The boundary demarcation line between India and Pakistan known as the Radcliffe Line came into force on 17 August 1947. The boundary line is named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe the man who had the thankless job of drawing the lines of Partition to carve out Muslim majority Pakistan from India.
Sir Cyril Radcliffe was appointed as the joint chairman of the two boundary commissions for the two provinces. He was bestowed with the responsibility to equitably divide 175,000 square miles of territory between both the countries.
The demarcation line was finalized 12 August 1947, three days prior to the independence of India but it was published on two days after Partition, that is 17 August 1947. The western side of the Radcliffe Line still serves as the Indo-Pakistani border and the eastern side serves as the India-Bangladesh border.
The man was sent in peak summer to India. For the most part of the one month plus that he had at disposal to draw the lines, he was in the Viceroy’s Lodge at Shimla. The table he worked at still survives.
Cyril Radcliffe was given just one month time to execute the job after his arrival in India on July 8, 1947. However, Cyril Radcliffe worked on the boundary line using census reports and some maps. He and his team demarcated the border on the basis of religious demography. They also gave weightage to factors such as strategic roads and irrigation patterns.
The commission led by Sir Cyril Radcliffe was instructed to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. However, some other factors like natural boundaries, communications, watercourses and irrigation systems, as well as socio-political considerations, were also kept in concern.
The task became difficult because Cyril Radcliffe and his team were all lawyers by profession with no specialized knowledge needed for the task. They also had no advisers to inform them of the well-established procedures and information needed to draw a boundary. The short time duration did not even give them time to gather the survey and regional information.
Both the Muslim League and Indian National Congress had put forward their demand before the boundary division was finalized. However, both countries won some, lost some.
Communal riots were at their peak after the official announcement of the Radcliffe line in India in the year 1947.