PHOTOGRAPHS AND STORY BY BRAJA KISHORE SINHA
Noakhali Disturbances : A Short Description
In accordance with the recommendations of the British Cabinet mission to India, an
Interim Government was formed and a Constituent Assembly was elected as preliminary
steps towards complete independence of the country. Muslim League did not approve this
scheme and declared August 16th 1946 as “Direct Action Day” to record their protest against
At that time the administration of Bengal was in charge of Muslim League Cabinet.
League leaders publicly declared that the program of “Direct Action Day” would be strictly
confined to protest meetings, peaceful demonstrations and processions. But followers of
Muslim League in connivance with the League Government in power started a terrible communal
riot in the name of “peaceful direct action.” During the five days between 16th and
20th August at least five thousand persons lost their fives in the riots and ten thousand more
were wounded. Properties worth several crores of rupees were either looted or burnt to
Even these terrible events paled into insignificance compared to the horrors enacted in
Noakhali within a couple of months. In Calcutta, Muslims murdered Hindus and Hindus
killed Muslims in their turn, that is, it was a full fledged communal riot, Noakhali disturbances,
however, were of a totally different character. There the predominant
majority community made cowardly attacks and inflicted horrible tortures on the handful
of Hindus hving among them.
On 10th October 1946 disturbances broke out in Noakhah consuming in its inhuman
horrors about four hundred villages extending over an area of two hundred square miles.
Thousands of Muslims suddenly attacked the handful of Hindu neighbors. Innocent and
unsuspecting Hindus, men, women, and children were subjected to the worst horrors ever
engineered by man. Murder, loot, arson, rape, abduction and forcible conversion to Islam
went on unchecked and unabated for a week.
These disturbances were planned, organized and executed with remarkable ' efficiency
and thoroughness for political ends. Bridges were demolished, roads blocked and telegraph
lines severed systematically to cut off the whole area from the rest of the world. The operations
were directed with such skill that for five days the area remained completely isolated
and no news of the grave situation could reach the outside world.
For some time before the disturbances broke out, a prominent Muslim leader and a former
Member of the Legislative Assembly organised big Muslim gatherings and incited them
against the Hindus. This Mushm Leaguer was mainly responsible for the Noakhah disturbances.
Other Muslim League leaders actively participated in the disturbances by helping
and inciting the Muslims in every possible way. L^ish use by Mushm raiders of petrol, a
government controlled commodity, definitely proved that even high Government officials were involvedin the organized disturbances.
Shri Kamini Kumar Datta and Shri Dhirendra Nath Datta, leader and deputy leader
respectively of the Congress blocs in Bengal Legislative Council and Bengal Legislative
Assembly, sent jointly a wire to the President, Bengal Provincial Congress Committee, informing
him of the grave situation in Noakhali. It was published in the newspapers on
15th October through Bengal Press Advisory Committee.
It stated that, thousands of Muslims had made planned attacks on the villages under
the jurisdiction of Ramgunge Police Station. They had indulged in arson, loot and murder
of innocent Hindu villagers. They had forcibly compelled the Hindus to slaughter cows
and eat beef. Hundreds of women had been abducted and forcibly married to Muslim hooligans.
All the Hindu temples had been defiled. The District Magistrate and the Police
Superintendent had done nothing for the protection of lives and properties of innocent villagers.
The Calcutta riots paled into insignificance before the loot, murder, rape, arson and
forcible conversions perpetrated in some of these villages.
Armed hooligans' were guarding the entrances to all the roads giving access to the disturbed
area of two hundred square miles. No one had been allowed to enter or
area. Disturbances had started on 10th October and continued with unabated
hooligans had been destroying bridges and roads to prevent communication with outside
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