When All Else Fails, by Chaim D. Kaufmann, Associate Professor of International Relations at Lehixh University. Link to study
Although the provincial population overall was 56 percent Muslim, 27 percent Hindu, and just 13 percent Sikh, the Sikhs averaged considerably wealthier than the other communities and had exercised dispro- portionate power in provincial politics. By the 1940s Sikhs and Muslims had not fought in several decades, but they had a long history of intercommunal hostility. Sikhs also controlled a large fraction of the best land in Central Punjab and in the canal colonies in West Punjab. Accordingly, Sikhs feared Muslim dominance even more than Muslims feared Hindu rule; their wealth, political influence, religious freedom, and even physical security all might be at risk. From the Muslim point of view, the Sikhs presented a special threat because their martial tradition meant that the whole male population had to be considered armed.
By the summer of 1947 Sikh leaders were desperate. On March 2 the Punjabs coalition government made up of the Congress Party, Sikhs, and the cross- communal Unionist Party had collapsed in the face of a massive Muslim League civil disobedience campaign.53In February and March Muslims had attacked Hindus and Sikhs in Lahore and Amritsar, the two main cities of central Punjab and the core of the region most likely to be disputed; more than 3,000 were killed.54Possibly most threatening had been Jinnah's proposal in December 1946 to Sikh leader Sardar Baldev Singh that the Muslims and Sikhs combine to seize all of Punjab, while still refusing to provide any guarantees of the status of Sikhs in Pakistan. This could only inflame key Sikh fears that Muslim rule would be oppressive, and that the Muslims would not be satisfied with any initial territorial settlement. In July, it was clear that the June 3 partition agreement would, in all likelihood, leave nearly 2 million Sikhs stranded in Pakistan.
It appears that at this point Sikh leaders devised a four-point last-resort plan to protect their national security unilaterally: (1) if the boundary award proved unsatisfactory, to contest as much as possible of the core Sikh areas in central Punjab, and to resist possible Muslim attempts to contest any part of East Punjab; (2) to evacuate most Sikhs west of the line; (3) to eliminate the Muslim population east of the line, thus increasing the Sikh percentage in East Punjab after the war; and (4) later, to press the Indian government for redivision of East Punjab in order to create a true Sikh-majority province.
Although the existence of such a plan cannot be established with certainty, there is suggestive evidence. As early as March 1947, the Sikh Panthic Party passed a resolution that it would fight Pakistan to the end. Military mobilization began in April, and by June the Sikh Akali Fauj had 8,000 men; in addition, the British provincial governor was receiving intelligence reports of a plan for a terror campaign in East Punjab. Sikh leaders, including Sardar Baldev Singh, the Sikh representative on the Boundary Commission, made clear that they would not respect an unfavorable award. Fighting began well before the award was even announced; starting on July 30, Sikh forces attacked Muslim villages in the central region around Lahore and Amritsar, which was disputed by both communities, as well as Muslim communities throughout East Punjab by the end of August, much of East Punjab had been cleared of its Muslim population.