The systematic ethnic cleansing of Muslims from east Punjab, Jammu and eastern Rajputana during the spring and summer of 1947, the mass exodus of survivors for safe havens in Pakistan and other parts of India, and the arrival of an even larger number of Hindu and Sikh refugees from west Punjab, Bahawalpur and Sind transformed the ethnic landscape of north India. What had for centuries been an area of rich ethnic diversity, inhabited, especially in rural areas, by dense concentrations of Muslims, became, almost overnight (although in actuality refugees from Pakistan continued to trickle across the border until the early 1950s) a dominantly Hindu region except in east Punjab where, as noted in the previous chapter, Sikhs now formed a substantial minority. In 1941 Muslims had been 27 per cent of Alwar’s population; ten years later they comprised scarcely 6 per cent. During the same period the segment of the population of the east Punjab states professing Islam plummeted from 12.7 to 1.8 per cent, while that of Bikaner dropped from 15 per cent to a little over 11. The effects of this demographic revolution are still evident today, and it is unlikely that they will ever be reversed. Nevertheless, even as Khare’s killing squads failed to eliminate Muslims entirely from Alwar, so in other states too some Muslims managed to hang on—a handful in the east Punjab states, rather more in Rajputana and Gujarat and an overwhelming majority in CI (which was more distant from Pakistan and where attacks on Muslims in 1947 were less frequent and in the main less savage).


Communal Violence Parliamentary Election Princely State Union Government Chief Minister 
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  1. 6.
    Hindustan Times, 7 January 1948. See also Sarvepalli Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography, Vol. 2 (London, 1979), p. 77;Google Scholar
  2. Mushirul Hasan, Legacy of a Divided Nation: India’s Muslims Since Independence (London, 1997), p. 148;Google Scholar
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    The phrase is Nikita Khruschev’s. The Soviet premier met a number of princely politicians during his state visit to India in 1956. He found their incorporation within a supposedly egalitarian political system at once fascinating and puzzling. Quoted in B. Krishna, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: India’s Iron Man (New Delhi, 1995), p. 434.Google Scholar

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© Ian Copland 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Copland
    • 1
  1. 1.Monash UniversityAustralia

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