The Radcliffe line divides India and Pakistan and forms the border between the two countries. It was named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe. The Radcliffe line was declared as the boundary between India and Pakistan on 17th August 1947. Initially, the line formed the border between the Punjab provinces of India and Pakistan on the western side and between Bengal province provinces of India and Pakistan on the eastern side.
History of Radcliffe Line
India got independence on 15th August 1947 whereas Pakistan got independence on 14th August 1947. The Indian Independence Act 1947 was passed in the parliament of the United Kingdom on 15th July 1947 to end the British rule in India. This act also provided for the partition of British India into two new sovereign states, the Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan. The Union of India was to remain secular whereas the Dominion of Pakistan was made on a religious basis and would constitute as a Muslim homeland. The provinces of British India had a Muslim majority population became Pakistan. This included provinces such as Baluchistan and Sindh, which were absolute Muslim majority provinces.
Provinces such as Punjab and Bengal didn’t have the absolute religious majority of any community and thus formed the matter of dispute. The population distribution of the province of Punjab was such that it was not possible to draw a demarcating line that would easily demarcate the Muslim territory.
Two Boundary Commissions were set up in June 1947 to draw a line between India and Pakistan that would judiciously separate the Muslim population of Punjab and Bengal provinces from India. One Commission was for Punjab and other for Bengal. The Commissions were headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe. Sir Radcliffe had to consider other factors such as natural boundaries, water courses, irrigation systems and communications apart from religious factor while demarcating the territories. Sir Radcliffe had arrived in India on 8th July 1947 and was given just five weeks to decide the border. He along with the then Viceroy Lord Mountbatten travelled to Lahore and Calcutta to meet the members of the commission to come to a conclusion. Finally, on 17th August 1947, the territories of the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan were separated.