A one-minute clip of India’s first prime minister being interviewed by American TV Host Arnold Michaelis in 1964 has been widely shared on social media (Facebook and Twitter). It has been shared with the caption that he said, “I took the decision of partition.” (विभाजन का निर्णय मैंने ही लिया था).

This claim dates back a few years. In 2019, Twitter user @indiangujarati1 had posted it. Since then his tweet gained over 500 retweets. Recently it has been shared by several users on Twitter as well.

It was posted on multiple high network Facebook groups such as भारत रक्षक संगठन, [over 3 lakh followers]; Kangna Ranaut Group [over 2 lakh followers]; मोदी लक्ष्य 2024 [about 2 lakh followers]; Sudarshan News [over 1 lakh followers]; and हिंदू देशभक्त [over 10K followers].

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this claim on our official mobile application. (iOS and Android).

Misleading claim

The viral video is a clip from a 45-minute interview. The full interview is available on the YouTube channel of the Government of India’s ‘Prasar Bharati Archives’. As per the video description, this is Nehru’s last significant interview before his death on May 27, 1964. The portion in the viral video is clipped from the 14:34 mark in the Prasar Bharati Archives video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlTfXWFQYGQ?start=874]

In the viral video, at the 1:06 mark, Nehru said, “…ultimately I decided…” and the corresponding Hindi subtitle that appears is – “आख़िरकार मैंने यह निर्णय लिया”. This is an accurate translation that does not mean, “I took the decision of partition” or “विभाजन का निर्णय मैंने ही लिया था” as suggested in the caption. More crucially, this is only a small portion of Nehru’s statement that fails to offer context.

To understand the full context, viewers must know the question that was asked by Michaelis before the segment that was shared on social media.

Below is the transcript of the ‘Prasar Bharati Archives’ video from relevant timestamps.

14:34 Michaelis: “Now you and Mr Gandhi and Mr Jinnah… you were all involved before the point of independence and partition in the fight for the independence of India from British domination.”

14:51 Nehru: “Mr Jinnah was not involved in the fight for independence… at all. In fact, he opposed it. The Muslim League was started …about 1911, I think. It was started really by the British… encouraged by them so as to create factions… and they did succeed to some extent. And ultimately there came the partition.”

15:23 Michaelis: “Had you and Mr Gandhi been in favour of that?”

15:27 Nehru: “Mr Gandhi was not in favour of it, right to the end. Even when it came he was not in favour of it. I was not in favour of it either. But ultimately I decided like others did… many others, that it is better to have partition than this constant trouble and you see the leaders of the Muslim League were big landlords… who did not like land reform. We were very anxious to have land reform, which we did have afterwards, and that was one reason that we agreed to partition because we thought if they remained with us, apart from the struggle continuing, they would oppose our measures… many of our measures. And we said it is better to have a part of India end… go ahead with our program of reforms etc than to be tied up with those leaders who would come in the way of these reforms.”

Based on Nehru’s response alone it’s clear that he did not say, “I took the decision of partition.” However, to understand the nuances in the partition of undivided India and Nehru’s role better, we spoke with Sucheta Mahajan, Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Mahajan is also a co-author of the 2016 book ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’.

Mahajan told Alt News, “There is no doubt that the partition was a decision that was taken by the British government. No Indian party, Congress or Muslim League, were in a position to accept it or not accept it. So there is no question of Nehru saying “I decided on partition” because the British government was in power. The decision to transfer power to a united India or divided India was in their provenance.”

She added, “Around April/May 1947, the final Viceroy of India Louis Mountbatten, who oversaw the Partition of British India into India and Pakistan, decided with consultation with the British government that a divided India is the only practical solution. Before the two dominion partition, Mountbatten proposed a partition where provinces and princely states could become independent countries. Nehru staunchly refuted this attempt to balkanise India in an elaborate letter. Subsequently, the partition was awarded under the two-dominion model. It is worth noting that there are no signatures by Indian parties, signifying that it is not even an agreement between these parties.”

Thus, for the past few years, a one-minute clip is being shared with the false claim that Nehru said, “I took the decision of partition.”

About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.