Saturday, 12 May, 2.24 am U4U Voice

Direct Action Day: When thousands of Hindu's and Muslims lost their lives

The Direct Action Day of 1946, also known as the "Great Calcutta Killing," were four days of massive Hindu-Muslim riots in the capital of Bengal. The day also marked the start of what is known as "The Week of the Long Knives". Estimates, meanwhile, range from 5,000 to 20,000 Muslims and Hindus killed (and perhaps more on both sides), and tens of thousands wounded, many of them critically.

The British authorities had announced the transfer of power to India in March 1946, without fixing a date, however. The only two parties that were dominant during the period were Congress and The Muslim League. Each group had very different ideas regarding the future shape of the subcontinent. In 1940, the Muslim League passed a resolution in favour of the creation of Pakistan. The British still hoped that a partition of India could be avoided and were trying to come to an agreement with both the Congress and the League.

In the 1945-46 elections, both at the national and at the provincial level, Congress had won most of the seats in the Hindu majority areas and the Muslim League in the Muslim majority areas. The League had not, however, been able to gain a majority in the Punjab, the richest Muslim majority province, and therefore was tempted to use extra-constitutional means to reach its goals.

Jinnah declared that he was going to "create trouble" and pledged "I will have India divided or India burned". He gave a call for 'Direct Action Day' on 16 August 1946, where Muslims would observe a hartal (general strike) to demonstrate to the British their resolve for the creation of Pakistan.

Jinnah chose 16 August deliberately for a reason. That day in 1946 was the eighteenth Day of Ramzan and the day was associated with the Battle of Badr which resulted in Prophet Mohammad's first decisive victory over the heathens and the subsequent conquest of Mecca. The then Chief Minister of Kolkata and an important Muslim League leader Suhrawardy and his Muslim League colleagues delivered fiery speeches reminding Muslims of Bengal of the victory of Badr and exhorting on them to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet and wrest a victory for Islam on 16 August.

Greed for Power made Jinnah find tactics proving to the British that Hindus and Muslims would not be able to live together in one nation and the best way to demonstrate that was to engineer killings and communal clashes on a big scale and he was succeeded in his attempt.

The entire plot for the communal riots was pre-planned is also proven by accounts of British police and intelligence officers who reported that special coupons for gallons of petrol were issued in the names of Muslim League ministers, and this petrol was used to make petrol bombs by Muslim League goons. One month's food ration was withdrawn and stocked to feed 10,000 Muslim League musclemen and goons.

The Calcutta killings triggered violence in Bihar, the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), Punjab and the North West Frontier Province. Thousands other lost their lives and those who constructed the entire plot are celebrated by many people till now. Sad but true.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by Dailyhunt. Publisher: U4UVoice