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Dhu'l-Qa'dah 2, 1438





Days remaining to
Independence Day -
August 14





Pakistan Standard Time 4:47 pm

   
 

India and Pakistan Become Nations; Clashes Continue



The New York Times - August 15, 1947


India achieved her long sought independence today through the transfer of British power to the two dominions into which that land of 400,000,000 persons has been divided, India and Pakistan.

While the ceremonies marking this major historic event were taking place communal strife continued to cast a grim shadow over future.

[Communal clashes, fires and looting continued in Landra, Punjab, with the rising death toll estimated at 158, The Associated Press reported. In London King George conferred an earldom on Viscount Mounthabben for his role in solving the Indian problem and the Government £ 35,000,000 of India's sterling balance.]

The Dominion of India reached the goal of freedom here at midnight with minimum celebration and a few speeches that stressed the gravity of the tasks ahead of the new nation.

In Karachi, capital of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah will take the oath this morning as Governor General of the Moslem dominion which he was the primary figure in creating against the demand for a united India.

Viceroy at Both Ceremonies

This ceremony at the Sind Provincial Government House, which is now Mr. Jinnah's official residence, will be the only event marking the transfer of power from British to Indian hands in that dominion.

The Viceroy, Viscount Mountbatten, addressed the Pakistan Constituent Assembly yesterday -- his last official act as Viceroy -- and then flew back to New Delhi to attend the formal transfer here. No special events were scheduled in Karachi, as they were in New Delhi, to mark the actual moments when the rule of the King-Emperor came to an end at midnight except in so far as both dominions continued to owe formal allegiance to the British crown.

Mohandas K. Gandhi, the real hero of the New Delhi ceremony, was absent from the capital of his country in its triumphant hour. At the moment his great dream came true -- though not precisely in the form he wished -- Mr. Gandhi was in humble surroundings of his own choosing among the Moslems of Calcutta, where he felt he was needed more. But his name was publicly praised by others who remained here to carry on the work to which he has devoted his life.

Climax at Midnight

The Constituent Assembly or the Government of India assumed its sovereign power solemnly in a special session that began at 11 p.m. last night and reached its climax at twelve o'clock. As the hands of the clock in the stately assembly hall of the State Council building met at midnight India's Cabinet Ministers and Members of the Assembly listened in silence to the chimes of the hour.

As the last note died an unidentified member blew a conch shell of the kind used in Hindu temples to summon the gods to witness a great event. Instantly a great cheer arose. India at that moment had become a free member of the British Commonwealth of Nations -- free even to leave the commonwealth if she chooses.

The members then stood and repeated after the Assembly President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, this oath in Hindi and then in English:

"At this solemn moment when the people of India, through suffering and sacrifice, have secured freedom, I, a member of the Constituent Assembly of India do dedicate myself in all humility to the service of India and her people to the end that this ancient land attain her rightful place in the world peace and the welfare of mankind."

Then in accordance with a formal motion made by President Prasad and approved by the Assembly, the President and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of the Dominion Government drove half a mile to the VIceroy's hourse -- now to be known as Government House -- and passed to Viscount Mountbatten two momentous announcements.

Viscount Mountbatten, who ceased to be Viceroy at midnight and thus at that moment ended the long and sometimes illustrious line of British statesmen in India, was told by Dr. Prasad and Pandit Nehru first, that the Constituent Assembly of India had assumed the power of governance of this country and second that the same Assembly had endorsed a recommendation that Viscount Mountbatten be Governor General of India from today.

Mountbattens with Pandit Nehru at Hindustan independence celebrations, August 15, 1947

The chief justice of India will administer the oath of office to Viscount Mountbatten at 8:30 o'clock this morning after which the new Governor General will swear in the Indian Cabinet, headed by Pandit Nehru. Later in the morning Viscount Mountbatten will make his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly.

Thousands at Council Building

Ten thousand Indians crowded about the entrance to the huge round Council of State building as the hour drew near for the Constituent Assembly's historic night meeting. Shopping centers of New Delhi and the adjacent ancient city of Delhi were gay with strings of the new national flag -- saffron, white and dark green -- the colors of the All-India Congress party -- with the symbolic wheel of the great Emperor Asoka.

Unusual crowds were on the streets in both cities. Public buildings and Hindu temples were outlined in electric lights.

A large illuminated flag painted on glass decorated the porch roof of Pandit Nehru's home.

There was, however, little of gaiety that would be associated with such an event as this in the Occident. It is said that exuberance is foreign to the Indian nature though there was no lack of shouting by the crowd at the Council of State building.

Pandit Nehru on entering and leaving received a tremendous ovation and the surging crowd soon broke through the police lines but there was no real disorder, and after the ceremony they soon dispersed.

Stars Held Inauspicious

As a matter of fact the enthusiasm for independence day was dampened by two factors. One was the division of India into Moslem and Hindu nations, leaving large and unhappy minorities in each dominion. The other -- a peculiarly Hindu thing that the West might mistakenly underestimate in importance -- was the fact that astrologers, on whom millions of Hindus place great dependence in all matters discovered an inauspicious mating of the stairs on Aug.15. In India this last is a serious consideration that receives no little attention in the press.

Tonight's program in the Assembly was bilingual; most of the speakers, including President Rajendra Prasad and Pandit Nehru employing Hindi first and then English. The official language of the Assembly is still a matter of debate in which for sentimental reasons, English is losing out to Urdu and Hindi.

The ceremony opened at 11 p.m. with the singing by a trio of sariclad women of Vande Mataram composed by the wife of Acharya J.B. Kripalini, President of the All India Congress party.

After President Prasad spoke the entire assembly arose and observed two minutes of silence "in memory of those who died in the struggle for freedom in India and elsewhere."

Dr. Prasad paid tribute to Mr. Gandhi whom he called "our beacon light, our guide and philosopher during the last thirty years or more."

Nehru Sees Trials Ahead

"And now the time has come when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially," Pandit Nehru began, "At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom." Pandit Nehru dwelt upon the trials that follow the assumption of such great responsibilities as are India's in the days to follow. He called upon his countrymen for an "ending of poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity."

Referring to Mr. Gandhi he said: "The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over."

He reminded India of the indivisibility of "one world" and demanded an end to "petty and destructive criticism ... ill-will, or the blaming of others."

Pandit Nehru then moved the resolution for the solemn oath which all members took standing at midnight. He was seconded by a Moslem, Chaudry Khaliquzzaman, leader of the Moslem League party in the Constituent Assembly who promised the fealty for India's Moslems to their state.

Sir S. Radhakrishnan, noted Indian philosopher , paid tribute to the British and asked Indians to look within themselves for faults that in the past had made the Indians "ready victims" for the imperialists.

"From midnight on," he said, "we cannot crowd blame on the British." He called for an end to "nepotism and corruption, which have been a blot on the great name of the country."

DISCLAIMER: The public material presented here is taken from various sources as it becomes available. It is presented without any bias to, or interpretation of, the contents whatsoever. We would be grateful for any help anyone can provide in obtaining other such public material of national importance to Pakistan in order to aid intellectual discourse and debate.

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