Simla Deputation

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Simla Deputation organised by the Indian Muslim leaders, met the Governor General and Viceroy lord minto in Simla on 1 October 1906. The aim of the deputation was to win the sympathies of the Raj on their side concerning matters relating to their interests as a community. The meeting was extremely significant. As such it has gone down in the history of the sub-continent as the Simla Deputation.

On 20 July 1906, Secretary of State for India Lord Morley announced in the House of Commons reforms concerning the Indian constitution. The announcement created much excitement among the Muslim leadership. The Indian Councils Act of 1892 had badly hurt Muslim interests. The process envisaged in the Act for sending representatives to the Central and Provincial Assemblies had failed to ensure a fair representation of the Muslims. In this situation, the leaders of the Muslim community felt the need for bringing into the notice of the government their own views regarding the formation of the proposed council which would preserve the interests of the Muslims in the future constitution of India.

With this end in view, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, secretary of Aligarh College, appealed through the Principal of the college WAJ Archbold to the Viceroy Lord Minto to kindly accept a deputation of Muslim leaders to discuss the forthcoming constitutional reforms. Lord Minto agreed to see the proposed deputation. Following this, Muslim leaders joined in an informal meeting chaired by Sir Abdur Rahman in Lucknow on 6 September. In the meeting a memorandum of demands of the Indian Muslims for presentation to the Viceroy was drawn up. On 1 October a deputation of 35 Muslim leaders led by Aga Khan met Lord Minto in Simla. The deputation included five members from West Bengal and only Nawab nawab ali chowdhury from East Bengal and Assam.

The demands the deputation put forward to lord Minto were: (a) employment of Muslims to Civil administration, the military and the Judiciary in sufficient numbers; no competitive examinations should bar employment to the higher posts; (b) preservation of a certain number of seats for Muslims in the municipal and district boards and in the university senate and syndicate; (c) separate election of Muslims to the Provincial council based on their political importance and not on the population ratio; (d) election of a sufficient number of Muslims to the Imperial Legislative council in order to avoid reducing the Muslims to an insignificant minority; and (e) establishment of a Muslim University which would stand as a glory to the religious and cultural life of the Muslims.

In response Lord Minto expressed his indirect support to the principal demand of the Muslim leaders as enunciated in the memorandum, eg, a separate electorate for the Muslims. This showed the success of the deputation. Eventually in 1909 the morley-minto reforms made provisions for a separate electorate for the Muslims of India. With this, the Muslims gained constitutional status as a separate community, which led to the rise of Muslim nationalism and to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. [Arifa Sultana]