Noakhali - Noakhali
Translated by Subarno Pande
Introduction by Translator
Bhulua was an ancient kingdom and long time capital of eastern Bengal. It was a tributary state of the kings of Tippera (Comilla). Hill Tippera is the current Indian state of Tripura. Greater Noakhali district was once known as Bhulua. A place of historical importance, Bhulua is now a village situated a few miles west of Noakhali town on the Lakshmipur road. According to tradition it derived its name from a scion of Raja Adi Shur of Mithila in the early 13th century. Because of its proximity to river MEGHNA, Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah is said to have attacked Bhulua from SONARGAON. The local chiefs of Bhulua, the vassals of the Raja of Tippera, ruled over a large territory that now forms Noakhali district. The region was of great strategic importance as it commanded the route to Chittagong, the domain of the powerful king of Arakan. The Arakan king, along with the MAGHs and Feringi pirates, proved to be a serious challenge to the expanding Mughal authority in the 17th century. Consequently, the Mughals conquered Bhulua and chose it as the head quarters of the PARGANA of the same name under SARKAR Sonargaon. During the 18th century, Bhulua came to the lime light as the centre of salt trade by the English. At first Bhulua was included in the newly founded Tippera district (1799). But due to the inconveniences and administrative complications arising out of the position of the salt agents at Bhulua, it was separated from Tippera in 1822 and made a new district with areas taken from the neighbouring districts. Subsequently the seat of administration was shifted to Noakhali from Bhulua. The largest pargana in the district of Noakhali, Bhulua covered an area of 635.85 sq km paying total land revenue of Rs 1,23,929. In the revenue settlement of 1728, Bhulua was recorded in the name of Kirti Narayan. In 1788, a 4-anna share of the estate was sold to Ganga Gobinda Singh, the founder of the Paikpara family. In 1833 the entire estate of Bhulua was brought to sale for arrears. DWARKANATH TAGORE father of famous Bengali Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore bought the estate and eventually sold it for about Rs 3 lakhs to Rani Katyayani of Paikpara family. By 1920s, most of the property was let out in Patni (under-tenure holding). The geo-political entity of Bhulua, with remnants of a 17th century Mughal fort, was thus shorn off its last vestiges of glory. Once the agricultural activities of the north-eastern region of Bhulua were seriously affected by floodwater of the Dakatia River flowing from the Tripura hills. To save the situation a canal was excavated in 1660 running from the Dakatia through Ramganj, Sonaimudi and Chaumuhani to divert water flow to the junction of the rivers Meghna and Feni. After excavating this long canal, Bhulua was renamed "Noakhali" after "Noa" (new) and "khal" (canal) in 1668. Noakhali district was created in 1821. Noakhali (Town) earlier called Sudharam got extinct by the erosion of the Meghna River; it was shifted 8 km to the north to its present place at Maijdi.
Introduction by Author
I have not seen East Bengal. I was born in the 60s in Kolkata. So, I cannot feel from heart the pain of losing everything and becoming a refugee. But sometimes when I used to hear my elders talking about our ancestral home somehow, in a corner of my heart, I feel a void for that unseen place which makes me yearn for it.
But why did they come. They came to escape the riots. They had to accept the division of the motherland to be free from the constant terror of riot. RIOT – this word had changed the entire socio-economic picture of Bengal.
I had wanted to write a book on incidents just prior to the division of India. But that is not possible at this time. Lack of money and time is the prime cause. But I was able to finish this booklet. Here one may find a lot of controversial issues. But they came because I wanted to keep history as it was.
Lack of informative writings was the main problem. Thus my main source is the write-ups from different newspapers and periodicals. Also I had to depend upon the
interviews of those people who were the eyewitnesses of the riots. Their interviews are assets of this book.
When the memory of the tears and historical accounts of the division of Bengal is being removed from the mind of Bengalis, we are trying to keep the history alive. The previous editions were sold out within months of being published. That gave us
confidence for the future editions. We have added some new facts in this edition.
Kolkata Shantanu Singha
August 1, 2008
Noakhali Noakhali. Oh Noakhali! On your bosom took place the first experiment of Pakistan. No a little wrong. Actually the first successful experiment! Because the first experiment took place at Kolkata. But it failed. Then you were chosen for it. We could not save you then from the clutch of murderers. No, none of us. Leftists couldn’t, Gandhians couldn’t, Revolutionaries couldn’t, Seculars couldn’t, Syncretists couldn’t, Materialists couldn’t and not even Hindutvawadis. Negating all our theories and efforts, the first experiment of Pakistan succeeded on you! After the killers of Kolkata failed, Noakhali you were chosen. Among the green nature of scenic Bengal, far away from Kolkata, so distant that your cries, your screams would not easily reach Kolkata or Delhi, at the confluence of Meghna and Padma, bounded by rivers and canals, shaded by Betelnut and Coconut trees were you, Noakhali. But why only you were chosen? Why? Why? What was your fault? Have you ever asked yourself? Have you got the answer? Your fault was only one. That is you had only 18.6% Hindus. Rest all? Non-Hindus – 81.4% Muslims! That’s why you were selected as the practical laboratory of the theories of Rahamat Ali, Jinnah and Iqbal. As the guinea pig of a medical student. And the materialist communists who shamelessly supported your theories that day have been themselves thrown into dustbins of history the world over! At the confluence of Padma and Meghna rivers, there the Noakhali is till there. Even today on the canals and rivers there dark shadows of betelnut and coconut trees fall. But in the temples, ringing of bells are no more heard. Conch shells are not blown anymore by the Hindu ladies. Holi-Durgapuja do not take place, sweet carols of Krishna are no more heard, temple drums do not beat even during Shiv-ratri or Deepawali. But why? Because we have given them as the price of our non-violence and progressiveness. Still we have not learned a lesson. At the altar of our non-violence and progressiveness we have sacrificed whole East Bengal, West Punjab, Baluchistan and N.W.F.P. And offcourse we have also given out Sindh where the first Vedic chants were recited. Now there only sounds of Azan are heard and theories of religious harmony are heard far away on the banks of Ganga! Do you want proof that we have learnt no lesson? Kashmir! Paradise on earth turned into bloody hell. We have learnt nothing so after Indus and Padma rivers we are going to loose even Jhelum! So 7 lakh Kashmiri Hindu Pandits of Jhelum banks of Kashmir are today refugees in their own country, India. Also called migrants. What after? Will it be turn of Ganga? Jamuna? Narmada, Godavari or Cauvery? Ganga and Jamuna gave shelter to 5 crore Hindu refugees from banks of Padma and Indus respectively. Pandits of Jhelum bank have also settled by Jamuna. But what if even Ganga, Jamuna, Narmada or Godavari all goes? That’s why now we need to learn a lesson which can only be given by Indus, Padma and Jhelum but Indus and Jhelum are far away. So we handful pupils of divided West Bengal will turn our ears to Padma to hear something from you. Will your gusty streams say something? Did you try o say something even earlier? Through whose mouth? O! Shyamaprasad who shouted till blood poured out his throats. But, we progressive Bengalis kept our ears shut and eyes closed. Our earlier generation has paid the price for our deafness and blindness. And we are getting the results! So we will now try to hear something, understand it. We want to learn something from you o, mother Padma! And Noakhali from you. We want to clearly know the bloody events of 1946-47 from which our sight was willfully distracted by the revered Bengali intellectuals, so called progressive people and award winning authors. Noakhali we could not listen to your teary tales due to them!
6th November, 1946. Chandpur. A little-known village of eastern Bengal.
The man was walking through the dusty village road shaded by coconut palms. He was quiet old, a little bent due to age. But no way could he take a break. He had to go much distance. In every house of the village. Listen to everyone’s complaints. If required would advice them. He had reached 78 years in age only last month. Till no relief. ‘Duty’ had brought him from far away Delhi to Bengal. For sometime he had decided to visit Bengal. ‘Kolkata riots’ had hurt all his beliefs. But again riots! Within 2 months and in this very Bengal. But then he could not come. Because he was unable understand his ‘duty’. His ‘inner voice’ didn’t order him anything. Bengal was somewhat a different planet for him. Bengal didn’t reject him. But neither was he wholly accepted. When almost whole India had bowed head before his great personality only Bengal had somewhat turned around like an untamed horse. From outside it was hard to get a view of his larger than life personality. Truly very ordinary in physique. Short heighted. Short nose. Large long ears and toothless broken face. Nature had not bestowed any favour on him. But he was crownless king of India. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Mahatma. Father of the nation. Had extraordinary divine power to feel the pulse of the common man. To Gandhians he was a soldier, monk and humanist all in one. A ‘bogus messiah’ to English bureaucrats. ‘He was a strange blend of great moral principles and quirky obsessions’ to English intellectuals. To all fellow Indian Gandhiji was Mahatma, very close to heart! Gandhiji had toured Noakhali district. He came by the side of people who lost everything even their near and dear ones in the carnage. Not with a large following but only four lieutenants. Gandhiji had said in Delhi that he wanted none except God, with him at Noakhali. Because it was his “last and greatest experiment” on the Hindu-Muslim issue (Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre – Freedom at Midnight, p-22). The objective of his life was turning a failure. It started with South Africa. Then his experiment on Hindu-Muslim unity achieved the zenith during Khilafat Movement. Many had resented then, discouraged him not to play the alien communal card. But he didn’t listen. That was his specialty. He was different from all. He did not come along with others rather al follow him. So when whole India wanted revolt he maintained silence. Now and then he would also pull back the strings of anti-British movements without any apparent reason. Started ‘Quit India Movement’ in its last leg. He was always a trendsetter. Naturally the Tagore song “Walk alone, walk alone” was his favorite. Since it was his last experiment on the complicated issue of Hindu-Muslim relationship. On this depended his next future philosophy. There he went on his own words to “rekindle the lamp of neighbourliness”. For making the test successful he asked Muslims to protect the Hindu brothers but he objected to the right of self defense for the Hindus. Hence he gave a clarion call to the Hindus, “it is the duty of every Hindu not to harbour any thought of revenge. Hindus should not die helplessly , but face death bravely and without a murmur” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 18/10/46). But unfortunately his last and greatest experiment failed. Muslims did not protect the Hindus there and neither did Hindus surrendered themselves to Muslim sword. Wherever possible the fled to save their religion, life and their women. Those who could not accepted ‘either Koran or death’. But this failure did not become his last experiment rather became the stepping stone for higher ones. So his advice to the Hindu and Sikh “girls menaced with rape in Punjab had been to bite their tongue and hold their breath until they died” (Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre – Freedom at Midnight, p-256). Gandhiji was greater in charity. So he was not satisfied with only accepting “Pakistan” demand but when Jinnah demanded Rs. 550 million, Gandhiji ordered that if India Government did not accept it he would fast unto death. Seeing this bulletin in the office of “Hindurastra” magazine a Marathi youth said to Mr. Apte standing beside that “Let Gandhi die”. Did Godse killed Gandhi? Or was he dead long ago? Gandhiji was not only a human being he was the epitome of a philosophy, a soldier, a saint. Atleast his followers say so. Even he himself said “my life is my message”. Unfortunately he could produce few disciples who believed his philosophy. So called Gandhians like Nehru, Azad, and Patel were only interested in illuminating their career under the glowing shade of his presence. In grief He uttered, “Nehru is more English than Indian” (Pattabhi Sitaramayya – The History of Indian National Congress – Vol 2 – p 132). His belief in truth had no impact and at the end of his life he could understand the real selves of his followers. To save the nation from selfish politics and their internal bickering he wished for dissolution of the Congress as a political party. None heed his advice. One moving away from the Hindu fold is not only a man less but an enemy more. The noble Hindu family of Gujarat had accepted Islam only two generation before. Although the grandfather had accepted Islam he never allowed orthodoxy in his family. Hence the mental developments of the grandson happened in an open environment. But he is the most debated character in the then Indian history. He did not support achieving political goals by inciting alien sentiments. So he didn’t support Khilafat Movement called by Gandhiji in support of Khalifa of Turkey when their progressive democratic leader Kamal Pasha had overthrown the spiritual crown. Rather he announced from the legislature that he was “a nationalist first, a nationalist second and a nationalist third”. His deep love for his country brought him close to Tilak. The case he fought in Mumbai High Court standing for Tilak will always be written in red letter in history of Independent India. Above all religious and social dogmas many saw ray of hope in his “demonic” will power. Great Gokhale expressed his deep belief in him forecasting, “he has true staff in him, and that freedom from all sectarian prejudice which will make him the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity” (V.B. Kulkarni – India and Pakistan – p 278-9). Even joining the Muslim League did not deter his patriotism in any manner. Sarojini Naidu commented on this Indian Sahib joining the League, “his two sponsors were required to make a solemn preliminary covenant that loyalty to the Muslim League and the Muslim interest would in no way and at no time imply even the shadow of disloyalty to the larger national cause, to which his life was dedicated” (V.B. Kulkarni – India and Pakistan – p 212-3). Lonely in family life, friendless in society, extreme constitutionalist Mohammad Ali Jinnah was never interested about Islam. he never read Koran. He touched Koran only to take oath as an MLA. Islam to him was “nonsense” (V.B. Kulkarni – India and Pakistan – p 275). He never went to any mosque to offer Namaz. Dr. Ambedkar said about this stylist Barrister, “ he was never known to be a very devout, pious and professing Muslim. Mr. Jinnah was never found in the midst of Muslim mass congregations, religious or political.” (Ambedkar – Pakistan or the Partition of India – p 405). Favourite time pass of Jinnah was drinking, forbidden in Islam. He found happiness of ‘BEHEST’ in ham the most unholy among Muslims. (Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre – Freedom at Midnight, p-102). He even did not knew Urdu, Farsi or Arabic. Still he became the undisputed leader of the then 8 crore Muslims of India. In 1937 State Assembly Elections was the turning point in his life and career. Even in 1933 when he visited England and father of Pakistan plan, Rahamat Ali advised him to start Pakistan movement but Jinnah rejected it and said that it was “an impossible dream”( Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre – Freedom at Midnight, p-102). The most important aspect of the election was Jinnah’s effort to establish himself as a mass leader from the earlier constitutional self. That was the first election after Jinnah became the chief of Muslim League. But the League failed miserably in that election. Muslim majority provinces like Bengal, Punjab, and Sindh returned disastrous results for him. Fazlul Haq’s Krishak Praja Party won in Bengal, under nationalist Muslim Sir Hyatt Khan Unionist Party captured Punjab; only 3 out of 30 seats of Sindh were won by the League (V. P. Menon – Transfer of Power – p 55). Jinnah did not accept this defeat politically but took it as a personal humiliation. To avenge it he who earlier said that he was “a nationalist first” made a historical statement, “Pakistan was born the day when the first Hindu was converted to Islam centuries ago”. On 23rd March, 1940 in the Lahore conference ‘Pakistan’ proposal was accepted. Jinnah explained that India’s Hindu-Muslim problem was not religious but racial and that it was very sad that Hindu friends were unable to understand the true self of Islam and Hindutva. There was no doubt that both of them get inspiration from two different histories. Religious figure of one is the enemy of the other. Hence Muslims had the obvious right of a homeland, “Mussalmans are not a minority……. Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state” (V. P. Menon – Transfer of Power – p 82). But Jinnah knew well that for the League it was impossible to achieve Pakistan single handedly! After getting Pakistan astonished Jinnah uttered to his A.D.C, “I never thought it would happen, I never expected to see Pakistan in my lifetime” (Leonard Moseley – Last Days of British Raj – p 274). Practically the uncalculated moves of the Congress leaders led to the partition. Jinnah met Gandhi a number of times in 1944 and Mahatma there addressed him as “Qaid-e-Azam” but according to Gujarati practice he should have said ‘Jinnah-bhai’ and Jinnah called him Mr. Gandhi as usual. But Mahatma Gandhi begged him saying that “I am not your or Islam’s enemy. I am your servant only. Please do not send me back empty handed!” (V. P. Menon – Transfer of Power – p 162). Delighted Jinnah said, “At last – and is good and conducive to further progress …… Mr. Gandhi has, at any rate in his personal capacity; accepted the principles of partition or division of India” (Madan Gopal – Sir Chhotu Ram – p 134). In the 1945-46 Parliamentary election for interim Government of India, “Muslim League fought on the single issue of Pakistan”. Congress fought for united and independent India. Congress got the vote of non-Muslims but its Muslim candidates were miserably defeated. In the Muslim reserved seats the League got 86.6% Muslim votes and captured 76 of total 79 seats. Congress got only 3 Muslim seats! (R.C. Majumdar – History of the Freedom Movement in India – Vol 3 – p 747/751). Jinnah opined that “Hindus were enemies but, non-League Muslims were traitors. He could not deal with traitors” (J. B. Kripalani – Gandhi, His Life and Thought – p 235). He announced that these traitors were “kicked out anywhere” (The Statesman – 29/07/46). Bowing down to this pressure tactics of Jinnah that he will not deal with any Muslim President of the “Hindu Congress” Maulana Azad sent a letter of approval to Viceroy without consulting the CWC. When Stafford Cripps showed the letter to Gandhiji and he enquired about it, Azad denied his own handwriting though by then everything was clear to Mahatma. Emboldened Jinnah shed his constitutionalist image forever and gave the call for “Direct Action”. Rahman Ali came to Kolkata with his gang the day before and spread to various Muslim majority areas by night at Kidderpore, Kalutola, Rajabazar, Dharmatala, Park Circus, Taltala, etc. He knew there was no need to give any share of the loot. Police of Muslim League Government of Bengal would not intervene for murder, rape or kidnappings. Bengal Government told that League workers would build public opinion by arranging hundreds of street meetings. Muslim League announced strike in Bengal on 16th August, 1946 – Direct Action Day. The government of Premier Suhrawardy announced a public holiday i.e. a direct help for the Direct Action. Congress leaders shouted slogans among the four walls of Assembly building only. Gandhiji did his duty by expressing his opinion that the Direct Action of the League will be calm and peaceful. Communists made a strange announcement by party leader Jyoti Basu on 13th August in a press note that its policy would be “with a strike where necessary and without a strike where necessary” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 14/08/46) i.e. support in Muslim majority areas and oppose in Hindu majority ones! On 16th August, Rahaman Ali Gang who came from Howrah pounced upon Hindus at the set of dawn. Kolkata indulged in the worst looting, rape and murders. Direct Action Day, also known as the Affirmative Action Plan, the Calcutta Riots, the Great Calcutta killings, and "The Week of the Long Knives", started on August 16, 1946. It was a day when the Muslim League planned peaceful protests all over India to voice the Muslim demand for a separate homeland during the Indian Freedom Struggle against the British Raj. This protest was followed by massive riots in Calcutta instigated by the Muslim League and led to further riots in the surrounding regions of Bengal and Bihar by Muslims against Hindus and Sikhs, followed by retaliatory attacks on Muslims by Congress followers and supporters. In 1946, the Indian independence movement against the British Raj had reached a pivotal stage when the British Cabinet sent a Mission to India aimed to discuss and finalize plans for the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian leadership, providing India with independence under Dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations. The Mission held talks with the representatives of the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League, the two largest political parties in the Constituent Assembly of India. After initial dialogue, the Mission proposed plans over the composition of the new government. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the one time Congressman and now the leader of the Muslim League, had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan whereas the Congress rejected it. Jinnah denounced the British Cabinet Mission and decided to try and put pressure on Congress and the British, by resorting to civil disobedience. According to Margaret Bourke-White, in July 1946, Jinnah held a press conference at his home in Bombay where he declared his intent to create Pakistan. Margaret Bourke-White, a LIFE magazine correspondent, wrote extensively about the meeting. Jinnah proclaimed that the Muslim league was "preparing to launch a struggle" and that they "have chalked a plan". He had decided to boycott the Constituent Assembly. He rejected the British plan for transfer of power to an interim government which would combine both the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress. He attacked the Congress and called it "Hindu dominated". He said that if the Muslims were not granted Pakistan then he would launch "Direct Action". When asked to specify Jinnah retorted: “ Go to the Congress and ask them their plans. When they take you into their confidence I will take you into mine. ” He further declared: “ Why do you expect me alone to sit with folded hands? I also am going to make trouble. ” On the next day, Jinnah is claimed to have said on August 16, 1946, "Direct Action Day" for the purpose of winning the separate Muslim state: “ We shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed ” In terms of a resolution of the Muslim League Council Meeting held during the period 27 July – 29 July 1946, the Direct Action Day was intended to unfold “direct action for the achievement of Pakistan.” An account given H V Hodson in his famous book "The Great Divide" writes: "The working committee followed up by calling on Muslims through out India to observe 16th August as direct action day. On that Day meeting would be held all over the country to explain League's resolution. These meetings and processions passed of- as was manifestly the Central league leaders' intention- without more than commonplace and limited disturbance with one vast and tragic exception... what happened was more than anyone could have foreseen." The riots, instigated by members of the Muslim League in the city, were the consequence of the declaration by the Muslim League that Muslims throughout the subcontinent were to 'suspend all business' to support their demand for an independent Pakistan. In April 1946, following a period of direct rule by the governor, new provincial elections returned another Muslim League ministry in Calcutta. It was headed by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Following the Muslim League's condemnation of the Cabinet Mission, Suhrawardy heeded Jinnah's call for "Direct Action Day" in August, and demanded a "public holiday", claiming that even the police would "take the day off". Muslims in Calcutta took that to indicate that they were free to riot. The Statesman wrote about the ensuing riots: “ The origin of the appalling carnage- we believe the worst communal riot in India's history- was a political demonstration by the Muslim League ” Following the protests against the British on I.N.A day and Abdul Rashid Day, the British decided to prioritize protests against them over communal violence in their "Emergency Action Scheme". British high officials such as Sixsmith and Walker vehemently opposed any intervention in Muslim-Hindu matters by the police. The absence of the police during the riots in Calcutta during "Direct Action Day" is the best illustration of this posture. The violence started on the morning of the day when Muslim League volunteers forced Hindu shopkeepers in North Calcutta to close their shops and Hindus retaliated by obstructing the passage of League's processions. The League organized a rally at Ochterloney Monument. The Muslim League Chief Minister in his address reportedly assured the audience that the military and police had been 'restrained'. This was interpreted by the gathering as an open invitation to commit violence on the Hindus. Subsequently, there were reports of lorries (trucks) that came thundering down Harrison Road in Calcutta, carrying Muslim men armed with brickbats and bottles as weapons and attacking Hindu shops. In a secret communique, Fredrick John Burrows writes to Lord Wavell that “ Friday, August 16th. Even before 10 o'clock Police Headquarters had reported that there was excitement throughout the city, that shops were being forced to close, and that there were many reports of stabbing and throwing of stones and brickbats. The trouble had already assumed the communal character which it was to retain throughout. At that time it was mainly in the northern half of the city. (Later reports indicate that the Muslims were in an aggressive mood from early in the day and that their processions were well armed with the lathis, iron rods and missiles. Their efforts to force Hindu shops to close as they passed through the streets were greeted with showers of brickbats from the roofs above - indicating that the Hindus were also not unprepared for trouble - and from this sort of exchange of missiles, matters soon degenerated into arson, looting and murder). The situation deteriorated during the forenoon and at 2.40 p.m. the Chief Secretary rang up my Secretary to say that the position had become so serious that he supported the request of the Commissioner of Police that the Army should be called in at once in aid of the civil power. ...... Ten minutes later the Commissioner of Police reported that the Chief Minister had already agreed to the calling in of troops. He added that the Police had used tear-smoke on crowds frequently and that the situation was bad in Harrison Road, Wellington Square and Corporation Street. ” Noted Indian historian Sita Ram Goel, his wife and first son were witnesses to the riots. He writes in his autobiographical work "How I became a Hindu" that he "would have been killed by a Muslim mob" but his fluent Urdu and his Western dress saved him. And he writes that on the evening of the 17th he and his wife and son "had to vacate that house and scale a wall at the back to escape murderous Muslim mobs advancing with firearms." The riots became heavier on the fourth day. The weapons shifted from bottles to iron staves. The military brought tanks into the city and gunned down the mobs, and the police made a belated appearance. Jugal Chandra Ghosh, a local Hindu, said the following at the time of the riots: “ I saw four trucks standing, all with dead bodies piled at least three feet high; like molasses in a sack, they were stacked on the trucks, blood and brain oozing out… that sight had a tremendous effect on me. ” The region most affected by the violence was the densely populated sector of the city bounded by Bowbazar Street on the south, Upper Circular Road on the east, Vivekananda Road on the north and Strand Road on the west. Official estimate put the casualties at 4,000 dead and 100,000 injured. Other sources put the death toll at 6,000.Most of the victims were Hindus. Consequently, the riots were viewed as one of the "spark plugs" for igniting the hitherto moribund flames of militant Islamism in India. The rioting reduced on the 22nd of the same month. While in earlier riots in Calcutta shops dealing with immediate consumer goods or items whose price had just risen were mostly looted, in the riot of 1946 any shop was an object of attack, the only discriminatory feature being Muslims exclusively pillaging Hindu shops. What most distinguished the 1946 riots from previous outbreaks was its highly organised nature. The Muslim League mobilised all its frontal organisations to make the 'Day' a success. Special coupons for gallons of petrol (gasoline) were issued in the names of League ministers to be used by their party functionaries to incinerate Hindu businesses. One month's food ration for 10,000 people was allegedly drawn in advance to feed the League activists. Once the riots began the Chief Minister, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, accompanied by his political aids, spent considerable time in the Police Control Room to allegedly "shield" Muslims from "police operations" while Muslims executed the riots. On the other hand, Marwari merchants reportedly purchased arms and ammunitions from American soldiers, which were later used during the riot. Acid bombs were manufactured and stored in Hindu-owned factories before the outbreak. Calcutta's Hindu blacksmiths were mobilised to prepare spearheads and other weapons. After the riots died down, thousands began fleeing Calcutta. For several days the Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River was crowded with evacuees headed for the railway station on the Howrah side of the bridge. Many of them would not escape the violence that spread out into the region from Calcutta. Members of the Indian National Congress, including Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru responded negatively to the riots and expressed shock. The riots would lead to further rioting and pogroms against Hindus and Sikhs by Muslims, together with retaliatory attacks against Muslims. These events sowed the seeds for the eventual Partition of India. An important incident following Direct Action Day was the Noakhali district massacre on October 1946. Noakhali, a district in what is now the Nation of Bangladesh, had a Muslim majority. About three-fourth of the land belonged to the Hindu landlords and the tenants were mostly Muslims. The Direct Action Day riots in Calcutta spread to other regions, reaching this district where a massive pogrom was organized against the Hindu minority. The death toll is estimated to be in the thousands, with 51-75 thousand Hindus ethnically cleansed from the region. During the massacre, the Hindu minority were killed and beaten, and their properties were destroyed. Many Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam and Hindu women were abducted and raped. Often, members of the Muslim mob who slaughtered the Hindus would forcibly marry the widows after converting them to Islam at point of weapon. Many Hindu temples were looted and destroyed. Hindus were forced to throw deities into the Ganges River and Muslim mobs forced them to consume beef, which is disallowed in Hinduism. The horror and the underlying conspiracy of this occurrence can best be described in the words of S. L. Ghosh of the A. B. Patrika, quoted below. Says S. L. Ghosh: "The horror of the Noakhali outrage is unique in modern history in that it was not a simple case of turbulent members of the majority community (Muslims) killing off helpless members of the minority Hindu community, but was one whose chief aim was mass conversion, accompanied by loot, arson and wholesale devastation... No section of the Hindu community has been spared, the wealthier classes being dealt with more drastically. Abduction and outrage of Hindu women and forcible marriages were also resorted. The slogans used and the methods employed indicate that it was all part of a plan for the simultaneous establishment of Pakistan." The Muslim League Government in Bengal aided the murderers. Ex-servicemen in Bengal joined in committing the atrocities. There were reports of rioters chanting slogans like "Long Live the League", "Long Live Pakistan", "Fighting, we will get Pakistan", "Killing, we will get Pakistan". It is believed that the Muslim League chose this district specifically for its Muslim majority and the ease by which Hindus could be targeted for extermination. Noted investigative journalist Subodh Ghosh of the Ananda Bazar Patrika was a witness to the pogroms. He confirmed the nature of the massacres as planned by the Muslim League, quoting: “It is false to suggest that the perpetrators were a gang of hooligans or that they mostly consisted of outsiders. The local people were the perpetrators in many cases and there was a general mass sympathy for what happened. ” He concluded that there was a deliberate delay in disseminating news of the massacre (4 days), pointing to a "criminal inefficiency" of the Muslim League administration. It took 10 additional days for the Army to arrive in the region and another month to "comb the interior of the devastated countryside". He went on to quote that the objective of the Noakhali carnage was "mass conversion to Islam, accompanied by loot, arson and wholesale devastation": “ The demand for subscriptions for the Muslim League and for other purposes, including conversion ceremonies, showed that mass attackers and their leaders were inspired by the League ideology. ” While militant Islamists have attempted to whitewash the role of the Muslim League government in the riots, outside observers noted the "hands-on" involvement of Muslim League strongman Hussein Shahid Suhrawardy in coordinating a well-planned series of riots in Calcutta against the Hindu minority. In turn, Muslim league sympathizers retaliated by accusations against Hindus. The Administration could not indict the League due to lack of evidence. ‘On August 21, Wavell informed Pethick Lawrence that “the present estimate” of casualties was 3000 dead and 17,000 injured. Congress was convinced that all the trouble was deliberately engineered by the Muslim League ministry but the Viceroy had as yet seen no “satisfactory evidence to that effect.” The latest estimate of casualties was that “appreciably more Muslims than Hindus were killed” Lord Wavell wrote to Pethick Lawrence: Last weekend has seen dreadful riots in Calcutta. The estimates of casualties is 3000 dead and 17000 injured. The Bengal Congress are convinced that all the trouble was deliberately engineered by the Muslim League Ministry, but no satisfactory evidence to that effect has reached me yet. It is said that the decision to have a public holiday on 16th August was the cause of trouble, but I think this is very far-fetched. There was a public holiday in Sind and there was no trouble there. At any rate, whatever the causes of the outbreak, when it started, the Hindus and Sikhs were every bit as fierce as Muslims. The present estimate is that appreciably more Muslims were killed than the Hindus. Fredrick John Burrows, in a report to British Viceroy Pethic Wavell, summarized the overall riots and their political consequences thus: “ The setting. Omitting the more remote causes of the riots - the long struggle for power between Hindus and Muslims, in which Calcutta is a focal point, the weakening of our authority which is an inevitable consequence of our impending departure, the dislocation of the normal life of Calcutta by war and famine, and the presence of a Muslim Ministry in a predominantly Hindu city - the proximate cause was the resolution of the Council of the All-India Muslim League passed at Bombay on July 29th, calling on ‘the Muslim nation to resort to direct action to achieve Pakistan’, and the consequent fixing of August 15th as ‘Direct Action Day’. ” Mohandas Gandhi, upon the request of his associate Muriel Lester, attempted to mediate the consequences of the rioting by visiting Noakhali on 6 November 1946. He tried to reason with both Muslim and Hindu communities. However, he advised Hindus "not to resist Muslim attacks" as per his philosophy of non-violent resistance. The Muslim League retaliated against Gandhi by spreading propaganda against him. Similar anti-Hindu pogroms took place in the Comilla cantonment in Bengal. The Direct Action Day riots sparked off several riots between Muslims and Hindus/Sikhs in Bihar, Punjab, and the North Western Frontier Province in that year. Jinnah’s ill intentions are very evident in his proclamation made on August 16, 1946, declared as the “Direct Action Day” for the purpose of winning a separate Muslim state, “We shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed.” The fateful day had begun with political demonstration by Muslim League in Calcutta which culminated into a period of communal riots, one of the worst in Indian history, wherein thousands of Hindus were looted, injured and brutally killed. An important incident following Direct Action was the Noakhali district massacre in October 1946. Noakhali, now in Bangladesh, had a Muslim majority. The Direct Action Day riots in Calcutta spread to other regions, reaching this district where a massive pogrom was organized against the Hindu minority. The Hindus were ethnically cleansed from the region and the death toll is estimated to be in tens of thousands. During the massacre the Hindus were killed and beaten, their properties destroyed. Many Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam and Hindu women were abducted and raped. The widows of the slain Hindus were forcibly married to the Muslims after converting them to Islam at point of weapon. Muslim mobs looted and destroyed Hindu temples and forced Hindus to consume beef. Jinnah was successful in his blackmail and the Indian National Congress finally succumbed to his demand for Pakistan leading to a very painful partition of India. The resulting exchange of population and the ensuing communal carnage saw millions rendered homeless and thousands perished on both the sides of the border. Even after the partition, Pakistan has been a continued source of trouble for India. Three wars, all initiated by Pakistan, on-going infiltration, tension along the borders, cross-border terrorism, drug trafficking, ISI networks in India, the list is long. The Hindu population in Pakistan dwindled down due to the ethnic cleansing carried out systematically in the years following the partition. Atrocities and human rights violation continue to be committed against the handful of Hindu minority in Pakistan even today. In spite of Pakistan’s never ending mischief, India, in its perpetual ever forgiving mode, has made a peace initiative, trying to bring the two governments closer. Jinnah can very safely be adjudged as one of those persons in the history of the sub-continent who have been directly liable for bringing large scale death and destruction. Not a single act of his can be interpreted to be in India’s interest. Whatever might be his personal achievements or merits, Jinnah’s set of sins committed against India is so grave that he can never ever be vindicated. India venerating Jinnah would be akin to the Jews revering Hitler. It is also important to note here that Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed in all the major rivers of the world except the Indus as the government of Pakistan had refused to grant permission for the same on the grounds that they did not want to pollute it with the ashes of a kafir (non-Muslim). That is how Pakistan treats India’s father figure. This disgraceful attitude of Pakistan cannot and should not be allowed to be wiped off Indian memory. Mr. H. S. Sahrawardy, Premier of Bengal, said: “Muslim India means business.” How grimly it ‘meant business’ was shown by the Calcutta killing, and was later on shown by Noakhali, N.-W. F. P. and the Punjab. Mr. Jinnah in a statement issued from Bombay on September 11, 1946 offered to the Hindus the choice between creating Pakistan and forcing a Civil War in the country. Replying to a question seeking suggestions for the restoration of peace in India, he said:” “In view of the horrible slaughter in various parts of India, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchange of population to avoid brutal recurrence of that which had taken place where small minorities have been butchered by the overwhelming majorities.” Thus, scouting any suggestion that there could be peace and amity in the country, he advocated exchange of population-the uprooting of millions-and as it later turned out to be, of over twelve millions, and the butchering of about a million. This was the direction in which the Muslim League was inevitably leading the country. What shocked the conscience of India even more than Calcutta was the large-scale murder, loot, arson, rape, abduction and forced marriage of Hindu women in the Noakhali District of Eastern Bengal. This time the trouble came about in the October of 1946. It appears the League enthusiasts were on the look-out for an area of operation where they could be sure of very little resistance and where they could demonstrate to the Hindus in action as to what was in store for them in case they did not accept the Muslim League demand of Pakistan. In Calcutta the Hindus-although on the first two days they were completely surprised, and reeled under the sudden blow, and lost more than a thousand in killed-yet on the subsequent days they rallied and gave the Muslims as good as they got. The Muslim League perhaps realized the folly of having tried out Calcutta. A better spot should be selected, and this time it was Noakhali and the adjoining area of Eastern Bengal. The district of Noakhali is almost at the extreme end of Eastern Bengal, surrounded by heavy Muslim majority areas. This district itself has perhaps the lowest percentage of non-Muslim population-the Muslim percentage being as high as 81.35. So, while it was particularly dastardly of the Muslims of this area to have chosen to fall upon the Hindus of this area, it was, from the point of their own scheme, a fit choice; for its very sparse Hindu population could offer little resistance to their onslaught. Attacks on a scale as large as Noakhali also occurred in the district of Tipperah, neighbouring on Noakhali, and with a Muslim population of 77.09%. As the trouble broke out, for some time the country did not know about it. Noakhali is a far-away part of Bengal, and the Muslim League Ministry of Bengal did not allow the news of the carnage to trickle though as long as they could help it. So, the assailants had it all their own way for several days, unchecked. The horror and the underlying conspiracy of this occurrence can best be described in the words of Shri S. L. Ghosh of the A. B. Patrika, quoted above. Says Shri S. L. Ghosh: “The four days’ delay in receiving the news indicates at once the magnitude of preparations of the lawless elements as well as the criminal inefficiency of the administration machinery.2 It took ten days, fraught with horror, disgrace and torture for nearly two lakhs of Hindus for the Army to reach the neighbourhood of disaster, another ten days for them to move into the inner fringe of the disturbed area, and over a month to comb the interior of the devastated countryside. “The horror of the Noakhali outrage is unique in modern history in that it was not a simple case of turbulent members of the majority community killing off helpless members of the minority community, but was one whose chief aim (to quote Dr. Syama Prosad Mookerjee) was mass conversion, accompanied by loot, arson and wholesale devastation……… No section of the people has been spared, the wealthier classes being dealt with more drastically. Murder also was part of the plan, but it was mainly reserved for those who were highly influential or who resisted. Abduction and outrage on women and forcible marriages were also resorted to; but their number cannot be easily determined. The slogans used and the methods employed indicate that it was all part of a plan for the simultaneous establishment of Pakistan. The demand for subscriptions for the Muslim League and for other purposes, including conversion ceremonies, showed that mass attackers and their leaders were inspired by the League ideology. “Apparently, the strategy of terrorisation adopted in Calcutta had failed to achieve the objective of recognition of Pakistan. The zealots of Pakistan in Noakhali and the southern portion of Tepperah, therefore, sought to make that Muslim-majority area exclusive to a certain community, and thus convert it into the fortress of Eastern Pakistan, by forcible mass conversion of the other community…… (The League) leaders tried to minimize the enormity of the crimes…… they tended to confirm the impression that they were in close sympathy with the attackers and their nefarious policy and that this was the second phase of the direct action plan of the Muslim League to achieve Pakistan. “It is false to suggest that the perpetrators were a gang of hooligans or that they mostly consisted of outsiders. The local people were the perpetrators in many cases and there was a general mass sympathy for what happened. “The total number of evacuees, those, that is, who could leave the area of the disturbance alive, will be somewhere between 50 to 75 thousands including men, women and children of all conditions and castes. “Over and above these persons, there will be another 50,000 or even more who are still living within the danger zone in what may be called the no man’s land. Theirs is the most tragic fate. They have all been subjected to conversion and are still under the clutches of their oppressors. Most of them have lost everything, and they suffer from both physical and mental collapse. Their humiliation and torture know - no limitations. Their names have been changed; their womenfolk insulted; their properties looted; they are being compelled to dress, to eat and to live like their so-called new brothers in faith. The male members have to attend the mosques, Maulvies come and train them at home; they are at the mercy of their captors for their daily food and indeed for their very existence. . . .” These occurrences shocked Mahatma Gandhi, and indeed the whole of India, very deeply. The Mahatma asked Acharya Kripalani; President of the Congress, to go to Noakhali and to see what could be done to bring relief to suffering humanity there, and to try to restore good relations between the communities there. Not long after, the Mahatma himself went there, and made his famous village to village, nay house to house trek, trying to restore good-will. How little the Muslim League fanatics cared for the Mahatma’s noble teaching was made abundantly clear by what happened hardly within a month of the Mahatma’s pilgrimage to Noakhali, in the North-Western Frontier Province, and another two months after that in the Punjab. Acharya Kripalani’s account of what he observed in Noakhali substantiates the statement of Dr. Mookerjee reproduced above. Said the Acharya: “Next morning (October 22, 1946) we visited the interior of one of the affected areas. The place was Charhaim. Charhaim village and the surrounding areas are occupied by Namasudras (scheduled castes) numbering about 20,000. It was completely destroyed. Most of the houses were burnt. People were living in sheds, built from the ruins of their houses. All their property had been looted. Cash, ornaments, utensils and clothes, and cattle also, had been taken away by the raiders. All the males and females had only the clothes they were wearing. They had no food to eat. Their condition was pitiable in the extreme. There had been cases of murder, but it was not possible during the short time at our disposal to ascertain the number of the killed. Cases of abduction were reported to us. Even after looting and arson the villagers were obliged to embrace Islam; they had to perform ‘Namaz’ and recite the ‘Kalma’……… All the images of the houses were broken and temples looted and destroyed. The conch-shell bangles of women and vermillion marks, signs of their married life, were removed.” This was a fairly representative area. Acharya Kripalani arrived at certain conclusions regarding the Noakhali trouble, which are as follows:- 1. The attack on the Hindu population in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah was previously arranged and prepared for. It was deliberate, if not directly engineered by Muslim League. It was the result of Muslim League propaganda. The local evidence all went to prove that prominent League leaders in the villages had a large hand in it. 2. The authorities had warnings about what was coming. The warnings were conveyed to them orally and then in writing by prominent Hindus in the areas concerned. 3. The Muslim officials connived at the preparations going on. A few encouraged. There was a general belief among the Mussalmans that the Government would take no action if anything was done against the Hindus. 4. The modus operandi was for the Muslims to collect in batches of hundreds and sometimes thousands and to march to Hindu villages or Hindu houses in villages of mixed population. They first demanded subscriptions for the Muslim League and sometimes for the Muslim victims of the Calcutta riots. These enforced subscriptions were heavy, sometimes amounting to Rs. 10,000 and more. Even after the subscriptions were realized, the Hindu population was not safe. The same or successive crowd appeared on the scene later and looted the Hindu houses. The looted houses in most cases were burnt……… Sometimes before a house was looted the inmates were asked to embrace Islam. However, even conversion did not give immunity against loot and arson. The slogans raised by the attacking Muslim crowds were those of the Muslim League, such as ‘League Zindabad’ ‘Pakistan Zindabad’; ‘Larke Lenge Pakistan’, ‘Marke Lenge Pakistan’. 5. All those who resisted were butchered. Sometimes they were shot, for the rioters had a few shot-guns with them. Sometimes people were killed even when there was no resistance offered or expected I have on record cases where 50 to 60 members of one family were brutally murdered. Some families lost all their male members. 6. (Is about the description and habitat of those who indulged in these crimes.) 7. Even after looting, arson and murder the Hindus in the locality were not safe unless they embraced Islam. The Hindu population therefore to save themselves had to embrace Islam en masse……… All the images of gods in Hindu houses were destroyed and all the Hindu temples of the affected area were looted and burnt. 8. There have been cases of forcible marriages. There have been cases of abduction. 9. “For obvious reasons it was not possible for me to ascertain the cases of rape. But women complained to Mrs. Kirpalani of having been roughly handled, their conch-shell bangles, the symbol of their married life, having been broken and vermillion marks removed. At one place they were thrown on the ground by the miscreants who removed their vermillion marks with the toes of their feet.” 10 to 13 are about post-riot conditions. 14. The police did not function during the riots. They are doing merely patrol duty now. They say that they had and have no orders to fire except in self-defence. The question of defending themselves never arose, because they did not interfere with the rioters. “The areas visited had already been devastated and all that I could see were burnt houses and helpless Hindu villagers whether converted or not.” Scouting any suggestion that the trouble may be economic the Acharya added, “Not a single rich Muslim house had been looted. To me it appeared to be absolutely communal and absolutely one-sided.” The Congress Working Committee meeting came soon after at Delhi, and its resolution on East Bengal contained the following observations: “Reports published in the press and statements of public workers depict a scene of bestiality and medieval barbarity that must fill every decent human being with shame, disgust and anger. “The Committee hold that this outburst of brutality is the direct result of the politics of hate and civil strife that the Muslim League has practised for years past and of the threats of violence that were daily held out in past months.” This extensive account has been given of Noakhali for this reason, that coming soon after the Direct Action and Calcutta, this was the first large-scale beginning of that wholesale elimination of entire communities, that ‘genocide’ which from now on became the settled programme and policy of the Muslim League, not expressed or admitted officially, but nevertheless pursued and countenanced by it with vigour and with great satisfaction. It was clear after Noakhali as to what India was to expect in the coming months-mass attacks on minorities in Muslim-majority areas, co-operation of Muslim police and the officials with the assailants, indifference of the British bureaucrats, and the hypocritical fathering of the League leaders of the responsibility for these occurrences on the minorities themselves. In the case of Calcutta the League leaders blamed it all on the Hindus-in the case of Noakhali and Tipperah, the figures of casualties and damage were understated to ridiculous figures, or just not noticed. Had there been any regret expressed by the League on these happenings, had they sat up and realized the horror of what had happened and had their conscience pricked them, perhaps the recurrence of large-scale destruction like Noakhali would not have been possible. But the Leaguers viewed these happenings with glee. The programme was working according to plan. Exactly the same pattern as in Noakhali and Tipperah was repeated during the next five months in other parts of India. These features were common to all these occurrences. 1. Places of occurrence were all heavy Muslim-majority areas-the minority attacked were Hindu or Hindu-Sikh. Successively they are: Noakhali and Tipperah (October, 1946) Hazara (December, 1946 and January, 1947); Rawalpindi (March, 1947 For several weeks); Jhelum, Attock, Campbellpur, Dera Ismail Khan, Hazara, Multan, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sargodha (all as before-mentioned). Lahore and Amritsar towns had an overwhelming Muslim majority in their populations though in the latter district as a whole the non-Muslims outnumbered the Muslims by a small percentage. In both towns from March, 1947 onwards terrible outrages were perpetrated by Muslims on Hindus and Sikhs, the decisive result in either case being obtained only on the partition of the Punjab. 2. Preparations were made by the Muslim League for attack on the minorities in every case a good time before the actual occurrence. Arms had been collected and distributed. Sufficiently large quantities of petrol and other inflammable substances had been hoarded for incendiarism. Training in swift methods of arson, stabbing, disposal of looted property and the killed had been imparted in the centres of the Muslim National Guards. Muslim police and officials had joined in hatching the plans with the Muslim League leaders and Muslim National Guard workers. The Muslim masses had been aroused to a pitch of anti-Hindu-Sikh fury by violent League propaganda. 3. The attacks were simultaneous, widespread and in places so open and so sure of non-interference by the authorities that the assailants collected and marched with drums beating, shouting Muslim League slogans, and even making military formations. There was nothing secret about these attacks, as the police were already on the side of the attackers. 4. Large-scale arson, murder of males, abduction, rape and dishonour of women, brutalities to children, looting, forcible conversions etc. all these features were common to the localities affected. Those attacked were first asked to pay sums of money to pay off the invaders; then followed more demands, and attacks by outsiders. Local Muslims (that is, those of the village actually attacked) sometimes out of long habits of neighbourly intercourse, kept out of the actual attack, though of course they were in league with the invaders and abetted and helped them. 5. The victims were given no quarter when besieged. Places of worship were desecrated, and religious feelings were outraged with fiendish gusto. Shaving of Sikhs, feeding of Hindus and Sikhs on beef, circumcision of Hindus and Sikhs, marrying away young girls and widows of Hindus, and Sikhs to Muslims-these practices were resorted to. 6. Police and the officials seldom appeared on the scene till long after the besieged had been killed and their houses burnt and looted. 7. Muslim League leaders and Press said nothing in condemnation of these outrages. On the other hand, they trotted out imaginary stories of provocation by the non-Muslims, and of supposed retaliation by Muslims. This in every case kept up the morale of the assailants. . This pattern was repeated in every one of the places that have been mentioned; and while the area of operations was necessarily limited while British power was still there, on the establishment of Pakistan it became general mass murder in West Punjab, in the North-Western Frontier Province, in Sind, Baluchistan and raider-held Kashmir. British correspondent of The Statesman remarked, “Experience of the second world war has made my nerve quite strong. But even war is not such barbaric. It is middle age type insanity. And it was given a horrible shape”. Mayor of Kolkata, Sheriff Khan actively rioted. Out of the 24 Hindu Officers in Police Headquarters all were changed overnight with 22 Muslim and 2 Anglo-Indians by Premier Suhrawardy (J.B. Kripalani – Gandhi, His Life and Thought – p 253). But why did Jinnah go all out for Pakistan. In his own words, “to achieve Pakistan and to assert our just right and to vindicate our honour and to get rid of the present slavery under British and contemplated future of the caste Hindu domination” (Text of the Direct Action Resolution, Bombay – 1946). British Governor of Bengal F. Barrows kept his eyes closed and said he was “seeing no evil – hearing no evil”. Jinnah declared that he had demanded and urged the two parties, British and Congress for Pakistan but they had both threatened with force, one has threatened with machinegun and the other with Satyagraha! But now, “we also have a pistol and are in a position to use it” (Pirzada – Foundation of Pakistan – p 560). Congress did not go for any political movement against the league for such atrocities. “While Calcutta was the scene of an unprecedented holocaust Nehru was busy negotiating with Viceroy about the interim Government” (R.C. Mazumdar – History of Freedom Movement – Vol 3 – p 789).
Savarkar tried to make some right political noises but was rejected by secular Hindus who seemed to be deaf. In Bengal Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee toured from one place to another to tell Hindus about the need to prepare with resistance force in the event of Muslim attack but snobbish Bengalis kept aloof. The result is known to all. But few heard atleast the Hindus of Kolkata, many Biharis and some Sikhs. “Muslim race” of Jinnah could not easily forget the pain of “Kolkata riot” as Hindus had showed resistance and paid back in the same manner though Muslim League Government was there in Bengal and Kolkata was their capital! So the Muslims began to search a way to teach Hindus a perfect lesson. And the man who took the responsibility was Gulam Sarowar. Ex-M.L.A of Muslim League and Chairman of Sahapur School he was the undisputed leader of Noakhali. Darling of the people and inspiration of the youth he was riding on high passion of love and respect from local Muslims. The strategy to terrorize the minority Hindus of Noakhali to avenge the “Kolkata riots” was his brain child. Gulam received support from local School-masters, moulavis and the union Presidents. From the month of September started the anti-Hindu propaganda in Noakhali and neighbouring Tipperah (Comilla). Muslim National Guard volunteers used to do picketing outside Hindu owned shops and asked all Muslims to boycott them. Government in its secret report stated that even in dire needs if any Muslim bought goods from those Hindu shops they were publicly kneeled down holding their ears. “Muslims buying goods from Hindus were abused and beaten” (Burrows to Lawrence – 17/10/46 – Transfer of Power – Vol VIII – p 743). In the Bengal assembly it was mentioned that, “Widespread reports of Hindus deprived of their valuables while traveling in boats, of Hindu houses burgled, of cows sacrificed in public places, of Hindu shops looted and temples and desecrated” (G.D. Khosla – Stern Reckoning – A Survey of the Events before and following the Partition of India – p 70). On 10th October at Begumganj Bazar there was a Muslim League meeting going on. Gulam Sarowar was the chief orator there and he gave an inflammatory strong anti-Hindu speech at the presence of the local Police Inspector who kept mum. After the meeting came to an end the agitated and excited Muslim mob in great numbers attacked the Hindu shops in the market and set them to fire after looting. Another group went to the house of local Hindu leader and landlord Surendra Kumar Bose. He was killed very cruelly and then the mob set to fire his office and palace. Hundreds of Hindus, men women and children had taken shelter there after fleeing from various places. Most of them were burnt alive. Those who could luckily escape the fire of the burning house were chopped down by the awaiting people outside. The last gang went to siege the house of Noakhali District Bar President and renowned Hindu intellectual of Bengal, Rajendra Lal Roy in Karpara village. But he was a real hero. Along with his sons and brothers he united the local Hindus and gave a strong resistance. The attackers fled for their life. Angered at being pushed back they attacked the local Hindu villages, burnt them and desecrated the temples. Meanwhile Mr. Roy had informed the Police station and sought protection but blatantly denied. He sent his sons to see if there were any escape route. They returned and described the hopeless situation as the village roads were patrolled by armed Muslims and all boats were stopped from plying on the river. However they pledged to each other that they will fight to the end. Next day morning at 8’ o clock a larger crowd came to attack but the Hindus under the able leadership of Mr. Roy stood up once again and fired from guns and threw stones and bricks like rain to drive them away. Still no government relief came but their ammunition of the besieged Hindus were used up! Next the ferocious mob at being resisted again and again came under the personal command of Gulam Sarowar and first attacked Mr. Roy and killed him mercilessly. All others panicked and stopped fighting. Then one by one his relatives and the other Hindus who had taken refuge there were butchered (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 23/10/46). The severed head of Rajendra Lal Roy was gifted to Gulam Sarowar in a silver plate. At Gulam’s order his two trusted lieutenants took the two beautiful daughters of Mr. Roy as the booty (Binoy Bhusan Ghosh – Two Nation Theory and Bengalee – p 68). Only the youngest brother of Mr. Roy, Professor M.L. Roy escaped the carnage as he was in a Kolkata college and said, “Muslims wanted to convert whole Noakhali into Islam so they targeted first the Hindu leaders who could offer some resistance. The cause of death of my entire family is only due to it” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 23/10/46). After the Hindus became leaderless the torture on them increased to boundless proportions. In Panchgao village of Begumganj police station, lived a Brahmin family of four brothers. On the day of Kurbani a cow was sacrificed on their temple and the beef (forbidden for Hindus) was sent to them. The family members in pain and agony started vomiting. But the Muslims cursed them and asked how the kafirs could reject their sacrificial beef to Allah. They were taken for a village judgement by the Moulavi of the local mosque who was however very liberal and fined Rs 250 (a large amount in those days) to settle the matter. Report of the Bengal Press Advisory Committee in October, 1946 mentioned all these and the horrible condition of Hindus in eastern Bengal. B.P.A.C got those information by searching the diaries in various police stations there. For ensuring safety B.P.A.C did not mention the names of many of the victims. On 10/09/46 in an appeal to District Magistrate by local Hindu villagers they said that they were feeling insecure as regularly the armed Muslims were roaming round Hindu villages sloganing that they would take revenge of Kolkata riots and that all Hindus would be butchered. They also pledged that they would collectively pay for the cost of police protection! On 18/09/46 in a complaint it was said that lives of Hindus were on thin thread and they were not yet killed as order from high command has not yet arrived. After a meeting of local Muslim Leaguers the temple inside the compound of revered Hindu was desecrated. Planning for riots was so organized that even non-Bengali Pathan and Punjabi Muslims mostly ex-servicemen were brought into Noakhali. “Many of the hooligans in Noakhali appeared to be from outside” (Mclnery Papers – 1976). Phani Bhusan Sur was one of the few from Noakhali who could escape and took shelter in Bangabasi College at Kolkata. He said that in his Hajiganj village the riots were lead by Peshawari Muslims. Each had long swords with them and under their direction the murders, loot and rapes were organized (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 22/10/46). Journalists back from Noakhali reported that, “the heads of miscreants were Ex-servicemen and they organized the raids in military fashion………. The people knew how to dig up roads and cut communication” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 19/10/46). Professionalism in its highest virtue was manifested in Noakhali. “So that Hindus couldn’t escape, the roads were dug, boats used to form barricade on canals and rivers and through which areas there were any slight chance of escape armed Muslims were at guard” (V.P. Menon – Transfer of Power – p 322). Riots started on 10th August, but Bengal Government announced it on 15th i.e. 5 days after and that too in shortest words. Mysteriously the press note by Director of Publicity was so laconic that little could be understood about the horrible nature of the atrocities. The Statesman on16/10/46 reported that to convert entire Noakhali into Dar-ul-Islam, “In an area of about 200 sq miles the inhabitants surrounded by riotous mobs, are being massacred, their houses being burnt, their womenfolk being forcibly carried away and thousands being subjected to forcible conversion. Thousands of hooligans attacked the villages, compelled them (Hindus) to slaughter their cattle and eat. All places of worship in affected villages have been desecrated. The District Magistrate and the Police Superintendent of Noakhali took no step to prevent it.” “The Muslim Superintendent of Police in Noakhali made his partisan attitude so apparent that the Divisional Commissioner had to censure him” (Bell Papers – C.S.A.S Cambridge). “Support for the rioters from the League Government became apparent when it directed the police to discontinue prosecutions against a large number of those arrested. Fazlul Huq himself went to Comilla to secure the release of some of the accused” (Modern Review – May, 1947). V.P. Menon wrote in Transfer of Power (p 322), “It was an organized attack engineered by the Muslim League and carried out with the connivance of the administrative officials.” “We have all accepted Islam” was the title of a letter sent by one Bibhuti Bhusan Das from Noakhali to his brother Sudhanghsu Bhusan Das at Kolkata and published in all major newspapers -------- On the night of 10th August we all were forced to accept Islam. By evening a large Muslim mob attacked our village. They forced us to be Muslims by threatening to burn us alive. They were under order from high command to convert entire Noakhali into Dar-ul-Islam. Likewise they had already converted all the villagers of Chatkhil, Rampur and Dasmeria (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 22/10/46). But after conversion the Muslims were very liberal in giving Islamic names to the converts. They used to give the titles of Chaudhuri, Maulana and Moulavi to higher caste converts! But still one would not be a true Muslim until a Muslim married a girl of the convert’s family. Uttam Basu who escaped from Begumganj said that a little girl of six years was married off to a revered Muslim of sixty only to prove that the convert’s family has totally accepted Islam. After seven days military came and rescued some of the Hindus. The local Muslims said after conversion that though the converts have accepted Islam they were not habituated to eat beef. Hence they would all sit down together and have porridge first and then beef would be eaten. During one such dinner someone came and said that Sikhs have come. Actually in Bengali iron rods were called ‘Sikk’ and in the Choumahani station a wagon load iron rods had came but mouth to mouth it got corrupted and the Muslim villagers ran away shouting “Allah-ho-Akbar”. While fleeing they said to the recent converts that they were not converted and are still Hindus. After the great courage shown by the small Sikh community in Kolkata riots against the Muslims they feared the Sikhs heavily! Elder brother of Netaji, Mr. Sarat Chandra Bose told reporters after touring Noakhali that, “No police help was given to the persons and families attacked though timely appeals for help were made” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 23/10/46). Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee in a letter to Nehru for demanding central intervention mentioned, “Destructive activities on the enemy during war is understandable but total devastation of the innocent unarmed people could not be thought of. Central ministers of Congress must warn the Bengal Government that they are playing a dangerous game which can even excite the people of other province” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 18/10/46). Dr. Shyamaprasad’s appeal was put down by central government of Congress by giving logic – that intervention in provincial subjects of law and order was against its ethos. Amrita Bazar Patrika on 23/10/46 reported, “For the 13th day today, about 120 villages in Ramganj, Lakshmipur, Raipur, Begumganj and Senbag thanas (police stations) in Noakhali district with a Hindu population of 90,000 and nearby 70,000 villagers in Chandpur and Faridganj thanas in Tippera (Comilla) district remained besieged by hooligans. Death stares the people of these areas in their face and immediate rushing of supply to these areas with the help of military, who alone could do it, would save the lives of these people, most of whom have been without food for the last few days.” Very few Hindu household remained in Noakhali and Comilla districts where a daughter was not raped, kidnapped or forcibly married off to any elder Muslim. Miss Muriel Leister, member of a relief committee send later wrote on 6th November, 1946, “Worst of all was the plight of women. Several of them had to watch their husbands being murdered and then be forcibly converted and married to some of those responsible for their death. Those women had a dead look. It was not despair, nothing so active as that. It was blackness…….the eating of beef and declaration of allegiance to Islam has been forced upon many thousands of as the price of their lives” (V.V. Nagarkar – Genesis – p 446). Mr. Simpson, I.C.S wrote on the incidents that “it has been known from authentic sources that at a place 400 and at another 300 women were mass raped by Muslims. To the Muslim crowd, violation of the honour of Hindu women meant the exposure of the most protected aspect of the Hindu identity and religion” (Binoy Bhusan Ghosh – Two Nation Theory and Bengalee – p 64). British journalist of The Statesman reported on the barbarism and hellish design on 26/10/46 that, “A little refugee girl of Ramganj thana told me the incident. On10th October morning a crowd came to their house and demanded Rs. 500 as subscription for Muslim League and threatened that if their demand was not met the entire family will be butchered. Fearing life her father paid the huge amount. After sometime the crow cam again with more people and when a certain guardian of the family, a lawyer tried to calm them he was beheaded before saying anything. Then they killed the oldest member, the grandfather of the girl. The father of the girl was next laid on the dead body of his grandpa and when they were about to kill him her grandmother jumped on his body and begged mercy. But this angered the mob and they hit the old lady on the head with a rod and threw her unconscious body away. The terrorized girl by then was standing and looking on but now to save her father rushed out with her jewelry and Rs. 400 which was at home and putting all on the hands of the killer pleaded to eave her father. The person took the valuables wit the left hand and at once severed the head of her father with the right hand! Gandhiji said that, “Ever since I have heard the news of Noakhali, indeed, ever since the blood bath in Calcutta, I have been wandering what my duty is. God shall show me the way” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 17/10/46). Taking advantage of the helpless weakness of Congress and Gandhiji, Muslim League Premier of Bengal, Suhrawardy in a press conference announced, “We don’t see any sign of complete disturbance. Generally speaking, there are a few houses which has been damaged” (The Statesman – 21/10/46). Acharya J.B. Kripalani the then Congress President toured Noakhali and wrote in Gandhi, His Life and Thought (p 286) that Viceroy not only disagreed to intervene but commented, “Large scale abduction of Hindu women (by Muslims) was quite natural since Hindu women were more hand-some than Muslim women.” Gandhiji gave an innovative ‘non-violent’ solution to the Hindus. He remarked, “Women must know how to die…….women (should) face death bravely and without a murmur. Then only would the terrible killing now going on, stop” (The Statesman – 18/10/46). But Acharya Kripalani said, “From what I have seen and heard the day before and yesterday. I am clearly of the opinion that whatever the Governments, provincial or central, may or may not do, every Bengali, male or female, has to defend himself or herself. Though I whole heartedly believe in non-violence, I am expressing my deepest respect for Rajendra Lal Roy. In front of every Bengali I would like to put forward the example of Rajendra Lal Roy and his family who could resist the butchers for two days by bold fighting” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 22/10/46). Hindus and Sikhs unitedly observed ‘Black Diwali’ in Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and even Muslim league ruled Sindh but there was no dearth of pomp and gaiety in the celebrations at Kolkata by fellow Bengalis, a strange phenomenon, indeed! On 24th October at Dalit meeting in Harijan Colony in Delhi a large procession of Hindu Mahasabha approached Gandhiji to take steps to prevent Hindu genocide in Noakhali and elsewhere in eastern Bengal. But Gandhiji rejected the demand as usual citing that there would be unnecessary ‘blood spill’ if Muslims were to be resisted! So Mahatma – the true one advised, “To get killed, but not to kill” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 25/10/46). But on 29/10/46 all major papers reported two contradictory news. One that Gandhiji has come to Kolkata to express solidarity with people with Noakhali and next, horrible riots has started in every part of Bihar in retaliation of Noakhali. Everyone was expecting the first one but not the next. Begum Shah Nawaz M.L.A of Punjab and renowned industrialist A.H. Ispahani of Muslim League went to America to create public opinion for the demand of Pakistan. In a public speech on 29/10/46 Shah Nawaz announced that, “India is heading for a great civil war unless the question of Pakistan is settled. We are sitting on a bomb in India – That is what very few people in abroad realized. The sooner the question is solved, the better it will be for everyone. We Muslims are prepared to sacrifice everything in our fight for our ideal” (Amrita Bazar Patrika – 30/10/46). That the events in East Bengal were but part of an all India battle for Pakistan” (V.P. Menon – Transfer of Power – p 321). Gandhiji gave up his plan to visit Noakhali on hearing of the Bihar trouble. Gandhiji wanted to change his programme and proceed there immediately. He had faith that Hindus would listen to his word and stop attacking Muslims in Bihar (J.B. Kripalani - Gandhi, His Life and Thought - p 260). Nehru went with Liaqat Ali (First Premier of Pakistan and Muslim League leader) and toured Bihar giving peace speeches. He said, “Some people believe they are taking revenge for atrocities in East Bengal. It was bad enough. Culprits must be punished immediately.” Amrita Bazar Patrika reported that forgetting the Congress policy of non-intervention in provincial administration Nehru said, “The government had to follow such a course by firing machine guns and bombing the people. No government could tolerate such lawlessness. But nothing such happened in Noakhali riots only 25 days back and even Gandhiji did not stop government from using force against the majority Hindus in Bihar in the name of non-violence! Gandhi rather asked the central and provincial governments to do everything in their power to control the situation. (J.B. Kripalani - Gandhi, His Life and Thought - p 260). Shocked at the ‘torture on Muslims’, Gandhiji reduced his diet as a penance for the violence and lawlessness in Bihar. (The Statesman – 07/11/46). Amrita Bazar Patrika commented on 11/11/46 that, “It could be extremely difficult to maintain order in Bihar unless the situation was controlled in East Bengal.” However “terrorism is dealt with counter terrorism” and truly riots spread to whole of India soon after leading to Partition of India and creation of Pakistan.
Note by Translator
In the end Jinnah earned his Pakistan on August 14, 1947 but the Partition of India was a holocaust, a brutal experience, a cataclysmic event atleast for the Hindu minority in Muslim majority areas which became to be Pakistan. Thus, 14th August is observed by Hindus world over as the HINDU HOLOCAUST DAY.
The Direct Action Day riots sparked off several riots between Muslims and Hindus/Sikhs in Bihar, Punjab, and the North Western Frontier Province in that year.