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Sir Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana, A Politician from Punjab Who Opposed the Partition Till the Very End

Sir Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana, a politician belonging to the Punjab Unionists party, opposed the Partition of India and the ideology of the Muslim League.

He was eventually ousted from office by the Muslim League through a Civil Disobedience campaign, which led Punjab into communal violence and led to the partition of the province between India and Pakistan.

In the 1946 Punjab elections, the Muslim League won 73 of the 89 Muslim seats in Punjab, while the Unionist Party under Khizar Hayat Tiwana won only 13. Overall, the Muslim League failed to win any non-Muslim seat and fell short of the halfway mark of 88 required to form the government, while the Unionist Party won 19 seats in total and formed a coalition government with Congress (which had won 51 seats) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (which had won 21).

Tiwana remained opposed to the partition of India till the end. He felt that Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus of the Punjab had a common culture and was against dividing India to create religious segregation between the same people.

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Tiwana, himself a Muslim, remarked to the separatist leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “There are Hindu and Sikh Tiwanas who are my relatives. I go to their weddings and other ceremonies. How can I possibly regard them as coming from another nation?”

He refused to accept the two-nation theory and believed that a Muslim-majority government in the Punjab would be an important guarantee of the rights of Muslims in a minority province.

Tiwana advocated for amity between the religious communities of undivided India, proclaiming March 1 as Communal Harmony Day and aiding in the establishment of a Communal Harmony Committee in Lahore presided over by Raja Narendra Nath with its secretary being Maulvi Mahomed Ilyas of Bahawalpur.

It was a miracle of Tiwana’s charismatic leadership that even when places like Bengal, Bihar, and Bombay were burning in riots in 1946, Punjab remained calm.

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Muslim League organized a program of civil disobedience and disruption to the Punjab province against Tiwana. The Muslim League argued it was an example of Hindu connivance to defeat the interests of the Muslim community. Tiwana was portrayed as a traitor, clinging to power and office without regard for the interests of the Muslims.

Due to the boycotts engulfing the Punjab, he resigned as Premier on 2 March 1947.

Within 10 days of Tiwana’s resignation, Muslim League supporters burnt dozens of Sikh villages in Rawalpindi. More than 2000 Sikhs and Hindus were killed in this massacre. Ultimately, Punjab, which was completely peaceful and united till March 2, 1947, became the biggest victim of this partition.

In his final visit to the United States in 1971 Tiwana, reflecting on the creation of Bangladesh, echoed his opposition to the partition of India, particularly the division of the Punjab Province, stating: “I still think a Punjabi Muslim has more in common with a Punjabi Hindu or Sikh than with a Bengali (or any non-Punjabi really) and I think the separation of East Pakistan proved that.

He died in Butte City, California, on 20 January 1975.

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Md Umar Ashraf

Md. Umar Ashraf is a Delhi based Researcher, who after pursuing a B.Tech (Civil Engineering) started heritagetimes.in to explore, and bring to the world, the less known historical accounts. Mr. Ashraf has been associated with the museums at Red Fort & National Library as a researcher. With a keen interest in Bihar and Muslim politics, Mr. Ashraf has brought out legacies of people like Hakim Kabeeruddin (in whose honour the government recently issued a stamp). Presently, he is pursuing a Masters from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, JMI & manages heritagetimes.in.