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Partition saw rioting, communal violence and population movement
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audio Listen to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 3 June 1947
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Partition and independence

The Indian subcontinent was partitioned into Hindu-dominated but nominally secular India and the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan after India’s independence from Great Britain in 1947. Severe rioting and population movement ensued and an estimated half a million people were killed in communal violence. About a million people were left homeless. Since partition, the territory of Jammu and Kashmir has remained in dispute, with Pakistan and India both holding sectors.

In full
The name Pakistan was derived from an idea first suggested in 1933 when a student, Chaudhuri Rahmat Ali, proposed that there should be a separate homeland which would be comprised of the Muslim-majority provinces in the north-west as well as the geographically contiguous princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The name was formulated from: P for Punjab, A for the Afghanis of the north-west frontier, K for Kashmir, S for Sind and Tan denoting Baluchistan. The word also means land of the pure in Urdu.

The partition of the Subcontinent, however, led to severe rioting and population movement as Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus found themselves on the wrong side of the partitioned provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The latter of these became East Pakistan. An estimated half a million people died in communal violence, millions more became homeless.

Jammu and Kashmir, a collection of culturally distinct regions, were nominally brought under the rule of Sikhs in the early 19th Century. After the British fought the Sikhs in 1846, instead of assuming direct control over the area, Britain installed a Hindu ruler as Maharaja.

The Maharaja's territorial possessions included the Buddhist area of Ladakh, the predominantly Hindu region of Jammu, the majority Muslim valley of Kashmir, as well as smaller Muslim kingdoms in the west.

In the days of the British Empire, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was one of more than 560 autonomous princely states owing allegiance to Britain. At independence, the rulers were advised to join, by means of an instrument of accession, either of the two new dominions, India or Pakistan, bearing in mind their state's geographical position and the religion of their inhabitants.

By August 1947, the date of partition, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir had not decided which dominion to join.

Over 50 years later, Pakistanis still believe that Jammu and Kashmir should have become part of Pakistan because the majority of the state's population, concentrated in the valley of Kashmir, is Muslim.

India, says the state of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India because by the October 1947 instrument of accession, the Maharaja finally agreed to join India.


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