhs reach an agreement on keeping Punjab united, Jinnah offered the Sikhs all the safeguards they wanted if they agreed to support Pakistan. Only in March 1947 some 2,000-10,000 Sikhs — depending on who you cite — were butchered in the Rawalpindi rural areas so the Sikhs were very wary of Jinnah’s overtures. Chief Minister of Patiala Hardit Singh Malik writes he had an inspiration and asked Jinnah: “Sir you are making all the promises but God forbid if something happens to you, what will happen then?” The exact words Jinnah used in reply will be revealed in my forthcoming book, but the reasoning was that his followers will treat his words as sacred. 

I believe Professor Ahmed is wrong in his date. May 1947 is in any case too late.  I have not yet found any trace of this Mountbatten-sponsored meeting in the Transfer of Power papers for May 1947.   I believe the Jinnah-Sikh leaders' meeting was April 2, 1946. Jinnah there promised them the world.

From a Sikh history website:

A meeting took place in Delhi on April 2, 1946, at the house of Sir Teja Singh Malik, a retired chief engineer who had also been minister in the princely states of Jaipur and Patiala. Besides Master Tara Singh and Jinnah, Maharaja Yadavinder Singh of Patiala, his prime minister, Sardar Hardit Singh Malik who was the host's brother, and Giani Kartar Singh joined the meeting. Malik Hardit Singh was assigned to presenting the Sikh viewpoint as the principal spokesman. Jinnah's one overriding concern was to have the Sikhs rescind theiropposition to Pakistan and lend his demand their support instead. He was prodigal of assurances, and told the Sikh leaders that the Sikhs would have a position of honour in the new State. But he refrained from elaborating. Malik Hardit Singh tried to extract from him a more specific enunciation and raised some concrete issues. He said that in Pakistan there would presumably be a parliament, a cabinet, armed services, and so on. He wished Jinnah to say what exactly would be the Sikhs' position in these and other instruments of State. Jinnah dodged by inviting the Sikhs to set forth their demands in writing and by citing the instance of Zaghlul Pasha of Egypt. Zaghlul Pasha, he said, asked the Copts, the Christian minority, to give him their charter of demands. Without having a look at what was written in document, Zaghlul Pasha signed, "I agree." " That is how I shall treat the Sikhs," said Jinnah. Hardit Singh continued his thrusts and said, "You are being very generous, Mr Jinnah, but how about your succcessors? What is the guarantee that they would implement the assurance given by you?" "My friend, in Pakistan my word will be like the word of God. No one dare go back on it," replied Jinnah. "

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