Volume - 7 : Issue - 1

Published : Jan. - Mar. 2008

Group : History





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By Dr. Baldev Matlani

Separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency in 1935, is considered to be the first step towards creation of Pakistan and the question before us is whether Sindh has gained, from aligning herself with Pakistan or it should have remained a part of Bombay Presidency leading to its becoming an integral part of India. Following the separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency, the newly elected Legislative Assembly was the first ever such house of un-divided India, which passed a resolution in 1942, supporting the demand for Pakistan. Late Syed Ghulam Murtaza Shah, popularly known as 'G. M. Syed', was the driving force behind the passage of this resolution, and it is also a historical fact that after the creation of Pakistan, the same G. M. Syed was the first person to have lamented and regretted his role in the passage of that resolution. He had to remain behind bars, for almost the rest of his life in independent Pakistan. Perhaps his record of detention could be surpassed only by Mr. Nelson Mandella. In order to understand the importance of Sindh's separation from Bombay Presidency, we have to traverse back into the pages of history so as to know how and when Bombay Presidency was formed.

Since the attack of Ahmed Shah Abdali, the ruler of Afghanistan, Sindh had become a satrapy of Afghanistan. She had to pay tribute to the rulers of Afghanistan on a regular basis to anyone who ruled Sindh. Around 1839 AD, the Durani kingdom of Afghanistan was broken up and its ruler Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk had to flee and take refuge in India. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab had taken over Kashmir and part of Multan and invaded Sindh, threatening Shikarpur and claimed Rs. 12 lacs as tribute. The Talpurs, who could not face the wrath of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh had to opt for the lesser evil of seeking help from British forces of India. A tri-partite agreement ensued by which Shah Shuja had to relinquish his claim of tribute from Sindh and the Talpurs would pay Rs. 15 lacs as tribute to Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, alongwith right of passage granted to the British to use the territory of Sindh for transport of men and material. This tri-partite agreement dealt a humiliating blow to the ego of Talpurs who had specifically denied the passage of British Military or its hardware through Sindh according to the earlier treaty of 1832. This hatred led to the battle of Miani.

Sir Charles Napier arrived in Karachi on 10th September, 1842 and left for Sukkur. At that time, Khairpur was ruled by Mir Rustam, and his younger brother Mir Ali Murad wanted to take over the reins of the state after the demise of Mir Rustam, as per Baloch traditions, whereas, Mir Rustam wanted his son to take over from him after his death. Sir Charles Napier supported Mir Ali Murad and the latter took this opportunity and compelled his brother Mir Rustam to bequeath the rule of Khairpur state in his favour. The Mirs of Hyderabad were furious at this development and wanted the British to compel Mir Ali Murad to revert the rule of Khairpur to Mir Rustam. The then British Resident at Hyderabad, Major Outram tried every bit to create sense with the Mirs of Hyderabad, but to no avail. The Mirs taking advantage of the small number of army personnel and limited ammunition available with the British Resident Outram at Hyderabad, attacked Agency Building which stood on the banks of the river, on February 15, 1843.

The British had to retaliate with full force and take the Balochi forces head-on. On 16th February, 1843, Sir Charles Napier left Sukkur and advanced towards Hyderabad with an army of just 2800 personnel at his disposal and 12 pieces of artillery ranged against 22000 Baloch army men. Both the forces faced each other at the battlefield of Miani, near Phuleli about 9 miles from the city of Hyderabad, on February 17th at 8.00 O'clock. The Baloch army comprised of 22000 men, with lots of guns and artillery. However the Balochs lacked the finer nuances of modern warfare. Sheer sentiment could not match the technological prowess of British army. The Balochs had to bite the bullet and historians have counted their human loss in this battle at 5000, while on the side of British, it did not exceed 257. Sir Charles Napier marched towards Hyderabad and took possession, on February 19, 1843. Mir Sher Mohd. of Mirpur had gathered an army of 20,000 men and attacked the British forces posted at Hyderabad, on March 22, 1843. Both the forces met each other at a village, called 'Nareja' in Dabo near Phuleli. The battle lasted for 3 hours and the Balochs were defeated Though, Baloch forces were overwhelmed their commander, Mir Sher Mohd. was fortunate to flee from the battleground. Some years later, he surrendered and was allowed to live in Sindh and granted a pension, and was bestowed the honour of 'KCSI' before his death.

On the annexation of Sindh, Sir Charles Napier was appointed as Governor of province, on Rs. 8000/- per month. He was followed by Mr. Pringle as Commissioner of Sindh. In October, 1847, Sir Charles Napier left Karachi, and Mr. Pringle of Bombay civil Services, took over as Commissioner of Sindh, subordinate to Bombay Presidency. Mr. Pringle was succeeded by Sir Bartle Frere, who was at that time just 35 years old but had proved his competence by working at Satara. Mr. Frere's first attempt was to attend to the Port of Karachi. Though, his peers had objected to the upgradation of Karachi Port claiming this would ruin the Port of Bombay, he stuck to his guns, and the rest was what they call history. The port of Karachi was popularly described as the 'Gateway of Asia'. Closely connected with the improvement of the harbour was a scheme for a railway line from Karachi to Kotri, as Mr. Frere felt that Karachi, and not Calcutta was the appropriate port for Punjab. In March, 1855, the 'Sindh Railway Company' was formed in London, but the actual railway services did not begin before May, 1861, when Mr. Frere had already left Sindh. A whole new network of roads, culverts and bridges was laid down all over Sindh. Another pet scheme of Mr. Frere was an Annual Exhibition at Karachi, to bring together the dealers of Central Asia and Bombay. Mr. Frere was the original introducer of postage stamps in India.

Mr. Frere also diverted his attention to education in Sindh. He was of the opinion that the official language of Sindh should be Sindhi. Consequently, in 1851, he issued a circular requiring all officers in civil employ to pass an examination in colloquial Sindhi, but the language could not be used for official correspondence until it had an alphabet. Captain Sir Richard Burton strongly advocated the adoption of Arabic alphabet, with such addition of dots and signs that might be necessary to indicate peculiar Sindhi sounds. Captain George Stack, his only equal in knowledge of Sindhi language, contended for the adoption of one or other of the Hindu-Sindhi alphabets already in use among traders, with similar modifications. Mr. Frere was of the opinion that Hindus would not learn the one alphabet, nor Muslims condescend to use the other. In 1853, however, the court of Directors of East India Company decided that the Arabic script should have a trial and sanctioned an annual expenditure of Rs. 10,000 for educational purposes. Mr. Frere acted promptly. Mr. Ellis B.H., with the assistance of some native scholars: Rai Bahadur Narain Jagannath Vaidya, Diwan Pribhdas Ramchandani, Diwan Udharam Mirchandani, Diwan Nandiram Mirani, Khan Bahadur Mirza Sadiq Ali Beg, Mian Mohd., Qazi Ghulam Ali and Mian Ghulam Hussain, devised an alphabet extending the 29 Arabic letters to 52, which was printed and issued in  July, 1853, after which the preparation of school books by translation from Persian, Urdu, Marathi and Gujarati, went on apace.

The Britishers declared Sindhi as official language of Sindh and regularized the Sindhi script, established schools and colleges to impart education in Sindhi language and encouraged the printing of Sindhi books.  These steps contributed largely to the preservation and propagation of Sindhi language.

During the commissionership of Mr. Francis Dawes Melvill, the railway line from Kotri was extended upto Sukkur in October, 1878. In the tenure of His Excellency, Lord Reay, the Dayaram Jethmal Sindh College was opened at Karachi, in 1887, and 'Lansdowne Bridge' over the Indus River, inaugurated at Sukkur, on March 27, 1889.

During the 800 years rule of Muslims, whether of Sindhi descent or alien, the official language of Sindh remained Persian. No efforts were made by even indigenous Sindhi rulers, to regularize Sindhi language and it was only during the days of Bombay Presidency that Sindh ushered in the era of education in Sindhi language.

The Oriental Inland Steel Company (established in 1856) also began its operation in Sindh in 1858 A.D., by placing two Steam Engine Trains with all necessary equipments for communication between Karachi and Multan. Another important work, the Eastern Nara Canal (passing through an old bed of Indus) commenced in 1853 and was completed in 1859. Its objective was to supply abundant water from River Indus, during the inundation season by means of new channel at Rohri.

During the rule of Commissioner Merewether, a rural messenger post was introduced in 1868 by which benefit of Post Office was extended to large number of villages, hitherto bereft of this facility of postal communication. A road was constructed between Jungshahi railway station and the town of Thatta, and the width of roads was generally increased to 20 and 30 feet.

Sindh Railway was extended upto the Punjab in 1866. This step made Karachi, an important harbour and the city dominant in the western parts of British India. The port of Karachi was upgraded and enabled to cater to the import & export needs of the western India. A whole new city was constructed so as to meet the needs of some 5 lac people, which presently caters to 15 million souls. The city of Karachi when ceded to Britishers in 1842 had a population of not more than 14000 people.

Mohd. Ayub Khuhro, being a small time zamindar of Sindh sensed a great opportunity  by championing the cause of Sindh's separation and was catapulted to the forefront of the political scene in Sindh. At that time in Sindh, Hindu leaders were more in reckoning and so talk about the rights of Sindhi Muslims vis-à-vis Hindus through an issue of Sindh's separation made him an instant hero. The British government constituted a Commission of its Parliamentarians in 1928, under the leadership of Sir John Simon for bringing out reforms in their systems of government in India. As it included only British Parliamentarians, the Congress as well as Muslim League boycotted it, but some of the Muslim leaders of Sindh co-operated with it in order to put forward their case of separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency. Their case before Simon Commission failed and the commission decided against the move of separation. In fact, even the then British government did not think extensively of the pros & cons of Sindh's separation, but only restricted their deliberations on whether Sindh could withstand the financial expenditure of a separate province, implying as if it was already decided to separate it from Bombay Presidency.

The decision of British Prime Minister, Ramsay McDonald in 1931, to agree to the  separation of Sindh, if satisfactory finances can be found is popularly known as 'Communal Award'. The Sindhi-Muslims in their anxiety to get Sindh separated even proposed an increase in the taxes on land as a concession, eventually enabling them to succeed in convincing the British, that Sindh could be financially viable as an independent province.

In March, 1933, a Joint Parliamentary Committee was set up to decide on political reforms in India. The deliberation of this JPC resulted in passage of Govt. of India Act 1935, which also saw the decision to separate Sindh from Bombay Presidency, and it was widely believed that this sole decision laid the foundation stone for creation of Pakistan. It is very much corroborated with the words of His Highness Agha Khan:

“The separation of Sindh was the foundation stone of Pakistan.”

Dr. Hameeda Khuhro, the venerated daughter of Mohd. Ayub Khuhro has herself taken pride in stating it in her 'Introduction' of 'Documents on separation of Sind From The Bombay Presidency':

“The separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency and its constitution as a fully fledged autonomous province in the Govt. of India Act by 1935, was the most significant event in the process that led to the creation of Pakistan.”

Following this decision, Sindh was duly made a province on April 1, 1936.

While spearheading for the agitation of separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency, the Muslims put forth the arguments, that Muslims formed a minority in the Bombay Presidency, and hence they were poor receivers of education, as well as employment opportunities. While the Muslims in Sindh do not desire to permit the Hindu minority in Sindh an open door to the public services, the Muslims of U.P., Bihar and C.P. were actually enjoying, as a minority, a share of the posts in public services, much in excess of their population ratio.

The main contention of the proponents of separation was that the Sindhi Muslims have suffered heavily in the field of education, employment, business and over all human development. The separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency resulted in becoming part of Pakistan. To understand, the effectiveness of Sindh's inclusion into Pakistan can be gauged by the comparison of the human development of its inhabitants and the human development of the rest of the Bombay Presidency, which comprises of present states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. At present, the standard of education of Sindhi Muslims, if compared to migrant Sindhi Hindus living in Maharashtra and Gujarat and the other residents of Maharashtra & Gujarat clearly shows that Sindhi Muslims lag far behind in education. The industrialization of present day Sindh is so poor that it cannot even be compared with its counterpart in Maharashtra & Gujarat. The Punjabi-Muhajir coterie had ensured complete monopoly on the industrial licenses in Sindh, and not a single industry worthy of an example is owned by a Sindhi person. The Punjabi owners of industry in Sindh have ensured every possible employment opportunity in their factories, be extended to the Punjabi & Muhajir populace of Pakistan. Whereas, in Maharashtra & Gujarat, not only rate of industrialization is among top of the Indian states, no discrimination is made in the appointments made for Sindhi people in these factories.

The city of Larkana has produced two Prime Ministers alongside many ministers & chief ministers in Pakistan, but even that city lacks basic amenities. Recently, Ms. Barkha Dutt, the Mg. Editor of NDTV had been to Larkana, on the eve of the assassination of Ms. Benazir Bhutto, and in one of her articles published in 'Hindustan Times', Mumbai, she had also lamented the poor state of the development of the region, despite boasting of two Prime Ministers.

Under Bombay Presidency, the British had made Sindhi the official language of Sindh, and in truncated India, the migrant Sindhi Hindus' demand has ensured the inclusion of Sindhi language into VIII schedule of the Constitution of India, making it one of the Indian national languages; whereas the province of Sindh, being a part of Pakistan, could not implement its provisional assembly's resolution in 1972 of making Sindhi the provisional language of Sindh. The then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto postponed it under the influence of Muhajirs for 12 years and the same could not be implemented till date as he was sent to the gallows in 1979.

In Sindh, the demand from Sindhi Muslims had resulted in a promise from the then Prime Minister Z. A. Bhutto, that they would be provided with 19% of employment opportunities in the central government administered departments. Even that promise remained just a promise on paper; whereas in India, no Sindhi Hindu is discriminated against in employment opportunities. Though, there are reservations in India, they are applicable to all, not just Sindhis.

Sindhi Hindus in India constitute around 0.4% of the Indian population, but they are very much conspicuous with their presence in every walk of life. Whereas Sindhi Muslims in Sindh, who constitute some 20% of Pakistan's population, are restricted to rural areas of the province and the developed urban areas of Sindh are completely inhabited by Muhajirs & Punjabis. Not a single Sindhi industrial house exists in Sindh, whereas there is virtually a flood of Sindhi industrialists in India. You can find Hindujas, Rahejas, Hiranandanis, Mirchandanis to name a few. Had Hindujas remained in Shikarpur, they could have made Shikarpur a bustling industrial city of Sindh. But, look at its present state of affairs, whoever has seen its pristine glory cannot remain silent and shed a tear or two on seeing its present day decadence.

Construction of Ghulam Mohd. Barage and Gudu Barage created lots of agricultural land, which was conveniently distributed among the Punjabi settlers under the guise of distributing it to the retired army officers.

Sindh and Balochistan are rich in minerals & natural resources, but its spoils are primarily distributed among the inhabitants of Punjab & NWFP province. Sindhi Muslims are not even provided the employment opportunities in these ventures. Natural gas was discovered at Sui, near the city of Kashmor, but was supplied initially to the vast areas of Punjab, and only when in over-supply was it diverted to Sindh & Balochistan. Because, Sindh produces vast amounts of natural gas, which can be used as feedstock, there are some fertilizer factories, but indigenous Sindhis are denied any employment opportunities even in these factories.

The statistical data compiled from the government authorities clearly prove that the state of Sindh had fallen far behind the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, its earstwhile partners in Bombay Presidency. Had Sindh not opted for its separation from Bombay Presidency in 1935, it could have remained a part of India and thus enjoyed the fruits of development a la Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Dr. Hameeda Khuhro, while describing the History of Sindh's Separation and the biography of her father, has herself admitted in her book 'Mohd. Ayub Khuhro – A Life of Courage in Politics':

“Given the circumstances of colonial calculations, which attached it (Sindh) to a distant, economically and culturally alien administrative region, it was fortunate for Sindh, that the region chosen was the Bombay Presidency, the most advanced and cosmopolitan Presidency in India. Here western education had taken root and a system was evolved, which included the local languages of the area, which were integrated into the education structure. This was adopted by Sindh. Here also was the most advanced political elite of India, which had initiated the politics of 'association' in India. Congress had been born in Bombay and the great moderate leaders of India, Naurojee, Mehta, Gokhale were all from Bombay. The savoir-faire of these men rubbed off on the Sindhi politicians. Respect for the rule of law, the conduct of government at its best in India, a high level of debate in the legislature and the integrity of public life, were the essential qualities that the Sindhi leaders came to expect from and associate with the British system of rule in Bombay. In giving up this connection, Sindh was gaining autonomy which of course was what Sindhis (Muslims) had worked for so hard, but at the same time it was loosing a connection which had contributed significantly to its political & cultural growth.”

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