In 1946, Foreign Minister Pethick-Lawrence personally led a three-member cabinet deputation in New Delhi in the hope of resolving the impasse between Congress and the Muslim League and thus transferring British power to a single Indian government. Cripps was primarily responsible for drafting the ingenious Cabinet mission plan, which proposed a three-tier federation for India, integrated by a minimal central trade union government in Delhi and limited to the administration of foreign affairs, communications, defence and only the finances necessary for these matters at the union level. The subcontinent was to be divided into three major groups of provinces: Group A, which would include the majority Hindu provinces of the Bombay presidency, Madras, the United Provinces, Bihar, Orissa and the Central Provinces (virtually everything that became independent India a year later); Group B should include the Muslim-majority provinces of Punjab, Sindh, the north-western border and Balochistan (the areas from which the western part of Pakistan was created); and Group C to include Muslim-majority Bengal (part of which became the eastern part of Pakistan and in 1971 the country of Bangladesh) and Hindu-majority Assam. Group governments were to be virtually autonomous in all countries except those reserved for the Centre of the Union, and within each group the princely States were to be integrated into their neighbouring provinces. Local provincial governments should have the choice to withdraw from the group they were in if a majority of their population votes in favor of it. It is, of course, impossible for Parliament to weigh and appreciate the importance of the most important statement that has just been presented to us by the Prime Minister. I have to say that I found it very difficult to understand, but the White Paper, which is in the polling station, needs to be carefully studied and will probably provide the best evidence for those who are best informed. There is no doubt that we will have a debate on this issue at the appropriate time. I am not asking for a specific date to be set at this stage. However, I must say that the two conditions that were envisaged at the time of the Cripps mission established under my Government – namely, first, an agreement between the Indian parties and, second, a period of dominion status during which India or part of it can freely decide whether or not to remain in the unification of the British Commonwealth of Nations – seem to have been met. The British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act in July 1947. He ordered that the dominions of India and Pakistan be demarcated at midnight from August 14 to 15, 1947, and that the assets of the world`s largest empire, integrated in countless ways for more than a century, be divided into a single month. Two border commissions worked desperately to divide Punjab and Bengal in such a way that the practical maximum number of Muslims was left west of the new border of the former and east of the latter, but once the new borders became known, about 15 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fled their homes on one side of the newly demarcated borders in the, what they are for « shelter » on the other side.
During this tragic exodus of innocent people, up to a million people were massacred in communal massacres, which made pale in comparison to all previous conflicts known in recent history. Sikhs who had settled on the new « lineage » of Punjab suffered the highest proportion of losses relative to their numbers. Most of the Sikh refugees moved to the relatively small area of the present-day Indian border state of Punjab. Tara Singh later asked, « The Muslims got their Pakistan and the Hindus got their Hindustan, but what did the Sikhs get? » As I have already said, the two principles on which the Cripps mission was based – namely the agreement and a period of dominion status with complete freedom of choice – seem to be fulfilled, as far as I can see in the copy of the White Paper which is now in the polling station and which I received an hour ago thanks to the courtesy of the Prime Minister. Attlee wrote to Mountbatten on 18 March 1947: « It is of course important that the Indian states adjust their relations with the authorities to whom power in British India is to be handed over; but as expressly stated in the Cabinet Mission, Her Majesty`s Government does not intend to give priority to a successor Government its powers and obligations. There are no plans to complete the primacy as a system before the time of the final transfer of power, but you are authorized to enter into negotiations with the Individual States at a time you deem appropriate in order to adjust their relationship with the Crown […].