|Vol. III, No. 38. 14 Jayastha 2007, May 15, 1950 Annas Four – Air Mail-/4/6|
Bongaon (W. Bengal), May 5.
Five days ago I had crossed the border and went inside East Pakistan. I travelled by train, auto, bullock cart and country boat. It was a thrilling journey, more thrilling than I had expected it to be.
I returned to Bongaon on the Bharatiya side of Jessore district and am writing my despatch sitting on the platform of the railroad station. The place is full of refugees. There are about 5000 of them, men women and children just the moment and they are waiting here to be transhipped to the refugee camps, some in West Bengal and some in far way places like Madras and elsewhere. They are all from East Bengal, mostly from the areas that I have just covered.
What have I seen in East Bengal, people here, the officials and the non-officials are pestering me to talk about. I am writing my despatch completely unbiased and with a responsibility fully realized.
I have travelled into Pakistan and am back to India. It only goes to show that people can travel about in Pakistan without governmental ‘yes’ and still be safe.
In cities like Jessore and Khulna there is comparative peace. Whenever there is trouble, I can report it safely, without fear of being contradicted, that it is engineered by the upcountry Muslims, Ansars and the like. The authorities are up and doing and I saw with my own eyes that they are out to save the Hindu life, property and honour.
But even then the Hindus, I found, are so much shaky. The recent past has not, and cannot, be forgotten by them. But even then it was heartening to see the local Muslims, the Bengalees, trying to create an atmosphere of normality and peace.
I HAVE SEEN THE LOCAL MUSLIMS BEGGING OF THE HINDUS NOT TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES AND HEAR. THS. BUT I HAVE ALSO KNOWN OF CASES WHEN THE ANSARS AND THE OTHER GOONDA ELEMENTS HAVE THREATENED THE LOCAL LAW ABIDING MUSLIMS OF ‘DIRE, CONSEQUENCES’ IF THEY PERSISTED IN THEIR ATTEMPTS TO HOLD THE ‘KAFIRS’ FROM LEAVING THEIR HOMES !
As I travelled from place to place I knew of incidents wherein Muslims have sacrificed their properties and even lives in order to save the honour and lives of their Hindu brothers. And during this travel I have also come to know of incidents which would not be forgotten by the Hindus (Censors Scissors). But inspite of all this I found normality in East Pakistan coming gradually. But surely the Hindus cannot be blamed if having lost their faith in Pakistan law and order they leave their homes and hearths and take a road to Bharat.
During my tour in East Bengal I observed that Hindu women in Pakistan, the Eastern Wing of it, who, by the way, are mostly educated and far more progressive in their views than their compatriots in Bharat, are mostly keeping indoors and not to be seen out on the streets, bazars or anywhere even during the day. As for the menfolk amongst the Hindus they generally are not to be seen out of doors after dusk. I HAVE KNOWN OF CASES WHEN HINDUS HAVE JUST BEEN HANDED OVER TO THE POLICE ON THE CHARGE OF ‘CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE STATE’ JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE FOUND OUTDOORS AFTER 10 IN THE EVENING.
Local Muslims are trying their very best to persuade the Hindus to begin their lives normally once again. They are asking the Hindus to forget the past, and to forgive them.
I can report from my own personal knowledge that Muslims of the locality, not the non-Bengali types (it should be noted that the local Muslims of East Bengal had, in most cases, kept themselves out of the communal flare-up) are not sure of their strength, for in nine cases out of ten they are overpowered by the up-country goondas from the West. (Censor’s Scissors).
I was passing through a village in the district of Khulna. The sun was going down falling deep on the horizon. The western sky was all but gone crimson. I was travelling by a bullock cart driven by a Muslim driver. My Cambridge studied Muslim friend was my only companion. The crimson in the western sky was getting deeper in colour still deeper.
(CENSOR’S LONG SCISSORS)
That is life in East Pakistan. -Shibdas Banerji