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  1. ITV Report

What was the Partition of India?

Hundreds of Muslim refugees crowd a train leaving New Delhi for Pakistan. Credit: AP

This month marks 70 years since the division of British India, a move which created an independent India and Pakistan and is known as the Partition.

At the stroke of midnight between August 14 and 15, 1947, British rule ended and the two separate nations were created.

Here, ITV News explains what happened, why and what the impact was.

  • The reasons for Partition

For nearly three decades there had been a nationalist struggle in British India by those who wanted independence from British rule.

There was also tension between Hindus and Muslims in India, which lead to the idea that the independent region should be divided into two states.

After it was announced that British rule would end, it was decided that the majority of the Hindu population would remain in India, while the newly-created Pakistan would be home to mostly Muslims.

The announcement came shortly after the Labour Party was elected into power in 1945, with Britain's inability to afford the cost of running an empire after the Second World War one of the main reasons behind the decision to end its rule there.

  • What happened?
More than 10 million people set out to find a new home. Credit: AP

The partition was outlined in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and, as a result, millions of people were forced to leave their homes to move to the other state in the largest mass migration in human history.

As more than 10 million people sought to cross into the other state, an unprecedented refugee crisis was created.

This also had the affect of sparking violence and riots between Hindus and Muslims, with up to one million people being killed.

The western region of Punjab was particularly badly affected, as this had been cut in two by the new border, which became known as the Radcliffe Line, named after its architect, Sir Cyril Radcliffe. This border was not officially unveiled until two days after partition, on August 17, 1947.

Many believe the rushed nature of the partition process was a reason for the violence.

  • What has the situation been since?
India and Pakistan have gone to war over Kashmir twice. Credit: AP

Tensions between the two countries remain to this day and there has been conflict between India and Pakistan ever since they gained independence.

The two nations have gone to war twice over Kashmir, in northern India, which both countries say should belong to them.

There was also conflict when east Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh.

Despite the divisions, both nations will be celebrating the 70th anniversary this week.