India 1947 Partition in Colour Channel 4 documentary: how to watch TV series - who was Lord Mountbatten?

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The documentary marks 75 years since partition split up India and Pakistan

A documentary examining the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 is set to air on Channel 4 tonight (Sunday 7 August).

India 1947: Partition in Colour will detail the events that led up to the official declaration of India and Pakistan’s independence from the UK and each other.

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The two-part series will show many of the events in colour for the first time almost 75 years on from when they occurred.

So how can you watch the documentary - and what happened during partition?

The impact of the partition of India can still be seen today (image: AFP/Getty Images)The impact of the partition of India can still be seen today (image: AFP/Getty Images)
The impact of the partition of India can still be seen today (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

What was the partition of India?

In 1947, India consisted of the modern-day states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Up until August 1947, this territory was mostly under the political control of the UK - a legacy of the British Empire which had ruled the region for almost 200 years.

The Queen was the head of state as part of the British Raj.

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With resentment of colonial rule building in India, the UK drew up plans to divide India into two separate states that would be independent of the UK and each other.

These were India and Pakistan.

The partition of India led to a major outbreak of violence (image: Getty Images)The partition of India led to a major outbreak of violence (image: Getty Images)
The partition of India led to a major outbreak of violence (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Pakistan was divided into a western part and East Pakistan - the latter of which gained independence to become Bangladesh in 1971.

Religious tensions in the country between Hindus and Muslims meant the country’s overseers split the territories along religious lines.

India had a larger Hindu population, while Pakistan mostly contained Muslims.

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But given the lines that split the countries up did not tally precisely with where these religious populations were situated, it resulted in millions of refugees fleeing to one state or the other.

There was also a great deal of violence as religious groups stranded in the wrong areas were targeted by the other populations.

An estimated one million people died in the conflict.

The after effects of partition can still be felt today, as India and Pakistan have poor diplomatic relations and are engaged in a conflict over the region of Kashmir - an area claimed by the two governments in Islamabad and New Delhi.

Who was Lord Mountbatten?

Lord Louis Mountbatten was the last foreign governor of India.

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Instated into the post in February 1947 to oversee the partition of India, he resigned in June 1948 when India changed its constitution.

The uncle of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord Mountbatten served in the Royal Navy during the First and Second World Wars.

In the latter conflict, he commanded the British forces in South East Asia that recaptured Singapore and Burma (modern-day Myanmar).

Lord Mountbatten oversaw the partition of India in 1947 (image: Getty Images)Lord Mountbatten oversaw the partition of India in 1947 (image: Getty Images)
Lord Mountbatten oversaw the partition of India in 1947 (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

After leaving India, he commanded the British Mediterranean fleet.

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He went on to become the First Sea Lord before becoming chief of the Defence Staff.

Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by an IRA bomb while holidaying in Ireland in 1979 at the age of 79.

How to watch India 1947: Partition in Colour

Channel 4 is airing the first part of India 1947: Partition in Colour at 9pm on Sunday 7 August.

The first episode will cover the appointment of Lord Mountbatten as viceroy of India in February 1947.

Part two, which airs at 9pm next Sunday (14 August), will show India’s descent into violence and chaos.

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