When World War II virtually ended in favour of the allies, the British government decided to abdicate sovereignty of India with a pledge to give the Muslims a home land – Pakistan. Lord Wavell sat in conference at Simla to accord an Interim Government – July, 1945.
Finding independence and partition of India inevitable, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peoples Association (Parbattya Chattagram Jana Samity – PCJS) of which I was General Secretary, sent me to the Wavell conference to meet the Congress high command and other leaders with a memorandum. I held long discussions with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on CHT.
A memorandum containing political demands of CHT was again sent out on 15 Feb. 1947. (Annexure-2).
Myself (Sneha Kumar Chakma) was co-opted in the All India Excluded Areas Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India for CHT (vide No.CA/38/Com/47) dated 20.3.1947 and I sat in committee at Rangamati on 3rd April, 1947 (Annexure-3).
When crucial and decisive moments were fast approaching and the PCJS demanded bold and vigorous actions to meet all contingencies, our president, Kamini Mohan Dewan showed physical as well as mental depression and therefore the organisation contracted in May 1947, into an Action Committee with Pratual Chandra Dewan as chairman and Ghanasyam Dewan as field commander.
Bengal Boundary Commission was announced by the Governor General on 30th June, 1947 with erroneous and ambiguous terms of reference (Annexure-14 para 2 & 3). I, as General Secretary, PCJS, and representative in the Indian Constituent Assembly, was sent to do the needful.
I consulted Pandit Nehru who said that the Commission had no jurisdiction over CHT. (Annexure-12 B Para 1 and Annexure-13 para 1-5).
On 14th July, 1947 I submitted a memorandum to the Bengal Boundary Commission. (Annexure-4).
Bengal Boundary Commission held hearings on 16th July, 1947 and onwards without its Chairman, Sir Cyrill Radcliffe. The CHT memorandum had a roaring hearing of 91 minutes on 19th July, 1947.
I was terribly apprehensive of the Commission’s trespassing into CHT on the following grounds :
The trump card, Sir Radcliffe, was not there to listen to the arguments of CHT.
The Congress and Hindu Mahasabha Memoranda did not talk a word on CHT.
The two Muslim members of the Commission and the Muslim League lawyer fought tooth and nail with the non-Muslim members of the Commission and my lawyer.
So I ran to Delhi and reported my despair to Pandit Nehru who reiterated his old conviction, and to Sardar Ballavbhai Patel who swore to write strongly to the Chairman Sir Radcliffe.
In the meantime, the Indian Independence Act of 18 July, 1947 (Annexure-15) came to my hand and also the rumours that Sir Cyrill Radcliffe had squashed the seven-page arguments of Justice Bijan Mukherjee and Justice Charu Biswas (non-Muslim members of the Bengal Boundary Commission) and that the honourable chairman of the commission had crumpled Sardar Patel’s letter on CHT and threw it down to the bin in gigantic wrath.
I hastened to Sardar Patel one dark morning and swore – “I am flying back to CHT to declare it INDIA AND RESIST if it happens otherwise! Will you stand behind me, Sir?”
“Certainly, I will be with you, behind CHT! Go back, hurry back”! Sardar Patel was truly a Sardar! (Annexure-5).
I arrived back to Rangamati and on 4th August, 1947 alerted Shri A.V. Thakkar, chairman of my sub-committee regarding CHT. (Annexure-6)
At 00.00 hours between 14th and 15th August, 1947, the Action Committee with a gathering of 10000 people led me to the Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow. Col. G.L. Hyde, the D.C., came out and received us.
“Sir, is not India independent now”?
“Yes, you are independent now and on”.
“Is not, Sir, CHT a part of India under the Independence Act of India”?
“Yes, according to the Independence Act of India 1947 Chittagong Hill Tracts is a territory of Indian dominion”.
“So, should we not hoist our national flag”?
“Yes, but we the British people generally hoist flags at sunrise. Please come at dawn and hoist the Indian national flag publicly in the football ground, and I will go and salute it. Thereafter I shall flourish the Indian flag in my office and residence where I invite you all. Please come here to attend my flag hoisting ceremony.”
Our veteran leader, Kamini Mohan Dewan, declining all our requests to do the job, the Action Committee forced me to hoist our national flag at sunrise on 15th August 1947. We followed the D.C. in procession and attended the government flag hoisting ceremony. Messages were sent out everywhere.
Little did I know that while I was hoisting Indian flags in Rangamati, CHT, Pandit Nehru was sending a crucial (but belated?) note of B.N. Raw to Sardar Patel, on CHT. (Annexure-7)