In 1940 the Muslim League demanded the Partition of India to create Pakistan in the Muslim majority North Western and Eastern zones of India, at Lahore. In opposition to this demand, Sir Sikander Hayat Khan of the Unionist Party forged links with the Sikhs and signed the Sikander-Baldev Singh Pact in March 1942. The pact provided for Jhatka meat in Government Institutions, the inclusion of Gurmukhi as a second language in schools and increased representation of Sikhs in government departments in which it fell below 20 percent. This was in strong opposition Jinnah’s demand for a Muslim state. However, the situation changed with the death of Sikander Hayat Khan in 1942.
The Unionists and the Sikhs were unable to sustain the alliance.
The Akalis drew up a scheme of Azad Punjab which new province with a greater percentage of Sikhs. Master Tara Singh emphasized that the scheme was conceived to act as an effective counter to the demand of Partition.
The Partition of Punjab proved to be one of the most violent debasements in the history of humankind. From 24 January to 26 February 1947 Direct Action was ordered by the Muslim League in the Punjab Province. This unnerved Sir Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana, whose coalition ministry included ministers from the Congress as well as Sikh Parties. The coalition fell on 2 March 1947.
On 3 March, Hindu and Sikh leaders met in Lahore where they vowed to oppose the establishment of Pakistan. On 4 March Hindu and Sikh students came on the streets to protest. Communal clashes broke out in different parts of Lahore. By the evening of 4 March communal violence broke out in Amritsar and on 5 March in Multan and Rawalpindi. The governor, Sir Evan Jenkins imposed Governor’s rule on 5 March 1947 after the League failed to convince him that it had a stable majority in the Punjab Assembly. Punjab remained under Governor’s Rule until power was handed over to the Indian and Pakistani governments on August 14 and 15.
Lord Louis Mountbatten assumed the role of the last viceroy on 24 March 1947. He announced the Partition Plan on 3 June 1947, declaring that the British had decided to transfer power to the Indian and Pakistani governments by mid-August 1947. The announcement resulted in a further increase in violence of uncertainty and began the greatest forced migration in history as well as the death and displacement of millions.
Between 15-17 August, there was great confusion about the actual boundaries between India and Pakistan. It was widely believed that Gurdaspur District would be given to Pakistan. Consequently, Pakistan dispatched Mushtaq Ahmed Cheema as Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur and the Pakistan flag flew over Gurdaspur for those days. Many cities, including Lahore, remained uncertain of their fate.
On 17 August 1947, the Radcliffe Award was made public. Three tehsils of Gurdaspur district on the Eastern bank of the Ravi were given to India while Shakargarh on the Western bank went to Pakistan. Many found themselves on the wrong side of the border suddenly. Lahore was awarded to Pakistan. The mass migration that followed saw the death of millions and displacement of many more. Families were torn apart. People aboard trains were massacred and butchered. Women were killed, abducted and raped. Many were killed by their own families before they could “lose their honour” be taken away by the intruder. The tumultuous wave of migration largely ended by 1948, but the rebuilding of lives continued for decades.