UK PM Attlee believed Bengal may opt to be a separate country
WASHINGTON, Dec 28: In June 1947, the then British prime minister, Clement Attlee, told the US ambassador to London that he believed Bengal would opt to be an independent state instead of joining either India or Pakistan.
Historical documents released recently by the US State Department show that the United States was the first country that Mr Attlee briefed on his plans to divide India.
On June 2, 1947, the US Ambassador in the United Kingdom, Lewis Williams Douglas, sent an "urgent and top secret" telegram to Secretary of State George Marshall, stating that the same afternoon Mr Attlee had called him to his office and shared with him "advance information" about the partition plan.
The next day, Viceroy Louis Mountbatten broadcast the plan to the Indian people while Mr Attlee presented it to the British parliament. Declassified documents show US was first country to be briefed about partition of India
Mr Attlee told Ambassador Douglas he wanted elected representatives from Punjab and Bengal to decide which of the two major dominions these provinces would join. If they failed to do so, those two provinces would be partitioned between India and Pakistan. Mr Attlee said he thought "a division of Punjab is likely", but added that there was a "distinct possibility Bengal might decide against partition and against joining either Hindustan or Pakistan".
In that event Bengal might form a separate dominion , an alternative also open to Punjab, but which he thought it improbable that it would elect to do, Mr Attlee told Ambassador Douglas.
The envoy noted that the British PM was "in sober mood, at times tinged with sorrow" while discussing the partition plan with him. "In his own words he has been working on the Indian problem for 21 years" and that the viceroy would "make one last attempt to secure acceptance of the Cabinet mission's plan". -DAWN