Hurt Sentiments: Secularism and Belonging in South Asia 0674238273, 9780674238275

An insightful history of censorship, hate speech, and majoritarianism in post-partition South Asia. At the time of the

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Hurt Sentiments: Secularism and Belonging in South Asia
 0674238273, 9780674238275

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Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England | 2023

"Copyright © 2023 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America First printing Cover art: Alona Horkova Cover design: Annamarie McMahon Why 9780674292864 (EPUB) 97806742928671 (PDF) The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows: Names: Nair, Neeti, 1978– author. Title: Hurt sentiments : secularism and belonging in South Asia / #Neeti Nair. Description: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, #2023. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2022018054 | ISBN 9780674238275 (cloth) Subjects: LCSH: Religion and state—India—History. | Religion and state— #Pakistan—History. | Religion and state—Bangladesh—History. | #Religious minorities—India—History. | Religious minorities— #Pakistan—History. | Religious minorities—Bangladesh—History. | #Secularism—India—History. | Secularism—Pakistan—History. | #Secularism—Bangladesh—History. | India—History—Partition, 1947. Classification: LCC BL65.S8 N24 2023 | DDC 201/.720954—dc23/ #eng20220927 LC record available at

Contents Introduction: After Partition


Hurt Sentiments, Hate Speech, and the Shaping of State Ideology • Resisting and Revisiting the State


Gandhi’s Assassination, Godse’s Defense, and the Minority Question

19 Gandhi’s Way • The Workings of the Congress • Ishvar Allah Tere Naam • Doing and Dying • The Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS • Hurt Sentiments, Muslim Appeasement • Organiser vs. The State • Gandhi as a Brave Hindu • Inside the Constituent Assembly • Secularism and the Minority Question after the Mahatma


“Hindu Hurt” and the Case for Secularism in India 76 The Sangh Way • Indianization and Its Critics • Riots and Reactions • 1971 and the Case for Secularism • Indira’s Way • “Neither Anti- God nor Anti-Religion” • “Secularism Must Be Our Way Of Life” • Rama Retellings, Riddles, Recitations • Hum Sab Ayodhya, a Festival for Secularism • Sahmat vs. The Government • Secularism and the Minority Question after Babri


Debating the “Islamic State” in Pakistan

149 Inside the Constituent Assembly • Interpreting the Objectives Resolution • Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chai • The Debates of 1956 • The “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” •


Detention without Trial • Separate Electorates • “The Ideology of Pakistan” • Punjab Religious Book Society vs. The State • Secularism and the Meaning of an Islamic State after Jinnah


Islam and the Secular in Bangladesh and Pakistan 198 East Bengal’s Way • Integration or Autonomy in 1966? • The Elections of 1970 • The Way of the War • 1971 and the Case for Secularism • Inside the Constituent Assembly • Bangladeshi Secularism Was “Not against Religion” • Sard Lash and a Secular Sindhi Ethos • The “Blasphemy Laws” of Pakistan • Islam, Secularism, and the Minority Question after 1971

Epilogue: Secularism as Belonging


On a South Asian Secularism













!kal dukh se socā kartī thī socā kih bahut hansī āj āyī tum bilkul ham jaise nikle ham do qaum nahīn the bhāī! in the past I used to think with sadness today I laughed a lot as I thought you turned out exactly like us we were not two nations, brother! —Fahmida Riaz, Tum Bilkul Ham Jaise Nikle



ON A COLD December afternoon in 2019, I paused work to listen to India’s home minister, Amit Shah, explain the rationale for the Citizenship Amendment Bill about to be passed through India’s Parliament, where his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had only recently won a massive majority. On my computer screen, Shah shook his finger accusingly and declared that through the bill, the Narendra Modi government intended to undo the wrong committed by the Liaquat-Nehru pact.1 That agreement of April 1950, known as the Delhi Pact, undertook to protect minorities in India and Pakistan, assure them of their place within the newly divided nations, and end the violence and displacement that had characterized the months and years soon after independence and partition. What did Amit Shah now mean by wishing to undo the “wrong” committed by this pact? The Citizenship Amendment Act, which was to enable a quicker path to Indian citizenship for religious minorities—explicitly listed as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, and Jains—in the three neighboring nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, was criticized by the opposition parties for explicitly excluding Muslims (ostensibly because they were not persecuted in Muslim-majority countries) and for excluding persecuted minorities in neighboring Myanmar and Sri Lanka (who were Muslim). The act was widely regarded as having the awesome potential to target and disenfranchise Indian Muslims, often described as “illegal” and “Bangladeshi” in the writings and speeches of BJP leaders.



In the weeks and months that followed, citizens across India, frequently led by Muslims, chanted the Preamble to the Constitution, raised slogans of azadi (freedom), narrated episodes of Muslim sacrifice during India’s independence, held public seminars on secularism, opened libraries and reading rooms at protest sites, affirmed the place of Muslims in India, and declared the Constitution Amendment Act of 2019 unconstitutional. Although the protests spread across India from Lucknow to Chennai, it was Delhi, India’s capital, that bore the brunt of the backlash unleashed against nonviolent protesters. In December, days after the bill passed in Parliament, Delhi police responded to some of the Muslim-led protests by vandalizing the premises of and brutalizing students at the Jamia Millia Islamia, a central university in a Muslim-dominated part of Delhi. In January 2020, when students and activists were brutally beaten up by members of a rival student political party at Jawaharlal Nehru University in the heart of Delhi, the police helped the rioters escape. In February, videos showed the Delhi police assisting Hindu rioters hurl stones and homemade bottle missiles toward Muslim homes and shops during riots in the northeast quadrant of the capital. In a Kafkaesque twist, the police later arrested Muslim and Hindu student activists who spoke for love and harmony between communities; they did not pursue investigations against politicians whose hate speech had called for “anti-nationals” (desh ke ghaddār) to be shot, on the eve of the Delhi riots. The onset of COVID-19 a few weeks later led to a nationwide lockdown. The largest protests in post-partition India against an explicitly religion-based citizenship law and in favor of secularism were silenced. But what had led to this new and renewed faith in Indian secularism in an age of rampant Hindu majoritarianism?

the president of the Muslim League, M.  A. Jinnah, demanded a new constitutional arrangement on the grounds that the Hindu-dominated Congress party did not represent Muslims and was not trustworthy. “We stand unequivocally for the freedom of India. But it must be the freedom of all India, and not the freedom of one section or, worse still, of the Congress caucus, and slavery for Musalmans and other minorities,” he declared.2 In the Lahore Resolution of 1940, later known as the “Pakistan resolution,” Jinnah argued that the Muslims of the subcontinent constituted not a “minority” but a “nation,” and therefore had to be EIGHTY YEARS AGO,


consulted before any arrangements could be made for a new constitution. He asked that the right to self-determination be extended to Muslims. Although the contours of the Lahore Resolution were never defined—it was interpreted variously even after the creation of Pakistan—Jinnah remained steadfast in demanding the undivided provinces of Punjab and Bengal for what came to be labeled Pakistan, a homeland-to-be for the subcontinent’s Muslims. Yet when Pakistan was conceded, the provinces of Punjab and Bengal were divided to create the “maimed, moth-eaten, mutilated” Pakistan that Jinnah had unequivocally spurned.3 Punjabis in the districts along the soon-to-be demarcated international border made their claims to territory on lines drawn in blood. All the talk of homeland for the Muslims had been taken literally and seriously, leaving religious minorities afraid. What was said to alleviate the anxieties of minorities was too little, and too late. Yet even after the military supervised the evacuation of religious minorities in parts of West Pakistan and East Punjab—an evacuation perceived as forcing unwilling people to move out of their ancestral homelands, but deemed necessary, given the prevailing violence—this did little to change the reality of religious diversity in India and Pakistan. Substantial religious minorities remained in provinces such as Sindh, and in both sides of divided Bengal, in the United Provinces, the Central Provinces, the Madras and Bombay presidencies, the princely states of Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir—indeed, in every galli-mohalla, street, and neighborhood across the length and breadth of the subcontinent.4 Three quarters of a century later, several questions remain: How did religious minorities fare in these lands that were divided in their name? Did the 40 million Muslims who remained in what became India find representation in electoral institutions such as Parliament? If Pakistan was to be a homeland for Muslims, and later an “Islamic state,” were its religious minorities represented in institutions such as the National Assembly? How did its Constitution guarantee Muslims and non-Muslims fundamental rights such as equality of status and freedom of thought, expression, and belief? There are many ways to analyze the trajectory of the subcontinent’s religious minorities and the national projects of state-led secularism and building an Islamic state; several historians have done so, though seldom in a comparative vein.5 In this book, I situate the state ideologies of India, Pakistan, and, later, Bangladesh in the divisive politics that marked their


creation.6 I analyze the stress of contemporary demands that India be secular or Hindu, that Pakistan be secular or Islamic and theocratic, and that Bangladesh be both secular and devoted to Islam, the faith of the majority. I explore whether and how the Constituent Assemblies of India and Pakistan accommodated the concerns of minorities in 1947, and during subsequent “critical events.”7 I study the invocation of “hurt sentiments,” deployed by a wide range of political actors, such as Nathuram Godse in his justification of Gandhi’s assassination, as well as the states of India and Pakistan in their attempts to regulate the expression of hate speech in the aftermath of violent partition. In so doing, I show how debates around hurt sentiments shaped and were shaped by rival ideologies: of secularism or a Hindu Rashtra in India and on the substance of an Islamic state in Pakistan. Hurt sentiments, like a sensitive weathervane, also offer us one measure of the ability of secular winds to sometimes withstand the stormy petrel of Hindu hate in India in the immediate aftermath of partition. But what are these hurt sentiments, where do they spring from, of what are they composed, and what makes them abide and abate?

Hurt Sentiments, Hate Speech, and the Shaping of State Ideology The phrase “hurt sentiments” is often used in lawsuits, allegedly because the litigants’ sentiments are hurt by a publication or speech, film, or cartoon. The idea that Indians were especially predisposed to having their sentiments “hurt” or wounded was first elaborated upon by the Law Member in the East India Company, Thomas Babington Macaulay, in his draft note on the Indian Penal Code in 1837, almost two centuries ago. Macaulay held that there was “no country in which the Government has so much to apprehend from religious excitement among the people.” In framing the chapter of the penal code on offenses relating to religion and caste, he argued that the British wished “to allow all fair latitude to religious discussion, and at the same time to prevent the professors of any religion from offering, under the pretext of such discussion, intentional insults to what is held sacred by others. We do not conceive that any person can be justified in wounding with deliberate intention the religious feelings of his neighbours by words, gesture or exhibitions.”8 Thus, the promotion of sentiments or “feelings of enmity or hatred” that could spur unrest between different “subjects” became the reason to


enact Section  153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalized such speech or writing and resulted in a term of three years’ rigorous imprisonment for the convicted. Indians, the British reiterated, were especially prone to their sentiments being hurt by offensive publications or speech.9 Yet the British were not alone in making such assumptions. In Section 295A of the IPC, a new law in 1927 that criminalized the insulting of “religious beliefs” with “deliberate and malicious intention,” Indian legislators acting in concert with British lawmakers shared this view of Indians’ propensity to be easily offended. To the conscientious objections of legislators from a journalistic background who were wary of too many curbs being placed on speech and expression, other legislators, especially lawyers such as Jinnah, offered further restrictions, such as imprisonment without bail. Little did Jinnah and most of the legislators realize how excessively and frequently these laws would be used in the future.10 The management and control of hurt sentiments enabled by these colonial-era laws served many purposes. During partition, when an unprecedented flow of humanity crossed newly created international borders, there were insistent calls to make India entirely Hindu and Pakistan wholly Muslim. As minority populations were forced out of ancestral homes, they moved into areas where they were part of a majority, seeking safety in numbers. It is at this moment that Gandhi, a veritable one-man peacekeeping force, began walking through riot-torn Bengal, Bihar, back in Bengal, and then Delhi. Gandhian secularism, forged in the fires of partition, strove to build an India where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Parsis could belong in equal measure. Not only did Gandhi stay in villages recently denuded of their religious minorities in east Bengal and in especially dangerous mixed neighborhoods in Calcutta, but in the months after partition he also pressured the All India Congress Committee to pass a resolution affirming India’s status as a “democratic, secular state where all citizens enjoy full rights and are equally entitled to the protection of the state, irrespective of the religion to which they belong.”11 This reliance on the Congress party, now in government, to do what he perceived as critical to the survival of India (and, therefore, Pakistan) has not been acknowledged or analyzed.12 Gandhi insisted on reading from the Quran, the Gita, the Bible, and other religious texts at his signature prayer meetings. These quintessentially Gandhian actions, examined in Chapter  1, irked the likes of Nathuram


Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, who argued that Hindu sentiments had been hurt by Gandhi’s readings from the Quran. For Godse and other Hindu Mahasabhaites of his persuasion, the Quran did not belong in Gandhi’s prayer meetings. Nor did Muslims belong in India. The question of who belonged where in 1947 had become a matter of life and death.13 The Liaquat-Nehru Pact of April  1950, signed by the prime ministers of Pakistan and India, sought to bring closure to these arguments by affirming the place of minorities in both India and Pakistan. It is this question that Amit Shah and Narendra Modi sought to reopen with the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. Godse, along with other members of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), organizations to which he had belonged, charged that Gandhi and the Indian National Congress had hurt Hindu sentiments and appeased Muslims by granting territory for Pakistan— territory that, they argued, belonged to an Akhand Hindustan (undivided India). But this charge of Muslim appeasement erased the role played by the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS in leading the demand for the partition of the Punjab, and in asserting that the Hindus and Muslims constituted “two nations.”14 Godse’s defense statement was censored; however, the charge of appeasement at the heart of his defense continued to be repeated and amplified in right-wing forums such as the RSS periodical the Organiser, and in Kalyan, the largest-selling Hindi journal devoted to the spread of sanatan dharma, a traditionalist interpretation of Hindu religion and culture.15 Furthermore, several of the demands raised by Godse during his trial, such as the abolition of separate electorates and any kind of reservation or quota for Muslims in Parliament, and the supersession of Urdu by Hindi, were long-standing demands of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS. Paradoxically, at this founding moment, which was often hailed for embodying a transformative and secular spirit, the Congress conceded these demands of the Hindu Right, just as it had echoed the Hindu Mahasabha call for partition from March 1947.16 The Congress-dominated Constituent Assembly did away with special reservation for minorities. In contrast to a substantial body of scholarship, my close reading of the Constituent Assembly debates shows that in 1947 it was not partition as much as the Gandhi murder trial and Godse’s defense statement the following year that resulted in the lack of minority safeguards in the Indian Constitution.17 My reading of these momentous Constituent Assembly debates reveals a recurring emphasis on seeking the goodwill of the majority community,


forgetting the bitterness of the recent past, and forging a new secular future.18 Sardar Patel, the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Minorities and deputy prime minister, reminded his fellow drafters: We are playing with very high stakes and we are changing the course of history. It is a very heavy responsibility that is on us and therefore I appeal to every one of you to think before you vote, to search your conscience and to think what is going to happen in the future of this country. The future shape of this country as a free country is different from the future that was contemplated by those who worked for partition. Therefore, I would ask those who have worked for that to note that the times have changed, the circumstances have changed and the world has changed and that therefore they must change if they want salvation. Now I need not waste any time on the question of separate electorates . . . trust us and see what happens.19

The thoughtful and erudite chairman of the Drafting Committee, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, stayed quiet during this consequential debate.20 Not long before, in an outline for a constitution published in March 1947, he had affirmed the need for “effective representation” for minorities and asserted that there could be “no quarrel over the principle of weightage” for minorities. Using a cricketing analogy, Ambedkar held there to be a difference between the defeat of a team by a few runs, a defeat by a few wickets, and a defeat by one whole innings. The defeat by one whole innings would be a “complete frustration,” which “when it comes about in the political life of a minority depresses and demoralizes and crushes the spirit of the minority.” This had to be “avoided at any price.”21 Ambedkar added, “Unfortunately for the minorities in India, Indian Nationalism has developed a new doctrine which may be called the Divine Right of the Majority to rule the minorities according to the wishes of the majority. Any claim for the sharing of power by the minority is called communalism while the monopolizing of the whole power by the majority is called Nationalism.”22 Nehru, too, was keenly aware of the problems inherent in majoritarian democracy. Although he strongly favored removing political safeguards for religious minorities in the Constitution, he asked the chairmen of the Congress’s state election committees to pay special attention to selecting representatives of “minority communities in adequate numbers” for the first general election of 1951: “The principal minority is the Muslim, and we have to make special efforts to put up good Muslim candidates, even taking


the risk of the loss of a seat or two. . . . We should try to give them representation in accordance with their population.”23 However, this suggestion to make “special efforts” was no substitute for ameliorating systemic discrimination, which grew with time as if to keep pace with the state ideology and rhetorical flourishes of Indian secularism. At the time of the first general elections, Muslims could not stand for election as individuals without their loyalty to India being called into question. Hate speech and the invocation of Hindu hurt sentiments, especially the vitriol that flowed from the pen of journalists such as K.  R. Malkani, editor of the Organiser, played a key role in marginalizing Muslims as political actors. The Indian state responded by placing curbs on the press, emulating colonial-era norms and practices of censorship of news because law enforcement was so utterly unprepared for the scale of violence that had unfolded. These curbs were duly challenged during the drafting of the Constitution, when Assembly members arrayed considerations of freedom of speech against the need to preserve law and order.24 Yet the continuing validity of laws such as Section 295A of the IPC helped cut some especially bigoted writers down to size. After Gandhi’s assassination, Muslim “hurt sentiments” were given some protection by the Indian state even as Muslim demands for political safeguards were cast aside at the behest of Hindu hurt sentiments.25 Through the 1950s and the 1960s, however, as the Indian state continued its experiments with censorship, the meaning of secularism began to change in response to the rising drumbeat of hurt sentiments as well as events on the ground.26 The work of censoring writings and speeches that might hurt religious sentiments—of Muslims and Hindus, Sikhs and Christians— continued unabated under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi, even if the writings had little relationship to public order concerns. Wary of the charge of being antiHindu, Nehru was quick to ban Aubrey Menen’s Rama Retold, an original effort at reinterpreting the Ramayana and the first book banned in independent India. He also diluted, via Article 370, the special safeguards accorded to India’s only Muslim majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, and had Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah arrested for raising the unresolved question of its autonomy.27 At the same time, he did not follow through on a resolution to ban communal organizations in April 1948, shortly after Gandhi’s assassination, a matter several political commentators found inexplicable.28


Nehru’s successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, accorded the RSS some legitimacy by inviting its chief, M. S. Golwalkar, to participate in consultations with other opposition members at the height of the twenty-two-day IndoPakistan war in September 1965.29 On the question of Muslim personal law reform, Congress leaders called for Muslim leaders to take the initiative, but their passing the baton to conservative leaders among the Muslims made this task slow and arduous.30 Secularism, as state ideology, appeared untethered, unclear. Chapter  2 situates the 1966 publication of Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts—a book that reiterated the post-partition charge of disloyalty against Muslims and popularized the term “mini-Pakistan” in the public sphere—within a context of growing communal violence across north India, amid the repeated accusations of the Jana Sangh and the RSS that the Congress government’s version of secularism meant “Muslim appeasement.”31 Soon right-wing media were referring to minority educational institutions such as Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University as “miniPakistans,” havens for antinationalist, separatist sentiment, and traitorous Muslims. Indira Gandhi sought to meet the charge of being “anti-Hindu” by adopting overtly religious symbols, such as visiting the Tirupati temple after her election victory in 1971. But growing acceptance of Indian secularism as equal respect and an integral ideology of the state came, paradoxically, from the civil war outside India’s borders. During the 1971 war, as Muslims from both wings of Pakistan sought to shape the way the war was perceived, especially by Muslims in the Arab world and within India, secularism came to acquire, not the meaning ascribed to it by its detractors on the Hindu right as Muslim appeasement or by Islamicists as “anti-religion,” but instead an inclusive meaning—as equality and respect toward all religions, as a deep sense of belonging for all religious communities. Tajuddin Ahmad, Bangladesh’s prime minister in exile, regularly gave recitations from the Quran, the Gita, the Tripitaka, and the Bible in his broadcasts from Radio Bangla Desh; these were, in some measure, a poignant reminder of Gandhi’s readings. As West Pakistani armies unleashed havoc on East Pakistani Bengalis—both Muslim and Hindu—the Indian media in one voice declared the war to be the death knell of the “two-nation” theory, the theory that Hindus and Muslims constituted two nations and that had provided the rationale for the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan. The case for secularism was won on the


battleground of public opinion in a war fought by Pakistan in the name of Islam. The tide in favor of secularism also influenced political discussion and law reform within India. So, it transpired that on the eve of amending the Criminal Law Amendment Act the following year, the Indira Gandhi government claimed that two events in 1971—her election victory and the war—had decisively proved the victory of secularism over the “two-nation” theory. How could the Jana Sangh now interpret secularism as “Muslim appeasement” when the Mukti Bahini had fought the Pakistani army to create a secular, independent Bangladesh? From a position of untrammeled strength, Indira Gandhi’s government now responded to the sharp accusations of Muslim disloyalty in Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts (which by then was available in translation in regional languages) by adding Section 153B to the Indian Penal Code. This law criminalized anyone who made or published “any imputation that any class of persons cannot, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.” At the same time, the government also amended Section  153A of the Criminal Amendment to include a ban on “any exercise, movement, drill . . . knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence against any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community.”32 Indian secularism, it would appear, was on the ascendant, fighting back against the aggressions of the Hindu Right by instituting new laws, even though the law was never wielded to ban Bunch of Thoughts, a telling omission. The addition of “secular” to the Preamble of India’s Constitution four years later in 1976, at the height of the Emergency, is notable for the detailed debate on “secularism” in Parliament at the time. These debates reveal that parliamentarians of all political parties hailed secularism as an ideal even as they deplored its weak implementation in practice; they also acknowledged that the problem of minority representation did not disappear with the abolition of separate electorates and reserved seats in the Constitution, and the much-vaunted “good-sense and sense of fairness of the majority” in which Sardar Patel had vested hope.33 Following the ban on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in 1988, the 1990s witnessed a surge in cases alleging “hurt” Hindu sentiments in courts across India. To better understand this phenomenon, I turn to the earliest


of these cases: the banning of an exhibition organized by the cultural organization SAHMAT titled Hum Sab Ayodhya (&We are all Ayodhya). Designed to combat the BJP monopoly over Rama and Ayodhya, the Sahmat exhibition sought to showcase Ayodhya as having always been home to religious diversity. The heated parliamentary debates around the exhibition and its subsequent ban reveal the fault lines in civil and political society in the 1990s that would enable the mainstreaming of “Hindutva” as a way of life. After these debates on Sahmat, the scholar Partha Chatterjee asked if “the defense of secularism” were an “adequate, or even appropriate ground on which to meet the political challenge of Hindu majoritarianism.”34 This study of hurt sentiments and state ideology suggests that it is not possible to pit “secularism” against “Hindu majoritarianism.” The Congress government’s charges in Sahmat vs The Government of the NCT of Delhi are evidence of the Hindu majoritarian slant in Indian secularism. The hurt Hindu, once again on the ascendant, was dictating terms to reshape the state ideology of Indian secularism. After the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the ground beneath the secular Hindu’s feet had shifted, more dramatically, to the right.35 Indian secularism, as state ideology, did not remain static: it had evolved in response to intra-communitarian debates among and within religious communities and inter-party critiques, as well as critical events such as the war of 1971 and the destruction of the Babri Mosque in 1992. In a similar vein, across the border, the contours and contents of an “Islamic state,” or the frequently referenced “ideological state,” were shaped by intracommunitarian debates as much as they were by the exigencies of ruling over two wings of Pakistan, which were products of very different economic, cultural, and ideological constellations.

too, were marked by the experience of HinduMuslim relations in undivided India. Because the demand for Pakistan had arisen out of the need to safeguard Muslim “minority” rights, later styled a “nation,” Pakistan’s founders were initially protective of the need to safeguard the rights of their own new “minorities”—Hindus in Sindh and East Bengal, and Christians in Punjab. Jinnah’s promise to the first session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August  11, 1947 (“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to EARLY DEBATES IN PAKISTAN,


any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State”) resonated with some minorities, who were still of two minds about where they might fully and safely belong.36 Yet only six months later, Jinnah’s insistence on having Urdu as the one national language of both wings of Pakistan led to his being booed by at Dhaka University by an audience of students, most of whom were members of the Muslim League. Bengalis, a linguistic majority in the new nation of Pakistan, could not believe their ears. Such chauvinism for Urdu—a language spoken by a tiny elite—was not acceptable to students whose lives and careers were at stake and for whom Bengali, with its vast literary corpus, was the language of their entire world. Meanwhile, Jinnah’s new nation was also being courted by a miraculously no-longer-hostile section of society: the ulema. Now that Pakistan had been conceded and created, those who had opposed Jinnah as a kafir wished to play a role in drafting its Constitution.37 However, the presence of substantial, vocal, and persuasive religious minorities—Hindus in East Bengal and Sindh, and Christians in Punjab—as well as a significant contingent of Muslims, rendered any easy move to an “Islamic state,” however defined, impossible. Jinnah’s unexpected death in 1948 produced a vacuum. Chapter 3 opens with the varied responses to the compromise devised by Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister: the 1949 Objectives Resolution. Passed despite the considerable objections of Pakistan’s religious minorities, especially Bengali Hindus, the resolution promised to enable the Muslims of Pakistan to order their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunna. It also, simultaneously, promised that “adequate provision” would be made for the minorities “freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures.”38 The resolution sought to balance the demands of the ulema, who conceived of Pakistan as an Islamic homeland, with those in favor of a secular Pakistan, such as had been envisioned in Jinnah’s remarks at the inaugural session of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly. One of the reasons it took Pakistan nine years to draft its first Constitution was that West Pakistan, which was Punjabi dominated, did not want to accept the numerical majority of East Pakistan, comprised of Bengalis, in a future national assembly. And on the question of rights for religious minorities, the two halves of Pakistan spoke in starkly contrasting voices. In West


Pakistan, the largest religious minority, the Christian community, demanded the retention of separate electorates and referred to this as a solemn promise made by Jinnah when they were still divided on whether to vote with the Muslim League in favor of Pakistan. In East Pakistan, however, Hindus were the largest minority, constituting almost a quarter of the population. In East Pakistan, Bengalis (including Hindus) demanded joint electorates, believing that only joint electorates could account for the Bengalis’ demographic majority in a united Pakistan, and that it was time to retire the divisive politics and demand for separate electorates that had been fueled by the “two-nation theory.” Both groups—Christians in West Pakistan and Hindus in East Pakistan—grounded their reasoning in the Objectives Resolution.39 The Objectives Resolution would be incorporated as the Preamble to Pakistan’s Constitutions of 1956, 1962, and 1973, and made justiciable by General (turned President) Zia-ul-Huq in 1984. Through the twists and turns of Pakistani politics, the resolution provided an easily movable anchor for diverse interpretations of the place of Islam, Muslims, and non-Muslims in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However, the efforts undertaken to enable Muslims to order their lives in consonance with the Quran have not always been commensurate with what the ulema desired, and attempts to provide adequate support for minorities to practice and profess their religion have satisfied neither the minorities nor Pakistan’s secularists.40 The articles in Pakistan’s 1956 Constitution that proclaimed that the state would be named an “Islamic republic” and that the head of state would be Muslim, were resolutely resisted, and not only by Pakistan’s non-Muslims. The most concerted challenge to the articles proclaiming Pakistan’s Islamic credentials came from Muslim members belonging to the Awami League of East Pakistan. These leaders elaborated on the concept of an Islamic state as embodying an ethic of justice and of equity, a state of perfection yet to be attained. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman explained that Bengalis wanted not a “signboard” or a “label” that Pakistan was an Islamic state, but clear steps to show how such a state could be attained—for instance, the abolition of feudalism, which was incompatible with Islam, was “an ideal that we cherish.”41 Awami League leaders such as Suhrawardy, along with Bengali Hindus, queried the indeterminate role of the ulema, prophesizing that their role would be akin to that of Frankenstein, gradually


devouring every domain of the state. The persistent use of Islam by some West Pakistani elites to undermine the demographic majority of East Bengal dominated the years preceding 1971. The opposition parties in East Bengal led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Maulana Bhashani were both strategic and sincere in proclaiming their allegiance to the state ideology of Islam; it was wartime atrocities committed in the name of Islam and a purported Islamic brotherhood that moved the needle in Bangla Desh toward enshrining secularism as one of the founding principles of the state. Pakistan’s loss of its eastern wing led to renewed emphasis on the state ideology of Islam in the Pakistan Constitution of 1973, while the oil crisis of 1973 moved Pakistan closer to the source of necessary petrodollars and Wahhabi Islam in Saudi Arabia.42 The new prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, allied himself with Islam to meet the criticisms of the opposition rallying against him, but this was tempered with an awareness of the cachet that attached to invocations to secularism. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Bhutto proclaimed that “secularism, in the sense of tolerance and the rejection of theocracy, is inherent in Islamic political culture.” Despite this, a year later he moved the Second Amendment in the National Assembly, declaring that Ahmadis were to be regarded as “non-Muslim.”43 An overreliance on the army led to Bhutto’s undoing; pandering to the most conservative sentiment proved to be of no avail. Bhutto’s nemesis, General Zia-ul-Huq, relied on an “Islamization” that was a far cry from the state-sponsored lip service for an Islamic state in the 1950s. Zia instituted new “blasphemy laws” to boost his authority domestically at the same time that his regime fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The inability of Zia’s successors to amend or repeal these blasphemy laws has been the result of their being held hostage to the demands of Islamist groups that are a legacy of Pakistan’s role in the cold-war era and in the more recent “war against terror.” The constant management of allegedly hurt sentiments, increasingly fueled by individual litigants’ recourse to badly drafted laws, has come to a head: the hurt Muslim is dictating terms to reshape the state ideology of Pakistan, much as the hurt Hindu is being weaponized in India.

THE HISTORIOGRAPHY on the early years of Bangladesh has been dominated

by the question of identity. Should loyalty to Islam or a Bengali identity


take precedence in the fashioning of a national identity?44 My intervention on this question dwells on a founding moment when both religious and linguistic markers were equally important, but the category of religion was subject to greater critical scrutiny in Bangladesh because it had been ill used by the West Pakistani elite to rule over East Pakistanis. The Bengalis’ growing awareness of this strategy resulted in their formulating an indigenous, Bangladeshi secularism. This secularism, as I describe in Chapter 4, was honed and polished through Bangladesh’s experience of wartime atrocities, directed toward Hindus and those deemed insufficiently Muslim. Such a secularism could not be distant from Islam; indeed, in practice, it entailed equal respect for all religious communities, but with a place of preeminence for Islamic norms and rituals. Both in theory and in practice, Bangladeshi secularism was not sufficiently instantiated and developed at the time of Bangladesh’s founding in 1971. Recourse to political Islam, after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman less than four years later, was made possible because Bangladeshi secularism had hardly been given a chance at implementation; furthermore, it was perceived to be tied to India’s apron strings although, in empirical terms, it had emerged out of a bloody war whose primary victims had been Bangladeshis. The emphasis on equality and respect toward all religions that had defined Bangladeshi secularism under Mujibur Rahman, at least normatively, was forgotten in the subsequent legitimation and strategic courting of religious parties by the military regimes of Ziaur Rahman and H. M. Ershad. Instead, secularism came to mean “anti-Islam” or antireligion, a label foisted on its adherents by increasingly powerful religious parties. The avowal of such a nonindigenous understanding of secularism, a colloquial conception of secularism that views it as antithetical to religion, by a Bangladeshi writer such as Taslima Nasrin led, thus, to an expected denouement: lawsuits and exile.

Resisting and Revisiting the State As instances of vigilantism headline newspapers in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, old debates on the cause of this escalation are dusted off and recalled. Was it Zia, Bhutto, the Objectives Resolution, or the very creation of Pakistan that should bear responsibility for these terrible occurrences in the name of Islam? How did the vigilantes of “secular India” come to


resemble the vigilantes in Pakistan, making Fahmida Riaz’s poignant poem—ham do qaum nahīn the bhāī, tum bilkul ham jaise nikle (we were not two nations, brother, you turned out exactly like us)—resonate so deeply? To return to founding moments is to recall the circumstances that enabled the whittling down of protections guaranteed to minorities in both India and Pakistan. To return to the minutiae of the Constituent Assembly debates is to reckon with the considerable influence of politics, the weight of Nathuram Godse’s and the Hindu Mahasabha’s demands on the fledgling Indian state. It is to recognize the ideological overlap between the Indian National Congress, and the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS combined. Perhaps a reckoning of the conflict and compromises that undergirded the founding of the Indian Constitution will finally lay to rest the ghost of unremitting antagonism between the Congress and the Hindu Right that has plagued the field of constitutional history writing in India. Congress’s secularism was but a thin guise for Hindu majoritarianism.45 It required minorities to depend on the goodwill of the majority; this was the obverse of what Gandhi wanted and died for. Does the armory of colonial-era and latter-day blasphemy laws deployed by the states of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh affect religious minorities and dissidents in ways that are comparable? A strategic focus on landmark cases of hurt sentiments reveals that liberal, speech-protection imperatives were gradually set aside to grapple with the latest challenge to the status quo, even when the threat of growing unrest—a key requirement to institute legal proceedings against authors, publishers, or exhibitors—was absent. All the same, Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts, for instance, remained in print despite growing evidence of both Muslim hurt sentiments and the book’s effects in marshaling aggression against Muslims. The ensuing lengthy debates in Parliament and newspaper columns on the ideological basis of the state reveal deeper changes in state intention and ideology. By the early 1990s, as Indian secularism became indistinguishable from Hindu majoritarianism, the meaning of an “Islamic state” in Pakistan grew more exclusionary, and Bangladesh appeased religious extremists rather than protect the rights of self-professedly secular and atheist writers and bloggers. Each nation, a legatee of a religiously informed partition, has failed to provide basic protections to its minority-religion citizens. Yet there has been resistance in all three nations to the state’s bowing to elements that once constituted the “fringe” in politics. This


resistance has been led primarily by legal aid groups concerned with the misuse of the law, civil society organizations, and, on occasion, even political parties. Journalist and author Mohammed Hanif commented to me that “the [change in the] India story is really sad. Because what happens there will have effects on what happens in Pakistan. We are connected.”46 These connections have roots in history. In significant ways, the state ideologies reflected in the constitutions of India, Pakistan, and later Bangladesh were also crafted in response to each other. So, for instance, Hindu Mahasabhaites repeated their long-standing demand for a Hindu Rashtra (state) on the assumption that Pakistan would be an Islamic state. Although their demands were resisted by the Congress-dominated Constituent Assembly, they were vociferous enough to prevent the insertion of the word “secular” into the text of the Preamble.47 During the Constituent Assembly debates of 1955–1956, Pakistani parliamentarians questioned the ostensibly pitiful status of Hindus in Pakistan by comparing their rather trenchant criticisms to the allegedly more muted, restrained voices of minority Muslims in India. In 1962 they argued against the exclusion of once-arrested leaders from heading political parties by invoking the legendary powers of Gandhi, “not even a two-anna member of the Congress.”48 Newly independent Bangladesh chose to be secular because of its experience of marginalization under the grandiose rhetoric of an “Islamic state,” to which it had been held ransom through the 1950s and 1960s, and especially during the war of 1971. New arrangements with minorities forged by independent sovereign Constituent Assemblies were marked by their prior experience in undivided India and undivided Pakistan. Intellectual history, as Christopher Bayly noted, can no longer “construct itself as a separate sphere of higher thought standing above and outside social history.”49 Hurt Sentiments seeks to reorient the questions we ask about founding state ideology—be it “secularism” in India and Bangladesh or “Islamic state” in Pakistan and Bangladesh—by connecting them to the changing ideological convictions and circumstances of those in power as well as their critics and those who subsequently rose to power. A close look at some of the turning points in the debates on the shifting meanings of secularism and an Islamic state will reveal how ideas traveled across the lines drawn at the time of partition, and sometimes, as in 1971–1972, deepened one set of meanings over another.


Not surprisingly, then, when the Babri Masjid was destroyed in India in 1992, temples and gurdwaras were attacked in acts of retaliation in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The question of whether religious minorities could safely belong as equal citizens in their chosen state was reopened, as if in an instant. It should come as no surprise that any effort to disturb the fragile status quo of the Liaquat-Nehru Pact, such as the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019, will also reverberate across the arbitrary lines drawn in 1947. Since partition, hurt sentiments—invoked by minority and majority religious communities alike—have played a critical role in the making of new laws, in reshaping state ideologies, and in the fashioning of new idioms of citizenship. We cannot understand the aspirations and challenges faced by Indian secularism or an “Islamic state” in Pakistan and Bangladesh without grappling with the ways in which these aspirations were shaped by their relationships with minority citizens within each nation, and, indeed, with each other.


GANDHI’S ASSASSINATION, GODSE’S DEFENSE, AND THE MINORITY QUESTION A prayer meeting is not a debating assembly. . . . Freedom of worship, even of public speech, would become a farce if interference became the order of the day. —M. K. Gandhi I determined to prove to Gandhiji that the Hindu too could be intolerant when his honour was insulted. —Nathuram Godse

WHOLE WORLDS separated Gandhi from that of his assassin, Godse. Whole worlds suddenly fell apart at the time of India’s partition. Even before newly created borders snaked their way past communally owned lands and rivers, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs tore into each other with unimaginable ferocity. In this time, Gandhi walked, from one destroyed village to another, urging people not to be blinded by the violence they had witnessed, and not to be engulfed in fires of retribution. Prayer and forgiveness were the need of the hour. In September 1947, mere weeks after independence, Gandhi moved from Calcutta, a city finally at peace, to Delhi, which he described as the “city of



the dead.” Gandhi hoped to bring Delhi to life and then planned to go to Pakistan to calm the raging fires there. He would “undo” partition, in his own way. Gandhi’s prayers for peace, and readings from the Bhagavad Gita, the Quran, and the Bible brought succor to hundreds who came to hear him speak at Birla House, where he was staying, and to thousands more who heard him at their radio sets at home, or in open tea-stalls across the country. However, his meetings also enraged a group of young Hindus who found his talk of peace and nonviolence pathetic; such times called for strong retaliation, and partition was all Gandhi’s fault. Hadn’t he sworn that partition would happen only over his dead body? These men waved black flags at Gandhi’s meetings, demanded that he stop reading from the Quran, and shouted “Gandhi Murdabad!” (Death to Gandhi!). Gandhi responded by reasserting his faith in the fundamental goodness that he believed lay in every person, and by refusing to let Delhi police increase security at his wide-open prayer meetings. After a foiled attempt on January  20, 1948, Gandhi’s killers struck again ten days later. On January 30, 1948, at about 5:17 p.m., Gandhi was shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu and Maharashtrian Brahmin.

of Gandhi’s assassination was to envelop India in a shroud of silence; we have the evidence of some brilliant photographers and the testimony of many oral histories remembered softly, often with a break in the voice. “The light has gone out of our lives,” said a mournful Nehru. “Tears become a blasphemy,” implored the poet Sarojini Naidu, urging Gandhi’s spirit to not rest in peace, and to haunt India into following his vision. The flag flew at half-mast in the United Nations, in Pakistan, and in several other countries.1 But in towns across north India and Bombay province, some people also distributed sweets, and burst firecrackers. Their celebrations at the death of the Mahatma were short-lived. Once the identity of the assassin became known, Maharashtrian Brahmins were attacked, and the homes of leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, associations to which the assassin, Godse, was believed to have owed allegiance, were set on fire.2 In the following days, there were rumors that Godse had visited several different towns en route to his final mission; Brahmins in THE IMMEDIATE EFFECT


Fig 1.1 “The world bowed in homage,” 1948. Gandhi’s Funeral, Puppet Hall. The backdrop has flags of various countries flying at half-mast and angels depicting Gandhi’s vision of tolerance, with Hindus, Christians, and Muslims exuding affection for one another. Courtesy of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Smriti, New Delhi.

the towns that he purportedly visited were attacked. Six decades later, renowned literary critic Ganesh Devy recalled that his earliest memory of Gandhi was that he was to be hated. His village was among those where the homes of Maharashtrian Brahmins had been singled out for arson.3 Historians and social scientists have not studied the consequences of  Gandhi’s assassination. Its effect on the Hindu fundamentalist organizations with which Godse was affiliated, on the drafting and later amendment of the Constitution then under way, and on Indian secularism remain uncharted terrain.4 This chapter opens with a reading of Gandhi’s way during the violence of 1946–1947 through the eyes of his contemporaries, with an emphasis on Gandhi’s multifaith prayer meetings and their significance. Next, I examine the allegations leveled against Gandhi by his assassin, Nathuram Godse, in his defense statement during his murder trial. In the light of his defense, which was censored, alongside articles in the right-wing journal Organiser that repeatedly became the subject of litigation, I explore how Gandhi’s approach to the problem of Hindu-Muslim unity, and his subsequent assassination, were debated. My analysis of articles published in the Organiser through the 1950s reflects on how Gandhi


was appropriated by a Hindu Right that portrayed him as a Veer (brave one), a Hindu sage, “an illustrious son of Bharat Mata (Mother India).” The climate of hate that was responsible for Gandhi’s murder also enabled the whittling down of minority rights in the Constitution then being drafted. In this context, laws such as Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that sought to protect “hurt sentiments” helped safeguard Muslim-minority religious sentiments and customs, while calls for their abolition were a way of imposing Hindu majoritarianism on the self-professed secular ideology of the Indian state.

Gandhi’s Way In the weeks and months following the Hindu-Muslim riots in Calcutta in August 1946, violence spread across large swathes of India.5 Touring devastated villages in Noakhali, a Muslim-majority district in east Bengal that had seen violence against Hindu minorities, Gandhi met with Hindus, Muslims, Congressmen, Muslim Leaguers, wanting to make sure of all the facts himself.6 At his prayer meetings, Gandhi reiterated that he was in Noakhali to “do or die”; he would either bring peace to Noakhali and save India, or he would die in the attempt. After gauging the scale of the destruction, Gandhi decided to reduce his entourage to the bare minimum. He then sent his most trusted workers to live in the violence-torn villages: they were to help count and cremate the dead, rebuild temples and homes, clear common areas of the villages, and reinforce trust among alienated communities. They were to immerse themselves as minorities, fully experience what it meant to be a minority, understand the “other” in their midst, and grow in fearlessness in the process. In his meetings with Hindus, Gandhi spoke firmly against relying on the military and the police or demanding that more Hindus be recruited among them. Instead, he told a group of Hindu political workers that they could certainly ask for “impartial officers in place of biased ones,” but to ask for Hindus to replace Muslim officers was a communal demand.7 However, he also maintained that Hindus not withdraw the criminal cases that they had registered in the wake of the violence. He was not here to make them cowardly, but to help them face the situation with courage. To a deputation of Hindus led by N.  C. Chatterji, the president of the Provincial Hindu Mahasabha, Gandhi advised against their demand for con-


centrating the Hindu minority in homogeneous blocks or “pockets” as well as against any precipitous decision to migrate to areas where they might constitute a majority. He thought the segregation of Hindus would be interpreted as their acceptance of the Muslim League’s “mischievous twonation theory.” Gandhi promised to stay in east Bengal for as long as it took to restore trust between Hindus and Muslims; he pleaded that the Hindus stay and face death, if necessary, but not give in to fear and abandon their homes and villages. N.  C. Chatterji, Gandhi’s contemporary and critic, thought his plans were beyond the capacity of the “average individual.”8 In February 1947, still on his walking tour through villages, Gandhi received a letter from the Congress leader Syed Mahmud that described the character and intensity of the anti-Muslim violence in Bihar. Mahmud’s letter, along with other disturbing news reports, made Gandhi realize he had to now leave east Bengal. As it is, he was being severely criticized for not going to Bihar earlier. In riot-torn and Hindu-majority Bihar, Gandhi listened to Muslim refugees, Hindus, and Congress leaders in charge of the enforcement of law and order. He chastised people in the government and administration for being complicit and negligent in preventing the riots. He was as critical of the Congress in Bihar as he had been of the Muslim League in east Bengal, both of which were, in some measure, behind the violence. If it was the Hindu Mahasabha petitioning for “pockets” in Noakhali, it was the turn of the Muslim League to do so in Bihar. Gandhi repeated his objections to this movement of minorities: “I have come, if I can, to serve the Muslim minority of Bihar as I was in Noakhali to serve the Hindu minority. In so doing my fond belief was and is that I should serve the majority, too.”9 Moving to religiously homogeneous pockets would mean accepting that Hindus and Muslims could not live side by side. Gandhi declared emphatically that “if India is divided she will be lost forever.”10 He referred to the Pakistan demand as “un-Islamic” and “sinful”: Islam stands for the unity and brotherhood of mankind, not for disrupting the oneness of the human family. Therefore, those who want to divide India into possibly warring groups are enemies alike of India and Islam. They may cut me to pieces but they cannot make me subscribe to something which I consider to be wrong.11

However, on occasion he also seemed willing to accept a different conception of Pakistan, one that emphasized the rights of religious minorities. In


Dasgharia in east Bengal, addressing a meeting of Muslims, Gandhi quoted from one of Jinnah’s recent statements published in the newspapers: “We must prove politically that we are brave, generous and trustworthy . . . and that in the Pakistan areas the minorities will enjoy the fullest security of life, property and honour just as the Muslims themselves, nay even greater.”12 Gandhi called on his Muslim audience to rise to such a conception of Pakistan. Across India, this minority-majority divide was now resulting in the making of new refugees. Retaliatory violence in Bihar led to further violence in the Hindu-majority United Provinces, and from there to Muslim-majority Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Gandhi sought to break this cycle of revenge and retribution by pleading, in its stead, for a kind of retaliatory nonviolence. “It is the privilege of arms to protect the weak and the helpless,” he pleaded. “The best succor that Bihar could have given to the Hindus of east Bengal would have been to guarantee with their own lives the absolute safety of the Muslim population living in their midst.”13 This was the essence of Gandhi’s way. Noakhali and Bihar became test cases for Gandhi’s experiments in nonviolence. Immersed in listening, healing, and observing the painstaking stitching-together of sundered communities, Gandhi was caught unawares by a report in the newspapers of the Congress Working Committee’s decision to partition the province of Punjab.

The Workings of the Congress According to his secretary Pyarelal’s almost daily chronicle of the Mahatma in this time, Gandhi had “not been consulted or even forewarned” about the resolution demanding the partition of the Punjab. “It was as if the abyss had suddenly opened under his feet.” In a letter to Nehru, Gandhi demanded to know his rationale: I would like to know the reason behind it. I have to speak about it. I have done so in the absence of full facts with the greatest caution. . . . I was asked by a Muslim Leaguer of note . . . if it was applicable to the Muslim-majority provinces, why it should not be so to Congress-majority provinces like Bihar. . . . I could only give my own view which was against any partition based on communal grounds and the two-nation theory.14


Here was Gandhi repeating his opposition to a partition based on the two nation-theory. But what was his public response to this Congress resolution to partition the Punjab? These questions matter, not least because of Nathuram Godse’s resonant accusation that Gandhi was responsible for the partition.15 Why didn’t Gandhi embark on a hunger fast if he opposed partition? Much the same question has been asked by the socialist leader, Gandhian, and critic of Gandhi, Rammanohar Lohia, in his memoir-like account, Guilty Men of India’s Partition. In Lohia’s recall of the subsequent landmark meeting of the Congress Working Committee, Gandhi confronted Nehru and Patel about their fait accompli that was partition: Before Gandhiji could make out his point fully, Mr. Nehru intervened with some passion to say that he had kept him fully informed. On Mahatma Gandhi’s repeating that he did not know of the scheme of partition, Mr. Nehru slightly altered his earlier observation. He said that Noakhali was so far away and that, while he may not have described the details of the scheme, he had broadly written of partition to Gandhiji. I will accept Mahatma Gandhi’s version of the case. . . . There was definitely a hole in the corner aspect of this business. Mr. Nehru and Sardar Patel had obviously between themselves decided that it would be best not to scare Gandhiji away before the deed was definitely resolved upon.16

Gandhi then came up with his second point: Although he wanted the Congress party to honor the commitments made by its leaders and to accept their demand for partition, he wanted the Congress and the Muslim League to jointly execute the partition without the intervention of the British government. Referring to this as a “grand tactical stroke,” Lohia notes that the fact that “Mr. Jinnah was impossible to agree with” would render partition impracticable. He observes: “Much has been said about the saint having simultaneously been a tactician, but this fine and cunning proposal has, to my knowledge, not so far been put on record.” However, because the Congress was determined to go ahead with partition, Gandhi’s point had “no practical meaning.” It would only have had meaning if Gandhi had backed his proposal with the “prospect of action.”17 Privately, Gandhi did seek to push through this proposal. A week after the meeting of the Congress Working Committee, he wrote to Viceroy


Mountbatten that “it would be a blunder of first magnitude for the British to be party in any way whatsoever to the division of India.”18 Days later, he used the same argument with the Hindu Mahasabha leader Syama Prasad Mukherji while canvassing his support for a united, sovereign Bengal.19 However, it is true that he did not insist on it with his signature hunger fast. To the socialists Aruna Asaf Ali and Asoka Mehta, Gandhi reiterated being opposed to partition. “Why should we make ourselves accessory to what we hold to be evil?” He went on to remind the socialists of their errors during the Quit India Movement of 1942, and asked that they “carry to its ultimate conclusion the fearlessness which [had] characterized [them]. . . . Now is the time and the hour. If you let it slip away, it may never return. By learning the art of dying without killing you can mould India’s destiny.”20 But the socialist leaders did not agree. Perhaps they too, like leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha, thought Gandhi’s ideas were beyond the capacity of an average individual. Isolated by the left and the right, all that remained was for Gandhi to be isolated within the Congress. On June 14, 1947, at the meeting of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) when the decision of the Working Committee had to be ratified, Gandhi’s erstwhile disciple and now Congress president, Acharya Kripalani, explained why he could not support Gandhi: Because I feel that Gandhiji has as yet found no way of tackling the problem on a mass basis. When he taught us non-violent noncooperation, he showed us a definite method which we had at least mechanically followed. Today he himself is groping in the dark. . . . [T]hough he can enunciate policies, they have in the main to be carried out by others, and these others are not converted to his way of thinking.21

Gandhi now chose to speak publicly in favor of the decision of the Working Committee. Although opposed to the division of India, Gandhi held that it was the duty of Congressmen to accept the resolution of the Working Committee in the interest of peace. Perhaps good would emerge out of this “defective plan” just as Rama’s exile had led to the defeat of Ravana in the famed epic Ramayana. Ten days earlier, Gandhi had stated that regardless of whether he remained in the Congress, “I cannot imagine being ever disloyal to it.”22 Now, with Gandhi towing the line of the Working Committee, its resolution in favor of partition was adopted by 157 voting for, 15 against, with some abstentions.23


Explaining this position at prayer meetings necessitated some juggling with facts, Gandhi now declared that the Congress was only following the lead of the people in opting to partition Punjab and Bengal.24 This might have been correct if the Congress had, in fact, scheduled a referendum and followed its result in taking the decision to partition Punjab and Bengal. But that had not been done. Gandhi went on to enumerate numerous instances in the past when the Congress had differed from him, and how they had accommodated each other’s positions. He had not gone on a hunger fast then, and he saw no reason to do so now. Had he felt that this was a British-imposed decision, he would have fought it. But the Congress Working Committee had now chosen to agree to the partition proposal. Gandhi also pointed out that he had nothing in common with those who were now fighting against the partition—members of the Hindu Mahasabha who openly repudiated nonviolence. It was true that he could override the decision of his colleagues, but this would have disrupted the Congress and their struggle of many decades; “he did not believe in curing the patient at the cost of the patient’s life.” Gandhi thought it would have been “sheer spite, sabotage, to raise the standard of revolt against them, especially after they had admitted their helplessness to meet chaos by non-violence and he was not in a position to take over their burden.”25 And so the guru became a loyal, albeit lonely, soldier, committed to the overarching discipline imposed by the Congress.

Ishvar Allah Tere Naam At every critical juncture in this last year of his life, Gandhi turned to prayers that always, deliberately, included the name for God in Islam, or a verse from the Quran. At 4 a.m. on a cold winter morning, before heading out on a walking tour of villages in East Bengal: Gandhiji asked Manu to sing his favourite Gujarati hymn, vaisnava ˙˙ jana to tene kahiye: “The true Vaishnav is he who feels the sufferings of others.” He also said that the word vaishnav should be replaced by Muslim, isai (i.e. Christian) now and then during the chorus. As the little group sang, we suddenly heard Gandhiji himself joining the chorus from within his curtained bed. The pitch of his voice was low, but the tune was quite correct. His voice could be heard above our own.26


On the occasion of Gandhi’s last hunger fast in Calcutta, his grand-niece Manu remembered that the fast was broken to the singing of the bhajan īshvar allāh tere nām, “the couplet which prays to God [īshvar(/(allāh] to bestow on all the power to do the right thing.”27 In fact, the origins of this particular mixed prayer, familiar to every schoolchild in India, are interesting in themselves. Pyarelal recalls the time Manu sang a “new Ramdhun”: “īshvar allāh tere nām, sab ko sanmati de bhagvān” (Ishwar and Allah are thy names, Do thou, O Lord, grant right understanding to all men). Manu remembered having heard it sung in her childhood while praying at a Vaishnava temple in Porbandar. The memory returned to her spontaneously that morning and she told Gandhi. He remarked: “That is how it used to be in olden days. The name of Allah came naturally to the lips even of orthodox Brahmin priests. The present poisoned relationship between Hindus and Muslims is a recent excrescence.”28 In this dark and difficult time, Gandhi wondered if it was some spiritual lack in his own person that was leading to the violence outside; he sought to explain the outer mayhem in terms of the turmoil he felt within.29 So, he also thought Manu’s recall of this line of prayer, embodying the names for God for both Hindus and Muslims, īshvar and allāh, a portent of better things to come. Gandhi’s prayer meetings had long included addresses to people of all faiths; his writings in South Africa had referred to God as khuda ya īshvar.30 During the Khilafat movement (1919–1922), when Gandhi brought many thousands of Muslims into the Congress party by taking up the cause of the Khilafat, he recommended to his followers the slogans Hindu-Musalman ki jai (Victory to Hindus and Muslims), Bharat Mata ki jai (Victory to Mother India), and Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great), slogans specially chosen for their appeal to both Hindus and Muslims.31 Prayer meetings were an integral part of life in his ashrams, and, with time, these prayers began to incorporate passages from the Quran and the Zoroastrian Avesta.32 Gandhi often reiterated that his ashrams were not for any one religion; that the Gita could be replaced by the Quran or the Bible; this was the meaning of sarva dharma sama bhāva (the equality of all religions).33 Yet, these were times of acute hostility, and Gandhi repeatedly faced resistance from Hindus and Muslims to the presence of the other in his multifaith prayer meetings. “To the recitation of these verses our mothers and sisters were dishonoured, our dear ones killed. We will not let you recite these verses here,” lamented one refugee protesting the verses from the


Quran at Delhi’s Kingsway camp.34 How did Gandhi respond to such objections and meet the allegation that he was hurting their religious sentiments? In his otherwise exhaustive biography of Gandhi’s religion, historian J. T. F. Jordens writes that, for Gandhi, “scripture, faith, dogmas and rituals were only imperfect human creations . . . as such they were all non-essential, interchangeable, dispensable, and therefore not worth quarrelling over.”35 Although this is broadly true, there was one very Gandhian “ritual” the Mahatma did insist upon: the inclusion of verses from the Quran in his multifaith prayer meetings. None of the world’s black-flag demonstrations and letters threatening physical violence would budge Gandhi’s resolve: he would either conduct his prayer meetings to include verses from the Quran, or he would not hold any prayer meeting. Why did Gandhi so emphatically insist on this “ritual” of reading from the Quran in his prayer meetings? Growing up in a prayerful Vaishnava household, Gandhi understood the power of religious faith even as he began to critique the hold of religious rituals.36 He was asking his spiritual mentor, Raychand, questions about God, the nature of the soul, revelation, as he broadened his social circle and interacted with Christian and Muslim preachers in South Africa. Although he found himself unable to accept all of Raychand’s strictures on commensality (Raychand did not approve of inter-caste or inter-religious meals), he never moved far from Raychand’s fundamental precepts on the dual nature of spirit and matter. The term īshvar, generally used for a personal isht deity, came to stand, in Gandhi’s writings, for the brāhman, the impersonal infinite God. Jordens tells us that Gandhi combined advaita (his understanding of the ultimate identity of all spirits with brahman) with bhakti, a form of popular devotional practice, arriving at a conception of God that was accessible through nirguna bhakti (appreciation of the formless God, set to music).37 Narsing Mehta, one of Gandhi’s favorite composers, was a practitioner of this form of bhakti. Gandhi turned to nirguna bhakti to enrich and anchor his religious practice: Invoking the names of īshvar and allāh together, in one breath and voice, symbolized the continuing closely bound existence of Hindus and Muslims in India. God was one, whatever the name given to Him. . . . Let the Hindus decide once for all that they would not quarrel. He would advise the


Hindus and Sikhs to read the Quran as they read the Gita and the Granth Saheb. To the Muslims he would say that they should read the Gita and the Granth Saheb with the same reverence with which they read the Quran. They should understand the meaning of what they read and have equal regard for all religions. This was his life-long practice and ideal.38

Scholars such as Nishikant Kolge have noted that Gandhi’s prayer meetings were unique: “It is difficult to find anything in the Hindu tradition that matches it . . . devotional songs from different religions and readings from a variety of holy books made the core of his public prayers.”39 To Hindus objecting to these prayers, Gandhi argued that if he refrained from repeating the names of Rama and Rahim, he could not face the Hindus of Noakhali and the Muslims of Bihar.40 To Muslims who considered the coupling of the names of Rama and Rahim to be blasphemous, Gandhi explained that “Rama, Allah and God were to him convertible terms.”41 As a Sanatani Hindu, he described his Hinduism as a religion of tolerance and respect for every religion.42 However, this led him to the stance that he would not impose his beliefs, even about Hinduism’s tolerance, on those who attended his prayer meetings. So Gandhi initially met the Quran objectors’ resistance at Bhangi Colony in April  1947 by not holding a prayer meeting if even one person in the audience objected to the reading of verses from the Quran. Gandhi explained his rationale: I find that the objectors are only a handful. If I hold the prayer by bearing them down by our superior numbers, it will not be a triumph of devotion but of the devil. The end of prayer is to establish peace in the hearts of men, not to suppress or overwhelm the minority.” He then asked if there were any objectors in the gathering. In reply three persons stood up. Gandhiji: “I bow to the opposition. There will be no prayer.”43

However, after three days had passed with protests and no prayer meetings, Gandhi’s longtime patron and disciple G. D. Birla approached Vasantrao Oke, a leader of the RSS, whose workers were disrupting Gandhi’s prayer meetings. Birla allegedly told Oke that “those who did not fancy Koran recitation at Gandhiji’s prayer meetings, need not disturb the same” and Vasantrao “entirely agreed with him.” In Pyarelal’s rendition, Gandhi’s


“penance bore fruit at last. A leader of the RSS . . . assured him that there would be no interruption at his prayer meetings.”44 During his defense, Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, one of the Quran objectors at the time, would recall this very incident as proof of a widening, generational rift between Hindu Mahasabha workers on how to approach the new reality of a partitioned India and a new Pakistan: After coming to Delhi, Gandhiji began to hold his prayer meetings in a Hindu temple in Bhangi colony and persisted in reading passages from Quran as a part of the prayer in that Hindu temple in spite of the protest of the Hindu worshippers there. Of course he dared not read Geeta in a mosque in the teeth of Muslim opposition. He knew what a terrible Muslim reaction would have been if he had done so. But he could safely trample over the feelings of the tolerant Hindu. To belie this belief I [sic] determined to prove to Gandhiji that the Hindu too could be intolerant when his honour was insulted.45

Five months later, back in Delhi in September 1947, Gandhi navigated this familiar terrain differently. Although he initially declined to hold prayers if anyone in the audience objected to the recitation of verses from the Quran, he gradually agreed to hold prayers if the majority in the audience promised they would not hold resentment in their hearts against the protesting minority of Quran objectors. The objectors, too, would hold their peace after registering their objection quietly at the outset.46 Gandhi’s way of reflection, dialogue, and persuasion appeared to defang the “heckler’s veto” and convince both the young, angry, Quran objectors as well as the not-so silent majority in the audience to allow the prayers to continue. This may be regarded as one more instance of Gandhi using “skillful means” to persuade people toward a particular direction, as proposed by Kolge elsewhere.47 Contrary to Congress president Kripalani’s accusation that Gandhi had not shown the Congress a path out of partition, his prayer meetings were showing the way to “undo” partition and forge a sense of shared purpose among Hindus and Muslims. The success of these meetings also provided evidence that “preservation of religious pluralism was a national good.”48 The prayer meeting became a pedagogical exercise in civility that was especially important in the months following partition, when all arguments were otherwise being decided at the tip of a sword or kirpan, or the barrel


of a gun. But this turned out to be the proverbial calm before the storm. One of the inveterate objectors to readings from the Quran would soon pull out his newly acquired Beretta revolver and seek to end all arguments with Gandhi. Whole worlds separated Gandhi and Nathuram Godse. The Indian Muslim belonged in Gandhi’s India, with dignity and on terms of absolute equality, not in Godse’s India. In this context Gandhi’s insistence on including Muslim names for God and verses from the Quran in his multifaith prayers was non-negotiable. For Gandhi, reading verses from the Quran in his public prayer meetings symbolized the place of Muslims in India; a place of equality, respect, and visibility, a strong unmistakable sign that they belonged, and that without the Muslim prayer, his prayer meetings could not and would not be held. Ergo, without Muslims, India would not be India—a land where people of every religion could live with equality, practice their religion fearlessly, and fully belong. This is also why he began to translate verses from the Quran, seeking to make them accessible as well as acceptable to the Hindus and Sikhs who attended these prayer meetings. It was Gandhi’s way of breaking through barriers of language and religion to reach an understanding with the other. Gandhi made his views explicit when he spoke up for what he called “the Congress creed” at what was to be his last meeting of the All India Congress Committee: “It is the basic creed of the Congress that India is the home of Muslims no less than of Hindus.”49 Later, he wrote to his secretary Pyarelal: “Six resolutions of the All India Congress Committee this time were practically mine . . . it now remains to be seen how they are implemented.”50 This included the resolution: India has been and is a country with a fundamental unity and the aim of the Congress has been to develop this great country as a whole as a democratic secular State where all citizens enjoy full rights and are equally entitled to the protection of the State, irrespective of the religion to which they belong. The Constituent Assembly has accepted this as the basic principle of the Constitution. This lays on every Indian the obligation to honour it.51

Gandhi is deliberate in his use of the word “secular” in this resolution. That he immersed himself in drafting AICC resolutions while he was also holding multifaith prayer meetings shows that secularism for Gandhi did


not entail religious neutrality or the separation of religion from state. Gandhian secularism entailed the freedom to practice religion, all religions, publicly. These prayer meetings embodied a secular nation in microcosm.52 Gandhi’s contributions to drafting the resolutions passed at the AICC also attest to his still prevailing regard for the Congress as a political party.53 Who would oppose such a vision and statement of equality for all of India’s citizens? The columns of the newly founded weekly journal Organiser, which represented the views of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), provide us with some clues. At a time when Gandhi was insisting on including Muslim prayers in his public prayer meetings in Delhi, the Organiser described the details of the ongoing transfer of population between the two wings of newly divided Punjab and published a so-called Gallup poll seeking opinion from its readers in Delhi on four specific questions: Q1

Should the Muslims of East Punjab only be exchanged with the Hindus of West Punjab, NWFP, and Sind, or should the exchange of population include the Muslims of Delhi province also?


After the division of the country, can the Muslims of Delhi province be expected to be loyal and patriotic citizens?


Is it advisable for the Delhi administration to keep Muslims in high and responsible government posts of trust and confidence?


What steps would you suggest for maintaining permanent peace in Delhi province: a) On the part of the Government b) On the part of the public?54

The Organiser stated that they received 85,322 replies, which they tabulated and published in a special supplement to their issue dated October 16, 1947. The answers to the fourth question were published in an essay titled “How Peace Can Be Maintained in Delhi Province.” The essay was considered so incendiary that the chief commissioner of Delhi demanded security from the publication under Section 4 of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act 1931.55 At this time, numerous letters to the editor in the Organiser argued in favor of establishing a Hindu theocratic state in India.56 Three public meetings were held under the auspices of the Hindu Sahayak Samiti


(Organization to help Hindus) in the neighborhood of Subzimandi alone to oppose the resettlement and return of Muslims to Delhi.57 Gandhi’s considered and deliberate support for Muslim prayers and slogans in his public prayer meetings was anathema to all these Hindus—refugees and locals alike.58 Like Godse, they wished to render Muslims invisible, if not to be wholly rid of them, and to forge a purely Hindu nation. In the years to come, these same columns would carry articles asking for a “reunion”—an undivided, Akhand Hindustan. Furthermore, these writers would quote Gandhi’s protests against the “vivisection” of India to buttress their demand. This Gandhi-versus- Godse clash on the place of Muslims would be patted into a less polarizing, more predictable mold. Some amount of bigotry seeped into the soil, became acceptable. With Gandhi’s death died an idea of India.

Doing and Dying On the eve of independence, August 15, 1947, Gandhi was on his way to Noakhali in East Bengal when he was persuaded to stay on in Calcutta by Shaheed Suhrawardy, the former Muslim League premier, and his bête noire in an earlier struggle. Gandhi agreed, provided Suhrawardy promised to ensure that Noakhali would remain peaceful, and also that he would himself assist Gandhi in bringing peace to Calcutta by living with him in a mixed neighborhood. He gave Suhrawardy time to make up his mind: he had pledged to “do or die” in Calcutta—bring peace to its homes and streets, or die in the effort. Suhrawardy agreed, and he and Gandhi spent Independence Day together at Hydari Mansion in the once-mixed neighborhood of Beliaghata, home to massive violence and recently denuded of its Muslim inhabitants. In his memoirs, Suhrawardy recalls this wondrous time: I . . . participated in the most astonishing meetings, almost beyond belief and far exceeding anything I had hoped for or could have visualized. We held meetings in locality after locality. In form they were public prayer meetings which he had initiated and which were normally attended by some of his Hindu devotees. But their character had changed entirely, and after the customary chants and invocations they were addressed both by him and myself. They were a mixed gathering of men and women, Hindu and Muslim, who attended in hundreds of thousands in complete friendship


and mutual understanding. The atmosphere was entirely metamorphosed; instead of bitterness and hatred and murder and rapine, communal harmony was established.59

Yet for Gandhi, the sudden peace felt fragile. Only a few days after the alleged metamorphosis that was the subject of Suhrawardy’s effusive memoir, reports of murder and looting reached his ears, and he himself narrowly missed being hit with a brick in the middle of the night when Hydari Mansion was besieged by a crowd of angry “Hindu boys.”60 Gandhi decided to embark on yet another hunger fast; he also continued to rely on persuasion and logic as he had during his exchanges with Quran objectors and RSS leaders. Once more, Gandhi tried to reason with his would-be attackers while also reaching out to leaders of the opposition—both Suhrawardy and, in the case of the Hindu Mahasabha, Syama Prasad Mukherji. In fact, it was Syama Prasad Mukherji who issued an appeal for peace after the attack on Hydari Mansion: The continuance of peaceful conditions in West Bengal and East Bengal is essential for peace in India. Calcutta is key to the situation. If it is at peace, it must influence East Bengal. Peace in the whole of Bengal must again affect the whole of the Punjab . . . the majority community in Bengal must realise, the senseless oppression of innocent members of the minority community does not pay and creates a vicious circle which one cannot cut through. The united efforts of leaders of the communities must see to this.61

What was this if not the much-reviled “hostage theory” being put in harness? The Hindu Mahasabha leader N. C. Chatterji also promised that the Hindusthan National Guards (of the Hindu Mahasabha) would patrol the streets of Calcutta alongside the Muslim National Guards.62 Gandhi’s way was to reach out to his opponents, such as RSS workers, to bind each to the other and make them all—Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians—shoulder responsibility for keeping the peace. Thus, the peace pledge that helped Gandhi break his fast was signed by leaders of all the major communities and political parties—N. C. Chatterji, Suhrawardy, Sarat Chandra Bose, and Sardar Niranjan Singh, among others. They promised to “strive unto death” to prevent communal strife in Calcutta.63 Gandhi swore that if peace again fled Calcutta, he would go on an unconditional


fast unto death. Armed with this threat and the peace pledge, Gandhi now heeded the urgent summons of Nehru and Patel and headed to Delhi. As Gandhi’s train rolled into Shahdara station in Delhi, his eyes took in the dismal scene: The platforms were full of exhausted refugees. The city was on fire, and the deputy prime minister, Sardar Patel, informed Gandhi that he could not proceed to his usual home in Bhangi colony; he would have to be accommodated in the safer, palatial Birla House, where special arrangements had been made to house Gandhi’s entourage and host his prayer meetings.64 Gandhi felt strongly about Delhi, the new India’s capital city. He called it the “eternal city” and “the heart of India.” He believed that “all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Jews” who had adopted it as their “dear motherland” had an “equal right to it. No one can say that it belongs to the majority community only and that the minority community can only remain there as the underdog. Whoever serves it with the purest devotion must have the first claim.”65 The spirit of Gandhi’s words, exuding warmth and inclusion, was a contrast to the violence engulfing Delhi’s Muslims, the like of which had not been experienced since the great rebellion of 1857. Every evening, for the last four months of his life, Gandhi held prayer meetings on the lawns of Birla House in central Delhi. He also met hundreds daily, in groups and individually, sharing his thoughts on the most pressing issue for newly partitioned India and Pakistan: the problem of belonging, of building an India and a Pakistan that were inclusive and welcoming. The magnitude of ongoing violence, insecurity, and upheaval meant that he could not move out of Delhi and onward to Punjab until he had restored peace to this city. The audiences for his public prayer meetings numbered from a few hundred to several thousand. A typical meeting would begin by seeking the audience’s permission to recite from the Quran. After or before the recitation of a verse from the Quran might come bhajans, prayer songs from scriptures held sacred to the Hindus and Sikhs, and select verses from the Bible and Zend Avesta. In his after-prayer remarks, Gandhi would touch on his meetings that day, with tired, enraged refugees at their crowded, unsanitary camps, or in Gandhi’s temporary home in Birla House. Gandhi would then quote from letters he had received and refute allegations, draw comparisons, and preach the virtue of obeying the laws and the new government.


Every day brought news of new atrocities being committed in Delhi and other parts of North India and Pakistan. The miles-long convoys of refugees proceeding from West Pakistan toward India and from East Punjab to Pakistan were a human rights crisis and a logistical nightmare; neither country had the capacity to provide security to these refugee caravans, nor homes to those who managed to reach their preferred homeland. Only Gandhi had foreseen the tragedy and violence that would accompany partition, and even he was stunned at the sheer scale of violence and the ongoing, unplanned transfer of populations. Although Gandhi had always opposed the creation of pockets in the wake of violence, he had also occasionally acquiesced in the migration of minorities to pockets in East Bengal and Bihar, as a last resort and because people could not be coerced to stay where they felt unsafe. Now, in Delhi in September 1947, Gandhi pleaded even more emphatically against such a possibility for the Muslims of Delhi, Gurgaon, and East Punjab and for the Hindus of West Punjab, Sindh, and the NWFP. Now, more than before, the sheer madness of the business of hastily drawn lines carving up provinces and creating international boundary lines through homes, villages, streets, and rivers began to seep through. Gandhi realized that this was the beginning of something very dangerous that would have serious repercussions for the stability and continuity of India and Pakistan. To the All India Congress Committee, Gandhi reflected: “I have seen enough to realise that though not all of us have gone mad, a sufficiently large number have lost their heads. . . . It is obvious to me that if we do not cure ourselves of this insanity, we shall lose the freedom we have won.”66 At his prayer meetings, Gandhi begged that the governments of India and Pakistan live up to their promises to protect religious minorities: “If Pakistan would be a purely Muslim state and the Indian Union a purely Hindu and Sikh state, with no rights for the minorities on either side, it would mean ruin for both the States. He hoped and prayed that God would give them the wisdom to steer clear of the danger.”67 He now referred to the ongoing transfer of population as a “fatal snare,” a “monstrous proposition,” as “unthinkable” and “wrong.”68 He narrated incidents of murder and mayhem and wondered what had happened to his fellow Indians. He conceded, publicly, that his people had not followed ahimsa, nonviolence of the brave. Instead, they had adopted passive resistance of the weak. Still, he thought it possible, even at this late moment, to inculcate ideas of true


bravery among his followers—in fact, among all Indians. Such bravery entailed staying on in places where they might be a minority. This is why Gandhi asked the Muslim League leader Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, who had opted to stay in India after partition, to proceed to Sindh to prevent the continuing migration of Hindus from Larkana district.69 Once peace returned, refugees could also return to their original homes—Hindus and Sikhs to Pakistan, Muslims back to India. This hoped-for return of refugees would, in effect, “undo” the geographical partition. My advice is precise and firm. . . . Trust your government to defend every citizen against wrong-doers, however well-armed they may be. . . . The people of Delhi will make it difficult to demand justice from the Pakistan Government. Those who seek justice must do justice, must have clean hands. Let the Hindus and Sikhs take the right step and invite the Muslims who have been driven out of their homes to return. If they can take this courageous step worthy from every point of view, they immediately reduce the refugee problem to its simplest terms. They will command recognition from Pakistan, nay from the whole world. They will save Delhi and India from disgrace and ruin. For me, the transfer of millions of Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims is unthinkable. It is wrong. The wrong of Pakistan will be undone by the right of a resolute non-transfer of population. I hope I shall have the courage to stand by it, even though mine may be a solitary voice in its favour.70

What did it mean for Gandhi to take such a firm stand in the face of widespread disbelief in Hindu-Muslim unity? He faced opposition not only from those who waved black flags at his prayer meetings; he also faced strong opposition from those who might have been thought to be close— family. When the Muslim League leader Choudhry Khaliquzzaman visited him in Birla House later in September, Gandhi shared with him a letter from his son, Ramdas Gandhi, “who had spared no curses on his old father.” According to Ramdas, when Maulana Shaukat Ali had disagreed with Gandhi on the causes leading up to the Bannu riot, he had retired from politics. However, when “recently in Calcutta Hindus had had a chance to retaliate against Muslim Goondas, he proceeded there and threatened to fast to bring undue influence on the Hindus. To sum up in one sentence, he said, ‘Your life has become a curse for the Hindu jati.’+” To this Khaliquzzaman re-


sponded, “This is very painful reading. What do you propose to do about it?” Gandhi replied, “I want to fight it out with my life. I would not allow the Musalmans to crawl on the streets in India. They must walk with self-respect.”71 Mercifully, Gandhi was not entirely alone. Gandhi urged Indians and Pakistanis to vie with each other in taking care of their minorities. However fantastic this might have sounded to those who had witnessed incredible scenes of violence and undergone personal suffering, it became an anchor for workers in the field, as attested by the social worker Begum Anis Kidwai, the socialist Rammanohar Lohia, as well as the High Court judge G. D. Khosla, who visited the Mahatma and sought his advice only two weeks before the assassination. In the memoir Azadi ki chaaon mein (In freedom’s shade), which resulted from the notes she wrote during and after partition, Begum Kidwai pays tribute to Gandhi’s lasting inspiration, and recalls, in vivid detail, the conviction and bravery of social workers such as Subhadra Joshi and Sushila Nayar, of students and teachers from Jamia Millia, of myriad volunteers, even as she records the moral frailties of some of the people around her.72 Lohia recalled speaking at Gole Market in New Delhi and announcing with confidence that India would be reunited, partition would be undone. Ten years later he attributed his apparent naïveté to his faith in the Mahatma, never for once imagining that he would not be alive to help reach this vision.73 Gopal Das Khosla, a High Court judge appointed as interim Custodian of Evacuee Property, was weighed down by complaints from Hindu and Sikh refugees who had fled Pakistan and were now seeking to inhabit the homes that had been abandoned by Muslims, generally out of fear.74 Toward the end of January 1948 he went to Gandhi to seek his advice. “The Muslims in the Old Fort camp have no wish to stay in this country. They told me, when I visited them, that they would like to go to Pakistan as soon as possible. Our own people are without houses or shelter. It breaks my heart to see them suffering like this, exposed to the elements. Tell me, Bapuji, what should I do?” My carefully delivered appeal sounded hollow in my own ears. “When I go there,” he replied, “they do not say that they want to go to Pakistan. . . . They are also our people. You should bring them back and protect them.”75


This “simple statement of truth” made the judge realize what he had to do next. Khosla later reminisced that “Bapu was completely, utterly right, just as he had been right in insisting that we fulfil our promise to pay Pakistan 550 million rupees, even though the money would almost certainly be spent to procure arms for use against India.”76 Gandhi’s last resolve to do what was right and honorable took the shape of a fast that forced the Cabinet to retract its earlier decision and pay the outstanding balance of 550 million rupees to Pakistan. It also served to hasten the plans of the conspirators who had long been looking for the right time and opportunity to be rid of Gandhi, the loneliest leader still working to “undo” the partition in his own steadfast way.

The Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS As was done by the Kapur Commission appointed to investigate the conspiracy behind Gandhi’s murder in the 1960s, I consider the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh together. Lists of members produced by the criminal intelligence department in Bombay province showed that many individuals were members of both organizations at the time of the murder. A recent biography of the Gita Press, publisher of the renowned religious journal Kalyan, also shows the close relations between members of Hindu organizations such as the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha. Further, the Akhand Hindustan conference organized by the Mahasabha in Lahore in 1944 had drawn support from a host of allied Hindu nationalist organizations.77 From 1937 to 1943, the Hindu Mahasabha had been led by the redoubtable Veer Savarkar, known to be an anticolonial revolutionary who had served time in the notorious Andaman penal colony, and then, after writing numerous petitions begging mercy and promising to be apolitical, had been under house arrest in Ratnagiri, in Bombay presidency.78 One of the first acts of the new Congress-led government in Bombay presidency was to release Savarkar from the terms of his house arrest.79 This was in keeping with Savarkar’s storied past as an anticolonial revolutionary. One of the first tasks of Savarkar, as the newly anointed president of the Hindu Mahasabha, a political party that had only recently contested (and lost) elections against the Congress, was to energize his party, a party that claimed to speak for Hindu interests. Savarkar, a prolific author and charismatic


orator, created a motto for the Hindu Mahasabha during the years of the Second World War, when the Congress appeared rudderless: “Militarise Hinduism and Hinduise the Military.” He had also come up with a memorable definition of Hindu: a Hindu was one who thought of India as his punyabhoomi and pitrabhoomi, his holy land and fatherland.80 Thousands of Savarkar’s letters were confiscated by the police when he was arrested under charges of “promoting hatred by inciting Hindus against Mohammadans” in the week following Gandhi’s murder.81 A dozen of these letters reveal his influence on Nathuram Godse and Narayan Dattatraya Apte, the two brains behind Gandhi’s assassination. Savarkar was shown to be responsible for launching Apte on a career of founding Rifle Clubs across Bombay province, with the benevolent assistance of Congress leaders including K. M. Munshi, home minister of Bombay presidency; N. V. Gadgil, president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee; and Ganesh Mavalankar, speaker of the Bombay legislative assembly.82 Savarkar was also the inspiration behind the founding of the highly secretive Hindu Rashtra Dal, an organization that was to owe Savarkar absolute allegiance no matter who became the next president of the Mahasabha. The officebearers of this Dal were Godse, designated chief organiser, and Apte, designated secretary.83 Yet Savarkar declared in his written statement to the court investigating Gandhi’s murder that Godse and Apte “were neither specially chosen, nor exclusively trusted.” They were among the “thousands of men great and small, who were associated with me in Hindu Sanghatan cause.”84 Savarkar confidently concluded: A)

That, there is absolutely no direct evidence against me tracing my individual connection with or participation in the alleged conspiracy, either in its conception or in any of the acts alleged to have been done in pursuance thereof.


That, nothing incriminating—arms or explosives or anything of similar nature—was found in my possession or power.85

It may be inferred that decades of rigorous imprisonment under colonial laws had taught Savarkar to cover his tracks. What Savarkar was able to convincingly show during the trial was the presence of “an unbridgeable gulf between a legitimate association and a criminal and conspiring one.”86 In this, he was helped by Nathuram Godse, who averred that there were serious differences between an older


generation of Hindu Mahasabha leaders such as Savarkar—who were willing to hoist the Indian national flag atop their homes and thereby accept the leadership of the Congress on Independence Day, even to the extent of permitting Syama Prasad Mukherji to serve as a cabinet minister—and the younger generation, who wanted to “finish off” Gandhi, Nehru, Suhrawardy, Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, and all other major Indian and Pakistani leaders. Godse declared that Savarkar had, in fact, admonished him for disrupting Gandhi’s prayer meetings.87 However, when it came to explaining the motives for his murder, Godse could do no better than consult Savarkar’s presidential speeches to the Hindu Mahasabha, only recently published in book form as Hindu Rashtra Darshan. The book was among Nathuram Godse’s possessions in the waiting room of the New Delhi railway station on January  30, 1948, the day he murdered Gandhi. He was subsequently permitted by the court to consult the book to write his defense statement for the Gandhi murder trial.88 What, then, were the differences between these older and younger generations of Hindu Mahasabhaites? We have already heard N. C. Chatterji of the Hindu Mahasabha speak in favor of moving minority Hindus in Noakhali to homogeneous pockets, and Syama Prasad Mukherji draft a statement appealing for peace during the first post-independence riots in Calcutta that inspired Gandhi to embark on a hunger fast. For Godse and Apte, this was in the nature of a compromise, and therefore anathema. All their writings and activities were geared to motivating their readers to take up the cause of Hindus for a Hindu India. Their readers were asked to boycott Muslim workers and send them to Pakistan.89 Curiously, although these writings were scanned by the censor, the authors of such hate speech were characterized as being “anti-Muslim” and not “anti- Gandhi” or “anti-Congress,” and therefore of no particular danger!90 This distinction between “anti-Muslim,” which was then the norm, and “anti-Congress,” which was not acceptable, was also apparent in the conscious turning away from the otherwise illegal collection of arms in places such as Bombay presidency. This illegal collection of arms was viewed as being in support of the anti-razakar movement in neighboring Hyderabad state, which, in turn, was supported by the Hyderabad State Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha.91 These wheels-within-wheels of prejudice would only become apparent during the inquiries into the conspiracy that led to the murder of Gandhi.


Parenthetically, it is worth noting that not all government officials turned a blind eye to the willful collection of arms by foot soldiers of the RSS. A first-person account by Rajeshwar Dayal, home secretary of the United Provinces, attesting to close links between senior members of the Congress and the RSS is worth quoting at length: I must record an episode of a very grave nature when the procrastination and indecision of the United Provinces Cabinet led to dire consequences. When communal tension was still at fever-pitch, the Deputy Inspector- General of Police of the Western Range, a very seasoned and capable officer B. B. L. Jaitley, arrived at my house in great secrecy. He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought with them two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the western districts of the province. The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village in that vast area, prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations. There were also detailed instructions regarding access to the various locations, and other matters which amply revealed their sinister purport. Greatly alarmed by those revelations, I immediately took the police party to the Premier’s house. There, in a closed room, Jaitley gave a full report of his discovery, backed by all the evidence contained in the steel trunks. Timely raids conducted on the premises of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) had brought the massive conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organization himself. Both Jaitley and I pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused Shri Golwalkar who was still in the area. Pantji could not but accept the evidence of his eyes and ears and expressed deep concern. But instead of agreeing to the immediate arrest of the ring leader as we had hoped, and as Kidwai would have done, he asked for the matter to be placed for consideration by the Cabinet at its next meeting. It was no doubt a matter of political delicacy as the roots of the RSS had gone deep into the body politic. There were also other political compulsions as RSS sympathisers,


both covert and overt, were to be found in the Congress party itself and even in the Cabinet. . . . At the cabinet meeting there was the usual procrastination and much irrelevant talk. . . . What ultimately emerged was that a letter should be issued to Shri Golwalkar pointing out the contents and nature of the evidence which had been gathered and demanding an explanation thereof. . . . Golwalkar, however, had been tipped off and he was nowhere to be found in the area. He was tracked down southwards but he managed to elude the couriers in pursuit. This infructuous chase continued from place to place and weeks passed. Came January 30, 1948 when the Mahatma, that supreme apostle of peace, fell to a bullet fired by an RSS fanatic. The whole tragic episode left me sick at heart.92

As for the alleged gap between the older and younger leadership of the Hindu Mahasabha, an article published by Godse a day after Gandhi broke his fast in Calcutta is instructive: Non-Resisting Tendency (Which Is) Accomplished Easily by Animals The strenuous nature [of the efforts] made by Gandhi and his followers [lit. Gandhi people] to make the Hindu community assimilate the revengeless and nonviolent tendency like that which sheep and goats have made their own is understood. There is no reason to blame them [Gandhi and his followers] for it. But when even Dr. Shyamaprasad following in the footsteps of an imbecile Premier like Pt Jawaharlal issues a statement and when persons who call themselves the leaders of the Hindusabha like Barrister Chatterji, the President of the Bengal Hindu Mahasabha and [Mr.] Devendranath Mukerji, the Secretary, feel agonized at the fast of Gandhi which has an ill-will against the Hindus, we are inclined to say this much that it is necessary that the Hindusabha should give more serious consideration to its health [lit. constitution].93

Here Gandhi’s nonviolence is disparagingly associated with docility, with sheep and goats, and Mukherji and Chatterji’s appeal to Gandhi to end his fast is indicative of something seriously wrong with the constitution—means and ends—of the Hindu Mahasabha.


These were terrible times. In numerous articles that reached the censor, Godse and Apte, editors of Agrani and later the Hindu Rashtra, castigated the Congress, calling out Gandhi and Nehru in particular, for all the hardship suffered by refugees. The gruesome details of the violence spilling into every home in Punjab come alive in the articles in the Agrani: Marathi translations of private letters written by Punjabi victims and witnesses of partition violence gave meaning to otherwise banal facts—houses being looted, women being raped and murdered in front of family members. Godse’s and Apte’s editorials were wrong in laying the blame for partition at the feet of Gandhi, but they were right in noting that the Congress need not have accepted the decision to partition Punjab and Bengal. Punjabis are thinking of Shivaji, said a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Haribhau Bhide—a clear signal to Maharashtrians to contribute to the work and coffers of the Hindu Mahasabha. If this violence were to engulf Maharashtra, would similar letters be sent to Madras, asked another such editorial.94 A North India in flames was no longer only a rhetorical possibility. A few months later, editorials in the newly founded Organiser pointedly accused the leadership of the Hindu Mahasabha of indulging in mere talk while the Congress presided over the partition of India. The journal reported on a meeting of the All Hindusthan Hindu Convention in Delhi where Savarkar had said the “mere passing of resolutions will not do.” Editorializing, the Organiser accused the Hindu Mahasabha of confining itself “mostly to passing resolutions” and asked that “waverers and weak-hearted imbeciles make way to men of iron will and determination.”95 Not to be outdone, Savarkar’s press statement a few weeks later agreed with Nehru that the right of retaliation should belong to the state: In laying down this maxim Panditji has happily refused to indulge in the mischievous mumbo jumbo of Gandhian morals. So far so good. But he conveniently forgot to touch the most critical and practical aspect of the question—what were the people to do when the state proved either so unwilling, or pusillanimous as to fail miserably even to defend its own people not to speak of retaliating to avenge the wrongs perpetrated. . . . Had a Shivaji or a Ranjit Singh been at the head of the State, they could have demanded with propriety that the people should leave the right of retaliation in their hands alone. But when Pandit Nehru tries to demand it in the accents of Shivaji it


strikes us it would do if a pigmy standing on his tiptoes tried to rival a giant in height.96

It is worth noting, if parenthetically, that Gandhi, too, was urging—at his prayer meetings and when he met RSS workers in their camp—that the right of retaliation be left to the state.97 But with Savarkar striking this strident note, where, then, was the generational gap between members of the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS to which Godse repeatedly referred in his statement, to thereby absolve Savarkar, his guru-in-crime?

Hurt Sentiments, Muslim Appeasement Time and again, the counsel for the defense sought to argue that Gandhi had caused resentment and hurt the sentiments of Hindus by reciting from the Quran or combining Muslim names with the names of Hindu deities. The next witness called by the prosecution was Mr.  K.  N. Sahni, First Class Magistrate and District Refugee Officer in Karnal. Mr. Dange: Do you know that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to associate the names of Karim and Rahim with Hindu Gods? Mr. Daphtary [chief prosecution counsel]: “Rahim” and “Karim” are merely attributes of divine qualities. Witness: “Rahim” means merciful and “Karim” means kind. Sometimes I have heard songs at the prayer meeting mixing names of Hindu and Muslim names of God. ... Mr. Dange—Do you know that this association of Muslim names with that of the names of Hindu deities was strongly resented by Hindus? Witness: Singing of these songs was not resented by anyone.98

To their credit, witnesses for the prosecution, their memories still fresh from Gandhi’s prayer meetings, made short work of the arguments of the defense. They referred to their own staunchly Hindu credentials and calmly explained the meaning of “Muslim words,” while also denying any cause for resenting such words. Occasionally the judge appointed to head the Special Court, Atma Charan, refused to let the defense counsel proceed


with this line of questioning, deeming it irrelevant.99 But the defense was only setting the mood, creating the right ambience for their star speaker—the assassin, Nathuram Godse, who decided to argue his case himself. In the prefatory remarks of Gopal Godse (Nathuram’s younger brother and co-conspirator) to Nathuram’s defense statement, May It Please Your Honour, which was first allowed to be published in the English original three decades after the trial, we learn of the regime of censorship that marked the Gandhi murder trial. During the trial, reporters’ books were torn up as soon as the judges left the court and they were prevented from publishing details of the case. The defense argued that press reports were potentially harming their case, leading the judge, Atma Charan, to warn journalists against publishing mischievous headlines. The Urdu newspaper Pratap, which headlined some of Nathuram Godse’s words, was prosecuted for allegedly approving Godse’s crime; copies of the paper were confiscated.100 Why was Godse’s defense statement censored? Let us consider its elements. Godse claimed that his love for Hindus and Hindudom made him view Gandhi and his policies as “appeasing” Muslims and inimical to Hindu interests. He accused Gandhi of making Hindu-Muslim unity the foundation of his policy, a unity that continually eluded him but also goaded him into making endless compromises with Muslims. Godse declared himself in favor of a “secular state with a joint electorate.”101 In fact, Godse had been one of the prominent Hindu Mahasabha leaders to second the resolution on a “Constitution of Free Hindusthan” at the 1947 Gorakhpur session that called for a joint electorate (but no secular state).102 Now, in his defense statement, he traced past decisions of the Congress to accept separate electorates for Muslims and conceded that he, too, had “reconciled” to the temporary introduction of separate electorates. But he held separate electorates responsible for the “disintegration” of India. “What was the thin end of the wedge in the beginning became Pakistan in the end.”103 Also, as noted above, Godse was implacably opposed to recitations from the Quran in Gandhi’s prayer meetings. Finally, and critically, he held Gandhi to be most responsible for the partition of India. In the statement, Godse conveniently erased the Mahasabha’s own call for a partition of the province. He sought to present his murder of Gandhi as rooted in a theory of cause and effect: because Gandhi appeased Muslims, Godse had to kill Gandhi. There are several points worthy of emphasis. First, Godse’s view on Muslim appeasement forms the bedrock of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s


ideology today; the charge of “Muslim appeasement” is their most ringing accusation against the Congress. Second, Gandhi repeatedly faced and contested this Godseian view of his politics. In Noakhali, Gandhi had responded to a question at a prayer meeting on how to “appease the aggressive mentality of the majority community” with this: “The word ‘appeasement’ had come to have a bad odour. . . . In no case should there be any appeasement at the cost of honour. The real and only appeasement was to do what was right at any cost. Blow for blow was a played-out game. Non-violence of the brave was the real approach to the problem.”104 Gandhi often faced the allegation that he was anti-Hindu. He patiently explained to critics in Noakhali, Calcutta, Bihar, and Delhi, both Muslim and Hindu, that he could not be anti-Hindu or anti-Muslim.105 He considered it his lifework to make every Hindu a better Hindu, every Muslim a better Muslim. His readings from the Quran and the Gita, the Bible and the Granth Sahib, could not possibly be the cause of hurt sentiments—Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, or Christian. Third, as I have demonstrated, Gandhi was implacably opposed to the partition. It would appear from Pyarelal’s daily chronicle of his last years that Gandhi learned of the Congress’s decision to partition Punjab by reading about it in a newspaper! However, his loyalty to the Congress and the fact that no one in the Congress in the summer of 1947 saw merit in his nonviolent methods, led him to publicly support the Congress decision. Even so, he remained engaged in his own way of “undoing” the geographical partition, speaking of himself as a citizen of the world, and urging others to do so as well.106 Gandhi feared that an independence accompanied by hate and lawlessness would soon spell the end of India’s hard-won freedom. Even as he reached out to members of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha, for instance, as necessary signatories to peace pledges at the end of his Calcutta and Delhi fasts, he was always very clear in his mind and in his prayer meetings about the dangers inherent in their politics. For instance, in September 1947 he was visited by M. S. Golwalkar, the RSS chief who, in turn, invited Gandhi to attend an RSS rally. By this time Gandhi was aware of the activities of the RSS as well as the hate-filled writings in their press. He asked the chief to publicly disavow violence. In response, the chief asked Gandhi to do so on his behalf, and claimed it was a merely defensive organization. The Organiser reported:


Gandhiji had seen the Guruji of the Sangh a few days ago. He had mentioned to him the various complaints about the Sangh that he had received in Calcutta and Delhi. The Guruji had assured him that though he could not vouchsafe for the correct behavior of every member of the Sangh, the policy of the Sangh was purely service of Hindus and Hinduism and that too not at the cost of any one else. The Sangh did not believe in aggression. It did not believe in ahimsa. It taught the art of self defence. It never taught retaliation.107

At his prayer meeting a few weeks later, Gandhi admitted to being “upbraided” for having gone to the RSS meeting. He also noted that in Rampur State, Muslims faced “the Hindu Mahasabha assisted by the RSS men whose ambition was to rid the Union of all Muslims.”108 According to the Kapur Commission Report, Gandhi told Sushila Nayar, his personal doctor, who had praised the RSS for their work with refugees, that she did not know them. “They were like Black Shirts, Nazis or fascists.”109 Tellingly, Godse had justified the violence and the retribution, calling them signs of “warm humanity”: Gandhiji need have taken into consideration that the desire for reprisals springing up in the Hindu mind was simply a natural reaction. . . . [T]hese reactions were only the signs of warm humanity. . . . The retaliatory actions taken by the Hindus in Bihar and elsewhere were the inevitable outcome of the revulsion felt by the Hindus at the shocking atrocities in other provinces. Such a feeling at times also is as spiritual and natural as that of kindness.110

Could there have been more diametrically opposing figures in history? Yet it became possible for the RSS to spin a different yarn. In 1980 the RSS chronicler and longtime Organiser editor K. R. Malkani declared: “It is significant that Gandhiji never criticized Sangha—and Sangha leaders never criticized Gandhiji.”111

Organiser vs. The State To understand why Godse’s statement was censored, we must consider other contemporary cases of censorship, all bearing a familial resemblance. Five days after Gandhi’s murder, the government of India published a


communique that banned the RSS, declaring that “it constituted a danger to public peace” under Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. It also arrested top RSS leaders, including its then Sarsangchalak (chief ) M. S. Golwalkar under Section 302 of the IPC (for murder). A week later this was changed to an order of preventive detention. As noted earlier, homes of Maharashtrian Brahmins, especially leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS, were attacked.112 Tens of thousands of arrests were made. Two decades later, Home Secretary H. V. R. Iengar recalled: I sometimes felt, when I was Home Secretary at Delhi, that . . . in dealing with an agitation which the authorities disliked, there was sometimes a tendency to violate codes of conduct sanctified by law and usage. . . . I am referring to more constitutional methods of agitation such as the RSS troubles of 1948–49. Thousands of arrests were made all over the country, particularly in UP. The arrests included number of young boys whose crime was no greater than they shouted slogans on the streets. Kids of thirteen and fourteen were put into prison and jail remands obtained.113

During the ban on RSS workers and leaders, even articles that protested the innocence of the RSS came under the scrutiny of the censor. The Organiser argued that an organization declared illegal had no means of vindicating itself and asked the government to clarify its policy on the matter.114 Subsequently, when the Sangh leadership found that the government was unwilling to release its leaders, it embarked on a satyagraha. By some accounts, as many as 60,000 RSS workers and leaders flooded jails across northern India. The government next sought security deposits from other pro-RSS papers, such as the Hindi weekly Yug-dharma and the Marathi weekly Rashtra Shakti of Nagpur, for supporting the RSS satyagraha. These papers, in turn, sought relief from the courts. The Nagpur High Court ruled in their favor: Because the government chose to ban an association does not mean that people are prohibited from agitating for the removal of the ban provided that they do not advocate unconstitutional means. To ask a man in reasoned and temperate terms to stand by his convictions and to go to jail rather than abandon his faith is not an incitement to disorder. . . . [O]n the contrary there is implied in the exhorta-


tion a recognition of the law. The call is not to disobey the law but to obey it.115

Between the measured admonition of the Nagpur High Court and the reminiscences of the home secretary lie a tale of official partisanship. The RSS, at the receiving end of the censors, amplified this narrative of victimhood. Numerous articles in the RSS’s Organiser in December 1949–January 1950 carried reports of what had transpired in jail during the satyagraha of RSS workers. This was followed by entreaties to permit recently released government servants and teachers in government-aided institutions who had followed the RSS’s call for a satyagraha to be reinstated in their places of employment. The articles spelled out the “triumph” of “truth” of the RSS satyagraha and its vindication of peaceful methods. They also detailed the Sangh workers’ discipline and routine in the jail, and the “ungandhian vendetta” that had allegedly been unleashed upon the RSS.116 For these articles, the editor of the publication was repeatedly summoned by the provincial press officer in Delhi to refrain from “intemperate writing” that could lead to “severe action.”117 When these warnings did not work, the chief commissioner of Delhi, in consultation with members of the Central Press Advisory Committee (an independent body elected by the All-India Newspaper Editors’ Conference composed of representatives of the Hindustan Times, Statesman, and so forth) passed an order requiring the Organiser to submit all “communal news and views regarding Pakistan” for precensorship. The Organiser took the government to court, declaring that this order of precensorship, served under Section 7 of the East Punjab Public Safety Act, was ultra vires of the Constitution of India. It should be noted that in March 1950 the Organiser was also reporting details of the ongoing Hindu-Muslim violence in East Pakistan and warning the government of India against signing any pact with Pakistan. Only a few weeks later, the prime minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, would come to Delhi and sign the Delhi Pact with Nehru. Both prime ministers resolved to protect their minority populations and end the ongoing violence and displacement.118 Meanwhile, the hearings on the impugned East Punjab Public Safety Act proceeded apace. The defense for the Organiser, led by Hindu Mahasabha leader N.  C. Chatterji, also an ex-judge of the Calcutta High Court, moved from the specificity of its case to the general, arguing that the order


Fig 1.2 Their “Truth and Non-Violence” at work. Organiser, March 13, 1950.

for precensorship was against the freedom of the press, and that “any legislation which affected the right to freedom of speech and expression secured by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution would be ultra vires of the Constitution, unless it fell within the scope of the six subjects specifically mentioned in Article 19 (2).”119 In this case, the impugned Act should fall under a matter that “undermined the security of the state” to be valid, and Chatterji declared that the term “public safety” could not be included in the higher-order consideration of “security of the state” listed in Article 19 (2). The attorney-general M. C. Setalvad argued that “public safety” meant “public order” and was included in the rubric “security of the state.” He advised reading both clauses of Article 19 together. Notably, he said “undermined . . . was an important word which indicated a slow process which, if not nipped in the bud, would in due course of time overthrow the State.”120 Chatterji’s arguments won the case for the Organiser. There is extensive scholarship on this case, because it is believed to have been an important factor in the lead-up to the First Amendment to the Constitution of India.121 The Organiser repeatedly noted that the


Washington Post had heralded this case in support of the freedom of speech and against the order of precensorship as “an event of great significance in Asia.”122 In his dissent, Justice Fazl Ali pointed out that the precensorship order had been placed against the Organiser specifically because it had been “publishing highly objectionable matter constituting a threat to public law and order,” as detailed in the order of the chief commissioner.123 This highly objectionable matter was in fact very similar to the allegations contained in Godse’s statement that were not published because they were believed to contain “incitement to violence.”124 It was but a short walk from celebrating the RSS’s triumph of satyagraha to questioning the ideological basis of independence and the new republican Constitution of India. Indeed, demands for a Hindu theocratic state had been made ever since independence and the establishment of a so-called Muslim theocratic state in the form of Pakistan. To the extent that the First Amendment succeeded in excluding overtly pejorative anti-Pakistan

Fig 1.3 The weapon (brahma-danda) of Rishi Vashista effectively meets the assault of an angry executive keen on capturing Kamadhenu, the source of material prosperity, and here, the freedom of the press. Organiser, June 5, 1950.


commentary in the press, the ire of the Hindu Right now shifted fully to the enemy within, the Muslims who remained. It was in this discussion of the ideological basis of India that the RSS deployed Gandhi to argue for a Hindu state. In the pursuit of greater acceptability in a nation still reeling from the Mahatma’s assassination, the RSS proceeded to distort the historical record. The First Amendment made little difference to the hate in its journal: the Organiser. Instead, it was Section 295A of the IPC that rose to the occasion, helping to dilute the venom that the RSS sought to inject into the body politic.

Gandhi as a Brave Hindu At a time when the Organiser was publishing the poll to prove that Muslims were unwanted in India, Gandhi was insisting on reciting and explaining verses from the Quran in his prayer meetings. As we have seen, he took special care to include Muslim prayers in his public meetings in an effort to build an India that he prayed would be plural and inclusive. The inclusion of Muslim prayers irked Godse and all those who wanted a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu State) and an Akhand Bharat (undivided India).125 In the subsequent appropriation of Gandhi—which was considered necessary as general elections appeared on the anvil—writers in the Organiser distinguished between the Hinduism of Gandhi and the secularism of Nehru. In a series of articles that took stock of the fortunes of the Congress, the pseudonymous author “Kamal” (later revealed to be the paper’s editor, Malkani) laid the case for a new party, one that would rejuvenate the weary nation on religious lines and build a Hindu Rashtra. Gandhiji succeeded to the extent he did, precisely because he brought Hindu ideals to bear on the Congress movement. But for Gandhiji’s Hinduism and the earlier sturdier Hinduism of Tilak, the Congress would have struck no roots in the soil. But the Congress, even under Gandhiji, persisted in unhistoric beliefs. Their doctrinaire approach to the problem of national unity obsessed them. Even after the Muslim League declared its goal of Pakistan, the Congress kept up the suicidal slogan: “Congress and League must unite before a freedom struggle is launched.” While appeasement of the Muslims strangled the Hindu thinking class Gandhiji’s attachment to Hindu


ideals consoled the Hindus in the Congress and kept them there for unity’s sake but exasperated the Muslims who called the entire organization “hypocritical.” . . . Ask a Congress leader or follower in private and he will tell you that there is only one nationalist Muslim in Bharat and his name is Right Hon’ble Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.126

In the next segment in this series, Kamal made the convoluted argument, under the subtitle “Why Ishwar-Allah,” that this enabled the Congress to accept the teachings of the nineteenth-century reformers Ram Mohan Roy, Vidyasagar, and Ranade: Congress had to accept their teachings and incorporate their implications in its programme because the decisive class in every society—the middle class—had accepted those teachings: and no movement could be expected to prevail without their active association and support. Hence the Congress philosophy of “Ishwar Allah” and “self-determination for minorities” and the rest of that mumbojumbo. . . . The corrective to the Congress came early enough. In the persons of Bhagwan Rama Krishna, Swami Vivekanada, Swami Dayanand and Maharishi Ramana, Aurobindo, Tilak and Gandhi, the cultural nationalism of the Hindus asserted itself.127

In articulating the need for a new party that would speak for Hindus, the editor of the Organiser criticized the Congress philosophy of “Ishwar Allah” and “self-determination for minorities.” Although praising Gandhi as a “corrective” to such a philosophy, he ignored Gandhi’s role as architect of that very Congress philosophy. In his explication of all that the new party will represent, Malkani did not mince his words: “The new party must adopt Hindu ideals and Hindu festivals, Hindu shrines and Hindu sacred cities, Hindu philosophy and Hindu culture, Hindu ceremonies and Hindu pujas, Hindu history and Hindu race experience—as its rock foundations.”128 It was precisely to warn against such a Hinduisation of India that Gandhi had insisted on the recitation of verses from the Quran in his wide-open, public prayer meetings. That Malkani deliberately and repeatedly misrepresented “Ishwar Allah” as a Congress philosophy and made Gandhi responsible for bringing “Hindu ideals to bear on the Congress movement” is indicative of the power and usefulness of Gandhi, to the Hindu Right, after


Fig 1.4 On the cover of this special issue of the Organiser, Gandhi is portrayed as last in a line of Hindu heroes; scores of RSS workers in khaki shorts carry torches to pay homage to Mother India, portrayed standing over a map of Akhand, or undivided India. Organiser, Veer edition, January 23, 1950.


his death. That Gandhi had the power to bring in votes was better recognized after the elections: One of the key factors attributed to the Congress victory in the first general elections held in independent India was that it had made a “political trademark” of Gandhi.129 In the pages of the Organiser, Gandhi’s vision of an India that would include Muslims was willfully consigned to oblivion: instead, his earlier writings on cow protection and varnashrama (the caste order) were assigned anachronistic prominence. Quotations from Gandhi, usually from the period 1921–1922, framed essays arguing for cow protection. Gandhi’s exhortations not to impose one’s dietary preferences on non-Hindus as recently as 1947 were conveniently forgotten. Gandhi was also quoted as arguing against the abolition of zamindari (system of land tenure) and against the terms of the Hindu code bill.130 In each instance, essayists asked, How Gandhian is the Nehru government?, and sought to prove that Nehru was as far from Gandhi as could be conceived.131 So, it was that by 1969 the sarsanghchalak (chief ) of the RSS, M. S. Golwalkar, claimed that if there was anybody implementing Gandhi’s program—whether cow protection or Hindi propagation—“it is we.”132 A decade later, in 1979, Balasaheb Deoras, the next RSS chief, boasted: “RSS is more Gandhian than any other mass organization I know of. It is true that we did not agree with his Muslim policy. But there can be an honest difference of opinion between the best of friends.”133 By this time Gandhi was also invoked in the RSS’s morning prayer, as one of many great sons of Hindustan.134 Simultaneously, the Organiser shifted its attentions to the Indian Muslim. In a two-part series on the much beleaguered “Hindu-Muslim Problem,” Kamal asked if the “modern educated Muslim—who caused partition of our country—take[s] his Koran very seriously.” With this combative, accusatory opener, Kamal went on to argue that “Muslims stand aloof and hostile not because they are a religious community but because they stand as a cultural—or uncultural—entity. The things that divide them most from us Hindus are not religious.” Kamal listed all the customs that he declared were not mentioned in the Quran—their naming patterns, cow slaughter, circumcision, dress, language, worship of the Kaaba. Then came the clincher: Take away these things from the Muslims and he is no longer very different from anybody else. Let him stand in the people’s dhoti, read


his Koran and say his prayers in the people’s Hindi, call himself Ram Gopal or Krishnapal or anything of the sort; sacrifice the lamb instead of the cow, discontinue the cruel circumcision of his sons— and he will find himself as much liked and loved as anybody else. . . . Thus analyzed and understood, the Hindu-Muslim problem shrinks to manageable proportions. To understand a thing is half to solve it. Having understood it in this truly secular light, we shall proceed with its solvent corollaries.135

In the second instalment of this series, Kamal sought to tell “our Muslims the story of Islam . . . the story of Islam is the story of violence, hate, murder, loot, and rape. Let Muslims be told the true story of Islam and what that religion has done to the countries it has touched. They will be shamed into repentance.”136 Kamal went on to say he would not object to Hindu-Muslim marriages provided the children were brought up as Hindus. He also suggested the “nationalisation of Muslims” and a return to “Shuddhi,” “infinitely” more important in the “free fifties.” Kamal opined: Muslims in Bharat are not a subject of hate; essentially, they are a subject of pity and sympathy. They have got to be treated as so many men who have passed through the nightmare of an imposed religion and suffered psychologically in the process. The facts of Islamic history, with particular reference to Bharat, must be made easily available to them all. . . . The Muslim has got to be helped to know how and why he must change; we must make it easy for him to change. It is a poignant human problem. It can be solved only humanely.137

For such hate speech masquerading as analysis, the Organiser was prosecuted under Sections 153A and 295A of the IPC, and charged with “the deliberate intention of outraging the religious feelings of the class of Muslims and for promoting feelings of enmity and hatred between Hindu and Muslim citizens of India.”138 Even before the government started judicial proceedings, the author Kamal pleaded his innocence in an open, front-page letter to “Dear Editor” (i.e., to himself ). Titled “One Culture,” Kamal(/(Malkani said he was surprised that his scientific and historic analysis had been found objection-


able by the “pro-Muslim government.” This was clear in the recent raid of the office of the Organiser and the demand from a posse of police for all existing copies of the issues carrying these two articles.139 Kamal pleaded that “we need one culture . . . to become truly and lastingly one nation and one state. . . . I don’t see how institutions and practices which are not to be found in Koran Sharif and which therefore have nothing to do with Islam, can be elevated to enjoy the sanctity of religion itself.” He also asked the uncomfortable question: “Even top leaders of the Congress have at various times pleaded for Shuddhi . . . does a thing become objectionable merely because it appears in the Organiser?” He pleaded that we “close our Indian Penal Code and open our hearts.”140 The Organiser was found guilty of the charges both in the court of the first-class magistrate in Delhi, and in the Sessions Court at Delhi.141 Writing on the “essentials of a secular state,” M. N. Tholal, a journalist and an RSS ideologue, argued for the abolition of Sections 295A and 298 of the IPC.142 He asked, instead, that the state offer prizes for books exposing the absurd “foundations of religious beliefs of fanatics.” He wished to take “the bull of fanaticism by the horns” but rued that to be an impossibility because of the “law of this ‘secular’ land.” Tholal’s seemingly progressive suggestion fit with the broader prejudices of the RSS when he clarified: “Equal reverence for all religions has been the bane of Hinduism. . . . How can there be, in any honest mind, religious or irreligious, equal reverence for all religions—for one which is all for tolerance as well as for one which takes its stand on sheer intolerance?”143 What, then, did it mean to be secular, or for India to choose not to be a Hindu theocratic state? For the RSS’s Tholal, religions did not all deserve equal reverence. When Tholal held that secularism precluded the opportunity to eliminate fanaticism, he was referring to fanatics of one religion alone: Islam. At the same time, the Hindu Mahasabha declared itself in favor of a “radical secularism.” Emerging from its self-imposed exile in the chaos following Gandhi’s death that also resulted in attacks on Mahasabha leaders and properties, it spelled out its “Conception of Secularism” in a pamphlet titled Mahasabha and Its Ideals, which, according to B. Shiva Rao (one of the key participant-observers in the Constitution-drafting process), reflected its “maneuvering for a position of full opposition to the Congress party at the next general elections.”144 In the pamphlet, the Central


Parliamentary Board of the newly rechristened Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha declared: Unskilled administrators and raw politicians, who do not even know the full meaning of secularism, are using this new concept, unfortunately, to cover hundreds of their sins against Hindudom. In order, therefore, that secularism as a means of averting petty parochial disputes, may not defeat its very purpose, the Hindu Mahasabha feels it to be its primary obligation to bring home to the people its own conception of a secular state, which Hindu-Rashtra shall aspire to be. . . . No country can consist of people with identical tastes, likes and dislikes. The individuals must be taught to be tolerant and the administration must keep aloof from political squabbles. It is this “radical secularism,” which characterizes Hindus’ political thought, whose religious diversity knows no limits. The Hindu Mahasabha wants to caution the unscrupulous zealots of western secularism that practicing secularism in statecraft is an art, which cannot be learnt overnight. For the west, it may be a discovery of modern times, but Hindus have not only known it, but actually practised it with success, for centuries.145

Secularism, then, was a means of papering over differences of opinion. Individuals would have to be taught to be tolerant of diverse opinions; Hindus were naturally tolerant and had long practiced this brand of “radical secularism.” For other members of the Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, secularism remained a whitewash for Muslim appeasement, as Godse had declared in his defense statement. With the creation of Pakistan, advocates of a Hindu India demanded that Muslims be sent to Pakistan, cow slaughter be banned, Muslims who remained be assimilated into Indian culture, and Islam become Indianized.146 They took it for granted that Pakistan was a theological state and demanded that India, too, become a Hindu theocratic state.147 Or, as Savarkar declared at the Calcutta session of the Hindu Mahasabha in December 1949, shortly after his acquittal from the Gandhi murder trial: “ek dhakka aur deo, Pakistan tor deo” (give Pakistan one more push, and let it break).148


In the wake of the violence in Hyderabad that resulted in the princely state’s accession to India, an action Godse commended in his defense as embodying a changing Congress, the general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, Ashutosh Lahiry, felt it necessary to list the two main issues that, according to him, differentiated the Congress from his organization: i)

the attitude towards the Muslim minority problem which stand apart from other minority problems in India; and a definite policy with a view to a long range lasting solution of this vital problem. Obviously, Hindu Mahasabha cannot be content with makeshift arrangements and must seek a radical cure.


the . . . ideal of the state, which the Congress has adopted as “The Secular Democratic State.” The Hindu Mahasabha accepts this, not as an ideal, but as a primary basic and fundamental duty of the state. Secular democracy will be the road on which we will traverse to reach our goal and destiny which must inevitably be the welding of the conflicting elements in the state population into one homogeneous nationalistic state based on the ancient culture of the land. We cannot accept religion and culture to be relegated into the background as the affair of individuals.149

Secularism, in this rendition, was a slogan and means to an end—a homogeneous national state, a Hindu Rashtra. It did not mean the separation of religion and politics, and it most certainly did not mean equal respect for all religions. The state would be based on the “ancient culture of the land”— which, the Mahasabha hardly needed to spell out, was Hindu. How did the Congress respond to the critiques of secularism as “Muslim appeasement” that were made by Godse, Lahiry, Tholal, and other ideologues in the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha? To begin with, despite the ties that bound members of the Congress to the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the top leadership of the Congress initially distanced itself from the RSS after Gandhi’s assassination.150 Prompted by the Home Ministry, the legal department also sought to censor the more extreme writings of the RSS. On some issues, however, the government chose to capitulate to the kind of politics espoused by the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha. The historic decision by the Congress-led government of the United Provinces to adopt only Hindi as the official language of United Provinces, for instance,


was lauded by Godse as strongly as it was criticized by Gandhi. This language of exclusion, expressed in the deliberate marginalization of Urdu in newly independent India, would have long-lasting consequences for Muslim morale and educational advancement.151 On the question of political safeguards for religious minorities, there was little to separate the views of the Congress from those of the Hindu Mahasabha, contrary to the criticisms articulated above by its general secretary, Ashutosh Lahiry. Let me turn to the debates in the Constituent Assembly to illustrate my argument.

Inside the Constituent Assembly The flow of arguments inside the hallowed precincts of the Constituent Assembly were not immune to developments outside. Shortly after Partition(/(Independence, prominent Muslim members such as Choudhry Khaliquzzaman of the United Provinces and B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur of Madras spoke in favor of separate electorates. The leader of the Muslim League party in the assembly, Khaliquzzaman, emphasized that circumstances had changed and the “third party” to whom the Muslim community could appeal was no longer present: We have been witnessing things here. If anything happens in East Punjab or if there is any untoward incident in Delhi itself, we cannot go to the Governor- General or to any one else. We have to go to Sardar Patel, because he has become the final arbiter of the fate of the minorities. What use is then that people should cite history, which history is as dead as bones? Surely, there were very serious objection. Rightly or wrongly the Muslims did not realise that separate electorates were the cause of dividing communities. But today those arguments do not hold good. If you conceded separate electorates, the Muslim community feels that they will help in returning their true representatives, representatives who will lay before you—not to any other power, not to any other Government, not even to Pakistan—our grievances and our claims.152

Khaliquzzaman went on to emphasize the “new situation” and asked the majority community to “cast away your suspicions . . . against the Muslims.” In words that would come back to bite his fellow Muslim representatives, he declared that when they accepted the citizenship of this state, “we meant to be honest, we meant to be sincere.” However, living as a minority


did not mean “we have not got any rights to urge for our own community or we should desist from doing it.” He also affirmed that “whatever happens, whatever the decision of the majority might be, take it from me that the Muslims will accept it.”153 Days after this speech, Khaliquzzaman was deputed to Sindh by Gandhi to keep the Hindus from migrating to India; there, he faced the cold wrath of Jinnah for speaking in favor of India’s Muslim minorities in a missive to Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations. And Khaliquzzaman chose to remain in Pakistan, thereby reflecting the flux of loyalties in the tides of partition-time.154 In the memory of his fellow members of the Constituent Assembly, however, he appeared fickle, even a traitor to the cause of Indian Muslims. Subsequently, when the draft Constitution was circulated and debated, separate electorates—associated with Khaliquzzaman, deemed to be divisive and not in keeping with the secular credentials of the Constitution— were not provided to minority religious communities; instead, minorities were provided with reserved seats. Dr.  B.  R. Ambedkar introduced these provisions: I have no doubt that the Constituent Assembly has done wisely in providing such safeguards for minorities as it has done. In this country both the minorities and the majorities have followed a wrong path. It is wrong for the majority to deny the existence of minorities. It is equally wrong for the minorities to perpetuate themselves. A solution must be found which will serve a double purpose. It must recognize the existence of the minorities to start with. It must also be such that it will enable majorities and minorities to merge someday into one. The solution proposed by the Constituent Assembly is to be welcomed because it is a section which serves this twofold purpose. To diehards who have developed a kind of fanaticism against minority protection I would like to say two things. One is that minorities are an explosive force which, if it erupts, can blow up the whole fabric of the State. . . . The other is that the minorities in India have agreed to place their existence in the hands of the majority . . . they have loyally accepted the rule of the majority which is basically a communal majority and not a political majority. It is for the majority to realize its duty not to discriminate against minorities, whether the minorities will continue or will vanish must depend upon this habit of the majority. The moment the


majority loses the habit of discriminating against the minority, the minorities can have no ground to exist. They will vanish.155

This measured statement listing the ground realities in the wake of the partition, and providing for reserved seats as a solution, generated much debate. Several Muslim members rose to oppose reserved seats with joint electorates. For Kazi Syed Karimuddin of the Central Provinces and Berar, reserved seats were a “positive disservice” to the community; “even a false convert or a hireling of the majority party would come in by the votes of the majority party.” He asked instead for proportional representation with multi-member constituencies and plural voting.156 Mr. Z. H. Lari of the United Provinces spoke at some length on a report in the newspapers that Muslim members of his province and Bihar had agreed to have Hindi with the Devanagri script as the official language. He thought it “necessary to repudiate that statement at the very outset” and declared himself in favor of “Hindustani written in either script as the national language of our beloved motherland.”157 On the matter of the electoral system proposed in the draft Constitution, Lari thought it more advisable to “follow the Irish, Swiss and now France in regard to introduction of proportional representation by single transferable or cumulative voting.” Lari argued that this system was “more progressive in instinct” and “really democratic.” It would better promote the Objectives Resolution that had been unanimously adopted by the Assembly.158 As for the services, Lari thought it critical for statutory reservations to be provided. The experience of the last fifteen months in the United Provinces had shown that 75  percent of the discharges and dismissals had been Muslims, whereas hardly 5  percent of the new recruits had been Muslims. He was interrupted with this question: Shri Vishwambhar Dayal Tripathi (United Provinces: General): What did your leaders do in Pakistan? Mr. Z. H. Lari: My friend wants me to follow in the footsteps of Pakistan. I am not going to do so. Mr. Vice-President: Order, order. Mr. Z. H. Lari: I have not mortgaged my rights to Pakistan, I stand here as a citizen of India. What Pakistan does or does not do is not my concern. An Honourable Member: You have grown wise today!


Mr. Vice-President: Order, order. Mr. Z. H. Lari: We never said that Muslims in these parts are going to migrate to Pakistan. We are the children of the soil and as such we claim the rights of citizens of India. Shri Vishwambhar Dayal Tripathi: Even your UP leader has escaped! Mr. Z. H. Lari: Interruptions only show how uncharitable and undemocratic are these. Mr. Vice-President: Order, order.159

Lari concluded his speech by drawing attention to the need for the position of Leader of the Opposition in the legislature. Hussain Imam of Bihar, who spoke next, also spoke in favor of proportional representation. He was followed by Begum Aizaz Rasul, also of the United Provinces. Rasul, too, believed reservation of seats to be “quite pointless” and agreed with Ambedkar that the majority had to realize “its duty not to discriminate against any minority.” However, she sought reservation for minorities in the services, and stood firm on the language question. She did not think 40 million Muslims could change their language overnight. She reminded her fellow members that the “father of the nation” had advocated “Hindustani written in both scripts.”160 Jawaharlal Nehru, who rose next, chose to speak against tendencies of “separatist existence or separate privileges”: I think the glory of India has been the way in which it has managed to keep two things going at the same time: that is, its infinite variety and at the same time its unity in that variety. Both have to be kept, because if we have only variety, then that means separatism and going to pieces. If we seek to impose some kind of regimented unity that makes a living organism rather lifeless. Therefore, while it is our bounden duty to do everything we can to give full opportunity to every minority or group and to raise every backward group or class, I do not think it will be a right thing to go the way this country has gone in the past by creating barriers and by calling for protection. As a matter of fact nothing can protect such a minority or a group less than a barrier which separates it from the majority. It makes it a permanently isolated group and it prevents it from any kind of tendency to bring it closer to the other groups in the country.161


Nehru hoped the House would keep these things in mind while considering various clauses of the draft Constitution. Numerous members spoke on the safeguards for minorities. Like Z. H. Lari, Renuka Ray of West Bengal also held reserved seats for minorities as “not self-respecting for them.” She spoke in favor of multiple constituencies with cumulative voting to ensure representation to minorities “without creating a separatist tendency.”162 L. Krishnaswami Bharathi of Madras, however, faulted Syed Karimuddin for proposing “proportional representation through single transferable voting system.” He thought this an “attempt to come by the backdoor or side windows what is denied by the front door.”163 Sardar Hukam Singh, one of the members representing the Sikh community, also favored plural member constituencies and cumulative voting.164 He was followed by Dalit representative H.  J. Khandekar, who, speaking from personal experience, railed against “the disastrous results of the cumulative system.”165 In closing the discussion, Ambedkar reminded the members that it was the minorities who had agreed to give up the system of separate electorates and to agree to joint electorates with reservation of seats in a prior meeting of the Constituent Assembly. Should they wish to revise any provisions in the draft Constitution, “this result ought not to be brought about either by surprise or by what I may call a side-wind.” He proposed that the proper procedure for changing the provisions was for each community to decide for itself. He personally did not think proportional representation would give the minorities “what they wanted, namely, a definite quota. It might give them a voice in the election of their representatives. Whether the minorities will be prepared to give up their quota system and prefer to have a mere voice in the election of their representatives, I submit, in fairness, ought to be left to them.”166 Meanwhile, a few miles from the Constituent Assembly meeting in New Delhi, Nathuram Godse was holding forth his arguments against separate electorates and the provision of any kind of weightage for religious minorities in the Red Fort in Old Delhi. Two weeks after Godse spoke in his own defense, Sardar Patel asked members of the Minorities Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly to “gauge public opinion among their people” and to reflect on the proposed amendments.167 By the time the Constituent Assembly gathered to discuss the report of the advisory committee on minorities, Godse had repeated his arguments to a spell-bound and illustrious


audience in the former Viceregal summer home Peterhoff in Simla.168 There are no minutes for the meeting of the Minorities Sub-Committee of May 11, 1949, when it was decided to do away with reserved seats for minorities.169 The abruptness of the archival record becomes only slightly explicable when we learn from H. V. R. Iengar, then secretary to the Constituent Assembly, that “so far as the Minorities Committee—which was a very important committee—was concerned, all the work—I would not say bulk of the work, but I would say all the work—really important decisions were taken outside in discussions between the Sardar and the leaders of various groups. If you look at the proceedings of the committee themselves, they will look very blank.”170 Introducing the report of the Advisory Committee on May  25, 1949, Patel traced the history of its recommendations for political safeguards for minorities since August  1947. He compared the demands of Muslim minorities for separate electorates or reservation alongside those of other minorities, Christians of “highly nationalistic tendencies” such as H.  C. Mookherjee and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur who wanted joint electorates. At the most recent meeting of the committee earlier in May, Patel held that “the vast majority of the minority communities have themselves realized after great reflection the evil effects in the past of such reservation on the minorities themselves, and the reservation should be dropped.” He concluded: It is not our intention to commit the minorities to a particular position in a hurry. If they really have come honestly to the conclusion that in the changed conditions of this country, it is in the interest of all to lay down real and genuine foundations of a secular State, then nothing is better for the minorities than to trust the good-sense and sense of fairness of the majority, and to place confidence in them. So also, it is for us who happen to be in a majority to think about what the minorities feel, and how we in their position would feel if we were treated in the manner in which they are treated. But in the long run, it would be in the interest of all to forget that there is anything like majority or minority in this country and that in India there is only one community (hear, hear).171

However, in the debate that ensued, there were harsh words and allegations made by various Muslim members against each other either for not


speaking up or not being representative of Muslim opinion. There was still no consensus among Muslim members of the Constituent Assembly; the debates reflect the contrasting aspirations of Muslims in Madras, Assam, and the United Provinces. Mohamed Ismail Sahib and B. Pocker Sahib of Madras and Syed Muhammad Saadulla of Assam spoke strongly in favor of reserving seats for Muslims. Z. H. Lari reiterated his proposal for the system of cumulative votes in multi-member constituencies and added that no minority, including the Scheduled Castes, should have reserved seats. Quoting from socialist and communist publications and resolutions, Lari argued that of the three political parties at present—the Congress, the Socialists, and the Communists—two had already accepted proportional representation as the proper method of representation.172 As he proceeded to explain proportional representation by way of cumulative voting, he was interrupted thus: Shri H. V. Kamath (CP & Berar: General): Why did you demand Pakistan? Mr. Z. H. Lari: Well, if it is a personal question, I may tell my honourable Friend that I opposed the creation of Pakistan at the Delhi meeting of the Muslim League. But the question is this: is that question pertinent now? Are you not nursing old grievances? I am asking you in all fairness. You say you regard me as an integral part of the nation. But the moment you raise such criticism you give away the whole show. You show that you do not regard me as a part of the whole, that you are still harbouring old suspicions. That is not in keeping with the spirit of accommodation displayed by you. I am sure that in spite of all these interruptions of the kind over there, the heart of this House is very sound, at least the heart of the leaders of the country is very sound and that heart will see how the Muslim heart pulsates.173

Not everyone disagreed with Lari. Mahavir Tyagi of the Congress argued that the system of cumulative voting was “very easy,” and worth trying for a period of ten years.174 Whatever the differences between the views and suggestions of various Muslim members, they were unanimous, with varying emphases, in af-


firming their faith and trust in the goodwill of the majority community. Arguably the most emphatic voice in support of joint electorates without reservation that emerged was that of Begum Aizaz Rasul. One of the four Muslim members to vote at the advisory committee for minorities on May 11, Rasul spoke eloquently in favor of joint electorates. Although she admitted to the “fear in the minds of Muslims that by doing away with reservations they will not be returned to the legislatures according to the members of their population,” she proceeded to dismiss these fears as “baseless.” She declared it necessary for the minorities “to try to merge themselves into the majority community” and to “win the goodwill of the majority community.” She trusted that “when we put the majority community on its honour, it will be up to it to retain its prestige and honour and return members of the minority community not only in numbers to which they are entitled on a population basis but perhaps in greater numbers. I do not visualize any political party in the future putting up candidates for election ignoring the Muslims.”175 In her memoirs written decades later, when the reality of Muslim marginalization in elected bodies was obvious, Rasul recalled the constraints engulfing the Muslim community after partition.176 Both the prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the deputy prime minister, Sardar Patel, who chaired the committee, reiterated their great faith in the majority community in returning Muslims to Parliament on a joint electorate. Five decades later, Rafiq Zakaria, one of Patel’s biographers, thought that Patel, who died before the first general elections, “would have been saddened to see how his trust was not honoured by his co-religionists.”177 Gandhi, more attuned to combating the prejudices of Hindu majoritarianism, had been more farsighted. This might be one of the reasons he endeared himself to Suhrawardy, who wrote to Khaliquzzaman: What attracts me most to Mahatma Gandhi’s mission is his insistence that the majority must not feel a sense of superiority or of domination and the minorities must not be made to feel any sense of subservience. He says that the minorities have rights for which they must fight unto death. They must not adopt an attitude of giving up rights in order to purchase the goodwill of the majorities.178

Yet this is precisely what transpired during the debates on political safeguards for religious minorities. Several Muslim members felt their safeguards were being withdrawn without their consent; some members such


as Lari and Hasrat Mohani were continually reminded that Muslims alone were responsible for the partition and that they had the option to leave for Pakistan.179 In the months after Gandhi’s assassination, it became the special burden of minorities to proclaim their loyalty to India; loyalty now meant unquestioning obedience to the system of joint electorates with no reservation of seats for Muslims. Contrary to the views of Ashutosh Lahiry, the general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, these Constituent Assembly debates show that there was little to distinguish between the Congress and the Hindu Right on their attitude toward the Muslim minority problem. As for the Christian, Sikh, and Parsi minorities, they willingly acceded to joint electorates; the Sikhs were especially glad that Scheduled Caste Sikhs, such as the Mazhabis, Kabirpanthis, Ramdasias, and Sikligars, would be counted among the Scheduled Castes and thereby allowed reserved seats.

Secularism and the Minority Question after the Mahatma For Gandhi, secularism, after the migrations forced by partition, meant building an India where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Parsis belonged in equal measure. That question of belonging was basic to surviving in violence-riven, post-partition India. Therefore, he insisted on prayers from multiple religious traditions in his public meetings in Birla House. Secularism, as giving equal respect to all religions, was evident here, in that patch of Delhi earth, open to the sky, in those prayers sometimes transmitted across radio waves and heard across the country, and in streets and neighborhoods across India that remained untouched by the violence that was partition. Gandhi’s faith in the possibility of a multireligious India was unshaken, at least in these prayer meetings, where he remained stubbornly opposed to having armed guards for his protection. In the ensuing murder trial, Gandhi’s followers calmly explained the meaning of Arabic words like Karim and Rahim, arguing against the Godseian notion that they might have hurt anyone’s sentiments. But Gandhi’s claim that India was the home of Muslims no less than of Hindus, which he made at the last meeting of the All India Congress Committee that he attended, and his assurances to Suhrawardy and Khaliquzzaman that minorities must not give up their rights to “purchase the goodwill of the majorities,” were at a far


remove from the political safeguards that were taken away from the Muslim community after his assassination. What, then, did it mean to be secular, in this historical time? Many political scientists and historians—including Ralph Retzlaff, Iqbal Ansari, Rochona Bajpai, Shabnum Tejani, Gurpreet Mahajan, and Shefali Jha—have noted the steady chipping away at minority rights in the course of the drafting of the Indian Constitution.180 Even as religious minorities’ rights to religious and cultural expression were safeguarded in the fundamental rights section of the Constitution, endowing India with its reputation for tolerance and pluralism,181 political safeguards in elected bodies—either in the form of separate electorates, weightages, reservation of seats in the legislature or proportional representation, and reservation in the services— were whittled down and removed from the final draft of the Constitution. Retzlaff, Ansari, Tejani, and Jha have also detailed the resentment voiced by Sikh and Muslim members of the Constituent Assembly at these changes. Even Ambedkar, whose initial, solo-authored charter of rights for minorities had conceived of political representation of religious minorities other than Scheduled Castes, later complained of how his hands had been tied during the drafting process.182 Shefali Jha asks: “In denying the religious minorities the additional safeguard of better representation, were these members unwittingly giving in to a view of democracy as majoritarianism which would eventually prove antithetical to religious freedom.”183 In this time of violence and polarization, there could not have been anything remotely unwitting in the decisions being taken by the drafters of the Indian Constitution. Why, then, did the Congress wittingly opt, in this defining, founding moment, to follow a politics of Muslim abandonment?

close associates of Gandhi met at Sevagram in March 1948. Ironically, this was a meeting for which the Mahatma had been preparing: it was to lay out the role of Gandhi and Gandhian institutions in free India. Now, in the poignant words of the published extracts of the meeting, the problem was: Gandhi is gone: Who will guide us now?184 Bereft of their father figure, the Gandhians at the meeting turned to a discussion of Nathuram Godse and the slowly emerging conspiracy that had claimed the Mahatma’s life. Congress president Rajendra Prasad and prime SHORTLY AFTER THE ASSASSINATION,


minister Nehru drew out the connections between refugee anger and the Mahatma’s death. Rajendra Prasad: Behind Gandhiji’s assassination lies a large group of people who plotted it and elaborately celebrated its success, and yet we remain completely in the dark about this whole organization. Jawaharlal Nehru: How are we to get a grip on developments that led to the refugee problem and to the death of Gandhiji? We cannot tackle them through the police and the army. Only through personal sacrifice and service can an individual find the right path here. How is this to be done? This is the question demanding our attention. Tackle the problem in Delhi or in the Punjab—go wherever you will, but the problem demands a solution. We have to bring this venom under control.185

Nehru then posed the fundamental question to this chosen group of Gandhians: “Why, ultimately, did India get out of control?” He answered it himself. “There are many reasons. As far as Congress is concerned, the Congress leaders got so bound up in election arguments and in running their own governments that they had no time left for serving the people. A wall came up between the people and ourselves, and Congress increasingly lost stature—even if a few individual leaders retained their influence and their standing.”186 Nehru’s thoughtful self-critique is along expected lines. Baring his innermost and sometimes unformed thoughts was rather a habit with the embattled and tired prime minister. Emerging from Sevagram, Nehru had a resolution passed on the elimination of communalism on April 3, 1948. The text read: Whereas it is essential for the proper functioning of democracy and the growth of national unity and solidarity that communalism should be eliminated from Indian life, this Assembly is of opinion that no communal organization, which, by its constitution or by the exercise of discretionary power vested in any of its officers and organs, admits to, or excludes from its membership persons on grounds of religion, race, and caste, or any of them, should be permitted to engage in any activities other than those essential for


the bona fide religious, cultural, social, and educational needs of the communities and that all steps, legislative and administrative, necessary to prevent such activities should be taken.187

Nehru also referred to “certain definite communal elements” in the draft Constitution and hoped “personally that the less reservation there is the better.”188 In framing the problem thus, he swam with the tide of majoritarian opinion, not against it. The equation of communalism with separate electorates or Muslim demands was not new; the RSS also perceived separate electorates to be inherently divisive, as the “germ protoplasm of Pakistan.”189 It is possible that the RSS satyagraha, when tens of thousands sought arrest to protest the prolonged detention of RSS leaders after the assassination of Gandhi, made the Congress realize that the RSS was more popular than they had hitherto fully acknowledged.190 Perhaps Gopal Godse was right when he told the Kapur Commission, two decades later, that had this murder conspiracy failed, another would have tried, and succeeded.

MOST OF THE LIT ER ATURE on Gandhi’s assassination has been devoted to the

government’s failure to avert the assassination despite having actionable intelligence of the conspiracy to murder the Mahatma.191 There were five distinct ways in which Gandhi, his assassination, and Godse’s defense shaped the postcolonial political and legal culture of India and the state ideology of secularism. First, Gandhi’s way of affirming the presence of Muslims in his prayer meetings was of special significance as the forced migrations of partition unfolded. Contrary to T. N. Madan, who held Gandhian secularism not to be “a matter of political necessity or prudence,” I argue that Gandhi’s insistence on the ritual of reading from the Quran, a quintessential part of his secularism and religious practice, did have political and pedagogical purposes.192 Although the prayer meetings flowed from a deeper vision of a collective humanity, they also served political purposes. Godse certainly recognized, and abjured, the power of Gandhi’s example. Second, the repeated arrests, bans, and raids on RSS activists and publications allowed these proponents of hate speech to claim victim status. Several contemporaries and historians have remarked that Gandhi’s death stopped the ongoing violence.193 In the longer term, writings in outlets such


as the Organiser, claiming to be India’s largest English-language weekly by the early 1950s, rechanneled important conversations around violence, both partition violence and Gandhi’s own violent death. In several cases judges took their stand against the government’s repeated use of the censor; a senior bureaucrat like Iengar recalled with misgiving the arrest of young boys chanting RSS slogans. It was the Organiser’s privileging of the arrests and subsequent satyagraha of RSS workers that lay the foundations for the gradual rehabilitation of the RSS.194 The Organiser’s judicial victory in May 1950 that led to the First Amendment only helped further this narrative of victimhood. Even the Hindu Mahasabha resumed political activity by attacking the Congress for its suspension of civil liberties and reliance on public safety measures.195 Third, a fortnight after Nathuram Godse summed up his arguments in the appeals case in Simla, the Constituent Assembly accepted the recommendation of the Minorities Sub-Committee to give up reserved seats for minorities, a decision with long-term consequences as was evident in the continuous, prevailing meager representation of religious minorities in India’s Parliament. By giving up reserved seats for religious minorities such as Muslims, a demand that Godse had seconded in the Hindu Mahasabha conference at Gorakhpur in January  1947, Nehruvian secularism, seemingly strengthened by the Mahatma’s martyrdom, paradoxically ceded ground to the Hindu Right. Fourth, much of the Congress’s secularism, and the Hindu Mahasabha variant of secularism, took it for granted that Pakistan was Islamic and theocratic.196 To be national, after 1947, meant being opposed to what Pakistan was believed to stand for—an Islamic theocratic state.197 In the case of the Hindu Mahasabha, this brought on the additional imperative of taking care of Hindu minorities in Muslim-majority countries because the Mahasabha insisted that only a Hindu Rashtra could take responsibility for the safety of minority Hindus beyond its border.198 For the Congress, the “fact” of having as a neighbor an Islamic state that was built on the rhetoric of the two-nation theory was all the more reason to be secular and thereby opposed to the two-nation theory. This also equated any Muslim demand for political safeguards as inherently separatist. Fifth, secularism became something of a catch-all phrase. If arrests could be made on charges of spreading communal hatred, and if secularism was the new religion, it made sense to be the first to claim the secular tag, as the


Hindu Mahasabha chose to do in its election manifesto. To be sure, the working of Section 295A of the IPC in the aftermath of partition did provide some protection to Muslim customs from the assaults of the Hindu Right, but the government also pursued policies that went further in enabling the creation of the Hindu Mahasabha’s hoped-for “homogeneous nationalistic state”—the abandonment of reserved seats or any other kind of political safeguard for religious minorities in the final draft of the Constitution in 1949, and the sidelining of Urdu are cases in point.199 This was a far cry from what Gandhi had envisioned for the Congress in the resolutions he drafted at the AICC meeting in 1947. The substance of Indian secularism in this founding moment appeared closer to “Muslim abandonment” than to the common right-wing charge of “Muslim appeasement.” On the eve of the first general election, Prime Minister Nehru sought to balance the denial of reserved seats in Parliament by urging the Congress parliamentary board to nominate more Muslims in the general constituencies. It is not only a matter of honour for us, but something of great practical importance, that we put up representatives of the minority communities in adequate numbers. Separate electorates and reservations have been given up, and this has increased our responsibility in this respect. If we fail to discharge this responsibility, critics will be entitled to say that joint electorates have failed, and that we cannot adequately protect the interests of the minorities.200

However, the gesture remained symbolic. In the most recent, seventeenth Lok Sabha elections (2019), Muslim representation has hovered at 4.3 percent of the total number of seats—23 in a house of 543. So, measured by this yardstick, the state ideology that was Indian secularism fell short of its own high expectations. Yet support began to take root for an ideal of secularism that was neither Muslim abandonment nor so-called appeasement. When the Nehruvian state moved to protect Muslim hurt sentiments through recourse to Section 295A, it adhered to an ethic of secularism as equal protection for all, including minorities. Ironically, growing support for secularism was a consequence of events across the border.


“HINDU HURT” AND THE CASE FOR SECULARISM IN INDIA We should understand two things. Whatever the reason, our Muslim friends are becoming more communal (sampradayavadi) and in reaction, Hindus are becoming more angry (ugra). (Interruptions) Now, in this country, Mr. Speaker, Hindus will no longer accept violence. For 700–800 years, we have had a tradition (parampara) of accepting violence. —Atal Bihari Vajpayee I do not like to interrupt and I have always advised members on all sides of the House to listen to whoever is speaking. If I have done so on this occasion, it was to point out to hon Member Shri Vajpayee that he was using this opportunity to say things which will deeply hurt all minorities . . . his speech is going to create a bad atmosphere in the country. —Indira Gandhi

THE ABOVE EXCHANGE came in the wake of a slew of com-

munal riots across north India—Jabalpur, Ranchi, Ahmedabad, Bhiwandi, Jalgaon, Chaibasa—and during a special discussion on communal distur76


bances in India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, in 1970. Although the riots led to a flurry of activity in the form of inquiry commissions, and resolutions of the National Integration Council to act against errant bureaucrats, police officials, and politicians, these were followed by more riots. Close on the heels of the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the government’s challenges included the Naxalite violence in West Bengal and the ordeal and uncertainty fueled by monsoons and two years of drought. So it was not surprising that enterprising leaders within the Jana Sangh, the RSS, and the Syndicate-led Congress hoped for the seemingly impregnable “Congress system” to crack at the seams, and for the relatively inexperienced and young prime minister to be ousted at the hustings.1 Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi’s populist measures—such as the nationalization of banks and the abolition of privy purses, which were meant to rein in and defuse the opposition to her rule—were stalled by judgments of the Supreme Court. Her detractors, led by Jana Sangh leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, warned that those not sufficiently patriotic had to be “Indianized”; even the prime minister, they said, needed to be “Indianized.”2 Vajpayee argued that what he labeled growing Muslim communalism was leading to a reaction, growing Hindu anger. In his newly published book Bunch of Thoughts the RSS chief, M. S. Golwalkar, repeated the old canard that Muslims were “internal threats” and invaders (ākramankārīs) who ought not to be given equal rights with “sons of the soil” (who were Hindu); and called Muslim neighborhoods “miniature Pakistans.”3 Leaders of the RSS shrugged off the threat of another ban with nonchalance and mirth.4 In the RSS’s Organiser, editor K. R. Malkani recalled the first ban and the tremendous satyagraha that had followed; he dared Indira Gandhi’s government to do its worst. He also quoted Iqbal, for the “secular crowd understands Urdu better than Hindi”: bātil se dabne vāle ai āsmān nahīñ ham sau bār kar cukā tū imtihān hamārā We are not the men to bow before the insolence of office, have you not tried and tested us a hundred times?5

Hemmed in by the courts and critics, Indira Gandhi announced the next general elections for February 1971. Contrary to everyone’s expectations,


she won a landslide victory; to her opponent’s demands to remove her, she responded with the less insular slogan: “Remove poverty.”6 Into this cauldron of fiery politicking poured refugees from neighboring East Pakistan. The military general Yahya Khan’s refusal to transfer power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, despite the Awami League’s spectacular election victory in December  1970, was followed by a massive military assault on Dhaka in March 1971. As refugees described the catastrophe across the eastern border, the Sangh chose to highlight the traumatic experiences of Bengali Hindu refugees, launch a satyagraha to pressure the government of Indira Gandhi to recognize Bangladesh, and criticize the prime minister for her supposed inaction through the summer of 1971. That the ensuing war changed the balance of power within South Asia is now well known. What has not been sufficiently appreciated is how much the war also changed the balance of sentiment in favor of secularism within India. This chapter opens with a reading of the Sangh’s way through the words of M. S. Golwalkar, the RSS’s influential chief, and K. R. Malkani, editor of the Organiser (and later a member of Parliament), and the parliamentary speeches of the Jana Sangh leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Sangh’s approach was vociferously contested: debates in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on communal violence, amendments to the Indian Penal Code, and the Constitution enable us to see how parliamentarians’ understanding and subsequent reframing of Indian secularism grew out of discussion. They also reveal that the increasing acceptance of secularism as equality and respect toward all religions emerged after the 1971 war, which was widely interpreted as signaling the death of the two-nation theory. Indira Gandhi and her government played a significant role in renewing faith in secularism. After the 1971 landslide elections and the war, her government was arguably more powerful than Nehru’s had ever been. Amendments to Section 153A of the IPC and a new law, Section 153B, sailed through Parliament. These new laws aimed to curb the speeches and activities of RSS shakhas that sought to intimidate Muslims. These were times of extraordinary hope, revolutionary hope. Still, the twenty-month-long rule by Emergency (1975–1977) proved a major setback to any progressive project the Congress government had envisaged. Not only were the effects of the Emergency long-lasting in setting into motion a special kind of institutional malaise and corruption and providing a new respectability to the Jana Sangh that joined the coalition government afterward, but the Emer-


gency also frittered away the secular energies that were beginning to focus on the problem of communalism after the 1971 war. Although the term “secular” was added to the Preamble to the Constitution during the Emergency, the debates reveal the government’s reluctance to define secularism. Scholars have long theorized about the distinctive characteristics of Indian secularism; these debates offer rich examples of how people’s representatives from across India understood and drew assurance from Indian secularism. The subsequent amendments (FortyThird and Forty-Fourth) that reversed several of the changes made to the Constitution during the Emergency did not alter the changes made to the Preamble. However, a parliamentary debate on “hurt” Hindu sentiments in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya shows up secularism as an ideal hardly worth defending. What accounts for secularism’s precipitous fall from grace? My analysis of these two moments in India’s history—1976 and 1993—reveals a growing disjuncture between faith in the state ideology of secularism, in theory and in praxis.

The Sangh Way Several scholars have written on the relationship between the RSS and the Jana Sangh.7 Whatever the precise modalities of sharing and propagating an ideology of Hindu victimhood and resurgent Hindu pride between the two organizations, there was complete harmony in the views of RSS chief M. S. Golwalkar in Bunch of Thoughts and the thesis of “Indianisation” propounded by Jana Sangh leaders Balraj Madhok and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This was recognized by the prime minister as evinced in the following brief exchange, as well as by other members of Parliament.8 Indira Gandhi: Books are being written and published changing our known history. This is extremely dangerous on us. . . . I would like the hon member to read some of the speeches made by members of his party who have said that the Muslims cannot live in India unless they are Indianised. Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Now, it is my turn to challenge the Prime Minister. Let her produce a single speech, and I am prepared to take action against that Jana Sangh leader. [. . .]


Indira Gandhi: Golwalkar ji has said this (Interruptions) . . . I am told that the Members who have joined certain Governments on behalf of the Jana Sangh have been Members of the RSS. I think there are any number of speeches which can be produced on these lines. Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Show me even one. Indira Gandhi: Why one, we will show you all. We discussed all these in the National Integration Council. Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Speak of the Jana Sangh, of the Jana Sangh . . . 9

Although Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts elaborated his views on the place of Muslims in India and Indian history, and the RSS’s highest executive body routinely pronounced its views on the status of Kashmir and other political matters, as many as three High Court judgments declared that the onus lay on the government to prove that the RSS was “political.”10 The RSS chief M. S. Golwalkar offered “the Sangh Way” to resolve the Muslim problem. “Bharat,” he declared, “is Hindustan, the land of the Hindus.” To an Englishman who asked him his views of Muslims and Christians, he responded by asking the Englishman his opinion of those in England who are “not English.” Did he think of turning them out of England? The Englishman replied: “If they merge in our stream of life and become one with the national aspirations, we don’t object to their way of worship.” Golwalkar concurred with this position.11 Assimilation, or Indianization, in a word, became the core demand and slogan of the Sangh—both the RSS and the Jana Sangh. Included in this pithy slogan was opposition to Urdu, which was deemed to be a foreign language; opposition to reservation for Muslims in elected bodies or services; and the constant reminder, dinned into every other editorial and speech, that Muslims were responsible for the partition of India and had still not proven their loyalty to India. The independence and integrity of Hindustan are constantly menaced by Pakistan, which is indeed a dagger planted in the body of India. And it was the Indian-area Muslims more than Pakistan-area Muslims who planted that dagger there. This is history. And Indian Muslims cannot disown responsibility for it. When, therefore, the Hindu sees that the Muslim has set up an Islamic State in Pakistan


but wants a “secular” state in Hindustan, he feels that the Muslim is not being reasonable. He notes that while the Muslim had adopted Urdu in Pakistan he is opposing Hindi in Hindusthan. He notes, too, that while he has no tears to shed for the plight of Hindus in Pakistan he is all the time demanding more jobs and more offices and more power in Hindusthan. The Hindu sees all this and he feels cheated. ... The Muslim is not educating himself; and the Government is doing nothing to educate him. He seems to be living in a ghetto world of his own, emotionally frozen in the ruins of the Mughal Empire. When is he going to see that except for his religious beliefs, he is a Hindu—by blood, by language, by everything? Only when the Muslim identifies himself completely with this country and its people and their culture will he be at peace with himself and with the world.12

There is no space in this diatribe for the Muslim to offer a response and rebut these absolute charges. It is the Muslim who desires a secular state in Hindustan, surely a most unreasonable demand. Whatever the Muslim might do—and that s%/%he might now wish to participate in Muslim-led political parties was regarded a threat—the very existence of Pakistan made their loyalty suspect. In the late 1940s, when articles in the Organiser asked Muslims to give up their religious customs and adopt Hindu names, copies of the publication were banned, as discussed in Chapter 1; now, the Organiser reiterated that Indian Muslims must accept that they were, essentially, “Hindu.” These articles were not, however, banned. In fact, they were an extension of Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts, marketed as a collection of his speeches and quickly translated into regional languages. The Sangh sought to educate the opposition on the position of Muslims in India. Bapurai Sohoni, former president of the Jana Sangh, criticized Jayaprakash Narayan’s address to university teachers and students in Bombay, in which he had referred, with foreboding, to the rise of Hindu nationalism. Sohoni sought to disabuse JP of the idea that Muslims were second-class citizens: After carving out Pakistan, the Moslems who have stayed back in India have not got any complex of second-class citizenship. It is an untrue statement. The Muslims after independence are so conscious that they act as a powerful political pressure group. The Congress


has won all the elections on the basis of the solid support of Muslims. . . . Muslims are not second class citizens; they are the supercitizens of India. The fact that Dr Zakir Husain is President and Shri Hidayatullah is Chief Justice, disproves any statement to the contrary. The fact that Zakir Husain could get elected even though opposing the Directive Principle on Uniform Civil Code, shows the power of Muslim communalism in Hindusthan.13

Members of the Sangh routinely compared the personal marriage laws of Indian Muslim men, who were allowed to marry four wives, with those of Pakistani Muslim men, whose marriage laws had been substantially reformed. Writers in the Organiser also compared the position of allegedly pampered Muslims in India with those of Hindus in Pakistan, who were second-class citizens and did not have the right to become head of state.14 The Sangh’s ideology relied on Pakistan as much for its progressive policies toward Muslims as for its regressive attitude toward its own religious minorities. The Congress’s politics of tokenism, of appointing Muslims in high places, militated against a real reckoning of the position of Muslims in the nation at large.15 In the absence of hard data, the editor of the Organiser, K. R. Malkani, pronounced that the perception of Muslims that they were marginalized, was a “psychological” problem “with its roots in the historical.” Malkani blamed the “average Muslim” for living in the past and considering himself a member of the ruling class; he asked that they undergo “a whole process of re-education” that would give them a “proper perspective of history.” In a throwback to the Sangh’s obsession with partition, and also reflecting a bizarre approach to national statistics, Malkani argued that if the three countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were considered together, the proportion of Muslims in services would not be less than their share in the population of the “Hindustan Peninsula”!16

Indianization and Its Critics At Patna in December 1969, the Jana Sangh defined Indianization as the “subordination of all narrow loyalties like those of religion, caste, region, language or dogma to the over-riding loyalty to the nation of all fissiparous elements, especially of those with extra-territorial loyalties or allegiance,


overt or covert, to the two-nation or multi-nation theory.”17 Vajpayee added: “All that we mean by ‘Indianising Muslims’ is that we may be spared the irrelevance of all Islamic impediments blocking our onward march.”18 The Jana Sangh’s critics were quick to respond. At a “Confrontation on Indianisation” held at the India International Center in New Delhi two months later, Professor Shukla of the Central Institute of Education said he was reminded of Hitler, who said the German Jews were “not German enough and deserved to be exterminated. Today Jana Sangh wants to Indianise Muslims, tomorrow they would like to Indianise the Nagas, the DMK, the Akalis.”19 Other critics pointed out that Indianization was subversive of the Constitution. Those who raised the slogan were “guilty of treason.”20 When Malkani, representing the Sangh, was asked how the Muslim might be Indianized, he recommended that they “change their separatist outlook” and “feel happy and one with the Hindus.” He was glad the younger generation was learning Hindi and noted, favorably, the recent appointment of a Muslim woman as Reader of Hindi at Benares Hindu University.21 Within Parliament, Indianization faced greater scrutiny and resistance. This was, after all, a space for debate, not monologue. Vajpayee, the president of the Jana Sangh, clarified: Indianisation is not a slogan; it is a reawakening. It has nothing to do with any community, any religion. . . . Indianisation is a bid to make India strong, to give teeth to its unity, its oneness. It means we must end our dependence on foreign countries, the Americans or the Russians. Under American pressure, we devalue the rupee; under Russian pressure, we sign on the Tashkent pact and surrender our own land! We must end all foreign aid. . . . Indianisation means only one thing; those who live in India must love India.22

Unlike the Organiser, which had claimed it was unfair for the Muslim to demand secularism in India after partition, Vajpayee argued that it was the Hindu who had opted for India to be a secular country in 1947. He declared that India did not become a Hindu state after independence because “our sanskriti [culture%/%tradition] didn’t give us the permission to do so [isliye ki hamārī sanskriti iskī ijāzat nahīñ detī].” It was characteristic of Hinduism that it did not insist on one book or one prophet and consign unbelievers to hell. Secularism, Vajpayee emphasized, was not “a slogan or innovation of the Congress party; this is a mantram created out of the culture of this country.”


However, he lamented that to be secular these days meant to be anti-Hindu (Hindu virodhi$); this had to change. He defended the recent suggestion made by his colleague Balraj Madhok that the prime minister, too, needed to be Indianized.23 Vajpayee’s oration drew outrage. Ahmad Aga of Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir asked which “preparatory school” he would have to attend to become Indianized. He thought the notion of Indianization was “absolutely meaningless and senseless”; it made minorities feel “discouraged and frustrated.”24 Acknowledging her absence in the House when Vajpayee spoke, Indira Gandhi said she had read his speech in “cold print” wherein “his true intentions come out better when shorn of his ringing cadences.”25 She thought “his theory . . . not quite so innocent.” Who will judge the quantum or the quality of Indianness of any individual? . . . We remember vividly the havoc caused in America by some people who declared other Americans to be un-American and, in the entire world, when some Germans maintained that other Germans were un-Aryan and, therefore, un- German. . . . [T]he test of any statement is not how you yourselves interpret it, but what impact it has on the people about whom you make that statement. . . . I have given a good deal of time to Shri Vajpayee’s thoughts because I think that they merit it. I have tried to see through his words, behind his sweet phrases and his beautiful Hindi.

In the Rajya Sabha, Bhupesh Gupta of the Communist Party of India (CPI) raised a short discussion on the implications of Indianization. He believed that because India was secular, such slogans—“whether it be the Indianisation of the Muslims or Pakistanisation of the Hindus of East Pakistan”—led to disaster. When translated into action, the slogan led to the “extermination of Muslims by some rabid communal Hindus,” which is what had transpired in recent riots in Ahmedabad, Calcutta, and elsewhere. Gupta perceived the slogan as aimed at diverting attention from the “democratic upsurge” in the country.26 In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress’s Krishan Kant, who had played an active role in politics in Lahore before partition, quoted Golwalkar’s appreciative remarks on Hitler from his book We or Our Nationhood Defined. He also quoted extracts from Golwalkar’s Not Socialism, but Hindu Rashtra: “Now that we have attained freedom and are trying to wash off all stains of


past slavery, why should they, who were subject to religious slavery, not shake off those shackles and join the original national stream. All these Muslims or Christians, everybody should join the mainstream and be converted to Hinduism.” “This is how they want to Indianise,” complained Krishan Kant. He proceeded to quote further extracts from Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts and pointed out that the Sangh was also targeting “Harijans and Scheduled Classes.”27 The Congress’s Vidya Charan Shukla also regarded Indianization as the new avatar of the old slogan of Hindu Rashtra, which the Sangh realized was no longer tenable. He reminded his colleagues of the original draft resolution of the Jana Sangh in Patna that specifically mentioned the need to Indianize the 93 percent of Muslims who had voted for Pakistan; this detail was removed from the final resolution.28 A year later, in an interview with Dr. Jeelany, a former intelligence agent and regular columnist for the Organiser, Golwalkar wished to correct the record on Indianization: “Indianisation” was of course the slogan given by Jana Sangh. . . . “Indianisation” does not mean making all the people Hindu. . . . [L]et us realise and believe that we are the children of the soil . . . that we come from the same stock . . . and therefore let us realise and believe that our aspirations are also one. This is the meaning of “Indianisation.” That is all. That does not mean that anyone should give up his way of worship. We can never advocate this or even think of it. We believe that one simple way of worship is not suitable to the whole humanity.29

The “same stock” argument harkened back to earlier writings in the Organiser that had claimed Muslims to be essentially “Hindu,” barring their ways of worship. Rather than asking Muslims to “join the original national stream,” Golwalkar now chose to underline the sameness of their origins after the electoral rout of the Jana Sangh.

Riots and Reactions Two months after the debate on Indianization, Indira Gandhi and Vajpayee were again exchanging sharp words during a discussion on communal riots then engulfing India. Vajpayee warned that angry, militant (ugra) Hindus were reacting to increasing Muslim communalism, as noted in the epigraph


to this chapter, while Indira Gandhi interrupted him to note that he was hurting the sentiments of all religious minorities. Some members asked that the offensive parts of his speech be expunged; he held his ground and so did the prime minister. She wanted the truth of the Jana Sangh to be exposed, not pushed “underground.”30 The recent split in the Congress resulted in critiques of government policy being expressed fearlessly and confidently. Several speakers reflected on the ultimate sacrifice of the Mahatma, for the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity. Hadn’t they just celebrated Gandhi’s birth centenary? S. K. Patil of the Syndicate Congress recalled that Nehru had popularized the term “secularism.” Why did he introduce that word, the word used centuries ago in the European countries in a different context? He brought it in just to teach us and tell us that in this country, if all the communities, be they Hindu or Muslim or any, learn to live together as brothers and do not bring their particular religion in the exercise of many things they do day in and day out, there is progress in this country; if they do not there is no progress in this country.

On the spirit of ugrata (anger) to which Vajpayee had referred, Patil advised against retaliation. He turned to the Gandhian Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s definition of secularism: sarva dharma samānatā, “same respect for every religion.” Patil understood secularism to mean equal respect. He spoke eloquently of having “as much respect for Islam as I have for my own religion. I will not practise Islam, I will never practise it, I am proud of my own religion. I shall grow in it, but surely I must understand the right of another man, a Muslim, to grow in his own religion and practise it in the manner he likes.” Patil wished to move away from the question of who threw the “first stone or first acid bomb or Molotov cocktail” and get to the root of the problem.31 Sitaram Kesri of the Congress (R), Indira’s faction of the Congress, asked why Gandhi had been assassinated. He blamed the RSS for indoctrinating children through drills and communal interpretations of Mughal history. He suggested that a board of noncommunal writers be formed to stop the spread of communal writings and supported a ban on institutions that spread communalism.32 N. K. P. Salve, also of Indira’s Congress (R), warned


state governments patronizing paramilitary organizations such as the RSS that they were nursing a “Frankenstein.”33 Mohamed Imam of the Swatantra party invoked Gandhi, noting that with every riot, “we are murdering Gandhiji and with every murder a number of Godses are coming up.” Imam complained that the recently amended criminal law providing stringent punishments for those who foment communal trouble was “safe in the statute-book but no action has been taken.”34 S. A. Dange, chairman of the CPI, likened Vajpayee’s speech to a “manifesto calling for a civil war of the Hindus against the Muslims.” He did not want Vajpayee’s words expunged from the record. Dange was also against banning the RSS or the Jana Sangh, for that would only make them go underground. Instead, it was necessary to “isolate them by ideological, political, social and moral propaganda.” India needed to establish a “rule of law” in which democratic processes decide the “fate of things,” where strikes and elections have their place and parliamentary and nonparliamentary struggles defend the exploited class.35 Indira Gandhi went to the heart of the problem. Who begins a riot, she asked? Was it the person who threw a stone or the “atmosphere that is spread by speeches of the type which we heard here today?” The prime minister condemned using this occasion as an opportunity to say things that not only would “hurt the feelings of minority communities but will egg on the majority community in other places to try and create some similar incidents.” She referred to Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts and other speeches that claimed Muslims needed to be Indianized and made no distinction between the Jana Sangh and the RSS. Yet her vague reply to the debate that included the usual stock responses—awaiting the report of yet another inquiry commission, providing relief to the victims, and working to improve the “atmosphere”—did not add up to the concrete plan of action that was demanded by several members.36 Several members—including the Congress leaders M. A. Khan and Abdul Ghani Dar, and the socialists Nath Pai, J.  B. Kripalani, and George Fernandes—were critical of the Congress party’s role in cultivating a Muslim vote bank on the grounds that they alone would protect Muslim personal laws, and state inaction and dereliction in the face of communal riots. They also provided their historical perspective on Hindu-Muslim relations before and after partition.37


M. A. Khan, representing Kasganj in UP, observed that riots were preplanned and targeted Muslim middle-class neighborhoods that were part of the economic mainstream. Most of the property was destroyed during curfew; the police were in league with rioters. As for Vajpayee’s claim that Muslims start riots, Khan asked: “Had this country’s Muslims gone mad to say come kill us, dishonor our women, loot our homes?”38 He dismissed Vajpayee’s suggestion to invite Muslims such as Jeelany and Hamid Dalwai to the National Integration Council as an exercise in obfuscation and referred to them as “Muslims only in name.”39 The socialist leader Nath Pai, representing Rajapur in Maharashtra, lamented the weakening authority of the center and the concomitant rise of general and “permissive” violence in the country. He traced the history of Hindu-Muslim relations, noting that only Mahatma Gandhi and Badshah Khan had opposed partition. Not once after independence were the suspicions, fears, and mutual hatred between Hindu and Muslim minds examined and removed. Tracing the activities of all the political parties at a public rally before the recent Bhiwandi riots in Maharashtra, Nath Pai did not think it worth reducing the communal problem to a quarrel between the prime minister and Vajpayee. He declared the government of India responsible for “seeing that the flag on which we have emblazoned secularism is respected, is upheld.40 Some of his criticisms were echoed by the socialist leader from Bombay, George Fernandes. He narrated Indira Gandhi’s campaign against Ram Manohar Lohia when the Congress courted Muslim votes on the grounds that they alone would protect Muslim personal laws and Lohia would not. Fernandes also produced the seven-page letter from Bhiwandi’s Muslim leaders that contested Vajpayee’s narration of events and asked him to examine the vitriolic speeches of Bhiwandi’s Jana Sangh leaders.41 The senior socialist leader J. B. Kripalani was scathing in his criticism of the Congress for encouraging “floor-crossing,” and for being chor aadmi (thieves). Kripalani also chided Vajpayee, calling him bevaqoof (ignorant) for not detailing that it was the Shiv Sena, a new political party with nativist origins in Maharashtra, that started the processions and riots to target non-Maharashtrians in Bhiwandi.42 It was non-Maharashtrian Hindus who were killed first; following this, Hindus attacked Muslims because the “atmosphere” of violence could take “communal form or any form because violence is there.” Kripalani alleged that the government, political leaders,


and the police were afraid of the Shiv Sena and had failed to restore law and order.43 Congress leaders also criticized the prevailing political situation. Abdul Ghani Dar, representing Gurgaon, who earned his spurs during the freedom movement, listed his family’s sacrifices for the cause of independence and mocked the Jana Sangh thesis that Muslims needed to be Indianized. He accused Nehru and Indira Gandhi, who had ruled India for twenty-one of the last twenty-three years of cutting off the left and right arms of the Muslims by closing the doors of the police and armed forces to the community. He asked his behen (sister), the prime minister, to look to her left and right to see which minister was responsible for the wholescale murder of Muslim tonga-wallahs who had transported Hindu sisters and daughters to Jammu. Thousands of innocent Muslims had been killed in Rajouri and Poonch. Could sister Indira still challenge the Jana Sangh after giving this minister his portfolio?44 Dar then joined his hands together and declared to Vajpayee that his recent angry remarks had led him to fear for the lives of thousands of Muslims in Delhi. He also wished to request, with the utmost adab (manners, restraint) that if the spirit of Rama, Krishna, Guru Nanak, Chandragupta, Ashoka was not kept alive, “then those who were laughing at him now would be tested later [meri barbādiyon par hasne vālon, ab iske bād terā imtihān hai].”45 Dar called for a larger reckoning of the role of the Hindu community. Let sister Indira be tested on her honor%/%promise (Indira behen apne imān ko tatolein). If this attitude of the Hindus persisted, six crore Muslims would not be erased; he was not afraid of a challenge. But whom was he expected to face when 90  percent of the Muslims were children of the same source? (hum jo nabbe percent inkī hī aulād hain, inse mukābalā karengi?) He had heard of snakes who ate their children, but what would they get by eating their own? With this mindset, he warned they would lose Kashmir and Punjab, and Bengal would reunite.46 Congressman Bakar Ali Mirza of Secunderabad emphasized that Vajpayee did not say Hindus were becoming communal in response to Muslim communalism; he had used the word ugra%(militant). “Mark the word militant.” Mirza returned to what had transpired at the time of partition: although calling it a “political” division, by allowing for the transfer of minority populations (in Punjab) “the Congress accepted but did not admit that it accepted the two-nation theory, and it created an idea that


Pakistan was the protector of the Muslims and India was the protector of the Hindus.” We have to understand the psychology. On 14th August 1947, Mr. Balraj Madhok swore loyalty for a country from Peshawar to Dacca. But on 15th August 1947, his loyalty had shrunk and it was loyalty to a country from Amritsar to Darjeeling or Shillong. What happened to that loyalty to Panjab and Lahore? I ask my Hindu and Muslim brethren, you cannot change your mind and attitude as if it is an electric light to be switched off and on. We divided the country into Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus of India would become the protectors of the Hindus of India, the Akhand Bharat. Pakistan came to protect Akhand Bharat Muslims. That is how our mind is functioning. Today the same mind is functioning and it takes shape in a different form. The Jana Sangh is very angry that Pakistan Muslims are loyal to the Indian Muslims. So also the Hindus of India are more loyal to the Hindus of Pakistan than they are to their Muslim brethren in India. Look at the amount of noise that is made when some refugees coming from Pakistan are not given shelter. Is the same concern shown about people who have been slaughtered in Ranchi, Jabalpur or Bombay?47

Mirza’s explanation for divided loyalties across the Radcliffe line of 1947 has certainly aged well. The Hindus who paid special attention to the plight of minority Hindus in Pakistan are the ones who typically ignored the plight of Muslims within the territorial borders of India; their successors clamored for the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. Sushila Nayar, Mahatma Gandhi’s personal physician and former health minister, now with the Syndicate faction of the Congress, had recently visited the riot-affected areas. She wished to submit to her “brother colleague” Vajpayee that it made no difference who started a riot. Having said as much, she proceeded to ask why Muslims would start a riot. “They know if they provoke majority, nothing but death awaits them.” Nayar asked why these Muslims were constantly expected to prove their loyalty to India.48 Chaudhary Randhir Singh of Indira’s Congress, representing Rohtak, spoke eloquently of how each inch of the land belonged to Hindustanis, whether they belonged to the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, or Jain faiths and every inhabitant (bashindā) had their rights (huq). India’s Muslims


were “indigenous”; it was offensive and unjust to say they needed to be Indianized. Singh referred to Indianization as a form of casteism and rejected the notion that a few men could be thekedārs (proprietors) of Hindustan. Randhir Singh warned that slogans such as “Indianization” were more dangerous than China and Pakistan.49 Several members argued that the matter of riots was too important to be relegated to a party issue; it had to be taken out of the purview of electoral politics and grappled with as a problem of national proportions. Some parliamentarians called for bans on communal organizations such as the RSS, the Jana Sangh, and the Shiv Sena; for the resignation of district officers, police officers, and ministers who were guilty of inaction; and for the implementation of recommendations of various inquiry commissions and the National Integration Council. They also recommended a new law to prevent communal riots that would punish those who committed violence. However, indicating the extent to which the government had lost the initiative, the home minister, Yashwant Rao Chavan, was forced to concede that an appeal for peace from Bal Thackeray, the leader of the strong-armed Shiv Sena, who was then in jail, had brought quiet to Bombay.50 How, then, would those committing violence be affected by stringent laws? The historian Megha Kumar has argued that after the Ahmedabad riots, the Jana Sangh prevaricated: their “defences, denials and divergences . . . suggest their inability to take on the Congress-led state apparatus in 1969.”51 Held only a few months after the Congress split, these debates in the Lok Sabha reveal the importance given to Vajpayee’s views, which many members felt they had to address or refute. These debates show that the Jana Sangh and its thesis of Indianization were regarded as the lead opposition to the prime minister and the state’s professed ideology of secularism. Shortly after the debate, Indira Gandhi’s government instituted a ban on drills in the capital city of Delhi and its environs, citing the possibility of disorder. However, the Sangh challenged the ban legally and presented a letter with 430,711 signatures to president V. V. Giri to lift the ban. They would not accept defeat quite so easily.52

as news poured in of the election results in neighboring Pakistan, Indira Gandhi’s government announced fresh general elections. The Muslim Convention, representing an assortment of Muslim political and religious interests, met in Delhi to make seven demands. These included IN DECEMBER  1 970,


multi-member constituencies so that minorities could get proportional representation in the legislatures, proportional representation in the civil and military services, the retention of Muslim civil laws, and the reform of textbooks. They also urged the speedy punishment of the guilty and relief and compensation for the victims of communal riots.53 The mainstream press, including the Indian Express and the Hindu, called the demands “sinister” and thought the retention of Muslim personal laws reflected poorly on the president of the convention, the retired diplomat Badruddin Tyabji. The Congress’s National Herald thought the remarks of Tyabji that Muslims were being “pushed around from pillar to post, carrying the beggar’s bowl, pleading in vain for rights” were regrettable.54 A cartoon published in The Hindu shows a dinosaur with “proportional representation demand” facing a diminutive figure who asks: “Have we met before?” Another dinosaur with “Partition” hovers to the northwest quadrant of the frame.55 The Jana Sangh’s election manifesto aimed at cultivating the Hindu constituency. In a special section on “National Integration through Indianisation,” the manifesto promised to implement the “forgotten” Directive Principles of the Constitution, provide free education, protect the cow family, decrease the consumption of alcohol, and give the country a uniform civil law.56 The Jana Sangh also promised to scrap the separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. In contrast, the Congress’s election manifesto

Fig 2.1 “Proportional Representation Demand,” The Hindu, December 24, 1970. Courtesy of The Hindu.


referred to the “dark and evil forces of Right reaction . . . preaching religious fanaticism, racial supremacy and chauvinism” and promised to protect the rights and interests of all minorities in keeping with its past traditions. Secularism figured in paragraph 54 (of 68 paragraphs) as being a “constitutional imperative”; thus, the Congress would “strive to ensure that all minorities have full freedom to establish, manage and run educational and other institutions.” A couple of shorter paragraphs summed up their commitment to prevent discrimination against minorities in services.57 The Organiser predicted a rout for Indira Gandhi. Vajpayee argued that “whether 95% of rickshaw men are or are not with her on bank nationalization, 95% Hindus are very much with the Jana Sangh on the Hindu-Muslim issue.”58 Against her opponents in the left and right who forged a Grand Alliance with the limited slogan Indira hatao (Remove Indira), Indira’s Congress pitched the slogan garibi hatao (Remove poverty). When the results came in, the Jana Sangh tally of seats had fallen from 44 to 22, whereas the Congress (R) won 352 out of 518 seats. Thereafter, the Organiser editorialized that the Jana Sangh had made a mistake in contesting on finer points: “people in the mass understand and appreciate only bold actions.” After an extended survey of the support garnered by the Indira Congress from various social groups and castes, it concluded that her victory was “purely personal. There is no organization or ideology behind it. Ideological parties like Jana Sangh may lose battles, but not the war. For while individuals may come and go, ideology abides.”59 But that was not how the Congress perceived their electoral success. In the ensuing months, this sweeping mandate along with victory in the war to liberate Bangladesh would be perceived as a victory for secularism as state ideology, and an opportunity to quell communal forces for all times to come.

1971 and the Case for Secularism The war of 1971 has been interpreted variously—as a war for the liberation of Bangladesh, yet another Indo-Pak war, even as a war fought with the sole intention of breaking up what was then the largest Muslim country in the world. Here, I study not the war, but debates within India to which it gave substantial ammunition. In one voice, the Indian media declared that the war and the creation of Bangladesh spelled the death knell of the two-nation


theory. Furthermore, secularism came to acquire, not the meaning ascribed to it by its detractors as “anti-religion,” but an especially inclusive meaning, as equality and respect toward all religions. This new meaning emphasizing inclusiveness emerged to contest the specific kind of communal poison that was being disseminated by the RSS, especially in Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts. Before the war, a bill to curb communal parties and widen the definition of “unlawful associations” had been discussed in the Lok Sabha, but not introduced, owing to the combined opposition of the Grand Alliance comprising the Swatantra, Jana Sangh, Congress (O), and socialist and communist parties.60 Yet, as the foregoing analysis of critiques of communal riots revealed, several members of Parliament noted the gaps in implementing the recommendations of various inquiry commission reports after each riot. Some members complained that laws already in the statute books were not being implemented, whereas other members called for more stringent laws. After the war, during two discussions in March and April 1972, members from a variety of political parties spoke in favor of an IPC (amendment) bill to strengthen Section 153A and in favor of a resolution to immediately ban communal and paramilitary organizations. The bill was moved as a private member’s bill by Subhadra Joshi, also founder of the All India Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee and a friend of Indira Gandhi from their time working with Muslim refugees in Delhi during partition. The resolution was moved by Inderjit Malhotra of Jammu, who traced the work of the RSS to its role in fomenting violence against Muslims in Jammu in 1941. Both the bill and the resolution elicited support across party lines; during the debates, the significance of the elections of 1971, when Indira Gandhi won a massive mandate, and the war of 1971, perceived as the death of communalism and the two-nation theory, were seen as providing a perfect opportunity to strengthen the forces of secularism. However, the bill and the resolution were withdrawn when the government promised to introduce new legislation during the same parliamentary session. While introducing a private member’s bill, Subhadra Joshi had hailed the victory of Bangladesh as “the victory of our secularism, our secular ideas.”61 This view was echoed by several others. Speaking on the bill, N. K. P Salve, also from Nagpur, the RSS’s headquarters, underlined his local knowledge of the RSS:


It is said that this institution is a cultural institution. But what sort of Indian culture is it that it is not open to Muhammedans, Christians? Is character building not necessary for a Christian’s or a Muhammedan’s son? . . . An organisation, which is engaged only in cultural activities, will confine itself purely to cultural activities irrespective of any consideration of caste, creed or religion. Politics in the name of culture debars both. It is said that Jana Sangh is happy at the recognition of Bangla Desh, at the victory and liberation of Bangla Desh, and at India’s contribution to the liberation of Bangladesh. Certainly, you are happy and we are happy except that your reasons are different and our reasons are different. For us it was a different fight; it was a fight against the two-nation theory and for secular ideals which we hold dear. For you, we apprehend, it was a different fight. You wanted an Islamic nation to be destroyed. That has happened and you are happy. Bangla Desh is liberated and, as a result of that, Pakistan is ruined. . . . We are only sorry for the people of Pakistan. . . . What wrong have the people of Pakistan done to us? . . . They have been victims of a very pernicious system . . . the moment the liberation of Bangladesh was achieved, we did not want this war to be continued even a second more. You did not agree with that. All these things take us to believe that your reasons for our victory in Bangladesh are entirely at variance—in fact, they are contradictory to the reasons, which we cherish, for the liberation of Bangladesh.62

Salve was making an important distinction between the ideologies of Indira Gandhi’s Congress party and the Jana Sangh, both of which appeared briefly on the same stage, lauding the Indian army’s victory over Pakistan. Yet their reasons for doing so were different. Through most of 1971 the Jana Sangh and the RSS had carried on a campaign to vilify Indira Gandhi, accusing her of inaction as (they claimed, mostly Hindu) refugees from East Pakistan poured into the country, even criticizing the Indo- Soviet Treaty of Friendship at a time when national interests alone might have necessitated a common front on matters of delicate foreign policy. When the war was fought and won, RSS workers positioned themselves in conquered territory, taking photographs of themselves with Indian jawans,


and exaggerated their own meager contributions to the war effort, such as working as traffic police in Lucknow. The Jana Sangh leadership cautioned the Congress against taking sole credit for India’s victory; it also advocated extremist positions such as prolonging the war to teach Pakistan a lesson.63 Salve dwelled for some length on the work of the RSS in indoctrinating Indian youth across India, a point that was also made by another Congress colleague from Nagpur, Vasant Sathe. Sathe spoke with familiarity of RSS teachings in their baudhik (ideological) class. Although they taught the positive aspects of Indian culture, RSS teachings also inculcated ideas of Hindu nationalism, hatred toward Muslims, and one-sided interpretations of the past into the minds of little children and the youth. Gandhi was described as unmanly (napunsak) because he believed in nonviolence. The Hindutva taught by the RSS emerged from the confines of and supported the caste system; it always spoke in antagonistic terms of Hindu versus Muslim, Hindu versus Christian. Sathe held this kind of thinking responsible for the foundation of Pakistan. Rather than focusing on the positive aspects of Vedic thought, feelings of hatred and thoughts of Hindu nationalism were poured into the minds of the youth, which in turn produced similar feelings among the Muslims.64 Sathe was interrupted thus: Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Which came first? Khilafat or the RSS? Vasant Sathe: Whether the chicken came first, or the egg makes no difference [murgī pehle huī yā andā pehle huā, ismein koī farak nahīñ padtā]. The question is, today, who has buried the basis of Pakistan? The Congress did, the secular Congress has buried it. We saw this in Bangladesh. They are going to accept secular ideas [secular vichār] and we too are going to accept secular ideas. Hindu nationalism did not bury it. The idea of Pakistan cannot be buried by Hindu nationalism [Pakistan ke vichār ko hindu rashtravād dafnā nahīñ saktā].65

Where communal thinking was poisoning young minds, it was imperative to ban such organizations by law. After all, he asked, what was law, and replied in English: “Law is nothing but reflection of the will of the people.”66 Numerous other members supported this perspective. Vajpayee did not. He argued that parties that had sent representatives to the Lok Sabha and


Rajya Sabha could not be banned by the party in power. If they did so, they were accepting defeat at the level of the electorate. He then asked for a clarification of the meaning of the word “communal.” Did not the Congress party, which had supported the Khilafat movement during the independence struggle, play a role in increasing Muslim communalism? Vajpayee quoted from literature allegedly produced by the Jamiat-ul-ulema, an ally of the Congress party, to categorize it as a communal organization. He asked, if Bangladesh being a Muslim country could call itself secular, then why could Hindustan, being Hindu, not also be called secular. There could not be two standards of measuring communalism (sampradāyiktā ko nāpne ke alag alag gaj nahīñ ho sakte).67 He called for the appointment of an independent commission to determine what constituted communalism. Finally, he criticized the Congress government’s recourse to the law: If the entire country is with you and the communal parties are mere flies, mosquitoes, or wasps, why do you wish to use a cannon to crush them? (agar sāra desh āpke pīche hai, aur ye sampradāyik partiyān makhī hain, macchar hain, bhunge hain, to inko mārne ke liye āp top kyun chalāna chahte hain?) Had not the RSS been banned already? Why had it been made lawful again?68 N.  K.  P. Salve intervened dramatically with a one-liner: “That was a mistake” (%galtī thī$). Furious, Vajpayee quoted from an article by Walter Andersen in the Economic and Political Weekly that stated that Hedgewar used to be in the Congress party and had led a party of volunteers in the Nagpur Congress session of 1920. There, too, his volunteers had wielded lathis.69 He quoted Sardar Patel as having once referred to the RSS men as “patriots who love their country.”70 Vajpayee went on to allege that Nehru had invited the RSS to the 1963 Republic Day Parade, and that Lal Bahadur Shastri had invited Golwalkar to consultations with other parties during the 1965 war.71 “Then the RSS was good, now it is communal.” He demanded that the government fight communalism electorally, not through use of the law.72 In a detailed rebuttal, Salve quoted Baburao Patel, a leader of the Jana Sangh who had lost his seat in the recent elections. Patel had argued that the Jana Sangh had lost because Hindus were “disgusted with the Jana Sangh’s secular mask,” which asked them to vote for Muslim candidates in some constituencies and supported the repatriation of Bihari Muslims from East Pakistan in a bid to court Muslim votes. Patel foretold that the Jana Sangh was “destined to die”; the need of the hour was a “genuine Hindu party,” which he hoped would be founded by Golwalkar.73 Salve concluded


by agreeing with Vajpayee that public opinion was necessary to curb communalism and that merely amending the criminal law alone would not make a difference. But Indira Gandhi had received “an overwhelming mandate” in the recent elections, so the time was “absolutely ripe” for getting rid of these communal, paramilitary organizations.74 Satpal Kapur of the Congress (from Patiala) asked his fellow parliamentarians to deeply consider the foundation of Pakistan. Had India been built along the same foundations, on communal lines, would it have been as strong? Would they all be able to state their opinions with such strength in the House? If Punjab became separated under the Akali party, Maharashtra under the Shiv Sena, and Central India under RSS, what would remain of India? RSS was teaching the gospel of Hindu supremacy to India’s children and that Hindus were the rightful owners (sahī mālik) of Hindustan. To stop the spread of communal poisons, it was necessary to crush these paramilitary organizations.75 The eloquent communist leader Bhogendra Jha argued that it was not possible to contest the RSS electorally because it did not participate in the electoral process. But Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts revealed how the RSS leader contested the age-old meaning of the word “Bharatiya” to effectively diminish the meaning of what it meant to be Indian: Bharatiya too is an ancient name associated with us since hoary times. The name Bharat appears even in the Vedas. Our Puranas have also spoken of our motherland as Bharat and of our people as Bharatis. In fact, it connotes the same meaning as “Hindu,” But today, there is a misconception regarding the word “Bharatiya.” It is commonly used as a translation of the word ‘Indian’ which includes all the various communities like the Muslim, Christian, Parsi, etc., residing in this land. So, the word “Bharatiya” too is likely to mislead us when we want to denote our particular society. The word “Hindu” alone connotes correctly and completely the meaning which we want to convey.76

Jha declared this to be abhāratiya samajh—an un-Indian way of thinking. It was abhāratiya and this was admitted by Golwalkar himself. Golwalkar also held that Jews and Parsis were guests (mehmān) and not nationals (rāshtrīya), and that Christians and Muslims were invaders (ākramankārīs), thereby making India’s nationality restricted. Jha read out more extracts


from the book to show that he believed in the caste order and was against equal citizenship to all. He requested that those parliamentary friends seated in the House who oppose this way of thinking call it out for being anti-Indian (bhārat virodhī) and anti-national (deshdrohī).77 The socialist professor Samar Guha, representing Contai in West Bengal, had been a strong supporter of the liberation of Bangladesh the previous year. Rising to support Subhadra Joshi’s amendment to the IPC, he now argued that Bangladesh had created a “new atmosphere,” and released a “new force” not only for Bangladesh but for the entire Indian subcontinent. He asked for an approach that was not “chicken-hearted” but “lionhearted.”78 The deputy minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs, F.  H. Mohsin, agreed that this moment was decisive: The idea which created Pakistan, on the basis of communalism, has been destroyed into pieces. The Bangla Desh people who once voted for the creation of Pakistan, have realized today that communalism would not pay, and they have come to realise that secularism alone could pay the way to prosperity and can deliver the goods to the people.79

So, Ram Niwas Mirdha, minister of state in the Home Ministry, introduced a government bill on the final day of the summer session, much to the chagrin of the Jana Sangh, which wanted yet another debate on the matter. The bill to amend Section 153A of the IPC now included a ban on “any exercise, movement, drill . . . knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence against any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community.” It also introduced a new law, Section 153B to the Indian Penal Code. This law criminalized anyone who made or published “any imputation that any class of persons cannot, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established or upholds the sovereignty and integrity of India.” The bill would also punish anyone who “asserts . . . or publishes that any class of persons shall by reason of their being members of any religious . . . or regional group . . . be denied . . . their rights as citizens of India.”80 However, Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts was never banned. Perhaps the government was loathe to provide the RSS with another reason to play


the victim card. Furthermore, during the wide-ranging debate, Congress’s Ramgopal Reddy had recalled that the ban on the Arya Samaji text Satyarth Prakash in princely Hyderabad had increased sales of the book, which became more widely available in Hindu homes. Reddy cautioned against banning Golwalkar’s book, which, judging by the recent election results, probably had a small readership.81 Golwalkar himself appears to have mellowed. As secularism’s stars shone brightly on the horizon, the now-ailing leader declared that a uniform civil code was not necessary. That turnaround ensured that even Golwalkar was remembered as a man whose views changed with time.82 The war of 1971 transformed the atmosphere in India. All the concerns expressed during the debates after Bhiwandi and other riots in 1970 appeared solvable by the summer of 1972. Therefore, some members of Parliament belonging to the DMK thought it unnecessary to pass this law at this time. Notwithstanding the positivist faith in law as an instrument of social change, several members spoke thoughtfully of longer-term measures, such as creating noncommunal literature, revising textbooks, and building a new mindset for a new beginning. For a while it seemed as though the Congress really would focus on eliminating poverty after passing these laws. However, the oil crisis of 1973 and burgeoning inflation produced new challenges. With the onset of the Emergency, the priorities of Indira’s younger son, Sanjay Gandhi, became those of India’s, and his priorities were to prioritize himself.83 We turn now to the strange era that has aptly been termed India’s “first dictatorship.”84

Indira’s Way With less than a week of debate in Parliament, the longest amending bill in the history of the world, the 42nd Constitution Amendment Bill, was passed at the height of the Emergency.85 Among its fifty-nine clauses was one seeking to amend the Preamble to the Constitution of India. The clause sought to add three words—“secular,” “socialist,” and “integrity”—to the defining characteristics of the republic of India. The debate in both houses witnessed a substantial discussion of secularism despite the government’s unwillingness to define it. The subsequent amendments that reversed many of the changes made to the Constitution during the Emergency did not alter the changes that were made to the Preamble.


In the months and years preceding the breathless declaration of an internal Emergency on June 26, 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had already concentrated power in the hands of a select, unelected few, disregarding and dismantling institutions that stood in her way.86 However, the most important impediment to her rising personal power was the judiciary. With her electoral victory of 1971, she could use her new brute majority in Parliament to push through constitutional amendments on bank nationalization or the abolition of privy purses. However, her tussle with the judiciary did not end with these reforms: an agenda that historians concur was a cover for “outflanking her political opponents.”87 The immediate pretext for Indira Gandhi’s decision to impose an Emergency across India was a judicial decision that made it impossible for her to continue in Parliament. Charged with electoral malpractices by the Allahabad High Court on June 12, 1975, she was not allowed to contest elections for six years. Knowing this adverse judgment was on the anvil, that she would then appeal, the prime minister had also taken care to ensure that Justice K. S. Hegde, who had been her bête noire previously in the Supreme Court, would be superseded with a Chief Justice to her liking. Therefore, in 1973 itself, she had seen to the supersession of three of the seniormost judges to appoint the fourth, A. N. Ray, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.88 At that time, her cabinet minister Mohan Kumaramangalam had spoken passionately of the need for a committed judiciary, and for judges who recognize that “Parliament’s powers in relation to the future are sovereign powers.”89 In a forceful rejoinder, Somnath Chatterjee, who was then a first-time member of Parliament and also a practicing lawyer at the Calcutta High Court, asked how one might discover a judge’s political outlook: A judge is not supposed to hold any political views, at least not to air them in public. He is not supposed to proclaim his social philosophy openly and publicly. Then how does one ascertain it? Will there be a viva voce test in the presence of the Prime Minister and the law minister of India to know his political views and social philosophy to judge his qualification for appointment as Chief Justice of India? . . . The object is to have a docile judiciary and a pliant judiciary.90

In the Emergency, this ongoing tussle between the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary came to play a dominant role. As Indira predictably appealed the verdict of the Allahabad High Court to the Supreme Court,


she declared a nationwide Emergency, using an article in the Constitution to “lawfully suspend the law.”91 Two of her closest advisers, Siddhartha Shankar Ray and D. P. Dhar, had experience using existing laws to suspend civil liberties in the states of West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir. In this, the Emergency was merely the “culmination of long tendencies” of authoritarianism, manifesting in “a script jointly authored” by both Jayaprakash Narayan, who had called for a Total Revolution and for the dismissal of lawfully elected state governments in Bihar and Gujarat, and Indira Gandhi, who proceeded to arrest opposition leaders under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) even before their arrest warrants could be fully filled out.92 By the time Parliament met to formally ratify the proclamation of Emergency four weeks later, several members of the opposition were already in prison. Somnath Chatterjee, a member of the CPI(M), recalled that the “real import” of the Emergency dawned on members like him only when they were brusquely prevented from raising any question or point of order in the House. Chatterjee, along with several others, asked why there was any need for a new Emergency when the country was already under the Emergency declared in 1971 at the time of the war. But the motion to ratify the Emergency was carried with 301 votes in favor and only 76 votes against.93 The costs of this experiment were tremendous: by the time the Emergency ended, more than 110,000 people had been arrested under MISA and the Defence of India Rules, millions were forcibly sterilized, thousands were likely tortured and killed, and aspects of the culture of impunity that characterized the Emergency were institutionalized deeper than before. Censorship of the press was one of the first acts of the Emergency; electricity supply was simply cut off to Delhi’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, which housed almost all the major newspaper offices, making it impossible for papers to carry news of the event. Next, fundamental rights were suspended, and public gatherings of more than five people banned under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, an oft-used colonial tactic. The ThirtyEighth and Thirty-Ninth Amendments to the Constitution were passed to protect the Emergency from judicial review and to prevent any judicial challenge to the election of the prime minister. Indira and her henchmen were working overtime to protect her actions from further judicial scrutiny. Small wonder, then, that during the vociferous debate on the Forty-


Second Amendment, the government was charged with trying to wreck the balance among the executive, legislative, and the judiciary, and accused of wanting to use the Constitution to subvert the Constitution.94 The primary objective of the 59-clause omnibus (44th, later renumbered 42nd) Constitution Amendment Bill that was presented to the Lok Sabha on September 1, 1976, was to reassert the supremacy of Parliament and its untrammeled powers to amend the Constitution “beyond doubt.” One of the more lasting and understudied changes was an amendment to the Preamble to substitute the expression “Sovereign, Democratic, Secular, Socialist Republic” for “Sovereign Democratic Republic.” The first version of the bill, labeled the Swaran Singh Committee Report (named after its chairman, Swaran Singh), did not, however, elaborate on what “secular” and “socialist” would entail in substantive terms.95 The sweeping amendments proposed in this Report included clauses that would limit powers of judicial review of constitutional amendments and the jurisdiction of High Courts; redistribute powers between the center and the states; and recalibrate the relative weight of Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy so as to better effect social reform. The final version that was presented to Parliament in September 1976 also smuggled in other amendments, such as extending the term of the Lok Sabha from five to six years, and an article that effectively equated dissent with treason.96 These numerous amendments led to the bill being referred to as a “miniature new constitution.” Although the Constitution Amendment Bill had its fervent supporters— Kamal Nath Jha of the Congress, for instance, thought it worthy of comparison to the Magna Carta—it also faced severe criticisms.97 One vehement and repeated objection to this bill was on grounds of authority and legitimacy. Critics and even supporters of the government, such as CPI member Indrajit Gupta, held that this Parliament had outlasted its term and had lost the right to amend the Constitution; it was a rump Parliament.98 Independent member P.G. Mavalankar, whose father G. V. Mavalankar had been speaker of the Constituent Assembly, regarded this not as a Constitution Amendment Bill, but as “a Constitution Alteration exercise! The Constitution is almost rewritten . . . because the very face of this Constitution is being changed, the heart is being weakened beyond repairs, and the soul is being disturbed and damaged, also beyond repairs.”99 Critics


such as Prof S. L. Saksena countered that the bill took away “three years’ hard labour in the Constituent Assembly” and ought to be circulated for public opinion.100 Another older member, K. Hanumanthaiya, recalled his own pithy criticism of the Constitution in 1949: “what we wanted was the music of the veena and what has been given to us is a jazz band.” He also noted that not one member of the Constituent Assembly had spoken out against the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution. Even so, he rued the fact that “nobody in the party can vote against a government proposition . . . we cannot exercise our judgment fully in the process.”101 Critics also objected that the atmosphere of censorship had made it impossible for a genuine discussion of the amendment bill in the press and public forums. When the law minister H. R. Gokhale declared that he had seen thousands of articles in the press, Mavalankar retorted with “Thousands of the same article? Reprints of the same article?”102 To Gokhale’s taunt that the opposition had not specified what they found problematic about the bill, Era Sezhiyan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam responded with a series of examples. He revealed that a detailed article, with a clauseby-clause commentary provided by former Constituent Assembly member K. Santhanam, had been rejected by every single newspaper. He read out a notification from the police commissioner in Madras that severely limited the topics that could be raised during an ostensibly public discussion of the bill. The ongoing censorship resulted in only a few newspapers publishing the views of opposition members: “it is a mercy granted, it is not a right allowed.”103 Furthermore, half the working committee members of the DMK were in jail; how, then, could there be a free and full discussion of this bill? Like other critics, Sezhiyan held that the present legislature was not competent to pass this amendment; citing the cases of amendments to the Australian Constitution as well as a recent referendum in Goa, he argued that a referendum alone would properly ascertain the will of the people with regard to these major constitutional amendments. Finally, Sezhiyan invoked Adolf Hitler and pointed to how he had used the Constitution to subvert the Constitution.104 In the Rajya Sabha, C. K. Daphtary, former attorney general of India and now a nominated member, listed the onerous conditions under which socalled public meetings were allowed to be held in Bombay and Madras. He also provided vivid examples of how MISA had been abused. Daphtary


revealed that his apprehension lay in an article purporting to deal with anti-national activities: Anti-national activities have been defined very widely. Naturally, there will be some law against these activities. True; but we knew from our experience of statutes like MISA that all sorts of things have been brought within it which strictly do not fall within it at all. And the apprehension is that the measures to be taken in regard to anti-national activities will not be hedged in whereby some specific act is punished but recourse will be preventive detention. Now, preventive detention was, Sir, in the Constitution . . . hedged round with safeguards of various kinds. . . . With the absolute power of amendment which Parliament now has, it is possible that it may be induced to pass laws for preventive detention which do away with these safeguards as they have been done away with during the emergency.105

Daphtary also strongly opposed the new limitations that were to be placed on the fundamental rights, stating that these had been “imprisoned,” although not yet “killed.” He concluded his speech by warning that this bill served as “a notice” that in the future, the laws “to carry out whatever the objects of the Government, will be unreasonable, will be oppressive, will be tyrannical, will be draconic, and no one can say a word against them.”106 These criticisms that were leveled against the Forty- Second Amendment Bill give us a sense of the reasoned objections mounted by the opposition. Despite widespread censorship across India, it is noteworthy that within the chambers of Parliament, several members did speak forcefully against all the clauses that threatened to make the Emergency permanent. Why did Indira Gandhi allow for even this modicum of debate? One of her advisers was former Chief Justice of India, P. B. Gajendragadkar. In a twentynine-page letter to Prime Minister Morarji Desai in 1977, Gajendragadkar declared that he had met the prime minister and members of the Swaran Singh Committee a few times and urged a “national debate” on the provisions of the Constitution Amendment Bill. However, what followed was a “national monologue,” and most of his advice was followed in the breach.107 My examination of the debates reveals disagreements that were sharper than might be expected, given the fears associated with the Emergency.


“Neither Anti-God nor Anti-Religion” Among the many suggestions made by Gajendragadkar to prime ministers Indira Gandhi and later, Morarji Desai, was to clarify what was meant by the term “secular.” He noted that secularism was understood in western Europe as being against God and religion. The Indian Constitution, however, had several provisions that “clearly and unambiguously indicate that our secularism is neither anti-God nor anti-religion; it is neutral in the sense that, though it treats religion as relevant in the lives of its many citizens, it does not adopt a particular religion of the State as such, vide Articles 25 & 26.”108 Yet in her opening remarks Indira Gandhi merely stated that secular and socialist were “not new definitions.” The law minister argued that a definition was “not required.”109 Why did Indira Gandhi and her government not follow Gajendragadkar’s advice and clarify what they meant by secular? In his opening remarks introducing the bill, the law minister Gokhale acknowledged the important place of the Preamble, noting that “even courts” viewed the Preamble as “key” to the Constitution. To those who held socialism or secularism to be incapable of definition, Gokhale retorted that if such an argument were to be accepted, even “democracy” could not be defined because it was understood differently in different countries.110 This unwillingness to be pinned down to a definition would be a recurring motif. During the detailed clause-by-clause debate three days later, Jambuwant Dhote of the Forward Bloc returned to the matter of definitions. He said the term “secular” was open to multiple interpretations and had been mistranslated into Hindi as dharm-nirapeksha. Dhote believed this did not do justice to the term “secular.” What secular meant was to respect the sentiments (bhāvnā) and proofs of all the religions and faiths in the country, a kingdom for all religions (is desh ke sāre mazhabon yā dharmon ki bhāvnāon aur buniyādi bāton kā ādar karne vāla, sab dharmon kā rājya). It did not do the term justice to translate it as dharm-nirapeksha or niddharmī. Those words meant: against all religions, anti-religion; whereas secular meant, with all religions, and for all faiths.111 Dr. Kailash from South Bombay added: dharm-nirapeksha meant one who is dharm se tatastha, neutral or indifferent to all religions. It did not at all mean niddharmī (without dharm). Dhote clarified that secular was translated as niddharmī in Marathi, and as


dharm-nirapeksha in Hindi.112 In his curt reply, Gokhale said: “I do not want to go into a long discussion of all these matters.” To Dhote’s insistent question on the translation of secular, he replied, “We all understand it. Definition is not required here.”113 Two weeks later, on the concluding day of debates in the Rajya Sabha, the messiness of translation and definition reared its head again. Prakash Vir Shastri of the Jana Sangh elaborated that the term “secular,” with which he was in complete agreement, simply could not be translated as dharmnirapeksha in Hindi. He expounded on the meaning of the word dharm, which in Urdu was rendered as dīn, and noted that former chief justice Gajendragadkar had once remarked that there was no page of the Constitution that was bereft of the feeling of secularism. He then recalled that his fellow parliamentarian Kamalapati Tripathi, who was once editor of a leading paper in Benares, used to translate “secular” as asampradāyak (not communal) or sampradāy-nirapeksha (against communalism). Should this clause be approved, and the term “secular” added to the Constitution, it would also have to be translated into Hindi. The term dharm-nirapeksha was emphatically not the right translation for secular. If this was accepted as the translation, then the words on the chair of the Lok Sabha Speaker dharm-chakra-pravartanay (upholder of the wheel of dharm) would have to be removed. Shastri also recalled S. Radhakrishnan, a former president of India and renowned philosopher, saying that “secular” could never be translated as dharm-nirapeksha. Shastri repeated that religion could not be translated as dharm; dharm meant something entirely different and had nothing to do with Hindu or Muslim; it referred to the people’s duty. Not dharm, but sampraday, ought to be used.114 In conclusion, Shastri urged Gokhale to address the matter. Forced to respond, Gokhale again brushed aside the matter of definition: Even in authoritative Hindi dictionaries, for the word “secularism” the term used is dharma nirpekshta. Anyhow Mahatma Gandhi used to say: sarva dharmah samabhavah. So, if you have to indicate what the meaning of secularism is, we have got it in this one word which Gandhiji gave us. I do not think that it is necessary to change a well understood, well-accepted word which everyone has understood in this country and will continue to understand in this country. To introduce something which may be right—I do not know, I am not an


expert in Hindi—I feel is not necessary or to change it to something which again people will have to learn, to find out what it means. Anyhow, if any changes are necessary, they will appropriately be considered at a later stage.115

This unwillingness to engage with the problems of its multiple interpretations typified the Congress’s rushed approach toward the Constitution Amendment Bill. Addressing the Lok Sabha on this matter, the chair of the Congress Committee on Constitutional Changes, Sardar Swaran Singh, noted that dictionary meanings were “not very complimentary”: But “secular” now is a word which I think has become part of our Indian languages. You may go to the Punjab, to Gujarat, even to the South; when they make speeches in their own languages they always use the word “secular” because it has assumed a definite meaning and that meaning is that there will be equality before the eye of the law in our Constitution with regard to people professing diff erent religions. Not only that but more than that there is no connotational element of any anti-religious feeling but it is really respect for all religions.116

A lot could be lost because of poor translation. Media studies scholar Arvind Rajagopal has studied the mobilization for a Ram temple in Ayodhya by examining the divide between English and Hindi print media. He argues that “cultural isolation” between these media makes for a “split-public” that responded to the mobilization along quite distinct lines, which, in turn, enabled the rise of the BJP in the Hindi heartland. “If the English-language press had arrogated to itself the right to define the nation, as for example, secular in intention if not in fact, not the least of its difficulties was that secularism was uneven in its application.” It was also “understood variously.”117 Might the unwillingness to even discuss the translation of secular into Hindi, at the very moment it was being incorporated into the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, have played a role in this creation of a split public? Gokhale and Swaran Singh’s casual approach to the problem of translation that was raised by several members was also reflected in their faint efforts at educating and learning from the broader public, with whom these proposals were barely debated.


Some Christian members held that although the Constitution had always been secular in spirit, it had not been possible, in the wake of a partition along religious lines, to emphatically assert the principle of secularism. For C. M. Stephen, representing Muvattupuzha in Kerala, it was necessary that the Preamble remind the nation of its commitment to secularism. He noted emphatically that this was the “sentiment . . . will . . . faith of the nation and the Constitution reflects the newfound faith and the belief, commitment and promises which they are giving to themselves.”118 Henry Austin, from Ernakulam, declared that if this idea of including secularism in the Preamble had been raised in the 1950s or the 1960s, “it is common knowledge that it would have been resisted.”119 But now that “all antisocialist and theocratic forces” in the country had been vanquished, he doubted if anyone, barring a small segment of “our irrational public life,” would oppose the inclusion of the ideals of secularism and socialism. Austin argued that although secularism reflected the conflict between the church and the king in Europe, in this country it is a totally different concept: it reflects the tolerance, generosity and the understanding of the majority community. In a country where 85% of the people follow one religion and when that religious community comes forward or their intelligentsia comes forward and says that this country will not be a theocratic state but that the minorities will have the same freedom and rights as the majority community, then it reflects the progressive and enlightened ideals of the country and the wisdom and tolerance of one majority community.120

Austin reminded his colleagues that Christian members to the Constituent Assembly had not sought any special constitutional guarantees, and, barring “certain minor aberrations,” their interests had been protected by the “goodwill of the majority community” and by the Congress.”121 Other members asked a different set of questions. Indrajit Gupta of the CPI acknowledged that “in law our State is a secular democracy” but called attention to the implementation of the laws. He questioned the significance of this amendment: I take it to mean that what we want to assure the people of all faiths . . . particularly the minorities that on our part we mean to


take some further action, legislative and others, to strengthen and secularise the content of our democracy . . . otherwise we have already a secular state and we are not a theocratic or religious state like some neighbours of ours I think this is the positive meaning; otherwise it is meaningless.122

The jurist Nani Palkhivala also questioned the proposed changes to the Preamble. He held the addition of the three words to the Preamble as “singularly ill-conceived,” calling all of them unnecessary and one “misleadingly unequivocal.” He also spoke for the “sense of rhythm and style” of the Preamble, which was distinguished by an “economy of words.” What’s more, Palkhivala held that the Preamble was part of the Constitution statute, and not the Constitution, and could therefore not be amended. Because it concluded with the declaration that [we, the people of India], “this twentysixth day of November, 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution,” it referred to a resolve in 1949. “No Parliament can amend or alter the historical past.”123 This elicited Swaran Singh’s caustic and somewhat bizarre response: “We are adding only three words to the Preamble and there is so much noise. They say: you cannot add to the Preamble; it will alter the rhythm of the Preamble. This expression is something very interesting. First the basic structure, now the rhythm. Is it that we are sitting here as poets in order to look to the rhythm?”124 Mavalankar also held that merely adding words changed nothing. “If you put words today ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ in the Preamble, I am afraid a time will come when some people might say: remove the word ‘democracy.’ Already the substance has gone; the word may also go next time.”125 The vibrant discussion in Parliament shows several members advancing claims and seeking explanations, whereas the government appears to be in retreat, refusing to explain its rationale for the proposed change. For instance, K. Manoharan of North Madras from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazghagam described the Preamble as the “soul” of the Constitution and the “proper yardstick” to measure the “worth” of the Constitution. For this reason, Manoharan said his party not only supported the inclusion of the word “secular,” but also requested the addition of the word “federal” before “republic.” He pleaded: “For Heaven’s sake don’t leave any loopholes for fissiparous tendencies.”126 His proposal was dismissed with the law minister referring to past debates on federalism in the Constituent Assembly.127


Other members raised the question of caste in relation to secularism. Speaking on the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Bill, D.  Basumatari, of Kokrajhar in Assam, asked why Scheduled Tribes were “deprived of their privileges once they embrace another religion . . . when we talk of the spirit of secularism, such thoughts should not have a place in our mind.”128 R. K. Khadilkar of Baramati in Maharashtra underlined Ambedkar’s pronouncements on the ubiquity of the caste problem in Andhra and Maharashtra. The caste problem is important. Do you say that secularism includes caste abolition or not? I want a clear answer. . . . in a caste society, secularism has a different meaning. Dr. Ambedkar has also discussed this and said that in a caste society, secularism is a very limited concept. It was propounded yesterday that secularism means freedom for all religions. Accepted. But does it mean freedom for caste? Some provision must be there for avoidance and removal of caste.129

Khadilkar explained that institutions such as the cooperative bank, the district council, and even the Congress committees were dominated by one caste in every village of his constituency. So, any discussion of secularism had to include a consideration of caste discrimination. Another member, O. V. Alagesan, from Tiruttani, noted that caste was missing from the list of “Fundamental Duties” that was proposed to be added to Part IV of the Constitution. It ought to be listed alongside the other divisive forces that it was Indians’ duty to transcend.130 However, when members spoke on behalf of amendments that sought to add teeth to this clause by including specific safeguards for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other backward castes or%/%and religious minorities, they were outvoted by massive margins. I turn now to some of those specific amendments that failed on the floor of the House, for they indicate best various parliamentarians’ high expectations of secularism.

“Secularism Must Be Our Way of Life” The near-universal endorsement of the principle of secularism, as noted above, is implicit in an early commentary by Upendra Baxi, then dean of the faculty of law at Delhi University. Baxi asked if Parliament really


wanted its power to change the Constitution to be “limitless.” Did Parliament want to (for example) convert India from secular to a theocratic, from republican to non-republican from federal to unitary, from democratic to non-democratic, from a rule-of-law to an arbitrary State? Utterances of the highest authorities of the Nation, ever since the inception of the Indian Republic till today, have reaffirmed that the Nation shall not turn its back on democracy, secularism, republicanism and the rule of law. The Swaran Singh Committee Report accentuates those very values. There is thus broad agreement in the Nation on the basic constitutional vision—there has always been and one hopes there will always be.131

As a value, “secular” has a preeminent place in Baxi’s understanding of India’s basic constitutional vision. He proposed that Parliament consider limiting its amending power by specifying some provisions of the Constitution as the “basic structural features” that should not be amended except through a very special procedure, such as referendum. This was, in brief, a reiteration of the “basic structure” doctrine from the 1973 Kesavananda judgment, a doctrine that the government interpreted as limiting its powers of amendment, and now sought to overturn with this massive constitutional amendment.132 Earlier in the debate, Indrajit Gupta had asked if the government intended to further “secularise the content of our democracy.” In the days to follow, several others repeated this question by drawing attention to the practice of secularism. Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait, of the Indian Union Muslim League, affirmed that with this change to the Preamble, secularism had to now emerge from the provisions of the Constitution and the rights of the minorities had to be “fully implemented.” Sait emphasized that the “minorities have got a distinct faith, culture, language, history and tradition. What we have to achieve is unity in this diversity . . . and a solidarity on all national issues.” Perhaps because of the law minister’s reticence in elaborating on the definition of secularism, Sait quoted Indira Gandhi’s explanation of secularism from a recent article in the Times of India: “We are fighting for an . . . Indian version of secularism . . . based on respect to all religions and not opposition to any religion.”133


Sait turned to the prominence given to the Directive Principles of State Policy over the Fundamental Rights in the proposed bill. He noted that the promise given in the Swaran Singh Committee Report that the bill would not affect any law giving special safeguards to minorities was conspicuously absent in the Constitution Amendment Bill under consideration. Sait argued that Article 44 of the Directive Principles that aspires to a uniform civil code directly contradicted the freedom of conscience guaranteed in the Constitution. The question of Muslim personal law had always been a “very emotional and touching problem.” Sait felt that it was time to remove Article 44 in its entirety, and that such a move would remove all fears of the Muslim minority, attached as they were to their personal law and against the imposition of a uniform civil code.134 He opposed those parliamentarians who suggested that there were liberal Muslims who approved of the codification of personal law. Sait insisted that the Muslims were unanimously opposed to any change to their personal law and that they would be guided not by reforms conducted in foreign countries, but by the holy Quran and Sunna. Sait turned to another Indira Gandhi quote, this one from her address to the All India Anglo-Indian Association, where she had described India as a “tapestry where many colors existed side by side to make a beautiful pattern.” It was not a “melting pot where the ingredients are compelled to lose their identities.” This was even more reason to let Muslims have their personal law. However, his amendment seeking to protect the “personal laws of different religious entities” received only three votes in its favor.135 Arguing that the Muslims were a minority community and also educationally and economically “backward,” Sait held that the new declaration that India was now going to be secular and socialist made it “essentially obligatory” for Parliament to afford equal opportunities to Muslim minorities, especially in the services, industry, and government.136 The law minister Gokhale responded by suggesting that the minorities “form part of the mainstream.” Gokhale held: a greater reliance . . . on the wisdom of our people in the belief that we will follow, we have followed and will follow the right policies, is a greater assurance to the minorities than a mere letter written here or written there, either in the Constitution or in the other law. . . . I was really a little sorry that the minorities should take up this position;


and that in spite of all that has happened and is happening even their best leaders have said that they are safe in the hands of a government which has not only declared its policy . . . (Interruption) Shri C. M. Stephen—The minorities have not taken that position. Shri H. R. Gokhale—I need not go into the representative character of these gentlemen. All that I am saying is that they spoke for the minorities in the name of the minorities, let us say; and I am dealing with an argument. I do not want to enter into it now. It is not relevant.137

Let us consider this exchange. What was happening outside? Did Sait have any reason to question the government’s commitment to minorities? Numerous scholars have noted that the so-called family-planning measures of Indira’s son Sanjay had targeted Muslim communities. Only six months before this exchange, a few miles away from Parliament, bulldozers had hit Muslim homes and shops, while also forcing sterilization on hapless Muslim communities at the time of the infamous Turkman Gate riot. When Sait referred to coercion in sterilizations creating “a very serious situation” in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, and elsewhere, Indira Gandhi responded that members had “greatly exaggerated” casualties and that her government did not approve of compulsion.138 At any rate, it is hard to miss the deference with which some minority members paid obeisance to the great leader, at every inflection in their speech.139 When Sait next returned to speak on the amendment that no law “infringe or abridge directly or indirectly, the special safeguards or rights conferred on the minorities, or the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or other backward classes under the Constitution,” he acknowledged Gokhale’s gratuitous advice that minorities have confidence in the “wisdom of this Parliament.” Sait followed this up with the rejoinder: “You must also depend more on the generosity of my community.” He reiterated that he did not see how the secular, socialist, or democratic character of India was affected by the Muslim community’s attachment to their personal laws. He added that Muslims, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the backward classes together formed more than 50 percent of the population; they were not in a minority. So, it was only fitting that this right of the majority of the population be conceded. Gokhale responded by recalling his speech earlier in the day and said that any laws having an economic impact, that


derived from the Directive Principles, would in fact benefit the poorer communities—that is, the minority communities. So he could not accept Sait’s amendment.140 During a discussion on a different clause to secure worker participation in the management of industries, Sait introduced an amendment to secure employment in the public or private sector for “the weaker sections of the people including the minorities.” This amendment, he argued, would clarify the “secular character” of India, for which they wanted to amend the Preamble.141 He challenged the government to provide statistics of Muslim representation in government departments. Sait also suggested the appointment of a Minorities Commission to look into the economic and educational position of Muslims and then recommend reservation. Similar arguments were subsequently made in the Rajya Sabha. Bhupesh Gupta of the CPI moved an amendment to add “Muslim” to a clause in the Directive Principles that aimed to promote the educational and economic interests of the “weaker sections” of the people. Why? Because the Muslim community is the biggest minority community in our country and it should be named as such in the Constitution itself. That does not take away the grace of our secular Constitution. On the contrary, it adds to our firm commitment to secularism. . . . [S]ecularism is in the blood of our system. . . . It is not as if we are declaring secularism for the first time as our goal. . . . [W]e are telling the world that we shall undertake all measures necessary in order to make secularism as a true living reality of life rather than a declaration or a bias or a sentiment.142

Like Sait, Gupta asked for statistics of employment figures in the public sector as well as in educational institutions. Why were Muslims not present in significant numbers? Let us all be very frank about it. Apart from the fact of protection not being adequately being given to them, is it not a fact that they have a sense of fear and frustration also? In the High Courts of India how many Muslim judges are there? I am not a communalist. I do not make any communal speeches. Let it not be thought that if a Muslim makes a speech demanding his rights that he is a communalminded person. No. He is entitled to do that as a citizen of India, to


claim the rights which are due to him and he is entitled to fight against the denial of such rights.143

Gupta persevered in this line of questioning, and asked the government to make public the figures relating to Muslim employment as well as in educational institutions. He also provided an explanation for their absence: “secularism is not practiced by those who occupy the key positions.” He held that an examination of the employment registers of big industrial houses would uncover evidence of discrimination against Muslims. He asked why the Prime Minister’s Office could not send directions to the states to ensure that a specific number of minorities be employed. A review conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1964 had also acknowledged that minorities were aggrieved at their inadequate share in services, trade and commerce, and various representative bodies. The review had also noted that Muslim minorities in Hindu-majority states expected greater understanding from the central cabinet than from state governments.144 Now, twelve years later, Gupta told his fellow parliamentarians that “one of our troubles is to gloss over the unpleasant facts.” He was raising these facts because he wished to “strengthen the secular content” of the Constitution, “give life and substance to the provisions” that had been added to the Preamble so that “by the sanction of the Constitution, protection is given to justice which has been denied to the minority communities, particularly the Muslim community.”145 I reproduce below the classic response of the minister of state in the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Company Affairs, Dr. V. A. Seyid Muhammad, and Gupta’s irritated rejoinder: Dr. V. A. Seyid Muhammad: . . . It is very well known, particularly to the minority communities, that in the person of the present Prime Minister—without trying to flatter her—we have the best protector and a person who is most concerned with the welfare and the progress of the communities concerned and their interests. Shri Bhupesh Gupta: I do not like this argument being given every time. Dr. V. A. Seyid Muhammad: I have only begun.


Shri Bhupesh Gupta: When these things were being debated in the Constituent Assembly, nobody told Jawaharlal Nehru . . . “You will become the Prime Minister” and argumentatively disposed of the matter. Here, we are talking about the Constitutional amendments. I know Shrimati Indira Gandhi is secular and anti-communal and I do not doubt when you say that she would like to do all these things. But despite the fact that we had Jawaharlal Nehru, the greatest secular man the national movement had produced, as the Prime Minister of this country for 17 years not much could be done in regard to the Muslim community and they did not receive their due rights which were due to them.146

When the minister stuck to defending Indira Gandhi and asked whether the proposed amendments were necessary because the “special interests” of minorities were protected, N. H. Kumbhare, of the Republican Party of India, asked how they were protected. Unfazed, the minister responded: “This is just like asking, after reading the Ramayana, who is Rama. We had been discussing the entire Constitution for all these 25 or so years.” Pressed further by both Gupta and Kumbhare, the minister finally conceded that despite constitutional protections, there may have been “complaints against implementation” but he did not see how this would improve by accepting an amendment to the bill. So, he rejected the amendment. A similar fate lay in store for another amendment seeking to ensure adequate employment opportunities for “members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Buddhist and Christian converts from the scheduled castes, backward classes and Muslims.”147 Implementing secular constitutional provisions was the nub of the problem. The Home Ministry’s review a decade earlier had acknowledged that “what the Constitution envisages is not being practiced.” Conceding that India was still “a nation in the making,” the review held that “when people say that Muslims have to prove their nationalism, we have all to prove our nationalism because nationalism itself is a new phenomenon.148 Much the same point was now made by Khurshed Alam Khan, Congress MP and son-in-law of former president of India Zakir Husain. He spoke out, plaintively, for “some real gains, some real change in the condition of


minorities who really deserve a helping hand.” Khan also held that the problem arose at the time of implementation. But then this is a very big question. What should we do? . . . What is the remedy left to us who are the sufferers—and sufferers not for six months, a year or two, but for the last several years, in fact over the last three decades? We also appreciate that secularism has been adopted as our way of life. The value we have evolved, we all cherish. Sir, this being so, in the new climate that is prevailing under the dynamic leadership of our Prime Minister, let us give to all a real sense of security, a real sense of fearlessness, a real sense of justice, a real sense of participation in all aspects of our national life. . . . Let no section tie a mill-stone round the neck of our nation.149

Khan echoed Sait’s call for a Minorities Commission. Joining in the fray, Kumbhare of the Republican Party spoke of secularism using familiar, resonant words, as giving every citizen “freedom in respect of religion, that a citizen may belong to any religion or caste or creed, but that has nothing to do with the business of the State. In the religion, faith is personal.” He also objected to removing accommodations for Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes who had converted out of Hinduism or Sikhism, and asked how this discrimination was compatible with professions of secularism. His amendment, too, lost.150

to “strengthen and secularise” Indian democracy failing in both houses, what did the mere addition of “secular” to the Preamble signify? What do these debates reveal about the place of the secular in Emergency-era India? Was the amendment a political response to the alliance-building activities of the Jana Sangh and the RSS?151 Did associating this amendment with the Emergency erode its credibility? The insertion of the word “secular” by the authoritarian government of Indira Gandhi might well have been a ploy to take the moral high ground, to distinguish between the Congress and the ragtag group of strange bedfellows that called itself the “Grand Alliance.” But it was also a way of marking a continuous lineage, of showing this Congress to be the rightful heir of the Congress that won India’s freedom, the Congress that formed an absolute majority in the Constituent Assembly and was responsible for WITH SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENTS


shepherding the passage of the Constitution. To many parliamentarians speaking in favor of the clause inserting “secular” in the Preamble, the Congress was only finishing work that could not be accomplished during the tumultuous years of the partition. A closer examination of the discussion between members of the Congress and a still-defiant opposition, at the height of the Emergency, reveals the gap between secularism in theory and expectations of secularism in practice. Many of the members who endorsed secularism in 1976 embraced a holistic definition and sought to relate it to equal opportunity, the abolition of caste-based discrimination, equitable representation for minorities in education and employment, the elimination of disabilities accruing to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who converted to other religions, and demands that federalism, too, be added to the Preamble. However, their demands that the government define secularism and add substantive safeguards to better explain what was being intended by the addition to the Preamble were met with stonewalling, gestures to the great leader, and then outvoted. The dismissal of these substantive amendments shows that the exercise of adding “secular” to the Preamble was mere lip service toward secularism. The formal and lukewarm endorsement of secularism as equal respect for all religions, coupled with the idea that a great leader should be trusted to do what is right by the minority community, did not in any way “secularize the content of [India’s] democracy,” a lack that was alluded to by numerous parliamentarians as well as a detailed review conducted by the Home Ministry in 1964. The mere addition of the word, however, enabled the government to avoid taking concrete measures, such as providing reservation for minorities and other safeguards that would ensure the implementation of secular laws. Because secularism was recognizably all talk and no action, anti-minority discrimination continued. Paradoxically, the government, too, could declare it had done something; after all, it had inserted a word into the Preamble! In a thoughtful critique of Indira Gandhi’s entire tenure in Indian politics, political theorist Sudipta Kaviraj writes that she represented “a massive decline of ideology. Ideology did not mean serious disputation of the social programme underlying government policy, a debate about means and ends of national objectives. It came to a devaluation of political speech, a use of discourse for purposes utterly inimical to the purpose of discourses.”152 The government’s position on secularism is a case in point of


the “devaluation of political speech.” However, even as Indira’s government sidestepped many of the recommendations proffered by parliamentarians, the debates on the clause to add “secular” to the Preamble reveal a rich discussion on the meanings of secularism. Keeping with Emergencyera censorship, however, the sharp exchanges that ensued were not reported in the limited press coverage of parliamentary proceedings. There appear to have been few doubts expressed about the imperative for secularism as a defining principle of the Constitution; there was emphasis, instead, on the need to clarify its contours, excavate its meanings, and embed it further, and some doubt over the government’s intentions, given the political context of the Emergency. “Secularism must be our way of life,” Bhupesh Gupta had extolled.153 “Secularism has been adopted as our way of life,” intoned Khurshed Alam Khan even as he pointed to inadequacies in its implementation. Secularism should be translated as sampradāy-nirapeksha (against communalism), urged Prakash Vir Shastri of the Jana Sangh. This near-universal acceptance of the principle of secularism is in stark contrast to the coeval discussion on another change to the Preamble: the addition of the word “socialist.”154 Moreover, when the changes made by the Forty- Second Amendment to the Constitution began to be overturned during the prime ministership of Morarji Desai by the Forty-Fourth and Forty-Fifth Amendments, the problem of defining “secular” in the Preamble reappeared, and was again cast aside.155 So, the lofty principle remained, and it remained undefined. The problems emanating from this lack of definition would arise again in the future. But the chorus of support pushing the amendment through Parliament in 1976 differed dramatically from the qualifiers that marked and marred the debate on India’s secular character in 1993, when a controversy over the first exhibition to purportedly “break the siege of Ayodhya” became the subject of protests, legal persecution, and parliamentary debate. What changed between 1976 and 1993? Before we turn to this question, I will circle back to the beginning, to the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, and the censorship of the first book to be published in independent India—Rama Retold, by Aubrey Menen. Then I consider the treatment meted out to another examination of Rama, this time by the redoubtable scholar-politician B. R. Ambedkar. I turn next to a liberal judgment from the Madhya Pradesh High Court that proudly acknowledged the immense diversity in the


Ramayana tradition, and finally, I study arguments celebrating and contesting this diversity in the wake of the mobilization to build a temple to Ram at the site of the sixteenth-century Babri Masjid that was destroyed in 1992: the sharpest tear in the fabric that represented secularism.

Rama Retellings, Riddles, Recitations During the preceding debate, Jambuwant Dhote had asserted that secular meant understanding the sentiments of, and respecting, all religions. Gajendragadkar and others had also repeatedly pointed out that the spirit of secularism permeated every page of the Constitution. In the 1955 ban of The Ramayana, as told by Aubrey Menen, we see how this attitude of respect for religious sentiments clashed with a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution: the right to freedom of speech and expression. Aubrey Menen, an Irish-Malayali author who had worked in India as a radio announcer and press officer during the Second World War, had stood beside Nehru in his first few moments as prime minister to tell “a still incredulous audience that India was independent.” He was, ironically, also the first author to be banned under India’s new Constitution.156 Aubrey Menen’s adaptation of Valmiki’s Ramayana was barred from India by notifications issued by the Finance Ministry under Section 19 of the Sea Customs Act of 1878; copies already on sale were proscribed under Section 99A of the Criminal Procedure Code by the chief commissioner of Delhi for matter “which is intended to outrage the religious feelings of the Hindus.”157 Four years later, unconfirmed rumors of another “translation” of Valmiki’s Ramayana by Menen in the United States led to demands that the Indian Embassy strongly protest to the American government against the publication of this “objectionable” book. In Varanasi, a committee of Sanskrit scholars was formed to “agitate against the book,” and in Ghazipur, an effigy of Menen was taken out in a procession.158 The Home Ministry found Menen’s books “undoubtedly objectionable being not mere profane parodies but deliberate and malicious publications to pervert the great epic story.”159 The words “deliberate and malicious” were evidently chosen to meet the requirements of a legal case; in the end, there was no need for any such case because there was, in fact, no such publication in 1959.


However, there had been a book published in 1954, and it had been banned. Visiting India ten years later, Menen recalled his astonishment and hurt that the country of his birth had “turned its back” on him and banned a book of his for being “offensive to its deepest instincts.” According to Menen, it was “Hindu womanhood” that had got him into trouble: “All I did in my retelling of this story was to point out that, in the circumstances, only one person could ever know if Sita had really been faithful, and that was Sita herself. . . . I cannot imagine such a point of view annoying anybody except a husband who suspects he is a cuckold. Then, I agree, my little book could drive him slowly mad. Perhaps, indeed, the book was banned by a committee of such men. I do not know.”160 Hailing Menen as the “Anatole France of our own generation,” multiple reviews in the New York Times had gushed over Menen’s version of the Ramayana. However, religious studies scholar Anne Fremantle wisely noted that Menen’s “sophisticated, contemporary Sita might find herself more than faintly uncomfortable on the pedestal whereon she has been venerated since before the dawn of history . . . a book can only be received according to the capacity of the receiver.”161 In an interview two more decades later, with the book still banned, Menen told an interviewer that India, now “sleepy,” had been “very, very alert” in the fifties. He also recalled the moment when he had asked Nehru himself why he had banned his book: “He said absolutely magnificently, in a regal fashion: ‘I haven’t read it. . . .’ It was like Queen Victoria saying ‘We are not amused.’ So, what could I do? Get up and bow and leave walking backwards? Well, I didn’t. I just more or less repeated the question and he said, ‘It might have caused a riot.’ Which was too amusing because if you were to ban everything in India that might cause a riot, then there would be nothing left at all. No newspapers, no books.”162 In reality, Menen was more hurt than amused, and still hopeful that the ban on his “secular” retelling of the Ramayana might be overturned.163 Nehru, meanwhile, had probably confused the possibility of a riot over Menen’s book with the recent riots over another book, Lives of Religious Leaders. In any case India was hardly sleepy when it came to censorship. The mid- to late 1980s witnessed renewed attention to Rama over the mobilization to build a temple to Rama at Ayodhya, and a marked shift in the iconography of Rama from shanta to ugra (peaceful and compassionate to angry and militant).164 By the end of the decade, following the ban on


Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, critic and author Khushwant Singh would be pointing to the ban on Menen’s Rama Retold to make his case that Hindus were as intolerant as Muslims.165 That bans on books such as Menen’s might be overturned was no longer in the realm of possibility.

in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the years after independence%/%partition were turbulent. Not only was India not self-sufficient in food production, the system of importing books with grain under US Public Law 480 brought its own share of problems with regard to censorship. The files from the Ministry reveal conflicting views on testing the efficacy of existing laws in the Indian Penal Code or the Defence of India Rules (under force during and after the 1962 Indo-China war) by banning books as well as newspaper articles for promoting feelings of enmity or hatred. In these circumstances, the Law Department routinely cautioned: “Law steps in only if there is an imminent danger of breach of peace and order by incitement and provocation contained in certain publications. All other matters are left to the good sense and responsibility of the citizens. Having regard to this position, any action under Defence of India Rules . . . cannot be sustained in court of law.” In another case the Law Department averred that the wording of Section  153A of the Indian Penal Code was “very wide” and that these “wide words must be construed in the light of the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19 (1)”; any restriction could only be in the interest of “the security of state, public order, decency or morality.”166 Here, the interpretation of the law is confident, unlike the infantilizing colonial gaze of a previous era. Yet the Home Ministry persisted in calling for greater numbers of books to be censored. By the end of the 1950s the Home Ministry was toying with the idea of creating a book censor board and examining the setup of censor boards in other countries, including the United Kingdom. This was in keeping with the era’s reliance on “experts,” even if literary experts themselves were unwilling to be put in such a position. In Britain, for instance, both E. M. Forster and T.  S. Eliot spoke out against the idea of a permanent board, raising the age-old and valid question: “How should we trust the person who chooses a board to choose the right people?”167 At any rate, it was the enthusiasm of India’s bureaucrats that endorsed allegations of “hurt sentiments” to prevent the ingress of Aubrey Menen’s Rama Retold. FOR THE MANDARINS


Around the same time, between January 1954 and November 1955, B.R. Ambedkar, the brilliant scholar and former law minister, was drafting chapters of the mammoth Riddles in Hinduism, a 170,000-word critique of Brahmanic Hinduism.168 But it would take another three decades for the book to actually see the light of publication. Once published, one appendix in the book, The Riddle of Rama and Krishna, became the object of sustained protests by the Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Patit Pavan, and other Hindu organizations that demanded that the appendix be deleted for offending Hindu religious sentiments. The book was publicly burned at a Maratha Mahamandal meeting in Amravati in January 1988, and Dalits were attacked, after which the state government withdrew the book. In the words of V.T. Rajshekar, founder-editor of the journal Dalit Voice: The Hindu leaders who make so much of “Hindu tolerance” could have resorted to legal action instead of resorting to violence, but they did not. Dr. Ambedkar in his book had written only about Rama’s ill treatment of his wife, Sita, quoting from the original Sanskrit work of Valmiki, the author of the Ramayan. But instead of denouncing Valmiki, the Nazis are venting their anger against Dr. Ambedkar’s book and also against poor Dalits. The government of Maharashtra yielded to these anti-Dalit fascists and announced its decision to delete this portion thus violating Article 51-A (H) of the Constitution which directs the State to promote scientific temper, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.169

Rajshekar pointed to the extant protests over the renaming of a university in the region after Ambedkar and mocked the idea of “Hindu tolerance.” He quoted from the journalist, editor, and later BJP ideologue Arun Shourie’s work on Hinduism to conclude that Hindus were “very tolerant in matters that did not affect the social order.”170 Sita’s relationship to Rama was of paramount importance to the Brahminical social order. When hundreds of thousands of Dalits protested the withdrawal of the book, the chapter was reinstated with a caveat that the government did not agree with the views in the appendix.171 The case of Ambedkar’s Riddle would arise again in the early 1990s when the BJP made a bid for Dalit votes. Writing in Mainstream, the historian Yoginder Sikand spelled out Ambedkar’s opposition to Brahminical Hinduism:


In his book, Riddles of Rama [sic], he opined that Rama was an ardent champion of the chaturvarna system. Rama slew the Shudra, Shambuka, merely for his having violated the law against Shudras meditating to enter the heavens. Ambedkar termed this act as “the worst crime that history has ever recorded.” He also declared that a Hindu Rashtra, another name for Brahmin Raj, would spell the doom not only for the Muslims, but also for the Dalits, Shudras, tribals and women—the vast majority of the Indian population. Do the Hindutva advocates, who also claim to be Ambedkar’s greatest followers, agree with his views on Hinduism, the Rama cult and the Hindu Rashtra? If they say they do, then their Rama crusade, to establish a Hindu Rashtra should appear to them to be without any justification whatsoever. If they say they do not, which they would if they are honest, then they have no right to mislead the Dalits by claiming to be the followers of Ambedkar.”172

It is worth asking why the government chose to capitulate to street protests when it could have taken the Shiv Sena and other protesting organizations to court. Perhaps the courts were too pedantic and unpredictable in their judgments, and succumbing to street power, especially of the Shiv Sena, was only in keeping with the tenor of politics since Bhiwandi, soon to become the norm. In the case of Ramlal Puri vs State of Madhya Pradesh in 1971, too, the government played its prosecutorial role to perfection. Here, the Madhya Pradesh state government justified the forfeiture of a book titled Agni Pareeksha [The fire ordeal] by arguing that the portrayal of Rama and Sita in the book did not adhere to popular understandings of Rama and Sita as incarnations of the gods Vishnu and Lakshmi.173 The forfeiture was challenged by three sets of persons with an interest in the book: Ramlal Puri, the printer and publisher of the book; the Jain Shwetambar Terapanthi Mahasabha, which sponsored its publication; and various followers of the Jain Terapanthi school who claimed the right to read and recite from the book. The petitioners claimed that Agni Pareeksha, written by Acharya Shri Tulsi of the Terapanthi school of the Shwetambar Jain sect, was based on the Jain version of the Ramayana, which itself dates to antiquity. Here, Rama was described as a “Siddha Purush,” a man who had attained perfection, while Sita was described as one of the sixteen Maha Satis, who proved


her virtues as an ideal woman by going through the fire ordeal. The petitioners referred to Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution of India, which guarantee freedom of expression as well as freedom of religion for religious minorities. They asserted their right to their version of the Ramayana. The petitioners’ counsel, A. K. Sen, also traced a few of the many different versions of the Ramayana that existed: there was not only a Jain version but also Tamil, Rajasthani, Ceylonese, Valmiki, Tulsidas, Kashmiri, . . . and Indonesian versions, all of which differ from each other on certain details. The version of incidents mentioned in Agni Pareeksha were also part of the more widely known Valmiki version of the Ramayana. This point was accepted and reiterated by the judges in their final judgment. The State argued that the feelings of Sanatani Hindus in Raipur [then in Madhya Pradesh] had been hurt by the portrayal of Sita’s character in the book, as evinced by the recent riots in that city. But this was not the ground on which the book had been forfeited under Section  99A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, so the state was asked to confine its arguments to showing how the allegedly offensive stanzas on Sita’s character in the book were a “deliberate and malicious attempt” to outrage the religious sentiments of Sanatani Hindus. The advocate general then claimed that the book attempted to proselytize through these verses, and was thus objectionable. The court declared that even if this version of the Ramayana was propagandist, it could not be considered objectionable, as the right to propagate religion was protected by Article 25 of the Constitution. Finding nothing offensive in the book, the notification ordering its forfeiture was struck down. This judgment from 1971 excluded considerations of public order that were unrelated to the grounds of forfeiture mentioned by the state, and relied extensively on a close and contextual reading of the forfeited book. The rights of the Jain minority to read and recite their version of the Ramayana were upheld, even if these might offend some Sanatani Hindus; their version of the Ramayana was as legitimate as any other. It is important to underscore this, given the anger and violence around the academic study of another reading of the Ramayana in 2008. An essay by poet, scholar, and philologist A. K. Ramanujan, “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation,” was first introduced to students in a volume of essays Many Ramayanas: The


Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, edited by religious studies scholar Paula Richman and published by University of California Press in 1991. A fine example of humanistic scholarship, Ramanujan’s essay reflects on the diverse tellings of the Hindu epic, Ramayana, and how these tellings ultimately point to the diversity within Hinduism itself. It was subsequently included in the master’s in history graduate curriculum at the University of Delhi. At this point, Dinanath Batra, a retired schoolteacher and member of the right-wing Shiksha Bachao Andolan (Movement to save education), filed a writ petition against Delhi University under Article 226 of the Constitution. Batra, who allegedly sought to save Hinduism from being wrongly interpreted in schools and textbooks, accused the late scholar Ramanujan of having the malicious intention of defaming and disparaging the central characters in the Ramayana in this essay, and demanded that the university tender an unconditional written apology “to the millions of Hindus all over the world for having outraged their religious feelings by insulting their religion,” ostensibly the natural outcome from assigning and reading the essay by Ramanujan. Although the university bowed to the tactics of intimidation by withdrawing the essay from the curriculum, Delhi’s High Court judge S. Muralidhar refused to entertain the petition on grounds of legitimacy and competence.174

line connecting the 1955 ban on Audrey Menen’s retelling of the Valmiki Ramayan to the 1987 assaults, banning, and later unbanning of Ambedkar’s Riddle, the 1971 recitations of the Jain version of the Ramayana that were permitted by the judiciary, to Ramanujan’s celebration of diversity in the Ramayana tradition that was eventually withdrawn from the graduate curriculum of one of India’s finest universities, not because of a legal judgment but because of the minority opinion in an academic committee’s judgment. Even so, it is possible to see, in the physical violence and intimidation faced by Dalits in the 1980s and students and teachers at Delhi University more recently, a sharp narrowing of what was now tolerable. When and why did the space for diverse recitations of the Ramayana shrink and disappear? The following discussion of a Sahmat “poster” that was part of a wider campaign Hum Sab Ayodhya, organized in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Mosque, that allegedly hurt THERE IS NO DIRECT


religious sentiments and became the subject of persecution and debate, offers us some clues.

Hum Sab Ayodhya, a Festival for Secularism Only a decade and a half after the passage of the Forty- Second Amendment, and the pious declarations in favor of secularism as a way of life, the sixteenth-century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was destroyed by thousands of workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the Bajrang Dal. This destruction was not ordinary; contemporaries recognized it for the massive threat it posed to India’s secular identity. In its immediate aftermath, the state government resigned and president’s rule was finally imposed on Uttar Pradesh as well as on other BJP-ruled states. Although the Congress-led coalition government at the center had proved stunningly unable to prevent the destruction of the mosque, it survived a no-confidence motion that was, ironically, put forward by the BJP. Shortly after the mosque was destroyed on December 6, 1992, rioters, egged on by hate speeches made by politicians from parties such as the Shiv Sena and the BJP, who also led the mobs in these riots, targeted Muslims in Bombay, Surat, and Ahmedabad. The police looked away, politicians blamed the opposition leaders, intellectuals wrote despairing editorials. The one-person Justice Srikrishna Enquiry Commission that was formed to inquire into these riots named names, when it was finally published in 1998, but to no avail. A contemporary wrote: Political rivalry had reached such obscene heights that the Army was not allowed to function, since it was the prerogative of the State Government to call in the Army; for some strange reason that call was not forthcoming. When it was called in, it was too late and even then it was ordered to function only in a few pockets while carnage was spreading like wildfire in new areas. In an interview for Time magazine Bal Thackeray boasted, “I’m going to teach Muslims a lesson.” On being told that Muslims were fleeing Bombay, his reply clearly smacking of fascism was, “if they’re going, let them go; if they’re not going, kick them out.” He saw nothing wrong in Indian Muslims being “treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.” The


“retaliation” programme of his “boys” left nothing out from killing to raping, from maiming to looting.175

Into this extreme siege-like, hate-filled, and fearful atmosphere, Sahmat, a cultural organization, stepped in to organize a seventeen-city exhibition called Hum Sab Ayodhya. Sahmat was founded in 1989, weeks after the murder of Safdar Hashmi, a playwright, street theater activist, and founder of a street theater group called Jan Natya Manch (People’s Theatre Front). The trustees of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust%/%Sahmat included author Bhisham Sahni and playwrights Habib Tanveer and M. K. Raina. From its inception, Sahmat had been involved in India-wide campaigns called “Artists against Communalism” and “Popular Intervention for Communal Harmony.” These initiatives included concerts and traveling exhibitions celebrating India’s pluralism from Simla to Bangalore, as well as competitions among drivers of auto-rickshaws and taxis to generate popular slogans for communal harmony. These were in keeping with Sahmat’s objectives to maintain communal harmony and “to extend and defend the peoples’ right to freedom of self-expression.”176 So, it is more than ironical that Sahmat would come to face charges of deliberately and maliciously intending to insult religious beliefs and promoting disharmony or feelings of enmity between different religious communities in its multi-city exhibition titled Hum Sab Ayodhya (We are all Ayodhya). How did this happen? In the days after December 6, 1992, when self-styled secularists claimed to be taken aback at the great betrayal committed by the BJP, Sahmat was one of the first organizations to get to work.177 The next morning, a Sahmat delegation met the president of India and handed him a memorandum signed by artists and writers expressing their anguish at the destruction of the Babri Mosque. A day later, 200,000 posters with poems of Kabir and Ravidas were printed with the declaration: Ab Koi Nara Na Hoga, Sirf Desh Bachana Hoga (Now there will be no more slogans, only the nation must be saved). Later that week, on December 11 and 12, Sahmat organized a protest by hundreds of artists who came together to sing, paint, create street installations outside Mandi House in Delhi, and perform street plays along with an exhibition of the photographs from Ayodhya, contributed by press photographers. This was signature Sahmat work, and it was organized


without any support from the police or the administration. Sahmat welcomed the new year, 1993, with Anhad Garje (the eternal%/%unbound sound), a phrase taken from the Bhakti poet Kabir. In the hands of Sahmat, Anhad Garje turned out to be a fourteen-hour nonstop concert of Sufi%/%Bhakti tradition poetry, which was followed by street theater, lectures, film screenings, exhibitions, paintings of 100-foot canvases, banners, and T-shirts in Delhi, Bombay, Surat, Baroda, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow—all cities affected by the ongoing Shiv Sena and BJP-led violence. Those who sang in Sahmat’s programs were the most widely admired artists of their generation: Pt. Jasraj, Kishori Amonkar, Shobha Gurtu, Shubha Mudgal, Shanti Hiranand, Keshav Badge, the Warsi Brothers, and the Pakistani singer Allan Fakir.178 In March 1993 Sahmat held a workshop of artists, academics, and social workers, after which the secretary, Shabnam Hashmi, sent a concept note to creative people across India inviting their suggestions for a program that would take place in Ayodhya from August 9 to August 15, India’s Independence Day. Focusing on Ayodhya, Sahmat hoped to receive “written pieces, drawings and sketches . . . even site collaborations with artists and sculptors.” Ravindra Bhan, who had restored the Ram ki Pairi ghats along the river Saryu in Ayodhya, the hoped-for site of the program, said that there was room for murals and sculptures all along the site. The event being planned was “national in scope,” and would also include street exhibitions, performances, lectures, and films; the celebration of pluralism, tolerance, freedom and secularism was given the title Mukt Naad (unfettered sound%/%free expression).179 Additional letters were issued under the names of writers (some of whom were Sahmat trustees) Bhisham Sahni, Ali Sardar Jafri, and Pazhavila Ramesan, announcing that the gathering in Ayodhya was to “reassert the values of cultural pluralism and secularism that have not only influenced our respective practices but have also sustained us as a nation.” The signatories asked that “all . . . who share the values that are under massive attack in these turbulent times . . . stand together in this symbolic act and be counted.”180 Documents in the Sahmat archive reveal that the planning process did not go smoothly. In a letter dated July 30, 1993, Shabnam Hashmi recalled the meeting of a Sahmat delegation with officials in Faizabad (the headquarters of the district that included Ayodhya) in March when “the then commissioner and district magistrate had given us to understand that this kind of programme would be very beneficial for the town and the country.”


It could be held anywhere in Ayodhya and at any time that suited Sahmat. That things did not now appear so welcoming is clear from the fact that the current commissioner had felt it necessary to confirm these details with the former commissioner the previous day. The letter went on to remind the current district magistrate, B.  P. Verma, that another delegation of Sahmat had met with him on July 2 and submitted a letter seeking “necessary permission and cooperation.” They were promised a reply within fifteen days, but that had not yet come. So on July 18 the Sahmat delegation met in Lucknow with Governor Moti Lal Vora, who assured them that all cooperation would be extended to Sahmat. Following this assurance from the governor of the state, Sahmat had informed participants across India and the media of the details of the proposed program in Ayodhya. They had again met the commissioner and the district magistrate, who promised to issue the letter, but it had not yet come. Hashmi pointed out that Sahmat was busy organizing the “major gathering of artists, intellectuals and eminent citizens at Ayodhya” and could not wait much longer for the response.181 The response came the same day, and informed Ms. Hashmi that upon further thought, it had been decided that the program planned was not in the interests of the people and the law-and-order situation.182 The Sahmat files reveal what happened next. First, there are copies of an undated letter to the president of India signed by at least forty-five members of Parliament, including Somnath Chatterjee, I. K. Gujral, M. A. Baby, Malini Bhattacharya, Indrajit Gupta, Ram Vilas Paswan, and Chaturanan Mishra, stating that the permission for Sahmat’s cultural program had been denied on “rather flimsy grounds” and asking the president to intervene “even at this late stage,” since Uttar Pradesh was under the president’s rule. The signatories added that the program was “aesthetically excellent”: “They wish to remind the nation of Nehru’s speech made 46 years ago, with which we undertook our journey to build a modern nation. The performers who have consented to participate are a pride of the nation. . . . The cultural activities all over the country including an exhibition on Ayodhya are going to create an atmosphere that will restore the confidence of the people in our plural and secular culture.”183 Later in August, this sequence of events—the initial denial of permission by the district authorities followed by approval from the governor and the grudging acquiescence of the local administration—would be repeated and interrogated in both houses of Parliament.184


Next, a Sahmat circular announced that all controversies had been resolved. A Sahmat delegation had been assured by the governor and advisor in the Home Ministry on August  6 that permission for the program was granted and that the administration would fully cooperate. Muktnaad would begin on August 9 with an exhibition titled Hum Sab Ayodhya, which would be depicted on a hundred panels of visual and textual material. The panels would tell the history of Ayodhya and its people through the evolution of its culture and architecture, and “bring to mind a composite civilization from ancient times to the contemporary.” The exhibition was scheduled to open simultaneously in seventeen cities, including Jaipur, Patna, Ranchi, Baroda, Kanpur, Simla, Calcutta, and Hyderabad. In Delhi the exhibition would open at Teenmurti Museum on August  9 and remain open until August 31.185 Another letter in the file consisted of an “Order” issued by the Zila magistrate, B. P. Verma, on August 10, 1993. The order listed certain conditions under which the proposed program had been approved. These conditions included making sure every aspect of the program, including every poster, would advance communal harmony and nationalism; that words used in the course of the program would be acceptable to all communities and castes; the program would not allow entry to anyone armed; the program would be devoid of lectures, seminars, and disputes; and all participants would assist the administration in keeping the peace.186 These preconditions were not debated; there was no time. With hindsight, it is possible to see how agreeing to these terms restricted the space for the exhibition. Only two days later, Ms. Sheetla Singh, editor of the Hindi daily Jan Morcha, which was published out of Faizabad, wrote to the governor complaining that miscreants had torn posters and images from the Sahmat exhibition in the town hall to the cries of “Jai Shri Ram.” The editor noted that the exhibition was ongoing in twenty other cities across India, and had not been vandalized elsewhere; indeed, it had been uniformly praised. The editor requested the governor to intervene so that the events planned for the next few days would proceed peacefully.187 Another letter dated August 13 from MPs Somnath Chatterji, Ram Vilas Paswan, Prithviraj Chauhan, Malini Bhattacharya, V. P. Singh, and others to the minister of state for home affairs, Rajesh Pilot, also noted the vandalism in Faizabad and requested security measures in place. The parliamentarians found it


“surprising and shocking” that the local administration had not been able to prevent the vandalism and “arrest the anti-socials.”188 Given the destruction of a massive mosque in Ayodhya only a few months earlier, it was perhaps not so shocking that the local administration had done nothing to prevent this act of vandalism. Time was running out for Muktnaad, for which artists had already begun to arrive at the Faizabad train station. A Sahmat press release condemned the “miscreants” who had attacked their exhibition in Faizabad, and underlined that the exhibition had been “researched and mounted by noted historians, designers and painters,” and that it portrayed Ayodhya “in all its complexity.” The vandals had only displayed “intolerance and disrespect to our culture and five thousand year old civilization.” It also highlighted the “overwhelming” enthusiasm of the people of Faizabad, who were waiting to welcome the “artists and intellectuals” arriving from across India, and hoped the administration would ensure the peaceful conduct of the program for which official permission, they reiterated, had been granted. A press release the next day noted that the Indian cricket team, now touring in Sri Lanka, had also sent messages in support of the Sahmat event.189 Another Sahmat press release on August 14 listed the names of twentythree poets who had already participated in a mushaira at Faizabad, as well as the names of writers who had reached Faizabad: Bhisham Sahni, Rajendra Yadav, Vivan Sundaram, M. K. Raina, Girish Karnad, Dr. K. N. Panikkar, . . . ; and a whole contingent of artists and intellectuals from West Bengal, including Shyamanan Jalan and Prakash Karmakar, who had brought with them 100-foot and 30-foot painted canvases. Hundreds of handpainted umbrellas would be released on boats floating down the river, the show would begin at midnight with Nehru’s speech at the Constituent Assembly: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny . . .” Prior to the performance, diyas will be lit and floated in the waters of the Saryu by all those gathered there. The performance will include Swami Pagal Das, the famous pakhawaj player and a resident of Ayodhya. The performers will include Pandit Kishan Maharaj, Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, Rajan Sajan Mishra, Madhavi Mudgal, Palghat K. V. Narayanswami and Padma Narayanswami, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, U. Srinivasa, Sitara Devi, Girija Devi. . . .


A piece composed and recorded specially for the concert by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan will be played. Naya Theatre, and three theater groups from West Bengal will be performing.190

Crucially, the organizers sought to popularize their message of pluralism. Therefore, posters with messages for “communal harmony specially sent by sportspersons who have brought honor to the country” would also be released at Ayodhya. Kapil Dev, who had captained the 1983 cricket team that won the World Cup, sent the message “Life is too beautiful to waste on such small and petty matters”; Vinod Kambli, a rising star who had just made his debut in international test cricket, wrote “Religions are many. God is one.” Manoj Prabhakar offered: “Unity produces all round excellence. Communalism cripples the country.” V. Raju pointed out, “Life is precious. Let’s safeguard it. Fight communalism.” For Sachin Tendulkar, “When we are one, enemies are none. Play together, live together.” Mohammad Azharuddin wrote, “Communalism is a cruel game. Bury it. Live and let live.” A group message signed by Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Ajit Pal Singh, Ashwini Nachappa, Indu Puri, Bula Chowdhuri, Mervyn Fernandis, C. K. Billimoria, and others said: “Excellence in the sporting field knows no bounds, religious or regional. We celebrate the spirit of human achievement and strive to project this spirit to our fellow people. We believe that only in our plural, multi-religious and democratic society can we truly attempt to fulfill this aim. We stand for communal harmony and amity for all our people.” Arindam Datta refers to the responses of artists and intellectuals proclaiming the sameness of all religions as “humanist clichés which had been managed religion in the old nationalist denomination.”191 I see these messages of cricketers as reflective of their understanding of everyday secularism, unmediated by the considerations of realpolitik that permeated the state’s response to challenges to the ideology of secularism. There were local events planned in each city: in Lucknow, there was a mushaira (poetic symposium) as well as a “Run for Ayodhya” in which schoolchildren as well as sportspersons would participate; in Hyderabad there would be a four-day program including special performances by Shujaat Husain Khan; in Calcutta, canvases were painted, poetry and songs were performed, and films were screened at Mueller Bhavan.192 Those who could not attend the celebration in Ayodhya sent messages for a successful festival: actor, director, and playwright Utpal Dutt, who passed away a week


Fig 2.2 “Sportsmen against Communalism” poster, August 15, 1993. Courtesy of Sahmat Archive, New Delhi.


later, sent the message: “Muktnaad is a big endeavor for harmony. It is the call of the nation that its broken soul be saved” (Muktnaad souhard ke liye ek badā kām hai. Yeh desh ki pukār hai ki uskī khandit ātma ko bachāya jāye).193 Despite all this goodwill from musicians, dancers, painters, film makers, writers, and spokespersons, and visible, tangible support from members of the Congress, the communist and socialist parties, Muktnaad and the accompanying exhibition Hum Sab Ayodhya would go on to face the charge of offending Hindu sentiments and become a subject of such angry debate and name-calling in both houses of Parliament that whole paragraphs of debate would have to be expunged from the printed proceedings. Even the Congress, whose Ministry of Human Resource Development had given 25 lakh rupees for the festival, distanced itself from the exhibit; in fact, it was the Ministry of Home Affairs that initiated the process of legal action against Sahmat. Whose sentiments were hurt during this exhibition? What was so offensive about the exhibition? Could this be a consequence of genuine hurt caused by an exhibition that had intended to celebrate pluralism and tolerance, or was this deliberate and maliciously targeted, whipped-up hyperbole? We turn to these questions and the debates they unleashed because the Sahmat controversy set the stage for later acts of BJP-led vigilantism as well as Congress soft-pedaling on the matter of “hurt sentiments.” It also was a rare opportunity for debate on the meaning of secularism in the swiftly changing 1990s, a period marked by liberalization and the advent of new media.

Sahmat vs. The Government The fallout from the Sahmat exhibition Hum Sab Ayodhya was tremendous. Debated in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha during roughly August 13–26, 1993, it served as a lightning rod for broader debates on secularism and freedom of speech and expression in the press and academia over the next few years. It also became the subject of legal action that was initiated in Faizabad on August 16 and then continued in a case registered in Delhi on August 21. Sahmat was charged under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot); 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on account of religion etc. and doing acts prejudi-


cial to maintenance of harmony); 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to raise religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion . . .); 298 (uttering words etc. with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings); 505 (statements conducive to public mischief ); and 120B (criminal conspiracy). Trustees of Sahmat versus Government of NCT of Delhi was finally decided on July 16, 2001, with the Delhi High Court ruling strongly in favor of Sahmat and against the notification that had led to the forfeiture of panels from the exhibition. Let us consider the elements of the exhibition that allegedly hurt Hindu sentiments. Out of the eighty-three panels in the exhibition that celebrated the historical character and pluralism of Ayodhya, the vandals had found one “poster” depicting the Ram Katha from the Dasaratha Jataka to be “hurtful” to their sentiments. The objectionable “poster” consisted of four lines of text that read: The Dasaratha Jataka, dating to somewhere between the 4th and 2nd centuries BC, is probably older than Valmiki’s text. In this version, Sita is not the wife but the sister of Rama. At the end of the exile when Rama returns to Ayodhya, Sita is made the queen-consort of Ram, and they rule jointly for sixteen thousand years. Rama is said to have descended from Ikshvaku, from whom the clan of the Buddha also claims descent.194

The larger panel, titled “Ram Katha,” of which it was a part, was divided into six sections: the Valmiki Ramayana, Ram Katha in Buddhist tradition, Ram Katha in Jain tradition, Regional versions, Ram Katha in non-Indian versions, and the secular version. Sahmat quickly clarified that they had wanted to show “the wider reach of the legend of Ram in all its diversity” and “most certainly did not intend to hurt anybody’s feelings.”195 But Sahmat never stood a chance. Organizations that had led the destruction of the Babri Masjid a few months earlier now made their opposition to Sahmat’s presence in Ayodhya explicit. Vinay Katiyar, the chief of the Bajrang Dal and parliamentarian from Faizabad constituency, sounded the warning: “Sahmat’s Muktanād will be answered by our singhanād [the roar of the lion].” This was followed by the declaration of Acharya Giriraj Kishore, national organizing secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, that their cadres would “retaliate if Hindu sentiments were hurt.”196 The press


was abuzz with rumors that Sahmat would be laying the foundation stone of a new mosque at the disputed site of the Babri Masjid on August 15.197 There were reports that fifteen additional companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary and the Central Reserve Police Force joined the thirteen companies already stationed in Ayodhya.198 Furthermore, even artists appeared taken aback at the dramatic entrance of Arjun Singh, the minister of human resources in the Congress-led P. V. Narasimha Rao government, at the ghats in Ayodhya. Despite the minister’s presence, several local papers perceived the Congress workers as boycotting the Sahmat program and viewed the exercise as a failure of the Congress and leftist parties.199 The debates in Parliament on the controversial Sahmat “poster” reveal a divided government, with leaders of the opposition BJP setting the agenda. Even as Arjun Singh praised Sahmat for breaking the “siege on the conscience of the nation” and destroying the monopoly on Ayodhya that was hitherto held by the BJP and its affiliates, Atal Bihari Vajpayee faulted him for making Ayodhya “a center of controversy”! He pointedly noted that the district administration had sought to stop the program, but Arjun Singh’s intervention had enabled it to proceed. Vajpayee asked, “What was the need and rationale for showing all these Jataks in Ayodhya? It is also a historical fact that a Ram temple was demolished there in the past. If such an exhibition is shown there, what will be its consequences?” Vajpayee held that Arjun Singh was responsible for the display of the “posters” and had spent 25 lakh rupees “to lift the siege which was not in existence. I would like to say that the sparks you have emitted will prove to be disastrous.”200 Arjun Singh readily conceded that he did not agree with “this part of the exhibition” but continued to draw attention to the cultural part of the program: Muktnaad. Whereas in 1972 and 1976, members of the Congress appeared to vie with each other to extol secularism, in 1993 it was leaders of the Janata Dal and the CPI (M) who spoke up for secularism. Somnath Chatterjee reminded the House that “nobody has the monopoly of wisdom and patriotism” in India and wished “to convey the gratitude of the people of India to . . . the cultural artists and litterateurs” who were defending secularism and are “fighting this poison, this menace with all their might.” He thought it unfortunate that the controversy of the “poster” threatened to overshadow the “real purpose of that function, the fight against communalism.”201 Three


days later, when the Sahmat exhibition at Teen Murti in the heart of Delhi was wound down due to objections over the same “poster,” and police charges were filed, communist party member Bhogendra Jha reflected that they were “paying the price for acting cowardly in not opposing the ban on Satanic Verses.”202 Indeed, the example of the recent ban on Rushdie hung over the debates in Parliament, frequently invoked by members of the BJP as evidence of the secular left’s “double-standards.” L. K. Advani, the president of the BJP, belabored the odd equivalence: Mr. Speaker, Sir, it has been the tradition of this country not to impose any restrictions in the field of art, literature and seminars. A few decades ago there had been no restrictions on even totally opposite views that hurt the feelings of others. . . . But nowadays the Government takes immediate action if anything has been said about a particular section of the society. . . . I would like to say that the charge leveled against secularism in our country and the danger apprehended in secularism is due to these double standards. . . . You cannot have double standards about this [SAHMAT] poster and a different standard about Salman Rushdie’s book. After all, Salman Rushdie’s book hurts the sentiments of some sections. . . . I disapprove of the book, but at the same time you have one standard for that and another standard for Sahmat.203

From the ranks of the opposition, Nitish Kumar, Rabi Ray, and Ram Vilas Paswan of the Janata Dal were emphatic in their defense of secularism. For Nitish Kumar, there could be no disputing the fact that India was a secular state, although the definition of secularism could be disputed. Nitish recalled his distinguished mentor Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, who “accepted that Ram, Krishna and Shiva have a very important place in our country.” Nitish did not see how the “posters” describing the Dasaratha Jataka would create a “healthy atmosphere.” They may have good intention of strengthening secularism in the country but ultimately such acts would strengthen fundamental forces who claim monopoly on Rama that whatever they say about Rama is correct. Therefore, I would like to request the organization like “Sahmat” to avoid such things. If we really want to promote secularism in the country, we should expose their misdeeds and


expose their attempt to use religion for political gains. In addition to that we should also give proper definition and explanation of secularism.204

Former speaker of the Lok Sabha, Rabi Ray, also of the Janata Dal, recalled listening to the story of the Kamban Ramayana in Tamil, and explained that the different versions of the Ramayanas did not mean “there is some misgiving” in any of the versions. Yet he too held that the poster could create “misunderstanding among the rural people” and that it was not good for “national unity.” In the Rajya Sabha, N. E. Balaram of the CPI referred to the Adhyatma Ramayana in Kerala where Ram and Sita were considered as Brahma and Maya. He asked the minister of state for home affairs, Rajesh Pilot, if the Adhyatma Ramayana would also be banned.205 When Bajrang Dal’s Vinay Katiyar drew the attention of the House to the ongoing Sahmat exhibition a few miles away, in Teen Murti House, and called for the immediate resignation of Arjun Singh for “abetting communalism in the country” because he had provided financial assistance to the exhibition, L. K. Advani replied that it was the responsibility of the government to remove all posters that had hurt the feeling of a particular community in a government building such as Teen Murti.206 By the time the members of Parliament met again, it was Monday, August 23. On the previous Friday evening, soon after Parliament closed its doors, a crew of policemen had visited the Sahmat exhibition at Teen Murti and filmed the entire exhibition.207 Meanwhile, Sahmat had issued an invitation to members of the Parliament and the press for a special viewing of the exhibition in the first-floor ballroom of Teen Murti House, starting at 6 p.m., to be hosted by “historians, art historians and designers.” The special viewing never materialized. The judgment of the Delhi High Court eight years later reveals that on the night of Friday, August 20, orders were issued from the Home Ministry that the “subject matter” of the posters was highly objectionable and likely to incense a very large section of the community and create law and order situation in Delhi as was the case in Ayodhya a few days ago. The police headquarters in their report have requested that proscription of these two posters may be considered by the competent authority. MHA . . . have stated that this matter came up for discussion in Lok Sabha today. They stated that the State Government%/%UT have the power to proscribe such


posters which are in violation under Sections 153A, 153B and 295A of the IPC and that they are also empowered to seize objectionable material under Section 95 of the CrPC by a notification.208

Meanwhile, several parliamentarians did manage to view the exhibition before it was slapped with a police notification and rudely disrupted, even while Sahmat had voluntarily begun the process of dismantling it. These parliamentarians, including Somnath Chatterjee, Bhogendra Jha, Malini Bhattacharyya, M. A. Baby, and Ram Vilas Paswan, mourned the manner in which the exhibition had been discussed and belittled in Parliament. Bhogendra Jha drew the attention of the House to what transpired the previous Saturday in Teen Murti House: It adversely affects our sovereignty, intellectual freedom and heritage. Some honorable members of parliament visited Teen Murti House to see the exhibition organized by “SAHMAT” and there we found that the Delhi Police had seized the complete works of “Dashrath Jatak.” To date no such incident took place in India. Difference of opinion was there but truth was always preserved and safeguarded by our writers . . . but coercive tactics were never resorted to. Like Galileo our own Aryabhatt was not hanged. What took place in the Capital was not in the fitness of things. 209

Somnath Chatterjee followed up with the shocking discovery that there was, in fact, no poster! There was, instead, a quotation from the Jataka, a book that was translated from Pali into English as well as Hindi. These books were freely available! Chatterjee admitted that he might not agree with the version of the Ram Katha in the Dasaratha Jataka, but he wished to ask the speaker “very humbly whether it is a crime or an offence to quote from a book which is available in India.” Chatterjee concluded: “The House has been taken for a ride.”210 It was left to Ram Vilas Paswan to ruminate over the sad fate of Sahmat and question the secular credentials of Rajesh Pilot, then minister of state in the Home Ministry. Was the minister aware of the consequences of the criminal case that had been lodged against Sahmat under Sections  153, 153A, 295A, 298, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code? Why was this action being taken? “All the secular forces in the country will be demoralized.” Was the government aware that the edition of the Jataka was published by


the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan? Paswan recalled the huge demonstrations organized by the Shiv Sena against the publication of Ambedkar’s Riddles of Hinduism, which had pointed out the “evils of Hinduism,” as a result of which the book was banned. Paswan recalled that ten lakh workers of the Dalit Panther, the Dalit Sena, and allied organizations had staged counter demonstrations that compelled the government to republish the book. “I would like to ask whether the Government wants to clean the drain or kill mosquitoes? Mosquitoes can be killed with DDT. But as long as the drain is not cleaned, mosquitoes breeding would not be checked. . . . I would charge the Government for doing so [imposing the ban] at the instance of the Bhartiya Janata Party. It is this party which teaches the lesson of secularism and communalism to the ruling party.”211 When Rajesh Pilot loftily responded, “The ruling party at the center is not to learn secularism from one party or the other. We have our own history of secularism. . . . We cannot bring secularism if we are carried away by our sentiments, but can do so if we give due regard to others sentiments,” he was making an important admission.212 The Congress would no longer set the tone of debates on secularism; it would only retreat in the face of violent majoritarianism. Paswan recognized this with his immediate rejoinder: “Shri Rajesh Pilot, I have understood everything. It was certainly to give due regard to the sentiments of people that the mosque was demolished on 6th December.” Paswan maintained that the criminal cases filed against artists were “shameful.” “It is just like the teeth of elephant which are only for show. We preach secularism but actually practice communalism. Both the things cannot go together. Such secularism should not be adopted under which mosques are demolished, secular forces are put inside the jail and communal forces create havoc in the country.”213 At the same time, the Janata Dal took the position that they could not vote for a badly drafted Congress Constitution (Amendment) Bill that sought to delink religion from politics. Janata Dal leader George Fernandes worried it might “pave the way for a one-party state.” He thought that existing laws regulating the misuse of religion in elections were sufficient.214 There was division within the Congress, too, once some of its members belatedly realized that the bills would boomerang with the BJP convincing the electorate that the bills were against dharma itself.215 That the Congress appeared wholly defensive on the Sahmat question, and the broader problem of grappling with Hindutva was not lost on contemporaries. This


Fig 2.3 Business Standard, February 4, 1993. Courtesy of E. P. Unny.

much was apparent from Advani’s triumphant declaration that “we are setting the agenda; our opponents are merely responding to it” to the measured critiques of several secularists on the controversial Ram Katha panel that the BJP deliberately mislabeled a “poster.”216 But what, then, was the way forward? It remained for the courts to produce a verdict, and they, too, spoke in multiple tongues. If the 1994 Bommai judgment was celebrated for reiterating secularism as part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, with the political scientist Rajni Kothari declaring that it was a “body-blow to the BJP,” the J. S. Verma judgment the very next year was regarded as endorsing Hindutva as a way of life.217 As for the Sahmat writ petition of August 1993 that the notification that led to the forfeiture of the Jataka panel from Teen Murti house created “an all India ban without due application


of mind” and made valuable research material across India vulnerable to seizure, the Delhi High Court declared the police notification to be “indefensible” and “nullified,” but their judgment took eight years, by which time more authors and artists had been attacked and more books and art had been banned.

Secularism and the Minority Question after Babri As the virtues and merits of the Sahmat festival were debated in Parliament and the press, and BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani battled Arjun Singh and Rajesh Pilot of the Congress and Somnath Chatterjee of the CPI, one could be forgiven for missing the principled, if largely theoretical, defense of secularism that had characterized Indira Gandhi’s Congress after the war of 1971. In the 1990s the Congress appeared diminished, not least because its plurality of voices masked, too thinly, a contest for power within the party. In the process, Congress party members took shelter under different meanings of secularism. In the gap between an Arjun Singh’s defense of Sahmat, P. V. Narasimha Rao’s studied silence, and Rajesh Pilot’s defense of censorship in the guise of giving “due regard to others sentiments,” the space for secularism eroded further. If we contend that secularism in India was a largely theoretical and indulgent self-description, then the collapse of the Babri Masjid should have held little surprise. But it did surprise many Indians. Madhu Limaye, the socialist who remained in prison through Indira’s Emergency, was an astute commentator on India through the early 1990s. “Secularism,” he argued, “cannot operate in a vacuum.” Limaye went on to spell out the limitations of Nehruvian secularism, noting that Nehru, too, could be a secularist “only within the limits of possibility,” which is why he did not move forward on the grand venture of a Uniform Civil Code, or even remove the Rama idols from the Babri mosque in 1949. Limaye held that it would be “idle” for Muslim leaders “to expect the present leaders to do what Jawaharlal could not do.” He also warned that “an extraconstitutional challenge by a substantial section of the Hindu community must spell the dissolution of the state.”218 How, then, do we understand the deliberate and decisive abandonment of the ideology of secularism in the interests of political expediency? Just as communalism had moved from being a genuine concern about one’s


community at the turn of the last century, to becoming by midcentury an ideology that spent all its energies in denigrating other communities, secularism, too, had changed.219 Whereas Gandhian secularism entailed making Muslims feel welcome in an India that was hostile after partition, and instituting protections for minorities in the post-partition period against formidable opponents wedded to the idea of an Akhand Bharat, secularism in the 1990s became vulnerable to the charge of “double standards.” In Advani’s ringing voice, how could India ban The Satanic Verses, which allegedly hurt Muslim religious sentiments, but not a poster that allegedly hurt Hindu religious sentiments? To argue that upper-caste Hindu sentiments had always been coddled, citing the ban on Menen’s Rama Retold or Ambedkar’s Riddle was not a sufficient rebuttal. Even the courts, once alert to safeguarding the right to recite multiple versions of the Ramayana, now fell prey to the politics of ressentiment, the age of Hindutva. Tellingly, Justice J. S. Verma conflated Hindutva with Hinduism, referring to both as a way of life. By the 1990s, even lip service in support of secularism was no longer politically expedient. The Congress, as Paswan insightfully noted, was preaching secularism but practicing communalism. If Sahmat represented a “historic opportunity to put the Shah Bano syndrome firmly behind us,” it was missed. This syndrome, noted Praful Bidwai, consisted, not in “minority appeasement, but in the Indian elite’s inability to stand up to just about any articulate group which can organize vigorous protest.”220 Yet Bidwai also conceded that Sahmat erred in not doing enough to include and integrate local artists and activists.221 This Shah Bano syndrome grew in the years to come; the Sahmat controversy was not a blip but a portent. It would become evident in the legal charges filed against the artist M. F. Husain, accused of offending Hindu sentiments, notwithstanding Sahmat’s lone warrior-like defense and activism.222 Secularism, a term now hurled to mean anti-religion, continued to be translated in Hindi as dharmnirapeksa, against the expectation or favor of dharma. Several critics called Sahmat “politically naive” and argued that its secularism was not grounded in Hinduism or even the local realities of Ayodhya, and it had not sought to build a relationship with the people it sought to somehow influence. Was Sahmat trying to teach Ayodhya-vasis that they had always lived together, embraced pluralism? Who was their audience? What did it mean for the Kathak dancer Sitara Devi to chant “Jai Shri Ram”


at the ghats? Or for Muslims to feel afraid to participate in a cultural festival in their own hometown? How persuasive could this one night of celebration be?223 M.  K. Raina, playwright and Sahmat representative, along with many other artists, spoke of artists’ relationship to culture as being distinct from that of the state: “If artists do not recover the lyrical, smooth, multipronged, tolerant, traditional spaces, they will be totally swamped by the state. Culture is the insulation between live wires in India. How can we allow it to be torn out by liars and aggressors?”224 But that is precisely what transpired in the wake of the so-called poster controversy. Sahmat, which had always distanced itself from confrontation, became divided and isolated. Even Sudhanva Deshpande, who was closely associated with the organization, faulted Sahmat for accepting funds from the Congress and thereby getting co-opted in a petty game of political one-upmanship.225 Sharad Patil, a key figure of Satyashodhak Marxbadi in Dhule, Maharashtra, argued that Sahmat was still wedded to a Brahminical caste-order. To truly be the agents of a revolution, Sahmat had to espouse a nonBrahminical revolution, and therefore become part of a movement to build a “Loka-Kula” housing statues of Tataka, Sita, and Shambuka—the three victims of Ram’s patriarchal career, on the disputed site in Ayodhya. Patil held that such a building would “presage the commencement of the final struggle for the caste-abolishing democratic revolution, the first leg of the total Indian revolution.”226 But that revolution had only just begun. As Limaye noted, and the political scientist Rajni Kothari elaborated, secularism could not operate in a vacuum. Writing in the annual issue of Mainstream at the end of 1993, Kothari sought to provide a review of Hindutva’s rise. Like Limaye, Kothari referred to a “deep vacuum in civil society” that the forces of Hindutva were seeking to fill, and called for a clear theory of social change that was “rooted in our own history.”227 K. N. Panikkar, a historian at Jawaharlal Nehru University who was associated with the Sahmat exhibition, called for a “transformation of the existing state of consciousness,” not the adoption of a “populist, compromising” line. Echoing Paswan and Bidwai, Panikkar described the manner in which the Congress government “rushed to ban the [Sahmat] panel to appear as the guardian of Hindu sentiments” as a form of “appeasement.”228 This, then, was a vivid instance of majoritarian appeasement masquerading as secularism. Reading the debates on the Sahmat exhibition alongside earlier debates on inserting the term “secular” into the Preamble of the Constitution in


1976 shows that the unraveling of secularism in the fabric that was India was decades in the making. There was both continuity and method in the slowly encompassing atmosphere of intolerance. When Rajesh Pilot argued that secularism meant giving due regard to others’ sentiments, and that the Sahmat poster had disrespected Hindu sentiments, he was only adding paragraphs to an older, if unwritten, Congress script. Fear of causing a riot had spurred Nehru’s censorship of Aubrey Menen’s Rama Retold; the bureaucratization of censorship had continued unabated in the corridors of North Block. The manifest unwillingness of the Congress to clearly define secularism, or to secularize the content of Indian democracy, meant that adding “secular” to the Preamble, the “key to the Constitution,” changed nothing at all. At the height of the Sahmat controversy, about ninety academics, journalists, artists, and public figures signed “An Appeal” to India’s citizens asking them not to accept the malicious propaganda of “communal elements” who were attacking Sahmat over one panel of an exhibition that they had “taken out of context, wrongly described as a poster and falsely presented as offensive to religious sentiments.” The appeal thought it “sad indeed that in this day and age when His Holiness the Pope has been obliged to reinstate Galileo, we in India, proud of our pluralism, are engaging in an inquisition.”229 Apart from including members of the academic and legal fraternity, such as Rajni Kothari, Upendra Baxi, Veena Das, Indira Jaising, and Rajeev Dhavan, the signatories included Tavleen Singh and Sanjaya Baru, those who have crossed to the “other side,” on most days. Some of the most ardent defenders of Sahmat in Parliament—Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan—have since joined the bandwagon of Hindu majoritarianism.

India was afire not only because of the unresolved matter of the Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid structure, but also due to the ongoing insurgency in Kashmir. Rhetoric, such as Advani’s, of Muslim appeasement fell on willing ears, even as the ground reality of Hindu appeasement began to gain wider acceptance. Whereas in the 1950s, Section  295A had been deployed to protect Muslim hurt sentiments from the polemic unleashed by the Organiser in the wake of Gandhi’s assassination, by the 1990s, Sections 295A and 153A were wielded to silence organizations such as Sahmat and the writings of erudite critics and essayists such as Ambedkar and IN THE 1990S,


Ramanujan. Recalling this moment of crisis fifteen years later, Rajendra Prasad, an executive member of Sahmat, said, “All laws are meant to intimidate and harass. Law, by definition, is intimidation.”230 The case for secularism was all but lost in the vengeful fires that were being endlessly lit by the “hurt Hindu,” a recipient both of the BJP’s politics of majoritarianism and, equally, of the Congress’s appeasement of the BJP. The state carelessly blew over the dying embers of secularism as state ideology, even if everyday secular practices, as expressed in the Sahmat exhibitions across India, continued to be upheld by sundry Indians—artists and cricketers, as well as auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers.


DEBATING THE “ISLAMIC STATE” IN PAKISTAN You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State. —M. A. Jinnah, Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 1947 It is not possible that a tree may shape as a lemon from its rudimentary stages right up to the state of its completion but when it reaches the stage of fruition, it should all of a sudden begin producing mangoes. An Islamic state does not spring into being all of a sudden like a miracle. —Maulana Abul ala Maudoodi, Aligarh Muslim University, 1947


d’être of Pakistan have typically been traced to its sudden founding. If “Pakistan” was indeed a bargaining counter for India’s Muslims, led by Jinnah, to have greater say over an undivided center, then it is reasonable to observe that not much thought was poured into its ideological content as an independent, sovereign nation-state. But if “Pakistan” was always meant to be the long-sought award at the culmination of a hard-won fight for a 149


Muslim homeland, then it is surprising that there are so few historical sources on how such a homeland might square its ambitions of representing the interests of India’s Muslims with the reality of its moth-eaten contours and non-Muslim population.1 Writing in Dawn, I. H. Qureshi, a former professor of history of St. Stephen’s College and himself a refugee and chronicler of the violence that ripped through Delhi, sought to absolve the Muslim League leadership of having abandoned Indian Muslims. He recalled the repeated warning to India’s Muslims that they must become better organized, and rued that they had not done so. Even so, he claimed it was an achievement that the League had “saved” Muslims in Muslim-majority parts of the subcontinent from the “machinations of unscrupulous ministers of a Hindu central government.”2 Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, two lines from which appear as an epigraph above, offered unequivocal support for equality of religious minorities. It provoked a wide range of responses. Listening to the address on the radio, the Bengali Congress leader Dhirendranath Dutta, whom Nehru had tapped to help with the refugee influx, now changed his mind. He decided to switch his membership from the Indian to the Pakistani Constituent Assembly; he would stay in East Pakistan and represent his constituency of Comilla.3 For Jogendranath Mandal, a Scheduled Caste leader and Pakistan’s first law minister, Jinnah’s address held the promise of equality and special safeguards for his community, a promise to which he would seek to hold fast the leadership of the Muslim League after Jinnah’s demise.4 For still others, Jinnah’s address presented a conundrum. The journalist and press historian Zamir Niazi has recalled how hours after the address, members of the establishment sought to black out some of the secularist words used by Jinnah, but Dawn’s editor, Altaf Husain, put a stop to such censorship.5 A week later, as controversies raged over the meaning of Jinnah’s address, an editorial in Dawn, a paper founded by Jinnah in 1941, felt it necessary to “interpret correctly” Jinnah’s reference to religion and politics. By declaring that “the religion or the caste or the creed to which you belong has nothing to do with the business of the State,” Jinnah was only repeating what he had already said on numerous occasions before. It was the League’s enemies that had raised “the bogey of a theocratic state . . . to discredit the League” and to alarm non-Muslims. In conclusion, the editorial argued that “the application of Quranic princi-


ples therefore does not mean theocratization of a state.”6 In the years to come, Jinnah’s speech would be misquoted, annotated for greater effect, and censored. To Maulana Maudoodi, the founder and leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jinnah’s speech was along expected lines. He had been critical of Jinnah’s Islamic credentials for a long time. Speaking to students at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University in still-to-be-divided India, Maudoodi warned that products of a secular educational system were of no use in the creation of an Islamic state. “The ordinary judges as well as the Chief Judges of the secular courts are not fit to work as clerks, or even peons in [the] judicial system” of an Islamic state.7 Yet when Jinnah won the prize that was Pakistan, the Jamaat-i Islami shifted its headquarters from Pathankot in East Punjab to Lahore in West Punjab, and proceeded to influence the drafting of the Constitution of Pakistan. This chapter opens with debates inside the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. First, I study interpretations of the Objectives Resolution passed by the Assembly in March  1949. The questions raised in this debate—on the place of Islam in Pakistan—have remained hanging, mistlike, blurring the certitude of safeguards for religious minorities to which the resolution was also committed. I also reflect on the demand for equal status for Bengali that contested the framing of Bengali as un-Islamic, even as it resulted in an outpouring of support for a secular celebration of Bengalis of all religions. Next, I discuss the debates around various “Islamic provisions,” such as the nomenclature of the state and the requirement that the head of state be Muslim, that were debated on the eve of the passage of the draft Constitution of 1956. Arguably the most contentious issue threatening to undo the work of nine years of Constitution-making was that of electorates: separate or joint. Because Pakistan had been won on the back of separate electorates in the 1946 elections, most Muslim Leaguers remained wedded to the idea that separate electorates and the “two-nation” theory were essential to preserving the ideological character of Pakistan. To these Leaguers and alim such as Maudoodi who helped elaborate this thesis, the idea of a joint electorate was anathema, the beginning of a process that would ultimately lead to dilution in the ideological character of the representatives elected to Pakistan’s National Assembly. I juxtapose the apprehensions of Christians in West Pakistan, who saw separate electorates as vital to the preservation


of their religious interests, with the arguments of then prime minister H. S. Suhrawardy in favor of joint electorates. Balancing both sets of concerns proved to be onerous. During the first martial-rule (1958–1968), President Ayub Khan veered from superintending the reform of Muslim personal laws to aligning with religious parties to clamp down on dissidents. This period witnessed a marked shift in understandings of religious freedom, as evinced in the liberal Punjab Religious Book Society judgment that explicitly allowed for Christian preaching in an Islamic state, followed by an intention to crack down on Christian missionary activity. In the aftermath of the IndoPakistani war of 1965, when East Pakistan was left conspicuously undefended, one of Ayub Khan’s key appointees, Abul Hashim, argued for the Integration of Pakistan (1966) through a program of Islamization. This renewed emphasis on Islamization had its antecedents in the 1940s; we now turn to these debates held in the name of Islam.

Inside the Constituent Assembly An editorial jointly published in ten newspapers across Punjab and Sindh, in English, Urdu, and Gujrati, welcomed the soon-to-be presented Objectives Resolution as a “happy augury.” The editorial proclaimed that the resolution would demonstrate how the ideals on which Pakistan was based “breathe the very air of fair play and tolerance and are in perfect keeping with modern progress.”8 Its reception turned out to be more complicated. One of the foremost clauses of the Objectives Resolution undertook to ensure that Pakistan’s Muslim citizens would be enabled to order their lives “in accord with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunna.”9 Known as the “enabling clause,” this suggested that the foremost responsibility of the state of Pakistan was toward its Muslim citizens. Through the people’s chosen representatives, the state was to create conditions wherein principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice, “as enunciated by Islam,” would be fully observed. What this meant was left unclear. This was followed by a clause promising that “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures.”10


In his prefatory remarks, Liaquat Ali Khan endeavored to make the resolution acceptable to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He held that it would have been “un-Islamic” to ignore the rights of non-Muslims; “we would have been guilty of transgressing the dictates of our religion if we had tried to impinge upon the freedom of the minorities.” Khan assured his critics that he was especially conscious of the significance of the contribution that minorities could make “to the sum total of human knowledge and thought” and that this would “redound to the credit of Pakistan.”11 He reminded his friends from Bengal that it was under the patronage of Muslim rulers that Hindu scriptures were first translated from Sanskrit into Bengali. Despite the prime minister’s invocations of a tolerant Islam, the references to Islam in the Objectives Resolution worried non-Muslims.

Interpreting the Objectives Resolution Described by skeptics and detractors as a “hoax,” a “stunt,” and “a disaster from which this country has never recovered,” the Objectives Resolution has also been lauded by its supporters as the “cornerstone,” the “conscience,” and indeed, the grundnorm on which Pakistan’s Constitutions and subsequent life as a nation may be based.12 These two wildly divergent ways of understanding the resolution might be the result of what renowned jurist Dieter Conrad calls a “dilatory compromise formula—i.e. does not decide an issue but rather adjourns decision by using equivocal language.” Modeled on the Objectives Resolution of India that was passed in December 1946, the Pakistani Objectives Resolution comprised two distinct parts—Islamic clauses that ground the objectives as deriving from God’s sovereignty over the universe and emphasize the state’s role in enabling Muslims to order their lives in accordance with Islam, and objectives setting out fundamental rights of the conventional occidental type such as protection of the religious and cultural rights of minorities, and the legitimate interests of minorities, including backward and depressed classes.13 The gap between the yearning for an Islamic order, which the resolution was supposed to herald (to Islamists), and the actual fact of it being relegated down a list of priorities, is one way of telling the history of the early years of Pakistan.14 This disjuncture was noticed and commented upon by contemporaries. For religious studies scholar Fazlur Rahman, the sovereignty clause in the


resolution, wherein sovereignty over the entire universe was said to belong to God, who delegated his authority to “the state of Pakistan,” reflected the compromise between the ulema led by Maudoodi, and the modernists. Mawdudi proceeded to draw . . . the comic conclusion that sovereign in Islam, i.e., possessing the real power of legislation, is God, not man. It is obvious enough that here the idea of political sovereignty has been illegitimately transferred to God. The crass contradiction that this stand is involved in by its implication that in the nonMuslim societies God’s sovereignty is not recognized i.e. that He is not sovereign in those societies—and yet He is sovereign over “the entire universe”—disturbed him little. The Muslim society, then, exercises delegated sovereignty as a sacred trust. (It would be too much to ask as to what this instrument of delegation is and how and where it was enacted).15

Rahman noted that the ulema had wanted this clause to mean that “the sharia as expressive of God’s Will be sovereign.” This would have subjugated the legislature to “the entire gamut of historic Islam’s experience.” The modernists accepted the sovereignty clause in general terms; in so doing, they failed to assert that sovereignty belongs to the people of Pakistan, a claim repeatedly made by Hindus during the debates preceding its adoption. Fazlur Rahman thinks that the modernists should have asserted that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Pakistan, who, being consciously Muslims, willed that Islam be implemented in Pakistani society both at the individual and the collective levels.”16 What about Pakistanis who were not Muslim?17 At any rate, to Islamists of varying persuasions, the resolution came to provide a rationale for Pakistan’s creation—a state created so that Muslims might order their lives according to the injunctions of Islam; ergo, Pakistan would be an Islamic state. The extent to which Maudoodi, who less than two years earlier at Aligarh had dismissed the idea that a lemon seed could produce a mango tree, now accepted that Pakistan could become an Islamic state is revealed in this letter written by the most important religious scholar in the Constituent Assembly, the Shaikh-ul-Islam Shabbir Ahmad Usmani. The letter was meant to secure Maudoodi’s release from prison, where he had landed due to his controversial opinion on jihad in Kashmir.18 Usmani related the change in Maudoodi’s stance to the passing of the Objectives Resolution: “The Majlis-i- Shura [consultative council] of the Jamaat-i-Islami


has repeatedly announced that after the passing of the Objectives Resolution Pakistan assumes the complexion and character of an Islamic State, and that now the Jamaat-e-Islami pledges cooperation with the Government, and considers its service, if rendered honestly and with a sense of responsibility, to be as virtuous an act as the performance of worship.”19 This was not quite how non-Muslims in Pakistan had been asked to understand the terms of the resolution by Liaquat Ali Khan in the Assembly. The joint editorial published in early March had also underlined that “any danger of a theocracy has been eliminated, because no priesthood has been entrusted with any special authority.” It had also appreciated that the resolution only mentioned the Quran and the Sunna as sources, both of which provided the “basic ideals which are the common ground between all schools of Islamic thought and therefore Pakistan will develop an Islamic society free from dissensions and controversies.”20 Such were the lofty hopes for the Constitution whose outline and goals had been provided for in the Objectives Resolution. To non-Muslim legislators, it was the promises inherent in the fundamental rights clauses of the resolution that would secure their future in an Islamic Pakistan.21 Those critical of the resolution included prominent voices outside the Constituent Assembly. Writing in the Civil and Military Gazette, Joshua Fazl-ud-Din, an advocate at the Lahore High Court, faulted the resolution for according non-Muslims a second-class status in an avowedly Islamic state. He called for a religious treaty between Pakistan and the Christian minority to be brought about by foreign Christian missions. Such a treaty could include a clause that Pakistan’s Christians would support “the case of Islam” for religious freedom in lands where it is compromised, on the condition that Pakistan grant to Christians full and equal citizenship by formally withdrawing the two-nation theory and “amending” the Objectives Resolution.22 Yet after the initial storm of dissent, nonMuslims made their peace with what was, in any case, a fait accompli. More than 10,000 Christians from western Pakistan who attended the annual conference of the Pakistan Christian League passed a resolution that the Objectives Resolution had set at rest doubts that the term “Islamic State” would mean “a theocratic state at variance with the democratic ideals of modern times.”23 This point was also emphasized abroad. Addressing the United States Senate in early May 1950, Liaquat Ali Khan described the “main features of


our Constitution” as “unequivocally clear.” Khan emphasized that Pakistan would have no room for “theocracy, for Islam stands for freedom of conscience, condemns coercion, has no priesthood and abhors the caste system.” He borrowed liberally from the recently passed resolution: We have pledged that the Muslims in our State shall be enabled to order their lives in accordance with their faith; but, not forgetful of that perpetual fear of the majority from which Pakistan has delivered millions of Muslims and in humble thanksgiving to God for this deliverance, we have solemnly pledged that our minorities shall enjoy full rights of citizenship and shall freely profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures and that their legitimate interests and the interests of the backward and depressed classes shall be adequately safeguarded.24

The speech was widely reported in Pakistan; all his major speeches and addresses in the United States and Canada were published by Harvard University Press with the title Pakistan: The Heart of Asia. Years later, this speech would be recalled in the National Assembly to prove that Pakistan was never meant to be a theocratic state.25 Another interpreter of the Objectives Resolution and Pakistan’s first Constitution, Javid Iqbal, was an advocate at the High Court of Pakistan, and the son and quasi-official interpreter of his famous father, Muhammad Iqbal. At a seminar on constitutionalism in Asia in 1960, the younger Iqbal sought to assess to what extent the Pakistanis’ claim to be the inhabitants of an ideological state was justified. By this time the first Constitution had been abrogated and Pakistan was being ruled by Field Marshall Ayub Khan. Iqbal summarized the constitutional discussions pertaining to Islam and the decision to make the Objectives Resolution the Preamble to the Constitution. He held that the position of Islam in the 1956 Constitution reflected “the attitude of hypocrisy and vagueness of the Muslim framers of that Constitution.” Islam took the form of a “ legal fiction.”26 But this in no way detracted from what Javid Iqbal, following his interpretation of his father’s writings, believed was the principle behind the creation of Pakistan: Pakistan came into being because the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent sought for a State in which to implement the social order of Islam, not because a State first came into being and then


endeavoured to be Islamic. The racial and linguistic diversity within Pakistan and the geographical non-contiguity of Pakistan indicate that it must be an ideological rather than a “national” State.27

This goal, he believed, could be actualized in the new Constitution that Ayub Khan was putting into motion. As for the place of non-Muslims in a truly Islamic state, Javid Iqbal quoted Muhammad Iqbal, who said that Islam made it obligatory for Muslims “not only to tolerate non-Muslims but also to protect them and to defend their places of worship.” If, in Muhammad Iqbal’s terms, the ultimate aim of Islam was to establish a spiritual democracy, “the modern Islamic State . . . should offer more security to believers in other faiths than a secular State.”28 Javid Iqbal also argued that a modern Muslim state could “conceivably exist” even if its head was Hindu, because Muslims were free to elect anyone to be their head. He concluded: “Only if minorities are preserved can the true ideal of the Islamic State be attained and Muslim ideals for others be upheld.”29

dismissed by Javid Iqbal as hypocritical and vague, were in fact quite consistent in their attempts to include nonMuslims in discussions relating to the Objectives Resolution. The resolve to build a state where Muslims would be enabled to order their lives in accordance with Islam almost always included an affirmation of the promise held in the next clause: that “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures.”30 The same sequence of promises characterized every debate in the Assembly that followed the passage of the Resolution. Muslims, it would seem, could not be enabled to live as Muslims without also being considerate of non-Muslims. We see this in one of the first resolutions moved to execute the aims of the Objectives Resolution in the Assembly. Introducing the motion to observe Id-e-Milad un Nabi (The Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday) as a state function, Asadullah of East Bengal thought it “the incumbent duty of Pakistan, being an Islamic State, to make it a state function.”31 Another member, Nur Ahmed, conceded that this resolution might create a “false impression” in the minds of non-Muslims that “Pakistan is going to be a theocratic state.” He insisted that was not the case. PAKISTAN’S EARLIEST LAWMAKERS,


There is no priesthood, no Pope in Islam, and there is no mediator between God and Man in Islam. There cannot be theocracy in Pakistan in the true sense of the word. . . . If the Muslims of Pakistan were to follow the principles of the Holy Prophet, there will be no communal disturbances in Pakistan. Our Prophet in every provocable circumstances and by his acts of everyday life has shown to the world how the worst enemy can be forgiven and he has also shown by his every-day life how a Muslim can live in accordance with the principles laid down in the Holy Quran. . . . Let this great man’s life be celebrated by the State as is done in the case of Kemal Ataturk, in the case of Mahatma Gandhi and in the case of so many other great men.32

Nur Ahmed urged his non-Muslim friends not to view this state function as an opportunity to propagate Islam among them. That was not its purpose. In the aftermath of the carnage and chaos of partition and the rehabilitation of refugees, when accusations of corruption were strewn across the press and in Parliament, high-sounding and high-minded goals of creating a just Islamic order frequently took their cue from the order that was to be established according to the Objectives Resolution. This is illustrated in the pride of place that the resolution held in the Delhi agreement between prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan in April 1950. When Nehru referred to the rights guaranteed to minorities in India’s Constitution, Liaquat Ali Khan referred to similar provisions in the Objectives Resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.33 Back home, Khan reiterated that the fundamental rights in the [Delhi] Agreement accorded with the Objectives Resolution; he emphasized the principle that the “allegiance and loyalty of the minorities is to the state of which they are citizens.” Khan also hoped “that all talk of Pakistan being a theocratic state, where discrimination is made, will now cease.”34 However, the suspicion of dual loyalties continued to haunt Pakistan’s minorities after the Delhi Agreement, just as they cast a dark pallor over the fate of India’s Muslims. A year later, Asadullah moved another resolution, urging the central and provincial governments to take immediate steps to teach the Holy Quran to Muslims in schools across Pakistan. Once again, the Objectives Resolution was liberally invoked.35 In the course of the discussion, Serajul Islam of East Bengal reminded his fellow legislators of the words of Seth


Sukhdev of Sindh the previous day: “that God is not Rabbu’l-Muslimīn but Rabbu’l-‘ālamīn. That is true. The minorities should also look to the Holy Quran for guidance.”36 Islam agreed with Sukhdev’s suggestion that he be presented with a copy of the Quran. Several members urged that minorities read the Quran to erase any fears that “Quranic principles if applied to Pakistan” will be a source of injustice. Habibullah Bahar of East Bengal reminded his fellow legislators of the Brahmo Samaj leader, Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s study of the Quran, and spoke with pride of his district producing the most number of “Hindu Molvis” who have translated the Quran into Bengali.37 Speaking for the government, Fazlur Rahman, the minister for education and commerce, acquainted the legislators with the efforts that the government had been making toward creating an atmosphere in Pakistan where people follow the principles of Islam. He referred to the resolutions passed at an educational conference in late 1947, which were geared toward making religious instruction compulsory for Muslims and available for nonMuslims who would like to be instructed in their own religion. Provincial governments had recently confirmed that religious instruction in schools was now compulsory and included the teaching of the Quran.38 Radio Pakistan, too, had readings and lectures on the Quran, Dars-e-Quran, every day from three stations—Karachi, Peshawar, and Dacca. By 1952 many members of the National Assembly spoke as though it was indisputable that Pakistan was established as a “laboratory for our Islamic ideology.”39 Yet this Islamic state in these early, founding years also sought to repeatedly relieve minorities of their fears of living in a Muslimmajority, Islamic state. It is also worth noting that these gestures of gifting Qurans to non-Muslims would no longer be possible after a constitutional amendment in 1984 made it a criminal offense for Ahmadis, then deemed non-Muslim, to read the Quran or to refer to their holy book as the Quran. In this early period we see a desire to prove to non-Muslims that Islam was tolerant, and that they would not have to fear the status of religious minority in an Islamic state. Many of the members who spoke up for the celebration of Eid as a state festival, for Quranic education in all schools, as well as the need to assuage the fears of non-Muslims, were from East Bengal. It was the East wing that would produce the most systematic challenge to West Pakistani articulations of what might constitute an “Islamic state.” Habibullah Bahar’s boast that his district had produced the greatest number


of “Hindu molvis” also spoke to the raging debate in the east on the status of the Bengali language.

Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chai The seemingly impossible task of welding together two halves of a nation divided by more than a thousand miles of Indian territory was not lost on Pakistan’s early founders. The blunt tools that were deployed, such as a single national language, were inadequate to the task, and fiercely resisted. Historians have considered the language movement of 1948–1952, when East Pakistanis demanded that Bengali be considered on par with Urdu as a state language, to have foretold the story of East Pakistan’s gradual estrangement from West Pakistan. Language, and the broader subject of what constituted culture, were crucial to the affirmation of Bengali identity. Yet, what is peculiar about this debate was the insistence by West Pakistani elites, including Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, that Urdu was Islamic and Bengali was not. This alluded to an older debate on Bengali Islam not being Islamic enough.40 This widely held misconception would lead to government attempts to impose a new Arabicized script on Bengali, and later, on banning Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry and music from Radio Pakistan. All these hurts left Bengalis feeling bullied, in the name of an Islam alien to their history. Their resistance to the imposition of Urdu over Bengali, and the resounding slogan—rashtro bhasha bangla chai (we want Bengali to be a state language)—became a celebration of all things Bengali, spurring a secular coming together of all Bengalis, regardless of their religious affiliation.41 But did Jinnah’s and Liaquat Ali Khan’s insistence on Urdu resonate with some Bengalis? The historian Sufia M. Uddin reminds us that “Mussalmani Bangla” or “Dobhashi Bangla” was a product of the colonial encounter. To meet the criticisms of Christian missionaries and Hindu pundits, Muslim reformers turned to fashioning a Bangla with words from Arabic and Persian “out of necessity rather than desire” as they recognized the limitations of Urdu for a predominantly Bengali-speaking audience, and therefore popularized publications in Bangla.42 In a nod to the continued cultural mixing of this period, the first tafsir%/%commentary and translation of the Quran into Bengali was produced by a Bengali Brahmo, Girish Chandra Sen, anonymously in the first instance. The translation met with so much approval from


learned Muslims, who yearned to know the identity of the author, that Sen ultimately revealed his identity. Sufia Uddin records that the Muslims of Bengal “granted Sen the titles of bhai (older brother) and maulana (reserved for learned scholars), an illustration of their admiration for him and their approval of his work.”43 This, despite the fact that Sen used Bengali (originally Sanskritic) words such as ishwar and parameshwar to refer to Allah. Sufia Uddin dwells on the problems of literal translation, not just in the case of Sen, but also in the case of Mohammad Naimuddin, whose own commentary on the Quran followed shortly after Sen’s, and was enabled by Sen making the first daunting move. She holds Sen’s translation to have had a major impact: “His publication elevated the status of this vernacular and therefore legitimized its use for Islamic scholarship, inspiring a profound shift in Bengali Muslim identification with the Bengali language. Through this process, the culture of Islam was acknowledged as tied to the culture of the Bengal region.”44 Her excursus into the Brahmo Samaji Sen’s demonstration of “imaginative empathy” in his translation of the Quran reveals, also, the commitment of Bengalis of all religions to Bengali as a language. It should hardly be surprising, then, that it was a Bengali Hindu politician, Dhirendranath Dutta, who first asked Liaquat Ali Khan, during a debate in the National Assembly, to include Bengali as one of Pakistan’s official languages. Dutta asked why Bengali, which was spoken by over forty lakh Pakistanis, could not be treated as a state language when English was so honored in the Assembly. Although his amendment was defeated, his intervention was appreciated so much that, to his absolute surprise, students greeted him with garlands and a shawl at Dhaka airport.45 There had been attempts to popularize Urdu in Bengal in the past; although these failed, some Bengali Muslims did believe in the necessity of having one state language. Education minister Fazlur Rahman, a Bengali, was supportive of an experiment that entailed instituting educational centers that would teach the Bengali language in the Arabic script. A committee of academics that was constituted to look into the question of language for Bengal recommended reducing the number of Bengali alphabets to make it less cumbersome. This was acceptable to some Bengalis, but the Arabicizing of their language was not.46 During the budget debate in March  1951, several Bengalis spoke out against the latest initiatives


emanating from Karachi. Dhirendranath Dutta thought the attempt to write Bengali in the Arabic script, on which the central government was disbursing funds, would lead to “complete illiteracy” in Bengal. He did not wish to be accused of being “provincial,” but it was a fact that Bengalis formed 56 percent of the total population of Pakistan. Urging that Bengali be accorded the status of a state language, Dutta asked that Bengali be taught as a compulsory subject in all educational institutions, and that Urdu be introduced in the sixth grade.47 Habibullah Bahar also opposed the Arabicizing experiment. Despite being a member of the ruling Muslim League, he did not know the reasons behind this experiment. I fail to understand why our poor Bengali should be written in Arabic script. There are thousands of books in Bengali literature and ours is one of the finest literatures in the world. If Arabic literature is used, we will be cut off and in exchange what will we be getting? We will not come nearer Urdu. I am told that some of the satellites of the Central Government feel that if Arabic is introduced, Bengali will come nearer. Sir, I am not prepared to accept this argument. Persian, Urdu, and Arabic are almost written in the same script, but I do not think that Iranians and Arabs have come nearer.48

Rather than resolve the issue of language and script, the government of Pakistan allowed it to fester. Shortly after the language riots on February 21, 1952, that produced the first martyrs to the cause of Bengali, Nur Ahmed of East Bengal moved a resolution in the Constituent Assembly that Bengali, along with Urdu, be made the state language of Pakistan. Close on his heels, however, came an amendment seeking a postponement of any decision.49 In the lengthy debate that followed, several members—including Prof. Raj Kumar Chakraverty, Kamini Kumar Dutta, Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bhabesh Chandra Nandy, and A. K. Fazlul Huq of East Bengal, Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan of Punjab, and Sardar Asadullah Jan Khan of the NorthWest Frontier Province—argued eloquently in favor of having Bengali as a state language. They referred to Canada and Switzerland as having multiple official languages, and to a recent resolution passed by Chief Minister Nurul Amin in the Bengal Legislative Assembly in support of Bengali as a state language. Chattopadhyay, who was leader of the opposition in the legislature, was concerned that the recent language riots would be labeled a “Hindu agitation,” and any deferment of a decision would only provoke


more anger. He wanted the matter to be resolved immediately so that the East Bengal government would not have the opportunity to use “their Safety Acts and other laws for terrorizing the people and . . . firing squads against the youth and boys.” His fears as a religious minority are apparent when he speaks of the community leaving “the town of Dacca for some time so that nobody can say Hindus are doing all this. Hindus had not taken part in agitation . . . this house is our only forum.”50 The specter of India waiting to wreck the unity of Pakistan hovers over these early debates. Kamini Kumar Dutta complained of the “whispering canards and propaganda . . . altogether feint and a deceit” that the upsurge for adopting Bengali was “engineered from outside”: Here, Sir, in Karachi . . . I was astounded to hear that there is a whispering canard that Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee of the Hindu Mahasabha had also some hand in engineering this movement for Bengali language in East Bengal. . . . It is, apparently, Sir, a canard intended to rouse the communal passions of my Muslim brethren that a movement in which a communalist like Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee has a hand ought not to be countenanced by Muslims. If Shyama Prasad Mookerjee would start a movement in East Bengal, we, the Hindus, also will look askance at him and we shall not place any faith in the movement. We know how to safeguard our interests and we know that we should not look to patronage from those quarters for any of our actions or movements. . . . The language movement was a movement of the Muslims and not that we had no sympathy with it—they had our full sympathy—but I can say that the Hindus did not take part in the movement.51

Both Kamini Kumar Dutta and Bhabesh Chandra Nandy held that postponing a decision would take its toll on thousands of unemployed Bengali youth looking for jobs in government service. Chattopadhyay also wished to disabuse West Pakistanis of the idea that Bengali was a Hindu language. He asserted that the Hindu language was Sanskrit and declared that the letters of the Bengali script and the Devanagri script, in which Hindi was written, were very different. It was Muslim rulers who had adopted the Bengali language and not Hindu rulers.52 The fervor with which Dutta and Chattopadhyay sought to distance the Hindus, as a community, from the recent language riots in Dhaka, is noteworthy. The stinging charge of the ruling


Muslim League that Hindus had engineered the language riots would be recalled years later when the Awami Muslim League first considered changing its name to Awami League, deleting the qualifier “Muslim.” Maulana Bhashani had postponed the name change because he feared it would be seen as inspired by Hindus.53 In the almost hour-by-hour chronicle provided by Badruddin Umar, an eyewitness and later a historian of the language riots, we learn that Dhirendranath Dutta, along with Basanta Kumar Das and Manoranjan Dhar of the Pakistan Congress party, and professors from Dhaka University visited students who had received gunshot wounds on the night of February  21, 1952. The next day, Dhirendranath Dutta spoke on the floor of the Assembly, and, after a protracted debate, Nurul Amin agreed to move the resolution on the language question. However, there are no names of Hindu leaders in Umar’s listing of students who led marches in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bengal; this supports the claims of Dutta and Chattopadhyay that Hindus were not at the helm of these protests. It would appear that Bengali Hindus chose the floor of the assemblies to make their objections known, whereas Muslim youth led the protests on the streets. Yet, the events of February  21—Ekushey in Bengali—and the multiple commemorations around Ekushey are now widely believed to have secularized Bengali society.54 This is because the longed-for official status of the Bengali language transcended the issue of religion qua religion, even if it affected the participation of Hindus and Muslims in distinct ways. During the debate, Bengali members did get some support from West Pakistanis. Shaukat Hyat Khan, for instance, spoke for an immediate resolution of this fractious long-standing demand even as he favored a common script for Bengali and Urdu. He appealed to the House to give up their “ideas of provincialism” of which they were accusing the opposition, and rise to be “the real statesmen of Pakistan . . . and not . . . preside over its funeral.”55 But it was not to be. In fact, even Muslim members from East Bengal were not so vocal. Nurul Amin, chief minister of East Bengal, especially resented Chattopadhyay’s pointed accusation that the Muslim members from East Bengal were not speaking up on the motion.56 More than two decades later, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman remarked at the silence of Bengali Muslims while acknowledging that it was members of the opposition Congress that had the gumption to speak in favor of Bengali.57 Why were Bengali Muslim members silent? In a different context, the historian Ahmed


Kamal has attributed the lack of Bengali Muslim opposition (to the Compulsory Levy of Food Grains, for instance) to the fact that all the Muslim members in the Assembly belonged to the ruling Muslim League, and were being wooed with government posts. However, he adds, “this economy of criticism” did not last long.58 The historian Badruddin Umar has noted that mass participation distinguished the language movements of 1948 and 1952. He attributes this growing participation to the failures of the Muslim League government in famine and flood control in the intervening years. As Bengali students organized commemorations around Ekushey that included people from rural areas in their protests, the newly founded Awami Muslim League also grew in strength. It joined forces with members of Fazlul Huq’s newly created Krishak Sramik Party, the left-leaning Ganatantri Dal, and the Nizam-eIslam party to create a United Front to fight the Muslim League. The first point in its 21-point program was to make Bengali one of the state languages of Pakistan. When the general elections of 1954 were eventually held, the United Front won 215 of 237 Muslim seats; the Muslim League’s seats were diminished to nine.59 Even so, the battle for Bengali remained to be won. By the time the new session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan met in 1956, the United Front government had already been dislodged from power. The chief minister of Bengal, Fazlul Huq, had been accused of being against the ideology of Pakistan because of an emotional speech he made during a recent visit to Netaji Bhawan in Calcutta. Huq’s declaration that Bengalis were “indivisible as a nation” was bound to have raised eyebrows: I do not believe in the political division of a country. In fact, I am yet to become really familiar with the two divisive expressions “Hindusthan” and “Pakistan.” By India I still understand both the parts Hindusthan and Pakistan. Those who have divided our golden land are enemies of Bengal and Bengalees. In my view Pakistan means nothing. This expression is merely one of deception and design to achieve selfish ends . . . I shall always be conscious of my duty in creating a common history for India and Pakistan. . . . I shall stand shoulder to shoulder with leaders of this part of India and dedicate myself to the task of establishing India, that is Hindusthan and Pakistan, this united subcontinent, in a very special position in the world at large.60


He resolved to “banish communalism from the soil of East Pakistan and establish cordial relations between the two Bengals.” As if this wasn’t enough to scare West Pakistani elites, an interview with James Callahan of the New York Times wherein Huq allegedly stated that East Bengal wished to become an “independent state” further fueled their insecurities. Although Huq released a press statement seeking to clarify what he had said to the Times and Reuters correspondents, the damage was done. Badruddin Umar considers the entire exercise to have been orchestrated by the United States to get rid of the left-leaning United Front government.61 Be that as it may, after a series of convoluted compromises the new Constituent Assembly convened in January 1956 with a strange constellation of alliances. The Awami League’s twelve members were in the position of the opposition, whereas the Krishak Sramik Party’s sixteen members voted with the West Pakistan Muslim Leaguers on almost every clause of the draft Constitution. Because members of the Assembly were forced to vote along party lines, almost every amendment proposed by the Awami League was defeated.

The Debates of 1956 The months-long debates preceding the adoption of the first Constitution of Pakistan in 1956 reveal how the Muslim League (still dominant in a West Pakistan that had not yet held a general or provincial election) and the popular Awami Muslim League (part of the spectacular 1954 electionwinning coalition of the United Front in East Bengal) debated the concept of an “Islamic state.” The preamble of the 21-point program of the United Front had incorporated the “enabling clause” of the Objectives Resolution thus: “There will be no enactment in the House which is repugnant to the fundamental principles of the Holy Quran and the Sunna and provisions will be made for the citizens to live their lives on the basis of Islamic equality and brotherhood.”62 But what did it mean that no law repugnant to the principles of the Quran and the Sunna would be part of Pakistan’s Constitution? Who would decide on these laws and their interpretation? I foreground this question alongside a brief survey of seven main points of contention during the drafting process: full autonomy to East Pakistan (a demand that was consistently part of East Pakistani opposition politics, including the recent election manifesto of the United Front); parity be-


tween both wings (with the Awami Leaguers insisting on parity in appointments in government services, including the civil and defense services of Pakistan); the repeal of colonial-era security and safety acts that were routinely used to squash dissent and arrest political opponents; equal status for the Bengali language with Urdu; equal say for East Pakistan on matters of foreign affairs, including international treaties that would affect the East Pakistani economy; limits on the extraordinary powers of unelected officials, such as the governor and governor-general; a joint electorate for Pakistan; and an unequivocal repudiation of the two-nation theory in favor of one, multinational Pakistan. All these concerns coalesced around the ruling coalition’s boast that it had drafted an Islamic Constitution. In their rejoinders, Awami Leaguers contended, point by point, that the clauses in the Constitution were “un-Islamic”; their amendments proffered an alternative vision of an Islamic state that was explicitly tied to ideals of equity and justice and that also included the support of Bengali Hindu members of the Assembly. The Awami Leaguers rejected the label of “un-Islamic” that was foisted upon them by the government. Before the convening of the Assembly, elected members from the Awami League, the Krishak Sramik party, and the Muslim League had already met at Murree and agreed on certain principles that would undergird any draft Constitution. These included parity between the wings, integration and autonomy for West Pakistan as one unit, full regional autonomy to East Bengal, equality for Bengali as a state language with Urdu, and joint electorates. But the Awami League soon found that agreeing to parity in representation in the Constituent Assembly (forty members from each wing) did not extend to parity in appointments in services, or even the hitherto accepted convention of the prime minister and president of Pakistan coming from different wings. The surprise announcement of Chaudhri Mohammad Ali as prime minister, instead of their leader H. S. Suhrawardy, led to the Awami Leaguers’ accusing the government side of betrayal.63 So the informal terms accepted by all parties at Murree were breached by the time the new and contentious Constituent Assembly resumed its proceedings. Although the debates were often rushed, with closure motions being moved quickly, they are a rare and valuable source to understand the strategy and ideology of the Awami League, including the charismatic Mujibur Rahman, who would spend much of the next decade in jail. Indeed, those in the government recognized that several of the speeches


were being made with an eye to a wider constituency, located not inside the Assembly chambers in Karachi but away in Bengal. Key debates, to which we now turn, also reveal deep divisions on the ideology of Pakistan and the Islamic provisions in the Constitution.

The “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” Among the many clauses of the draft Constitution that were vociferously debated, none caused as much anguish as the very name to be given to Pakistan by the new Constitution: the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Member after member from East Bengal—Abul Mansur Ahmad, Ataur Rahman Khan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Peter Paul Gomez, Dr. S. K. Sen, Bhupendra Kumar Dutta, Basanta Kumar Das, Akshay Kumar Das, Kamini Kumar Dutta—spoke of its obvious exclusions and its possible effects, even across the border in India. Here we are considering mainly the nomenclature of the State, which is to be called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It seems to me that it is a contradiction in terms. It would not be so if the remaining millions of followers of faith other than Islam could somehow be disposed of. As it is, if it is Islamic, it is not a Republic. If you call it “Islamic,” you assign the near about a crore of non-Muslims in the State a subordinate position to the limit of obliteration. The position they are faced with is that either they remain here as serfs or zimmis64 or clear out. In the latter course, the name becomes consistent. . . . To the common people, both Muslims and nonMuslims, Islamic State has only one meaning. It has no place for any non-Muslim. The non Muslims, if they choose to remain here, have only to wait for conversion to Islam. That is their feeling and that is why thousands of people are daily applying for migration certificates.65

Bhupendra Kumar Dutta of the Pakistan National Congress and United Front feared that non-Muslims would be considered second-class citizens, a sentiment that was accentuated during the debate over the requirement that the head of the state be Muslim. Like Dutta, Peter Paul Gomez of East Bengal referred to instances in the villages where the “mostly ignorant masses” would evict non-Muslims on the grounds that this was not their


country. He also elaborated on instances of exclusion of non-Muslims in appointments in urban areas. Why was he, a child of the soil, being made to feel like an alien? S. K. Sen pointed out that Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia were also Muslim-majority, but they did not include the word Islamic in their titles. He recommended the leadership “take recourse to bold surgery” and modify the title.66 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman recalled the sacrifices of Indian Muslims in the making of Pakistan and asked his fellow members to consider their fate if Pakistan were to be called an Islamic Republic. He predicted that the “fanatic Hindus such as RSS and Mahasabhaites might agitate tomorrow for declaring India a “Hindu Republic of India.” “What right have we got living in Pakistan to kill the unfortunate Muslims of India, I cannot understand, Sir? Why are they playing with those Muslims? . . . Such has been the tactics always of the ruling junta which is always out to get power by manipulation. It is their habit to give bluff to the people in the name of Islam and in the name of religion.”67 Mujibur Rahman agreed with the previous speakers that the new name would amount to making minorities “secondclass citizens.” He challenged the government to do “justice on the basis of Islam so that people may feel that it is Islam. You cannot bluff them in the name of Islam.” Mian Abdul Bari of the Muslim League rose to respond to these criticisms. He considered the “terrible allegations . . . that we want to get rid of non-Muslims in the Muslim State of Pakistan.”68 Bari claimed that Pakistan was doing nothing new. He cited the changes in the names of Russia, when it became a Soviet republic, of China or Albania when it became a people’s republic. Because republics and empires such as Turkey, Egypt, and Afghanistan had been established on a national basis, they did not have Islamic in their names. Pakistan is neither based on any nationality nor was established by any dynasty as for example Saudi Arabia. . . . Pakistan is the first State which was established in the name of Islam, Islam and nothing but Islam. . . . [If ] the name of Islam is taken away then there will be nothing common between East Pakistan and West Pakistan—between the two provinces—which can keep the country intact. Unless there is a uniting force in an empire or kingdom or whatever it is, it can never remain intact and it will fall like a pack of cards. Therefore, to keep it


safe and to keep it intact and to keep it strong, we have kept that surname and called it the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I would request my friends not to think that we have named it to worry them or to tease them or to put them in a lower position. We have put that word to keep the whole fabric together.

Bari then declared that the Muslims had not complained when for 800 years the land under Muslim rule was called “Hindustan—country of the Hindus . . . if we bore it all, why should they grudge it.”69 He also wished to underline that India had changed its name to Bharat, referring to the time of Bharat varsa, a period when not a single Muslim lived, and yet referred to themselves as “secular.” As for the criticisms of Mujibur Rahman, who beseeched them to consider the position of Indian Muslims, Bari argued that they could be “saved by the strength and unity of Pakistan” only and not by the “gestures” of the last eight years. Bari emphasized the power of naming: “When we name a thing after Islam it indicates that sentiment which is the strongest amongst us whether we start from the east or go to the west from one corner to the other. This is the only tie, rope or sentiment which can keep us together.” Basanta Kumar Das of the Pakistan Congress reflected on the sentiments behind Jinnah’s speech of August  11, and lamented that it was a “forgotten document”; it had not been reprinted in any of the collections of Jinnah’s speeches that he had recently read. Das recalled that the Quaid-eAzam had hoped for efforts that would integrate Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims into one nation. Was this all-pervading distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims going to help integrate Pakistan into one nation? Das also spoke to the power of naming: What is Pakistan, Sir? A land of virtues; that is very good. Do you mean that the Islamic people are the only virtuous people and they alone live in Pakistan? This is what your Constitution indicates if you keep the name Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I submit this is a very very tall claim; I do not say “preposterous.” Sir, then it is said that Pakistan has been obtained as the homeland of the Muslims. Is not Pakistan also the homeland of the persons who follow other religions? They have been living here for generations . . . and for thousands of years. You say “Well it is our homeland and you are nobody.” Do not the Muslims of India claim India as their home-


land? . . . You say that you want to adapt your lives according to the Quran and Sunna and therefore you should give this name. I do not know how it will help you unless you really become Islamic, in thoughts, ideas and deeds and become really religious. The name cannot help you. By giving this name you are proclaiming to the world outside that this country is of the Muslims alone who follow the Islamic religion.70

Das also recalled that many of the ministers in the House, including A. K. Fazlul Huq and Hamidul Huq Chowdhury, were members of a committee that in a 1952 report on the Basic Principles Committee had unanimously disapproved of “Islamic Republic” as a name and the stipulation that the president be Muslim. Now, “circumstanced as they are, they are bound to keep quiet.” But, Das added, “if they take courage and vote with us,” that would make for a happy resolution. Akshay Kumar Das, a minister in the government, demanded a referendum on the question of whether Pakistan should be called Federal Republic of Pakistan or Islamic Republic of Pakistan.71 Ataur Rahman Khan, another prominent leader of the Awami Muslim League, warned the House “not to fall into the trap laid by the Mullahs . . . you do not know into what a pit you are falling.” He pointed out that there were seventy-two sects in Pakistan and each called the others non-Muslim and kafir. When he was challenged on this point, he brought out his copy of the Munir Commission report and began quoting from its pages. Following Akshay Kumar Das, who had been challenged to prove that Muhammad Iqbal had not wanted the homeland for the Muslims to be a religious state, Khan quoted from Iqbal’s 1930 presidential address to the Muslim League. He followed this up with more extracts from Jinnah’s August 11 inaugural address and concluded: “So this was the ideology of Pakistan. The ideology of Pakistan was not the creation of an Islamic State or an Islamic rule to be introduced in Pakistan, nor intended to make it impossible for the others to live in this State. The great ideology of a State—the creation of a State—is the improvement of the lot of the common people: how to improve the condition of the masses, how to give them cloth and shelter and food.”72 Less than a decade after partition, these leaders were researching their way to understand and explicate the meaning and ideology of Pakistan. They were consulting Iqbal’s presidential address of 1930, citing the Lahore


Fig 3.1 Muhammad Ali Jinnah addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, August 11, 1947. New York World-Telegram and Sun Collection, Library of Congress.

resolution, poring through Jinnah’s speeches including his August 11 address, and citing from the Munir-Kayani report. In the face of doubts and dubious interpretations, they were creating a new archive of foundational documents for Pakistan.73 The government response to these criticisms was deflection. Fazlul Huq, who, at the Netaji Bhavan in Calcutta, had spoken so eloquently of the indivisible unity of Hindus and Muslims, now briefly stated that “although the country is to be known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in ordinary business it will be simply known as Pakistan.”74 Minister Pir Ali Mohammad Rashdi emphasized that minorities would be accorded equality of status and opportunity in the operative clauses of the Constitution.75 He then pointed to one of the Hindu ministers who had “served Pakistan” to presumably support his words. But the Hindu minister, Kamini Kumar Dutta of the United Progressive Party, drew further attention to the misgivings of the minorities. He


recalled working as a member of the Basic Principles Committee when Liaquat Ali Khan was prime minister; in that report, there had been no room for nomenclature such as Islamic Republic or for the limitation that the head of state be Muslim. Dutta praised the Quaid-i-Millat for having the “foresight and vision” of the Quaid-i-Azam. But after him, people “at the helm” had been “lacking absolutely in any vision at all.” Dutta called the new name and limitations a “liability” and a “heritage” on the present leadership of Pakistan. He thought there was still time to eliminate these clauses, as they would permit “unscrupulous Mullahs to do mischief” by claiming that only Muslims have rights in the state.76 Similar objections were raised during the debate on Article 32, which held that the president of the republic would have to be Muslim. Gour Chandra Bala and Rasa Raja Mandal of the Scheduled Caste Federation, S. K. Sen of the United Progressive Party, and Bhupendra Kumar Dutta of the Congress and United Front all found it strange there should be a reservation for the majority community; after all, Pakistan was 85  percent Muslim. Minister Akshay Kumar Das of the Scheduled Caste Federation felt “a pain in my heart; a depression in my mind that such a discrimination between citizen and citizen should occur in any constitution of the world.” Bala and Gomez thought the discrimination along the lines of apartheid South Africa, with non-Muslims in the position of colored voters. Mahmud Ali of the Ganatantri Dal drew the attention of the Assembly to a circular letter that asked for the word “Muslim” to be defined, and that a “new Muslim” should not be permitted to contest the elections for president.77 Dr S. K. Sen asked, tartly perhaps, if the president would perform the duties of the imam of a mosque. Why was a distinction being made between fellow human beings? “Is it not the same blood that passes in the veins of a non-Muslim as that of a Muslim?”78 On the question of the electorate, Mujibur Rahman strove to address the fears of his “friends” who thought the East Bengal Muslims were “not politically conscious” and that the 20 percent minorities would control the Muslim majority.79 He reminded them that in the 1946 elections it was the Muslims of Bengal that had voted for the League, “whereas persons who claimed to be more of Musalman than the Musalmans of East Pakistan . . . were divided.” Mujib proceeded to remark with some humor on the various fatwas pronouncing that joint electorates were un-Islamic and that those who voted jointly with Hindus would go to hell. For the last hundred years,


Bengalis had been voting jointly with Hindus in the union, district, and municipal elections. Even the maulanas present in the Assembly from East Bengal had come on a joint electorate. Would they all go to hell?

Detention without Trial Many of the Awami League members had been arrested and detained without trial under colonial-era laws such as the Bengal Regulation III of 1818 and various security acts, when they spoke in favor of Bengali during the language movement, and, more recently, despite their appointment as ministers in a short-lived United Front coalition government. So they spoke from experience of the heavy hand of injustice when they now opposed the draft Constitution’s Article  7 of the fundamental rights chapter that allowed for detention without trial. Mujibur Rahman reminded the House of the provisions of the Quran and Sunna with regard to justice: “Nobody can be punished without trial. Even Allah will not punish anybody without trial. If I committed a sin, I will be sent to hell—after proper trial. If I have done good, I shall be sent to heaven—after trial. Let us see what this ‘Islamic Constitution’ provides: anybody can be detained without trial ‘in the interest of public order and Pakistan.’&”80 He compared these provisions to the promises made by the United Front in its 21-point program, to which he attributed the coalition’s phenomenal victory. Point 14 had promised to repeal safety and detention acts, to release prisoners who had been detained without trial, and to try in open court persons involved in anti-state activities.81 Mujib also spoke for his colleagues from Baluchistan and the NWFP who had been arrested under the draconian provisions of the Frontier Crimes Regulations opposing the merger of provinces to form the One-Unit of West Pakistan. In a similar vein, Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish of the Awami League asked how the provision for detention without trial was consistent with Islam and the Holy Quran. Tarkabagish, who would have the honor of leading the Bangladesh Constituent Assembly in prayers, now quoted from the Quran: “A’adalu,” which he translated as “Do justice.” Tarkabagish held that the distance between the two wings of Pakistan could not be reduced “by means of force, Safety Act[s], bullets and frauds of this type. This vast distance can be reduced only by practicing Islamic principles of equality, liberty


and fraternity.” In keeping with the Quran’s emphasis on fraternity and the “full faith” that East Pakistanis had in “West Pakistan brethren,” they had returned five leaders of West Pakistan as their own representatives to this assembly. Had West Pakistan ever reciprocated the gesture? “Is it incumbent to show fraternity from only one side? . . . They quote verses from the Holy Quran and use high sounding words but by their deeds they harm their brethren and they get pleasure out of it. How painful is this attitude!”82 Mujib also drew attention to forms supplied by Karachi University that asked students to pledge that they would not indulge in activities “subversive to Pakistan or prejudicial to the University of Karachi.” He asked what right the state had to behave as if the students were “anti-state.”83 He was followed by Sheikh Zahiruddin, who would go on to become minister of education under the brief prime ministership of Suhrawardy the following year. Zahiruddin challenged his friends on the other side of the House to find a single verse either from the Quran or from the Sunna to justify preventive detention or detention without trial. He quoted extensively from Maudoodi’s book Islamic Law and Constitution, wherein is narrated an incident from the time of Khalifa Umar: [Khalifa Umar declared:] lā tu’sarū rajulun fi’l-islām bi-ghairi’l-‘adl The translation of this dictum reads: “In Islam no one can be imprisoned without due course of justice.”

On the specific provision of detention without trial, Zahiruddin quoted Maudoodi: It is most cruel to detain a person for consecutive periods of six months each, his detention being extended after every term by another on the very day on which he and his near and dear ones expect his release. . . . The maximum allowance that can be made in this respect is that, in case of actual war, rebellious persons who are charged with high treason, conspiracy against the State, or armed revolution may be tried in camera.84

Zahiruddin observed that he had also consulted other Muslim divines and political thinkers, none of whom could justify preventive detention. Therefore, the Awami Leaguers had proposed amendments that were in consonance with the principles of Islam.


Summing up, H. S. Suhrawardy declared it was not necessary to invoke the 21-point program or the writings of Maudoodi; quite simply, detention without trial was objectionable because it was a crime against the rule of law. Suhrawardy thought the debate necessary to “expose the hollowness” of those who claimed they were presenting an Islamic Constitution and were carrying on the “false propaganda” that they alone were the advocates of Islam, because this law was patently contrary to the Quran and Sunna.85 In his response, the law minister I.  I. Chundrigar faulted the Awami Leaguers for being inconsistent, for praising the Indian Constitution, which, incidentally, contained the same article. When Awami Leaguer Abul Mansur Ahmad responded he did not praise the Indian Constitution for this article, and Suhrawardy added “it is not Quran and Sunna,” Chundrigar agreed, “No, it is not Quran and Sunna, but I am simply trying to show their inconsistency.”86 So much for the law minister’s logic or legal acumen. In any event, every amendment proposed by the opposition was rejected by the brute majority of the members on the government side. There was no desire to arrive at a consensus across political parties. On numerous clauses in the draft Constitution, Awami Leaguers, including Mujibur Rahman, raised the fundamental question: What did it mean to proclaim the Constitution was Islamic? They objected to the huge salaries being allocated to officials, such as the governor and governorgeneral, in a country as poor as Pakistan. Rahman was intrepid in listing the names of West Pakistani landlords whose estates were vast beyond measure; he wanted zamindari abolition without compensation because “Islam means equal distribution of wealth.” How, and to whom, did the government propose to redistribute vast feudal estates? “What do we find in the Punjab, Frontier and in Sind? You tour for a whole day and you see the property of one man. Whose property—Talpur’s property; whose property— Daultana’s property; Mian Iftikharuddin’s property. It is not the property of the man who works on the field; it is not the property of the poor ‘Mussalman’ who believes in lā ilāha illā’llāh Muhammadur Rasulullah.” Mujib accused the government of having exploited the masses of Pakistan for the last several years in the name of Islam. He was emphatic: “The Islamic Constitution is a label here and not the ideal we cherish.”87 On clause after clause, Awami Leaguers stepped up to question the logic of the government side in deploying the rhetoric of Islam or Muslim brotherhood for superficial or patently unequal purposes. The debate on Article


205 of the Islamic provisions bears out the distinction between the Awami Leaguers’ point of view and that of the government. This article gave teeth to the enabling clause of the Objectives Resolution (now the Preamble to the Constitution). It read: “No law shall be enacted which is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunna, . . . and the existing laws shall be brought into conformity with such injunctions.” Subclause 3 a) of the article read: “Within one year of the Constitution Day, the President shall appoint a Commission to compile, in a suitable form, for the guidance of the National and Provincial Assemblies such injunctions of Islam as can be given legislative effect.” The Awami League’s Zahiruddin referred to Article 205, as it had been drafted, as “the greatest bluff that was ever conceived and that also in the name of Islam.” He proposed these much stronger substitutions: “a) to compile for the mandatory guidance of the National and Provincial Assemblies injunctions of Islam for giving legislative effect, and b) steps to give legislative and executive effect to such injunctions.” He also asked that the members of the commission be “recognized Muslim divines holding degrees in Islamic laws” who represent all the Muslim sects.88 He asked the Assembly to compare the original clause with his proposed amendments. He recalled the government propaganda that the country would be getting an Islamic Constitution. The vote on his amendments would prove whether or not the government was “sincere” about the Islamic provisions. Zahiruddin regarded as critical the appointment of a commission of experts in Islamic jurisprudence: such a commission composed of “masters of Islamic laws” were called arbāb-e hall o ‘aqd, he explained to the mixed assembly of Muslims and non-Muslim legislators. It was not possible for them to “reject” the views of such a commission, as that would mean showing disrespect to Islamic laws. Zahiruddin also opposed the use of the word “such” preceding “injunctions of Islam.” He held Islam to have given a “perfect code of life,” al-yauma akmaltu la-kum dīna-kum, so “if you want to give legislative effect to Islamic injunctions, you have got to give legislative effect to all.” That the government was simply not interested in discussing the ambit and purview of such a commission is evident from repeated attempts to get Zahiruddin to finish his speech. On the amendment proposing that the commission’s members hold degrees in Islamic laws, Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani, the president of the Assembly, interrupted with “The Commission


will never be formed. Where are the degree holder divines.” Zahiruddin seized upon this admission to accuse the government of being disinterested in peopling the commission with those who were well-versed in Islamic jurisprudence. He charged that if the government formed a commission on party lines to provide a token member or two, the version produced would be un-Islamic or amount to introducing introduce bid’at (innovation) in Islam. Zahiruddin’s considered amendments were outvoted. The utter sham of suggesting, in Article 24, that Pakistan would try to strengthen the bonds of unity among Muslim countries was another point of contention. Bhupendra Kumar Dutta moved a motion suggesting “Muslim” be replaced with “all”; this was readily accepted by Awami Leaguers. Mujibur Rahman referred to non-Muslim countries that might aid Pakistan in the event of a war with Afghanistan or on the ongoing Kashmir dispute. “Today we may not be on good terms with India, but tomorrow we can be friendly with her. We can get more help from India than from any other country.” Great Britain, too, was a country with whom they were friendly. Then why should the Constitution only lay stress on promoting friendly relations with Muslim countries?89 But this amendment, too, was defeated. The Awami Leaguers launched a two-pronged attack on references to Islam in the draft Constitution: on the one hand, they argued that the provisions were a bluff because they were unmindful of what was considered as justice and equity in Islam; on the other hand, they were a bluff because they were exclusionary to the point of being impractical. Pakistan, they argued, must have friendly relations with all countries, not with Islamic countries alone; besides enabling Muslims to lead Muslim lives, Pakistan must also enable Hindus to lead Hindu lives; and the Constitution must allow for Hindus, too, to become the head of the state so as to affirm that all citizens were equal, in all aspects. Together, both sets of arguments—not Islamic enough and too Islamic—played on the same words “bluff%/%bluffing” and “befool%/%befooling” to highlight the inconsiderate and casual manner with which the Islamic provisions were being inserted in the Constitution, to satisfy particular constituencies. Zahiruddin complained that instead of ushering in economic and political freedom, “artificial things and toys” were being granted to the people in the shape of different clauses of the Constitution. He recited an Urdu verse: tamannā’oñ meñ uljhāyā gayā hūñ, khilaune de ke bahlāyā gayā hūñ (I have been deluded with high hopes; I have been put off with toys).90


Yet, there was no question this was all deadly serious. Tired of being held responsible for the allegedly deplorable condition of Indian Muslims by various members in the government benches during the debates, Basanta Kumar Das asked the parliamentary leader of the Muslim League party Mumtaz Daultana, who was being “so solicitous” about Muslims in India, to invite them to Pakistan, since it wished to become a Dar ul-Islam. Das predicted that the Islamic provisions would give rise to a “Frankenstein”; the government would find itself “bewildered by clamors from all possible directions” and be forced to establish an ecclesiastical department and ecclesiastical courts: Various questions would arise for decision on the interpretation of different injunctions of the Quran. Why should the State undertake this responsibility of preaching to the Muslims their religion or providing facilities for raising their moral standards through these efforts of doubtful value which can be done in other ways? . . . Our objections are not raised because we are Hindus and we do not like Islam, but our objections rise from the fact that it would not be in the larger interests of Pakistan to have all these things embodied in the Constitution.91

The image of a Frankenstein devouring its own was repeated and elaborated upon by the leader of the opposition Suhrawardy in the third and final reading of the bill. He criticized limiting the head of state to a Muslim in a land where 88  percent of the population was Muslim as a “bauble to please some fanatics”; it also had the potential to reopen “the question as to who is a Muslim and create controversies, confusion and chaos.”92 He cautioned against leaving the interpretation of Islamic laws to “a batch of theologians who are not members of the legislature.” He warned the prime minister and his party for thinking they had “hoodwinked the Mullah element by giving it nominal recognition and by sundry meaningless provisions in the Constitution have obtained the certificate that it is Islamic.” The government benches laughed at his fears. I feel, Sir, that the Prime Minister has created a Frankenstein which he hopes will obey him, but which in its turn will overwhelm him and destroy him. But this Moulvi element is not so simple as it looks or sounds. (Laughter) It, on the other hand, is lying low, is supporting the Constitution, which gives it recognition in the hopes that


something is better than nothing. Such of them as are politically minded and have political ambitions, are creating a cult and schism in Islam, thinking that they are exploiting the Prime Minister and his Government. It is, therefore, not surprising to find that such ulema, in spite of their contention that detention without trial is against Islam and is repugnant to the Quran and the Sunna, and hence cannot be incorporated in an Islamic Constitution, in which no law shall be passed repugnant to the Quran and the Sunna, still maintain that this Constitution is Islamic and any opposition to it is un-Islamic and . . . our Republic can rightly be characterised as an Islamic Republic. For their recognition in the Constitution, they are prepared to overthrow all their principles.93

Suhrawardy described the ulema as being of two kinds: those who were selfless (ulema-i-huq) and those who were selfish (ulema-i-soo). The latter had spread the “absolute falsehood” that he was against Islam because he had opposed them. He warned that mosques were becoming siasi akharas, political arenas that the ulema-i-soo were defiling with their lies. He underlined that the Awami League was not against “true Islamic provisions” that were consonant with “brotherhood, social justice, toleration, democracy,” but they did object to calling a state that was not an Islamic state an “Islamic state”: “May I say to put it rather we do object to humbugism?%” Referring to a spate of resolutions that had been passed in public meetings across East Pakistan against the Constitution, and the evident loss of support of several Hindu legislators in the course of the debate, Suhrawardy pronounced that the draft Constitution had not received a consensus of opinion across both the wings. To secure that consensus, even at this late stage, Suhrawardy suggested the convening of a round table conference. When he received no response, he withdrew from the Assembly followed by Mujibur Rahman, Zahiruddin, Ataur Rahman Khan, and other Awami Leaguers. Mahmud Ali of the Ganatantri Dal also walked out after likening the drafting of the Constitution and the proclamation that it was inaugurating an Islamic state to the Bengali saying “parbater mushik prosab,” which he translated as “the mountain producing a mouse!” He also quoted Iqbal to the Assembly: bātil se dabne vāle ai āsmān nahīn ham sau bār kar cukā tū imtihān hamārā


We are not to be put down by falsehood, O Sky! You have put us to this test a hundred times.94

This became the pattern for the rest of the day as members of the Congress such as Basanta Kumar Das and S. K. Sen also walked out after reiterating their objections to the bill. In retrospect, the fears of the opposition that Islam would be deployed in every matter and cause unnecessary controversies has come true. How did the government respond to their warnings? To the pointed criticisms of Suhrawardy who saw the ulema as akin to Frankenstein, the law minister I.  I. Chundrigar blandly quoted the preamble to the 21-point program election manifesto of the United Front party and declared that that was all the government had done. Mian Abdul Bari did not appreciate Suhrawardy’s argument that there was no consensus on the definition of a Muslim. He quoted from the Quran: lā taqūlū li-man alqá ‘alai-kumu’s-salām, lasta mu’min (Say not to anyone who offers you a salutation: “Thou art none of a Believer!”). The problem, according to Bari, was that people lied about their beliefs. He concluded that non-Muslims had nothing to fear for they were not zimmis, but a covenanted party. Somewhat menacingly, he added: The basic object of Pakistan is to fire every Muslim with the divine passion to serve this homeland by offering his life, if need be, in jihad [holy war] for the pleasure of the Almighty God. Pakistan is the dear abode of several nationalities such as the Baluchis, the Punjabis, the Sindhis, and the Bengalis, and Islam is the only link which binds them together. We should, therefore, strive to strengthen this bond of unity. Those who want to weaken this binding force are really the enemies of Pakistan whom we would continue to fight, with the help of God, to the bitter end.95

Prime Minister Chaudhri Mohammad Ali thanked the opposition for their contributions and declared that barring the three issues of the name of the state, the provision that the head of the state be Muslim, and the matter of joint%/%separate electorate that had been postponed, there was widespread consensus on all constitutional issues. Ali’s facile summary glossed over the real tensions that had animated the proceedings.96 IN HIS FINAL REMARKS,


According to the terms of the Murree Agreement of July 1955, the Awami Leaguers had accepted parity along with joint electorate on the understanding that parity would extend to appointments in the civil and defense services. In the draft Constitution, however, parity was limited to representation of each wing in the National Assembly. Suhrawardy warned: “East Pakistan feels mortified at the suggestion that its defense lies in West Pakistan.”97 But the government side had yielded to the power behind the Constitution-drafting exercise: the military. The Awami League regarded postponement of the question of electorate as a betrayal of the Murree Agreement. Parity could only make sense in the context of a joint electorate; otherwise, it smacked of dividing the Bengalis, and thereby converting their natural majority into a minority. This is why Ataur Rahman Khan had suggested having parity among Muslim electors from West and East Pakistan if separate electorates were going to be imposed on the East.98 The promise of autonomy to East Bengal that would result in only three subjects on the Federal List was also set aside, notwithstanding objections to the contrary. In conclusion, Prime Minister Ali proclaimed Islam was a “simple religion free of much dogma,” that “the cardinal values of Islam are justice and brotherhood,” and because the majority were “tolerant and good Muslims,” there was no need to fear that “any obscurantism” or “bigotry” would overcome them. He did, however, acknowledge that the non-Muslim minorities, who were an “integral part of the life of Pakistan,” would “judge us not by our professions but by our conduct”; so he recommended that their conduct “inspire confidence . . . the sins of a nation are never forgiven, neither by God nor by History, and if as a people we fail to live up to the highest teachings of Islam, we shall have failed utterly.”99 These high-sounding words were appropriate for the occasion, but they did not address the fears and apprehensions of the Bengalis. Ali declared it a massive accomplishment to have passed the Constitution bill, after nine long years of wrangling on its various provisions. The fact that the entire opposition had just walked out did not stop him from hailing the Constitution as a “visible living monument to the unity of this country.” Indeed, he took this opportunity to denounce some of the amendments moved by the Awami Leaguers, including provincial autonomy which, “carried to an extreme,” he added, “can only mean disintegration of the country.”


If all financial resources are distributed between the two units of East Pakistan and West Pakistan, the Centre can only be left dependent upon such contributions as the two units might make. That would be a confederation and not a federation and as experience elsewhere in the world has shown, a confederation cannot last. A Centre which is dependent upon financial contributions from the units would very soon disintegrate. Therefore, Sir, the Coalition Party realizes and as I am sure Mr. Suhrawardy in the heart of his hearts realizes, the maximum of provincial autonomy can be granted, but always subject to the integrity, stability and security of the country.100

This, then, would be the swan song of West Pakistani elites.

Separate Electorates The unresolved question of the electorate was, according to Article 145 of the 1956 Constitution, supposed to be decided by Parliament after ascertaining the views of the provincial legislatures. It was this compromise that allowed the Constitution to be promulgated in March 1956. Separately, thereafter, the East Pakistan legislature voted for joint electorates while the West Pakistan legislature voted for separate electorates. During the debates in the West Pakistan legislature, Joshua Fazl-ud-Din, who had once voiced his concerns about Christian rights after the passing of the Objectives Resolution, was now “happy to concede” that the same resolution, read with Articles 18 and 25 of the newly minted Constitution, gave the minorities full religious freedom and met all the requirements of their faith as Christians.101 The new danger to their rights, however, was the unresolved question of electorates, which he feared might undo all that the Constitution so generously provided. In the forceful book Separate Electorates: The Life-Blood of Pakistan, which included an appreciative introduction and two essays by Maudoodi as well as extracts of speeches made in the West Pakistan legislature to which he now belonged, Fazl-ud-Din argued that the Christians in West Pakistan, the largest non-Muslim minority in that unit, required separate electorates to safeguard rights that only elected Christian representatives


could be trusted to protect. He also claimed that a mutually agreed-upon “implied contract” existed between the Quaid-e-Azam and the Christian community since 1947. The Muslims in 1947 came out with certain conditions, certain definite proposals. The non-Muslims with all their eyes and ears open knew those conditions, heard those conditions and understood those conditions. They knew that this Pakistan, if at all it is to flourish ideologically will flourish on the basis of the two-nations theory. . . . . Under this contract the Muslims were bound to respect the culture of the non-Muslim minorities, grant them religious freedom and give full economic rights, and, in return, the nonMuslims accepted that the Muslims could continue to have their ideology in respect of the two-nations theory, they could continue to have Pakistan built according to their own Islamic principles. This was the implied contract in 1947 between the Muslims and the non-Muslims and I would now ask those gentlemen who stand up for joint electorates whether joint electorates in 1947 formed part of this contract.102

Fazl-ud-Din quoted extensively from the Constitution to argue that the duties to be performed by legislators in Islamizing their laws in accordance with the Quran and Sunna, and in ensuring that non-Muslim personal laws would remain unaffected by these reforms, could only be undertaken by Muslim and non-Muslim legislators respectively. Article 18, a fundamental right that allowed non-Muslims to freely practice their religions and also manage their institutions, was, Fazl-ud-Din believed, a right that could be safeguarded only by Christian legislators elected by a wholly Christian electorate. If a Muslim elected on a joint electorate were to represent Christian interests, these would become “mere concessions, subject always to the personal discretion of the majority.”103 He drew on recent voting patterns in West Pakistan to prove how Christians, backward and depressed classes, would be under-represented in a joint electorate. Joint electorates, he argued, had only “blessed the strong, the powerful and the influential individuals and communities both among the Muslims and the non-Muslims.”104 In a curious twist, the famous words of the Quaid-e-Azam spoken at the inaugural session of the Constituent Assembly on August  11, 1947—“in


course of time Hindus shall cease to be Hindus and Muslims shall cease to be Muslims, not in the religious but in the political sense”—were marshaled by both opponents and proponents of separate electorates during this debate.105 For G. M. Syed, founder of a new political grouping, the Sindh Awami Mahaz, Jinnah’s speech, read plainly, asks Pakistanis to unite as one nation— that is, it is in favor of a joint electorate. For Fazl-ud-Din as well as other Muslim members of the legislative assembly arrayed against joint electorates, the proper emphasis was to be placed on the words “in course of time.” Another member of the West Pakistan legislative assembly, G. Allana, sought to provide a “running commentary” of Jinnah’s speech “to show that at no stage, in the mind of Quaid-i-Azam when he made this speech was there ever a thought of having joint electorates in Pakistan.” He quoted: “If you will work in cooperation forgetting the past,” mind you, “if you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past,” and these are the conditions “burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed.” Sir, these are significant words. We all know that the Quaid-i-Azam never used one word out of place, and he never used one word which did not have its own significance. . . . I will quote further . . . “If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.” Sir, all along he has said, if you do this, if you forget the past, if you bury the hatchet, if you work in cooperation. These are the conditions laid down, and then he goes on to say: “I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in the course of time” (mind you, he does not say today; he says ‘in course of time’) “all these angularities of the majority & minority communities—the Hindu community and the Muslim community . . . will vanish.”106

That time, “to give up our ideology” and demand joint electorates, these worthies contended, had not arrived and was nowhere on the horizon. They


clinched their argument by invoking the “great authority on Constitutionmaking,” Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Quoting from his book States and Minorities: What Are Their Rights and How to Secure Them in the Constitution of Free India (1947), Allana argued against the view that separate electorates were antinational. This momentous debate resulted in the acceptance of separate electorates by the members of the West Pakistan legislature. Only a few months later, the new prime minister of Pakistan, H. S. Suhrawardy, made a stirring appeal for unity. In April 1957, in preparation for the first general elections, he asked the Assembly to reconsider its previous decision and place on the statute book a system that would be “common to both wings.” Suhrawardy summarized the arguments of critics: Perhaps some might have even a different conception of Islam, because the question of electorate is as if it was mixed up with the doctrine of Islam; as if it was one of its basic concepts; as if Islam is differently understood in East Pakistan from its connotation in the West. The critics had gone so far as to say that even the concept of Pakistan was different in the two wings, and hence Pakistan could not be considered to be one country and one people with one outlook, one ideology and one basis of action.

He feared that this argument “may create such a feeling of separatism” that it might lead to “a physical separation and a political separation of the two wings.” Suhrawardy also warned that having separate electorates along lines of religion would reopen the question, during the preparation of electoral rolls, of whether Ahmadis were Muslim.107 He urged the minorities of West Pakistan that “their safety” did not lie in “that small representation” that they would get in the legislature where the majority community was 98  percent; he hoped for the creation of joint political parties, of Muslims and non-Muslims, across both wings.108 Suhrawardy proceeded to argue against those who saw separate electorates as fundamental to Islam. He described the circumstances under which separate electorates had been granted to Muslims in colonial India so that they, a large minority in Bharat, could assert themselves. His explanation provides the historian with an insight into his assessment of the creation of Pakistan. This was the same Suhrawardy who strove to create a united, independent Bengal in the summer of 1947, the same man who stood with Gandhi facing angry crowds outside Hydari Manzil in Calcutta in August 1947, the same man held responsible in Indian nationalist histo-


riography for the Direct Action Day violence of August 1946. Now, as prime minister of Pakistan, Suhrawardy donned a historian’s hat: There would have been no talk of separation, no question of partition if the Muslims of India had received fair treatment at the hands of the Hindu leaders. . . . Had the Muslims not been suppressed or treated as an inferior community, had the Muslims been allowed religious freedom; had they been permitted to perform their religious obligations without fanatical obstructions; had not the whole trend of power politics in India been in the direction of turning Muslims with their roots in India, with their glorious past with their grand traditions, into hewers of wood and drawers of water; had not their culture, their religion and their language and their customs been kept under the protection of Government swayed by anti-Muslim sentiments; in short had the Hindu leaders not shown themselves intolerant of understanding there would have been no talk of partition. How vainly did the Quaid-i-Azam attempt to induce the Hindu leaders to concede to the Muslims their just rights and their proper place in the politics and in India’s administration. . . . Partition, therefore, was not inevitable when we started the struggle. Partition became inevitable at the end when the Hindu leaders were unable to be tolerated by the Muslims. . . . To say that separate electorate is an injunction of Islam is to throw a dart, a poisonous dart at other Muslim countries, which have no separate electorate.

In response, the deputy speaker of the national assembly C. E. Gibbon launched a full-blown several-hours-long offensive against what he believed was a “betrayal” of the contract between Jinnah and the Christian community.109 In a debate that included the exchange of slurs— Gibbon’s “lassiwala politician” remark was traded for “mochi politician” by an Awami Leaguer— Gibbon argued that joint electorates would result in the extermination of the Christian community from West Pakistan.110 He quoted from the speeches made in the West Pakistan Assembly, and from the promises made in the Objectives Resolution that he traced back to the Lahore Resolution. Gibbon insisted that non-Muslim minorities could enjoy their rights only if they could elect representatives “who can reflect their deepest thoughts and feelings in their entirety and with the utmost sublimity, without let or hindrance from any quarter or community.” Gibbon clarified that there were no communal problems at all in West Pakistan. If they were


suffering from certain disabilities, so were their “Muslim brothers.” But, if their rights were going to be taken away by a “small coterie of people,” he threatened to take the matter to the Supreme Court or the International Court of Justice.111 Gibbon also sought to locate the Christian community in the state that Pakistan was trying to be: We are a community within a nation . . . which is carved out of the subcontinent on an ideological basis. It is not a secular state in that sense. At the same time, it is not a theocratic state. It is an experimental state, the first of its kind in human history—an Islamic Republic—and this great experiment is in its making. Now when the destiny of the nation has not been reached, we are confronted with this surprise move that a community, which had prepared itself to go along and subscribe to the ultimate destiny of the nation, has sought to be put out of its proper place and brought in line with the conception of political representation in an ordinary secular state.112

Gibbon argued that the Islamic-ness of the Muslim representatives who would be elected on a joint electorate would be gradually eroded; a similar argument was made by Maudoodi to criticize the demand of minority Hindus in East Pakistan for a joint electorate. Maudoodi held that the Bengali Hindus would so dilute the representativeness of the Muslim legislators elected that the Islamization of laws, hoped-for in the Objectives Resolution, would never occur. Instead, Pakistan would become a secular state.113 Similar arguments against joint electorates were put forward by the acting president of the Muslim League, Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Talpur, as well as secretary of the All Pakistan Scheduled Caste Federation, Puran Singh Ramdasia.114 Because Suhrawardy’s party had a majority, the amendments to the Electorate Amendment Bill passed through the Assembly. But rather than hold long-awaited elections, the Constitution was abrogated and martial law was imposed. Political parties were banned when Field Marshall Ayub Khan took over and Pakistan underwent a long spell of military rule. Charges of hypocrisy, time-pass, and corruption were leveled against politicians who were accused of failing to work in the national interest.115 The quick dismissals and maneuverings of a succession of Awami League and United Front ministries at the provincial level sowed a fair bit of contempt for politicians who had made tall promises but delivered little. But the Ayub


Khan regime soon lost its shine due to its rule by repression. When Khan finally decided to resume political activity to further strengthen his hand, he had to reopen the debate on the ideological character of Pakistan.

“The Ideology of Pakistan” Ayub Khan’s new law minister, Muhammad Munir, faced a dilemma. In his avatar as a judge, he had had occasion to point to the slipperiness that attached to the definition of “Muslim” in the proceedings of the commission that was appointed to inquire into the anti-Ahmadi riots of 1953. Now, during a raging debate on the ideology of Pakistan necessitated by the passage of the Political Parties Bill (the bill sought to only permit parties that believed in the “ideology of Pakistan”), he was asked whether or not the ideology of Pakistan referred to Islam.116 At first Munir referred to this as “an extremely dangerous discussion” that would lead “into difficulties to which there will be no end.”117 A day later, however, Munir said he had given “deep thought” to the amendment proposed, and now felt that the insertion of the word “Islamic” before “ideology” would not affect the religious freedom of the minorities, and would permit them to form their own parties, provided their political activities did not become “a sort of propaganda against the Islamic conception.”118 During the debate several members returned to the events surrounding the founding of the state. Maulana Mufti Mahmood of the Jamiat-i-Ulemai-Islam (JUI) proclaimed: “I would say that on the eve of the establishment of Pakistan we had declared in unequivocal terms that the official religion of the State would be Islam and that those who did not like the fact would do well to make their exit. Had they not been agreeable to the proposal of Islam being made the official religion, they would have certainly left the country then and there.”119 He interpreted the Objectives Resolution (now the Preamble) to mean that Islam had been declared the “official religion of our state.” For him, it was: “an open and admitted fact that ours is an Islamic country and that it belongs to the Muslims. . . . It is now argued that if Islam is adopted as the official religion of the state, it would raise the ugly question of minorities in the country which is also the homeland of Hindus and Christians.” Mufti Mahmood then quoted from the Quran to show how fairly nonMuslims had been treated during the time of the Prophet. He felt that if


Pakistani Hindus were assured of similar rights, they would be content to live in Pakistan as would the Hindus of India. He followed this invitation with a chilling reminder of his namesake, the formidable Mahmud of Ghazni: “Sir, . . . if a political party that believes in secularism happens to step into the Government, it would turn the country into a secular state. . . . We can never agree to such an eventuality. We shall defeat this trend toward secularism and shall use all the strength that we command to get this idea out of their heads. Sir, my name is also Mahmood and just as Mahmood of Ghazni broke the Idol of Somnath in his days so also will I break the idol of secularism in these days.”120 He then beseeched the “gentlemen” gathered in the “august House” who had been elected in the name of Islam to come forward and make Pakistan an Islamic state. If they failed to do so, he would “awaken public opinion” and call the “united will of the nation” to his aid. But were the nation’s specially elected representatives united behind Mufti Mahmood’s searing call to action to “break the idol of secularism”? Certainly not, judging by the days-long debate over the inclusion of this clause. Opponents included Mohammad Abdul Haque of East Bengal, who thought the word “ideology” was vague and felt there was “no assurance” that those in power would interpret “Islamic ideology” in a “progressive” way. When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then minister for industries and natural resources, interpreted the Preamble’s exhortation that Pakistan should be a “democratic state based on Islamic principles of social justice” to mean Pakistan was to be an Islamic state, Haque interjected that unless the Preamble was incorporated in the body of the Constitution, it could not be considered a part of the Constitution.121 Choudhury Fazal Elahi, deputy opposition leader of the House, referred to the serious difference of opinion in Pakistan over the question of electorate. What if a political party decided that a party propagating joint electorates is working against the ideology of Pakistan? Elahi declared: “The only thing which is safeguarded by this Constitution is that no law shall be passed which is repugnant to Islam. . . . It has not been said that no law shall be made against the supposed ideology of Pakistan as interpreted by Mr. Bhutto.”122 Syed Abdus Sultan of East Bengal argued that the Constitution provided all citizens full civic rights including full freedom of faith. The expression “Islamic ideology” would bar non-Muslim citizens from forming or joining any political party in Pakistan, and violate the Constitution, “as it practically amounts to a denial of the freedom of faith to the non-Muslim citi-


zens of Pakistan.”123 To this, Bhutto, the fervent orator, expounded: “A Preamble is the key of the Constitution. It is the manifesto of the Constitution and in this manifesto of the Constitution, in this ideal charter of the Constitution it is stated that Pakistan shall be an ideological state and not a territorial state. If there is a challenge to our ideology we will prove the superiority of our ideology. We are proud to be Muslims. We will die for our religion and we will die for our ideology.”124 The operativeness of the Preamble would be decided by the courts, in some measure. The question of the electorate, however, has never been settled to the satisfaction of the non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan. The following years saw the divide between the two halves of Pakistan deepen. After Pakistan’s split, when the new Constitution of 1973 was being debated, there was a new awareness of the power of the legislators vis-à-vis the ulema. So the newly anointed federal interior minister, Abdul Qaiyum Khan, argued that although they had great respect for the ulemas, it was important to note that “the ulemas are no longer ulemas. The ulemas have come into politics. They are politicians. Therefore, they are ulemas-cumpoliticians. We have every right to criticize them.”125 Khan and several others asserted that only the chosen representatives were the highest authority in interpretation, and thus superior to the ulema. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, the law minister, ridiculed the idea put forward by Mufti Mahmood that the proposed Islamic Ideology Council could be converted into a court: What do you want? You want ecclesiastical courts? We could never have that. How can we have ecclesiastical courts which have been done away with by all others? How can we give this power? Who are we sitting in this House? Are we non-Muslims sitting in this House? Are there not learned people like Maulana Ghulam Ghaus sitting in this House? Can’t they advise on these matters? How can we entrust power of Parliament, the authority and sovereignty of Parliament to outside agencies and tell them to dictate to Parliament what is Islamic and what is not Islamic?126

However, non-Muslims were not given the right to be represented by elected representatives. Instead, the 1973 Constitution reserved minorities’ seats at the provincial level and allowed for nominees to be selected, thereby bypassing “the consent and the will of the minority communities.”127


Under president Zia-ul-Huq, separate electorates were introduced for non-Muslims via the famous 8th Amendment. However, these were on the basis of all-Pakistan multi-member constituencies without any delimitation of constituencies. In these province-wide or country-wide constituencies, the candidates became each other’s “natural opponents.”128 These were not the demands of Christian political parties, whom, naturally, Zia did not consult. Also, under the Eighth Amendment, the Objectives Resolution was reproduced as Article 2A and as an Annex, and made an enforceable part of the Constitution.129 This article had one substantial difference: in the clause “wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures,” the word “freely” was deleted.130 The Eighteenth Amendment of 2010, however, has since reinstated this important word. Meanwhile, the struggle for adequate political representation for non-Muslim minorities has continued.

Punjab Religious Book Society vs. The State Were religious minorities able to exercise the right to practice and propagate their religions as promised in the Objectives Resolution that has been a part of every Constitution of Pakistan ever since its passage in 1949? As with India, existing case laws in Pakistan do not suggest any teleological progression in judicial interpretation toward the greater restriction of speech and expression on matters pertaining to religion. Consider the landmark Section 295A case of the Punjab Religious Book Society Lahore vs The State. In this case of 1960, an Urdu book Mizan-ul-Haq, translated as Balance of Truth, and published by the Punjab Religious Book Society, was deemed to “outrage the religious feelings of the Muslims of Pakistan” and banned by the governor of West Pakistan. The book, written by a German missionary Rev. C.  G. Fander, was first published in German in the midnineteenth century, and had subsequently been translated into English, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. The Punjab Religious Book Society, a publishing house that specialized in Christian religious literature, had first published the book in 1891; it was now in its fifth edition of 1953. In a three-bench unanimous judgment, judge Shabir Ahmad, who wrote up the judgment, conceded that because the theme of the book was to compare Islam with Christianity, it was “to be expected” that the Reverend would show that “Christianity was a true religion and Islam was not.”131


The only task of the judges was to determine whether or not the banning was justified by the provisions of Section 295A—that is, whether the author “deliberately” and “maliciously” intended to insult the religion of Muslims. The judge argued that the laws of Pakistan, “like those of every other civilized country,” did not “forbid religious discussions.” If it did so, it would amount to “wanting to deny human beings the satisfaction they want to get from showing to as many people . . . that at least in matters which are not mundane they have made the best choice.” Furthermore: It is clear that in the attempt to show that a particular religion is better than the others, things may be said or written which will outrage the religious feelings of followers of other religions. When a person does that, the law will presume that he intended to insult the religious beliefs of the followers of other religions. But even so, the ingredients of Section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code will not have been satisfied because they can be satisfied only if it is established that the intention to insult the religious beliefs was deliberate and malicious. . . . [T]he Court has to put itself in the place of a neutral person, that is to say, a person who is neither connected with the religion of the person who is alleged to have outraged the religious feelings of someone nor stated to have been outraged. The Court has further to consider the thing from the point of view of a person who is not hyper-sensitive but is a person of normal susceptibilities.132

After this generous reading of the work of religious preaching, judge Ahmad ruled against the forfeiture of the book Mizan-ul-Haq. The judgment did, however, find a few passages offensive in tone and received an assurance from the petitioner’s counsel that those passages would be deleted from the next edition and the fifth edition would no longer remain in circulation. This thoughtful exposition on what constitutes “religious discussion” in a civilized country like Pakistan, the explanation of how to go about finding “deliberate” and “malicious” intention, and the emphasis on the perspective of the “neutral person” and not one who is “hyper-sensitive”— also referred to in India as the “reasonable man” perspective à la Justice Vivian Bose—are startling reminders of a more liberal, multi-religious Pakistan that specifically protected Christian preaching.133 In fact, the detailed discussion on religious preaching in this judgment is deeper than the more perfunctory affirmation of the right to propagate offered to Jains in the


Ramlal Puri vs State of Madhya Pradesh judgment, discussed in the previous chapter. The perspective of a “neutral person” who is unconnected to the person doing the outraging or being outraged is also notable.134 However, this period of religious freedom did not last. Only two years after the judgment in Punjab Religious Book Society, the JUI’s Mufti Mahmood sought a discussion on the religious and political activities of Christian missionaries in Pakistan. He held that their activities constituted a “threat to the integrity of Pakistan and Islam” and had hurt Muslim sentiments: “The Christian Missionaries have injured the feelings of the people by publishing books that contain flagrant and vile attacks on Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). These books have been published and are being publicly distributed in Pakistan, thus injuring the religious susceptibilities of the people at large and threatening to give rise to an emergency in the country.”135 The seven books listed by Mufti Mahmood included Mizan-ul-Haq, only recently declared by the superior court of Pakistan to be inoffensive. In support of the maulana, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Sardar Bahadur Khan, reiterated: “Pakistan is an ideological State; it is an Islamic State. Why should we feel ashamed or calling ourselves as Muslims.” The sardar suggested the government examine the matter and proscribe all publications which cause “offense to the Musalmans of this country.”136 Responding for the government, minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto promised: “It goes without saying that anything which is repugnant, which is unacceptable to our basic principles, to our ideology, to our way of life will not be permitted . . . but we cannot take Hitlerian action of burning books without notice.” While assuring the members that the government would take the “most stringent action,” he resented the opposition for arrogating to themselves the “monopoly of Islamic feelings.”137 Reiterating his objections, the maulana affirmed: These books should be confiscated and the publishers along with those who have made these vile attacks and included our Holy Prophet in the category of false prophets, should be punished. Secondly, the people are perplexed at the conditions obtaining at present in the country and at the importance with which foreigners and especially foreign missionaries are treated here. They find it hard to reconcile themselves to the fact that Christianity is being


permitted to be freely preached and Islam is being insulted in a country which was meant to be an Islamic State. This has created an emergency.138

The sharp contrast in the appreciation of religious diversity and respect for constitutional principles of equality in the Punjab Religious Book Society judgment in 1960 and the anxious debate in the National Assembly in 1962 are pointers to the shrinking space for religious preaching and practice for Christians in Pakistan.139

Secularism and the Meaning of an Islamic State after Jinnah Although Pakistan was fought for in the name of Islam in the elections of 1946, very quickly thereafter its founder moved to reassure religious minorities of their rightful place in the new nation. Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly of August  11, 1947, did encourage Pakistan’s non-Muslim minorities to believe that they would be free to go to their temples, and that religion would have nothing to do with “the business of the state.” This was a promise they never ceased to invoke. However, less than two years later Liaquat Ali Khan’s compromise Objectives Resolution of March  1949 had an “enabling clause” that would have the state enable Muslims to live their lives as Muslims, followed by a clause that provided adequate safeguards to religious minorities, including fundamental rights protections. Religion, now, was very much a business of the state. In the years following Jinnah’s inaugural address and the passage of the Objectives Resolution, ulema such as Maudoodi were unimpressed by the delay in the project of creating an “Islamic state”; politicians such as Suhrawardy warned about the “Frankensteins” that were the mullah lobby; and minority leaders such as Bhupendra Kumar Dutta, Akshay Kumar Das, and C.  E. Gibbon expressed hurt and misgivings about their place in the state. In the 1956 Constitution, the state was formally called an “Islamic Republic” and the position of head of state was reserved for a “Muslim.” Islam, it was explicitly acknowledged by the likes of Maulana Bari, was the only “sentiment, tie or rope” that bound together its two separate wings, notwithstanding the vociferous opposition of the east wing’s Awami Leaguers to this “bluff in the name of Islam.”


At every critical turning point—for instance, on the definition of the “ideology of Pakistan” in 1962—the struggle for Pakistan was invoked and reinterpreted. Behind the hopes of Islamists as well as those secularists who laid great store in Jinnah’s speech of August  11 lay the question of what it meant to be Muslim, and whether an “Islamic state” necessarily meant a theocratic state. In the 1950s and 1960s, this question was always answered with reference to how Muslims ought to behave toward nonMuslims. For Maulana Mufti Mahmood, it was obvious that Pakistan was meant to be an Islamic state and those who did not agree with this “made their exit” at the time of the state’s founding; for others, such as Mujibur Rahman, it was the meaning of Islamic state that needed examination. The meanings and implications of an Islamic State were hotly contested—in the Assembly, in private negotiations, and in madrasas and journals. The invocation of Jinnah’s inaugural address during the angry proceedings marking the name of the state and during the debates on the electoral amendment bill in 1956–1957 are testimony to faith in a different Pakistan, that pledged non-Muslims had nothing to fear in the Islamic republic. So was the landmark judgment Punjab Religious Book Society vs the State that explicitly permitted Christian preaching in an Islamic state. The Awami League’s politics, in particular, contained a discerning critique of the misuse of Islam and calls to Islamic brotherhood alongside opposition to communal policies of the West Pakistani government. My analysis of Awami Leaguers’ speeches and interventions during the Constituent Assembly debates in 1956 shows them calling into question how a Constitution with measures endorsing inequality and patently unjust laws, such as detention without trial, could be considered “Islamic.” Mujibur Rahman’s references to what he hailed as “Islamic” show that he regarded it as a synonym for ethical and just. These assembly debates also show Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims to be on the same page—be it on the status of Bengali, parity between the wings, or on the exclusionary nature of the Constitution’s Islamic provisions.

BACK IN THE EAST, the resumption of political party activity in 1963 was met

enthusiastically by the Awami League’s student wing, at the vanguard of the resistance against the military regime. Police firing on student-led processions led to political leaders signing statements calling for judicial in-


quiries as well as renewed demands for the drafting of a workable Constitution, political activity along party lines, and the release of all political prisoners. Led by Khwaja Nazimuddin, Bengalis of all political persuasions— including the Awami League, the National Awami Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, and the Nizam-e-Islam party—formed a Combined Opposition Party and put forward Fatima Jinnah, the Quaid’s sister, as their candidate for president. They also demanded universal adult franchise and direct elections for the office of president; their meetings, processions, and strikes were roundly ignored by West Pakistani elites. Although Fatima Jinnah lost the presidential election, and the Ayub Khan-led Convention Muslim League won a majority in the elections to the national and provincial assemblies in 1965, the elected members of the opposition parties decided to work together in the Assemblies.140 The slight opening afforded for political activity made workers chafe at the restrictions imposed by Ayub. The brief Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 was followed by the grim reminder that East Pakistan had been left undefended. Suhrawardy’s words—East Pakistan is mortified at the idea that its defense lies in West Pakistan—reverberated as his followers renewed their demand for a separate, well-trained, well-outfitted army that would defend East Pakistan.141 The period also witnessed a rise in government-instigated communal riots in East Bengal, and a concerted effort among the opposition parties to resist being drawn into communal compartments.142 A neglected text—The Integration of Pakistan (1966)—by Abul Hashim, who once had been a purveyor of a united and independent Bengal, draws attention to this new assertion of government-driven religious difference, along the lines of the two-nation theory, of which Hashim had once been so critical. The government strengthened its propaganda in pursuit of national unity and integration in 1966. This was also the fateful year the Awami League rephrased its long-standing demands in the form of the pithy Six Points. We turn to these developments in Chapter 4 after a brief rehearsal of contrasting interpretations of Jinnah’s Lahore resolution. That both wings of Pakistan had no uniform understanding of what was also known as the Pakistan Resolution soon proved to be more than a matter of legalistic nitpicking.


ISLAM AND THE SECULAR IN BANGLADESH AND PAKISTAN Our secularism is not against religion. . . . Our only qualm is using religion as a political weapon. — Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 1972 Secularism, in the sense of tolerance and the rejection of theocracy, is inherent in Islamic political culture. —Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 1973

AFTER TWENTY-THREE YEARS of independence, Pakistanis in

both wings—East and West—finally had a chance to cast their vote in the first general elections of December 1970. All through that fateful year, political parties were allowed to campaign, under the watchful eyes of Yahya Khan’s martial law regime. Not for the first time, Bengalis discussed their political options in addas and processions, over “stormy dialogues in teashops and open fields.”1 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Awami League leader who strode the political firmament, termed the elections a referendum on the Six-Point Program, shorthand for full regional autonomy, a long-standing demand of the Bengalis. But were the six points a  repudiation of the Islamic bond that allegedly bound the two wings 198


together, as held by some West Pakistanis? How did Bengalis respond to allegations that the six points would spell the end of Pakistan? Scholars of the subsequent founding of Bangladesh have examined the economic disparity that characterized the quasi-colonial status of East Pakistan, India’s role in the breakup of Pakistan, and the violent character of the nine-month war.2 They have grappled with the persistent conundrum at the heart of Bangladeshi identity and politics: Are they Bengalis first or Muslims first?3 I offer a different perspective: My point of departure is to trace the shifts in ideology that marked East Pakistan’s gradual disengagement from West Pakistan. I ask how East Pakistanis engaged with the rhetoric of Islamic brotherhood, which was the staple of West Pakistani elite speech. How did Bengali Muslims relate to the Hindus still in their midst, even as they continually migrated westward to West Bengal and beyond? How did secularism—an ideology associated with the Awami League—evolve in this deeply religious land? What did it mean to be both Muslim and secular in newly independent Bangladesh? This chapter begins with a discussion of the contingent nature of politics in East Bengal at the time of the 1947 partition. The way East Bengal broke away from its western half, even as some spokespersons of the Muslim League proposed a united, independent Bengal, forms an important backdrop to subsequent political negotiations. Their invocations—to the ideal of a singular Pakistan, or the ideal of sovereign “states” proclaimed in the Lahore Resolution of 1940—would echo in the proposals put forward by subsequent generations of East Bengali politicians, until the eve of the war of 1971. An examination of the politics of the newly formed Awami (Muslim) League also reveals the longer-term concerns of the younger and more progressive wing of the once-invincible Muslim League, whose popularity had plunged by the time of the elections of 1954. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other Awami Leaguers’ fiery interventions in the Constituent Assembly in 1955–1956 discussed in Chapter  3 demonstrate how these Muslims tackled the bait of “Islam in danger” that was constantly deployed against them by West Pakistani elites. The Awami Leaguers argued that the Constitution being drafted was putting forward blatantly un-Islamic practices and laws in the name of Islam. There were also strong voices that shifted in support of the military junta in West Pakistan: this included the erstwhile advocate of a united Independent Bengal, Abul Hashim. His book, Integration of Pakistan, published after the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, makes a


fervent appeal for leaving well behind the autonomy promised in the Lahore Resolution, and for the Islamization of all aspects of state and society. One refrain that emerges in campaign manifestos from the 1950s until 1971 is obeisance to “the fundamental principles of the Holy Quran and the Sunna.” This statement of affirmation was a constant: it remained agreeable to the Awami League even when it was included by Yahya Khan in one of the five fundamental and non-negotiable principles for the future Constitution of Pakistan. Nor did the Awami League shy away from alliances with religious parties: statement after statement protesting police firings and atrocities in the 1960s shows the Awami Leaguers placing their signatures besides those of leaders of religious parties. Tellingly, the public oath taken by elected members of the National Assembly, on the Awami League party ticket, on January 3, 1971, began “In the name of Allah.” However, when the war began, Pakistani army propaganda repeatedly accused the Bengalis not only of putting the unity of Pakistan in jeopardy, but of putting Islam in danger. Bengali Islam, they held, was not real Islam. The 1971 war sharpened the edge of the Awami League’s critique of Islam’s misuse in the name of an Islamic state. As refugees poured into India and revealed the Pakistan army’s targeting of Hindus as Indian agents who were accused of masterminding the split between the two wings of Pakistan, and the continued vilification of Bengali Muslims as not “real Muslims,” Tajuddin Ahmad, the prime-minister-in-exile, formulated secularism as one of the governing principles of the new state. This secularism was not part of the six points; this secularism was forged in the crucible of conflict. Yet it was not entirely new: it stemmed from East Bengal’s experience of West Pakistani misrule, which included the repeated use of the rhetoric of Islam to stigmatize all opposition as anti-Islamic. Pakistan’s Constitution of 1973 was, in terms of its stated ideology, no different from the Constitution of 1956. Although the Preamble now proclaimed that sovereignty belonged to Allah alone, and chosen representatives of the people could only act within the limits prescribed by Him, the overarching commitment to Islam and the rule that the head of state would be Muslim was not new. However, even as the state professed its commitment to “Islamic socialism,” there was strong support among Pakistanis for an emphatically secular sensibility. This is evident in the reception of Sindhi writer Amar Jaleel’s short story Sard lash jo sufaru (Travel of a cold corpse) for its empathetic portrayal of anti-Hindu violence during the


Kandhkot riot of 1972. But this tide in favor of a secularism that centered the concerns of religious minorities in Sindh was coeval with rising support to label Ahmadis “non-Muslim.” I study the consequences of this exclusion by considering the blasphemy laws instituted at the time of General Ziaul-Huq, and their effects even on a model Pakistani such as the scholar-activist Akhtar Hameed Khan. In Bangladesh, too, religious parties resurged under the patronage of military leaders. As a consequence, the state ideology of secularism as equal respect was abandoned for state sponsorship of an official Islam. In the ensuing decades, the space for Hindu minorities has diminshed, and the appetite for critical scrutiny of their predicament, as with the ban on Taslima Nasrin’s Lajja, has weakened. But the path to this insular treatment of religious minorities was first elaborated upon in East Pakistan by Abul Hashim. We turn to his chequered career to situate this project of Islamization.

East Bengal’s Way In his memoirs In Retrospection, Abul Hashim provides us with a vivid description of the scene where the popular leader Fazlul Huq walked up to a richly decorated dais and moved the 1940 Lahore Resolution to shouts of “Sher-e-Bangla Zindabad” (Long live the Bengal tiger).4 Further along, Hashim provides the text of the tentative agreement he reached with Congressman Sarat Chandra Bose, which strove to keep Bengal united and free, with a legislature based on joint electorates and reservation of seats proportional to the population of Hindus and Muslims.5 Why did some Bengali Muslims, who campaigned tirelessly in support of “Pakistan” in the elections of 1946, favor a united and independent Bengal on the eve of independence? More crucially, why did those who voted for “Pakistan” in 1946, finally cast their vote, in the general elections of 1970, for the six points, which demanded full regional autonomy? Abul Hashim, elected general secretary of the East Pakistan Muslim League in 1943, and organizer par excellence, was responsible for inspiring a young generation of progressive, left-oriented Bengali Muslims into joining what had been an elite, feudal political party—the All India Muslim League. In his memoirs, In Retrospection, Hashim details the opposition he faced from within the ranks of the old-style elite Muslim Leaguers. The factional intrigues and infighting often included physical violence. Even as


he analyzes the shifting politics of former Bengal chief ministers Fazlul Huq and Suhrawardy and their seeming inability to ally themselves with a political party or an enduring ideology, he is careful to trace his own political affiliations in the shifting deltaic sands of Bengal politics, and his abiding loyalty to Islam alongside a more fleeting interest in communism. Hashim also carefully distinguishes between the Lahore Resolution of March  1940, which was adopted as the “creed of the All India Muslim League” in Madras in 1941, from the changes wrought to this “creed” in 1946. According to Hashim, the elections of February 1946, widely believed to be a referendum on “Pakistan,” were based on the Muslims’ understanding of Pakistan as it emerged from the Lahore Resolution of March 1940. This was manifestly the case in East Bengal, where the Muslim League won a massive victory at the polls, and where Hashim was himself campaigning in several districts. His methods and organizational skills resulted in more than half a million young Muslims joining the Muslim League in 1944 alone.6 Not only did Hashim hold nightly lessons for young student Leaguers, including the young Mujibur Rahman; he also formulated their talking points and taught them his “grammar of political warfare,” urging them to be tolerant of others’ views and “to place before the people positively the soundness of their own views in inoffensive language,” even to their political opponents.7 Hashim explains his stance, and presumably some Bengali Muslims’ interpretation of the Lahore Resolution at this time: The Lahore Resolution was the basis of our movement for carving out of India, independent and sovereign states as homelands for the Muslims of India. It did not contemplate creation of a single Pakistan State but it contemplated two independent sovereign States as homelands for the Muslims of India. One in North-West India consisting of the Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, North West Frontier Province and Kashmir and the other in North-East India consisting of Bengal and Assam. In the Lahore Resolution I saw my complete independence as a Muslim and as a Bengali and for this I supported the movement based on Lahore Resolution of 1940. Mr. Jinnah preached the two-nation theory and this was the burden of his song. I never believed in Mr. Jinnah’s two-nation theory and I never preached this in Bengal. I preached the multi-nation theory. I maintain that India is a sub-continent and not a country. India consists of many


countries and many nations. . . . Muslim League which represented the Muslims of India demanded homelands for the Muslims in countries of India which were already known to the world as Muslim dominated countries. . . . The Muslim League did not contemplate partition of any country of India or partition of the Punjab or of the Punjabis and partition of Bengal or of the Bengalis. Thus there was nothing communal in the Lahore Resolution of 1940.8

Here, Hashim categorically repudiates the standard interpretation that regards the Lahore Resolution as an embodiment of the two-nation theory. He says that he endorsed the resolution because it “contemplated two independent sovereign States as homelands” for India’s Muslims. He saw “nothing communal” in this demand. To make his point clear, Hisham recalls addressing public meetings, in his capacity as elected general secretary of the East Bengal Muslim League, where he declared that “the Muslim League . . . stood for the safeguarding of the rights and privileges of all irrespective of caste, creed and political opinion.”9 As “a zealous missionary of Islam,” Hashim also held it his duty to preach the “social, political, economic and cultural fundamentals of Islam and how they were implemented in individual and collective life under the leadership of the holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and the Caliphate of Islam.” However, contrary to the claims made in the quote above, Hashim does speak in favor of “partition” a few months later. He recalls having said, while hoisting the flag on July 16, 1944, at a Muslim League conference in Rangpur, “Partition of India as visualised in the Lahore Resolution of 1940, is the only democratic solution of the political problems of India.” Even so, a few weeks later, on the eve of the Gandhi-Jinnah talks, Hashim proclaimed that an agreement between the two leaders would receive the spontaneous support of Hindus and Muslims across India.10 He was flexible, amenable to negotiations, so much so that his opponents within the League characterized his approach to politics as “weakness for the Communists and the Hindus.”11 Perhaps Hashim’s opponents were emboldened by his openness to communists; after all, it was the young Nikhil Chakravarty ( later editor of the leading Indian weekly, Mainstream) who helped Hashim draft a manifesto for the Muslim League. To his opponents, Hashim argued that he preached the egalitarian Islam of Medina, not the “perverted” Islam of Baghdad that


he alleged was preached by the orthodox schools of Islam in India. Be that as it may, Hashim’s open espousal of peasant proprietorship and collective farming, and the abolition of rent-receiving interests in land, was expectedly unwelcome to the established feudal elite of the Muslim League. During the general election campaign of 1945–1946, Hashim continually held that the Lahore Resolution contemplated neither one divided Pakistan State nor the “partition of Bengal or of the Bengalis and the partition of the Punjab or of the Punjabis.”12 Weeks later, after the election results showed the massive Muslim League win in Bengal, and less spectacular League victories elsewhere, Muslim League members of the central and provincial legislatures met for a convention at the Anglo Arabic College in Delhi. Something of Hashim’s distinctive personality emerges at the Muslim League convention when he challenges Jinnah on his interpretation of the Lahore Resolution. According to Hashim’s recollection from the 1970s: Earlier in the subjects committee of the convention, Mr. Jinnah placed a resolution demanding one Pakistan state. I rose on a point of order. Mr. Jinnah asked, “Moulana Saheb, what is your point of order?” I said, “Your resolution is void and ultra vires.” Mr. Jinnah said “Why why?” I said, “The Lahore Resolution of 1940 was accepted by the All India Muslim League in its Madras session of 1941 as the creed of the All India Muslim League. The Lahore Resolution of 1940 does not contemplate one Pakistan state but it contemplates two independent and sovereign Pakistan states and homelands for the Muslims of India. The convention of the Muslim League legislatures is not competent to alter or modify the contents of the Lahore Resolution of 1940, which is now accepted as the creed of the Muslim League.” Mr. Jinnah said, “I see, the Moulana Saheb is banking upon the plural ‘s’ which is an obvious printing mistake. I requested Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, General Secretary of the India Muslim League to produce the original minute-book. The Nawabzada produced it and in it Mr Jinnah saw under his own signature the plural “s.” Nawabzada Liaquat Ali said, “Qaid-e-Azam we have lost our case.” Addressing me, Mr. Jinnah said, “Moulana Saheb, I do not want one Pakistan state but I want one Constituent Assembly for the Muslims of India. Can you amend my resolution in a manner which


may serve my purpose without offending the Lahore Resolution.” I said, “Well then, cut out the adjective ‘one’ and put the indefinite article ‘a’ so that your resolution may be, “Our object is to have a Pakistan state in North West India and in North East India consisting of Bengal and Assam.” Mr. Jinnah agreed.13

Here Hashim appears to have helped Jinnah out of a sticky situation. This is a remarkable, if uncorroborated, account of Jinnah’s real intentions—not one Pakistan state but one Constituent Assembly for the Muslims of India. However, a year later the same Hashim joined hands with Bengal’s then prime minister Suhrawardy to propose an undivided and independent Bengal. It is these twists and turns in Bengali Muslim politics that have led scholars such as Rounaq Jahan to note that some prominent Bengal Muslim Leaguers disagreed with other Muslim Leaguers about “the nature of Pakistan—whether there should be one, two or more than two Pakistans.”14 She therefore concludes that the nationalist movement did not serve as a “firm integrative bond” between the two wings.15 Yet the memory of this attempt at keeping Bengal unified was never fully erased; neither, paradoxically, was Bengal’s strong support for the Lahore Resolution.16

Integration or Autonomy in 1966? Hashim’s posthumously published autobiographical account of the Lahore Resolution’s promise of “two independent and sovereign Pakistan states” is at some variance with his vision for Pakistan under Ayub Khan. Writing his Integration of Pakistan in 1966, Abul Hashim argued that there were two kinds of nations—those that are “biologically” integrated, such as the Germans, the French, Marathas, and Punjabees, and those that are “ideologically” integrated, such as Muslims and Communists. Pakistan, he affirms, is an ideological nation; the Muslims of the subcontinent constitute a brotherhood based on a common ideology, that of Islam. In Integration, Hashim argued that the Lahore Resolution of 1940, which spoke of two autonomous states, was now dead; to refer to it is “a political camouflage for the liquidation of Pakistan.”17 In this text, Hashim examined the founding of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League to argue that the Congress was always pro-British, and the Muslim League was always nationalist. He quoted from select publications such as the Bengali litterateur


Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s famous Bengali novel Anandamath (1870) to argue that, for the Hindus, the “annihilation of Muslims was a necessary prerequisite to achievement of freedom.”18 Moving forward, Hashim praised the regime of Ayub Khan for setting up the Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology (of which he was a member), the Central Institute of Islamic Research, and the Islamic Academy of Dacca (which he directed), and for trying to alleviate Bengal’s sense of being neglected. Hashim now urged that Islamization of Pakistan proceed in a comprehensive manner. A strong believer in the power of propaganda, Hashim held that parties that had no faith in Islam ought to be eliminated by the pressure of public opinion. Indoctrination of the peoples and of all the machineries and institutions of the state is necessary. It is unthinkable that one who does not believe in Communism or is inimical to it may have any responsible position in a Communist state and society. So it must be in an Islamic state. . . . A party with a clearly defined ideology and picture of the future society of Pakistan must organize itself and through the medium of all available instruments of propaganda—press, platform, literature, remove all chaos and confusion and educate the masses and make them politically conscious.19

Hashim’s emphasis on the indoctrination of Muslims rested on a particular interpretation of recent political history that was at odds with the history presented in his autobiography, published after the war, in 1974. But in Integration of Pakistan, there is little consideration for those who are not Muslim. The stress on integration also fit well with Ayub Khan’s new broadcasting policy for Radio Pakistan after the seventeen-day war with India. According to this policy, Radio Pakistan, whose propaganda during the war was deemed to have been excellent, would produce programming on the teachings of the Holy Quran. The radio was encouraged to promote the “ideology of Pakistan and of Islam as a dynamic, living force which rejected and denounced divisiveness” in keeping with the “new national awakening.”20 In 1967 this entailed not broadcasting any Tagore songs that were opposed to the ideals of Pakistan.21 Although Hashim, along with other Bengali writers and artists, resolutely opposed the Ayub Khan regime’s assault on the writings of Rabindranath Tagore a year after he wrote Integration, the influence of his overarching political narrative of deliberate Hindu persecution of Muslims


lingered. It was developed during the 1971 war with Radio Pakistan regurgitating some of Hashim’s ideas, although Hashim himself refused to record lectures for the radio during the war.22

the Awami League articulated its Six-Point Program. Many of its demands were hardly new. Briefly, the demands were for a federal parliamentary form of government; the center to administer only defense and foreign affairs; the center’s budget to be financed by levies on the state government and not by direct taxes on the public; states to have independent monetary policy to prevent transfer of capital to West Pakistan; foreign trade to be a state subject that would be subject to central policy; and states to have the power to raise paramilitary forces.23 All six points had been the subject of intense debate during the drafting of the first Constitution. They now re-emerged with the clarity that came from the penmanship of half a dozen economists, all of whom had been working with the general secretary Tajuddin Ahmad and other Awami Leaguers to formulate the points in a manner that would be accessible to the lay Bangladeshi.24 Through the late 1960s, economists from East Bengal made wellsubstantiated arguments for their wing to have full regional autonomy, including control over the terms of foreign trade. Professor Anisur Rahman, an economist at the University of Islamabad, accused the Planning Commission of having grossly underestimated per capita income disparity between East and West Pakistan, and having “systematically manipulated” East Pakistan’s agricultural production figures under “official directives to ‘make’ it self-sufficient in food grains by 1970.”25 The six points were seen as the only way to enable East Pakistanis to develop on equal, though not necessarily independent, terms as the West Pakistanis. But would the West Pakistani elite listen? In an interview conducted in 2018, Kamal Hossain, key legal adviser to the Awami League in the late 1960s and first law minister of independent Bangladesh, shared a telling anecdote of his meeting with Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, former prime minister and finance minister, “their economic expert”: ALSO, IN EARLY 1966,

By the 1960s somehow the religious issue had become less important though in a way it remained important for the Punjabi minority who


wanted to keep on appropriating the larger share of resources. I remember in the late 60s when I was entrusted with a brief to take to Chaudhri Mohammad Ali former Finance Minister, their economic expert. Go to him and say look, these are the figures, disparities, and we’ve set up an economists’ committee to prepare a brief to see how you could take corrective action. Could you suggest economists from the western side who could sit down and negotiate and . . . that was when I realized this instrumental use. . . . He said, “Brother Kamal, why do you talk of economics? I don’t have any economist. You and I are Muslim brothers, and this issue can be dealt with on that basis.” So, I stood up and I said, “No, I’m sorry, you misunderstand me. I don’t think this issue is a religious issue. It’s an issue of distribution of resources and working out means of doing so.” Then it became very clear to me how religion was being used crudely, in an instrumental way. . . . For me, that was a turning point in . . . you know, you could have a negotiated settlement. Because we were very sincere in the homework we had done. I went there with a huge file.26

Hossain also noted in an oral history recorded for the Bangladesh Freedom War Documents series that the crux of the matter lay in the terms of foreign trade: the Punjabi elite knew they had benefited from the lopsided terms of trade and were in no mood to relinquish these.27 To be sure, the Awami League did oppose communalism and the misuse of Islam by West Pakistani elites, but neither Islam nor secularism were mentioned in the Six-Point Program. Religion was not one of the six sticking points, the ultimate, non-negotiable demands, on the acceptance of which alone lay the possibility of a continued, independent, united Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib traced the first point, viz., a federal parliamentary form of government, to the struggle to create Pakistan. He called those opposed to the Lahore Resolution “opportunists and job-hunters” who had no regard for the “sanctity” of the historic Lahore Resolution. “Even amongst those who swear by the Pakistan Resolution, there are some pseudo-federalists [who] disregard it by speaking against the very fundamental principle of Federation.”28 He reminded his readers that during the 1954 Bengal elections, people had voted overwhelmingly for a Constitution based on the


Lahore Resolution. This was a reference to point 19 of the United Front’s 21-point manifesto, which explicitly called for “full autonomy”; thus, federalism was not a new demand of the Awami League, a key constituent of the United Front. If it were necessary to “deviate” from the resolution for the sake of the “stability and integrity of Pakistan,” it was for the people to decide. Mujib was more than willing to face another referendum on the issue. The idea that the Lahore Resolution of 1940 contemplated—that the Muslim-majority provinces would be constituted into two sovereign and autonomous states—had never been fully erased. It was, according to Kamal Hossain, “deliberately obscured in the twenty-four years following the partition of India in 1947, when those who took it upon themselves to impose a Constitution for Pakistan stood things on their head by thinking in terms of grants of power to the provinces, and not of ‘sovereign,’ constituent units granting powers to any federal government that may be established by common agreement.” For Hossain, the use of the word “sovereign” for the constituent units of Pakistan in the Lahore Resolution meant that any association between the units had to be based on an agreement that was arrived at “freely and voluntarily.” A true federation could only be built on “common consent.”29 This was how Hossain elucidated the first of the six points to a Punjabidominated expert committee appointed by Ayub Khan in 1966. This “ruling minority,” to use Hossain’s pointed phrase, was in no mood to entertain Mujib’s talk of a referendum on the issue of federalism or autonomy. They did not even want a discussion of the six points at the Round Table Conference (RTC) hosted by president Ayub Khan three years later in 1969, arguing that the RTC was “not competent” to discuss these questions. One of the members of Ayub Khan’s expert committee, former prime minister Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, disingenuously declared that everyone knew what “federal” meant and in any case, the meaning could be looked up in the Oxford Dictionary!30 Despite these provocations, those negotiating on behalf of the Awami League adhered to constitutional arguments. East Bengal’s reading of a “true” federal arrangement stemmed from well-known confusions pertaining to the Lahore Resolution. Pakistan’s very foundation, its Magna Carta, had always been interpreted variously: the Bengalis’ charges of betrayal of the promise of two autonomous states had been met with explanations ranging from printing errors to avoidance to deliberate obfuscation


by the ruling Punjabi elite. But another oft-used weapon in the armory of the Punjabi elite, as seen in the Assembly debates of 1956 and in the recollections of Kamal Hossain, was religion. The years succeeding the announcement of the Six-Point program saw Awami League leaders clamped in jail, on and off, and huge strikes and demonstrations across both wings of Pakistan.31 In the west, Bhutto challenged his erstwhile leader Ayub Khan and gained traction among sections of the army, while Sindh, Baluchistan, and NWFP protested against the One Unit; in the east the National Awami Party, led by Maulana Bhashani, inched back toward the Awami League while the Jamaat-e-Islami supported the military regime. Massive, unending student-led strikes and demonstrations finally compelled the three service chiefs to tell Ayub Khan that he had to relinquish power; at the end of a failed Round Table Conference in March 1969, Ayub Khan made a unilateral award. Kamal Hossain, who was part of the protracted negotiations, observed that the Punjabi leaders— Moulana Maudoodi, Mumtaz Daulatana, and Chaudhri Mohammad Ali—had formed a clique, refusing to discuss the six points, whereas the Pathan and Baluchi leaders were willing to support the Six-Point Program in return for the Awami League’s support for dissolution of One Unit. In Hossain’s recollection: Ayub sought to justify his inability to deal with the question of regional autonomy and “one unit” on the ground that these were fundamental questions which could only be considered by elected representatives. Subsequent events were to prove that the position taken was purely tactical since when 21 months later a body of elected representatives was ultimately constituted, the same Punjabi leaders took up the position that these questions were too “fundamental” to be dealt with by that body and should be resolved outside in a RTC.32

Back in Dhaka, Mujib felt vindicated in rejecting the award: he was greeted with spontaneous demonstrations, denunciations of Ayub, and pledges of support for the six-point demands.

THE NEW MILITARY RULER and president, Yahya Khan, sought to avert the demonstrations that had dislodged Ayub Khan by committing to a transfer


of power to elected representatives following a nationwide general election. He also appeared responsive to the protestors’ demands when he agreed to dissolve the One Unit in West Pakistan, and to allow for the principle of one man, one vote, thus giving to the Bengali wing their numerical superiority in the coming National Assembly. This, according to Hossain, preempted the possibility of the anti– One Unit forces in West Pakistan joining hands with the Bengalis. However, Yahya was also taking a risk by giving Bengalis a potential majority in the Assembly. He did so with the absolute conviction that the Bengalis would never be able to unite; but he also hedged his bets with carefully crafted articles in a new Legal Framework Order (LFO).33 The LFO of March  1970 was itself a mini-constitution: among its five fundamental principles, to which every political party contesting the election had to agree, was adherence to “Islamic ideology, which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan.” The fourth of the five principles gave “maximum autonomy, that is to say maximum legislative, administrative and financial powers” to the provinces but also endowed the federal government with “adequate powers including legislative, administrative and financial powers.” The balance between maximum powers to the federal government and adequate powers to the provinces remained to be negotiated.34 Article  21 declared that the future Constitution would have a preamble that included the “enabling clause.”35 The Awami League, consistent with its prior politics, accepted this condition and incorporated it in its election manifesto. They also accepted the fundamental principle of “the independence, the territorial integrity and national solidarity” of Pakistan. However, they objected to Article 25 of the LFO, which gave the president veto power over any Constitution that might emerge from the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly; they declared any restriction on the actions of the Assembly, which they held to be “sovereign,” as “illegitimate and invalid.”36

The Elections of 1970 Campaigning along party lines commenced in January 1970 with Tajuddin Ahmad, the organizational machine behind the charismatic Mujibur Rahman, declaring that “the pious Muslims of Bengal will break the conspiracy of fatwabaaj-es.”37 This referred to the fatwas of the Jamaat-i-Islami that called Muslims who voted for the Awami League their preferred choice


of abuse: kafirs. In every rally, Awami Leaguers repudiated the Jamaatis’ accusation that they posed a threat to Islam. Explaining the Six-Point Program and the growing disparity between the two wings, Mujib reiterated: “The six points will be realized and Pakistan shall also stay.”38 When it was time for each party to address Pakistanis over the radio and television, Mujib repeated his party’s stance, which had been consistent for more than a decade: “I must repudiate once and for all the false propaganda that Islam is endangered by the six-point formula or our economic programme. Nothing which promotes justice between region and region and man and man can be opposed to Islam. We have affirmed our commitment to the constitutional principle that no law should be enacted or imposed in Pakistan which is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as contained in the Holy Quran and Sunna.”39 The 1970 elections were seen as a referendum on the six points, just as the 1946 elections had been a referendum on “Pakistan.”40 Only a month before the election, Cyclone and Tidal Bore Bhola ripped through the coastal areas of the Chittagong, Barisal, Patuakhali, Noakhali, and Khulna districts, causing unprecedented damage and the loss of about 500,000 lives. The Pakistani government, despite having advance information available through weather satellites, did not warn the residents of these districts, and nonchalantly estimated the damage at about fifty lives.41 This unbridgeable gap, even in the counting of lives lost, spoke to the abyss between the two wings of Pakistan. When Mujib’s Awami League subsequently swept through the elections, winning 167 out of 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan in the National Assembly, something palpable had shifted. The terms of the debate became crystal clear, just as leaves sparkle after a good downpour: The Awami League’s six points had won the heart of the Bengalis of East Pakistan. Contrary to the calculations of Pakistani intelligence officials, one party had emerged with a clear majority not only in East Pakistan, but in all of Pakistan. Mujib staked his claim to form the government with ceremony: At the Dhaka Race Course on January  3, 1971, he stood on a 120-foot-long dais designed as a boat, the election symbol of the Awami League, and hoisted the sail of the boat, a green map of East Pakistan, with the words “Joy Bangla” (Victory to Bengal).42 All 418 Awami League members of the National Assembly and the Provincial Assembly took a public oath:


In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Almighty; In the name of the brave martyrs and fighters who heralded our initial victory by laying down their lives and undergoing the utmost hardship and repression; In the name of the peasants, workers, students, toiling masses and the people of all classes of this country; We, the newly-elected members of the National and Provincial Assemblies do hereby take oath that we shall remain wholeheartedly faithful to the people’s mandate on the Six Points and the eleven-point programme.43

To his million-strong audience, Mujib noted how the “holy name of Islam was sold for political purposes” in the recent elections, but to no avail.44 He recalled the second-class treatment they had received because they spoke Bengali and the accusation that the Awami League were “Hindu agents.” Hereafter, he promised, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists would enjoy equal rights with Muslims, and women would be assured of their equal share. The Six-Point Program was the property of the people of Pakistan and was not negotiable. But the Awami League had won no seats in West Pakistan, and the leading political party in the west, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), had won no seats in the east. To the astonishment of the Awami League contingent sent to Karachi, both president Yahya Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, chairman of the PPP, claimed to be oblivious of the details of the six points.45 Bhutto asked for time to “canvass public opinion” on this program.46 In an unprecedented show of unity, all the other minority parties of West Pakistan, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, the National Awami Party (Wali Khan group), the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Islam, the Pakistan Democratic Party, the Council, and the Convention Muslim Leagues came out in support of the Awami League. When Bhutto suggested at a public meeting in Nishtar Park Karachi on March 14, 1971, that the majority party in each wing rule their respective wings (his famous “hum yahān, tum wahān”), leaders of every minority party (except for the Qayyum faction) in West Pakistan demurred.47 They affirmed that such a transfer of power would be contrary to democratic principles and would spell the disintegration of Pakistan. After Yahya


Khan, by way of a staccato, cold announcement, read by a radio announcer, postponed the very long-awaited inaugural session of the National Assembly that was scheduled to meet on March 3, 1971, several of these leaders flew down to Dacca to meet with Mujibur Rehman. They finally grasped what was at stake: it was nothing less than the unity of Pakistan.48 The postponement of the convening of the National Assembly led to a spontaneous outpouring of anger on the streets. Ataus Samad captured the mood in this article for Holiday, in its last issue before the war: People felt themselves cheated of an opportunity that was coming their way for emancipating themselves from the shackles of an oppressive central rule dominated by exploiters, and they wanted to show just how they felt. When curfew was imposed on March 2, they felt repression was beginning once again and they revolted. They defied the curfew and braved the bullets. They did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives. . . . [N]ow the people want to know what the term “emancipation,” being used by the Awami League leaders, means in the present context . . . people have virtually handed over civil authority to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Even the State Bank of Pakistan had to do his bidding. Now the people will wait and see what he does next. A gap between the people’s expectation and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s actions might prove disastrous.49

Contemporary journalistic accounts attest to strong sentiments in favor of complete independence. But no postcolonial subnational unit had succeeded thus far in transforming a momentum for secession into a demand for complete independence. What would it mean for the Awami League to declare complete independence? Would it unleash a bloodbath? Was Mujibur Rahman trying to avoid the violence that seemed increasingly inevitable? To the mammoth gathering that came to hear the Awami League leader’s plan of action, at the Race Course Road on March  7, 1971, Mujib recounted the history of the last twenty-three years as “the history of the dying cries of the people of Bangladesh, the history of pathetic bloodshed and the history of misery of oppressed people.” He faulted Bhutto, the leader of a “minority party,” for interfering with the convening of a National Assembly, and issuing threats to members who tried to join the Assembly from West Pakistan.50 Mujib referred with pride to the peaceful hartal that had followed his call for noncooperation, and with horror to the arms unleashed


against the civilian population the previous week. He asked his people to “be careful of one thing.” The enemy was “trying to create differences” among them. Mujib emphasized that “the seventy-five million people—Hindu, Muslim or Bengalee, non-Bengalee—all are our brothers. It is our duty to protect them.” He concluded by asking the people to form revolutionary councils in every village, ward, and union under the leadership of the Awami League and to prepare themselves with “whatever you have.”51 That the Leaguers at the helm were keeping their options open emerges from the narrative of Kamal Hossain, who recalled Mujib’s request to him to draft a unilateral declaration of independence in February 1971. Inexplicably, on-the-ground reports of the collection of arms as well as the inside information passed on by sympathetic West Pakistani leaders such as Air Marshall Noor Khan of an impending military crackdown, were ignored or belittled.52 Perceptive observers such as the economist Anisur Rahman, who learned of the everyday details of the negotiations between Yahya and Mujib’s legal teams in the middle of March 1971, were afraid that the army was buying time to launch a crackdown.53 Later, in exile, Tajuddin Ahmad would classify Yahya’s “most conciliatory posture” in the talks as part of a “strategy of deception” and note that at no stage did the talks on an interim Constitution break down.54 Crucially, although negotiations between Yahya’s and Mujib’s team ranged on details relating to the six points, they did not include any discussion on the Islamic nature of the Constitution.55 It was the 1971 war, fought in the name of Islam, that would foreground the Awami League’s aversion to the state’s misuse of religion.

The Way of the War Five decades after 1971, we have plenty of evidence of the brutality of the Pakistan army between March and December, the duration of the war. General A. A. K. Niazi, who led the Eastern Command of the Pakistan Army, would write, “On the night between 25%/%26 March  1971, General Tikka struck. Peaceful night was turned into a time of wailing, crying, and burning. General Tikka let loose everything at his disposal as if raiding an enemy, not dealing with his own misguided and misled people. The military action was a display of stark cruelty, more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Changez Khan and Halaku Khan, or at Jallianwala Bagh by the British General Dyer.”56


Bangladeshi leaders in exile, such as prime minister Tajuddin Ahmad, saw the atrocities committed on the night of March 25 as marking a point of no return in the struggle for total independence: Pakistan is now dead and buried under a mountain of corpses. . . . By resorting to pre-planned genocide Yahya must have known that he was himself digging Pakistan’s grave. . . . Professional soldiers, on orders, violated their code of military honour and were seen as beasts of prey who indulged in an orgy of murder, rape, loot, arson and destruction unequalled in the annals of civilization. These acts indicate that the concept of two countries is already deeply rooted in the minds of Yahya and his associates, who would not dare commit such atrocities on their own countrymen.57

Ahmad was joined in this belief by Indian parliamentarians debating when to accord Bangladesh official recognition, but it is now amply clear that Pakistan did not view the situation in such terms.58 Even the judges in charge of the inquiry after the war pepper their report on events succeeding March 25 with remarks on the need for a political solution and a dialogue with the Awami League leadership that might preserve a united Pakistan. That ship, or Awami boat if you will, had sailed. The word “genocide” was used early; the eyewitness accounts of too many fleeing Bengalis, including Anisur Rahman, whose escape from his apartment in Dhaka University staff quarters was nothing short of miraculous, shows that the army was out to instill terror in the hearts of Bengalis. They had had enough of the Bengalis’ recent noncooperation and were now intent on showing them who was in charge. That appears to be the rationale behind General Tikka Khan’s henchmen, all professional soldiers, as they targeted Hindu and Muslim students in the hostels of Dhaka University, lining them up, shooting them at close range, and then ordering the next in line to dig up a grave for the dead bodies that were piling up.59 As the Pakistan army proceeded in its scorched-earth policy through the hot summer months, it became clear that there was some method to their madness: they were targeting all Bengali Hindus and Awami Leaguers.60 The Awami League, which had won 167 out of 169 seats in elections held months ago, was now banned by Yahya Khan. Radio Pakistan accused the Awami Leaguers of being “Hindu agents” under Indian influence, and of betraying their promise to preserve the territorial integrity of


Pakistan, one of the principles in Yahya’s LFO. This narrative of Awami League perfidy and Indian machinations is at the core of the explanation provided by official documents, such as the White Paper (August 1971) and the Hamoodur Rahman Report of 1973 (declassified in 2000), and in memoirs of Pakistani army officers such as A. A. K. Niazi and Rao Farman Ali.61 A closer look at debates in India through the summer of 1971, however, reveals that India was in no hurry to grant Bangladesh official recognition, and wished to avoid a full-fledged war with Pakistan.62 Early on, the Pakistan army decided to run with the propaganda that this was a war in the name of Islam. This was a shock, even to a people accustomed to the routine misuse of Islam by West Pakistani elites. The violence and brutality, combined with the rhetoric of Islam, was highlighted by Maulana Bhashani in a statement to the press: Yahya, who is a Muslim himself, in the name of religion is mercilessly killing lakhs of Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. His soldiers who say that they are Muslims are raping women, including Muslim women. Though Muslims themselves, they are destroying mosques. They kill Muslims who are offering prayers. What will the Muslim world do about this? Will they support the un-Islamic anti-humanity abominable policy of Yahya? Or will they support the cause of truth, justice and love as preached by Islam?63

Bhashani also addressed letters to world leaders, including U. Thant of the United Nations, Mao Tse-Tung, Brezhnev, Nixon, and Edward Heath. To Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Abdel Khalek Hassouna of the Arab League, Bhashani emphasized that a “travesty of Islam” was being perpetrated by West Pakistani soldiers. “The nature and volume of looting, arson, gangsterism, mass killings and molestation of women has to be seen to be believed . . . all these unspeakable acts have been perpetrated by a Muslim army on an overwhelmingly Muslim population.” The silence of the otherwise vocal Arab League on the “horrible events in Bangla Desh has caused disappointment and dismay.” He asked that its representatives visit Bangla Desh and get firsthand accounts of the violence being unleashed upon Bangladeshis.64 Two months later, as the brutalities continued, acting president Syed Nazrul Islam sent a similar set of telegrams to various members of the Islamic Conference at Jeddah. In these telegrams, he referred to the killings,


torture, “desecration of mosques, murders of Imams and the burning of the holy Koran”; he accused “the warlords of West Pakistan” of trying to “cover their guilt under the holy name of Islam.”65 Bangla Desh’s press attaché, Amjadul Huq&, who shifted his allegiance to the government of Bangla Desh during the course of the war, asked how Muslim girls could be “raped and butchered” by Muslim soldiers of West Pakistan in the name of Islam. He, too, asked that Muslim countries condemn these atrocities.66 The Muslim world appears to have been split in two. The West Pakistani elite had long accused the Awami League of not being Islamic enough, an accusation that only revealed their ignorance of Islam. But repeated often enough, it began to gain a certain amount of credence, especially among Arab leaders whose petrodollars, along with general support, were in high demand by West Pakistan. Leading the government in exile, Prime Minister Tajuddin sought to focus attention on the ongoing atrocities in an effort to stem Bangladesh’s isolation from the community of Muslim nations. But the burden of proof remained on the victims of a genocidal war. Tajuddin, in his capacity as minister in charge of information, broadcasting, and communications, rebutted Pakistani propaganda over Bangladesh Betar (Radio). We have asked all countries in the world to give us arms. All the Muslim and Arab brothers—those who have not criticized the genocide that is going on—I have a special request of you. The fact that Yahya Khan’s soldiers are fighting for Islam’s rights . . . this idea is an unfortunate distraction, [a lie]. He is using Islam to go against the wishes of the public and to stop people’s exercise of human rights. The Muslim countries who are quiet about our struggle are also quiet against the colonialism and barbarism against us.67

Tajuddin characterized the Bangladeshi struggle against “West Pakistanbased colonialism” to be analogous to the Arab struggle against the colonial rule of the Turks, who were also Muslim.68 The measured and clear pleadings of a host of Bangladeshi leaders in exile resonated across East Bengal as those who turned against Pakistan questioned their actions on the ground of a common religion. In the debates over the war in Matir Moina (The clay bird), a classic film set in East Bengal during the war, we see a maulvi preaching Pakistan’s position to


children in a madrasa. A dialogue between two teachers at the madrasa, Halim Miah and Ibrahim, goes to the heart of the crisis: Halim Miah: Can you separate Islam from politics? Now Pakistan’s unity is at stake. If Pakistan is torn apart, Islam will be weakened as well. Ibrahim: Halim Miah, tell me one thing. If Pakistan collapses, why would Islam be endangered? What makes you think that? Did Pakistan establish Islam or rather enforce military rule?69

In the Arab world, however, Pakistan’s propaganda machinery appeared to be winning. What’s more, Indian Muslims, too, were urging the government of India not to interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs.70 Tajuddin appointed an ambassador, Nurul Quadir, to visit with Indian Muslim leaders as well as Muslim leaders abroad to educate them about West Pakistani abuses and atrocities.71 At the same time, Indira Gandhi complained to US secretary of state Henry Kissinger that Pakistan made every issue into a clash between Hindus and Muslims: “Indophobia was clothed in the metaphysics of holy wars and the defence of Islam.” She suggested that if Pakistan really cared about Islam, it would consider the impact of its actions on India’s Muslims.72 It was this violence that led the Bangladeshi leadership to speak in terms of secularism. I asked Bangladesh’s first law minister, Kamal Hossain, who had been under arrest and in solitary confinement in West Pakistan for the duration of the war, when secularism became relevant to the Awami Leaguers. Hossain chaired the drafting committee of the Bangladesh Constituent Assembly, and would have, I thought, played a role in formulating its four founding principles: Nair: So when does secularism, dharma-nirappekhata, begin to figure as one of the four principles? Kamal Hossain: I think through the war of 1971 this gained salience. Because you know the whole assault on the nationalist demands of the Bengalis was then sought to be projected by the Pakistan army as a justification, almost as a holy war . . . you know, this secession is being promoted by Hindu India and therefore you know, we have to go and save Islam and Bengal and so on . . .


Nair: So it was mostly a counter-response to the army propaganda? Kamal Hossain: It was certainly a counter to the propaganda . . . and also because the issue was so strongly being projected by the army and . . . you know, the rationale for the kind of force they used, the genocide that they committed, and the way they sought to justify this also to the Arab world and so on . . . they were trying to do this to save Islam against its enemies. So they abased religion to that level.73

Hossain credited Tajuddin with the formulation of secularism. The documentary evidence reflects a slow but perceptible shift in emphasis. The April 10 proclamation of independence that was issued by the government in exile led by Tajuddin Ahmad constituted Bangladesh to be a “sovereign People’s Republic.”74 It mentioned neither Islam nor secularism. This was already in stark contrast to the Awami League leadership’s acceptance of Pakistan being known as the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” one of the five fundamental principles listed in Yahya’s LFO a year earlier.75 In continuation of the election campaign of early 1970, when Tajuddin had refuted allegations that the Awami League was opposed to Islam, he continued to emphasize nondiscrimination along lines of religion or class during the course of the war.76 One of the 18-point directives issued by Tajuddin on May  14, 1971, was: Dharma, dal, o srini nirbisheshe, jonogon Bangali hishebe oikkoboddho (Regardless of religion, party and class, the public will be united as Bengalis).77 Another directive warned the people against being betrayed by West Pakistani agents who were invoking religion and a united country to mislead the people. Tajuddin’s daughter and biographer, Sharmin Ahmad, writes that Tajuddin’s secularism was reflected in the policy that he adopted in the government-run Radio Independent Bangladesh, “Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra,” in exile. At his directive the radio station regularly broadcast recitations from the Quran, Gita, Tripitaka, and Bible.78 Similarly, A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman, Bangla Desh’s home minister in exile in India, envisaged a state where the values and teachings of Islam would be preserved alongside the teachings and values of other religions.79 As summer turned into monsoon, and the war threatened to become a slow-burning stalemate like what Vietnam had endured, the Bangladeshi leadership began to request official recognition with growing frequency.


In a letter to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Tajuddin wrote of reports of the “increasing brutality” of the ongoing policy of repression in the “vain hope of liquidating the leadership and reducing the majority of the Bengali-speaking people to a minority.” He spoke of the 9 million who were sheltering in India.80 Although his request for official recognition of Bangladesh went unanswered, Indira Gandhi embarked upon a tour of Western capitals to plead the cause of Bangladesh abroad. A month later, Tajuddin wrote again, detailing the accomplishments of the Bengali Mukti Bahini forces. India and Pakistan were now officially at war; Mukti Bahini forces and the Indian army were fully engaged together in gaining control over the territory they called Bangla Desh. Tajuddin explained the cascading effect that official recognition would have on the international community. He reminded her that India’s “eloquent advocacy and consistent stand in favor of the oppressed peoples of the world” had made it “the leading political force accelerating the process of decolonization.” He pointed to the proclamations of the People’s Republic of Bangla Desh as evidence of their shared ideals. We should like to reiterate here that what we have already proclaimed as the basic principles of our State policy, i.e. democracy, socialism, secularism and the establishment of an egalitarian society, where there would be no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or creed. In our foreign relations, we are determined to follow a policy of non-alignment, peaceful co-existence and opposition to colonialism, racialism and imperialism in all its forms and manifestations.81

As Indira Gandhi moved a resolution to accord Bangladesh official recognition on December 6, 1971, Pakistan had launched an attack on India’s western front. General Niazi recalled firing his battle-weary troops with “the spirit of jehad in order to raise their morale and battle efficiency.” In one of his last signals to commander-in-chief Yahya Khan, he wrote: “By the grace of Almighty Allah, the initial Bharti onslaught has been blunted. God willing, we will take the war on to Indian soil to finally crush the very spirit of the non-believers through the supreme force of Islam.”82 Indira Gandhi placed copies of letters from Tajuddin Ahmad and Syed Nazrul Islam, representing the government of Bangladesh, in front of her fellow parliamentarians. She quoted the lines above, on Bangladesh’s basic principles of


state policy, as evidence that both Bangladesh and India were dedicated to the same ideals. The same lines reappear in the joint communiqué that was issued at the end of the Bangladesh foreign minister’s visit to Delhi in early January 1972, after the war. Democracy, secularism, socialism, and opposition to racialism, apartheid, colonialism, and neo-colonialism in all its forms would join India and Bangladesh in an everlasting tie of friendship.83 Or so it seemed to those at the helm of the ship of state.

1971 and the Case for Secularism One of Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad’s first messages at a rally on the grounds of Jessore town hall on December 11, even before the war had formally concluded, was to prohibit religion-based politics in the new Bangladesh.84 Addressing civil servants in the Dhaka Secretariat a few days later, Tajuddin reaffirmed that there would be no room for politics in the name of religion. He went further in a meeting with a Buddhist delegation, saying that in the new Bangladesh, there would be “no religious minority.” The only “minority party” would be the one defeated in the general elections. He clarified that there would be no political organization in the country based on religion, and the state would not allow anybody to exploit the people in the name of religion.85 On the same day, acting president Syed Nazrul Islam addressed a gathering of Sikhs at a gurdwara in Bakshi Bazar in Dhaka and assured them of absolute religious freedom in the new state. Secularism meant that all religions would have full freedom; henceforth, “a gurdwara, a church, a mandir and a pagoda” would be treated as respectfully as a mosque; “imams, purohits, and fathers will respect each other and respect each other’s religion.” The age of intolerance, he pronounced, was over.86 Providing succor to religious minorities was the need of the hour, as they had witnessed terrible atrocities in the name of religion. Women were another constituency that had been targeted during the war: as the extent of mass rapes began to emerge, a new term was coined to acknowledge the sufferings of Bengali women—birangana, “war heroine.”87 In the midst of so much grief, the return of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who had been tried for treason in a Pakistani prison, proved to be a moment of collective joy for the new nation. Mujibur Rahman’s first act as


president was to issue the Provisional Constitution of Bangladesh Order, 1972; the first session of the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly met in April.88 By the end of the year, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh had been debated, ratified, and published.

Inside the Constituent Assembly The proceedings of the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh, the Bamladesa Ganoparishad, were reported in the press, with every amendment and debate analyzed meticulously in detail. Part II of the Constitution listed the fundamental principles of state policy to be nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism (%&jatiyotabad, samajtantra, ganotantra, and dharma nirappekhata). Article 8 of the Constitution declared that these principles would be applied by the state in the making of laws, a guide to the interpretation of the Constitution and other laws of Bangladesh, fundamental to the governance of Bangladesh, but would not be judicially enforceable. This gave them symbolic weight, along the lines of India’s directive principles of state policy. Article 12 defined secularism as the absence of— a) b)

Communalism in all its forms; The granting by the state of political status in favor of any religion;


The abuse of religion for political purposes;


Any discrimination against, or persecution of, persons practicing a particular religion.89

Secularism, thus defined, was the opposite of communalism or the misuse of religion in public and political life. It emerged organically, out of a longer struggle against the misuse of Islam, traced in the debates during the drafting of the 1956 Constitution discussed in Chapter 3. We have heard Mujibur Rahman, Tarkabagish, Suhrawardy, Abul Mansur Ahmad, and Zahiruddin protest the bluff of the Islamic provisions in the 1956 Constitution. In marked contrast to the 1956 and 1973 Constitutions of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh did not reserve the post of head of state to a Muslim. The Assembly debates were brief and hasty: there was much to prove and to fear as rumors of neo-imperialist conspiracies out to sabotage the


new nation abounded alongside Pakistan’s continuing refusal to accord Bangladesh formal recognition.90 Speaking against the motion to circulate the Constitution bill, Syed Nazrul Islam, now deputy leader of the Constituent Assembly, traced the history of Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation. In his narrative, the four fundamental principles were human rights. According to him, the Awami League accepted the ideals of secularism, referred to as dharma nirappekhata in Bengali (literally translated as religious neutrality), from the time that it had changed its name from the original Awami Muslim League.91 He went on to say that dharma nirappekhata had been promised during the elections of 1970. This was technically incorrect: the Awami League election manifesto had pledged to create an Islamic state; the six points said nothing on secularism. However, the struggle to establish a politics denuded of exploitation in the name of religion had indeed been a long one. Another Awami League member, Muhammad Zahirul Islam of Chittagong, invoked “Islam’s eternal teaching: My religion is mine, your religion is yours” (Islam dhormer chironton bani hocche: Amar dhormo amar jonno, tomor dhormo tomar jonno).92 This spirit of Islam was reflected in the principle of dharma nirappekhata. A few days later, Sheikh Abdur Rahman of Khulna reminded his fellow legislators that the Prophet Muhammad had said that there was to be no coercion toward any religion. Similarly, the Quran said la-kum dīnu-kum lay-yad-dīn—“ your religion is for you and my religion is for me.”93 Even Minister Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed, one of the thirty-four members of the Drafting Committee, whose role in the subsequent politics of Bangladesh was akin to that of Mir Jafar, the archetypical betrayer of close trust, rose to speak in favor of secularism, in support of freedom of religion to all, and against the misuse of religion in politics. Ahmed also said that the Constitution was not a bible; it could be amended and improved further, if necessary.94 It remained for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to end the debate with his exposition of the four principles of state policy. On secularism or dharma nirappekhata, Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman, the head of the new state, reiterated: Our secularism is not against religion. Muslims can practice their religion—the state has no power to stop them. Hindus can practice


their religion—no one has the power to stop them. Buddhists can practice their religion—no one has the power to stop them. Christians will practice their religion—no one can stop that. Our only qualm is using religion as a political weapon.

We have seen in 25  years, we have seen theft in the name of religion, misrule in the name of religion, betrayal in the name of religion, torture under the name of religion, murder in religion’s name and injustice under the name of religion—all has taken place in Bangladesh’s soil. Religion is a holy thing. Using religion as a political weapon will happen no more. Dharma nirappekhata mane dharma hinata noy. Musolmanra tader dharma palon korbe- tader badha deuar khomota ei rashtre karo nai. Hindu tader dharma palon korbe-tader badha deuar khomota ei rashtre karo nai. Bouddhora tader dharma palan korbe-tader keu badha dan korte parbe na. Chrishtanra tader dharma palon korbe-keu badha dite parbe na. Amader shudhu apotti holo ei je, dharma ke keu rajnoitik ostro hishabe bebohar korte parbe na. 25 bochor amra dekhechi, dharmer nam e juachuri, dharmer nam e shoshon, dharmer nam e beimani, dharmar nam e ottachar, dharmer nam e khun, dharmer nam e baebhichar- ei Bangladesh er matite e shob choleche. Dharma oti pobitro jinish. Pobitro dharmake rajnoitik hatiar hishabe bebohar kora cholbe na.95

The Constitution was passed by a voice vote, with the members resounding votes of haan (yes) and shouts of Joy Bangla (Victory to Bengal).

Fig 4.1 Bangladesh Constituent Assembly members raising their hands in prayer. Daily Ittefaq, November 5, 1972. Courtesy of Daily Ittefaq.


Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib concluded the session by asking Maulana Tarkabagish to recite a prayer from the Holy Quran.

strong following, as evinced in the general elections held in December 1970 before the war, and the gigantic crowds that greeted Mujib upon his return from prison in Pakistan, there was some opposition to the Constitution. The scholar Lailufar Yasmin records the chant Joy Bangla joy-heen, lungi chere dhuti pin on the streets of Dhaka on the day of the formal acceptance of the Constitution.96 The chant referred to the slogan of the Awami League, Joy Bangla (Victory to Bengalis), being without victory, joy-heen as those who wear lungis, ie., Muslims, would now be replaced by the dhuti-wearers, ie., the Hindus. It is extremely likely that the chant was in opposition not to Hindus per se, but to the influence of India, which had just signed the twenty-five-year Indo-Bangladesh Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which was perceived to be opposed to the interests of Bangladesh.97 Indians were also accused of profiting from cross-border smuggling at a time when Bangladesh was suffering from famine and food inflation. In a five-part essay on Indo-Bangladesh ties written for Holiday, Badruddin Umar, no fawning admirer of the Awami League, thought it unfortunate and entirely avoidable that calls to stop smuggling across the long IndoBangladesh border had degenerated into anti-Hindu bashing. He feared that communalism, no longer an issue because of the massive out-migration of Hindus and the Awami League’s fight against the misuse of Islam by West Pakistan through the 1950s, was poised to make a comeback, although he confidently asserted that such communal forces would inevitably retreat into the background.98 Enayetullah Khan, managing editor of Holiday, explained that secularism could not be achieved “only by shouting for it.” It could come about through “a process of social, economic struggle.” Khan worried over an increase in madrasa education, which he regarded as “breeding grounds of obscurantist and communal ideologies.” He called for the “institutionalized expression” of the fundamental principles.99 Even so, both Umar and Khan confidently declared that there was meager possibility for the resurgence of communalism. However, Maulana Bhashani, who had once been wary of changing Awami Muslim League’s name to Awami League, for fear of being accused DESPITE THE AWAMI LEAGUE’S


of doing it at the bidding of Hindus, now accused the Awami League of pandering to the dictates of India, Indira Gandhi, and Hindus. It mattered enormously that Mujib had announced the date for the next general elections, and alliance making, for the purpose of forging a tenable opposition to the popular Awami League, was in full steam with Bhashani at the head of a planned-for coalition of opposition parties.100

Bangladeshi Secularism Was “Not against Religion” Bangladesh’s adoption of the principle of secularism or religious neutrality did not go well with some Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Kamal Hossain, now appointed foreign minister, was deputed to secure membership for Bangladesh in the United Nations, and to procure official recognition from member countries, especially from Saudi Arabia, so that Bangladeshi Muslims could perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. In less than two years as foreign minister, Hossain was able to formulate a policy of nonalignment, secure UN membership on the basis of a unanimous resolution in the Security Council, and open a channel of communication with China that resulted in an invitation for a trade mission in early 1975.101 But he failed to secure official recognition from Saudi Arabia. In his memoirs Hossain details the complicated negotiations that led to Pakistan eventually agreeing to formally recognize Bangladesh, on the eve of the Islamic Summit in Lahore. Pakistan had been angling for a commitment that the 195 people who were going to be tried for war crimes be pardoned in the interest of reconciliation, whereas Bangladesh held that they had to be tried in the interests of justice. Eventually, it took a midnight delegation of ambassadors and officials from Kuwait, Senegal, Somalia, and Lebanon to work things such that Bangladesh was accorded formal recognition by Pakistan just in time to attend the opening ceremony of the Islamic Summit in Lahore. Hossain remembered the feeling of listening to the Bangladesh national anthem, in Pakistan: Our arrival in Lahore was, undoubtedly, a historic moment, charged with emotion. The flag of Bangladesh had been hoisted and, when the guard of honour was presented, the military band started to play Amar Sonar Bangla (Bangladesh’s national anthem). Since the shortened version which had been adapted for the national anthem


was not available in Pakistan, the band played the national anthem for nearly 20 minutes! The service chiefs of Pakistan, together with none other than General Tikka Khan, stood at attention and saluted the flag of Bangladesh. The symbolism and significance of this act, and of the occasion, could not escape anyone present.102

Amar Sonar Bangla was composed by Rabindranath Tagore, whose songs had only recently been banned by Pakistan for being anti-Islamic. The ironies of the moment were abundant. Hossain also recalls a lengthy meeting with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, wherein he explained the special circumstances that had necessitated the provision of secularism in Bangladesh’s Constitution, to which the king took exception. Hossain referred to the recent history “where the dragging of religion into politics had led to unspeakable atrocities”: Pakistan, while describing itself as an Islamic state, had been responsible for actions over the years and in particular in 1971, that had brought Islam into disrepute and had destroyed the country. There should be no mistake that the Muslims of Bangladesh were no less devout than those of Pakistan: but, having experienced the hypocrisy and intolerance that resulted from the abuse of religion for political purposes, Bangladesh had decided to make provisions in its Constitution which would promote an environment free from religious intolerance. It was in keeping with the finest traditions of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) to seek to create conditions in which religious minorities would feel secure, and citizens would not oppress each other in the name of religion. Bangladesh, with a Muslim majority, had a tradition of communal harmony and religious tolerance, in which other communities could also live in peace.103

A similar plea was made by Sheikh Mujib in a telegram to the king: “Most of my countrymen are devout Muslims and strictly adhere to the tenets of Islam.”104 Mujib asked the king to enable Bangladeshis to receive visas to perform the Hajj. Although Saudi Arabia eventually granted 6,000 visas to Bangladeshis, they did not recognize Bangladesh until shortly after the assassination of Mujib, when the government came under a new dispensation.105 Mujib provided a similar rationale to Gaddafi at the nonaligned summit in 1973, emphasizing that Bangladeshi secularism was


“not against religion.” He quoted the opening lines of the Quran that described Allah as “Rabbu’l-‘ālamīn, the head of all creation and not of Rabbu’lMuslimīn, the head only of Muslims. This is the spirit which underlines our secularism.”106

Sard Lash and a Secular Sindhi Ethos Gopaldas, the protagonist of Amar Jaleel’s fictitious short story Sard lash jo safaru (Travel of a cold corpse), is being badly beaten and pulverized by Muslims, several of whom he can recognize, when he utters these words: A year ago, in the month of December, the strong Muslims of West Pakistan had committed atrocities on the weak Muslims of East Pakistan. What was the result? Which way did East Pakistan go? Unjust atrocities only serve to make the oppressed powerful. This is a fact of history and the existence of Bangladesh is evidence of the strength of the oppressed.107

The story is set in Kandhkot, a town in Jacobabad district of Sindh that witnessed anti-Hindu riots in late 1972.108 The story was first published in the Sindhi literary journal Suhini in January 1973. The author’s prefatory note remarked: “The story is a blood-stained chapter of history. . . . Literature bears witness to civilization, culture and history of a nation.”109 One refrain that informs the violent speech and actions of the Muslim attackers who are called mujahideen (those engaged in jihad) in the story, is their belief that they will attain jannat (paradise) as a result of their actions— including raping Hindu women and killing non-Muslims. Countering this is Jaleel’s protagonist’s faith in the Sindhi Sufi poet Sachal Sarmast, who describes a better world to his anguished mother, even in the face of terrible violence: “At the end of the twentieth century, all the customs of all the religions will be wiped away. Some will bow down and read namaz; others will set up temples. Love will prevail over hatred.”110 For Gopaldas, to be religious is to allow full religious freedom to all. His mother admonishes him, saying he is dreaming. When a Muslim mob later arrives to attack Gopaldas, his mother intervenes to say her son is not Hindu; she calls him “Sachal ke bete” (son of the eighteenth-century Sufi poet Sachal Sarmast, in whom her son has abiding faith), but the mob does not care to understand these references or stop in its violent tracks.


In a moving introduction to a 2010 edition of his short stories, Jaleel has attributed his initiation into Sufism to his experiences in partition-era Karachi. He describes the childlike awe of his ten-year-old self watching the construction of the N. G. V. High School building in Karachi, which he hoped to attend. The masons, the construction workers, the stone, and the white marble were from Rajasthan and the regions surrounding the foothills of the Himalayas. The rhythm of stonecutting and construction filled the happy days of his childhood in Karachi; his home overlooked the building site. Jaleel also recalled that this was one of the premier high schools in Karachi, along with Karachi grammar, missionary, and Parsi schools. He remembers with admiration the teacher who taught him English, whom he addressed as “Sir Ahuja,” who used to wear a suit or a white kurta pajama with a Gandhi cap. Suddenly, one day in 1946, the teacher came dressed in a shalwar kameez with a Jinnah cap. The students were stunned. Sir Ahuja seemed sad and distracted during class. During recess, he calls out to the young Amar, who comes and sits beside him. The teacher asks the student what he reads when he wakes up in the morning. Confused, the young boy replies that he reads nothing. The teacher repeats the question “arre . . . , Muslims read la illah il allah . . . what comes next?” Amar says, “Muhammad Rasool allah.” Sir Ahuja writes it down and asks him to recite it again. Amar repeats the kalima two or three times so the teacher can listen. Then the teacher recites the kalima back to Amar and asks him if he is reciting it correctly. Amar says yes; the teacher folds the paper with the kalima and puts it in the pocket of his kameez, continuing to practice reciting it. Jaleel observed that although almost sixty-five years had passed since that morning, he had not been able to forget the pain of that moment. Subsequently, there were riots in Karachi and the school closed. Amar learns that Sir Ahuja and his family left for Hindustan. He reflects on the hatred that has been caused in the name of religion, and on relations of love, respect, and trust that were destroyed in the fire of politics. There must be some reason he is unhappy and agitated in his country, why he feels like he is in exile.111 Through this vignette of a life-changing experience in his past, Jaleel reminds his readers of the changes wrought by partition, a theme that runs through many of his short stories. Karachi, a multireligious and Sindhidominant city, was overrun by mohajirs speaking different languages from East Punjab, the United Provinces, and Rajputana. Sindhi Hindus, who were


51 percent of the population of Karachi in 1947, were reduced to 2 percent according to the census of 1951.112 The subsequent years witnessed the gradual marginalization of Sindhi over Urdu, the dominant language of the mohajirs who migrated to urban areas across Sindh. Jaleel refers to these changes when he documents the pitiful condition of the premises of his beloved high school, a part of whose building became the federal government’s directorate of education when Karachi was taken over as the capital of Pakistan. Jaleel draws sustenance from Sachal Sarmast: Religions have confused people in the country Pirs, pundits and the elderly have erred boundlessly. Some bow to read namaz, others establish temples How could the intelligent ones face ishq, the ultimate beloved?113

Why was Sard lash jo safaru so controversial? Although Jaleel has translated several of his Sindhi short stories into English, he has not translated this story. Yet this story has been a “trailblazer” that provided the author with the “narrative style” for his later stories, according to the critic Asif Farrukhi.114 By the time Sard lash was banned two years later by a Commission on Press and Publications for hurting religious sentiments, “ridiculing Islamic traditions and divine commandments,” the story had created quite a following for Jaleel, who had already become an important literary figure.115 Rasul Baksh Palijo, the Sindhi writer and human rights lawyer who pleaded the case for Suhini to the members of the Commission, called the “contradictory” short story “a marvelous piece of Sindhi literature” that could not by any means be described as vulgar or pornographic. He added that the notions depicted in the story were already familiar to readers of contemporary Urdu literature.116 Another critic and contemporary, Fahmida Riaz, recalled how the ban on the story and the journal Sohni (also transliterated as Suhini), purportedly for as many as fifteen objectionable articles, led the Sindhi intelligentsia to come out in enthusiastic support of its editor, Syed Tariq Ashraf, who was arrested.117 When twenty-two noted Sindhi writers authored a White Paper on current trends in Sindhi literature, the government promptly banned the document on the grounds that it contained extracts of the proscribed literature.118 Since the 1950s, Sindhi writers had been protesting against the One Unit policy; reflecting Sindhi regional aspirations in their


works allowed them to further appreciate their fellow compatriots, rather than align themselves with the incoming non- Sindhi-speaking mohajirs, in the name of Islam. Sindhi Muslims such as Tariq Ashraf suffered harassment and imprisonment for their defense of Sindhi Hindus. Riaz writes, “As in Bengal, so in Sindh, without willing it, the ruthlessness of the powers that be were sowing the seeds of secularism in the hearts of the masses and all in the garb of religiosity.”119 But would these “seeds of secularism” be allowed to sprout to see the light of day?

The “Blasphemy Laws” of Pakistan Back in Islamabad, the 1971 war did not lead to any introspection on the causes of the disintegration of Pakistan. The report of the Hameedur Rahman Commission appointed to investigate the reasons for, and the course of the war, was not declassified for another three decades, and General Tikka Khan, widely credited for the killings of March 25, the point of no return, was promoted as Chief of Army Staff. Instead, the government decided to double down on Islam as the ideology that would unite the remaining four provinces of Pakistan. The government’s decision to regulate Islam was manifested in their investment in the curricular concept of Islamiyat for all Muslim students up to Class X. They would ensure that textbooks did not contain “anything repugnant to . . . the cultural and ethical values of Islam.”120 Furthermore, the regime of the new president of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, faced challenges from school and university teachers who struck work to demand standardized salaries, as well as from 600,000 transit workers who threatened a strike. Just as India tested a “peaceful nuclear explosion” in the Rajasthan desert, the Muslim World League, a pan-Islamic body sponsored by Saudi Arabia, recommended that the Ahmadis be declared non-Muslim. At this moment, a riot in the Ahmadi headquarters of Rabwah refocused the nation’s attention on the Ahmadi question. Bhutto, whose minister for the regulation of charitable endowments had already incurred the wrath of some ulema for stating that the government would soon introduce legislation to prohibit the use of mosques for political purposes, and whose education minister promised legislation to take over madrasas, was cornered by domestic compulsions as well as pressures from


Saudi Arabia, whose king promised Saudi aid if Pakistan declared Ahmadis, a minority heterodox sect, a “non-Muslim” minority.121 Although Ahmadis had contributed generously to Bhutto’s election campaign in 1970 and had been given high appointments in the air force, navy, and army corps after Bhutto became prime minister in 1972, they remained at the receiving end of a concerted campaign by the ulema to be cast aside as “non-Muslim.” The scholar Qasim Zaman has described why the appointment of Zafrulla Khan as Pakistan’s first foreign minister rankled Maudoodi and other ulema so much: “It was bad enough that the person introducing Pakistan at international forums and highlighting its Islamic commitments should have been a non-Muslim. It was much worse that he was masquerading as a Muslim, thereby unsettling some of the boundaries that the new state was supposed to guard.”122 Bhutto now brought the matter to the National Assembly, which, after three months of secret sessions, passed a constitutional amendment that proclaimed Ahmadis to be a nonMuslim minority.123 Speaking on the amendment, Bhutto reminded the house that the Ahmadi problem was ninety years old and defied an easy solution. However, three months of consultations in the special committee of the whole House, including with the heads of the Ahmadi community, had left the Assembly more knowledgeable about the stakes at play. Bhutto called the amendment a decision that represented the “will and the aspirations and the sentiments of the Muslims of Pakistan.” He did not wish to take credit for providing this “permanent solution” to the problem; however, he did wish to remind the members of the tenets of tolerance in Islam, a point that had also been emphasized by the attorney general the previous day: This is both a religious decision and a secular decision. It is a religious decision because it affects the majority of the population of Muslims. It is a secular decision because we live in modern times and we have a secular Constitution and we believe in the citizens of the country to have their full rights. Every Pakistani has a right to profess his religion, his caste and his sect proudly and with confidence and without fear, and this guarantee the Constitution of Pakistan gives to citizens of Pakistan. To my Government it will become now all the more necessary to protect the rights of all citizens of Pakistan. This is


absolutely essential. I do not want to leave any scope for ambiguity. It is our moral and sacred duty, indeed, it is our Islamic duty, to protect the rights of every citizen of Pakistan . . . we will not tolerate any form of vandalism or any form of humiliation or insult to any citizen or community of this country.124

There was no debate during this brief open session of the Assembly; 130 National Assembly members rose for the division, and voted unanimously in favor of a clause that “a person who did not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) . . ., or claims to be a prophet, or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (peace be upon him), or recognizes such a claimant as a prophet or a religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law.” The law minister also recommended certain legislative and procedural measures, such as adding an explanation to Section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code that “a Muslim who professes, practices or propagates against the concept of the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) . . . shall be punishable under this section.”125 No Suhrawardy, no Dutta, no Das, no Mujib rose to ask Bhutto about the explicit contradiction between the principle of exclusion embodied in the Second Amendment, and the inclusive principle that the fundamental rights of all citizens of Pakistan, regardless of the communities to which they belonged, would be fully protected.126 In a biography of Bhutto, Salman Taseer records that one of his opponents “sardonically remarked, ‘Mr. Bhutto is the biggest maulana of them all. In fact, he should be called ‘Maulana Larkanvi.’&”127 He was perceived as trying to preempt the ulemas by being more Islamic than them. Suffice it to say that Bhutto’s pandering to conservative religious sentiment would not protect him from facing further demands to enforce Islamic law: the genie was well and truly out of the bottle. A decade later, general Zia-ul-Huq issued an ordinance further amending the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that made it a criminal offense for Ahmadis to “pose” as Muslims or to use terms commonly used for the early caliphs to refer to associates of their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. These antiAhmadi laws— Sections 298B and 298C of the PPC—are commonly referred to as the “blasphemy laws.” The journey to further marginalization of religious minorities had begun four years earlier, in 1980, when Zia introduced Section 298A of the PPC, a law that protected a list of specific key Islamic


personages from derogatory remarks, to cultivate a lobby among the ulema. Qasim Zaman writes that Section  298A was intended to target Shias for their “ritual revilement of figures venerated by the Sunnis.”128 In 1982 Zia added Section 295B, a law that made it criminal to defile the Quran, a move that might have been powered by a “media-led moral panic.”129 The literary scholar C. M. Naim has referred to the targeting of Ahmadis and Shias as the “second tyranny of religious majorities”—a particularly noxious brew that imposes a homogeneous Islam “based on textual essentialism” in societies “where the illiterate far outnumber the literate.”130 Yet the blasphemy law that has garnered the most attention, because it carries the death penalty, is Section 295C of the PPC, a law instituted specifically to protect the honor of the Prophet. Several scholars have traced the legal, political, and social background of the introduction of these laws and their effects over time. Far from reducing incidents of blasphemy, the loosely drafted and overly broad law has been used to falsely accuse religious minorities, dissidents, and political opponents for reasons both mundane and serious.131 In one widely discussed case, one of Pakistan’s most distinguished social activists, Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan, was accused of committing blasphemy against Ali, the fourth caliph and son-in-law of the prophet, in a poem for a children’s book. In the poem, Khan had used the phrase “shere-khuda,” “Lion of God,” for an ordinary lion; the phrase was apparently only to be used for Ali. The Pakistani political scientist and activist Eqbal Ahmad thought the poem, which tells a story of a fool who raised a lion and was killed by it, could be read as a parable on Bhutto and Zia. Khan’s own life story, Ahmad declared, had become a parable of “the distortions which law has undergone in the name of Islam.”132 Khan was a development practitioner credited with groundbreaking work in Comilla district in East Pakistan and after 1971, in the Orangi “slum” in Karachi; Eqbal Ahmad called him a “model Pakistani.” In 1961 the state of Pakistan had awarded him the Sitara-e-Pakistan (Star of Excellence) for pioneering work in rural development. Yet the eighty-year-old celebrated social scientist and Magsaysay awardee, despite having only recently suffered a heart attack, had to bear the ignominy of appearing in courts in Karachi, Multan, and Sahiwal. Posters on thousands of Karachi walls had compared him to Salman Rushdie and declared him wajibul catal— “deserving of death.” He was arrested at night by an army officer and


released from the police station only after further phone calls that attested to his singular importance. Eqbal Ahmad analyzed the case in a long profile for Dawn: It struck me as being very odd that religious parties and personalities would go consistently after a man who has done them no harm, and done the country much good. This seemed specially odd in the case of Jamaat-i-Islami which is a rationally organized and articulated party. I think that theirs is a broad and serious objective; it is to set a precedence of conviction under the law which they helped amend and expand. Law has been distorted in this country in the name of Islam. The true distorters are trying to consolidate their distortions.

Ahmad also referred to Khan’s considerable knowledge of Islam, and that most women in Orangi had joined the workforce, adding to the discomfiture of the ulema. In Orangi, mosques’ loudspeakers announced community meetings on birth control! This was all the more reason the “liberal legal community” should become involved in such cases and work toward the “abrogation of these un-Islamic and undemocratic laws.” He asked: “Why isn’t there an Akhtar Hameed Khan Defence Committee in Pakistan?” Although Pakistan’s civilian elected government eventually intervened and rescued Dr. Khan from multiple charges of blasphemy, such interventions in blasphemy cases have become less likely in recent years as mainstream political parties have moved ideologically closer to more extremist political parties. It has been especially difficult for Pakistanis who are Ahmadi, Shia, Christian, or not as prominent as Dr.  Khan. The high-profile assassinations of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, and Shahzad Bhatti, minister of minority affairs in 2011, for their support for reforming the blasphemy laws, have had a chilling effect on debate over these laws. Even so, a younger generation of Pakistanis has emerged to ask if the casual surveillance of everyday speech and action, which is necessitated by these Zia-era laws, is acceptable under international covenants and treaties to which Pakistan is a signatory, or consistent with resolutions to protect minority rights, as promised in numerous iterations of the Objectives Resolution and the Preamble. These scholars are mindful of both the Islamic jurisprudence and the politics associated with the passage of the blasphemy laws, and are determined to educate people, including the judiciary, of the perils that lie down that path of pandering to the demands of extremists.133 The significance of their radical efforts must be underscored.


Islam, Secularism, and the Minority Question after 1971 Before 1971 the Awami League’s politics contained a discerning critique of the misuse of Islam and calls to Islamic brotherhood alongside opposition to other policies of the West Pakistani government. The Assembly debates of 1956 showed Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims to be on the same page—be it on the status of Bengali, parity between the wings, or the exclusionary nature of the Constitution’s Islamic provisions. There was no Bengali conspiracy to divide Pakistan. No Leaguer expected the struggle for Pakistan to end with division. We see this reflected in the thoughts of Awami League leader Tajuddin Ahmad as he waited, poised to cross the border into India: “I was thinking I’ve been defeated. During the creation of Pakistan, my Hindu classmates used to tell me that your Pakistan won’t survive. By raising different points, I would then point out why Pakistan should survive and which were the reasons for it to survive. I am now losing that debate which I used to have with my Hindu classmates.”134 These thoughts of defeat, of West Pakistani betrayal of the ideals that had animated the struggle to create Pakistan, which Tajuddin shared with a fellow Awami Leaguer fleeing the violence of March 1971, remind us of the contingent nature of the breakup of Pakistan. Neither the language movement nor the protest movements in favor of restoring democracy that accompanied the six points made the disintegration of Pakistan inevitable. It was the lack of will to come to a power-sharing arrangement acceptable to the leadership of both wings that made a confrontation increasingly likely. Even so, until the Pakistani army unleashed genocidal violence in the name of Islam, all was not irretrievably lost. So diabolical was the war that it signed the death warrant of Pakistan as it then existed. In April 1972, at a seminar organized by Calcutta University, the education secretary of the new government of Bangladesh, Kabir Choudhury, reflected on the changes wrought by the war: Before the Pakistani army’s barbarous crackdown on Bangladesh in March 1971, the military junta systematically brainwashed the members of the armed forces of West Pakistan and created in their hearts an unparalleled feeling of anger, hatred and resentment against the people of Bangladesh whom they painted as enemies of Islam and as degenerate Hindus who deserved to be mercilessly


wiped out if only to save Pakistan, the citadel of the whole Islamic world today.135

Yet this was not the whole story, for on the “other side” was the “heartwarming spectacle of Hindu and Muslim freedom fighters fighting shoulder to shoulder as one man, their unity forged by the devotion to an ideal higher than that of the conventional religion.” Choudhury spoke warmly of the “seed of secularism” being “inherent in the soil of Bangladesh.”136 However, the papers presented at the seminar suggest there was no consensus on whether secularism was inherent to Bangladesh. Professor Serajul Islam Chaudhury of Dacca University traced the role of Hindu and Muslim communalism in the previous partitions of 1905 and 1947. He thought secularism, especially in the education system, was necessary to fight the many ills of hunger, disease, imperialism, anti-democratic forces, and vested interests, but he did not minimize the challenge ahead: “Chronic diseases are not easily cured and old habits die hard . . . like democracy, secularism in Bangladesh will be required to fight a very grim battle indeed.”137 In the early post-independence period, Bangladeshi secularism meant being opposed to communalism. The insertion of secularism as one of the four principles undergirding the new Constitution of Bangladesh did not meet with much opposition. However, there was an element of imprecision built into the principles, as acknowledged by Law Minister Kamal Hossain.138 As the government of Sheikh Mujib became racked with internal dissension, which he then sought to quell with a one-party government, secularism became overridden with emphases on the need for unity behind Mujib’s new one-party state, Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL). This was accompanied by growing repression and the use of militia against all opposition.139 The assassination of Mujibur Rahman in August 1975 and, soon after, of other founders of the new state—Tajuddin Ahmad, Syed Nazrul Islam, A.  H.  M. Qamaruzzaman, and Mansur Ali—meant that the foundational principles of the state did not have a chance to grow deep roots. Furthermore, the new regime led by General Ziaur Rahman sought to consolidate its position by replacing “secularism” and “socialism” in the Constitution with “absolute faith and trust in the almighty Allah” and “economic and social justice.”140 In fact, these were cosmetic changes because the spirit animating the Constitution was that of social justice and complete faith in


Allah. But the changes were sinister in that they sought to use Islam to shore up the general’s political base. In doing this, Ziaur Rahman was following the precedents set by the West Pakistani elite. Editors Achintya Sen and Enayetullah Khan thought the general’s nineteen points, announced a month before a referendum on May  30, 1977 (in which he allegedly won 98 percent of the votes), were the “summation of a political strategy” that sounds “more like Humpty Dumpty’s dialogue on the meaning of words.”141 As for the new (old) claim that Islam was in danger, feminist scholar and activist Sultana Kamal responded: Islam as the religion and creed of the majority has always been in a place of natural prominence and dominance in Bangladesh. Even in its secular days, Islam has been the dominant religion in state functions. Today every state function is preceded by recitations from the Quran. Bangladesh television broadcasts Azan regularly and other Islamic rituals are also performed by government ministers and functionaries as public duties. Women announcers and news readers are made to cover their heads during the month of Ramazan while at work. The president himself performs Hajj every year using public funds as part of his state duties.142

Although Sultana Kamal is here referring to president H. M. Ershad, the military general who succeeded Ziaur Rahman, it is worth recalling that Sheikh Mujib, too, had written feelingly to the Saudi king requesting that visas be granted to Bangladeshis to perform Hajj. Bangladeshi secularism, in its original formulation in 1971–1972, was never anti-Islam. Yet scholars writing on secularism in Bangladesh have tended to stick to Westernderivative textbook definitions of secularism as meaning separation of religion and state. This has made it easy to castigate the recent politics of the Awami League as compromised for invoking God, or not being sufficiently “pro-secular.”143 This, for instance, is how the editor of a leading English language newspaper, the Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam, describes the secularist’s attitude toward practicing Muslims: For the secular in this country, the people with beards and caps were the Jamaatis. It took a long time for my secular friends to be comfortable with someone saying their prayers. The cap was seen for a long time as something communal; participating in a Hindu ritual


was considered liberal. And religious groups in Bangladesh took advantage of that. For a Bengali Muslim, a Hindu Bengali ritual is Bengali first; he does not view it with derision as a conqueror would, nor does he see it as pollution of his faith.144

But this was manifestly not the secularism of Bangladesh’s founding fathers, all of whose hands were raised in prayer at the time of the passage of the Constitution. In a sense, the 2011 Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Bill—which restores the four state principles of secularism, democracy, nationalism, and socialism of the original Constitution and retains Islam’s status as the state religion and the phrase Bi’smillāhi’r-rahmāni’r-rahīm—is more in keeping with the original spirit of the 1972 Constitution than with the original Constitution’s more perfunctory, imprecise nod to secularism.145 Those who have not read the debates in the original might not be aware to what extent Mujib and other members of the Ganoparishad elaborated on secularism as meaning equal respect for all religions and as opposed to the misuse of religion. The Fifteenth Amendment makes it clear that Bangladeshi secularism is not opposed to religion.

many Muslims representing the state publicly and repeatedly defined a (good) Muslim as one who was protective of non-Muslim interests, an emphasis that was made possible because of the explicit protections afforded to non-Muslims in the Objectives Resolution. At every landmark in Pakistan’s early history as an independent nation, there was a significant constituency in favor of a more secular Islamic state, a state that would take extra care to safeguard the rights of its religious minorities, which in turn would burnish its credentials as an Islamic state. However, Bhutto, who had spoken as an advocate of Pakistan as an ideological state when he was a minister in the Ayub Khan regime, remained the “Muslim pragmatist par excellence.”146 His surrender to the ulemas on the Ahmadi question provided the constitutional grounds for their further marginalization. The new Islamic Republic of Pakistan, after the 1973 Constitution and the Second Amendment, was built on demarcating Muslims from non-Muslims, and thereafter, lesser Muslims such as Shias. This process garnered greater force during the eleven-year martial regime of DURING THE 1950S AND 1960S,


Zia-ul-Huq, who passed the notoriously vague “blasphemy laws.” Years later, when Salman Taseer, who was Bhutto’s biographer and later governor of Punjab, was gunned down by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, for courageously speaking of the necessity to reform these laws, the state could ensure the safety of the judge who pronounced Qadri’s death sentence only by sending him into exile in an undisclosed location. Buoyed by the evident support for the blasphemy laws, a new Islamist group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik ya Rasool Allah, was founded to protest the hanging of Qadri. Seeking to strengthen Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and to institute their version of sharia, the group became powerful enough to lead street protests that ground the capital Islamabad to a halt in 2017. More recently, it led a mob to kill a young college student, Mashal Khan, who had been casually accused of committing blasphemy. If the juggernaut of groups such as the Tehreek-e-Labbaik has paused, it has been because of the work of individuals and NGOs defending the rights of dissidents and religious minorities, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Their work reminds us of a strand of liberal jurisprudence that protected minority rights from the time of the landmark Punjab Religious Book Society 1960 judgment that explicitly allowed for Christian religious preaching in an Islamic country, to the 2014 “Minorities Judgement” authored by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.147 In this judgment, Chief Justice Jillani sought to draw attention to minority rights that were enshrined in the Constitution but had been neglected in letter and spirit. The judgment urged the federal government to constitute a task force that would develop a strategy of religious tolerance, adopt appropriate curricula to promote a culture of religious tolerance, ensure that hate speech in social media is discouraged, ensure the protection of minorities’ places of worship, and the reservation or quota for minorities in all the services.148 It is in this strand that the Islamic states of Pakistan and Bangladesh might yet find new definitions of the good Muslim, indeed, the most virtuous Muslim.


PROTESTING THE PASSAGE of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the winter of 2019, hundreds of thousands of Indians in Delhi, Aligarh, Bijnor, Lucknow, Mumbai, Muzaffarabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mangaluru, Amravati, Chennai, and many other cities and towns recited the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. They laid special emphasis on the word “secular” while renewing their pledge and allegiance to the Constitution. In their rising crescendo, the everyday secularism that typified the usually silent, ordinary person on the street, rose to challenge the Indian state’s obvious lack of commitment to secularism. In the outpouring of voices and sentiments, in the unfurling of the Indian flag and the waving of posters of lawgiver Ambedkar and comrade Bhagat Singh mingled the poetry of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Habib Jalib—poets from across the border with Pakistan. Jalib’s poetry echoed through waves of demonstrators:

zulm kī bāt ko, jahl kī rāt ko, maiñ nahīñ mānta, maiñ nahīñ manta aise dastūr ko, subh-e be-nūr ko, maiñ nahīñ mānta, maiñ nahīñ manta I will not accept, I will not accept, this oppression, this night of ignorance I will not accept, I will not accept, this rule, this dark morning.1



Those protesting and rallying, chanting and marching, refused to accept the discrimination embodied in the newly amended Citizenship Act that would fast-track citizenship only for refugees belonging to minority religious communities from the three Muslim-majority nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and coupled with the draconian National Register of Citizens (NRC), discriminate against India’s own minority-Muslim community. Secularism was no longer an abstract constitutional principle; it had become an imperative to uphold, a slogan to embrace fully, wholly, in substantial measure.2

A return to founding moments and “critical debates” allows us to closely disaggregate and reassemble the constituent elements of establishment ideology, be this secularism, or the “ideology of Islam” that, while being defined, sometimes became punitive to those deemed to be “religious minorities.” In the wake of a partition along religious lines, Gandhi upheld secularism as the “Congress creed” in what was to be his last session of the All India Congress Committee. To Gandhi, secularism meant that Muslims belonged in India, on terms of equality and respect. This is why he insisted on reading from the Quran along with the Gita, the Bible, and the Zend Avesta in his prayer meetings, amid the catastrophic violence of partition. Such a secularism was deeply respectful of religion, it was never opposed to religion. This ideal, Gandhian India was unacceptable to the likes of Nathuram Godse, whose hate speech viewed as appeasement any gesture of acceptance of religious difference. The struggle between the India of Gandhi and the India of Godse has been reinvigorated by the debates that accompanied the passage of the CAA. In neighboring Pakistan, the right to belong, on terms of absolute equality, was the main theme of Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, meant to assuage the anxieties of Pakistan’s religious minorities. Allegiance to Jinnah’s address became, in the decades to come, a barometer to Pakistanis’ commitment to minorities. As much as it was cited and invoked by minorities and their Muslim defenders, it was ignored and erased by Pakistanis who sought to use Islam to create an unvarying, ruling majority. It is hard to miss the anguish with which Bengali members of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly prophesied that the dual IDEAS MATTER.


symbolism of the name of the state—Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the fact that the head of the state would have to be a Muslim—would lead to non-Muslims being considered inferior. Already, legislator Peter Paul Gomez warned that non-Muslims were being evicted from their lands, on the grounds that Pakistan was an Islamic state, and that non-Muslims do not belong. Whereas the Islam of the Objectives Resolution ensured tolerance toward religious minorities, who were permitted to practice and proselytize, the ideology of Islam after the war of 1971 drew harder, increasingly impenetrable lines between Muslim and non-Muslim, seeking in definitional clarity a way to erase evidence of ambiguity, shared symbols and practices, and a shared culture. More recently the weapon of choice has been the loosely drafted, Zia-era blasphemy laws of the Pakistani Penal Code. Centering the anxieties of minorities within the founding debates of the state allows us to situate these blasphemy laws in a longer history of marginalization.

of Yahya Khan’s night of terror in East Bengal, Indira Gandhi’s government had just won an absolute majority in the general elections with the promise to end poverty. Her Congress party had also grasped the true import of the Jana Sangh slogan of “Indianization.” In support of the Congress party, Bhupesh Gupta of the CPI asserted in the Rajya Sabha that to deny Muslims any rights held by the majority community would be tantamount to denying “the right to call ourselves a civilized nation.” “We must enact a law that bans such a slogan. I would rather be dead than have such a slogan; I would rather be killed than hear such a slogan being uttered by the rabid communalists of the RSS or of the Jana Sangh or by any party or any section against the Muslim community.”3 Although neither the slogan nor M. S. Golwalkar’s book that propagated such a slogan would be banned, Indira Gandhi’s government did pass new laws that sought to restrict the calling into question of any community’s patriotism. Buttressed by an absolute electoral majority, and the muchproclaimed death of the two-nation theory during the 1971 war, Gandhi’s party leaders, such as Vasant Sathe, could confidently assert that “law is nothing but reflection of the will of the people.”4 Yet already, in some parts ON THE EVE


of India such as in Bhiwandi, new political formations such as the Shiv Sena were experimenting with new forms of political violence, and manipulating and lording over the machinery of law and order. During the Emergency, the timing of Indira Gandhi’s decision to include “secular” in the Preamble to the Constitution was arguably shaped by her critics. Insofar as the move met with opposition, it was mostly on grounds of procedure. Mavalankar, Palkhivala, Hanumanthaiya, and even former Chief Justice Gajendragadkar sought clarification and a real debate; some members of the CPI and the Congress demanded measures— better representation for Muslims, more opportunities and reservation— so that the newly elevated principle of secularism did not become another placeholder for good intentions. Concretizing secularism had to mean something significant to a people grappling with the problem of growing and pervasive inequality, especially along lines of religion, caste, and class. But the debates and recommendations remained unheard outside the Assembly because of the ongoing Emergency-era censorship. In the wake of the controversy over Sahmat’s exhibition debate in 1993, Nitish Kumar again sought a “proper definition and explanation of secularism.”5 Surely it did not mean allowing for religious sentiments to be hurt. Instead of concretizing secularism or eliminating poverty, the authoritarian government of Indira Gandhi reaped a whirlwind. The coalition government led by Morarji Desai included Indira’s former sparring rival, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as foreign minister. The Jana Sangh won respectability and power. If it was looking for a common cause that would unite all Hindus, “hurt sentiments” in the name of an insidious interpretation of the past, always available in RSS shakhas, rose to the occasion. The new cause was a temple to the god Rama in his birth city of Ayodhya. When the Babri Masjid was demolished, and NGOs such as Sahmat sought to showcase how Ayodhya had always been home to multiple religions, they were taught a hard lesson: that “law, by definition, is intimidation.”6 A line had been not so much crossed as blurred in Indian politics—the line that divided Gandhi’s politics from those of Godse.

was demolished on December  6, 1992, Hindu temples were attacked in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh in retaliatory WHEN THE BABRI MASJID


acts of violence. Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appeared on national television urging restraint and asserting, “Our religion forbids us even to say anything against any other religion. We cannot even think of doing any harm to Hindus living in Pakistan and damaging their places of worship.”7 By the end of the month, thirty-two people were arrested in Baluchistan for “killing Hindus and damaging temples,” although when cabinet minister Raja Parvez helped destroy a temple in Faisalabad, he escaped punishment. The journalist Nasim Zehra noted pointedly that Pakistan could not take up the cause of India’s minorities abroad without setting its own house in order. This was, after all, the same nation whose army had deliberately vandalized temples in East Pakistan during 1971. From Calcutta, a group of Bengali intellectuals wrote to their counterparts in Dhaka sending greetings for Victory Day on December 16, recalling India’s contribution to Bangladesh’s freedom, and remarking on the continuing flow of migrants across the Indo-Bangladesh border. These intellectuals claimed that the destruction of the Babri Masjid had brought forth “in a massive demonstration, the goodwill and the real character of our nation.” They swore to stand by the minorities of the country and hoped for a similar response in Bangladesh. “The sub-continental base of fundamentalism calls for sub-continental efforts.”8 Commenting on the immediate aftereffects of the mosque’s demolition, former foreign minister and Lahori Inder Kumar Gujral quoted from an Indian scribe posted in Islamabad: “When politician after politician and commentator after commentator in Pakistan states, with a newly-minted smugness, that the December 6 outrage has finally proved the validity of the two-nation theory in its totality . . .” The Pakistani fundamentalists badly needed this underpinning after the 1971 split of their nation that had proved that no nation-state could be founded on religion. Now they are loud in heralding: “. . . Indian secularism is dead . . . India’s majority has shown its inherent intolerance.”9

Gujral saw in the destruction of the Babri Masjid a “Sangh-Parivar-sent opportunity” for Pakistani diplomats to “neutralize the liberal democrats internally and to besmirch India’s name externally.” He then listed the Arab countries that continued to trade with India, despite Pakistan’s frenetic diplomatic efforts. It would take time, electoral verdicts, and eventually


court verdicts to show what a huge transformation India underwent after the destruction of the Babri Masjid. In his last tribute to the cause of subcontinental peace, Gujral’s friend and comrade from pre-partition days, the veteran journalist Mazhar Ali Khan, wrote of a possible future: “When all this vitriol is exhausted and poison pens run dry, when the hot air generated by fear and suspicion has been expended, when blind hate fostered often by ignorance of history has subsided, all those in either country capable of thinking must begin to think again of what needs to be done to avoid the catastrophe which will become unavoidable unless good sense begins to guide future politics.”10 But Khan’s hoped for “good sense,” like the “good will of the majority,” in which Sardar Patel had invested, has been elusive in the subcontinent. The destruction of the Babri Masjid and its repercussions in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh are evidence of the threads that continue to bind the heirs of partition in a tight, even suffocating, embrace.11

On a South Asian Secularism Seventy-five years is a long enough time to take stock of the fate of secularism. In practice, if not in theory, the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have sometimes followed what I will call a South Asian variant of secularism, one that is neither anti- God nor anti-religion, but that respects all religions. This secularism-as-equal-respect allowed for India to maintain some Muslim personal laws (even as neighboring Pakistan embarked on progressive Muslim personal law reforms as early as 1961), to permit minority educational institutions to be governed by their own rules for admission, and to pronounce on publications that “hurt” the sentiments of all religious communities. But because there was no clear unambiguous definition and endorsement of secularism, even as and when it was being practiced as equal respect to all religions, the doctrine opened itself up to the Godsean charge of “Muslim appeasement.” This charge could not be effectively countered, because Indian secularism was still finding its ideological groove, still comparing its trajectory to that of an antiquated notion of how secularism had developed in Europe.12 Based on a study of parliamentary and Constituent Assembly debates, I suggest there were several moments in post-independence India when secularism, conceived as equal respect, had its trusted sturdy adherents


in positions of power and influence: Mahatma Gandhi at his last meeting of the All India Congress Committee in 1947, Indira Gandhi before and after 1971, some members of Parliament in 1976, Sahmat’s defenders in Parliament in 1993. In recent decades, however, as it became imperative to defend secularism every time a book was banned or a museum vandalized, the voice of the state has grown distinctly feebler. There was, as Panikkar and Kothari argued, a vacuum in the state, a vacuum that was quickly filled by those claiming to speak in defense of a hurt Hinduism. Pakistan’s early debates in the first Constituent Assembly (1947–1955) were especially mindful of the presence of religious minorities in that new nation-state. Beginning with Jinnah’s first address to the Constituent Assembly, and continuing in the debates preceding the Objectives Resolution, Pakistan’s founders allowed for the airing of fears by Pakistan’s religious minorities, especially Bengali Hindus from East Pakistan. Yet their insistence on using Islam to paper over the reality of a numerical majority in East Pakistan delayed the crafting of a viable constitution. East Pakistanis were opposed to being shortchanged in any democratic arrangement that continued to make way for Punjabi dominance—in Pakistan’s elected as well as unelected institutions. In the first provincial elections held in 1954, East Pakistanis of various ideological leanings allied to soundly defeat the Muslim League. That electoral defeat resonated widely, making it all but inevitable that the first general elections would be postponed for as long as possible in Pakistan. All the same, the idea of secularism-as-equal-respect found expression in some Pakistani court judgments, in debates in the National Assembly, and on the street. Only this can explain why the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in 1960, allowed the publication of books that contained Christian proselytizing. A decade later, though, Amar Jaleel’s short story Sard lash jo sufaru, which was lauded by the literary community, was banned by the Bhutto regime because of its overt show of sympathy for the predicament of Sindhi Hindus in the Kandhkot riots. After the gruesome war of 1971, the sentiment of equal respect for all was again shaken during the events leading up to the Second Amendment, which enabled the legal disenfranchisement of Ahmadis. Historians of Bangladesh now concur that economic considerations were not paramount in the sundering of ties between the two wings of Pakistan. In fact, East Pakistan was beginning to garner greater amounts of invest-


ment after 1969.13 However, the postponement of the long-awaited National Assembly in March 1971 compelled Mujibur Rahman to follow the dictates of a galvanized and furious population. Although Mujib’s speech of March  7, 1971, gave an opening for further negotiations, the subsequent military crackdown changed the equation irretrievably, making a war of resistance inevitable. From its founding documents in 1948 to the campaign manifesto of 1970, the Awami League did not mention or endorse secularism, although Awami League leaders such as Mujibur Rahman had vehemently opposed the West Pakistani rulers’ misuse of Islam during the drafting of the Constitution. It was only during the nine-month war, fought by Pakistan in the name of Islam, that secularism emerged as a principle to be enshrined in the Constitution.14 Yet secularism in Bangladesh’s Constitution, and in the early actions of Mujibur Rahman as prime minister, never meant the separation of religion from politics, or opposition to religion. An understanding of secularism as respect for all religions, especially Islam, can account for Mujibur Rahman leading the Munajaat (Islamic prayer) after the Constitution Bill was passed, and for secular Bangladesh taking the lead in establishing the Islamic Development Bank in 1974.15 Thus, there was no contradiction in Bangladesh seeking recognition from fellow Muslim countries, in participating in Islamic summits, and claiming to be secular all at the same time. An explicit definition of South Asian secularism as respect for all religions does not necessitate a separation of matters of religion from the state. Instead, it stems from South Asia’s own history of battling communal demons; it stands for respecting all religious traditions, individuals, and communities if they do no harm—to each other or to those who are atheists or agnostic. Such an explicit definition and espousal of a South Asian secularism will take the sting out of bigoted political parties and individuals in all three countries, those who have built their political careers by throwing labels such as “irreligious,” “anti-Islam,” and “pseudo-secular” at adversaries. That such a “secularism” has cachet within South Asia cannot be denied. This is why the Hindu Mahasabha proclaimed itself to be secular on the eve of India’s first general elections in 1951. Yet the Mahasabha’s understanding of secularism, couched in Hindu exceptionalism, was similar to Bhutto’s elucidation of secularism, which he regarded as characteristic of Islam. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto argued that


“secularism, in the sense of tolerance and the rejection of theocracy, is inherent in Islamic political culture.” Thus, Bhutto explained Bangladesh’s turn to secularism as being compatible with Islam.16 Given these multiple appropriations of secularism since partition, it is time to reaffirm and recover an earlier moment in Gandhian secularism, and an Islam that was particularly considerate of non-Muslims. The founders— Gandhi (and Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel), Jinnah (and Liaquat Ali Khan), and Mujib (and Tajuddin Ahmed)—had pledged that their nation-states of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, born of a division along religious lines, would provide their religious minorities with strong safeguards so that they had equal rights of citizenship along with those of the majority community. To be free and secular was to assure minorities that they were free to go to their places of worship, to respond to the call to prayer, to read their religious texts at multifaith meetings. To be secular is to belong fearlessly.

Abbreviations Notes Glossary Bibliography Acknowledgments Index

Abbreviations AICC

All India Congress Committee


Bangladesh Freedom War Documents


Bharatiya Janata Party


Bangladeshi Penal Code


Citizenship Amendment Act


Constituent Assembly Debates

CALPD Constituent Assembly (Legislature) of Pakistan Debates CPI

Communist Party of India


Congress Working Committee

CWMG Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi DMK

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam


Economic and Political Weekly

IESHR Indian Economic and Social History Review IPC

Indian Penal Code




Legal Framework Order


Lok Sabha Debate


Ministry of Home Affairs


Maintenance of Internal Security Act


Member of Parliament


National Archives of India


National Assembly of Pakistan


New Delhi Television

NMML Nehru Memorial Museum and Library NWFP

North-West Frontier Province




Pakistan Penal Code


Rajya Sabha Debate


Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh


Round Table Conference


United Provinces, later Uttar Pradesh

Notes Introduction All translations are mine, unless otherwise specified. 1.

Lok Sabha proceedings telecast live on NDTV, December 9, 2019.


Presidential Address of M. A. Jinnah, March 22, 1940, in Foundations of Pakistan: All-India Muslim League Documents, 1906–1947, ed. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (Karachi: National Publishing House, 1970), 329.


Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); S. Abid Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1965).


For an analysis of partition violence and the work of the military evacuation organization, see Neeti Nair, Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press"/"Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2011), 179–218.


Exceptions include essays in Negotiating Democracy and Religious Pluralism: India, Pakistan and Turkey, ed. K. Barkey, S. Kaviraj, and V. Naresh (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021); Outrage: The Rise of Religious Offence in Contemporary South Asia, ed. P. Rollier, K. Frøystad, and A. E. Ruud (London: UCL Press, 2019); Tolerance, Secularization and Democratic Politics in South Asia, ed. Humeira Iqtidar and Tanika Sarkar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). A fine but very brief study is in C. M. Naim, “The Second Tyranny of Religious Majorities,” South Asian Bulletin 14, no. 2 (1994): 104–107. For a very different example of comparative history—of how Bourbon France, the English East India Company, and Communist East Germany exercised control over literature across three centuries—see Robert Darnton, Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature (New York: W. W. Norton, 2014).


Books that have dealt with these questions in some measure include Sarah Ansari and William Gould, Boundaries of Belonging: Localities, Citizenship and Rights in India and Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), and Ayesha Jalal, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 255

256!!NOTES TO PAGES 4–6 7.

I borrow the focus on critical events from the anthropologist Veena Das. See Veena Das, Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995). For a history of “minority” as an idea and a category, see Roy Bar Sadeh and Lotte Houwink ten Cate, “Toward a Global Intellectual History of ‘Minority,’$” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 41, no. 3 (2021): 319–324; Mahmood Mamdani, Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020).


T. B. Macaulay, J. M. Macleod, G. W. Anderson, and F. Millett, “Note (J): On the Chapter of Offences Relating to Religion and Caste,” in Penal Code Prepared by the Indian Law Commissioners, and Published by Command of the Governor-General of India in Council (London: India Board, 1838), 97, emphasis added.


Siddharth Narrain, “The Constitution of Hurt: The Evolution of Hate Speech Law in India” (LLM diss., Harvard University, 2014), 11–13; Abhinav Chandrachud, Republic of Rhetoric: Free Speech and the Constitution of India (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2017), 20–43.


Neeti Nair, “Beyond the ‘Communal’ 1920s: The Problem of Intention, Legislative Pragmatism, and the Making of Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code,” IESHR 50, no. 3 (2013): 317–340; see also Asad Ali Ahmed, “Specters of Macaulay: Blasphemy, the Indian Penal Code and Pakistan’s Postcolonial Predicament,” in Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction, ed. Raminder Kaur and William Mazzarella (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 172–205.


“All India Congress Committee Resolution on Rights of Minorities,” in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 97 (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 2000), appendix 2, 476–477.


Instead, it is Gandhi’s last will and testament that is routinely linked to his 1908 text Hind Swaraj to account for his alleged opposition to the idea of the nation and all national projects. See, for instance, Uday Singh Mehta, “Conflict, Secularism, and Toleration,” in Negotiating Democracy and Religious Pluralism: India, Pakistan, and Turkey, ed. Karen Barkey et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 113; and Aditya Nigam, “A Text without Author: Locating Constituent Assembly as Event,” EPW 39, no. 21 (2004): 2107–2113.


Gandhi was insistent on “belonging as a political argument,” to borrow a phrase from Gyanendra Pandey, Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 160.


See the book by the Hindu Mahasabha leader Bhai Parmanand, The Hindu National Movement (Lahore: Kapur Art Printing Works, 1929), for a clear articulation of the two-nation theory, eleven years before Jinnah’s Lahore resolution of 1940.


Akshaya Mukul, Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India (Noida: HarperCollins, 2015), 246–257, 282–286. Mukul notes that the founder of Kalyan, Hanuman Prasad Poddar, drew up his twelve-point template for a Hindu-majority India inspired by the Hindu Mahasabha session at Gorakhpur in December 1946. It is

NOTES TO PAGES 6–8 %%257

worth noting that Nathuram Godse was one of the vice presidents of that Hindu Mahasabha session. 16.

Among others, Gyanendra Pandey has argued that the assassination of Gandhi marked a “turning point in the debate between ‘secular nation’ and ‘Hindu nation’$”; in Pandey, “Can a Muslim Be an Indian?,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41, no. 4 (October 1999): 614. See also Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “Why Bapu Matters,” Indian Express, January 29, 2008, where Mehta argues that had it not been for Gandhi’s assassination, “the new state would not have been able to delegitimize Hindu nationalism to the extent it did.” For a different perspective on ground realities after Gandhi’s assassination, see Rakesh Ankit, “In the Hands of a ‘Secular State’: Meos in the Aftermath of Partition, 1947–49,” IESHR 56, no. 4 (2019): 457–488.


For general statements on the influence of partition in shaping the Indian Constitution, see Nigam, “A Text without Author”; Kanika Gauba, “Forgetting Partition: Constitutional Amnesia and Nationalism,” EPW 51, no. 39 (2016): 41–47.


See CAD, May 25–26, 1949, 8:269–355.


Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel, CAD, May 26, 1949, 8:352–353.

20. On Ambedkar’s redefining the idea of the minority to suit the specific circumstances of Dalits “bereft of earlier solidarities,” see Anupama Rao, “The Minority Question in South Asia,” in Indian Democracy: Origins, Trajectories, Contestations, ed. Alf Gunvald Nilsen, Kenneth Bo Nielsen, and Anand Vaidya (London: Pluto Press, 2019), 34. See also Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan (Lahore: Longmans, Green, 1961), 393. Partha Chatterjee has observed that as a leading figure in the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar had to “speak in the collective voice of an emerging people or nation” rather than “advocate or defend positions that were his own.” He also notes what a difference it would have made for Muslim representation had Ambedkar’s theory of minority rights been applied in their case. See Partha Chatterjee, “Ambedkar’s Theory of Minority Rights,” in The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections, ed. Suraj Yengde and Anand Teltumbde (Gurugram: Penguin, 2018), 124, 133. 21.

B. R. Ambedkar, States and Minorities: What Are Their Rights and How to Secure Them in the Constitution of Free India (Hyderabad: Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Society, [1947], 1970), 48–49.

22. Ambedkar, States and Minorities, 59; also cited in Shabnum Tejani, “The Necessary Conditions for Democracy: B. R. Ambedkar on Nationalism, Minorities and Pakistan,” EPW 48, no. 50 (2013): 113. 23. J. L. Nehru to Chairmen of State Election Committees, September 19, 1951, in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, 2nd ser. (New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 1984–present), vol. 16, pt. 2, pp. 35–36, emphasis added. On Nehru’s concerns about “Muslim isolation,” see Hilal Ahmed, Siyasi Muslims: A Story of Political Islams in India (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2019), 172–173. 24. Gautam Bhatia, Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016); Siddharth Narrain, “Law, Language

258!!NOTES TO PAGE 8 and Community Sentiment: Behind Hate Speech Doctrine in India,” in Meaning and Power in the Language of Law, ed. Janny H. C. Leung (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 186–204; Chandrachud, Republic of Rhetoric; Devika Sethi, War over Words: Censorship in India, 1930–1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). 25. In revealing the linkages between state ideologies, hate speech, and the fears of minorities, my work speaks to questions explored by Talal Asad and Saba Mahmood, Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury and Free Speech (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), and Saba Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016). 26. There is a huge literature on Indian secularism. Some of the most compelling and provocative analyses include Ashis Nandy, “The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of Religious Tolerance,” Alternatives 13 (1988): 177–194; Partha Chatterjee, “Secularism and Toleration,” EPW 29, no. 28 (1994): 1768–1777; Aamir Mufti, “Secularism and Minority: Elements of a Critique,” Social Text, no. 45 (1995): 75–96; Ayesha Jalal, “Exploding Communalism: The Politics of Muslim Identity in South Asia,” in Nationalism, Democracy and Development: State and Politics in India, ed. Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998); Shabnam Tejani, Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History, 1890–1950 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008); Gyan Prakash, “Secular Nationalism, Hindutva and the Minority,” in The Crisis of Secularism in India, ed. A. D. Needham and R. S. Rajan (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Tariq Modood, “Moderate Secularism, Religion as Identity and Respect for Religion,” Political Quarterly 81, no. 1 (2010): 4–14; T. B. Hansen, “Secular Speech and Popular Passions: The Antinomies of Indian Secularism,” in After Secular Law, ed. W. F. Sullivan, R. A. Yelle, and M. Taussig-Rubbo (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011); C. S. Adcock, The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013); Sudipta Kaviraj, “Modernity, State, and Toleration in Indian History: Exploring Accommodations and Partitions,” in Boundaries of Toleration, ed. A. Stepan and C. Taylor (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014); Akeel Bilgrami, “Gandhi’s Radicalism,” in Beyond the Secular West, ed. Akeel Bilgrami (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016). 27.

Nehru biographer S. Gopal noted that his “ultimate responsibility for the detention of Sheikh Abdullah gnawed persistently at his whole sense of public values.” See Sarvepalli Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015), 2:302, also 121–127.

28. Those who recalled the 1948 resolution included parliamentarians Madhu Limaye and Subhadra Joshi. This might have been because Nehru believed that the RSS brand of communal politics, represented by the Jana Sangh, would be defeated democratically. On Nehru’s faith in democratic methods, see Madhavan K. Palat, The Spiritual in Nehru’s Secular Imagination (New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 2019), 54–60. I am grateful to Tanika Sarkar for sharing this book with me.

NOTES TO PAGES 9–13 %%259

29. This was claimed by Jana Sangh parliamentarian Atal Bihari Vajpayee. See Vajpayee, Lok Sabha Debates, April 21, 1972, 252. On Shastri’s proximity to the Hindu Right, see Mukul, Gita Press, 155, 180, 305–306. 30. Journalist and editor Ghazala Wahab has also made this argument in her book Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India (Delhi: Aleph, 2021). Partha Chatterjee has discussed a similar conundrum in the case of the negotiations between the Left Front government and Muslim religious leadership in West Bengal. See Partha Chatterjee, “The Contradictions of Secularism,” in The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004), 113–130. See also Husain, Destiny of Indian Muslims, 139–140. 31.

M. S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts (Bangalore: Vikrama Prakashan, 1966).

32. Ram Niwas Mirdha, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, June 1, 1972, 235–238; Ratanlal Ranchhoddas and Dhirajlal Keshavlal Thakore, The Indian Penal Code, 32nd ed. (Bombay: The Publishers’ Editorial Board, 2010), 783–784. 33. Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel, CAD, May 25, 1949, 8:272. 34. Chatterjee, “Secularism and Toleration,” 1769; republished in Secularism and Its Critics, ed. Rajeev Bhargava (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998). 35. This was by no means a sudden transformation. Through the mid-1980s, the Congress, following Indira Gandhi in her post-Emergency avatar, pandered to Hindu majoritarianism by pledging to build a temple to Ram in Ayodhya, and collaborated with Muslim conservatives to pass the 1986 Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Bill. Shohini Ghosh argues that the debate on censoring hate speech was shaped largely by the rise of the Hindu Right. Historical evidence from the time of partition suggests a longer trajectory. See Shohini Ghosh, “The Alchemy of Hate and Hurt,” in Sentiment, Politics, Censorship: The State of Hurt, ed. Rina Ramdev, S. D. Nambiar, and D. Bhattacharya (Los Angeles: Sage, 2021). 36. M. A. Jinnah, “Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, August 11, 1947.” Censored during the time of General Zia, Jinnah’s inaugural address is now prominently placed on the website of the National Assembly of Pakistan, 37.

Sibte Hasan, The Battle of Ideas in Pakistan (Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House, 1986); Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Farzana Shaikh, Making Sense of Pakistan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); Saadia Toor, The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan (London: Pluto Press, 2011).

38. Liaquat Ali Khan, “Motion re: Aims and Objects of the Constitution,” Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, March 7, 1949. 39. In a separate electorate composed of, say, Christians of West Pakistan, only Christians would elect Christian representatives. In the joint electorate proposed by both Bengali Hindus and Muslims in East Pakistan, members of both communities would elect their representatives jointly.

260!!NOTES TO PAGES 13–17 40. Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Islam in Pakistan: A History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018). 41.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, January 21, 1956, 1904. On Islam as a state of aspiration, see also Naveeda Khan, Muslim Becoming: Aspiration and Skepticism in Pakistan (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012).

42. Ayesha Jalal, “An Uncertain Trajectory: Islam’s Contemporary Globalization, 1971–1979,” in The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective, ed. N. Ferguson et al. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011); Zaman, Islam in Pakistan, 275–276. 43. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, “Pakistan Builds Anew,” Foreign Affairs, April 1973. On the shifts in Pakistan’s approach to Ahmadis, see Ali Usman Qasmi, The Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan (London: Anthem Press, 2014); Matthew J. Nelson, “Constitutional Migration and the Meaning of Religious Freedom: From Ireland and India to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” Journal of Asian Studies 79, no. 1 (2020): 129–154. 44. Tazeen M. Murshid, The Sacred and the Secular: Bengali Muslim Discourses, 1871–1977 (Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1995); Taj Hashmi, “Islamic Resurgence in Bangladesh: Genesis, Dynamics and Implications,” in Religious Radicalism and Security in South Asia, ed. S. Limaye et al. (Honolulu: Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2004); Dina Siddiqi, “Communalizing the Criminal or Criminalizing the Communal: Locating Minority Politics in Bangladesh,” in Violence and Democracy in India, ed. Amrita Basu and Srirupa Roy (Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2007); Ali Riaz, Bangladesh: A Political History since Independence (London: Tauris, 2016). 45. See also Rochona Bajpai, “Religious Pluralism and the State in India: Towards a Typology,” in Barkey et al., Negotiating Democracy, 153–154. On the conflicts and anxieties that informed the framing of the Constitution, see Arvind Elangovan, Norms and Politics: Sir Benegal Narsing Rau in the Making of the Indian Constitution, 1935–50 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019). 46. Interview with Mohammed Hanif, June 19, 2017. 47.

For an analysis of an earlier debate (or lack of sufficient debate) on incorporating the term “secular” into the Preamble during the drafting of the Constitution, see Mridu Rai, “The Indian Constituent Assembly and the Making of Hindus and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir,” Asian Affairs 49, no. 2 (2018): 213–216; also Shefali Jha, “Secularism in the Constituent Assembly Debates, 1946–50,” EPW 37, no. 30 (2002): 3175–3180; Pandey, “Can a Muslim Be an Indian?,” 608–629.

48. There were 16 annas to a rupee in the British period. Gandhi had been responsible for slashing the membership fees of the Congress to a mere four annas, yet he frequently recalled that he was not even a “four-anna” member of the party. According to Nasrullah Khan, Gandhi molded “the politics to be pursued by political parties from behind the screen without sharing the responsibility for their consequences.” See Political Parties Bill, National Assembly of Pakistan Debates, July 9, 1962, 1223.

NOTES TO PAGES 17–24 %%261

49. C. A. Bayly, Recovering Liberties: Indian Thought in the Age of Liberalism and Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2012), 24; see also Joya Chatterji, “South Asian Histories of Citizenship, 1946–1970,” Historical Journal 55, no. 4 (2012): 1050–1051; Sumit Sarkar, Writing Social History (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997).

1. Gandhi’s Assassination, Godse’s Defense, and the Minority Question Epigraphs: M. K. Gandhi, prayer speech, September 22, 1947, in Delhi Diary: Prayer Speeches from 10-9-47 to 30-1-48 (Ahmedabad: Navajivan, March 1948), 29–30; Nathuram Godse, May It Please Your Honour: Statement of Nathuram Godse, ed. Gopal Godse (Pune: Vitastha Prakashan, 1977), 19. 1.

For an account of the ceremonies following Gandhi’s assassination, see Yasmin Khan, “Performing Peace: Gandhi’s Assassination as a Critical Moment in the Consolidation of the Nehruvian State,” Modern Asian Studies 45, no. 1 (2011): 57–80.


See reports in the Times of India through the month of February 1948; J. L. Kapur, Report of Commission of Inquiry into Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, 1970) (hereafter cited as Kapur Commission Report), 1:245.


Ganesh Devy, in Speaking of Gandhi’s Death, ed. Tridip Suhrud and Peter Ronald deSouza (Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2010), 101.


This point is made by Rajeev Bhargava toward the end of a discussion on commemorating the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, in Suhrud and deSouza, Speaking of Gandhi’s Death, 124.


This violence was partly a consequence of “Direct Action Day,” commemorated on August 16, 1946. This day had been called for by the Muslim League to protest how the Congress was interpreting certain provisions of the Cabinet Mission Plan.


Nirmal Kumar Bose, “Gandhi the Man,” in N. K. Bose and P. H. Patwardhan, Gandhi in Indian Politics (Bombay: Lalvani, 1967), 5.


Nirmal Kumar Bose, My Days with Gandhi (Bombay: Orient Longman, [1953] 1974), 54.


Bose, My Days with Gandhi, 84; Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, 2 vols. (Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1956–1958), 1:50.


Gandhi to eminent Muslim League leader Syed Abdul Aziz, quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:686.


Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:52. The next few paragraphs rely on the detailed account of Gandhi’s last two years in Pyarelal’s two-volume monumental work.


Harijan, October 6, 1946. Quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:318.


Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:31.


Quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:18.

262!!NOTES TO PAGES 24–28 14.

Letter from Gandhi to Nehru, March 20, 1947. Quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:3, 35.


Nathuram Godse, May It Please, 8; Godse, Agrani, July 26, 1944, in Ex. D"/"15, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 5:4–5; see also G. R. Malkani, “Did Gandhi Oppose Pakistan?,” Organiser, June 26, 1950; P. L. Inamdar, The Story of the Red Fort Trial (Bombay: Popular, 1979), 200–201.


Rammanohar Lohia, Guilty Men of India’s Partition (Hyderabad: Rammanohar Lohia Samata Vidyalaya Nyas, 1970), 22, emphasis added. This extract was published as an article in the Organiser and in Mankind in 1959.


Lohia, Guilty Men, 23.


Bose, My Days with Gandhi, 188.


When Mukherji asked what would happen if, in the future, the majority of Hindu members of this proposed united Bengal wanted to federate with India, and the majority of Muslim members wanted to federate with Pakistan, Gandhi accepted that this would lead to a partition of Bengal; but he added, “That partition will be brought about by mutual agreement of the people of Bengal and not by the British. It is a partition by the British which has to be prevented at any cost.” Bose, My Days with Gandhi, 200. Clearly, Gandhi was gambling on Bengalis uniting in the longer term rather than acquiescing in a division ordered by a third party, whether Hindi-,"Urdu-,"or English-speaking.

20. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:162, 164. 21.

Quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:256.

22. D. G. Tendulkar, Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1963), 8:17–18; Congress Working Committee, May 31 to June 5, 1947, in INC: The Glorious Tradition: Texts of the Resolutions Passed by the INC, AICC and the CWC, vol. 4: 1939–1950, comp. A. M. Zaidi (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1987), 315, emphasis added. 23. See also Sugata Bose, “Unity or Partition: Mahatma Gandhi’s Last Stand, 1945–48,” in The Nation as Mother: And Other Visions of Nationhood (Delhi: Penguin, 2017). 24. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:217, 245, 314. 25. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:316. 26. January 7, 1947, quoted in Bose, My Days with Gandhi, 120. 27.

Manubehn Gandhi, The Miracle of Calcutta (Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1959), 96.

28. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:158, emphasis added. This incident dates to the last week of January 1947. 29. To purge himself of any weakness, he put himself through increasingly severe trials. Now, with a renewed attention to natural cure, Gandhi held that the chanting of Ramanama, the name of Rama, was enough to cure any malady. J. T. F. Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion: A Homespun Shawl (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, [1998] 2012), 198. This was also the time Gandhi underwent experiments in

NOTES TO PAGES 28–31 %%263

brahmacharya. These have been discussed elsewhere, most recently in the diaries of Manu Gandhi, and in Anwesha Roy, Making Peace, Making Riots: Communalism and Communal Violence, Bengal, 1940–47 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 230–232. 30. Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion, 80. 31.

Sugata Bose, “Nation, Reason and Religion: India’s Independence in International Perspective,” EPW 33, no. 31 (1998).

32. Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion, 190. Raihana Tyabji is credited with helping Gandhi incorporate verses from the Quran. See Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, “$‘The Heart of a Gopi’: Raihana Tyabji’s Bhakti Devotionalism as Self-Representation,” in Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia, ed. Anshu Malhtora and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 235. 33. Gandhi to Kaka Kalelkar, in Ashram Bhajanavali, 45th reprint (Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 2014), 14. See also Ajay Skaria, Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016). 34. Quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:441. See also In the High Court of Judicature of the Province of East Punjab at Simla: Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case and the Kapur Commission Report for references to Quran objectors. 35. Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion, 169. 36. This paragraph is developed from Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion. 37.

Jordens quotes from an article in the Harijan in August 1946: “In my view, whether called Rama, Rahman, Ormuzd, God or Krishna, He is that Supreme Power that man is ever trying to find a name for.” Jordens, Gandhi’s Religion, 130. See also, M. K. Gandhi, Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth (New York: Dover, 1983).

38. Gandhi, prayer speech, January 18, 1948 in Delhi Diary, 355. 39. Nishikant Kolge, Gandhi against Caste (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017), 15. I am grateful to Neeladri Bhattacharya for this reference. 40. Harijan, April 20, 1947, quoted in Bose, My Days with Gandhi, 179. 41.

Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 1:167. See also Ramachandra Guha, Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914–1948 (New York: Knopf, 2018), 797–798.

42. Delhi Diary, 355, 373. 43. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:93–95. 44. K. R. Malkani, The RSS Story (New Delhi: Impex, 1980), 48. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:95. Vasantrao Oke later represented Nathuram Godse in the murder trial. 45. Godse, May It Please, 19–20. 46. See Delhi Diary, prayer speeches, September–November 1947. 47.

Kolge, Gandhi against Caste, 44. Yet he took care not to force his views on those unwilling to hear these mixed prayers. I emphasize this aspect of Gandhi’s way

264!!NOTES TO PAGES 31–35 because Godse insisted that Gandhi always behaved like a dictator. In 1947 this was manifestly untrue. 48. These are Rochona Bajpai’s words, although she has suggested that the preservation of religious pluralism was not elaborated upon, thereby providing a favorable context for the growth of the Hindu Right. See Rochona Bajpai, “Religious Pluralism and the State in India: Towards a Typology,” in Negotiating Democracy and Religious Pluralism: India, Pakistan and Turkey, ed. K. Barkey, S. Kaviraj, and V. Naresh (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 149. 49. Gandhi, Speech at AICC Meeting, November 15, 1947, CWMG, 97:320. 50. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:520. 51.

AICC resolution (i) Rights of Minorities, CWMG, vol. 97, append. 2, 476–477, emphasis added. See also “Gandhi’s Advice to Indian Muslims Delivered on 22 December 1947 in a Post-Prayer Meeting,” in The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record, ed. A. G. Noorani (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003), 61.

52. I thank Neeladri Bhattacharya and Tanika Sarkar for helping me think through the implications of Gandhi’s prayer meetings. 53. Gandhi’s role in this AICC session has not been studied. Instead, it is his last will and testament that has been subject to unending analyses, to the detriment of his faith and investment in the Congress party. 54. “Gallup Poll,” Organiser, September 18, 1947. 55. “Security Demand,” Organiser, November 27, 1947. This was considered by the editor to be particularly egregious, since this was a colonial-era law that had been forged to target Gandhi, and against which Gandhi had written a celebrated essay in Young India, “Shaking the Mane.” However, the editor’s admiration for Gandhi on this score did not extend to Gandhi on his support for Muslims. The publication of numerous articles from other publications, such as the Agrani and later Hindu Rashtra, also required the editors Nathuram Godse and N. D. Apte to deposit security under this act. See, for instance, Ex P"/"147, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 4:92–93. 56. Siya Ram Saxena, “Is Hindu State Theocratic?,” Organiser, November 20, 1947, among other articles through the 1950s. These letters and articles suggest a powerful counternarrative to the prevailing understanding that there was widespread support for a secular India at the time. See Ornit Shani, “The People and the Making of India’s Constitution,” Historical Journal (2022): 8. 57.

“Resettlement of Muslims in Delhi Opposed; Grave Danger to Peace Feared,” Organiser, October 2, 1947.

58. In a critique of Gandhi’s advice to Calcutta Hindus to “praise Islam and cry Allah-o-Akbar,” “Raghu” accused Gandhi of not providing refugees with any useful advice; Raghu, “Whither Mahatma Gandhi,” Organiser, September 11, 1947. 59. H. S. Suhrawardy, Memoirs of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, ed. Mohammad  H. R. Talukdar (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2009), 107. 60. See Manubehn Gandhi, The Miracle, 65–67.

NOTES TO PAGES 35–39 %%265


Quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:405–406.

62. The theory of hostages was posited by the Muslim League to suggest that non-Muslim minorities within Pakistan would act as hostages for the good behavior toward Muslim minorities within India. It was widely criticized by the Congress. Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:415; Bose, My Days with Gandhi, 228–229; Roy, Making Peace, Making Riots, 234. 63. Manubehn Gandhi, The Miracle, 95. In her study of Gandhi’s last fasts, the historian Anwesha Roy has argued that it was guilt at being the possible cause of Gandhi’s death, rather than the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity or nonviolence, that helped bring these fasts to an end. Sumit Sarkar also sees the effect of these fasts as “an isolated personal effort with a local and often rather short-lived impact.” These analyses are critical to understanding the limitations of Gandhi’s hunger fasts, even at the moment of their presumed success. See Roy and Sarkar quoted in Anwesha Roy, Making Peace, Making Riots, 239–240. 64. Medha M. Kudaisya, The Life and Times of G. D. Birla (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003), 260–261. 65. “To the People of Gujarat,” Harijan, quoted in Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, 2:709. 66. Gandhi, speech at AICC meeting, November 15, 1947, CWMG, 97:317. 67.

M. K. Gandhi, prayer speech, October 16, 1947, in Delhi Diary, 90.

68. M. K. Gandhi, prayer speeches, September 13, 17, and 16, 1947, in Delhi Diary, 12, 19, 16. 69. Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan (Lahore: Longmans, Green, 1961), 404. Khaliquzzaman records that he met Gandhi on September 30. 70. M. K. Gandhi, prayer speech, September 15, 1947, in Delhi Diary, 16. 71.

Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan, 404, emphasis added. In his letter, Ramdas Gandhi probably meant to refer to the Kohat riot. For a discussion of this 1924 riot in the Northwest Frontier Province, see Neeti Nair, Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), chap. 2.

72. Begum Anis Kidwai, In Freedom’s Shade, trans. Ayesha Kidwai (Delhi: Penguin, 2011). 73. Lohia, Guilty Men. It should be noted here that in the weeks and months following August 15, many Indian leaders were willing to conceive of a reunified India. Even Nehru spoke of a “willing union” as a possibility in the Congress Working Committee resolution in June 1947. However, editorials in Dawn in August 1947 were dismissive of talk of such a “reunion.” Furthermore, as the violence intensified and the dispute over Kashmir brought India and Pakistan to war, many sought to make the fact of partition final and irreversible, especially bureaucrats belonging to the ministries of external affairs of both India and Pakistan. See Pallavi Raghavan, Animosity at Bay: An Alternative History of the India-Pakistan Relationship, 1947–1952 (London: Hurst, 2020). 74. See Vazira Zamindar, The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), on the refugee situation in Delhi;

266!!NOTES TO PAGES 39–41 I. H. Qureshi, “Hindu-Muslim Social Relations, 1935–47,” in India Partitioned: The Other Face of Freedom, ed. Mushirul Hasan, vol. 2 (New Delhi: Lotus Collection, 1995), 172–183. 75. G. D. Khosla, “The Crime of Nathuram Godse,” in The Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge’s Note-Book (London: Chatto and Windus, 1963), 207, emphasis in the original. 76. Khosla, “The Crime of Nathuram Godse,” 208. 77.

Kapur Commission Report, part 2, chapter on communal organizations. Also see Arvind Rajagopal, “Interview with Gopal Godse: Excerpts,” in Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination, compiled and introduced by Teesta Setalvad (New Delhi: Tulika, 2015), 267; Akshaya Mukul, Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India (Noida, HarperCollins, 2015). In their history of the RSS, Walter Andersen and Shridhar Damle argued that “links between the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS were virtually severed.” Although this might have been true for some leaders, several individuals remained loyal to both organizations. See Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2019), 43. The recent biography of Nathuram Godse by Dhirendra K. Jha assiduously reveals the links between organizations such as the RSS and the Hindu Rashtra Dal, in which Godse actively participated. See Dhirendra K. Jha, Gandhi’s Assassin: The Making of Nathuram Godse and his Idea of India (Gurugram: Penguin, 2021).

78. One of Savarkar’s biographers, Vikram Sampath, has also reproduced Gandhi’s appeal in favor of the release of the Savarkar brothers from the Andaman Cellular Jail in 1920. See Sampath, Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2019), 360. 79. In his biography of Godse, Dhirendra K. Jha notes that Jamnadas Mehta, part of the government formed after the elections of 1937, was instrumental in securing Savarkar’s release. See Jha, Gandhi’s Assassin, 56. 80. Savarkar, Hindutva: Who Is a Hind? (Bombay: Veer Savarkar Prakashan), 1969. This was faithfully parroted by Nathuram Godse in his defense statement. See Godse, May It Please, 25–26. This definition of “Hindu” was adopted by the Hindu Mahasabha in its new political and economic program in November 1948. See Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, pamphlet 29, NMML, New Delhi. 81.

Orders under Section 2 (1) (a) and Section 3 of the Bombay Public Security Measures Act 1947, February 5 and 14, 1948, Exhibits D"/"102 and D"/"103, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 5:46–47.

82. N. D. Apte credited Savarkar with their getting the license to use four rifles in the Club. “This work took so much shape only because it was started on your inspiration and because you sustained our enthusiasm by writing letters again and again.” N. D. Apte to Savarkar, October 29, 1938, Exhibit D"/"23, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 5:10. A year later, Apte asked Savarkar if they should constitute a Central Rifle Club for Maharashtra. He also noted that in the four rifle clubs that had been established so far,

NOTES TO PAGES 41–42 %%267

“not a single Musalman has been taken. So far this has passed unnoticed, but should one be taken into any club like one takes medicine into one’s body to avoid evil results?” N. D. Apte to Savarkar, May 10, 1939, Exhibit D"/"25, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 5:13. 83. The deliberations of the Hindu Rashtra Dal date to May 1943. Kapur Commission Report, part 2, 67. 84. Written Statement of V. D. Savarkar, November 20, 1948, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 2:183. 85. Written Statement of V. D. Savarkar, November 20, 1948, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 2:206. In the inquiries that were led by Justice Kapur in the 1960s, Savarkar’s bodyguard and secretary, A. R. Kasar and G. V. Damle, both affirmed that Godse and Apte had access to Savarkar’s house without any restriction. See Kapur Commission Report, part 1, 37; A. G. Noorani, “How Savarkar Escaped the Gallows,” The Hindu, June 15, 2016, 86. Written Statement of V. D. Savarkar, November 20, 1948, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 2:198. For an analysis of how Savarkar labored to show the court his distance from the Hindu Rashtra Dal, see also Vikram Sampath, Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, 1924–66 (Gurugram: Penguin, 2021), 505–508; Dhirendra K. Jha, Gandhi’s Assassin, 112–113. 87.

Nathuram Godse, May It Please, 19–22. One of Savarkar’s biographers, Vikram Sampath, has accused Godse of “over-zealousness and exaggeration” because it would be “quite incredible that a retired party president, a convalescing and reclusive one at that, would take the trouble to call upon an ordinary party worker creating nuisance at a rival’s meeting and admonish or advise him, especially with his own claim of how difficult and seldom it was that he gained Savarkar’s personal audience. This contradicts the claims by both him and Savarkar that theirs was merely a casual and distant professional relationship, necessitated on and off due to the Agrani or the Hindu Rashtra Dal, if the senior kept such a close watch on the protégé’s every action and sought to correct him as well.” Sampath, Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, 493–94.

88. Times of India, July 28, 1948. 89. Agrani, July 26, 1946, Ex. P"/"144, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, vol. 4, annexures, 89–91. The leading religious journal for Hindus, Kalyan, recommended that only Hindus be employed by the Indian army and that Muslims not be appointed to any high post. See Mukul, Gita Press, 254. 90. “Thus the evidence discloses that the police and permanent officials in Bombay City knew precious little about the danger to the life of Mahatma Gandhi. . . . Behind the smoke screen of extreme communal activity, the anti-Congress and anti- Gandhi activity was successfully hidden from the view of the police who seem to have been wholly oblivious of lurking danger to Congress leaders including Gandhiji and who do not seem to have been very successful, if they were active at all, even in regard to controlling communal frenzy . . . they could easily be deluded

268!!NOTES TO PAGES 42–47 by the movement being given an anti-Muslim slant.” Findings of Kapur Commission Report, part 2, 348–349. For a perceptive insight into the anti-Muslim violence in Bombay, see Saadat Hasan Manto, “Ashok Kumar: The Evergreen Hero,” in Saadat Hasan Manto and Khalid Hasan, Stars from Another Sky: The Bombay Film World of the 1940s (Haryana: Penguin, 2014), 18–19. 91.

The razakars refers to volunteer corps who were persecuting Hyderabad State’s residents who opposed the Nizam of Hyderabad. The close involvement of the Hyderabad State Congress with arms collection and anti-razakar activity was proudly endorsed by Hindu Mahasabha leaders. See press statement on Hyderabad affairs by Ashutosh Lahiry, general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, December 14, 1948, Statements no. 12, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML.

92. Rajeshwar Dayal, A Life of Our Times (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1998), 93–94, emphasis added. This episode is also referred to in the Kapur Commission report. In his biography of the Gita Press, Akshaya Mukul describes a thick web of personal relations that tied together politicians and activists, including the RSS’s Golwalkar and the Congress’s Govind Ballabh Pant, then chief minister of the United Provinces, to whom Dayal refers above. See Mukul, Gita Press, 289, 319. 93. Dainik Hindu Rashtra, September 6, 1947. Exhibit 233, H, Kapur Commission Report, part 2, 71. 94. “The People in the Punjab Are Thinking of Shivaji Maharaj,” Agrani, March 30, 1947; “Heart-Burning Letters from Blazing Punjab,” Agrani, April 2, 1947, Ex. P"/"147, statement of words falling under clauses (d) and (h) of subsection (1) of Section 4 of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, In the Court of the Special Judge, Red Fort, Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, 4:101–107. 95. Organiser, August 14, 1947. Emphasis added. 96. Editorial, press statement of Mr. Savarkar, Organiser, October 9, 1947. In his defense statement in court, Godse would repeat the same analogy of a pigmy while derisively comparing Gandhi to Shivaji, Rana Pratap, and Guru Govind. Godse, May It Please, 30. Vikram Sampath provides more examples of Savarkar’s violent rhetoric at this time in Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, 437–439. On the centrality of violence to the understanding of what Savarkar called “Hindu,” see Vinayak Chaturvedi, “Violence as Civility: V.D. Savarkar and the Mahatma’s Assassination,” South Asian History and Culture 11, no. 3 (2020): 239–253. 97.

Gandhi’s prayer speeches in September 1947, in Delhi Diary; Malkani, The RSS Story, 49–50.

98. “Further Prosecution Evidence at Godse Trial,” Times of India, July 6, 1948. 99. See Times of India, August 25, 1948. 100. Gopal Godse, “Not by Rhetoric (a Kind of Preface),” in Nathuram Godse, May It Please, xxi; Inamdar, The Story of the Red Fort Trial, 196; “Headlines in Newspapers: Defence Counsels’ Protest,” Times of India, July 24, 1948; AIR 1950 P&H 150, In the High Court of Punjab Special Bench, Pratap vs The State, decided on July 4,1949. The gist of Godse’s statement was published in Khosla, “The Crime of Nathuram Godse.” Less easily accessible in India was another version published in

NOTES TO PAGES 47–50 %%269

Scotland: Anon., Gandhi Murder Trial: The Official Account of the Trial of Godse, Apte and Others for Murder and Conspiracy, with Verbatim Reports of Speeches by Godse and Savarkar (Glasgow: Strickland Press, 1950). I am grateful to Sumathi Ramaswamy for providing me with a copy of this version of the trial proceedings. Interestingly, the government of India had refused to send a copy of Godse’s defense statement to a journal in Canada and was against its publication abroad. File 54"/"5"/"49-Poll, NAI. 101. Godse, May It Please, 27. On the secular claims of the Indian state and the possibilities of subversion within the courtroom, see Kanika Sharma, “Spectacular Justice: Aesthetics and Power in the Gandhi Murder Trial,” in The Courtroom as a Space of Resistance: Reflections on the Legacy of the Rivonia Trial, ed. Awol Allo (Surrey: Ashgate, 2015), 323–342. 102. Resolution no. VII, “Constitution of Free Hindusthan,” seconded by Nathu Ram Godse, All India Hindu Mahasabha 27th session at Gorakhpur, January 1947, pamphlet 26, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML. 103. Godse, May It Please, 27. Separate electorates were a British invention that divided the general electorate into electorates defined by religion. So, in 1909, Muslims were granted separate electorates, which meant that Muslims with the franchise would have the right to elect Muslims to the Legislative Assembly. Savarkar’s biographer Vikram Sampath notes that Savarkar also supported separate Muslim electorates in his petitions from Cellular Jail. See Sampath, Savarkar: Echoes, 394. 104. The reference to bad odor was likely a reference to Munich and Hitler’s massive miscalculation that had cost the world dearly. See Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 1, bk. 2, pt. 2, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” 1966, 137. On the Jana Sangh and BJP’s use of the phrase “myth of appeasement,” see Aakar Patel, Our Hindu Rashtra: What It Is, How We Got Here (Chennai: Westland, 2020), 148–166; Hilal Ahmed, Siyasi Muslims: A Story of Political Islams in India (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2019), 163–191. 105. See Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi (London: The Bodley Head, 1969), 535. 106. Gandhi, “Citizen of Undivided India,” in Delhi Diary, December 15, 1947, 259–260. I regard the Gandhi-Jinnah talks of 1944 as negotiations that were meant to tease out the contours of “Pakistan.” I do not see these negotiations as indicative of Gandhi’s support for the kind of partition that resulted in 1947. 107. “Service and Self- Sacrifice Led to Sangh’s Growth; Gandhiji Addresses RSS Workers,” Organiser, September 18, 1947. Emphasis in the original. 108. “Finding God,” November 16, 1947, in Delhi Diary, 173–174. The account in the diary does not mention who upbraided Gandhi. 109. Witness Sushila Nayar, Kapur Commission Report, 1:198. 110. Godse, May It Please, 89–90; Chaturvedi, “Violence as Civility.” 111. Malkani, The RSS Story, 105. 112. On the association of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS with Chitpavan Brahmins in Maharashtra, see Ashis Nandy, “A Disowned Father of the Nation in India:

270!!NOTES TO PAGES 50–53 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Demonic and the Seductive in Indian Nationalism,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 15, no. 1 (2014): 91–112. 113. H. V. R. Iengar, “The Rule of Law,” May 28, 1964, in Snapshots of History: Through the Writings of H. V. R. Iengar, ed. Indra Patel and Bipin Patel (Mumbai: Ananya, 2002), 9–10. 114. “Clarification Wanted,” Organiser, October 9, 1948. 115. Nagpur High Court judgment cited in “RSS Satyagraha Was an Expression of Faith in Constitutional Methods,” Organiser, January 11, 1950. 116. The articles “Three Years of Travail and After,” “Life in Yole Camp Jail,” and “Satyagraha in the Capital,” in special issue Veer, Organiser, January 23, 1950. The phrase “ungandhian vendetta” is taken from the article “RSS Satyagraha Was an Expression of Faith in Constitutional Methods.” 117. K. R. Malkani, “Organiser Threatened, Delhi Administration Endangers Freedom of the Press,” Organiser, March 6, 1950. 118. See Raghavan, Animosity at Bay, chap. 2, for an analysis of the expectations that underlay the pact. Seventy years later, following in the footsteps of the RSS’s protest, Home Minister Amit Shah railed against the spirit of accommodation underlying this pact, in his address to Parliament during the CAB debates in 2019. 119. The six subjects included under Article 19 (2) were libel, slander, defamation, contempt of court, offending against decency or morality, and undermining the security of, or attempting to overthrow, the State. 120. “Organiser vs The State,” Organiser, May 1, 1950, emphasis added. 121. See, for example, chapters in Granville Austin, The Indian Experience: Working a Democratic Constitution (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000); Gautam Bhatia, Offend, Shock or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); Abhinav Chandrachud, The Republic of Rhetoric: Free Speech and the Constitution of India (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2017); Udit Bhatia, ed., The Indian Constituent Assembly: Deliberations on Democracy (London: Routledge, 2018). 122. “A Great Event:"Organiser Wins the Case against the State,” Organiser, June 5, 1950. 123. Brij Bhushan and Another vs The State of Delhi on May 26, 1950. Dissent by J. Fazl Ali. There is now a huge literature on the corrosive effects of hate speech. For one example, see Bhikhu Parekh, “Is There a Case for Banning Hate Speech?,” in The Content and Context of Hate Speech: Rethinking Regulation and Responses, ed. Michael Herz and Peter Molnar (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 37–56; Jeremy Waldron, The Harm in Hate Speech (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). 124. Prohibition of publication of the statement made by Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, Ministry of States, Defence and Security, Progs. Nos. 1(87)-D, 1949 (Secret), NAI.

NOTES TO PAGES 54–58 %%271

125. See also Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Abolishing the Death Penalty: Why India Should Say No to Capital Punishment (New Delhi: Aleph, 2016), 6. The recent attempt by Hindu fundamentalist groups to ban artists such as T. M. Krishna, O. S. Arun, and Nithyashree from performing Carnatic music in churches fits in with this demand for a purely Hindu India. 126. Kamal, “Rise and Fall of Congress—II,” Organiser, September 11, 1950, emphasis added. 127. Kamal, “Rise and Fall of Congress—III,” Organiser, September 18, 1950, emphasis added. 128. Kamal, “Rise and Fall of Congress—IV,” Organiser, September 25, 1950. 129. Kamal, “Why Congress Won—II,” Organiser, February 25, 1952. 130. Manorama, “Zamindari Abolition: Nehru Rejects Gandhi,” Organiser, September 1, 1952. 131. See Organiser, October 3, 1955, for letters to the editor on this question; and quotations from the early Gandhi in Young India, 1921, on the cow protection movement; “Statement from D. P. Mishra,” and “While Shri Nehru Invoked the Name of Mahatma Gandhi in Support of His Secular Thesis, His Secularism Was the Very Anti-Thesis of Mahatma Gandhi’s Religious, Spiritual, and Moral Non-Communalism,” Organiser, September 19, 1951; M. N. Tholal, “Nehru and Gandhi—Poles Apart,” Organiser, August 15, 1952. On the question of cow protection and state responsibility, Gandhi had changed his opinion by 1947. Nishikant Kolge has pointed out that Gandhi clarified that “his last opinion be taken as final.” See Kolge, Gandhi against Caste, 36. 132. Malkani, The RSS Story, 79–80. 133. Malkani, The RSS Story, 105. 134. Malkani, The RSS Story, 110. Jayaprakash Narayan appreciated this detail when he visited the RSS training camp in Patna in 1977. The prayer is in appendix 3 of Malkani’s The RSS Story, 201–207. In “Gandhiji: An Appreciation,” the editor Malkani wrote that Gandhi did not “need to be called ‘Father of the Nation’ to be accepted as one of the greatest leaders ever of our nation. . . . I have an impish feeling that the title has been invented more to establish the ‘son-ship’ of Congressites than the fatherhood of Gandhiji . . . even more than a freedom fighter, I recognize Gandhiji as a Hindu sage. I have no doubt that notwithstanding his concessions to communalism he was essentially a proud Hindu . . . harking to Ram Rajya through satya and brahmacharya roused men as no talk of ‘selfdetermination’ could have.” Organiser, September 29, 1952. See also Madhu Limaye, “The Father of Our Nation Controversy and the Sangh Pariwar’s Hostility to Gandhi,” in Limaye, Religious Bigotry: A Threat to Ordered State (Delhi: Ajanta, 1994), 92–100. 135. Kamal, “An Analysis: Hindu-Muslim Relations,” Organiser, September 8, 1952. “Kamal” was a pseudonym for K. R. Malkani, the RSS leader. On the Sangh’s continuing obsession with “Indianizing Muslims,” see Hilal Ahmed, Siyasi Muslims, 76–79.

272!!NOTES TO PAGES 58–61 136. Kamal, “An Analysis: Hindu-Muslim Relations,” Organiser, September 15, 1952. 137. Kamal, “An Analysis.” Shuddhi refers to a process of “reconversion” to the allegedly original fold of Hinduism, made possible by Hindu revivalist organizations such as the Arya Samaj. For more details, see Nair, Changing Homelands. 138. “The Story of the Case,” Organiser, January 11, 1954. 139. “Police Raid,” Organiser, October 13, 1952. 140. Kamal, “One Culture,” Organiser, November 10, 1952. At the same time, the Hindu Mahasabha also was writing in favor of “Indianization of Muslims” and shuddhi. See resolutions passed at the Gorakhpur session in January 1947, pamphlet 26; and “The Moslem Minority Problem,” published in part in Hindustan Times, November 21, 1948, pamphlet 30, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML. 141. “Organiser vs The State: Appeal to the High Court,” Organiser, June 28, 1954. 142. Section 298 of the IPC penalized uttering words with “deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person,” which was punishable with one year’s imprisonment or a fine, or both. Indian Penal Code, Act XLV of 1860, with Amendments Up to Date  . . . , by Bamapada Mukhurji and Hem Chandra Mitra (Calcutta: Mukhurji and Co., 1896). 143. M. N. Tholal, “Essentials of a Secular State,” Organiser, January 26, 1955. 144. “The Hindu Mahasabha in India,” Speeches by B. Shiva Rao, no. 49, B Shiva Rao Papers, 2nd installment, NMML. 145. “Mahasabha and Its Ideals,” Prepared by the Central Parliamentary Board, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, December 1950, 36–37, pamphlet 38, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML, emphasis added. 146. See Balraj Madhok, Hindusthan on the Crossroads (Lahore: Mehta Brothers, 1946); see also Balraj Madhok’s series on the Hindu-Muslim question, Organiser, 1954–1955. The president of the Provincial Congress, Purushottam Das Tandon, also urged Muslims to adopt Hindu culture. See Sarvepalli Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015), 2:92. 147. Godse, May It Please, 37. 148. Inaugural address of Veer Savarkar, Calcutta session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, December 1949, pamphlet 33, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML. It is therefore incorrect to declare, as Vikram Sampath does, that Savarkar wanted to “eschew every possible conflict with the new government of India” and shun “public contact” after the Gandhi murder trial. See Sampath, Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, 519–520. 149. Press statement on Hyderabad affairs by Ashutosh Lahiry, general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, December 14, 1948, Statements no. 12, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML, emphasis added. 150. Until the elections of 1937, when the Congress forbade its members to join a “communal organization” like the Hindu Mahasabha, several leaders of the Congress were also active members of the Hindu Mahasabha and other political outfits, such as the Hindu Sabha party in the Punjab. For a discussion of the

NOTES TO PAGES 62–66 %%273

changing politics of Lajpat Rai and Madan Mohan Malaviya, prominent leaders of both the Congress and the Hindu Sabha, as well as an informal seat-sharing arrangement between the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha in Punjab for the 1946 elections, see Nair, Changing Homelands. For evidence of close links between RSS workers and the Congress in 1947, see also Anis Kidwai, In Freedom’s Shade, 85–86. In a statement in 1948, Ashutosh Lahiry, general secretary of the Mahasabha, referred to the common “ideals” of the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha, the common membership of both organizations, and the fact that many high positions in the Congress were held by leaders who were once with the Hindu Mahasabha. Statement on the resumption of political activities by Hindu Mahasabha, August 18, 1948, Speeches by Him, no. 9, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML. 151. Gandhi, Delhi Diary, October 15, 1947, 88–89; Nathuram Godse, May It Please, 56. For Savarkar’s support for Hindi, see Sampath, Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, 394. On the consequences of this neglect of Urdu, see S. Abid Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1965); Ghazala Wahab, Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India (Delhi: Aleph, 2021). On the resumption of ties between conservative elements in the Congress and members of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha in the early 1950s, see Mukul, Gita Press. 152. Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, CAD, August 27, 1947, 5:221–222, emphasis added. 153. Choudhry Khaliquzzaman, CAD, August 27, 1947, 5:221–222, emphasis added. 154. Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan, 401–415. 155. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Motion re draft Constitution, CAD, November 4, 1948, 7:39. 156. Kazi Syed Karimuddin, CAD, November 6, 1948, 7:242–243. 157. Z. H. Lari, CAD, November 8, 1948, 7:297. 158. CAD, 7:298–299. Mr. Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib Bahadur of Madras was also in favor of proportional representation by single transferable vote; CAD, 7:297. 159. CAD, November 8, 1948, 7:300–301. The vice president was H. C. Mookherjee, and the UP leader to whom Tripathi referred was Khaliquzzaman. 160. Begum Rasul, CAD, 7:306–307. On Rasul’s attempts to advocate for her Muslim constituents, see Humaira Chowdhury, “The Life and Times of Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul: An Exploration of Muslim Women’s Self-Fashioning in Post-Colonial India,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 44, no. 2 (2021): 277–281. 161. Jawaharlal Nehru, CAD, November 8, 1948, 7:323. 162. Renuka Ray, CAD, November 9, 1948, 7:357. 163. L. Krishnaswami Bharathi, CAD, November 9, 1948, 7:366. 164. Sardar Hukam Singh, CAD, January 4, 1949, 7:1250. 165. H. J. Khandekar, CAD, January 4, 1949, 7:1252. 166. B. R. Ambedkar, CAD, January 4, 1949, 7:1263. Partha Chatterjee has analyzed Ambedkar’s consistent position that the minority community have the right to choose its preferred constitutional form. See Chatterjee, “Ambedkar’s Theory of

274!!NOTES TO PAGES 66–70 Minority Rights” in The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections, ed. Suraj Yengde and Anand Teltumbde (Gurugram: Penguin, 2018), 107–133. 167. Patel added that “a change, if effected, would be one sought voluntarily by the minorities themselves and not imposed on them by the majority community.” See Sardar Patel, Chairman, Advisory Committee on Minorities, Fundamental Rights, etc., to the President, Constituent Assembly of India, December 30, 1948, CAD, 8:310–312. Retzlaff has characterized this meeting of December 30 as representing the “beginning of a concerted effort to secure the consent of the minorities to the abolition of the principle of reservation of seats in the legislatures.” See Ralph H. Retzlaff, “The Problem of Communal Minorities in the Drafting of the Indian Constitution,” in Constitutionalism in Asia, ed. R. N. Spann (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1963), 70. Nathuram Godse had concluded his arguments in the Red Fort on December 16, 1948. Times of India, December 17, 1948. 168. Khosla, “The Crime of Nathuram Godse”; Inamdar, Story of the Red Fort Trial. 169. Iqbal A. Ansari, “Minorities and the Politics of Constitution Making in India,” in Minority Identities and the Nation-State, ed. D. L. Sheth and Gurpreet Mahajan (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999). What we have instead is a brief summary of the proceedings attached as an appendix to the Report of the Advisory Committee on Minorities, CAD, 8:310–312. 170. Oral history transcript of H. V. R. Iengar, 149, recorded by Hari Dev Sharma, March 23, 1973, NMML. This is echoed in the memoirs of V. Shankar, Patel’s private secretary, who alludes to Patel’s “uncanny method of not imposing his will and yet carrying everyone, as far as possible, with him.” V. Shankar, My Reminiscences of Sardar Patel, vol. 1 (Delhi: Macmillan, 1974), 192. 171. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, CAD, May 25, 1949, 8:270, 272, emphasis added. 172. Mr. Z. H. Lari, CAD, May 25, 1949, 8:284. 173. Mr. Z. H. Lari, CAD, May 25, 1949, 8:287. 174. Shri Mahavir Tyagi, CAD, May 26, 1949, 8:346. 175. Begum Aizaz Rasul, CAD, May 25, 1949, 8:300–301, emphasis added. Muhammad Ismail Khan and Tajamul Husain of the United Provinces also agreed with Rasul. 176. Begum Aizaz Rasul, From Purdah to Parliament (Delhi: Ajanta Books, 2001), 125–133. See Wahab, Born a Muslim, for a discussion of the guilt that has weighed down succeeding generations of Muslims, and the concomitant victimhood complex that has been nurtured by the Hindu Right. 177. Rafiq Zakaria, Sardar Patel and Indian Muslims (Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1996), 91. 178. Suhrawardy to Khaliquzzaman, September 10, 1947, in Khaliquzzaman, Pathway to Pakistan, 398, emphasis added. Republished in Noorani, The Muslims of India, 41. 179. In a memorable aside, when Hasrat Mohani was offered the option of going to Pakistan, he asked his interlocutor to go to Hindukush. See CAD, December 8, 1948, 7:918. Lari, it turns out, did eventually leave for Pakistan. He went on to become a judge of the Sind High Court. See Paula R. Newberg, Judging the State:

NOTES TO PAGES 71–73 %%275

Courts and Constitutional Politics in Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 38; also, Noorani, The Muslims of India, 5. 180. Ralph H. Retzlaff, “The Problem of Communal Minorities in the Drafting of the Indian Constitution,” in Spann, Constitutionalism in Asia; Iqbal A. Ansari, “Minorities and the Politics of Constitution Making in India,” and Gurpreet Mahajan, “Contextualizing Minority Rights,” both in Sheth and Mahajan, Minority Identities; Rochona Bajpai, Debating Difference: Group Rights and Liberal Democracy in India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011); Shabnum Tejani, “Between Inequality and Identity: The Indian Constituent Assembly and Religious Difference, 1946–50,” South Asia Research 33, no. 3 (2013): 205–221. 181. See Ronojoy Sen, Articles of Faith: Religion, Secularism, and the Indian Supreme Court (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010); Tejani, “Between Inequality and Identity”; Partha Chatterjee, “Secularism and Toleration,” EPW 29, no. 28 (1994): 1768–1777; Shefali Jha, “Secularism in the Constituent Assembly Debates, 1946–50,” EPW 37, no. 30 (2002): 3175–3180. 182. Jha, “Secularism,” 3179; B. R. Ambedkar, States and Minorities: What Are Their Rights and How to Secure Them in the Constitution of Free India (Bombay: Thacker, 1947); B. R. Ambedkar, “Andhra State Bill,” in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, ed. Vasant Moon (Government of Maharashtra, [1997] 2014), 15:860–862. 183. Shefali Jha, “Rights versus Representation: Defending Minority Interests in the Constituent Assembly,” EPW 38, no. 16 (2003): 1583, emphasis added. 184. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, ed., Gandhi Is Gone: Who Will Guide Us Now? (Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2007). 185. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sevagram, March 13, 1948, in Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Gandhi Is Gone, 72. 186. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sevagram, March 13, 1948, in Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Gandhi Is Gone, 72. 187. The resolution and its context are elaborated in the Report of the Special SubCommittee (Patel, Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Ambedkar, and K. M. Munshi), appendix B, CAD, May 25, 1949, 8:315. However, somewhat inexplicably to his colleagues in Parliament, such as Subhadra Joshi and Madhu Limaye, he did not follow through on the legislative and administrative steps necessary to prevent the growth of communal organizations. 188. Hindustan Times, April 4, 1948. Quoted in Retzlaff, “The Problem of Communal Minorities,” 66–67. 189. Editorial, “The Constitution,” Organiser, November 30, 1949. 190. This is also borne out by intelligence reports during the campaign before the first general elections. See Report regarding the eulogy of Nathuram Godse, Madhya Bharat, Ministry of States, Political, Progs. Nos. 1(15)-P, 1952, NAI. 191. Kapur Commission Report, 1970; Payne, Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi; K. L. Gauba, The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (Bombay: Jaico, 1969); Manohar

276!!NOTES TO PAGES 73–74 Malgonkar, Men Who Killed Gandhi (Delhi: Macmillan, 1978); Tushar Gandhi, “Let’s Kill Gandhi!”: A Chronicle of His Last Days, the Conspiracy, Murder, Investigation and Trial (New Delhi: Rupa, 2007); James W. Douglass, Gandhi and the Unspeakable: Final Experiment with Truth (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis: 2012). 192. T. N. Madan, “Indian Secularism: A Religio- Secular Ideal,” in Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age, ed. Linell E. Cady and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 192. Ramachandra Guha recognizes Gandhi’s ideas on “religious pluralism and interfaith harmony” as some of his most enduring legacies. See Guha, Gandhi, 888. For a dated view on secularism’s inability to relate to religion or culture, see Ashis Nandy, “The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of Religious Tolerance,” Alternatives 13 (1988): 177–194. 193. See, for instance, Gyanendra Pandey, Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Faisal Devji, The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptations of Violence (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 116; Guha, Gandhi, 867. For a contrary view, see Rakesh Ankit, “In the Hands of a Secular State: Meos in the Aftermath of Partition, 1947–49,” IESHR 56, no. 4 (2019): 457–488. 194. In an interview with Walter Andersen and Shridhar Damle in 1969, M. S. Golwalkar, the sarsangchalak"/"chief of the RSS, “expressed considerable bitterness over the criticism of the RSS for its involvement in the violence during the partition period. He noted that the government supplied the RSS with weapons (as it did other groups) to protect Hindu refugees, and, at the time, expressed its gratitude for the ‘protective’ activities of the RSS. However, in the milieu of hate that existed at the time, it was difficult to demarcate what was ‘aggressive’ from what was ‘defensive.’$” See Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism (Gurgaon: Penguin, 2019), 348n115. See also the correspondence between the RSS and the government of India in Justice on Trial: A Collection of the Historic Letters between Sri Guruji and the Government, 1948–49, 5th ed. (Bangalore: Prakashan Vibhag, 1969). 195. Statement on the resumption of political activities by All India Hindu Mahasabha, August 1948. Speeches no. 9, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML. 196. This was also true for Godse, who took it for granted that Pakistan would be a “communal and theological state” and considered Nehru’s “vociferous adherence to a ‘secular state’ as a case of ‘my lady protests too much.’$” Godse, May It Please, 37. 197. Mridu Rai discusses the understandings of secularism among Constituent Assembly members in “The Indian Constituent Assembly and the Making of Hindus and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir,” Asian Affairs 49, no. 2 (2018): 213–216. 198. Article 4, Solution of Refugee Problem, in “Mahasabha and Its Ideals,” December 1950, Pamphlet no. 38, Ashutosh Lahiry Papers, NMML. For a discussion of Article 2, “The Ideal of Hindu Rashtra” or a “National Home for the Hindus,” see Neeti Nair, “CAA-NRC: A Road to Hindu Rashtra,” The Telegraph,

NOTES TO PAGES 75–80 %%277

December 17, 2019, -hindu-rashtra/cid/1728003. 199. On secularism succumbing to a form of majoritarianism, see Ayesha Jalal, Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam since 1850 (London: Routledge, 2000); Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003). 200. J. L. Nehru to Chairmen of State Election Committees, September 19, 1951, in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, 2nd ser. (New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 1984–present), vol. 16, pt. 2, 35–36, emphasis added. Here I differ with Madhav Khosla’s argument about representation in the Constitution “being driven by a desire to unchain imposed group identities and liberate the individual . . . and allow them to participate in politics as free and equal persons.” See Khosla, India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020), 142, 152.

2. “Hindu Hurt” and the Case for Secularism in India Epigraphs: Discussion re communal disturbances, Lok Sabha Debate, May 14, 1970, 265–270, emphasis added. 1.

Political scientist Rajni Kothari coined the phrase “Congress system” to describe the relationship between different tiers of the Congress party organization and the government and the different factions among them. See Rajni Kothari, “The Congress ‘System’ in India,” Asian Survey 4, no. 12 (1964): 1161–1173.


Atal Bihari Vajpayee, “Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address,” LSD, February 26, 1970, 291.


M. S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts (Bangalore: Vikrama Prakashan, 1966), 174. This language quickly caught on. In articles in the Organiser, Jamia Millia Islamia was referred to as a “chhota pakistan” in New Delhi. See “Mini Pakistan in New Delhi; Inside Jamia Millia,” Organiser, August 3, 1968.


See, for instance, K. R. Malkani’s interview with M. S. Golwalkar, Organiser, June 29, 1968; “Golwalkar Meets the Press,” Organiser, June 20, 1970.


“Editorial—RSS and the PM; On Banning the RSS,” Organiser, June 6, 1970. The translation is by Malkani.


Inder Malhotra, Indira Gandhi: A Personal and Political Biography (New Delhi: Hayhouse, 2014), 127–128.


For example, Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism (Delhi: Penguin, [1987] 2019).


See Bhupesh Gupta, “Resolutions Passed by RSS,” Oral Answers to Questions, Rajya Sabha, July 31, 1968, 1356.


Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 14, 1970, 328, emphasis added.


Jitendra Vir Gupta, “Government Employees Can Join RSS: Punjab and Haryana High Court Judgment,” Organiser, July 6, 1968; “Government Employees Can Be

278!!NOTES TO PAGES 80–84 RSS Members: Allahabad High Court Dismisses Government Appeal with Costs,” Organiser February 27, 1971. For Golwalkar’s views on Kashmir, see “An Hour with Sri Guruji,” Organiser, Diwali edition, 1967. On the shifts and turns in the RSS’s relationship with “politics,” see Andersen and Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron. 11.

Shri Dharma Vir, “Notes from Golwalkar’s Tour of Various Places in Himachal,” Organiser, May 12, 1968. I borrow the phrase “the Sangh way” from Shri Dharma Vir’s notes.


“And Now a Pakistan in Ranchi,” Organiser, October 15, 1968, emphasis added.


Bapurai Sohoni, “JP Misunderstands and Misrepresents Hindus,” Organiser, June 8, 1968.


“Jana Sangh Demands Territory to Settle Refugees,” Organiser, July 4, 1970; P. Kodanda Rao, “In Pakistan Minorities Are Suppressed on Islamic Grounds,” Organiser, December 19, 1970; “Bhutto Constitution,” Organiser, January 6, 1973.


This point was made by George Fernandes when he quite trenchantly asked how the appointment of Zakir Husain as president would affect the fortunes of Abdul Rahman Feriwala (hawker), who slept on the footpath. LSD, May 20, 1970, 281.


K. R. Malkani, “Muslim Representation in the Services,” Organiser, August 4, 1973. On the framing of Muslim demands for representation as a minority issue, see Ornit Shani, “Conceptions of Citizenship in India and the ‘Muslim Question,’$” Modern Asian Studies 44, no. 1 (2010): 145–173.


“Letter from Editor ‘M,’$” Organiser January 10, 1970. The word “multi-nation” is omitted in the resolution reproduced in Christophe Jaffrelot, ed., The Hindu Nationalism: A Reader (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 170.


Quoted in Focus on Indianisation: Text of Speeches Delivered in Rajya Sabha on March 11 (New Delhi: Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, 1970), 6. Vajpayee further suggested the Russian treatment of Muslims and the Indonesian treatment of the Chinese as examples to follow.


“Report on ‘Confrontation on Indianisation,’$” seminar held at India International Centre on February 27, Organiser, March 14, 1970.

20. The Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee was formed in 1962 in reaction to the Jabalpur riots. Led by MP Subhadra Joshi, it published literature that sought to set the record straight on the activities of communal organizations. See Convention on National Integration, Documents of the Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, January 1973, 3. 21.

“Report on ‘Confrontation on Indianisation.’$”

22. Vajpayee, “Motion of Thanks.” For the English translation of this speech, I have relied on “Vajpayee Charms the Lok Sabha,” Organiser, March 7, 1970. 23. Vajpayee, “Motion of Thanks.” 24. Ahmad Aga, “Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address,” LSD, March 3, 1970, 249–250; also see Badrudduja, Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 14, 1970, 331–334.

NOTES TO PAGES 84–89 %%279

25. Indira Gandhi, “Motion of Thanks,” LSD, March 4, 1970, 219–226. The next few references are from this debate. 26. Bhupesh Gupta, in Focus on Indianisation, RSD, March 11, 1970, 2. 27.

Krishan Kant, in Focus on Indianisation, 14–16.

28. Vidya Charan Shukla, in Focus on Indianisation, 32. The author S. Abid Husain argued against charges of Muslim disloyalty to India by noting that very few of the many million Muslims opposed to Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League had the right to vote. Only 10 percent had been entitled to vote in the 1946 elections, and most of those who belonged to the higher income group supported the League to protect their vested interests. See S. Abid Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1965), 116. 29. “A Date with a Man of Destiny; Dr. Jeelany Interviews Guruji,” Organiser, February 27, 1971. 30. Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 14, 1970, 330. 31.

S. K. Patil, LSD, May 14, 1970, 286–289.

32. Sitaram Kesri, LSD, May 14, 1970, 292–296. 33. N. K. P. Salve, LSD, May 14, 1970, 309. 34. J. Mohamed Imam, LSD, May 14, 1970, 299. 35. S. A. Dange, LSD, May 14, 1970, 310, 315–317. 36. Indira Gandhi, Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 14, 1970, 265–266, 323–331. 37.

Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 14, 1970, 332–342; May 20, 1970, 276–354.

38. The same question, in much the same words, had been raised by A. G. Noorani in an article in the Illustrated Weekly of India on November 9, 1969, reprinted as A. G. Noorani, How Does a Riot Begin and Spread (New Delhi: Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, 1970). 39. M. A. Khan, LSD, May 14, 1970, 342–347. 40. Nath Pai, LSD, May 14, 1970, 351–357. 41.

George Fernandes, Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 20, 1970, 277–284.

42. Acharya Kripalani, LSD, May 20, 1970, 285. I am grateful to Dilip Menon for this translation. 43. Acharya Kripalani, LSD, May 20, 1970, 285–286, 352–353. 44. This is likely a reference to (Maharaja) Karan Singh, then minister of tourism and civil aviation. Abdul Ghani Dar, LSD, May 20, 1970, 293. A similar argument about the disreputable company kept by the Congress is made by Begum Anis Kidwai in Communal Strife and the Present Situation (New Delhi: Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, 1968), 9.

280!!NOTES TO PAGES 89–96 45. Abdul Ghani Dar, LSD, May 20, 1970, 299. These lines were from a poem by Vajpayee that Abdul Ghani Dar was reciting back to the poet. I am grateful to my uncle, Satish Nair, for this reference. 46. Abdul Ghani Dar, LSD, May 20, 1970, 293–301. One crore is equal to ten million. 47.

Bakar Ali Mirza, LSD, May 20, 1970, 320.

48. Sushila Nayar representing Jhansi, LSD, May 20, 1970, 322–323. Nayar also condemned the practice of playing the national anthem at the end of movies, because Muslims were attacked for alleged disloyalty if they walked away but Hindu cinemagoers were not. 49. Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 14, 1970, 366–370. 50. Discussion re communal disturbances, LSD, May 20, 1970, 352–353. 51.

Megha Kumar, Communalism and Sexual Violence in India: The Politics of Gender, Ethnicity and Conflict (London: Tauris, 2016), 103.

52. “430771 Delhi Citizens Demand Drill Ban to Be Lifted,” Organiser, August 22, 1970; “RSS Worker Challenges Drill Ban Order in Delhi,” Organiser, Independence Day Number, 1970. 53. “Muslim Convention’s Seven Demands,” Organiser, December 26, 1970. 54. “The National Press X-Rays the Muslim Convention,” Organiser, January 2, 1971. 55. The Hindu, December 24, 1970. 56. “Jana Sangh Promises Full Employment in Five Years,” Organiser, Republic Day Special, January 1971. 57.

Indian National Congress Election Manifesto, 1971, 12–13.

58. “NIC Is Reduced to Indira’s Rump,” Organiser, Oct 25, 1969; “Congi Will Draw a Blank in Delhi,” Organiser, February 20, 1971; “Indira Rides the Wave,” Organiser, March 20, 1971. 59. “The Reason Why Indira Rides the Wave,” Organiser, March 20, 1971. 60. F. H. Mohsin, IPC (Amendment) Bill, LSD, April 14, 1972, 235. 61.

Subhadra Joshi, “Yeh hamārī dharmanirapekshatā kī jīt hai, secular ideas kī jīt hai,” IPC (Amendment) Bill, LSD, March 30, 1972, 208.

62. N. K. P. Salve, IPC (Amendment) Bill, LSD, March 30, 1972, 230–231, emphasis added. The former solicitor general of India, Harish Salve, is his son. 63. See issues of the Organiser for 1971; Miniature Parliament, Report and Resolution of III Parliamentarians’ Convention against Communalism Held on 8–9 July 1971 (New Delhi: All India Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, September 1971); Bangla Desh and Jana Sangh (Delhi: All India Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, 1972). 64. Vasant Sathe, Resolution re: communal and paramilitary organisations, LSD, April 21, 1972, 268. 65. Vasant Sathe, LSD, April 21, 1972, 270. By referencing the Khilafat movement, Vajpayee was suggesting that the founding of the RSS was based on the prior

NOTES TO PAGES 96–100 %%281

Khilafat movement, which the RSS viewed as pan-Islamic and suggestive of Muslims’ extraterritorial loyalties. 66. Vasant Sathe, LSD, April 21, 1972, 271. 67.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LSD, April 21, 1972, 245–249.

68. Vajpayee, LSD, April 21, 1972, 250. 69. Vajpayee and Salve, LSD, April 21, 1972. 70. This speech was made in Lucknow on January 6, 1948, only weeks before Gandhi’s assassination. 71.

I have found no documentary proof of Nehru’s allegedly having invited the RSS to the 1963 Republic Day Parade. Instead, I have seen an open invitation to students of schools and colleges within Delhi to march and make it a people’s parade. See Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, 2nd ser., ed. Madhavan K. Palat, vol. 80 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2020). The same volume contains correspondence that underlines Nehru’s continuing mistrust of the RSS.

72. Vajpayee, “Āp ladāī kanoon se nahīn, jantā ke star par ladein,” LSD, April 21, 1972, 253. 73. Salve, LSD, April 21, 1972, 256–257. 74. Salve, LSD, April 21, 1972, 259. 75. Satpal Kapoor, LSD, April 21, 1972, 264. 76. Bhogendra Jha, LSD, April 21, 1972, 278; Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 1966, 98. 77.

Bhogendra Jha, LSD, April 21, 1972, 278–280.

78. Samar Guha, IPC (Amendment) Bill, LSD, April 14, 1972, 218. 79. F. H. Mohsin, Resolution, LSD, April 21, 1972, 283–284. 80. Ram Niwas Mirdha, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, LSD, June 1, 1972, 235–238; Ratanlal and Dhirajlal’s The Indian Penal Code, 32nd ed., 2010, 783–784. 81.

M. Ramgopal Reddy, IPC (Amendment) Bill, LSD, April 14, 1972, 229–230.

82. “Uniformity Is Death Knell of Nations,” interview with M. S. Golwalkar, Organiser, August 26, 1972; “Muslim Papers Welcome Guruji’s Views on Civil Code,” Organiser, September 9, 1972. In an obituary published in the Muslim weekly Radiance, Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts was credited with spreading anti-Muslim feeling among Hindus, but the weekly also acknowledged that he had changed his views on a uniform civil code shortly before his death. See Organiser, June 30, 1973. 83. Vinod Mehta, The Sanjay Story (Bombay: Jaico, 1978). 84. Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil, India’s First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975–1977 (London: Hurst, 2020). 85. M. C. Chagla called it the longest amending bill in the history of the world. See Chagla, “The Bill Needs People’s Sanction,” in Constitutional Amendments: A Study, ed. Sukumar Biswas (Calcutta: Rupak, 1977).

282!!NOTES TO PAGES 101–105 86. For a detailed study of the legal battle that preceded and attended to the declaration of the Emergency, see Granville Austin, Working a Democratic Constitution: The Indian Experience (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999). For a recent examination of the social and political upheavals that transpired during and before the Emergency, see Gyan Prakash, Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019); Jaffrelot and Anil, India’s First Dictatorship. 87.

Prakash, Emergency Chronicles, 153. See also Sudipto Kaviraj, “Indira Gandhi and Indian Politics,” EPW 21, no. 38"/"39 (1986).

88. Austin, Working a Democratic Constitution, 281–283. 89. Quoted in Somnath Chatterjee, Keeping the Faith: Memoirs of a Parliamentarian (Delhi: HarperCollins, 2010). 90. Chatterjee, Keeping the Faith, 37–38. 91.

Prakash, Emergency Chronicles.

92. Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 494. For chilling details of procedural irregularities in the filing of arrest warrants, see Prakash, Emergency Chronicles, and C. K. Daphtary, RSD, November 5, 1976. 93. Chatterjee, Keeping the Faith, 48–49. 94. Era Sezhiyan, LSD, October 25, 1976, 115. 95. See Swaran Singh Committee Report (1976), 2 SCC J-46. 96. Indrajit Gupta and Sezhiyan, LSD, October 25, 1976, 88, 118. 97.

Times of India, November 9, 1976.

98. Indrajit Gupta, LSD, October 25, 1976, 69. 99. P. G. Mavalankar, LSD, October 27, 1976, 95. 100. S. L. Saksena, LSD, October 25, 1976, 65. Later Saksena reintroduced an amendment that he had moved in the Constituent Assembly. This amendment had the Preamble begin with an invocation of “God, the Almighty,” in line with the Preamble of the Irish Free State’s Constitution. It also invoked Mahatma Gandhi. His amendment was dismissed. See October 28, 1976, 44. 101. K. Hanumanthaiya, LSD, October 25, 1976, 93, 102. 102. P. G. Mavalankar, LSD, October 27, 1976, 97. 103. Era Sezhiyan, LSD, October 25, 1976, 104. 104. The referendum in Goa was on whether to merge with Maharashtra or remain a Union Territory. Era Sezhiyan, LSD, October 25, 1976, 112, 115. Sezhiyan was not alone in invoking Hitler. 105. C. K. Daphtary, RSD, November 5, 1976, 24–25. 106. C. K. Daphtary, RSD, November 5, 1976, 26–27. 107. P. B. Gajendragadkar to Morarji Desai, July 8, 1977, Subject file no. 3, P. B. Gajendragadkar Papers, NMML.

NOTES TO PAGES 106–110 %%283

108. P. B. Gajendragadkar to Morarji Desai, July 8, 1977. Article 25 affirmed the right to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice, and propagate religion. Article 26 gave every religious denomination the right to maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, and to administer such property in accordance with law. See also P. B. Gajendragadkar, “The Concept of Secularism,” in National Integration: A Collection of Seminar Papers, ed. B. N. Pande (Allahabad: Secular Democratic Forum, 1970), 23–24. Gajendragadkar’s interpretation of secularism in western Europe was standard for the 1970s. 109. Constitution (44th Amendment) Bill (later, Forty- Second Constitution Amendment Act), LSD, October 27, 1976, 145–147; LSD, October 28, 1976, 74. 110. H. R. Gokhale, LSD, October 25, 1976, 58. 111. “Secular ka matlab hai, sab dharmon ke liye, sabhi mazhabon ke liye . . . secular shabd ka translation dharm-nirapeksha ya niddharmi galat hai.” Jambuwant Dhote, LSD, October 28, 1976, 70–71. Dhote was from the Forward Bloc, but later joined Congress in 1978 and won for Congress from Nagpur in 1980. 112. Kailash and Dhote, LSD, October 28, 1976, 70–71. 113. Dhote and H. R. Gokhale, LSD, October 28, 1976, 74. At a seminar on National Integration and National Convention against Communalism, Gulzarilal Nanda, then minister of railways, had pointed to a misunderstanding about secularism because those propagating it were perceived as “attacking religion as such.” See Gulzarilal Nanda, “Our Secularism on Trial,” in Pande, National Integration, 12. 114. Prakash Vir Shastri, RSD, November 11, 1976, 13–14. 115. H. R. Gokhale, RSD, November 11, 1976, 87, emphasis added. The chief minister of West Bengal, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, had quoted Gandhi in identical terms while speaking on this amendment. See Siddhartha Shankar Ray, “Build India for Which Gandhiji Lived and Died,” in Constitutional Reforms (New Delhi: Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, 1976), 20. 116. Swaran Singh, LSD, October 26, 1976, 22–23; emphasis added. 117. Arvind Rajagopal, “A ‘Split Public’ in the Ram Janmabhumi Campaign,” in The Indian Public Sphere: Readings in Media History, ed. Arvind Rajagopal (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009), 213. 118. C. M. Stephen, LSD, October 26, 1976, 73. 119. Dr. Henry Austin, LSD, October 27, 1976, 82. 120. Austin, LSD, October 27, 1976, 82, emphasis added. 121. Austin, LSD, October 27, 1976, 85. Chapter 1 details Patel’s exhortation to minorities that they trust in the “goodwill of the majority community.” 122. Indrajit Gupta, LSD, October 25, 1976, 78–79, emphasis added. 123. N. A. Palkhivala, “Reshaping the Constitution,” in Basu, Constitutional Amendments, 31–32. First published in the Illustrated Weekly of India, July 4, 1976. 124. Swaran Singh, LSD, October 26, 1976, 32. 125. P. G. Mavalankar, LSD, October 27, 1976, 99, emphasis added.

284!!NOTES TO PAGES 110–117 126. K. Manoharan, LSD, October 26, 1976, 50. 127. H. R. Gokhale, LSD, October 28, 1976, 22. 128. D. Basumatari, LSD, September 2, 1976, 63; this was echoed by N. H. Kumbhare in the Rajya Sabha on November 11, 1976. 129. R. K. Khadilkar, LSD, October 27, 1976, 43–48, emphasis added. 130. O. V. Alagesan, LSD, October 29, 158; see also “Citizen’s Duties Listed,” Times of India, September 2, 1976. 131. Upendra Baxi, “Constitutional Changes: An Analysis of the Swaran Singh Committee Report,” (1976) 2 SCC J-19. Emphasis added. 132. For a history of the basic structure doctrine, see Manoj Mate, “Priests in the Temple of Justice: The Indian Legal Complex and the Basic Structure Doctrine,” in Fates of Political Liberalism in the British Post-Colony, ed. Terence C. Halliday et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). 133. Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait, LSD, October 26, 1976, 152, quoting from Indira Gandhi in The Times of India, September 14, 1976. 134. Sait, LSD, October 26, 1976, 153–158. 135. The three members were E. S. Sait, C. H. Mohamed Koya, and Muhammed Sheriff. LSD, October 29, 1976, 157–158, 243. 136. Sait, LSD, October 26, 1976, 159–160. Sait would go on to play a leading role in pushing through the Rajiv Gandhi–sponsored Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Bill of 1986, a bill that the socialist Madhu Limaye fittingly called the Muslim Women’s Enslavement Bill. See Madhu Limaye, Musings on Current Problems and Past Events (Delhi: BR, 1988), 28. 137. LSD, October 28, 1976, 25–26, emphasis added. 138. Sait, LSD, October 26, 1976, 159; Indira Gandhi, LSD, October 27, 1976, 139. 139. C. M. Stephen, for instance, quoted the law minister and then praised Indira Gandhi: “Who can doubt the people of this country will accept with an overwhelming majority the leadership of Shrimati Indira Gandhi? Look at the meetings she is addressing! Look at the meetings Shri Sanjay Gandhi is addressing!” LSD, November 4, 1976, 150. 140. H. R. Gokhale and E. S. Sait, LSD, October 28, 1976, 78–80. 141. Sait, LSD, October 29, 1976, 76–78. 142. Bhupesh Gupta, RSD, November 9, 1976, 114–115, emphasis added. 143. Bhupesh Gupta, RSD, November 9, 1976, 115–116. 144. “Problems of Religious Minorities in India,” MHA 19"/"26"/"64—Poll (I) (A), NAI. 145. Bhupesh Gupta, RSD, November 9, 1976, 116–118. 146. Bhupesh Gupta and V. A. Seyid Muhammad, RSD, November 9, 1976, 119–120. 147. N. H. Kumbhare and V. A. Seyid Muhammad, RSD, November 9, 1976, 121–122. 148. “Review of Communal Tensions and Possible Measures for Controlling Them,” MHA 19"/"26"/"64—Poll (I) (A), NAI.

NOTES TO PAGES 118–123 %%285

149. Khurshed Alam Khan, RSD, November 9, 1976, 128–129, emphasis added. 150. N. H. Kumbhare, RSD November 11, 1976, 67–68. Parts of his speech in favor of secularism were identical to parts of Jinnah’s first address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, discussed in Chapter 3. 151. This is suggested by Indira Gandhi’s own intervention on October 27, by C. M. Stephen’s multiple interventions, and also by A. R. Antulay during the debate in the Rajya Sabha. See November 4, 1976, 62–63, 69. 152. Kaviraj, “Indira Gandhi and Indian Politics,” 1699. 153. Bhupesh Gupta, RSD, November 9, 1976, 117. 154. Critics pointed out that the bill left untouched the fundamental right to property and did not adequately define socialism. 155. H. M. Seervai, Constitutional Law of India: A Critical Commentary, 4th ed., vol. 1 (Bombay: N. M. Tripathi, 1991), 277. 156. Aubrey Menen, “Return to Roots,” Holiday 35, no. 5 (1964), 40. 157. Note for supplementaries, 8"/"25"/"59—Poll-I, MHA, NAI. In the introduction to his book, Menen describes Valmiki as a “man of genius . . . who wrote the story that I am going to re-tell.” See the introduction to The Ramayana: As Told by Aubrey Menen (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954), 4; Harvey Breit, “In and Out of Books,” New York Times, October 2, 1955. 158. Ananda Bazar Patrika, August 10, 1959; Aj, Varanasi, August 22, 1959; in 8"/"25"/"59—Poll I, NAI. 159. Note for supplementaries, 8"/"25"/"59—Poll-I, MHA NAI. 160. Menen, “Return to Roots.” 161. Anne Fremantle, “A Curry of Hindu Tale-Telling,” New York Times, September 12, 1954. 162. “The Outsider,” Aubrey Menen interview with Gita Aravamudan, Illustrated Weekly of India, December 8, 1985. For a discussion of Nehru’s views of censorship in the 1950s, see Arindam Dutta, “Do the Arts Speak Truths? Censorship and Counter-Censorship in the Liberal Realm,” Third Text 31, no. 2–3 (2017): 426–28. 163. Mohamed Elias, “The Ban on Aubrey Menen’s Rama Retold,” Literary Criterion 21, no. 4 (1986): 28. Menen was not alone in his optimism. “Writer’s Watch” noted that the ban on Menen’s “retelling of the fable . . . is no more offensive today than it was in 1954 when the government inexplicably chose to ban it. . . . Three decades later it is surely possible for the government to review the ban.” Times of India, October 27, 1985. 164. Anuradha Kapur, “Deity to Crusader,” Illustrated Weekly of India, September 25, 1993, 15; also see Pradip K. Datta and Anuradha Kapur’s essays in Hindus and Others: The Question of Identity in India Today, ed. Gyanendra Pandey (New Delhi: Viking, 1993). 165. Khushwant Singh, “How India Lost a Great Indian Writer,” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 1989.

286!!NOTES TO PAGES 123–129 166. See MHA 33"/"69"/"64—Poll (I), NAI. 167. See T. S. Eliot, “Minutes of Evidence Taken before the Select Committee on Obscene Publications in the UK,” in MHA 41"/"5"/"59—Poll (I), NAI. For a discussion of the rise of experts and ostensibly apolitical policymakers, see Sophia Rosenfeld, Democracy and Truth: A Short History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), 75–80. 168. S. Anand, “Preface,” in B. R. Ambedkar, Riddles in Hinduism: The Annotated Critical Selection (New Delhi: Navayana, 2016). 169. V. T. Rajshekar, “Foreword,” in B. R. Ambedkar, Riddle of Rama and Krishna (Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya Akademy, [1987] 1988), 1–2. 170. Rajshekar, “Foreword,” 3. The quote is from Arun Shourie, Hinduism, Essence and Consequence: A Study of the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahma-Sutras (Ghaziabad: Vikas, 1979), 361, emphasis added. For more details about the namantar controversy, and the significance of Marathwada University for Dalit sentiment, see Anupama Rao, The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009). 171. Anand, “Preface,” 14. For Sita’s renewed significance to the Ramjanmabhumi movement, see Tanika Sarkar, “ Women’s Agency within Authoritarian Communalism: The Rashtrasevika Samiti and Ramjanmabhoomi,” in Pandey, Hindus and Others, 27, 42. 172. Yoginder Sikand, “Ambedkarism versus Hindutva,” Mainstream, May 1, 1993, 15. 173. Ramlal Puri vs State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1971 MP 152. 174. Dina Nath Batra and Others vs University of Delhi and Others, Delhi High Court, May 19, 2008, at .pdf. For details of the vandalism and violence at Delhi University, see the statement put out by the history department, posted in Frank Conlon, “Assault by Hindutva Mob on the Delhi University History Department,” February 25, 2008, H-Asia. For an excellent piece that considers the issues of academic freedom that are at stake, see Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar, “On Vice Chancellors and Scholars: Questions of Rule, Authority and Freedom,” Biblio (November– December 2011), 24–25. 175. Amiya Rao, “After Ayodhya: A Time for Action,” Mainstream, March 13, 1993, 28. A case filed by civil servant Joseph Bain D’Souza under Sections 153A and 153B, against the Shiv Sena paper Saamna for its hate-filled editorials, failed in the Bombay High Court. See D’Souza and Another vs State of Maharashtra and Others, 1995 (2) Bom CR 317. 176. Annexure VIII, A Dossier on Sahmat Background and Activities, Crl. M (M) 2468 of 1993, In the Matter of Posters Entitled Ram Katha in Buddhist Tradition and Ram Katha in Jain Tradition, The Trustees of Sahmat vs Govt of National Capital Territory of Delhi through Lt Gov, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. Arindam Datta refers to the painting of secular slogans on their vehicles as “a canny subversion of the traditional inscription of religious aphorisms on vehicles.” See Datta, “Sahmat, 1989–2004: Liberal Art Practice against the Liberalized Public Sphere,” Cultural

NOTES TO PAGES 129–138 %%287

Dynamics 17, no. 2 (2005): 202. For a discussion of religious and cultural aphorisms on trucks in Pakistan, see Jamal J. Elias, On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford: Oneworld, 2011). 177. See Appendix XII, “Prime Minister’s Statement in Parliament on 7 December 1992 in Relation to the Situation in Ayodhya,” in P. V. Narasimha Rao, Ayodhya: 6 December 1992 (New Delhi: Penguin, 2006), 255. 178. Sahmat Activities since December 6, 1992, July 1993, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. 179. Shabnam Hashmi to Dear Friend, undated, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. The dates for the program were to mark the fifty-first anniversary of the Quit India movement. 180. Bhisham Sahni, Pazhavila Ramesan, and Ali Sardar Jafri to Dear—, undated letter, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. 181. Shabnam Hashmi to Mr. Verma, District Magistrate, Faizabad District, July 30, 1993, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. 182. Mr. Vikramajit Tiwari, Upper Zila Magistrate, Faizabad, to Ms. Hashmi, July 30, 1993, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. 183. Undated letter to president, Sahmat Archive, Delhi. Emphasis added. 184. Oral answers to question on refusal of permission to perform cultural show, Rajesh Pilot to Gurudas Das Gupta, RSD, August 25, 1993, 16–21; written answers on subject of communal harmony, S. B. Chavan to Indrajit Gupta, LSD, August 26, 1993, 131. 185. Undated Sahmat circular, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. 186. For the attention of Sahmat, Order, signed by B. P. Verma, Zila Magistrate, Faizabad, August 10, 1993, Sahmat Archives, Delhi. 187. Sheetla Singh, editor, Jan Morcha, to Governor, UP, August 12, 1993, Sahmat Archive, Delhi. 188. MPs to Minister of State in the MHA Rajesh Pilot, August 13, 1993, Sahmat Archive, Delhi. 189. Press release from Sahmat on events in Ayodhya, August 12 and 13, 1993, Sahmat Archive, Delhi. 190. Press release, Faizabad"/"Ayodhya, 3 p.m., August 14, 1993, Sahmat Archive, Delhi. 191. See Datta, Sahmat, Cultural Dynamics, 216. 192. Note from Rahul Bose, Samparka, Sahmat Archives, New Delhi. 193. Messages from artists and writers, Sahmat Archives, New Delhi. 194. The objectionable panel, “Religions Associated with Ayodhya,” was published by Sahmat in a book version of the exhibition twenty years after the demolition. Sahmat, Hum Sab Ayodhya (New Delhi: Sahmat, 2012). 195. “Sahmat Denies Charge,” Times of India, August 19, 1993. 196. Radhika Ramaseshan, “Remarkable, yet Symbolic,” Mainstream, August 21, 1993. 197. Nandini Bhaskaran, “Sahmat Fete in Faizabad: Canards Doing the Rounds,” Times of India, August 15, 1993.

288!!NOTES TO PAGES 138–143 198. “Faizabad Poster Show Disrupted,” Times of India News Service, August 14, 1993. 199. Ratan Mani Lal, “Newscape: Sahmat Show in Ayodhya Attracted Adverse Comments,” Times of India, August 29, 1993. The survey included the papers Aaj, Rashtriya Sahara, Dainik Jagaran, and Swatantra Bharat. 200. Arjun Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LSD, August 17, 1993, 262–263. 201. Somnath Chatterjee, LSD, August 17, 1993, 263, 268. 202. “Sahmat Winds Up Ayodhya Show,” The Hindu, August 22, 1993. 203. L. K. Advani, LSD, August 17, 1993, 264–265. 204. Nitish Kumar, LSD, August 17, 1993, 266–267, emphasis added. See also Rustom Bharucha, The Question of Faith (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1993). 205. N. E. Balaram, RSD, August 25, 1993, 22. 206. Vinay Katiyar and L. K. Advani, LSD, August 20, 1993, 205–206. 207. “Sahmat Winds Up Ayodhya Show.” 208. The entire note sheet from the file is quoted in the Delhi High Court judgment, The Trustees of Sahmat vs Govt of NCT of Delhi, (2001) 60 DRJ 219 (FB). 209. Bhogendra Jha, LSD, August 23, 1993, 334. 210. Somnath Chatterjee, LSD, August 23, 1993, 335–336. 211. Ram Vilas Paswan, LSD, August 26, 1993, 326–327, emphasis added. Interestingly, Ambedkar’s Riddle of Rama and Krishna also discusses the Ram– Sita relationship in the “Buddha Ramayana” as being that of brother and sister. See Ambedkar, Riddle, 7. The Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, headquartered in Allahabad, was deemed to be an institution of national importance by the central government in 1962. 212. Rajesh Pilot, LSD, August 26, 1993, 328. Pilot made the same point the previous day in the Rajya Sabha. RSD, August 25, 1993, 20. 213. Ram Vilas Paswan, LSD, August 26, 1993, 330. 214. George Fernandes, “Remedy Is Far Worse than Disease,” full text of note of dissent to the report of the Joint Select Committee on the Constitution (Eightieth Amendment) Bill 1993, Mainstream, August 28, 1993. See also Madhu Limaye, “Pros and Cons of Legislation on Misuse of Religion,” August 4, 1993, and “Bills on Religion Analysed,” August 17, 1993, in Limaye, Limits of Authority: Political Controversies and Religious Conflicts in Contemporary India (Delhi: Shipra, 1994), 153–167. 215. Dileep Padgaonkar, “Fast Food for Thought: Wimpy Secularism, McDonald Hindutva,” Times of India, August 27, 1993; Praful Bidwai, “Religion Bill: Wrong Bill from the Start,” Illustrated Weekly of India, August 14, 1993; “Crusade to Continue, Says Advani,” Times of India, August 26, 1993. 216. Swapan Dasgupta, “With Foes Like These: India’s Over-Important Left,” Times of India, September 1, 1993.

NOTES TO PAGES 143–148 %%289

217. See Rajni Kothari, “Supreme Court Verdict: A Political Analysis,” Mainstream, October 29, 1994; Soli J. Sorabjee, “An Active Judiciary,” Mainstream, March 26, 1994; and S. Sahay, “Supreme Court Has Set a Healthy Precedent,” Mainstream, October 29, 1994. On the J. S. Verma Hindutva judgments, see Ronojoy Sen, Articles of Faith: Religion, Secularism, and the Indian Supreme Court (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010); Gary Jacobsohn, The Wheel of Law: India’s Secularism in Comparative Constitutional Context (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). 218. Madhu Limaye, “Secular State in a Predominantly Hindu Ethos,” in Religious Bigotry: A Threat to Ordered State (Delhi: Ajanta, 1994), 87–89, 91. 219. I trace these changes to communalism in Neeti Nair, Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press"/" Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2011). 220. Praful Bidwai, “Breaking the Ayodhya Siege: Sahmat’s Assertion of Principle,” Times of India, August 26, 1993. 221. Shastri Ramachandran, “The Lost Chord,” Illustrated Weekly of India, September 11, 1993. 222. See Ila Pal, Husain: Portrait of an Artist (Noida: HarperCollins, 2017); Rajeev Dhavan, “Harassing Husain: Uses and Abuses of the Law of Hate Speech,” Social Scientist 35, no. 1"/"2 (2007): 16–60. 223. See S. Prasannarajan, “Dialectics of Art and Protest,” Times of India, August 23, 1993; Nikhil Chakravartty, “Ram and Sahmat,” Mainstream, September 4, 1993; Seema Mustafa, “Intellectual Freedom and Fight for Secularism,” Mainstream, September 4, 1993; V. B. Rawat, “Fight against Communalism,” Mainstream, October 23, 1993; Praveen Swami, “Beyond Slogans,” Frontline, September 10, 1993. This was also part of the multipronged critique of Sudhanva Deshpande in “Sahmat and Politics of Cultural Intervention,” EPW 31, no. 25 (1996): 1586–1590. 224. Gowri Ramnarayan, “To Ayodhya for Peace,” Frontline, August 27, 1993, reprinted in Muktnaad; Hum Sab Ayodhya: A Selection of Reports, Editorials, Discussion, Comments from the Press (New Delhi: Sahmat, 1994), 7. 225. Deshpande, “Sahmat and Politics of Cultural Intervention.” The desire to avoid a confrontation was expressed in Sahmat’s writ petition filed in court, during their narrative of events in Faizabad"/"Ayodhya soon after the exhibition there was vandalized. 226. Sharad Patil, “Sahmat and Brahminical Communalism,” Mainstream, October 9, 1993. 227. Rajni Kothari, “Hindutva in Perspective,” Mainstream, Annual, November 20, 1993, 27–30. 228. K. N. Panikkar, “Ban on Sahmat Curbs Basic Freedoms,” Times of India, September 14, 1993. 229. “An Appeal,” in Muktnaad; Hum Sab Ayodhya, 50. 230. Interview with Mr. Rajendra Prasad, Sahmat, Delhi, August 7, 2018.

290!!NOTES TO PAGES 150–151

3. Debating the “Islamic State” in Pakistan Epigraphs: M. A. Jinnah, Address to the inaugural session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, August 11, 1947,; Seyyed Abulala Maudoodi, The Process of Islamic Revolution (Lahore: Markazi Maktaba Jama’at-e-Islami, 1955). 1.

For the classic iteration that the demand for Pakistan was meant to negotiate power for Muslims in an undivided center, see Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). Saadia Toor, among others, argues that “Islam as religious ideology played no role in Muslim League politics prior to Independence” and that “the issue of non-Muslims had not received much attention.” See Toor, The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan (London: Pluto Press, 2011), 9, 20. Venkat Dhulipala has argued that Pakistan was imagined as a religious state with a pan-Islamic mission, but this explanation does not account for the large numbers of Muslims who were left behind in India, despite being allegedly strong advocates of such a Pakistan. See Dhulipala, Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India (Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2015) and a discerning review by Gail Minault, H-Asia, October 2015 at For an argument that emphasizes the upper-class electorate that voted for partition from the United Provinces, and its inherently unrepresentative status, see S. Abid Husain, The Destiny of Indian Muslims (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1965).


Dr. Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, “Is Pakistan Responsible for the Plight of Indian Muslims?,” Dawn, December 14, 1947. Qureshi’s account of fleeing violence in Delhi was published in The Stephanian—the college magazine of St. Stephen’s, and as “Hindu-Muslim Social Relations 1935–47,” in India Partitioned: The Other Face of Freedom, ed. Mushirul Hasan, vol. 2 (Delhi: Roli, 1998), 172–183. He would go on to become a member of the Pakistan National Assembly, head of the Islamic Research Institute in Karachi, vice chancellor of the University of Karachi, and a member of Ayub Khan’s Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology.


Salil Tripathi, The Colonel Who Would Not Repent: The Bangladesh War and Its Unquiet Legacy (New Delhi: Aleph, 2014), 38. Kamila Shamsie suggests that Jinnah’s speech “pointed the way to one possible national myth, that of a nation created to safeguard minorities that would continue to do so: a nation that respected the rights of its different communities.” Shamsie, Offence: The Muslim Case (Calcutta: Seagull, 2009), 31.


Ghazal Asif, “Jogendranath Mandal and the Politics of Dalit Recognition in Pakistan,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 43, no. 1 (2020): 119–135.


Zamir Niazi, “An Epic Struggle for Press Freedom,” Dawn, July 29, 1997.


“Perverse Propaganda,” Dawn, August 22, 1947.


Maudoodi, The Process of Islamic Revolution; Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama’at-i Islami of Pakistan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); Ali Usman Qasmi, “Differentiating between Pakistan and Napak-istan: Maulana Abulala Maududi’s Critique of the Muslim League and

NOTES TO PAGES 152–153 %%291

Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” in Muslims against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan, ed. A. U. Qasmi and M. E. Robb (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 8.

“The Objectives Resolution,” editorial published jointly and simultaneously by the following newspapers of Karachi, Lahore, and Hyderabad (Sind): Dawn (English, Gujrati, and Urdu), Sind Observer, Anjam, Jung, Al-Wahid, Vatan, Nawa-e-Waqt, Zamindar, Safina, and Hilal-e-Pakistan, March 3, 1949.


Sunna was translated as “Traditions of the Holy Prophet” in the debates. There has been a tremendous amount of writing on the vicissitudes attending the making of the Islamic provisions of the three Constitutions of Pakistan. See, for instance, Leonard Binder, Religion and Politics in Pakistan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961); Golam Wahed Choudhury, Constitutional Development in Pakistan (London: Longman, [1959] 1969); Hamid Khan, Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, [2001] 2005); Martin Lau, “Islam and the Constitutional Foundations of Pakistan,” in Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity, ed. R. Grote and T. J. Roder (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 171–200.


Objectives Resolution, CAD, March 7, 1949, 4, 5.


Liaquat Ali Khan, Introducing the Objectives Resolution, CAD, March 7, 1949.


The Munir Committee report on the Punjab Disturbances (1953) referred to the Objectives Resolution as a hoax; Joshua Fazl-ud-Din writes, in The Future of Christians in Pakistan, that it was regarded as a “stunt” shortly after it was passed. Ardeshir Cowasjee, a Parsi and liberal critic who wrote a signature column for the Dawn, referred to the resolution as “a disaster from which this country has never recovered.” See Cowasjee, “A Master Brewer,” Friday Times, July 11–17, 1998, in Calling a Spade a Spade: Selected Writings of Minoo P. Bhandara (Lahore: Vanguard Books, 2010), xix. For other readings on this debate, see Binder, Religion and Politics in Pakistan; Martin Lau, The Role of Islam in the Legal System of Pakistan (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2006); Naeem Shakir, “Islamic Shariah and Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan,” Round Table 104, no. 3 (2015): 307–317; Tahir Kamran, “Pakistan’s First Decade: Democracy and Constitution—A Historical Appraisal of Centralization,” in Constitution-Making in Asia: Decolonisation and State-Building in the Aftermath of the British Empire, ed. H. Kumarasingham (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016), 96–111; Farahnaz Ispahani, Purifying the Land of the Pure: A History of Pakistan’s Religious Minorities (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).


Conrad adds that these parts were not harmonized and that “it is more realistic to assume that these difficulties were deliberately kept within a penumbra of ambiguity, each side playing for time.” Dieter Conrad, “Conflicting Legitimacies in Pakistan: The Changing Role of the Objectives Resolution (1949) in the Constitution,” in Legitimacy and Conflict in South Asia, ed. Subrata K. Mitra and Dietmar Rothermund (Delhi: Manohar, 1988), 127–131, emphasis added.


For a scathing critique of this gap, see Fazlur Rahman, Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 110–125.

292!!NOTES TO PAGES 154–158 15.

Fazlur Rahman, “Islam and the Constitutional Problem of Pakistan,” Studia Islamica 32 (1970): 277.


Rahman, “Islam and the Constitutional Problem,” 278.


According to the 1951 census, about 13 percent of the population of Pakistan was Hindu, another 2 percent were Christian. See Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Islam in Pakistan: A History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018), 57, 164. Religious minorities were about 16 percent of India’s population.


Maudoodi had declared that the tribal invasion of Kashmir was not a jihad because only a state could declare jihad.


Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, president of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Pakistan, Dawn, April 26, 1949, emphasis added.

20. “The Objectives Resolution,” Dawn, March 3, 1949, emphasis added. 21.

Dieter Conrad and Hamid Khan have detailed Hindus’ objections to the resolution. Conrad, “Conflicting Legitimacies”; Khan, Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan, 58–63.

22. Joshua Fazl-ud-Din, Future of Christians in Pakistan (Lahore: Panjabi Darbar, 1949), 141–142, 156–158. 23. “Christian Conference,” Dawn, April 7, 1949. 24. Liaquat Ali Khan, “Pakistan: The Aims of a New Nation,” in Pakistan: The Heart of Asia (Karachi: National Book Foundation, 1976), 6–7 (1st ed., Harvard University Press, 1950.) 25. Syed Abdus Sultan, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1360. 26. Javid Iqbal, “The Islamic State in Pakistan,” in Constitutionalism in Asia, ed. R. N. Spann (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1963), 144. The notion that the Islamic provisions did not amount to very much is also the subject of the last chapter in A. K. Brohi, Fundamental Law of Pakistan (Karachi: Din Muhammadi Press, 1958); Brohi was a constitutional lawyer, and the last chapter of his book discusses the religious, ethical, and ideological implications of the Constitution. 27.

Javid Iqbal, “The Islamic State in Pakistan,” 138.

28. Javid Iqbal, “The Islamic State in Pakistan,” 164. For Muhammad Iqbal’s emphasis on the Muslim duty to protect non-Muslim places of worship, see his 1930 presidential address to the Muslim League in Allahabad. 29. Javid Iqbal, “The Islamic State in Pakistan,” 172–173, emphases added. Javid Iqbal also pointed out to his interlocutors at the conference that Mr. Justice Cornelius, who was then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was Roman Catholic. Later in life he had second thoughts on the ideological basis of Pakistan. See Javid Iqbal, Encounters with Destiny: Autobiographical Reflections, trans. Hafeez Malik and Nasira Iqbal (Karachi: Oxford University Press 2006), 317. 30. CAD, March 7, 1949, 1. 31.

Asadullah, CALPD, April 3, 1950, 613.

32. Nur Ahmed, CALPD, April 3, 1950, 618–619, emphasis added.

NOTES TO PAGES 158–161 %%293

33. These included “complete equality of citizenship, irrespective of religion, a full sense of security in respect of life, culture, property and personal honor, freedom of movement within each country and freedom of occupation, speech and worship, subject to law and morality. Members of the minorities shall have equal opportunity with members of the majority community to participate in the public life of their country, to hold political or other office, and to serve in their country’s civil and armed forces. Both Governments declare these rights to be fundamental and undertake to enforce them effectively.” From the text of the agreement between the governments of India and Pakistan, CALPD, April 10, 1950, 746–750. 34. Liaquat Ali Khan, CALPD, April 10, 1950, 744–745. This was of a piece with his address to the US Senate three weeks later. 35. Asadullah, CALPD, April 7, 1951, 973–988. 36. Serajul Islam, CALPD, April 7, 1951, 974, emphasis added. 37.

Habibullah Bahar, CALPD, April 7, 1951, 981–982; “molvi,” typically spelt “maulvi,” is a title given to a Muslim religious preacher.

38. The scholar Fazlur Rahman notes that the Right Reverend G. D. Barnes, Anglican bishop of Lahore, was assured enough of the liberal attitude of Pakistan at this educational conference to approve the resolution that called for basing education in Pakistan on Islamic principles. Rahman, Islam and Modernity, 111. 39. These were the words used by Syed Khalilur Rahman of Punjab, CALPD, March 27, 1952, 608. 40. There is a substantial body of academic literature on the authenticity of Bengali Islam. For an examination and a rebuttal, see Joya Chatterji, “The Bengali Muslim: A Contradiction in Terms? An Overview of the Debate on Bengali Muslim Identity,” in Partition’s Legacies (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2019). 41.

For a deep history of the contributions of Hindus and Muslims to the Bengali language, and shifting attitudes toward the language question, see Anisuzzaman, “Towards a Redefinition of Identity: East Bengal, 1947–71,” in Creativity, Reality and Identity (Dhaka: International Centre for Bengal Studies, 1993). For a study of Pakistan’s official language policy, see Tariq Rahman, Language and Politics in Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1996); Alyssa Ayres, Speaking Like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Toor, The State of Islam.

42. Sufia M. Uddin, Constructing Bangladesh: Religion, Ethnicity and Language in an Islamic Nation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 60. 43. Sufia M. Uddin, Constructing Bangladesh, 89. The dates given for Sen’s Bengali tafsir are 1881–1885. 44. Sufia M. Uddin, Constructing Bangladesh, 108. 45. Tripathi, The Colonel Who Would Not Repent, 35. Forty lakh equals four million. 46. For debates among the intelligentsia on the language question, see Tazeen M. Murshid, The Sacred and the Secular: Bengali Muslim Discourses, 1871–1977 (Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1995), chap. 5.

294!!NOTES TO PAGES 162–169 47.

Dhirendra Nath Dutta, CALPD, March 27, 1951, 460–461.

48. Habibullah Bahar, CALPD, March 27, 1951, 471, emphasis added; also see Anisuzzaman, “Towards a Redefinition,” 107. In January 1952, Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin announced that Bengali was being taught in the Arabic script in twenty-one experimental centers in East Pakistan. Badruddin Umar, The Emergence of Bangladesh (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1:190. 49. Motion re: Bengali being one of the State Languages, CAD, April 10, 1952, 33–36. 50. Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay, CAD, April 10, 1952, 40–43. 51.

Kamini Kumar Dutta, CAD, April 10, 1952, 29–30.

52. Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay, CAD, April 10, 1952, 42. 53. Bhashani’s views as reported in Pakistan Observer; cited in Umar, Emergence, 1:309. 54. Sufia Uddin, Constructing Bangladesh; Murshid, Sacred and the Secular; Umar, Emergence. 55. Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan, Motion re: Bengali, CAD, April 10, 1952, 27. 56. Nurul Amin, CAD, April 10, 1952, 43–45. 57.

“Bengali at All Levels,” Pakistan Observer and Morning News, February 16, 1971. Republished in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh, My Bangladesh: Selected Speeches and Statements, October 28, 1970 to March 26, 1971, ed. Ramendu Majumdar (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1972), 58.

58. See Ahmed Kamal, State against the Nation: The Decline of the Muslim League in Pre-Independence Bangladesh, 1947–54 (Dhaka: University Press, [2009] 2016), 51. 59. Rangalal Sen, Political Elites in Bangladesh (Dhaka: University Press, 1986), 124. 60. Mr. Fazlul Huq’s speech at Netaji Bhawan, May 3, 1954, in The Oracle 8, no. 1 (January 1986): 52–53. I am grateful to Sugata Bose for sharing this speech. For an excellent discussion of Fazlul Huq’s shifting politics in the 1940s, see Semanti Ghosh, Different Nationalisms: Bengal, 1905–1947 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016). 61.

Umar, Emergence, 1:270–274.

62. “United Front’s 21-Point Programme,” in Ahmed Kamal, State against the Nation, 237; quoted by Farid Ahmad, CAD, January 21, 1956, 1898. 63. Umar, Emergence, 1:295–298. 64. A non-Muslim subject paying tribute, as translated in the debates. 65. Bhupendra Kumar Dutta, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3367–3368. 66. S. K. Sen, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3369–3371; Peter Paul Gomez, 3371–3373. 67.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3375, emphasis added.

68. Mian Abdul Bari, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3383–3386, my emphasis. The next paragraph relies on these pages.

NOTES TO PAGES 170–175 %%295

69. The idea that Hindustan referred to the country of the Hindus was certainly novel. For a thesis on the myriad religious lifeworlds that were embodied in Hindustan, see Manan Ahmed Asif, The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020). 70. Basanta Kumar Das, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3387–3389. The next paragraph relies on these pages. 71.

Akshay Kumar Das, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3390. When the Basic Principles Committee Report of 1953 had recommended that the head of state be Muslim, C. E. Gibbon, as a member of the Legislative Assembly Punjab, had written to then prime minister Khwaja Nazimuddin condemning the provision and arguing that it went against Jinnah’s promise of equal citizenship to all Pakistanis. Dawn, January 19, 1953.

72. Ataur Rahman Khan, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3391–3395. On the lasting significance of the Munir Commission report for the paradoxical constitution of an Islamic state, see Asad Ahmed, “Advocating a Secular Pakistan: The Munir Report of 1954,” in Islam in South Asia in Practice, ed. Barbara D. Metcalf (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 424–437. 73. My argument is at variance with that of Faisal Devji, who argues that Pakistan was based on a mere idea and on rejecting its past. I see Pakistanis as striving to create a viable, serviceable, meaningful past through these debates. See Devji, Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 4, 11. 74. A. K. Fazlul Huq, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3400. 75. Pir Ali Mohammad Rashdi, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3403. 76. Kamini Kumar Dutta, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3405–3406. 77.

Gour Chandra Bala, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3416–3417; Akshay Kumar Das, 3419; Mahmud Ali, 3420.

78. S. K. Sen, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3422. 79. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, CAD, February 21, 1956, 3440–3442. 80. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, “All Citizens Should Get Equal Treatment Irrespective of Religion, Caste, and Creed,” January 21, 1956, CAD, 1905–1906; Mujibur Rahman, “Repeal of the Repressive Acts,” September 26, 1955, in Speeches of Sheikh Mujib in Parliament, 1955–56, ed. Ziaur Rahman (Dhaka: Hakkani, 1990), 1:60–62. For an excellent analysis of the climate of repression and relations between capital and labor in Pakistan at this time, see Layli Uddin, “$‘Enemy Agents at Work’: A Microhistory of the 1954 Adamjee and Karnaphuli Riots in East Pakistan,” Modern Asian Studies 55, no. 2 (2020): 629–664. 81.

“United Front’s 21-Point Programme,” in Ahmed Kamal, State against the Nation, 238.

82. Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish, January 21, 1956, CAD, 1880–1881. The epithet “Tarkabagish” means “one adept in argument.” I thank Sugata Bose and Tanika Sarkar for pointing this out. Invoking Islamic brotherhood to hide regional

296!!NOTES TO PAGES 175–182 disparities was part of West Pakistani discourse; see my interview with Kamal Hossain in Chapter 4. 83. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Safety and Prevention Detention Acts, CAD, February 13, 1956, 2888–2890. 84. Sheikh Zahiruddin citing Maudoodi, Safety and Prevention Detention Acts, CAD, February 13, 1956, 2893–2894. 85. H. S. Suhrawardy, CAD, February 13, 1956, 2897, 2933. The Bangladesh Constitution of 1972 did not have any provision for preventive detention, emergency, and suspension of fundamental rights. See Moudud Ahmed, Bangladesh: Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Dhaka: University Press, 1983), 100. 86. H. S. Suhrawardy, Chundrigar, Abul Mansur Ahmad, CAD, February 13, 1956, 2902. 87.

Mujib Rahman, CAD, January 21, 1956, 1906, emphasis added.

88. Zahiruddin, CAD, February 20, 1956, 3344–3348. The following paragraphs draw from these pages. 89. Mujibur Rahman, CAD, February 6, 1956, 2536–2539. The hypocrisy of the government was exposed by Mian Iftikharuddin a month later when the first resolution passed by the newly anointed Islamic Republic of Pakistan was to join the Commonwealth of Nations. Also, see Ziaur Rahman’s 19 Points for a repeat of the goals of Article 24. 90. Zahiruddin, CAD, February 17, 1956, 3224. 91.

Basanta Kumar Das, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3676–3679. The minister for minority affairs, Muhammad Nurul Huq Chaudhury, spent a considerable amount of time quoting from newspaper reports to prove that Indian Muslims were being discriminated against in India (3397–3399).

92. Suhrawardy, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3653–3659, emphases added. The next paragraphs draw on these pages. These provisions had been debated extensively in previous years. The Pakistan Times editor Mazhar Ali Khan had reproved the imposition of “unwanted disabilities and restrictions on Pakistan’s non-Muslim citizens” in the new Constitution in “Minorities Rights,” Pakistan Times, November 6, 1953. See Pakistan, the First Twelve Years: The Pakistan Times Editorials of Mazhar Ali Khan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1996), 68. 93. Suhrawardy, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3653–3659, emphasis added; this paragraph relies on these pages. Further on, ulema-i-soo has been translated as “misguided ulema.” See Abdul Bari, CAD, 29 February 1956, 3707; “moulvi,” typically spelt “maulvi,” is a title given to a Muslim religious preacher. 94. Mahmud Ali, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3692, 3696. This was clearly a favorite verse, also quoted by Malkani, as discussed in Chapter 2. 95. Mian Abdul Bari, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3704, 3708, emphasis added. 96. Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3719. 97.

Suhrawardy, CAD, February 29, 1956, 3652.

98. Ataur Rahman Khan, CAD, February 15, 3107.

NOTES TO PAGES 182–188 %%297

99. Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, February 29, 3721–3723. 100. Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, 3720, emphasis added. 101. Joshua Fazl-ud-Din, Separate Electorates: The Life-Blood of Pakistan (Lahore: Panjabi Darbar, 1956), 21. 102. Fazl-ud-Din, Separate Electorates, 77–78. 103. Fazl-ud-Din, Separate Electorates, 21. 104. Fazl-ud-Din, Separate Electorates, 50. 105. Fazl-ud-Din, Separate Electorates, 72–73. 106. G. Allana, “Separate Electorates: The Basis of Pakistan,” in Fazl-ud-din, Separate Electorates, 116–118, emphasis added. 107. Suhrawardy’s speech as well as that of his prime critic, C. E. Gibbon, was extensively reported in the press. See “PM Defends Joint Electorate; Warns against anti- Qadiani Movement,” Dawn, April 23, 1957. 108. H. S. Suhrawardy, The Electorate (Amendment) Bill, NAP, April 22, 1957, 842–843. Curiously, only two years earlier Suhrawardy had assured his critics that by changing its name to Awami League, the party was not opening its doors to non-Muslims. “Suhrawardy Sets Up Body to Propagate Joint Electorate,” Dawn, December 31, 1955. For a brief discussion of Suhrawardy’s preference for a Nationalist Muslim League party that would include Hindus and Muslims, and his early pronouncements against the two-nation theory, see Toor, The State of Islam, 22–23. 109. See extracts from a letter titled “The Anglo-Indian Minority of Pakistan” written by C. E. Gibbon, ex-MLA and founder-president of the Anglo-Indian Association of Pakistan, The Civil and Military Gazette, August 14, 1949. Here, Gibbon says that at a meeting in April 1947, Jinnah assured the Christian and Anglo-Indian minorities that they would be represented by people of their choice in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Published as Appendix F in Fazl-ud-Din, Future of Christians in Pakistan (Lahore: Panjabi Darbar, 1949), 174–176. This assurance was also referred to during the 1973 Constitution debates. See Muhammad Zafar Ansari, February 27, 1973. 110. The use of “mochi” was casteist, probably to serve as a reminder that most Christians were converts from those labeled untouchable for working with animal hides. I cannot fathom why drinking lassi, buttermilk, was a slur. 111. C. E. Gibbon, The Electorate (Amendment) Bill, NAP, April 22, 1957, 871. 112. C. E. Gibbon, NAP, April 22, 1957, 888, emphasis added. Gibbon challenged the constitutionality of the electorate act in the West Pakistan High Court, Karachi Bench, but his petition was ultimately dismissed. See Dawn, June 13, 1957, for the written submissions of the petitioners. Fazluddin and Gibbon were proven right in insisting that only Christian representatives could safeguard Christian interests. In 1972, when there were no Christian representatives in the Assembly, 176 colleges, including prominent Christian ones, were nationalized. See statement by Education Minister Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, August 31, 1972, 740–744.

298!!NOTES TO PAGES 188–192 113. See Maududi’s essays and the introduction to Fazl-ud-Din, Separate Electorates; Hamid Khan, Constitutional and Political History, 183; Zulfikar Khalid Maluka, The Myth of Constitutionalism in Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1995), 147–149. 114. “Scheduled Caste Leader Opposes Joint Electorate,” Dawn, November 9, 1955. 115. Farid Ahmad, “Discussion on the Political Parties Bill,” NAP, July 9, 1962, 1213. 116. The amendment proposing that this clause be added to the Political Parties Bill was introduced at the Select Committee stage by Maulana Abdul Bari, who was then a close confidant of Ayub Khan. See Munir, Highways and Bye-Ways of life (Lahore: Law Pub., 1978), 13–14, 97. 117. Muhammad Munir, Discussion on the Political Parties Bill, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1356. 118. Muhammad Munir, NAP, July 12, 1962, 1398. 119. Mufti Mahmood, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1387. 120. Mufti Mahmood, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1388. 121. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mohammed Abdul Haque, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1344–1345. See also debates during the second reading of the 1973 Constitution, especially on March 9, 1973, 983–1002. 122. Choudhury Fazal Elahi, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1351. 123. Syed Abdus Sultan, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1353–1354. 124. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, NAP, July 11, 1962, 1355. 125. Abdul Qaiyum Khan, CAD, March 19, 1973, 1460. 126. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, CAD, March 8, 1973, 967. 127. See the book by scholar and former member of the National Assembly Emmanuel Zafar, A Concise History of Pakistani Christians (Lahore: Hamsookhan, 2007), 80. This was conceded in an editorial, “Minorities,” Dawn, April 26, 1973. For a perfunctory discussion of separate electorates in Pakistan, see Tahir Kamran and Navtej K. Purewal, “Pakistan’s Religious Others: Reflections on the Minority Discourse on Christians in the Punjab,” in State and Nation-Building in Pakistan, ed. Roger D. Long et al. (London: Routledge, 2015), 185–186; Rasul Bakhsh Rais, “Identity Politics and Minorities in Pakistan,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 30, no. 1 (2007): 111–125. 128. Zafar, Concise History, 87. 129. See Dr. Tanzilur Rahman, “Historical Development of the Islamic Provisions in Pakistan’s Constitution,” Hamdard Islamicus 20, no. 4 (July– September 1997): 7–24, for the continuing dissatisfaction felt by some members of the senior judiciary for the way the Preamble was being enforced, even after it was incorporated into the body of the Constitution. See also the hundreds of pages devoted to the jurisprudence around the Objectives Resolution and Preamble in District Bar Association and Others vs Federation of Pakistan and Others, PLD 2015.

NOTES TO PAGES 192–197 %%299

130. Hamid Khan, 8th Amendment: Constitutional and Political Crisis in Pakistan (Lahore: Rana Hameed Law Book House, 1995), 101. See Yasser Latif Hamdani, “Pakistani Constitution, Islam, and Minorities,” Criterion Quarterly (February 2016), for an interpretation of the Constitution that emphasizes its exclusionary nature toward non-Muslim minority communities ever since the time of the Objectives Resolution. For recent efforts at organizing minorities in Pakistan, see Sarah Ansari and William Gould, Boundaries of Belonging: Localities, Citizenship and Rights in India and Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 269–270. 131. Punjab Religious Book Society v The State, PLD 1960 Lahore 631. 132. Punjab Religious Book Society v The State, PLD 1960 Lahore 637–638. 133. See also Osama Siddique and Zahra Hayat, “Unholy Speech and Holy Laws: Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan—Controversial Origins, Design Defects, and Free Speech Implications,” Minnesota Journal of International Law 17, no. 2 (2008): 341. 134. In contrast, at the height of the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006, India’s former attorney general Soli Sorabjee argued that while determining breach of Section 295A, the religious feelings of those belonging to the religion whose founder had been vilified had to be taken into account. See Soli S. Sorabjee, “Insult to Religion,” Indian Express, June 25, 2006. 135. “Motion for Adjournment re: Religious and Political Activities of the Christian Missionaries,” NAP, July 13, 1962, 1446–1449. 136. Sardar Bahadur Khan, NAP, July 13, 1962, 1447. 137. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, NAP, July 13, 1962, 1448–1449. 138. Maulana Mufti Mahmood, NAP, July 13, 1962, 1449. 139. Anushay Malik, however, has traced the rise in criticisms of foreign missionary activity to the atmosphere of mistrust around the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965. See Anushay Malik, “Narrating Christians in Pakistan through Times of War and Conflict,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 43, no. 1 (2020): 68–83. 140. Badruddin Umar, The Emergence of Bangladesh (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol. 2, chap. 14. 141. For an explanation of the doctrine and its utility, see A. A. K. Niazi, The Betrayal of East Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998), chap. 8. 142. For instance, a leaflet titled Purba Pakistan Rukhia Darao (People of East Pakistan rise in resisting communal forces) was published in Ittefaq in January 1964. The government fined Ittefaq Rs 25,000. See Umar, Emergence, vol. 2, chap. 14. These riots are the backdrop for Tanvir Mokammel’s film Chitra Nodir Pare (Quiet flows the River Chitra, 1999).

4. Islam and the Secular in Bangladesh and Pakistan Epigraphs: Bamladesa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, vol. 2, no. 15, November 4, 1972, 702; Ganoparishad Proceedings, Bangladesh Observer, November 5, 1972; Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, “Pakistan Builds Anew,” Foreign Affairs, April 1973.

300!!NOTES TO PAGES 198–205 1.

“Freedom,” Shamsur Rahman, 1971. Cited in Sufia M. Uddin, Constructing Bangladesh: Religion, Ethnicity and Language in an Islamic Nation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).


Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972); Srinath Raghavan, 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012); Bina D’Costa, Nation-Building, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia (London: Routledge, 2011); Hameeda Hossain et al., Rising from the Ashes: Women’s Narratives of 1971 (Dhaka: University Press, 2013); “50 Years of the Liberation of Bangladesh,” special issue, EPW 56, no. 44 (2021).


Tazeen M. Murshid, The Sacred and the Secular: Bengali Muslim Discourses, 1871–1977 (Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1995); Taj Hashmi, “Islamic Resurgence in Bangladesh: Genesis, Dynamics and Implications,” in Religious Radicalism and Security in South Asia, ed. S. Limaye et al. (Honolulu: Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2004), 35; Ali Riaz, Bangladesh: A Political History since Independence (London: Tauris, 2016).


Abul Hashim, In Retrospection (Dacca: Subarna Publishers, 1974), 21–22.


Cited in Hashim, In Retrospection, 153. The text was signed on May 20, 1947.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 42.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 78.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 22–23, emphasis added.


Speech at Burdwan Town Hall, November 18, 1943; reported in Morning News, November 19, 1943; Hashim, In Retrospection, 37, emphasis added.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 63–64.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 78.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 95–96.


Hashim, In Retrospection, 109–110, emphasis added. The debate over the interpretation of the Lahore Resolution at the Delhi convention reappeared during the drafting of the Constitution of Pakistan.


Jahan, Pakistan, 21. For a consideration of Bengali Muslim proposals that draw out the meanings of “Pakistan” in this time, see Neilesh Bose, “Purba Pakistan Zindabad: Bengali Visions of Pakistan, 1940–1947,” Modern Asian Studies 48, no. 1 (2014): 1–36.


Jahan, Pakistan, 22. These conflicting interpretations were referred to by the “Action Committee for the Democratic Federation” during the Grand National Convention that was formed to respond to the recommendations of the Basic Principles Committee report in November 1950 in Dhaka. See reference to leaflet “ Will Janab Liakat Ali Khan Answer the Following Questions,” in Badruddin Umar, The Emergence of Bangladesh (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1:166. The rival interpretations of the Lahore Resolution were also debated during the Constituent Assembly debates. CAD January 21, 1956, 1893–1894.

NOTES TO PAGES 205–207 %%301


See, for instance, Siddiq Salik, Witness to Surrender (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1977), 2. Salik recalls seeking, on the eve of the war, “refuge in the sweet recollection of the reassuring clichés: that the All India Muslim League was founded in Dacca and that the historic Pakistan Resolution was moved by a Bengali. Hence there could be no danger to Pakistan!”


Hashim, Integration of Pakistan (Dacca: Syed Mujibullah, 1966), 30, 7, my emphasis. See also Hashim, As I See It (Dacca: Islamic Academy, 1965), 77. Some of the articles in As I See It were delivered as lectures over Radio Pakistan.


Hashim, it should be noted, lost his home in Burdwan in West Bengal during riots in 1950, and was forced to relocate to Dhaka. See Sho Kuwajima, Muslims, Nation and the World: Life and Thought of Abul Hashim, Leader of the Bengal Muslim League (Delhi: LG, 2015), 4.


Hashim, Integration of Pakistan, 42–45, emphasis added. For the argument that Hashim “took a stand against measures of a statist secularization,” which relies on an earlier set of Hashim’s writings, see Samia Huq, “Tolerance in Bangladesh: Discourses of State and Society,” in Tolerance, Secularization and Democratic Politics in South Asia, ed. Tanika Sarkar and Humeira Iqtidar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 134–153.

20. Ten Years of Development, Radio Pakistan, 1958–68 (Karachi: 1968), 10–11. 21.

See Anisuzzaman, “Claiming and Disclaiming a Cultural Icon: Tagore in East Pakistan and Bangladesh,” University of Toronto Quarterly 77, no. 4 (2008): 1058–1069; Enayetullah Khan, “Idolatry and Tagore,” Holiday, May 10, 1970; for a discussion of the conflicting place of Tagore in East Pakistan, see Andrew Sartori, “Abul Mansur Ahmad and the Cultural Politics of Bengali Pakistanism,” in From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition, ed. Dipesh Chakrabarty et al. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007), 119–136.

22. See the special commentaries broadcast on Radio Pakistan in April and May 1971, in Mohsin Ali, The Bengali Muslim: Plight before Freedom, Progress after Freedom, Peril to Freedom, Background Papers on East Pakistan (Government of Pakistan: Department of Films and Publications, June 1971). On Hashim’s refusal to record for the radio, see Kuwajima, Muslims, 169. The author also notes that Hashim’s 1969 book Arabic Made Easy was dedicated to Ayub Khan, to whom Hashim felt he owed his rehabilitation. A Bengali translation of Integration of Pakistan was published in 1970 by the Islamic Academy in Dhaka, an organization Hashim had led for almost a decade. 23. M. Anisur Rahman, My Story of 1971: Through the Holocaust That Created Bangladesh (Dhaka: Liberation War Museum, 2001), 17. 24. Rehman Sobhan, “Tajuddin Ahmad: Honouring the Memory of a Hero of Our Liberation Struggle,” Nagorik 3, no. 3 (July 2019): 12–14. I am grateful to Sharmin Hossain for sharing this article with me. 25. M. Anisur Rahman, “East Pakistan: The Roots of Estrangement,” South Asian Review 3, no. 3 (April 1970): 235–239.

302!!NOTES TO PAGES 208–212 26. Interview with Kamal Hossain, New York, May 2018. I am grateful to Ambassador William Milam for arranging this interview. Kamal Hossain, Bām lādeśera svādhīnatā yuddha: Dalilapatra, ed. Hāsana ˙ Hāphijura Rahamāna. English title—Bangladesh Freedom War Documents (hereafter cited as BFWD) (Dhaka: Gan aprajātantrī Bām lādeśa Sarakāra, ˙ ˙ Tathya Mantranālay˙era pakshe Hākkānī Pābaliśārsa, 2003), 15:148. ˙ 28. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 6-Point Formula: Our Right to Live (Dacca: East Pakistan Awami League, 1966). The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission of Inquiry into the 1971 war also discusses this aspect. See The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission of Inquiry into the 1971 War [as declassified by the Government of Pakistan], hereafter cited as Hamoodur Rehman report (Lahore: Vanguard, 2000), 47. 27.

29. Hossain, BFWD, 146, emphasis added. 30. Hossain, BFWD, 160. 31.

For a sense of the kind of protests and oppositional politics in East Bengal in the 1960s, see Nusrat Chowdhury, “Dhaka 1969,” EPW 56, no. 44 (2021): 47–52.

32. Hossain, BFWD, 160–164. 33. Addressing the Pakistan Society, London, on September 10, 1970, Yahya’s adviser G. W. Choudhary ruled out the possibility of one party winning an absolute majority of the seats in East Pakistan. Quoted in Anthony Mascarenhas, The Rape of Bangla Desh (Delhi: Vikas, 1971), 56–58; also see Hamoodur Rehman Report, 74; Hossain, BFWD, 167–168. 34. On this point, see Mascarenhas, The Rape of Bangla Desh, 50. 35. Bangla Desh Documents, ed. Shilendra K. Singh (New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, 1971), 1:55. 36. Hossain, BFWD, 167. 37.

Tajuddin Ahmad, Ittefaq, January 5, 1970, in Tājauddīna Āhamada: Itihāsera pātā theke (Tajuddin Ahmad Glimpses from history), comp. Simin Hossain Rimi (Dhaka: Pratibhaas, 2007), 34.

38. “Pakistan Cannot Be Destroyed by Any Power, Says Mujib; Islam in Danger Cry a Political Stunt,” Dawn, June 8, 1970; “Six-Point Programme Will Not Destroy Pakistan or Islam,” The People, October 26, 1970. All these speeches and news items are available in Bangla Desh Documents, 1:82–112. In the middle of the war, the Government of Pakistan issued a White Paper wherein it acknowledged that the six points “made no claim to alter or to abridge the sovereign character of Pakistan.” But the White Paper went on to argue that the Awami League had later “sought to escalate a mandate for autonomy into a move for secession.” See White Paper on the Crisis in East Pakistan (Islamabad: Ministry of Information and National Affairs, August 5, 1971), 4. 39. Political Broadcast of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television Service, October 28, 1970, published in Dawn Karachi, October 29, 1970; titled “We Pledge,” in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh, My Bangladesh:

NOTES TO PAGES 212–215 %%303

Selected Speeches and Statements, October 28, 1970, to March 26, 1971, ed. Ramendu Majumdar (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1972),10–11. 40. Siddiq Salik thought the comparison ominous. See his discussion of the six points in Witness to Surrender, 16–18. 41.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, “Calamity in Coastal Areas,” statement to the press, November 26, 1970, in Rahman, Bangladesh, My Bangladesh, 13–15; Umar, Emergence, 2:265–267.

42. Rahman, “The Verdict of the People Is Final,” in Bangladesh, My Bangladesh, 35. 43. Salik, Witness to Surrender, 32. The eleven-point program further democratized the demands of the Awami League by emphasizing students’ and workers’ rights. See Umar, Emergence, vol. 2. 44. Rahman, “The Verdict of the People Is Final,” 36–40. 45. See Rehman Sobhan’s account of his meeting with Bhutto’s entourage, which included Dr. Mubasher Hasan, Mian Mahmud Ali Qasuri, Abdul Hafeez Peerzada, and barrister Rafi Raza, in January 1971, in BFWD, 15:264–265. 46. The Hamoodur Rehman Commission report noted that on January 6, 1971, General Yahya’s principal staff officer, General Pirzada, called the governor of East Pakistan for a copy of the Six-Point Program. “That at this stage the presidential team did not have so much as a copy of the Six Points Programme is in itself a shocking eye-opener.” Hamoodur Rehman Report, 77–79, 92–95. 47.

Hamoodur Rehman Report, 96. The phrase translates to “us here, you there,” referring, in a sense, to the electoral victories of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami League in each wing, rather than their share of seats in the National Assembly as a whole.

48. See Umar, Emergence, 2:298–313. Ayesha Jalal concludes that what can be queried is Bhutto’s “sense of history, his skewed definition of ‘national interest’ . . . and his decision to back the keepers of an inherently inequitable and antidemocratic state system.” Jalal, The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 178, 159–173. 49. Ataus Samad, “People Await Sheikh’s Move: Recognition, Assertion, Emancipation,” Holiday, March 7, 1971. 50. On the threats issued by Bhutto, see Jalal, Struggle for Pakistan, 167; Rafi Raza, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pakistan, 1967–1977 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1997), 58–59. 51.

“Our Struggle This Time Is a Struggle for Independence,” in Rahman, Bangladesh, My Bangladesh, 91–96. For a list of Mujib’s ten directives to continue civil disobedience, see Mascarenhas, The Rape of Bangla Desh, 101–102.

52. Hossain, BFWD, 15:172. That “negotiations were being dragged on” while military action was being planned is also the conclusion of the Hamoodur Rehman Report, 93. 53. Rahman, My Story of 1971, 27–28.

304!!NOTES TO PAGES 215–217 54. Press Statement of Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister of Bangla Desh, on April 17, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:295. 55. Interview with Kamal Hossain. Yahya’s team included the former justice A. R. Cornelius, General Peerzada, and Colonel Hassan, the Judge Advocate General, whereas Mujib’s team consisted of Tajuddin Ahmad, Syed Nazrul Islam, and Kamal Hossain. The Hamoodur Rahman Commission has a draft of the proclamation that was being negotiated by the two sides. See Annexure B, 106–116. Curiously, I have not been able to find a draft of the Constitution that was circulated among Awami League members in February 1971. G. W. Choudhury, adviser to Yahya Khan, concurs that the Islamic character “was no longer an important or controversial one.” See his book The Last Days of United Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1993), 83. 56. Niazi, Betrayal, 45–46. 57.

Press Statement of Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister of Bangla Desh, on April 17, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:297.

58. Najmul Abedin, “Bangladesh Liberation War and the Indian Parliament: An Overview of Parliamentary Debates,” in Thirty Years of Bangladesh Politics: Essays in Memory of Mahfuzul Huq, ed. Mahfuzul H. Chowdhury (Dhaka: University Press, 2002); Tajuddin Ahmad’s interview broadcast by Swadhin Bangla Kendra, Hindustan Times, May 29, 1971, and Bhashani, “No Political Settlement,” National Herald, June 3, 1971, in Bangla Desh Papers, 1:320, 324. The writer and witness, Anwar Pasha, who wrote Rifle, Roti, Aurat later the same year and was killed days before the end of the war, also regarded the crackdown of March 25 as marking the disintegration of Pakistan. See also Alamgir Kabir, This Was Radio Bangladesh 1971 (Dhaka: Bangla Academy, 2016). 59. Rahman, My Story of 1971; Tripathi, The Colonel Who Would Not Repent; Anwar Pasha, Rifles, Bread, Women, trans. Kabir Chowdhury (Dhaka: Bangla Academy, 1976). 60. See “Annex I: Report on the Carnage,” in Anisur Rahman, My Story of 1971, 89–97. A copy of the tape is at the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka. Rao Farman Ali refers to the Civil Armed Forces being “more prone to psychological and religious propaganda . . . [that] Bengalis [were] kafirs.” He writes that the CAF did not behave well in the cities but “performed well in operations.” See Rao Farman Ali, How Pakistan Got Divided (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2017), 116–117. 61.

See Mohsin Ali, The Bengali Muslim; White Paper on the Crisis in East Pakistan; Niazi, Betrayal, 33–34.

62. Abedin, “Bangladesh Liberation War,” 49. On India’s reticence, see Srinath Raghavan, 1971: A Global History; on India’s eagerness to divide Pakistan, see Farman Ali, How Pakistan Got Divided, 206–209 . The Hamoodur Rehman Report, too, is based on a narrative of Hindu persecution in British India, and alleged that India’s inability to reconcile with the reality of Pakistan had led to Indian machinations to split Pakistan. 63. Press Statement of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, President, National Awami Party, Bangla Desh, April 22, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:305.

NOTES TO PAGES 217–221 %%305

64. Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani’s Appeal to World Leaders, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:302–303. 65. “Genocide in the Name of Islam,” The Statesman, June 25, 1971, in Bangla Desh Documents, 1:330. 66. “Pakistan Will Meet Her Waterloo in Bangladesh,” statement of Mr. Amjadul Huq, Bangla Desh press attaché, made to foreign and Indian journalists on July 3, 1971, National Herald, July 4, 1971, in Bangla Desh Documents, 1:334. The director of the Dacca Museum, Enamul Haque, documented the vandalism of mosques and temples by the Pakistani army. See “Occupation Army and Cultural Properties,” Bangladesh Observer, March 16, 1972. 67.

Bangladesh Betar, June 13, 1971, in Tājauddīna Āhamada: Itihāsera, 141.

68. Tajuddin Ahmad, report in the Patriot, “Bangla Desh PM’s Plea for Aid, Recognition,” June 14, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:326. 69. Matir Moina (The clay bird), dir. Tareque Masud, 2002. 70. See Abedin, “Bangladesh Liberation War,” 55. 71.

Muhammad Nurul Quadir, Independence of Bangladesh in 266 Days: History and Documentary Evidence (Dhaka: Mukto, December 2004), 138–139.

72. Cited in Gary Bass, The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013). 73. Interview with Kamal Hossain, May 2018. 74. Proclamation of Independence, April 10, 1971, in Bangla Desh Documents, 1: 281–82. 75. The shift from Islam in the Awami League’s manifesto for the elections to secularism in the Constitution is briefly noted in the account by Yahya Khan’s adviser, G. W. Choudhury, The Last Days of United Pakistan, 116. 76. See, for instance, Tajuddin’s address to a meeting in Patuakhali on February 23, 1970, published in Dainik Ittefaq, February 25, 1970. Here, Tajuddin explained that the six points were not against Islam and criticized the Jamaat-e-Islami workers for spreading the fear of religion and using mosques as political platforms to protect the interest of their masters. He made a similar speech at a public meeting in Mymensingh. See Ittefaq, March 5, 1970. 77.

Text of Mr. Tajuddin’s eighteen-point directive on May 14, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:318; Sirajuddin Ahmad, Biography of Tajuddin Ahmad, 325–326.

78. Sharmin Ahmad, Tajuddin Ahmad Neta O Pita (Dhaka: Oitijjhya, June 2014), 93. 79. Interview with Mr. A. H. M. Kamaruzzaman on May 20, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 1:319. 80. Tajuddin Ahmad to Indira Gandhi, October 15, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, ed. Shilendra K. Singh (New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, 1971), 2:581–583. 81.

Tajuddin Ahmad to Indira Gandhi, November 23, 1971, Bangla Desh Documents, 2:585; Jairam Ramesh, Intertwined Lives: P. N. Haksar and Indira Gandhi (New Delhi: Simon and Schuster, 2018), 204–208.

306!!NOTES TO PAGES 221–226 82. Niazi, Betrayal, 114–115, 128. On the training of mujahids and razakars, see 78–79. 83. Joint communique issued at the conclusion of Bangla Desh Foreign Minister’s visit to Delhi, January 9, 1972, Bangla Desh Documents, 2:592. 84. Sharmin Ahmad, Tajuddin Ahmad Neta O Pita, 123. 85. Tajuddin Ahmad, Dainik Purbadesh, January 3, 1972, in Tājauddīna Āhamada: Itihāsera, 186; “Tajuddin says: There Will Be No Religious Minority,” Bangladesh Observer, January 3, 1972. 86. “Religious Freedom for All Assured; Nazrul Addresses Sikhs in Bakshi Bazar, Dacca,” Bangladesh Observer, January 3, 1972. 87.

For debates on the use of this term, see Nayanika Mookherjee, The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 151; also Hossain et al., Rising from the Ashes.

88. Abul Fazl Huq, “Constitution-Making in Bangladesh,” Pacific Affairs 46, no. 1 (1973): 60. 89. Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, The Bangladesh Gazette, Extraordinary, December 14, 1972, 3489. 90. Kamal Hossain thought their fears were proven right by the assassination of Mujibur Rahman less than three years after the Constitution was ratified. Interview with Kamal Hossain, May 2018. Also see reports in the Bangladesh Observer, June to November 1972. 91.

“Shadhinota shongram kalei shudhhu noy, tar bou agei—jar itihash ami bolechi, je din ‘Awami Muslim League.’$” “$‘Awami League’ hoyechilo, shei dini dharma nirappekhatar mohan adorsho ei dol grohon korechilo,” Bamladesa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, vol. 2, no. 4, October 19, 1972, 117. Monsur Ali, the communications minister, also declared that the people had struggled for a long time to establish dharma nirappekhata. See the debate on October 20, 1972. I am very grateful to Atif Jalal Ahmad for reading these debates with me, and to Jonathan Loar of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress for making the volumes available.

92. Bamladesa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, vol. 2, no. 5, October 20, 1972, 152. 93. Bamladesa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, vol. 2, no. 7, October 23, 1972, 208. The same lines from the Quran were quoted in the editorial “Communal Peace,” Bangladesh Observer, October 18, 1972. 94. Bamladesa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, vol. 2, no. 7, October 23, 1972, 180; Ganoparishad Proceedings, Bangladesh Observer, October 24, 1972. 95. Bamladesa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, vol. 2, no. 15, November 4, 1972, 702; Ganoparishad Proceedings, Bangladesh Observer, November 5, 1972. 96. Lailufar Yasmin, “Religion and After: Bangladesh Identity since 1971,” Open Democracy, April 19, 2013, /religion-and-after-bangladeshi-identity-since-1971/. 97.

Naushad al-Khair, “Are We Really Sovereign?,” Holiday, March 26, 1972.

NOTES TO PAGES 226–229 %%307

98. Badruddin Umar, “Indo-Bangladesh Relations,” Holiday, August 5– September 17, 1972; Khagen Roy, “Anti Hindu Feeling Persists in Bangladesh,” Organiser, September 9, 1972. The Indian Embassy refuted the charge of smuggling, saying that rice was dearer in Bangladesh and smuggling was not profitable. It alleged that large amounts of essential goods from India had found their way into Bangladesh illegally. “Bhashani’s Anti-India Tirade,” Organiser, May 27, 1972. 99. Enayatullah Khan, “The State of the Nation: An Interview,” summary published in Holiday, October 22, 1972. 100. “Banoj K. Chakravorty, Bangladesh’s India-Baitor Number One,” Organiser, September 16, 1972; “Bhashani Back to Politics of Communalism,” Bangladesh Observer, November 16, 1972; “Abul Hashim Meets Bhashani,” Bangladesh Observer, December 10, 1972; “Ataur Rahman Iterates Plea for Electoral Alliance,” Bangladesh Observer, December 29, 1972. For a succinct analysis of the shifting politics of Bhashani, see Enayetullah Khan, “Bhashani: The Dream and the Substance,” Holiday, January 18, 1970. 101. Kamal Hossain, “Political Development in Bangladesh: Promise and Reality,” Contributions to Asian Studies 14 (1979): 114. 102. Kamal Hossain, Bangladesh: Quest for Freedom and Justice (Dhaka: University Press, 2013), 235–237. 103. Hossain, Bangladesh: Quest, emphasis added. 104. “Mujib’s Cable to Faisal: Allow Bangalis to Perform Haj,” Bangladesh Observer, September 27, 1972. 105. Hossain, Bangladesh: Quest, 194. 106. Quoted in Hossain, Bangladesh: Quest, 142. Tajuddin Ahmad had a similar conversation with a minister in Kuwait. See “Interview with Abu Sayeed Choudhury,” in Aloker Ananta Dhara, ed. Simin Hossain Rimi (Dhaka: Pratibhaas, 2006). 107. Amar Jaleel, ed., Sarda lasha jo safaru: Kahaniyun (Karachi: Kachho, 2010), 190. I am very grateful to Vikalp Ashiqehind for translating the short story and introduction from Sindhi to Hindi, and to Sunil Sharma for providing me with the short story and introduction from Harvard College Library, the only US university library to have a copy of this book of short stories edited by Jaleel. Although this short story is a classic in Sindhi, it has not been translated into English. 108. According to an article in the RSS’s Organiser, thirty-two houses were ransacked and more than seven were razed to the ground. Many Hindu girls were kidnapped, tortured, and returned after some time. See “Sind Hindus’ Pitiable Plight,” Organiser, November 25, 1992. It is a tribute to Amar Jaleel’s skill as a writer and as a humanist that he foregrounded the experiences of Sindhi Hindus with such empathy. The roughly coeval 1969 riot in Ahmedabad caused greater loss of lives. 109. Quoted in Asif Farrukhi, “Tribute to Amar Jaleel,” in Amar Jaleel Number (Karachi: Kachho, [2008] 2015), 11. 110. Jaleel, Sarda lasha jo safaru: Kahaniyun, 185. Here, Gopaldas is paraphrasing Sachal Sarmast.

308!!NOTES TO PAGES 230–234 111. Introduction to Jaleel, Sarda lash jo safaru: Kahaniyun, 9–12. 112. Asma Faiz, In Search of Lost Glory: Sindhi Nationalism in Pakistan (London: Hurst, 2021), 43. 113. Quoted in Jaleel’s introduction to Sard lash jo safaru: Kahaniyun, 13. 114. Farrukhi calls Jaleel “a story-monger of the excluded and the exhausted,” who shines “a torch to . . . the recesses where the vermin in the country’s body politic would like to seek to refuge.” Farrukhi, “Tribute,” 10–11. 115. “Intellectuals’ panel to decide case of ‘Sohni,’$” Dawn, August 1, 1975; Mahboob Ali Chana, Various Trends in Sindhi Literature (Jacobabad: Commercial Press, 1971), 35. 116. Palijo quoted in “Intellectuals’ Panel to Decide Case of ‘Sohni.’$” At an event commemorating the golden jubilee of Jaleel’s writing career, Siraj-ul-Haque, editor of Hilal-e-Pakistan, a Bhutto paper, recalled his efforts to ensure that the arrest warrant out for Jaleel was withdrawn. The star columnist of Hilal had to be safe to produce his popular columns. See Siraj-ul-Haque, “Tribute to Amar Jalee,” in Amar Jaleel Number, 6–7. On the favoritism accorded to Hilal-e-Pakistan at the time, see Zamir Niazi, Press in Chains (Karachi Press Club, 1986), 172. 117. Fahmida Riaz, Pakistan: Literature and Society (New Delhi: Patriot, 1986), 31–33. Tariq Ashraf, the popular activist and editor of Suhini, was arrested for multiple articles in Suhini, including one that criticized the Bhutto government for perpetuating the wartime emergency and that led him to be arrested under the Defence of Pakistan Rules. He remained in jail until he was released by general Zia-ul-Haq three years later. See Appendix A, “Prisoners of Conscience Adopted in Pakistan,” in An Amnesty International Report Including the Findings of a Mission to Pakistan, April 23–May 12, 1976 (Amnesty International Publications, 1977), 68. 118. “White Paper on Sindhi Literature Banned,” Dawn, August 1, 1975. 119. Riaz, Pakistan: Literature and Society, 31–32. For a discussion of Riaz’s perspective on Sindhi literature, see also Amina Yaqin, “Variants of Cultural Nationalism in Pakistan: A Reading of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Jamil Jalibi, and Fahmida Riaz,” in Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia, ed. Kelly Pemberton and Michael Nijhawan (New York: Routledge, 2009). 120. Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan, The Education Policy, 1972–1980, 37, cited in Alyssa Ayres, Speaking Like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 131. 121. Jalal, The Struggle, 205; Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Islam in Pakistan: A History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018), 172–173. 122. Zaman, Islam in Pakistan, 173, 170. 123. For an analysis of the parliamentary proceedings of 1974, including the special committee of the House, see Ali Usman Qasmi, The Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan (London: Anthem, 2014), 167–220. 124. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, NAP, September 7, 1974, 565–567. The scholar Farzana Shaikh has called this declaration “fatuous.” See Farzana Shaikh, Making Sense of Pakistan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 62.

NOTES TO PAGES 234–237 %%309

125. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, NAP, September 7, 1974, 561. 126. On the silencing of Assembly members who were reluctant to “vote against the popular will,” see Qasmi, The Ahmadis, 213; Sadia Saeed, Politics of Desecularization: Law and the Minority Question in Pakistan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 127. Salman Taseer, Bhutto: A Political Biography (London: Ithaca Press, 1979), 152; see also Mir Zohair Hussain, “Islam in Pakistan under Bhutto and Zia-ul-Haq,” in Islam, Muslims and the Modern State: Case Studies of Muslims in Thirteen Countries, ed. Hussin Mutalib and Tajul Islam Hashmi (London: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 47–79. 128. Zaman, Islam in Pakistan, 179. 129. Asad Ahmed, “A Brief History of the Anti-Blasphemy Laws,” Dawn, October 31, 2018. 130. C. M. Naim, “The Second Tyranny of Religious Majorities,” South Asian Bulletin 14, no. 2 (1994): 104–107. 131. Asma Jahangir et al., From Protection to Exploitation (Lahore: AGHS Legal Aid Cell, 2007); Ebrahim Moosa, “Muslim Political Theology: Defamation, Apostasy, and Anathema,” in Profane: Sacrilegious Expression in a Multicultural Age, ed. Christopher S. Grenda et al. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014); Farhat Haq, Sharia and the State in Pakistan: Blasphemy Politics (London: Routledge, 2019). 132. Eqbal Ahmad, “Law against Justice,” Dawn, October 4, 1992; also Naim, “The Second Tyranny,” 105. 133. Osama Siddique and Zahra Hayat, “Unholy Speech and Holy Laws: Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan—Controversial Origins, Design Defects, and Free Speech Implications,” Minnesota Journal of International Law 17, no. 2 (2008); Saadia Toor, The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan (London: Pluto Press, 2011); International Commission of Jurists, On Trial: The Implementation of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws (Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 2015); Umair Javed, “Our Darkest Moments,” Dawn, May 8, 2017; Arafat Mazhar, The Untold Truth of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law: A Reconciliation with the Past and a Way Forward (Lahore: Engage Foundation for Research and Dialogue, 2018); Ahmed, “A Brief History”; Sana Ashraf, “Honour, Purity and Transgression: Understanding Blasphemy Accusations and Consequent Violent Action in Punjab, Pakistan,” Contemporary South Asia 26, no. 1 (2018): 51–68; Asad Hashim, “Explained: Pakistan’s Emotive Blasphemy Laws,” Aljazeera, September 21, 2020; Arsalan Khan, “Contested Sovereignty: Islamic Piety, Blasphemy Politics, and the Paradox of Islamization in Pakistan,” in Citizenship, Belonging, and the Partition of India, ed. Neeti Nair, special issue, Asian Affairs 53, no. 2 (2022); Arafat Mazhar directed Swipe: An Animated Short Film, 2020. 134. Around Tungi (then Kushtia district) near Jibannagar, close to the border with India, these words were spoken to Barrister Amir-ul Islam, with whom Tajuddin Ahmad was heading to India, on March 30, 1971. Muktijuddher Smriti (Dhaka: Kagoj Prakashan, 1991), 26; also quoted in the film Tajuddin Ahmad: The Unsung

310!!NOTES TO PAGES 238–241 Hero, dir. Tanvir Mokammel, 2007. I am grateful to Sharmin Ahmad, Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad’s daughter, for this reference. 135. Kabir Choudhury, “Secularism and Bangladesh,” in A Nation Is Born (Calcutta: Calcutta University Bangladesh Sahayak Samiti, 1974), 64. 136. Choudhury, “Secularism and Bangladesh,” 65. 137. Serajul Islam Choudhury, “Nationalism, Secularism, and Democracy in Bangladesh,” in A Nation Is Born, 70–71. 138. Hossain, “Political Development,” 108. 139. Shaheed Bari, “New Directions in Bangladesh,” Mainstream, February 8, 1975, 8–10, 27; Anthony Mascarenhas, Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986). 140. “Bangla President’s 19-point Policy,” The Hindu, May 2, 1977. 141. Achintya Sen and Enayetullah Khan, “Who Is Opposing the 19 Points,” Holiday, April 12, 1979, in Achintya Sen, People, Power, Politics 1972–1991 (Dhaka: Pinaki Das, 1991), 98. 142. Sultana Kamal, “Move towards State Sponsored Islamization in Bangladesh,” South Asia Bulletin 10, no. 2 (1990): 73, emphasis added. 143. See, for instance, Shantanu Majumder, “Secularism and Anti- Secularism,” in Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Bangladesh, ed. Ali Riaz and Mohammad Sajjadur Rahman (Routledge: London, 2016), 40–51; Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan, “Secularism in the Constitution of Bangladesh,” Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 49, no. 2 (2017): 204–227; Haroon Habib, “A Return to Secularism, Almost,” Himal, August 1, 2011. 144. Mahfuz Anam, quoted in Tripathi, The Colonel, 5. 145. This commitment to Islam explains why there was furor in Bangladesh over the author Taslima Nasrin’s purported interview with the Statesman, a Calcutta paper, wherein she reportedly recommended a thorough revision of the Quran. See Dr. Taslima Nasrin vs Md Nurul Alam and another, 1995 15 BLD 117. Other writers pointed out that Taslima Nasrin first incurred the wrath of the ulema over her newspaper columns on women and her 1993 novel Lajja, which portrayed the predicament of religious minorities in Dhaka after the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992. Even so, it was after the interview for the Statesman that Taslima became persona non grata in Bangladesh. However, more recently, she has resumed writing for Bangladeshi papers. Interview with Taslima Nasrin, New Delhi, December 2019. 146. Hussain, “Islam in Pakistan under Bhutto and Zia-ul-Haq,” 47. 147. Interview with Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, former chief justice of Pakistan, March 2019. PLD 2014 Supreme Court 699; also CMA No 4821 of 2018, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and others versus Federation of Pakistan, Application seeking implementation of judgement passed in Suo Moto No 1 of 2014 dated June 19, 2014. I thank Saqib Jillani, advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, for sharing this application with me.

NOTES TO PAGES 241–247 %%311

148. For reports of the work of the Commission appointed to ensure the implementation of the minority rights judgment, see “Hindus’ Holy Sites a Picture of Neglect, Says Commission,” Dawn, February 8, 2021; “Special Police Unit to Protect Minorities Worship Places,” Dawn, July 10, 2021; “Minorities’ rights, places of worship to be protected: CJP,” Dawn, August 12, 2021. Recently, the Commission’s work on restoring a desecrated shrine in Sindh and recovering costs from individuals responsible for the destruction was published as PLD 2022 Supreme Court 1.

Epilogue 1.

Saba Rahman, “Habib Jalib, His Dastoor—Why the People’s Poet and His Verse Are Inspiring India’s Youth,” Indian Express, January 2, 2020.


In a response to a book forum on the blog Law and Other Things, constitutional scholar Arvind Elangovan has asked for “histories that would explain the genealogies of this appropriation of readings of the preamble.” This book may be read as one such attempt. See Arvind Elangovan, “How Should We Historicize the Indian Constitution?,” Law and Other Things, July 29, 2021.


Bhupesh Gupta, Focus on Indianisation: Text of Speeches Delivered in Rajya Sabha on March 11 (New Delhi: Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee, 1970), 7–8.


Vasant Sathe, “Resolution re: Communal and Paramilitary Organisations,” Lok Sabha Debate, April 21, 1972, 271.


Nitish Kumar, LSD, August 17, 1993, 266–267


Interview with Rajendra Prasad of Sahmat, Delhi, 2018.


Nasim Zehra, “Ayodhya Fall- Out in Islamabad,” Mainstream, January 2, 1993.


Santosh Bhattacharya et al., “Message to Bangladesh Intellectuals,” Mainstream, January 9, 1993, 35.


Quoted in I. K. Gujral, “Effect of Ayodhya Incidents on Our Neighbourhood,” Mainstream, January 16, 1993, 35.


Mazhar Ali Khan, “Pakistan and Indo-Pak Relations, View from Lahore,” Mainstream, January 23, 1993, 7.


As I send this manuscript off to press, India’s Supreme Court will decide on whether the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura and the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi—both squarely within the sights of the Sangh Parivar’s vision for a Hindu Rashtra—fall under the ambit of the Places of Worship Act of 1991 that explicitly bars the conversion of any religious place from its status on Independence Day, August 15, 1947. It would appear that no lesson has been learned from the years of litigation and conflict that accompanied the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.


For recent developments in the study of secularism, see articles in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

312!!NOTES TO PAGES 249–250 13.

In 1968–1969, the East wing received a record allocation of development funds of Rs 2,881 million, which was 55.45 percent of the total public sector development of Pakistan. Rehman Sobhan and Muzaffer Ahmad, Public Enterprise in an Intermediate Regime: A Study in the Political Economy of Bangladesh (Dhaka: Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, 1980), cited in Ali Riaz, Bangladesh: A Political History since Independence (London: Tauris, 2016), 20.


Ali Riaz, “The Politics of Islamization in Bangladesh,” in Religion and Politics in South Asia, ed. Ali Riaz (London: Routledge, 2010), 45.


Riaz, Bangladesh, 205.


Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, “Pakistan Builds Anew,” Foreign Affairs, April 1973; enclosure in press dossier, Bhutto’s official visit to the United States, September 17–23, 1973.

Glossary adda

a place for unstructured conversation




invader, attacker


God is great






intellectual, ideological




devotional songs, hymns


devotional worship

bharat mata

Mother India

bharat mata ki jai

Victory to Mother India


sentiment, feeling


the four varnas, the caste order

desh ke ghaddar

traitor to the nation, antinational


duty, religion, religious duty


opinion, legal opinion



Gandhi Murdabad

Death to Gandhi


steps leading to a river, banks of a river


pilgrimage to Mecca


general closure of shops signifying protest



Hindu-Musalman ki jai Victory to Hindus and Muslims Hindu Rashtra

Hindu nation


literally, “Hinduness”; title of a book written by V. D. Savarkar in 1922 that defined a Hindu as one who viewed India as his fatherland and holyland. To be aligned with Hindutva is to follow the philosophy of the Sangh Parivar.




love, passion






unbeliever, non-Muslim


the declaration of faith for a Muslim




one who drinks lassi


school, religious seminary




a member of the ulema learned in Muslim religious texts; a title given to a religious preacher


cobbler, used pejoratively to denote low caste


migrants who moved to Pakistan in 1947; the word is used to evoke the hijrat, the migration of the Prophet and his followers from Mecca to Medina, and to signify a special sacrifice for and commitment to the new nation of Pakistan




Muslims who fight for their faith; also used for Muslims who claim to be engaged in jihad


a member of the ulema learned in Muslim religious texts; a title given to a religious preacher


poetic symposium





the name of Rama


chanting the name of Rama in a hymn





Sangh Parivar

family of organizations that belong to the Sangh—Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Jana Sangh ( later Bharatiya Janata Party), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, etc.




literally, “truth force”; form of nonviolent protest pioneered by Gandhi






Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, accepted as an authoritative source of law along with the Quran




contractors, proprietors


drivers of horse-drawn carriages




scholars of Islamic law and theology





Bibliography Archives and Special Collections National Archives of India, New Delhi Ministry of Home Affairs Files Ministry of States Files

Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi Devadas Gandhi Papers Ashutosh Lahiry Papers B. S. Moonje Papers B. Shiva Rao Papers Oral History Transcript of H. V. R. Iengar, recorded by Hari Dev Sharma, March 23, 1973 Organiser, 1947–1949

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Constituent Assembly (Legislature) Debates of Pakistan. Lok Sabha Debates. Rajya Sabha Debates. National Assembly Debates, Pakistan. Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 1972. Bāmlādeśa Ganaparishadera Bitarka, Constituent Assembly of Bangla˙ ˙ desh, Debates. Bangla Desh Documents, ed. Shilendra K. Singh. 2 vols. New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, 1971. The Bengali Muslim: Plight before Freedom, Progress after Freedom, Peril to Freedom, by Mohsin Ali. Background Papers on East Pakistan. Karachi: Government of Pakistan, Department of Films and Publications, June 1971. International Commission of Jurists. On Trial: The Implementation of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws. Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 2015. Kapur, J. L. Report of Commission of Inquiry into Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi. 2 vols. New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, 1970. Pakistan. White Paper on the Crisis in East Pakistan. Islamabad: Ministry of Information and National Affairs, August 1971. Pakistan. The Report of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission of Inquiry into the 1971 War, as Declassified by the Government of Pakistan. Lahore: Vanguard, 2000. Radio Pakistan. Ten Years of Development: Radio Pakistan, 1958–68. Karachi: 1968. Rahamāna, Hāsana Hāphijura, ed. Bāmlādeśera svādhīnatā yuddha: ˙ Dalilapatra. Bangladesh Freedom War Documents. Dhākā: ˙ Ganaprajātantrī Bāmlādeśa Sarakāra, 2003. ˙ ˙ Rao, Shiva B., The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents, vol. 4. New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1968.

Court Judgments Brij Bhushan and Another vs The State of Delhi, 1950 AIR 129. Daily Pratap vs The State, AIR 1950 P&H 150. Dina Nath Batra and Others vs University of Delhi and Others, Delhi High Court, 2008.


Dr. Taslima Nasrin vs Md Nurul Alam and another, 1995 15 BLD 117. Joseph Bain D’Souza and Another vs State of Maharashtra and Others, 1995 CriLJ 1316. Punjab Religious Book Society vs The State, PLD 1960 Lah 631. Ramlal Puri vs State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1971 MP 152. S.M.C. No. 1 of 2014 and C.M.A. No 4821 of 2018, PLD 2014 SC 699. The Trustees of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust vs Govt of NCT of Delhi, 2001 CriLJ 3689.

Films The Boy in the Branch. Dir. Lalit Vachani. 1993. Chitra Nodir Pare (Quiet flows the river Chitra). Dir. Tanvir Mokammel. 1999. Matir Moina (The clay bird). Dir. Tareque Masud. 2002. Tajuddina Ahamada: Nihasanga sarathi (Tajuddin Ahmad: An unsung hero). Dir. Tanvir Mokammel. 2007. Swipe: An Animated Short Film. Dir. Arafat Mazhar. 2020.

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———. Riddles in Hinduism: An Exposition to Enlighten the Masses—The Annotated Critical Selection. New Delhi: Navayana, 2016. ———. States and Minorities: What Are Their Rights and How to Secure Them in the Constitution of Free India. Bombay: Thacker, 1947. Anon. Gandhi Murder Trial: The Official Account of the Trial of Godse, Apte, and Others for Murder and Conspiracy, with Verbatim Reports of Speeches by Godse and Savarkar. Glasgow: Strickland Press, 1950. Baxi, Upendra. “Constitutional Changes: An Analysis of the Swaran Singh Committee Report.” (1976) 2 SCC J-19. Bose, Nirmal Kumar. My Days with Gandhi. New Delhi: Orient Longman, [1953] 1974. Chatterjee, Somnath. Keeping the Faith: Memoirs of a Parliamentarian. Delhi: HarperCollins, 2010. Choudhury, G. W. The Last Days of United Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1993. Dayal, Rajeshwar. A Life of Our Times. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1998. Fazl-ud-Din, Joshua. The Future of Christians in Pakistan. Lahore: Panjabi Darbar, 1949. ———. Separate Electorates: The Life-Blood of Pakistan. Lahore: Panjabi Darbar, 1956. Gandhi, Gopalkrishna, ed. Gandhi Is Gone: Who Will Guide Us Now?— Nehru, Prasad, Azad, Vinoba, Kripalani, J. P., and Others Introspect Sevagram, March 1948. Translated from Hindi by Gopal Gandhi and Rupert Snell. Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2007. Gandhi, Manubehn. The Miracle of Calcutta. Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1959. Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand. Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. New York: Dover, 1983. ———. Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 2000. ———. Delhi Diary: Prayer Speeches from 10-9-47 to 30-1-48. Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1948. Gandhi, M. K., et al. Ashram Bhajanavali. 45th reprint. Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 2014.


Godse, Nathuram. May It Please Your Honour: Statement of Nathuram Godse. Edited by Gopal Godse. Pune: Vitasta Prakashan, 1977. Golwalkar, Madhav Sadashiv. Bunch of Thoughts. Bangalore: Vikrama Prakashan, 1966. ———. Justice on Trial: A Collection of the Historic Letters between Sri Guruji and the Government, 1948–49. 5th ed. Bangalore: Prakashan Vibhag, 1969. Gopal, Sarvepalli. Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography. London: J. Cape, 1975–1984. Guha, Ramachandra. Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914–1948. New York: Knopf, 2018. Hashim, Abul. In Retrospection. Dacca: Subarna, 1974. ———. Integration of Pakistan. Dacca: Syed Mujibullah, 1966. Hossain, Kamal. Bangladesh: Quest for Freedom and Justice. Dhaka: University Press, 2013. Iengar, H. V. R. Snapshots of History: Through the Writings of H. V. R. Iengar. Mumbai: Ananya, 2002. Iqbal, Javid. Encounters with Destiny: Autobiographical Reflections. Translated by Hafeez Malik and Nasira Iqbal. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2006. Jaleel, Amar. Sarda lasha jo sufaru: Kuhaniyan. Karachi: Kachho, 2010. Khaliquzzaman, Choudhry. Pathway to Pakistan. Lahore: Longmans, 1961. Khan, Liaquat Ali. Pakistan: The Heart of Asia. Karachi: National Book Foundation, 1976. First edition, Harvard University Press, 1950. Khan, Mazhar Ali. Pakistan: The First Twelve Years—The Pakistan Times Editorials of Mazhar Ali Khan. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1996. Kidwai, Anis. Communal Strife and the Present Situation. Delhi: Sampradyikta Virodhi Committee, 1968. ———. In Freedom’s Shade. Translated by Ayesha Kidwai. Delhi: Penguin, 2011. Lohia, Rammanohar. Guilty Men of India’s Partition. Hyderabad: Rammanohar Lohia Samata Vidyalaya Nyas, 1970. Malhotra, Inder. Indira Gandhi: A Personal and Political Biography. New Delhi: Hayhouse, 2014.


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Acknowledgments I could not have begun or finished work on this book without valuable support from the American Council of Learned Societies’ Frederick Burkhardt fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. I also thank the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia for research support over the years. I am indebted to archivists and reference librarians in numerous institutions, including the Library of Congress, the Wilson Center library, the Center for Research Libraries, the National Archives of India, the Nehru Memorial Library, the Sahmat Archive in Delhi, and the University of Virginia library. Abundant thanks to Jonathan Loar at the Asian Division of the Library of Congress for his resourcefulness and tremendous support, even during the tough times of the pandemic. Tariq Ahmad at the Law Library of Congress has also been very helpful, as have Janet Spikes, Michelle Kamalich, and Katherine Wahler at the Wilson Center, Jaya Ravindran at the National Archives of India, Jyoti Luthra at the Nehru Memorial Library, and Philip McEldowney, Keith Weimer, and Xinh Luu at the University of Virginia. I am also especially grateful to the staff at UVA’s interlibrary loan department and the Ivy stacks. My fellowships at the John  W. Kluge Center and the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, came with the assistance of interns: many thanks to Isabelle Hupez, Shahnawaz Ahmad, Wafa Jawad, Hisham Yusuf, Rahul Bhatia, Abdulla Wasti, and Atif Jalal Ahmad. I could navigate the numerous, labyrinthine divisions of the Library of Congress through their eyes, even as my project shifted in shape and form over time. Atif Jalal Ahmad also read debates of the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh with me. I thank Shilpa Sharma for her research assistance at the National Archives in Delhi, and Ilsa Razzak and Urooj Hanafi for sending articles from the archives of the Dawn newspaper in Karachi. I am extremely thankful to Vikalp Ashiquehind, who translated a Sindhi



short story and introduction by Amar Jaleel; all these readings have shaped and strengthened my book enormously. I have valued the conversations and camaraderie at both the Library of Congress’s Kluge Center and the Wilson Center. At the Wilson Center, Senior Vice President Robert S. Litwak, Senior Associate and Director Michael Kugelman, Director Abraham Denmark, Ambassador William Milam, Fellows Irene Wu, Patrick McEachern, Cecilia Van Hollen, Michael Gibbs Hill, Shaden Tageldin, and staff including Kimberly Connor, Lindsay Collins, Travis Hensley, and John Milewski helped make both fellowships productive. Michael Kugelman was resourceful, generous, and supportive; I especially appreciated his perspectives on politics in India and Pakistan, and life in Washington, DC. At the University of Virginia, I owe special thanks to Rich Barnett, Mrinalini Chakravorty, Mehr Farooqi, Debjani Ganguly, Claudrena Harold, Mel Leffler, James Loeffler, Paul Kershaw, Adrienne Ghaly, H. L. Seneviratne, and former colleagues Alon Confino and Sophie Rosenfeld for their friendship and support. The late Walter Hauser generously gave away many of his books, some of which I read while writing this book. I presented versions of these chapters at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the Law and Society Association, and the South Asia Conference at Wisconsin, Madison. I was also invited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Washington and Lee University, the University of Notre Dame, in Delhi’s South Asian University and Indian Institute of Technology, and at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. I am grateful to the audiences for their discerning questions, and to colleagues, especially Cassie Adcock, Anuj Bhuwania, Vinayak Chaturvedi, Durba Ghosh, David Gilmartin, Farhana Ibrahim, Farahnaz Ispahani, Indivar Kamtekar, Timothy Lubin, Ebrahim Moosa, Mithi Mukherjee, Nikhil Menon, Barbara Metcalf, Deepa Ollapally, Arvind Rajagopal, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Mridu Rai, Ramya Sreenivasan, Dina Siddiqi, and Anand Yang for their engagement with my work. Tanika Sarkar, Ayesha Jalal, and Sugata Bose read drafts of chapters over several years and offered thoughtful and constructive feedback. I am beholden to them. I am also grateful to Neeladri Bhattacharya, Arsalan Khan, and Sophie Rosenfeld for reading parts of the manuscript and for their perceptive comments. Mini Kapoor read the manuscript when it was finally one big pdf; her words of appreciation comforted me at an especially uncertain time. I thank Atif Ahmad, Sugata Bose, Rohit De, Essam Fahim, Supriya Gandhi, Yasser Latif Hamdani, Hameeda Hossain, Kamal Hossain, Ayesha Jalal, Saqib Jillani, Aparna Kapadia, Devesh Kapur, Arsalan Khan, Pasha M. Khan, Madhav


Khosla, Samantha Knights, Rama Lakshmi, Amrith Lal, Raj Liberhan, Gouthami Padam, Jeanne Penvenne, Ali Usman Qasmi, Rrishi Raote, Mahfuzur Rehman, Kranti Saran, Aisha Sarwari, Elizabeth Seshadri, Uttara Shahani, Ornit Shani, Sunil Sharma, Kanishka Singh, Upinder Singh, Nathan Swami and Margarita Figueroa, Tushna Thapliyal, George R. Trumbull IV, Sarover Zaidi, and the late Kamla Bhasin for sharing resources—every introduction, email, conversation, and recommendation for reading helped. Nida Ali and Beenish Zia in Lahore sent materials by email. Ghazala Rahman Rafiq in Karachi put me in touch with G.  N. Mughal, who provided me with details about a historic lawsuit that I chanced across in a book by Fahmida Riaz. Little pieces fell into place, sometimes just by chance. Mithilesh Singh at Bahrisons in Delhi was his amazing, inimitable, resourceful self. I also thank the students in my seminar “Free Speech and Blasphemy”; their thoughtful responses to often heavy readings helped clarify my research questions. I am very grateful to Dr. Kamal Hossain, first law minister of Bangladesh; former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani of Pakistan; the writers Mohammed Hanif, Rajmohan Gandhi, Amitav Ghosh, Taslima Nasrin; and Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress party and Rajendra Prasad of Sahmat for letting me interview them. Drs. Hossain of Bangladesh and Saqib Jillani, advocate at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, sent across articles and books by post and email; I am very grateful to them. Sharmin Ahmad, biographer of her father, the late Tajuddin Ahmad, first prime minister of Bangladesh, was extremely patient with my questions and generous with her responses; I thank her very much. For permissions and copyright, I gratefully acknowledge Dr. Veerta Ali Ujan, who holds the copyright to the works of Fahmida Riaz, Dipanker Shri Gyan of the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, Prafulla Ketkar of the Organiser, the cartoonist E. P. Unny, Rajendra Prasad and Ram Rahman of Sahmat, Narayan Lakshman at The Hindu, and Mainul Alam at the Daily Ittefaq. I thank Abhik Chimni for legal advice. My editor at Harvard University Press, Kathleen McDermott, has been patient and enormously supportive over the years it took to write this book, and attentive when the manuscript was finally done. I am grateful to Sharmila Sen, Kathi Drummy, Aaron Wistar, and Stephanie Vyce at Harvard University Press, and copyeditor Wendy Nelson and production editor Helen Wheeler at Westchester Publishing Services, for their care with this manuscript. I also thank the reviewers who vetted this book in manuscript. The usual disclaimer applies, as always. My family and friends have supported me, yet this has been a time of loss I have felt keenly. I remember my dear friend, my best friend Kadambari Badami Vamanan, who was so proud of my first book; she lives on in my heart. I also


remember Kamla Bhasin, the fiery feminist-poet-singer and loving friend, and my host-mother Sandy Nayak, who left me so suddenly. And I remember my grandmother, Prem Pyari Nair née Khungar, who lived life on her own terms and shaped me in ways I am only now beginning to recognize. I deeply miss my grandfather, Balraj Nair, and the conversations we would have had about this book and so much else. To my family and friends—Rahul George, Jyoti Nair, Preeti, Sidharth, Vivek, and Ragu Raghavan, Deepa Swaroop, K.  P. Jain, Ranganath, Lakshmi, and the late Sandy Nayak—I am deeply thankful for your love and support. Rahul has heard me talk about the characters in this book for several long years and has been especially supportive through years of writing. I am very grateful to him. Amrit, my child, has given me a new life. I dedicate this book to him, with all my love.

Index Abdullah, Sheikh, 8 Advani, L. K., 139–140, 143, 145 Ahmad, Abul Mansur, 168, 176, 223 Ahmad, Eqbal, 235–236 Ahmad, Tajuddin, 9, 200, 207, 211, 215–222, 237–238, 250 Ahmadis, 14, 159, 186, 189, 201, 232–235, 240, 248 Ahmed, Nur, 157–158, 162 Akhand Hindustan, 6, 34, 40, 54, 56, 90, 145 Ali, Mahmud, 173, 180–181 Aligarh Muslim University, 9, 149, 151, 154 Allana, G., 185–186 Ambedkar, B. R., 7, 63, 66, 111, 124–125, 186, 242 Amin, Nurul, 162, 164 antinational, 2, 99, 105 appeasement, Hindu, 11, 14, 22, 48, 71, 142, 146–148, 248 appeasement, Muslim, 6, 9–10, 14, 46–48, 54, 75, 247 Apte, N. D., 41, 266n82, 45 Arabic, 70, 160–162, 294n48, 192, 301n22 Aryabhatt, 141 Ashraf, Syed Tariq, 231–232, 308n117 Awami League, 13, 164–167, 174–183, 186–188, 195–196, 249; and the war, 200, 213–227. See also Six Points Babri Masjid, 18, 128–129, 137–138, 144, 147, 245–247, 311n11 Bahar, Habibullah, 159, 162

Bajrang Dal, 128, 137, 140 Baluchistan, 174, 181, 202, 210, 246 Bari, Abdul, 169–170, 181, 298n116, 195 Baxi, Upendra, 111, 147 Bengali, 12, 151, 153, 159–167, 174, 180, 196, 213 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 47–48, 108, 128–130, 136–139, 142–144, 148. See also Jana Sangh Bhashani, Maulana, 14, 164, 210, 217, 226, 227 Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali, 190–191, 194, 210, 232–235, 240; on east Bengal, 213, 214; on secularism, 14, 198, 233, 249–250 blasphemy laws, 14, 201, 232, 234, 240–241, 244 Bose, Sarat Chandra, 35, 201 Buddhists, 90, 117, 137, 222, 225 Bunch of Thoughts, 9, 10, 16, 77, 79–81, 85, 87, 98–99 caste, 57, 70, 82, 99, 111, 117–118, 156. See also dalit censorship, 8, 105, 120–123, 147; during the Emergency, 102, 104, 105, 120, 245; of Godse’s statement, 47; of Organiser, 50–59, 74, 81; in Pakistan, 150, 231–232, 248 Chatterjee, Somnath, 101–102, 131–132, 138, 141 Chatterji, N. C., 22, 35, 42, 44, 51–52 Chattopadhyay, Sris Chandra, 162–164


330!!INDEX Christians: in Bangladesh, 225; in India, 67, 80, 95, 109, 117; in Pakistan, 13, 151–152, 155, 183–189, 297n112, 192–195, 241 Chundrigar, I. I., 176, 181 Citizenship Amendment Act, 1, 2, 6, 18, 90, 242–243 communalism, 144–145; in Bangladesh, 208, 226; in India, 7, 22, 72–73, 76–91, 97, 99, 115, 138, 142; in Pakistan, 166, 188, 196–197, 208 Congress, Indian National (INC), 24–27, 33, 40, 43, 100, 136, 138; All India Congress Committee (AICC), 5, 26, 32–33, 37, 70; Congress Working Committee (CWC), 25, 26; Congress (R), 86, 90, 93; Syndicate-led Congress, 77, 86, 90 Congress, Pakistan, 164, 168, 173 Constitution, Bangladesh, 174, 296n85, 219, 222–226, 228 Constitution, India, 6, 8, 10, 32, 62–71, 102–103 Constitution, Pakistan, 11–12, 151, 166–183, 189–192, 196, 200, 209 cricket, 7, 133–135, 148 dalit, 66, 68–71, 85, 114, 117, 124–125, 127, 142, 286n170; and Scheduled Caste Federation of Pakistan, 150, 173, 188. See also caste Dange, S. A., 87 Das, Akshay Kumar, 168, 171, 173, 195 Das, Basanta Kumar, 168, 170–171, 179, 181 Daultana, Mumtaz, 179, 210 Dawn, 150, 236 Dayal, Rajeshwar, 43–44 democracy, 7, 71, 106, 109–110, 112 Desai, Morarji, 105, 106, 120, 245 Dhaka University, 164, 216, 238 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), 83, 100, 104 Dutta, Bhupendra Kumar, 168, 173, 178, 195 Dutta, Dhirendranath, 150, 161–162, 164 Dutta, Kamini Kumar, 162–163, 168, 172–173

Ekushey, 164–165 Elections of 1946 (undivided India), 151, 173, 195, 201–202, 204, 212 elections of 1951 (India), 7, 8, 57, 59, 69, 275n190, 75, 249 elections of 1954 (East Pakistan), 165–166, 199, 208, 248 elections of 1970 (Pakistan), 91, 198, 201, 211–213, 216, 220, 224, 226 elections of 1971 (India), 77, 91–94, 97–98, 244 Emergency, 10, 78–79, 100–120, 144 Fazl-ud-Din, Joshua, 155, 183–185 federalism, 110, 112, 119, 171, 207–211 Fernandes, George, 88, 278n15, 142 Frankenstein, 13, 87, 179, 181, 195 Frontier Provinces, 24, 33, 37, 174, 202, 210 Gajendragadkar, P. B., 105–07, 121, 245 Galileo, 141, 147 Gandhi, Indira, 8, 76–80, 84–93, 219, 221, 244, 248; and Emergency, 100–103, 106, 112, 118–120 Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand, 4–5, 107, 145, 243, 250; appropriated by RSS, 54–57; assassination of, 19–21, 40–47, 72, 86–87; in Bengal, 22–24, 27–28, 34–36; in Delhi, 29–34, 263n47, 36–40; invoked in Pakistan, 17, 158 Gibbon, C. E., 187–188, 195, 295n71, 297n109 Godse, Nathuram, 6, 19–21, 25, 31–32, 41–42, 44–49, 60–62, 66, 276n196 Gokhale, H. R., 106–108, 113–115 Golwalkar, M. S., 9, 10, 43–44, 48–49, 50, 57, 94, 244. See also Bunch of Thoughts Gomez, Peter Paul, 168, 173, 244 Gujral, I. K., 131, 246–247 Gupta, Bhupesh, 84, 115–117, 244 Gupta, Indrajit, 103, 109–110, 131 Hamoodur Rehman Commission, 216, 217, 303n52, 232 Hashim, Abul, 152, 197, 199, 201–207 Hindi, 61, 64, 77, 81, 83, 163

INDEX ""331

Hindu Mahasabha, 6, 17, 22–23, 31, 35, 40–44; after Partition, 20, 45–50, 59–62, 74, 163 Hindu Rashtra (state), 17, 33, 42, 54, 60–61, 74, 276n198, 85 Hindutva, 11, 96, 125, 142, 145–146 Hitler, 83, 84, 104, 194 Hossain, Kamal, 207–211, 215, 219–220, 227–228, 238 Hum Sab Ayodhya, 11, 127–148 Huq, A. K. Fazlul, 162, 165–166, 171–172, 201, 202 hurt sentiments, 4–6, 8–11, 22, 86, 145–147, 194, 231, 245 Husain, M. F., 145 Husain, Zakir, 82, 117, 278n115 Hyderabad, 3, 42, 61, 89, 268n91 Iengar, H. V. R., 50, 67, 74 Iftikharuddin, Mian, 176, 296n89 India International Centre, 83 Indianization, 77, 79–85, 89, 91, 244 Iqbal, Muhammad, 77, 156–157, 180 Islam, Syed Nazrul, 217, 221, 222, 224, 238 Islamic State, 11–14, 17, 149, 154, 159, 168–180, 189–190, 194–196, 228, 240 Islamization, 14, 152, 184, 188, 200–201, 206, 232 Jahan, Rounaq, 205 Jaleel, Amar, 200, 229–231, 248 Jamaat-e-Islami, 151, 154–155, 211–212, 213, 236 Jamia Millia Islamia, 2, 9, 39, 277n3 Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, 189, 213 Jana Sangh, 77–81, 83, 85, 91–93, 95, 97. See also Vajpayee, Atal Bihari Jha, Bhogendra, 98–99, 139, 141 Jinnah, Fatima, 197 Jinnah, M. A., 2, 3, 5, 11–12, 24, 63, 285n150, 160, 173, 187, 195, 202, 204–205, 250; Jinnah’s August 11 address, 11–12, 149–151, 170–172, 184–186, 195–196, 243, 248

joint electorates, 13, 47, 67–70, 75, 151–152, 167, 173, 182–188 Joshi, Subhadra, 39, 278n20, 94, 99 Kant, Krishan, 85 Kapur Commission Report, 40, 49, 73, 261n2, 263n34 Khaliquzzaman, Choudhry, 38–39, 62–63, 69 Khan, Agha Muhammad Yahya, 198, 200, 210, 213–215, 217–218, 221, 244 Khan, Akhtar Hameed, 201, 235–236 Khan, Ataur Rahman, 168, 171, 182 Khan, Enayetullah, 226, 239 Khan, Khurshed Alam, 117–118 Khan, Liaquat Ali, 12, 153, 155–156, 160, 173, 195, 204, 250. See also Liaquat-Nehru Pact Khan, Mazhar Ali, 247, 296n92 Khan, Muhammad Ayub, 152, 156–157, 188–189, 197, 205, 206, 208, 210 Khan, Shaukat Hyat, 162, 164 Khan, Tikka, 215, 216, 228, 232 Khilafat Movement, 28, 96–97 Khosla, G. D., 39–40 Kidwai, Begum Anis, 39, 273n150, 279n44 Kothari, Rajni, 143, 146–147, 248, 277n1, 289n217 Kumar, Nitish, 139–140, 147, 245 Kumbhare, N. H., 117–118 Lahiry, Ashutosh, 61–62, 70 Lahore Resolution, 2, 3, 171–172, 187, 197, 199–205, 208–209 Lari, Z. H., 64–65, 68, 274n179, 70 Liaquat-Nehru Pact, 1, 6, 18, 158 Limaye, Madhu, 144, 146 Lohia, Rammanohar, 25, 39, 88, 139 Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 4 Madhok, Balraj, 79, 84, 90 Mahmood, Mufti, 189–191, 194, 196 Mainstream, 124, 146, 203, 311n8 Malkani, K. R., 8, 49, 54–55, 57–59, 77–78, 82–83 Mandal, Jogendranath, 150, 290n4

332!!INDEX Maudoodi, Maulana, 149, 151, 154, 195, 210, 233; and detention without trial, 175–176; and separate electorates, 183, 188 Mohammad Ali, Chaudhri, 167, 181–183, 207–210 Mohani, Hasrat, 70, 274n179 Mukherji, Syama Prasad, 26, 262n19, 35, 42, 44, 163 Mukti Bahini, 10, 221 Munir Commission Report, 171–172, 189, 295n72 Munshi, K. M., 41 Muslim League, 38, 62, 68, 201–205; in Pakistan, 150–151, 162, 165–167, 169, 179, 188. See also two-nation theory

Preamble, Indian Constitution, 2, 242; and debates on constitutional amendment to, 10, 79, 100, 103, 106–120, 147, 245 Preamble, Pakistan’s Constitutions, 13, 156, 177, 189–191, 200, 211, 236, 298n129 Qamaruzzaman, A. H. M., 220, 238 Qureshi, I. H., 150

Objectives Resolution of Pakistan, 12–13, 151–158, 166, 187, 192, 195, 240, 244. See also Preamble, Pakistan’s Constitutions One Unit, 167, 174, 210, 211, 231 Organiser, 6, 21–22, 33, 45–46, 49–59, 74, 81–84, 93. See also Malkani, K. R.

Radhakrishnan, S., 107 Radio Bangladesh, 9, 218, 220 Radio Pakistan, 150, 159–160, 206–207, 212, 214, 216 Rahman, Fazlur, 153–154, 293n38 Rahman, Muhammad Anisur, 207, 215–216 Rahman, Sheikh Mujibur, 13–15, 164, 198, 202, 222–229, 238–240, 249–250; and the Pakistani constituent assembly debates of 1956, 167–169, 173–176, 178, 196. See also Six Points Ramanujan, A. K., 126–127, 147 Rao, P. V. Narasimha, 138, 143–144 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), 6, 30–31, 35; after Partition, 20, 33, 40–46, 54–61, 73–74, 86–87, 94–99. See also Golwalkar, M. S.; Organiser Rasul, Begum Aizaz, 65, 69 religious minorities, 3–4, 37; in India, 5, 7, 63–75, 111–120; in Pakistan, 12, 150–153, 170–172, 184, 195–196, 201, 235, 240–244; in Bangladesh, 201, 222 representation, 7, 8, 62–70, 92, 119, 184, 186–188, 191–192 Riaz, Fahmida, 16, 231–232

Panikkar, K. N., 133, 146, 248 Pant, G. B., 43 Pakistan Penal Code, 234–235 Pakistan People’s Party, 213 Paswan, Ram Vilas, 131–132, 139, 141–142, 145–147 Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai, 7, 25, 36, 42, 97, 250; and minorities, 10, 62, 66–67, 69, 247 Pilot, Rajesh, 132, 140–142, 147 prayer meetings, 5–6, 27–32, 34, 36–39, 46–47, 54, 73, 243; and RSS, 30–31, 42, 48, 55

Sait, E. S., 112–115, 118 Salve, N. K. P., 86, 94–98 sanatan dharma, 6, 30 Sanskrit, 121, 124, 153, 163 sarva dharma sama bhava, 28, 107 Satanic Verses, 10, 123, 139, 145 Sathe, Vasant, 96, 244 Savarkar, V.D., 40–42, 45–46, 60 Section 153A, 5, 10, 58, 78, 94, 99, 123, 147 Section 153B, 10, 78, 99, 286n175, 141 Section 295A, 5, 54, 58–59, 75, 137, 141, 147, 192–193

Narayan, Jayaprakash, 81, 102, 271n134 Nasrin, Taslima, 201 Nayar, Sushila, 39, 49, 90, 280n48 Nehru, Jawaharlal, 55, 57, 89, 131, 133, 250; and joint electorates, 7–8, 65, 69, 72–73, 75; and partition, 25, 42, 44–45; and secularism, 86, 117, 122, 144. See also Liaquat-Nehru Pact Niazi, A. A. K., 215, 217, 221 Noorani, A. G., 264n51, 279n38

INDEX ""333

Section 298, 59, 137 secularism: in Bangladesh, 14–16, 198–201, 208, 219–229, 238, 240, 249; in Europe, 106, 109, 311n12; in India, 2, 11, 60, 70–75, 93–94, 130, 134, 242–250, 283n108; Indian parliamentary debates on meaning of, 78–79, 83–84, 106–110, 115–121, 138–148, 260n47; in Pakistan, 12, 150, 188, 190, 200, 232, 240 secular state, 4–5, 9–12, 15, 32–33, 47, 59–61, 96–99, 157 Sen, S. K., 168, 169, 173, 181 sentiments, 14, 46, 106, 115, 136–137, 170, 247. See also hurt sentiments separate electorates, 7, 10, 13, 62–67, 73, 151, 182–188, 192 Setalvad, M. C., 52 Shastri, Lal Bahadur, 8, 9, 259n29, 97 Shastri, Prakash Vir, 107, 120 Shiv Sena, 88, 91, 98, 124–125, 128–130 Sikhs, 5, 8, 19, 30, 32, 35, 36, 38, 70, 222 Sindh, 38, 63, 152, 159, 176, 185, 201, 210. See also Sindhi Sindhi, 200, 229–232 Singh, Arjun, 138, 140, 144 Singh, Khushwant, 123 Singh, Swaran, 103, 108, 110, 112–113 Six Points, 197–200, 207–208, 210, 212–213, 237 socialists, 26, 87–88, 94, 99

Suhrawardy, H. S., 13, 34–35, 69, 152, 167 Syed, G. M., 185 Tagore, Rabindranath, 160, 206, 228 Tarkabagish, Abdur Rashid, 174–175, 223, 226 Taseer, Salman, 234, 236, 241 theocratic state, 14, 33, 53, 60, 74, 109–110, 150–151, 155–158, 196 two-nation theory, 9, 23–24, 74, 89, 93–95, 151, 155, 167 Tyabji, Badruddin, 92 Umar, Badruddin, 164–166, 226 Uniform Civil Code, 82, 100, 281n82, 113, 144 United Front, 165–166, 168, 173, 174, 181, 188, 209 Urdu, 6, 12, 62, 80–81, 160–162, 164, 167, 231 Usmani, Shabbir Ahmad, 154–155, 292n19 Vajpayee, Atal Bihari, 76–80, 83–84, 87–91, 93, 96–98, 259n29, 138–144 vigilantism, 15, 136 Zahiruddin, Sheikh, 175, 177–178, 223 Zakaria, Rafiq, 69 Zia-ul-Huq, Muhammad, 13, 14, 192, 201, 234–236 Ziaur Rahman, 238–239