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Here’s why India was given Independence Act, 1947 at 12 O’clock in mid-night

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: As every Indian heart is swelling with pride and flying high in this free sky given to us by our freedom fighters who laid down their lives to liberate their motherland from the British rule, we once again remembering the historic day of August 15, 75-years back when India was finally given its Independence Act, 1947 at 12 o’clock in the night by the British crown.

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We all have seen how every heart gets filled with patriotism on this day, how every street is decorated like a newly wedded bride and how every hand flies tricolour with immense pride and love for their fellow countrymen but do you know why we celebrate Independence only on August 15 and not on any other day and why was the time chosen at 12 o’clock in the night.

Interestingly, the midnight of August 14 and 15, 1947, was a historic moment as it was the end of the era of colonialism in India. The date marks India’s independence and the birth of Pakistan. However, the British Raj was not originally scheduled to end on August 15, 1947 but the British had fixed June 3, 1948 as a day of independence of India as the then prime minister of Britain, Clement Attlee, had announced that British India would be granted full self-governance no later than June 30, 1948.

On June 3, 1947, the British government proposed a plan, known as the June 3 Plan or Mountbatten Plan. The plan proposed the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. It also proposed the partition of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal between the two new countries. The British government, however, decided to end the British rule 10 months before the scheduled date and passed the Indian Independence Act of 1947 in July 1947, which contained the major provisions put forth in the Mountbatten plan.

In fact the second world war in 1945 had also contributed its bit to get India its liberation on August 15 as the date was an auspecious day for Lord Mountbatten as on this day his daughter was born and on August 15, 1945 the Japanese Army had surrendered before Britain during World War II, at the time when Lord Mountbatten was the commander of the elite force. Mountbatten also believed that waiting for over a year would mean civil war in India. Rising communal tensions and conflicts between Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah made Mountbatten determined for partition, thus, pressing him to announce August 15, 1947, as the date of transfer of power.

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However, calculations of Indian astrologers showed that the date was inauspicious, unfortunate and unholy. Astrologers suggested alternative dates but the Viceroy was adamant. They came to an agreement for the midnight hour between August 14 and 15 as according to the English calendar, the day starts at 12 am, however, it starts at sunrise according to the Hindu calendar.

This preponing of the date of transfer of power gave only five weeks to Cyril Radcliffe to decide the fate of millions of Indians by drawing the line of partition.

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