History Is Always Dug Up Later

By Soroor Ahmed

When Urdu translation of Jaswant Singh’s book Jinnah: India, Partition and Independence was released in presence of the author himself on November 1 in Patna some handful of Muslim apologists for the BJP and its alliance partner, the Janata Dal (United), questioned the relevance and timing of this event. As the function turned out to be a huge success and managed to draw columnists like Prabhash Joshi and M J Akbar, politicians like Digvijay Singh and Arif Mohammad Khan, Gandhian like Dr Razi Ahmed and activist like Teesta Stelvad these critics were left with no other option but to create confusion over the date, month and year of the whole exercise. What is the need to dig up the history 62 years after the partition was their common refrain.

Those who tried to run down the impact of the function, are neither historians nor political scientists but they just have their own score to settle. They are men of limited ambition and want to emerge as replacement for Dr Ejaz Ali, a Rajya Sabha MP, who was suspended from his own party, Janata Dal (United), only 10 days before the occasion simply because his action was embarrassing the BJP. So the criticism of Dr Ali and the function was made only to please chief minister Nitish Kumar and his BJP friends and they had nothing to do with the larger ramifications of the show.

What the detractors failed to recognize is that history is always dug up years, decades and centuries after the event. Historians are unanimous that history written in the later years often have less rancour and biasness than compiled at the time of the great upheaval or just after it. For example, history books written by German and British historians between 1939 and 1945 had different things to say on the same issue as the nationalist sentiment was running high on both sides in those tumultuous years.

And then history book compiled in the immediate post-war years by both the Germans and British have one thing in common: they all pilloried the Nazi Germany and demonized Hitler for obvious reasons. Now both the victor and vanquished spoke the same language. The objectivity was at its lowest and nobody was prepared to listen to or read the Nazi German side of the story.

But now decades later when some one from Britain or other Allied powers like the United States, Russia or France come up with slightly more balanced view on what actually happened in those years nobody would accuse him of being the Nazi agent. Now some people do read with rapt attention the exaggerated stories of the Holocaust. To some extent historians of today have come to realize that several facts related to it were grossly blown out of proportion for some ulterior motives, for example, to create a state for the Jews or to hide the war crimes of the western powers. Since there is no bitterness and animosity left among different countries and communities people are prepared to accept some hitherto hidden facts.

Similarly when Jaswant Singh, though a founder-member of the BJP, did try to unveil some of the facts he was in position to do so as in spite of tension between the governments of India and Pakistan there are ,more sensible people who want to know and understand the real story. The number of those carried away by the emotion of the holocaust of partition has certainly subsided.

Today only those people will oppose such move who had some secret interest in keeping these facts in the dark. Therefore, it is the BJP, which reacted more sharply than the Congress either when the book hit the stand on August 17 last in New Delhi or on November 1 in Patna––or anywhere else in between.

Jaswant’s book does not exonerate Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Instead it also exposes the role played by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then home minister, Vallabh Bhai Patel. What is strange is that the Sangh Parivar reacted more sharply than the Congress. Jaswant was thrown out within 48 hours without anyone reading the book. True, the Congress leaders were also peeved at Jaswant’s view on Nehru and Patel yet the Sangh Parivar top brass was furious as if the first Prime Minister and home minister of the country were their own men and, therefore, their misdeeds should not be known.

Jaswant’s book may just be an extenstion of what Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who served as the Congress president for the longest time before independence, had already written in India Wins Freedom decades ago when the emotion was really running high and the number of objective readers in the sub-continent was much less.

The manner in which the Sangh Parivar reacted against Jaswant Singh book and the way in which the Janata Dal (United) emerged as the only NDA constituents––may be apart from Shiv Sena––to support the BJP on the issue only go to prove that there is certainly some hidden agenda which the former external affairs and finance minister of India exposed. True neither Nehru nor Patel were the RSS men, but may be for their own selfish interest they managed to did what the Sangh Parivar wanted to do. Therefore, suppress any voice which is trying to make public this darker unknown side of history.

(Soroor Ahmed could be contacted at soroorahmed@yahoo.com)


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