HistoryPakistan Studies

Boundary Commission – Main Features, Outcome and Impact

Indian independence Act 1947 had provided for setting up of boundary commission to demarcate the boundary between Pakistan and Indian. This article discusses the purpose of the boundary commission, its structure, outcome, and impact on Pakistan. 

Purpose of Boundary Commission

The formation of the Boundary Commission was to demarcate the boundary between Pakistan and India in the provinces of Punjab and Bengal. In these provinces, there was a mixed population of different communities i.e. Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims. Hence, it was very difficult as to where to draw the boundary.

Secondly, it was also difficult to decide on such factors which were economically very important such as rivers, railway facilities. A boundary commission with equal representation of the congress and the league might help each to reach an amicable solution acceptable to both Pakistan and India.

Structure of the Commission

  1. Sir Cyril Radcliffe was appointed as the Chairman of the Boundary
  2. Two separate Boundary Commission were formed, one for Punjab and the other for Bengal. Punjab and Bengal Boundary Commission.
  3. Both boundary Commission would contain an equal number of members from Pakistan and
  4. Sir Cyril Radcliffe had the authority to announce his own decision in case Boundary Commissions failed to reach any

The outcome of the Boundary Commission

Boundary Commission failed to reach any settlement. Radcliffe announced his own decision of demarcating boundaries in both provinces of Punjab and Bengal. Today we know this announcement of Radcliffe as Radcliffe Award.

Unjustness of the Commission and its impact on Pakistan;

Awarding Calcutta to India

Radcliffe awarded Calcutta to India, even though Muslim majority areas surrounded it. Calcutta was the capital of Bengal. It was the biggest, commerce and educational center of the province. The entire development of Calcutta depended on the toil of the Muslim peasantry of Bengal. East Bengal produced most of the raw material which had to be sent to Calcutta because all factories and mills were in Calcutta. Ignoring these all factors Radcliffe awarded Calcutta to India. 

Awarding Muslim majority areas to India in Punjab

The Boundary Commission in sheer violation of the Indian Independence Act 1947 awarded Muslim majority areas of Ferozpur and Gurdaspur in Punjab to India.

Awarding Ferozpur to India 

Ferozpur had a Muslim majority and Radcliffe had originally awarded it to Pakistan but Mountbatten had forced him to change his mind. Ferozpur had canal headworks from where water flew to irrigate the Indus plain in Pakistan. 

India on April 1, 1947, blocked water to Pakistan and diverted the flow of water to the east. Blockage of water could have threatened the very survival of Pakistan because Pakistan as an agricultural country depended upon crop farming practiced on Indus

Awarding Gurdaspur to India

Rade Cliffe awarded Gurdaspur to India. With Gurdaspur awarding it to India, the Indians now had a border with Kashmir and future disputes between India and Pakistan became inevitable. On 27th October 1948, India landed its troops into Kashmir through Gurdaspur. Since then Kashmir is an issue between Pakistan and India. Wars have been fought between both states causing irreparable human and economic loss on both sides.

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