Friday, October 26, 2012

October 2012: Have we forgotten Noakhali 1946 Genocide of Hindus ?

Remembering Lakshmi Puja in Bengal!

The Truth Plagiarized in Noakhali

“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”
This is what Miss Muriel Leister, member of a relief committee sent to Noakhali wrote on 6th November, 1946,(V.V. Nagarkar – Genesis – p 446). The words have an eerie similarity to the outburst of Annie Beasant after the moplah riots but belong to an entirely different holocaust. These riots had started about a month earlier in Muslim dominated twin districts of Noakhali and Tipperah. Since the Muslim League government was architect of the riots, news was suppressed for as long as possible.


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.”
The riots had started on 10/10/1946, but the ML government acknowledged the fact only on 15/10/1946, a criminal delay of five days in which thousands of lives could have been saved and women could have been saved from being raped by gangs. Today, after six decades the present secular governments have gone even further. The deganga riots have gone totally unreported in main stream media.

On 16/10/1946, The Statesman reported:
“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.”
Noakhali and Tipperah (Comilla)

The two neighbouring districts are present in the present day Bangladesh and were a part of Bengal before partition of our motherland. The province of Bengal was under the rule of Muslim League. The league had chosen these districts to teach Hindus a lesson. This district was chose because of its more then 80% Muslim population and it was far removed from media glare of Calcutta. Likewise the neighbouring Tipperah district had more then 77% Muslim population.

The unknown riots


By the year 1946, the freedom struggle had been totally hijacked by media savvy and opportunistic politicians. These were lick spittles of the british and for them the acts of Martyrs like Udham Singh, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah Khan were actions of misguided youths and they hoped that 'that it will not have far-reaching repercussions on political future of India'. To them the political future of India meant their own political future. Neta Ji Subhash Chander Bose, Veer Savarkar and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were sidelined.

These opportunists were good event managers and were able to get the control of turncated India on a silver platter.


Most of the modern day Indians do not know what happened few months before the partition of our motherland. The reason is the systemic whitewashing of our history to hide the horrendous blunders of so called freedom fighters. These include the khilafat movement, quit India movement, the direct action day and noakhali riots and the horrors of partition.

The Beginning




A meeting was conducted by ML leader Gulam Sarowar, an ex-M.L.A. on 10th October at Begumganj Bazar. He gave an inflammatory strong anti-Hindu speech by quoting verses of Quran exhorting to kill the Kafirs and idolators during 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 Valiant Warrior

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).

Bengal Press Advisory Committee in its report of October, 1946 mentioned all these and other horrible conditions of Hindus in eastern Bengal after the murder of Mr. Roy. 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. 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.

Beasts unleashed


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).

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)
“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 crowd came 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 leave her father. The person took the valuables with the left hand and at once severed the head of her father with the right hand!
(The Statesman, 26/10/46)

The Viceroy when asked to intervene, refused to do so and when informed about the plight of Hindu women, responded that:
“Large scale abduction of Hindu women (by Muslims) was quite natural since Hindu women were more handsome than Muslim women.”
(Gandhi, his life and his thought, pp. 286)

When the correspondent of 'Amrit Bazaar Patrika' S.L.Ghosh reached noakhali, he reported:
"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 earlier experiment of Muslim League in Calcutta in the form of the 'direct action' day, started on 16th August, 1946 had failed as the Hindus were able to retaliate, despite the state machinery of the League government clandestinely helping its Muslim goons. Learning from this experiment, Noakhali was chosen because it had an overwhelming majority of more then 80% of Muslims. Again to quote from Anand Bazaar Patrika:
“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. 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."
Acharya Kriplani, the president of Congress, who went to noakhali to assess the situation, after a few days of the outbreak reported;
“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 concluded in his report that:
  1. The attack on the Hindu population in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah was previously arranged and prepared fro. It was deliberate, if not directly engineered by ML. It was a direct result of ML propaganda. the prominent league leaders had a large hand in it.
  2. The authorities had warnings about what was coming. The warnings were conveyed to them orally and in written by prominent Hindus in the area concerned.
  3. The Muslim officials connived at the preparations and 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 hundeds and sometimes thousands and to march to Hindu villages or Hindu houses in mixed population. They first demanded subscriptions for the ML and sometimes for the Muslim victims of the Calcutta riots. These enforced subscriptions were heavy, sometimes amounting to `10,000 and more. Even after the subscriptions were paid, the HIndu population was not safe. The same or successive crowd appeared on the scene later an looted the Hindu houses. The looted houses in most of the 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 ML, such as 'लीग जिंदाबाद', 'पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद', लड़ के लेंगे पाकिस्तान', 'मार के लेंगे पाकिस्तान'('league Zindabad', 'Pakistan Zindabad', Larhke 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. about post riot conditions.
  11. about post riot conditions
  12. about post riot conditions
  13. 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. “
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”
The Hindu retaliation and the Political chameleons


When Shyama Prasad Mukherjee urged Nehru on 18/10/1946 to intervene at Noakhali, explaining that the police was not helping the victims, his demand was rejected under the pretext that law and order was a state subject. As a result the carnage of hapless Hindus continued for months.


The Bengal government tried its best to hide the carnage and ultimately when the news came out, the nation was shocked. On 29/10/1946, major newspapers announced that on learning the atrocities in Noakhali, Hindus and Sikhs in Bihar retaliated and started paying back the Muslims in the same coin. Now, the same Nehru, came to Bihar along with Liaqat Ali (who became the first premier of Pakistan) and started threatening the Hindus in his '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. The government had to follow such a course by firing machine guns and bombing the people. No government could tolerate such lawlessness. ”
Just 25 days earlier, the same Nehru was talking of not intervening into state matters but now had changed his colours like a chameleon.

Today, his great grand son, uses the same forked tongue in defaming Hindu organisations. Men of Security forces are getting killed at the hand of Islamic fanatics but that will never invite a statement condemning 'Islamic terror' or 'Green terror'.


How could Gandhiji 'our apostle of non violence' be left behind in this magnum opus. After all he was a veteran of encashing such religious sentiments since the time of khilafat riots, which led to the petition of malabar ladies to lady reading.

On this very day, i.e. 29/10/1946, he had arrived in Calcutta to express his solidarity to the sufferers of Bengal riots. He was planning to visit Noakhali, probably for the benefit of media but on hearing the trouble in Bihar, he immediately abondoned his visit to Noakhali and instead reached Bihar. According to Kripalani, he had faith that Hindus would listen to his words and stop attacking Muslims. He did not stop the government from using force in the name of non-violence. Rather he asked the center and provincial government to do everything they could do to control the situation. (J.B. Kripalani - Gandhi, His Life and Thought - p 260).

Contrast this with what he had done earlier when Hindus were being butchered and their women and daughters gang raped. On 24th October at Dalit meeting in Harijan Colony in Delhi a large procession of Hindu Mahasabha approached Gandhi to take steps to prevent Hindu genocide in Noakhali and elsewhere in eastern Bengal. But he 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).


If the readers are wondering as to why such a major tragedy has not come to light, they should thank Nehru and subsequent Congress governments. Ignoring world renowned and respected historians like R.C.Majumdar, all educational institutions like NCERT & ICHR have been given to Marxists and Muslims like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Gopal Krishan and R.S.Sharma. Their common qualification is their hatred for Hindu dharm and everything that it stands for.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1946 : The Great Calcutta Killings AND The Noakhali Genocide

1946 : The Great Calcutta Killings AND The Noakhali Genocide
---A Historical Study

by Dinesh Chsndra Singha and Ashok Dasgupta

Please visit the following link for this well researched document

http://www.eastbengal.org/bengal1946_calcutta_noakhali_killing.pdf

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Noakhali riots: Truth sacrificed

The Truth Plagiarized in Noakhali

“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”
This is what Miss Muriel Leister, member of a relief committee sent to Noakhali wrote on 6th November, 1946,(V.V. Nagarkar – Genesis – p 446). The words have an eerie similarity to the outburst of Annie Beasant after the moplah riots but belong to an entirely different holocaust. These riots had started about a month earlier in Muslim dominated twin districts of Noakhali and Tipperah. Since the Muslim League government was architect of the riots, news was suppressed for as long as possible.

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.”
The riots had started on 10/10/1946, but the ML government acknowledged the fact only on 15/10/1946, a criminal delay of five days in which thousands of lives could have been saved and women could have been saved from being raped by gangs. Today, after six decades the present secular governments have gone even further. The deganga riots have gone totally unreported in main stream media.

On 16/10/1946, The Statesman reported:
“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.”

Noakhali and Tipperah (Comilla)


The two neighbouring districts are present in the present day Bangladesh and were a part of Bengal before partition of our motherland. The province of Bengal was under the rule of Muslim League. The league had chosen these districts to teach Hindus a lesson. This district was chose because of its more then 80% Muslim population and it was far removed from media glare of Calcutta. Likewise the neighbouring Tipperah district had more then 77% Muslim population.


The unknown riots


By the year 1946, the freedom struggle had been totally hijacked by media savvy and opportunistic politicians. These were lick spittles of the british and for them the acts of Martyrs like Udham Singh, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah Khan were actions of misguided youths and they hoped that 'that it will not have far-reaching repercussions on political future of India'. To them the political future of India meant their own political future. Neta Ji Subhash Chander Bose, Veer Savarkar and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were sidelined.


These opportunists were good event managers and were able to get the control of turncated India on a silver platter.


Most of the modern day Indians do not know what happened few months before the partition of our motherland. The reason is the systemic whitewashing of our history to hide the horrendous blunders of so called freedom fighters. These include the khilafat movement, quit India movement, the direct action day and noakhali riots and the horrors of partition.


The Beginning


A meeting was conducted by ML leader Gulam Sarowar, an ex-M.L.A. on 10th October at Begumganj Bazar. He gave an inflammatory strong anti-Hindu speech by quoting verses of Quran exhorting to kill the Kafirs and idolators during 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 Valiant Warrior

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).

Bengal Press Advisory Committee in its report of October, 1946 mentioned all these and other horrible conditions of Hindus in eastern Bengal after the murder of Mr. Roy. 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. 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.


Beasts unleashed


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).


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)
“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 crowd came 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 leave her father. The person took the valuables with the left hand and at once severed the head of her father with the right hand!
(The Statesman, 26/10/46)


The Viceroy when asked to intervene, refused to do so and when informed about the plight of Hindu women, responded that:
“Large scale abduction of Hindu women (by Muslims) was quite natural since Hindu women were more handsome than Muslim women.”
(Gandhi, his life and his thought, pp. 286)


When the correspondent of 'Amrit Bazaar Patrika' S.L.Ghosh reached noakhali, he reported:
"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 earlier experiment of Muslim League in Calcutta in the form of the 'direct action' day, started on 16th August, 1946 had failed as the Hindus were able to retaliate, despite the state machinery of the League government clandestinely helping its Muslim goons. Learning from this experiment, Noakhali was chosen because it had an overwhelming majority of more then 80% of Muslims. Again to quote from Anand Bazaar Patrika:
“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. 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."
Acharya Kriplani, the president of Congress, who went to noakhali to assess the situation, after a few days of the outbreak reported;
“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 concluded in his report that:
  1. The attack on the Hindu population in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah was previously arranged and prepared fro. It was deliberate, if not directly engineered by ML. It was a direct result of ML propaganda. the prominent league leaders had a large hand in it.
  2. The authorities had warnings about what was coming. The warnings were conveyed to them orally and in written by prominent Hindus in the area concerned.
  3. The Muslim officials connived at the preparations and 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 hundeds and sometimes thousands and to march to Hindu villages or Hindu houses in mixed population. They first demanded subscriptions for the ML and sometimes for the Muslim victims of the Calcutta riots. These enforced subscriptions were heavy, sometimes amounting to ` 10,000 and more. Even after the subscriptions were paid, the HIndu population was not safe. The same or successive crowd appeared on the scene later an looted the Hindu houses. The looted houses in most of the 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 ML, such as 'लीग जिंदाबाद', 'पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद', लड़ के लेंगे पाकिस्तान', 'मार के लेंगे पाकिस्तान'('league Zindabad', 'Pakistan Zindabad', Larhke 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. about post riot conditions.
  11. about post riot conditions
  12. about post riot conditions
  13. 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. “
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”
The Hindu retaliation and the Political chameleons


When Shyama Prasad Mukherjee urged Nehru on 18/10/1946 to intervene at Noakhali, explaining that the police was not helping the victims, his demand was rejected under the pretext that law and order was a state subject. As a result the carnage of hapless Hindus continued for months.


The Bengal government tried its best to hide the carnage and ultimately when the news came out, the nation was shocked. On 29/10/1946, major newspapers announced that on learning the atrocities in Noakhali, Hindus and Sikhs in Bihar retaliated and started paying back the Muslims in the same coin. Now, the same Nehru, came to Bihar along with Liaqat Ali (who became the first premier of Pakistan) and started threatening the Hindus in his '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. The government had to follow such a course by firing machine guns and bombing the people. No government could tolerate such lawlessness. ”
Just 25 days earlier, the same Nehru was talking of not intervening into state matters but now had changed his colours like a chameleon.


Today, his great grand son, uses the same forked tongue in defaming Hindu organisations. Men of Security forces are getting killed at the hand of Islamic fanatics but that will never invite a statement condemning 'Islamic terror' or 'Green terror'.


How could Gandhiji 'our apostle of non violence' be left behind in this magnum opus. After all he was a veteran of encashing such religious sentiments since the time of khilafat riots, which led to the petition of malabar ladies to lady reading.

On this very day, i.e. 29/10/1946, he had arrived in Calcutta to express his solidarity to the sufferers of Bengal riots. He was planning to visit Noakhali, probably for the benefit of media but on hearing the trouble in Bihar, he immediately abondoned his visit to Noakhali and instead reached Bihar. According to Kripalani, he had faith that Hindus would listen to his words and stop attacking Muslims. He did not stop the government from using force in the name of non-violence. Rather he asked the center and provincial government to do everything they could do to control the situation. (J.B. Kripalani - Gandhi, His Life and Thought - p 260).


Contrast this with what he had done earlier when Hindus were being butchered and their women and daughters gang raped. On 24th October at Dalit meeting in Harijan Colony in Delhi a large procession of Hindu Mahasabha approached Gandhi to take steps to prevent Hindu genocide in Noakhali and elsewhere in eastern Bengal. But he 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).


If the readers are wondering as to why such a major tragedy has not come to light, they should thank Nehru and subsequent Congress governments. Ignoring world renowned and respected historians like R.C.Majumdar, all educational institutions like NCERT & ICHR have been given to Marxists and Muslims like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Gopal Krishan and R.S.Sharma. Their common qualification is their hatred for Hindu dharm and everything that it stands for.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Noakhali's Darkest Hour

Andrew Whitehead

Indian Express
-------------------

On the outskirts of the once mainly Hindu village of Jayag is a zamindar's house,
ringed by fish ponds and patrolled by monitor lizards so large that the hens
squawk in alarm at their approach. The house is now an ashram - the centre of
social development programmes, of handicrafts, and community schemes. Every
morning and evening, people gather for a prayer meeting in a room which still
contains mementoes of Gandhi's visit here in January 1947. It's a living memorial
to the most remarkable of Gandhi's partition peace missions.

Jayag lies in Noakhali district of southern Bangladesh. That name, Noakhali, holds
a sombre place in the annals of India's disintegration. When the Calcutta tinder
box exploded in August 1946 the sparks alighted on this poor, remote region which
exported labour to the provincial capital. From Noakhali, the flames spread to
Bihar and on to the killing fields of Punjab.


The toll in Noakhali was modest compared to the barbarity of the Great Calcutta
Killing, and the Hindu backlash which followed in Bihar. But the communal
bitterness, the rapes, the migration of capital and the forced conversions made a
deep impact across India. The frenzy unleashed by the Muslim League's Direct
Action Day in Calcutta was proving to be not an aberration, but part of a pattern.


Jharna Chowdhury, the one-woman Gandhian dynamo who now runs the ashram, was nine
years old and living a Noakhali village when the rioters surrounded her home. It
was mid-October 1946. "In the morning at around nine o'clock, hundreds of people
came to our house with flaming torches. They were shouting 'Allah-oh-Akbar'. We
fled and hid in a nearby garden. Then they set the house on fire. There were so
many attackers. But I remember that among them, I saw people from my own village,
people whom I knew."


The large Hindu minority in Noakhali at that time included most of the big
landlords, the lawyers and moneylenders, the Government babus and the businessmen.
There is little doubt that the economic marginalisation of local Muslims was the
root cause of the riot. And local politicians triggered the violence.


Talking today to the elderly in Noakhali's villages and bazaars, Hindus and
Muslims alike - Hindus make up close on 10 per cent of the population here, as
across Bangladesh - one name crops up repeatedly. Ghulam Sarwar was an elected
member of the provincial assembly, a member of a much revered Muslim religious
family, and a mesmerising figure.


By all accounts it was this pir whose fiery speeches about the pogrom of Muslims
in Calcutta encouraged local villagers to take revenge.


Chandra Pal, now 74 and still living in Noakhali, hurried home from Mymensingh
when he heard news that Hindu homes had been ransacked. "My parents' house had
been attacked and looted, but luckily, lives were spared. But our neighbours'
houses, the big zamindars' houses, and those of the big business families - those
houses had been looted like anything, people had been massacred, and their women
taken away. That happened on a massive scale. It seemed the rioters wanted
vengeance against those with money and power."


"Many people jumped into ponds to save themselves," recalls M. K. Majumdar, a
retired school teacher. "They tried to hide under the water hyacinths. But the
attackers killed them with fishing spears. The rioters were very organised.
There was the Ghulam Sarwar group, then there was the Hashmi group. And another
group of rioters, the Akbar Fauj, came up to our house and tried to loot it. They
were given some money and went away."


For weeks, Hindu men were forced to offer namaz and adopt Muslim names. Some had
beef stuffed into their mouths. There were attempts to marry off eligible Hindu
women to Muslim grooms. Ashoka Gupta, whose husband was then a judge serving in
Chittagong, was among the first outsiders to reach Noakhali to provide relief -
she remembers above all the fate of one village woman. "Every night she was being
carried away by the same group of men. Her husband said: I am so helpless, please
help me. I went to the police station, but I was not able to help her at all."


Gupta was at Chandpur when Gandhi arrived in Noakhali by boat. "We rowed along in
a small boat to that steamship and we were allowed to board. And we attended
Gandhi's prayers. Later, Gandhi told us all: 'I understand that you a want to
work, but have you thought of what caused this? Have you come only to help the
Hindus? I'm going to the interior, and I'll find out what was the real cause and
how I'll be able to help."'


Gandhi visited dozens of villages in his four months in the area. The trouble had
largely burnt itself out by the time he arrived in early November. But there's no
doubt that his calming presence and message, the concern he showed for both
communities, and the sight of India's foremost leader, barefoot, negotiating the
narrow bamboo bridges, had an immense impact.


Abdul Rauf took me to the spot just outside his small hamlet where he watched
Gandhi pass by more than half a century ago. "I was standing right here," he said
with a sense of pride. "Gandhi came from that direction, from the north. I
remember he was wearing two pieces of khadi cloth, and there was a watch at his
waist. He took support from the shoulders of two women. All the Muslims were
pleased to see him, and respected him."


But Raufs own testimony suggests that not all in Noakhali welcomed the Mahatma.
Goats were provided to keep Gandhi supplied with milk. "In another nearby
village," he says, with a giggle, "local Muslims stole that goat. And ate it!"


Some of Gandhi's disciples stayed behind in Jayag after the Mahatma left. They were the nucleus of the Gandhi ashram and for decades endured the suspicion and worse of first the East Pakistani and then the Bangladeshi authorities.


Jharna Chowdhury, dressed in white khadi and irrepressibly cheerful, says things
are much better now. The ashram's programmes are encouraged by officials. But
many of the local Hindus admit to some lingering sense of apprehension - how
justified or otherwise, it's impossible to say.


One man showed me round the ruins of a Hindu mandir in the market town of
Dattapara, pulled down in retaliation to the Ayodhya demolition. "It looks like
one crime has given way to ten other crimes," he bemoaned. "As the days are going
by, worse and worse things are happening. There's nobody to protest, nobody to
resist such things."


Fifty years after Gandhi's peace mission, Noakhali is still not at ease.

(Andrew Whitehead has made a BBC Radio series on partition)

20 May 1997

Monday, December 28, 2009

Qut Noakhali Or Die, Gandhi Warns Hindus

QUIT NOAKHALI OR DIE, GANDHI WARNS HINDUS
----------------------
New Delhi, April 7 (AP)

New York Times--April 8, 1947, Tuesday----Page 23, 148 words

Mohandas K. Gandhi, who has been attempting to insure communal peace in the Bengal and Bihar areas, said today religious strife in the troubled Noakhali section of bengal seemed to call for Hindus to leave or perish "in the flames of fanaticism."

Meanwhile, a one-day strike of workers throughout Bombay Province appeared likely to be called by the Provincial Trade Union Congress to express sympathy with the two-week-old strike of 8,500 transport workers in the city of Bombay.

Mr. Gandhi halted his walking tour of Bengal and Bihar at the invitation of the new Viceroy, Viscount Mountbatten, for discussions on departure of the British from India by June, 1948. Today he released telegrams from COngress party workers in noakhali, which is predominantly Moslem, in which they described attempts to burn Hindus alive.

http://www.eastbengal.org/april8_1947.pdf

(Source : The New York Times)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Refugees Tell of Terror in Bengal As Hindu-Moslem Rioting Goes On

Refugees Testify to Bengal Terror


Special to The New York Times
Calcutta, India, Oct. 18 (London Times dispatch)--


Unofficial reports reaching Calcutta indicate that acts of violence are continuing on an alarming scale in the districts of Noakhali and Tippera. This is despite the local Government's assurance that the communal situation in eastern Bengal had shown some improvement during the last twenty-four hours.

Hundreds of refugees have reached Calcutta from these districts and they have a grim picture of the happenings there during the last eight days.

They say that a hundred villages have been burned by hooligans, that hundreds of persons have been butchered or maimed and destitute. They report that both districts are infernos of communal fury, and that unless the Government urgently dispatches more troops and police whole minority populations will be wiped out.

[In new Delhi Mohandas K. Gandhi repeated his declaration to Indian women that they should commit suicide rather than submit to dishonor.]

Both Noakhali and Tipperah are predominantly Moslem areas. The total population there is just over 8,000,000 and of these only 2,000,000 are Hindus.

The latest reports show that the scenes of the disturbances since yesterday have been moving from Noakhali into Tippera and that they are concentrating in the Chandpur subdivision of that district.

The capital town, Chandpur, is a large railway and river junction toward which refugees are fleeing in an attempt to escape into western Bengal. But most of the roads and the river exits are being guarded by armed rowdies and a large population of the evacuees has cut into the jungles and swamps to avoid molestation.

Thus far police and military action in the affected areas has been confined to about six firings. The casualties from this source are about twenty killed and an equal number injured.

The total casualties from the riots will perhaps never be known. Official sources [Moslem in Bengal] remain silent over this point but unofficial reports variously estimate the totals between 5,000 and 6,000 killed and 1,500 to 2,000 injured. It is reported that a further 50,000 to 60,000 have been forcibly converted ot another faith or abducted.

There is grave public anxiety in Calcutta over the inadequacy of the police and military forces dispatched to the stricken areas by the Bengal Government. So far only two companies of troops are known to have been sent to an area covering several hundred square miles. During the August Calcutta riots had at their disposal about 45,000 troops to protect the city.

Food is another urgent problem. With both railway and river communications seriously dislocated and trade completely at a standstill in most parts of Noakhali and Tippera, thousands face starvation. Local leaders have made urgent representations to the Government to fly food to the starving villages. They have also telegraphed to the Governor of Bengal and the Chief Minister, who at present at the hill resort of Darjeeling, jointly to visit the affected areas.

The Secretary of the Bengal Hindu Mahasabha party has just received from the Governor's private secretary a message that the Governor proposed to visit Noakhali soon.

Gandhi Advises Suicide

New Delhi, India, Oct. 18 (AP)-
Mohandas K Gandhi, "spiritual leader" of the Hindu-led Congress party, again today advised women in eastern Bengal to take their own lives rather than submit to dishonor. In Bombay the provincial Congress party chief called for halting of all business activity as a demonstration of sympathy for riot victims.

Mr. Gandhi said he felt a "call" to go to the trouble areas as soon as the situation in new Delhi permitted. He said that at his request Acharya Kripalani, newly elected president of the Congress party, and Sarat Chandra Bose, recently retired member of the interim Government, had gone to investigate the riot reports.

He was most emphatic in his instructions to women, insisting it was "not an idle idea" and he meant every word he said.

Last night he advised women to suffocate themselves by holding their breath, but he said tonight that he had been told by physicians that suicide by that means was impossible.

"The only way known to medicine for instant self immolation is strong poisonous doses," he siad he was told. He added: "If this is so I would advise every one running the risk of dishonor to take poison before submission to dishonor."

http://www.eastbengal.org/oct19_1946.pdf

Saturday, January 3, 2009

NOAKHALI - The Past is Present

It's difficult to imagine past horrors today, says SUDEEP CHAKRAVARTI, but the reality that almost defeated Gandhi--and his mission--has not faded away.

It's a little joke between them. Sometimes, when Jharna Dhara Chaudhury receives visitors curious about the past at the Gandhi Ashram in Jayag, a small village deep inside Noakhali, she packs them off to see Pirjada Syed Golam Hakkani Hussaini. His father, she says by way of introduction, Golam Sarawar Hussaini, an MLA from Noakhali for the Muslim League in the undivided Bengal Assembly, was the man who started it all off. The slaughter that began with the killing of the Hindu landed gentry in one of the worst affected areas of Bengal in October 1946. It was the sordid second chapter to a sordid first chapter in communal violence that was scripted in August of that year with a burst of mayhem that some history books still call, capital letters blaring, The Great Calcutta Killing.
"Ask him about his father," she urges, this five-ft-nothing lady who was all of 10 when Gandhi came here that November by way of Calcutta to cool the fires long after a way of life had burnt to ashes. Retaliatory riots sparking off in Bihar even as he wound his way to Noakhali.
"Jharnadi has sent you, has she?" chuckles Hakkani saheb. "She's always trying to get me into trouble." I have made my way to his vast estate in Shampur village, an hour over dirt tracks turned to slush with rain, snaking through impossibly green fields of paddy, in a part of Bangladesh so conservative that many women in burqa sometimes still carry an umbrella to prevent strangers from looking at them. "I wasn't even born then, but in 1952," drawls the hereditary pir who not too many years ago was better known as a theatre personality in Dhaka, often sunning himself by the pool of the local Sheraton. "I have inherited a pirhood, but not my father's politics."
Noakhali was the sordid second chapter to a
sordid first chapter scripted in August 1946 in Calcutta.

"The past is a fact," he carries on in a rush, sitting in a room where Gandhi spent some hours those many years ago, come to make peace with a politician. "It was a moment of anger. A lot of people were not even clear about why they were doing what they were doing. But I believe it was good Gandhi came. Things cooled down after that."

For a while, perhaps for the first time in his life, Gandhi himself was ready to give up. There is no record of exactly how many people died in Noakhali and in adjoining Tipperah district (now the state of Tripura, and some districts in Bangladesh) -- estimates range from 500 (League sources) to 50,000 (other sources). Jharnadi, who now runs the Gandhi Ashram, relates it bluntly -- "More Muslims died in Calcutta, more Hindus died in Noakhali" -- but violence caught up with the ageing Mahatma like nothing else.

Even before he reached Noakhali, he had written to Nehru: "My inner voice tells me 'You may not live to be a witness to this senseless slaughter. If people refuse to see what is clear as daylight and pay no heed to what you say, does it not mean that your day is over?'" At practically every point of his whistle-stop journey into Bengal's darker side -- at Kushtia, Srirampur, Dattapara, and a string of places where he collectively spent more than a month -- the man who found his way out of numerous problems with fasting and steadfastness gave in to feelings of helplessness. "Oldest friendships had snapped," he wrote in a dispatch. "Truth and ahimsa by which I swear and which have to my knowledge sustained me for 60 years, seem to fail to show the attributes I ascribe to them." His chronicler at the time, Nirmal Kumar Bose, wrote later of seeing the Mahatma mutter to himself: "Main kya karun? (What can I do?)"

It was a lifetime ago. Yet, wandering through the old Noakhali district, now broken up into three, the past can still come alive; but it's surreal, clashing as it does with a slice of today's Bangladesh -- Hakkani saheb is never far away -- itself created from blood of tens of thousands of innocent Muslims. In places where some of the worst atrocities happened, Karpara, Dattapara, Ramganj, Haimchar, there are remnants of buildings, many with still wary people living in them.

In Baruipara, Mohamad Lakiutullah, a farmer who has lived in the house of the local zamindar since the family fled in 1946, clams up when I ask questions. The irrelevance of asking them these many years later strikes me when his son, Mohamad Shahabuddin, a Forest Department officer in Chittagong, starts discussing Malthus with me. Mrinal Krishna Majumdar of Dattapara, among a handful of Hindus who remained in Noakhali after 1946, still hasn't recovered from the horrors he has seen. But his son, Jiban, is building his electronic item repairs shop and a house, next to the destroyed one his father refuses to leave.

I get an earful from Mahbub-ur-Rahman, a former professor, now 85, who claims to have argued with Gandhi about unity and disunity. "I told him, if Pakistan was being created for Pakistanis, then Muslims staying in India wouldn't be safe or united. And if Muslims were so strong that they got the British to create a country for them, then how could they be weak in India?" Prolonged cackle. "Gandhi had no answer." Do you have an answer for why it happened? I ask. Wasn't it easy for landless Muslim peasantry to get totally incensed with wealthy Hindu landlords? "Yes, it was easy. But the riots were not consequential, they were created." As everywhere. In Dattapara, at the site of one of the largest refugee camps in Noakhali -- now a girls school -- I discuss Bangladesh's independence struggle with H.B.M. Shamshul Basher, a 24-year-old sociology graduate with no interest in a past beyond 1971. We're in a teashop, the walls crowded with revealing posters of local female stars: Samira, Saabnoor and Mou. A tape recorder blasts the Bengali version of Macarena from the latest remix album by Sylvia Khan and 'Jewel' Mahmud, Explosion. "The past is over," Basher tells me. "I want a job. That's all that matters."

This is now. Noakhali lives as much off the land as some of its people once killed for, but also on remittances from the Gulf. The moderate Muslim government in Dhaka worries about the conservative bastion of Noakhali. The need to own a satellite telephone stands out as much as a school to practice swordcraft.

And Gandhi? He couldn't have asked for more. Muslim children attend a school run by the ashram's trust, Muslim farmers buy fish seed from its hatchery, the trust provides tubewells and toilets. A Bangladesh flag flies in front of the ashram, and after singing Raghupati raghav raja ram every morning and evening, the indefatigable Jharnadi leads her small band of ashramites to intone: Bismillah-i-rahman-e-rahim. The past? I don't think so.