Muslim leaders of undivided Bengal wanted a separate province for themselves while the Bengali Hindus were facing social, political and economic threats in the eastern parts of Bengal. It was their plight that led S.P. Mookerjee to proclaim the need for Bengali Hindu’s homeland which was supported by other freedom fighters.
Bengal has always been at the forefront of Hindu revivalist movement. Sons of this soil have fiercely resisted any attempt to take-over of Bengal, by the foreign invaders of Abrahamic cult for centuries. However, the true history of the indigenous Bengali people has faced multiple challenges from the Hinduphobic Leftist historians. Leftist academia has continuously tried to suppress heroic tales of Bengali Hindu uprising against the Turks, Mughals, Pathans & Portuguese as ‘alternative history’. This is why, the name of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, and his role in securing West Bengal as a homeland for the Bengali Hindus remain the least studied era, ironically, in the state of West Bengal itself. Incidentally, a Bengali gentleman named Sri Chandranath Basu (1844-1910) coined the term ‘Hindutva’ and wrote a book titled ‘Hindutva — Hindur Prakrita Itihas’ (Hindutva – the real history of Hindus).
This ‘Hindutva’ has inspired Bengali Hindus during the times of unimaginable distress. When the British wanted to decided to divide Bengal in 1905, the partition was planned in a way that Bengali Hindus would form a minority in both the provinces. Curzon’s sinister plan of the Bengal Partition was heavily criticized by the nationalist intellectuals of Bengal. Media stalwarts such as Krishna Kumar Mitra, Surendranath Banerjee, Prithwish Chandra Roy launched a powerful press campaign against this vicious colonial agenda of “Divide and Rule”. All sections of the Bengali Hindu society took to the streets, boycotting the British goods and adopting indigenously manufactured items. Bengali-speaking Muslim leaders organized the Muslim league in 1906 in Dacca under Nawab Salimullah and rallied solidly behind the British authority requesting them not to bow in front of the nationalist pressure and implement the partition plan. Rashbehari Bose was one of the greatest statesmen as well as revolutionary. His purported attack on Governor-General Lord Hardinge in Chandni Chowk, Delhi in 1911 forced the colonial authority to finally abort the idea of Bengal Partition, which in turn made the Muslim league leaders furious.
However, Muslim leaders of undivided Bengal never gave up the idea of a separate province just for themselves. The Bengali Hindus were facing social, political and economic threats in the eastern parts of Bengal. Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy, father of modern Indian chemistry published a report at Bengal Provincial Hindu Sabha, Faridpur in 1925. This report was a clear indication that demographic decay of Bengali Hindus in united Bengal has resulted in loss of economic as well as political right.
In 1940, the Muslim League passed the Pakistan resolution. Fazlul Huq, the then Prime Minister of Bengal, proclaimed the Pakistan resolution in Lahore on 23rd March, 1941. To carve out Pakistan was the Muslim League’s sole point of agenda in 1946 provincial assembly elections as they had already come up with the ‘dream map’ by then. 97% of Muslim electorate voted for Muslim League which formed the government with landslide victory.
The demand for Pakistan was generating pace. To accelerate it even further, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah vowed to celebrate ‘Direct Action Day’ in the streets of Calcutta. 16th August 1946 was the darkest day for the Bengali Hindus of Calcutta. An unprecedented calamity was unleashed on them, which would later be known as the Great Calcutta Killings. The butcher of Calcutta, Suhrawardy simply assumed that Bengali Hindus would flee the city, as a result of this ‘Direct Action’. That would make way for the prized possession of Calcutta which could easily be transferred to the young nation of Pakistan. Gopal Mukherjee, a staunch nationalist and admirer of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose fought back bravely against an out-rightly biased administration and the onslaught of British-Jihadi nexus. It is, for this man & his band of boys, the city was finally saved from the terror of Direct Action. But the Hindus in Noakhali were not so lucky. Muslim League cadres raped, murdered and forcibly converted 95% Hindus in October 1946. The horrors of Noakhali massacre could put Hitler to shame. The twin massacres of Calcutta & Noakhali compelled Bengali Hindu leaders S.P. Mookerjee, revolutionary Upendranath Banerjee and peasant leader Hemanta Kumar Sarkar to form the Bengal Partition League in December.
On 15th March 1947, S.P. Mookerjee officially proclaimed need for Bengali Hindu’s homeland which was supported by historian R.C. Majumdar and linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterjee at conference in Kolkata. Leading Bengali Hindu litterateur of the time Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay (the author of Pather Panchali, made immortal in celluloid by Satyajit Ray) expressed serious concern under the Muslim League rule. Maharaja Bijay Chand Mahtab of Burdwan and Maharaja Shrish Chandra Nandy of Cossimbazar consented for a Bengali Hindu Homeland on 29th March at British Indian Association. This continuous process of gathering public opinion in support of West Bengal included partition convention in Tarakeshwar, Gallup poll in Amrita Bazar Patrika, intellectual campaign by people like noted scientist Meghnad Saha, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, the doyen of historians. Even Hindu transport workers of the Communist Party of India defied party line and took part in strike called by Partition League on 23rd March. Dalit leader P.R. Thakur went against Jogendranath Mandal’s agenda of Dalit-Muslim unity and supported the idea of Bengali Hindu Homeland. Jinnah’s dream of having entire Bengal into Pakistan died a pity death on 20th June as western Bengal voted for separate province for Hindus. On 3rd July, a ten-member cabinet of the interim government of West Bengal took oath under the Prime Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghosh.
On 16th August 1948, in his speech at the University Institute Hall in Calcutta, Dr. Jadunath Sarkar told his audience that like the Jews who would convert Palestine into “a spark of light in the midst of the mess of Muslim misgovernment and stagnation,” the East Bengali refugees would vivify West Bengal’s moribund culture and economy. It was a dream that West Bengal was born to protect the refugees from the East Bengal (present Bangladesh) and the locals of West Bengal would come together and pursue the path to glory & excellence. But things started to fall apart soon after. Nehru’s Freight Equalization Policy in 1951 killed the future of industries in Bengal for decades to come. Along with that, a step-motherly attitude towards refugees from East Bengal formed the core of the Nehruvian policy. After the untimely passing of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the father of West Bengal, Communists stealthily hijacked all powers in the state. History was rewritten to fit the new masters, the re-engineering of social ethics ensured a steady supply of cultural zombies.
Seven decades have passed since the creation of West Bengal. It all began on 20th of June, when a state was born defying all odds. The years have changed but not our fate. This is a watershed moment for all the indigenous Bengalis. From here on, either we write our own destiny or we perish forever. The onus of proving ourselves worthy of this soil is now. West Bengal is the land that I call home. This land is holy, for this is where descended Goddess Chandi. This land is holy, for it is blessed by the divine Ganges. The fertile soils of this land has witnessed the rise & fall of kingdoms for the last 5000 years. Land of the Goddess will surely remain a Home of the Bravest. But will Bengali Hindus form the history of West Bengal or its’ future too? The answer lies in our bravery to defend West Bengal in the present crisis.
(The author is a student of biology and a civil services aspirant with interest in ancient and medieval history of Bengal )