Nisid Hajaris book Midnights Furies: The Deadly Legacy of Indias Par-tition explores 1947 in new light. Speaking with Srijana Mitra Das, Hajari discussed Nehru, Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi and the moment when mod-ern jihad began:
What led you to research Partition?
It grew out of my Newsweek work. Id been overseeing international cov-erage from 2001-2010, encompassing Afghanistans war. I kept getting asked in the US, why does Pakistan accept aid from America and still sup-port the Taliban?
If youre from this region, you understand how Pakistan views the world, where India is a central threat and anything to combat that threat makes sense. It seemed important the story of how Pakistan developed this worldview which begins at Partition be retold now.
Your research shows a new Nehru adamant on power, undeterred by possible Partition?
Nehru was a man of principle. But he probably stuck to principle a little too closely. Before Partition, there were moments for political compromise he found it very hard to make these. He stuck to a principled, hard line which made it impossible to avoid Partition.
That was preferable to him than sharing power with Jinnah. I dont think Nehru wanted power for himself but he wanted strong central government. If you gave autonomy to so-called Pakistan areas, then what would happen to Hyderabad? Or Kashmir?
Did Jinnah surprise you?
Yes. First, Jinnah was modern, secular, a strong nationalist. The turn he takes in 1937, when he becomes a Muslim nationalist, is disturbing. To build his base, he starts accepting things he wouldnt have tolerated before.
I dont think Jinnah ever wanted riots but he couldnt impose his vision.
Isnt Mahatma Gandhis reported statement, about letting India have a bloodbath but no delays on freedom, startling?
Its a famous quote though. Gandhi was an amazing figure but as a politi-cian towards the end, im not sure he was the most helpful. He perhaps didnt quite appreciate his words impact. For instance, after Noakhalis riots, Gandhi said people shouldnt retaliate, they should shame oppressors this inflamed less principled Hindu figures, who used this for riots.
Critical of RSS and Sikh groups then, are you apprehensive of reac-tions now?
Im aware this could be controversial. I strove to be accurate and fair but hidings no good. If you dont acknowledge facts, dont understand how the other side might view things, you can never move forward.
While you describe Nehrus good friendship with Padmaja Naidu, you refer fleetingly to Edwina Mountbatten why?
Any romance doesnt seem to move until Edwinas left India. I didnt want to imply an affair somehow influenced how the British dealt with India.
But British officials did advise Jinnah on Kashmir?
A British general prevented Jinnah from sending troops there when India had sent theirs.
Doesnt that moment show todays jihad politics using non-state ac-tors beginning?
Yes, it began right then. This strategy was created and theyve persisted with it.
There was talk of a summit, a political solution, between India and Pakistan but Nehru cancelled Jinnah then decided to support insurgency covertly.
Then, it becomes clearly state-sponsored. -Courtesy The Times Of India
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.