An extensively researched book that brings in a fresh perspective on how Indian civilization was impacted by the forces of the West. The Crash of a Civilization by Kanchan Banerjee critically views how the profound and long-term influence of foreign ideologies and forces such as Christian, Islamic, and later colonists, western, and Marxists have impacted India, her society, and people.
Banerjee gives a great insight into the crash of one of the world’s oldest civilizations and brings the historical view that explains both why the Indic civilization has been denigrated and why it is rising again today at the forefront of a new global spiritual civilization with a cosmic vision.
The final destiny of Bengal
The conspiracies in 1946 alone, which included the Calcutta Killings, Noakhali, Tippera (current Comilla), and other genocidal incidents, where over 10,000 Hindus lost their lives, thousands of women folks were raped. This real ‘pogrom’ proved that a United Bengal was not going to be as peaceful a nation as Suhrawardy preached. Some Congress leaders like Sarat Chandra Bose were convinced with the argument that a United Bengal would be ‘a very prosperous state’ where each part of Bengal would reciprocate in the production of food and raw materials and the other in manufacturing and distributing. And that the Hindus and Muslims would live in harmony. However, due to the visionary work of Hindu Mahasabha, led by SPM foiled the plan of Suhrawardy.
On April 7, 1940, in Assam’s Sylhet (currently in Bangladesh), the dreamer of a ‘United India’ SPM warned and asked every concerned person to help in that mission: “The dangers in front of us are many; the latest addition in the shape of a movement for Pakistan should not be lightly brushed aside. The preposterous claim must be nipped in the bud by all lovers of Hindusthan….Jinnah is out to destroy the very soul of India”.
At the North Bihar Provincial Hindu Conference of April 14, 1940, SPM said, “We shall rise, we shall unite. We shall live in a country whose destinies shall be in the hands of her children alone and where the flag of a tree and United Hindusthan shall proclaim forever the glory of peace and progress, of tolerance and freedom.”
But the sinister designs of Suhrawardy and his cohorts would not let that dream be fulfilled. As a last resort, SPM opted for the division of Bengal and West Bengal’s inclusion as part of India, the homeland of Bengali Hindus, and formed the ‘Bengal Partition League’ in 1946, which was supported by the majority of Hindus from all classes and castes. Also, he thwarted the Muslim League plan to include the whole of Punjab into West Pakistan. His campaign for West Bengal and East Punjab to be included and kept within divided India succeeded.
There was the Bengal Provincial Hindu Conference at Tarakeshwar, Bengal, on April 5, 1947. This was presided over by SPM, and he passed a proposal to constitute a ‘separate Bengali Hindu homeland’ within India. It was attended by over 400 delegates from all over Bengal and a total of over 50,000 people. Nirmal Chatterjee, the head of Bengal Hindu Mahasabha, declared that the League was to “Sustain Bengali Hindu nationalism, carve out a separate homeland for the Bengali Hindu people and constitute it as a province within India, and preserve the Bengali culture and heritage.” Eminent Bengali leaders such as Kshitish Chandra Niyogi and Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy attended the meeting.
Slowly the Bengal Partition League garnered support from many prominent leaders, including Hemanta Kumar Sarkar, revolutionaries like Upendranath Banerjee and Nalinaksha Sanyal, Major General A.C. Chatterjee, Jadab Panja, Dr. Shishir Kumar Banerjee, Subhodh Chandra Mitra, and Shailendra Kumar Ghosh. Soon the League came to be known as the Bengal Provincial Conference. In February, the Bengal Provincial Hindu Mahasabha constituted a committee for creating a separate province for the Hindus of Bengal and began their campaign in the districts. Soon, over 100,000 volunteers were recruited to mobilize mass opinion in favor of it.
In March 1947, SPM convened a meeting in Calcutta that was attended by many of Bengal’s prominent personalities, including historian Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, famous linguist and educationist Dr. Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay, Dr. Makhanlal Raychaudhuri, Pandit Ramshankar Tripathi, among others. At the meeting, SPM explained and proposed the need for a homeland for the Bengali Hindus. Dr. Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay supported the same.
In May, a galaxy of eminent Bengalis, including scientist Dr. Meghnad Saha, historians Dr. Jadunath Sarkar and Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, and Dr. Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay, demanded Bengali Hindu homeland on the ground of security of the Hindu population. Soon after, Hindu Mahasabha and Congress jointly organized a large public meeting, and Dr. Jadunath Sarkar presided over it to press for Partition. At the same time, 50 jurists from Calcutta High Court signed a statement demanding the Partition of Bengal. SPM called for a general strike on April 23 to oppose the inclusion of the whole of Bengal into Pakistan, which was supported by the grassroots workers of the Communist Party and activists of the Calcutta Tram Workers’ Union.
SPM also met Viceroy Mountbatten to first explain to him his formula to give due respect to the minority voices in Bengal and Punjab and convinced him in favor of the Partition. Soon after Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy and Kiran Shankar Roy gave assurance to SPM, they would convince the Congress members about the division’s necessity. The Chambers of Commerce Kolkata gave full support for the division of Bengal. Business leaders like G.D. Birla believed that the Partition was not only unavoidable but an excellent way to solve the communal problem. Nalinaksha Sanyal, who was the chief whip of the Bengal Assembly, worked closely with SPM during the Bengal Famine in 1943. He joined hands with SPM in the efforts to the creation of West Bengal and played a crucial role in the voting.
So, the role played by the Bengal Pradesh Congress in the Partition was significant, and it would not have materialized without their full support. There were over 76 meetings held to promote the idea of division of Bengal, of which the Indian National Congress reportedly organized 59.
(Extracted with due permissions from the author and the publishers)