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নারায়ণগঞ্জের ঘটনায় জড়িতদের গ্রেপ্তারের নির্দেশ : প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা

Noakhali Riots - The World Forgotten Noakhali Hindu Massacre 1946

The Noakhali riots (নোয়াখালী গণহত্যা) also known as the Noakhali massacre, Noakhali genocide or the Noakhali Carnage, was a series of massacres, rapes, abductions and forced conversions of Hindus and looting and arson of Hindu properties, perpetrated by the Muslim community in the districts of Noakhali in the Chittagong Division of Bengal in October–November 1946, a year before India's independence from British rule. It affected the areas under the Ramganj, Begumganj, Raipur, Lakshmipur, Chhagalnaiya and Sandwip police stations in Noakhali district and the areas under Hajiganj, Faridganj, Chandpur, Laksham and Chauddagram police stations in Tipperah district, a total area of more than 2,000 square miles.

The Noakhali riots (নোয়াখালী গণহত্যা) also known as the Noakhali massacre, Noakhali genocide or the Noakhali Carnage

October 23, 1946 edition of Amrita Bazar Patrika stated clearly:

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.

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 carnage took place due to several factors, one of them was the need of Muslim vengeance to defeat in Great Calcutta Killing by Hindus. On October 10, 1946 the pogrom started with the rabble-rousing speech of Gulam Sarowar, an ex-M.L.A of Muslim League at Begumganj Bazar. A dreadful anti-Hindu speech by quoting verses of Quran exhorting Muslims to kill the Kafirs and idolators and perform religious duty was given. This was followed by violent assaults of Muslim mobs on Hindu properties, killings of hundreds of Hindus, rapes of Hindu women – a complete savagery.

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.

Muriel Lester

Muriel Lester, a British relief worker in Noakhali, dew a pen picture of the plight of Hindu women during the genocide:

“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.”

Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani

Describing the events in Noakhali,  Jivatram Bhagwandas Kriplani, the President-elect of the Indian National Congress said:

“The attack on the Hindu population in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah was previously arranged and prepared for and was the result of League propaganda – it was absolutely communal and one-sided; the authorities had warnings of what was coming beforehand; the Muslim officials connived at the preparations going on, and a few encouraged; the Police did not function during the riots, there being no orders to fire except in self-defence; there were a very few miscreants, if at all, from outside; and there have been many cases of forcible marriages and religious conversions en masse.”

On 21st October 1946, Kripalani observed:

“I am clearly of opinion that whatever the Government, Provincial or Central, may or may not do, every Bengalee, male or female, has to defend himself or herself by whatever means he or she can think.”

Sucheta Kripalani

Sucheta Kripalani, the leader of Indian National Congress and wife of Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani and who later became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the first woman to become a Chief Minister in India, lauded the bravery of Rajendra Lal Roy Chowdhury in the following words:

“Fortunately for the Hindus, Shivaji and Guru Gobind Singh are not mythical figures buried in the dusty pages of learned historical treatises; they are living forces inspiring our daily life. Their footsteps were followed in his humble and limited sphere by Rajendra Lal Roy Chowdhury, who died a martyr’s death in his village home fighting almost single-handed against thousands of armed hooligans. His fight in defence of faith and family honour was, in Acharya Kripalani’s significant words, ‘the nearest approach to non-violence.’”

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Noakhali at 1946

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

On 18th October 1946, when the news of Noakhali reached Mohandas Gandhi through a telegram from Bidhan Chandra Roy, he commented:

“If one half of India’s mankind was paralysed, India could never really feel free. I would far rather see India’s women trained to wield arms than that they should feel helpless.”

Commenting on the uphill task before him in restoring peace in Noakhali, Gandhi said:

“I do not want to die a discredited or a defeated man… I would rather die in Noakhali than go back a defeated man.”

Regarding the inevitability of Hindu exodus, he commented:

“My heart bleeds, my brain is strained to think that the East Bengal Hindus who were in the vanguard in the struggle for freedom, will be deprived of their ancestral home and hearth.”

Frederick Burrows

On 6th December 1946, a month after Mohandas Gandhi’s arrival in Noakhali, Frederick Burrows put forward his views regarding the futility of Gandhi’s peace mission:

“It will take a dozen Gandhi to make the Muslim leopard and the Hindu kid to lie down together again in that part of the world.”Commenting on large scale abductions of Hindu women, Burrows could not hide his glee:“Large scale abduction of Hindu women (by Muslims) was quite natural since Hindu women were more handsome than Muslim women.”

E. S. Simpson

Describing the devastation of the Haimchar market, Simpson commented:

“It looks like destroyed by a high power bomb.”

Shamsuddin Ahmad

At a public meeting in Noakhali, Shamsuddin Ahmad, the Labour Minister of Bengal commented:“In Noakhali, there was no mutual slaughter. It was the majority community who attacked the minority community who in some cases only resisted.”

Definition to India intellogisia those who condem Hindu as terrisost and terrios Osam like Osam Ji.

What is a genocide?

Polish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin coined the term ‘genocide’ from Greek root ‘genos’ meaning family, tribe or race and Latin root ‘cide’ meaning massacre. Lemkin described genocide as follows -Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a co-ordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objective of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion and the economic existence of national groups and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity and the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity but as members of the national group.Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide adopted by the United Nations General Assembly state -In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

How many people were killed in Noakhali Genocide?

There has been very few scholarly studies on Noakhali Genocide and there has been no objective study regarding the number of Hindus actually died in the Noakhali Genocide. However, it is generally accepted that around 5,000 Hindus died as a result of the mass killings. Contemporary press reports cite a figure of 5,000 or even more. The Muslim League controlled Bengal Government however tried to downplay the incident and deny the figures in the press, while certain Muslim League owned media denied the genocide all together. The official investigation reports were never published. The British colonial administration, in order to hide their administrative inefficacy, too downplayed the incidents Dr. Sachi Ghosh Dastidar, who has researched extensively on the atrocities committed on the Hindus in East Pakistan and Bangladesh, has noted that the elderly people in Noakhali recalled that 5,000 to 10,000 Hindus were killed in the Noakhali Genocide. Bangladeshi scholar Salam Azad and Islamic scholar M. A. Khan both give a figure of 5,000.

How many people were forcibly converted in Noakhali Genocide?

As with the number of dead, there is also no clear consensus about the number of Hindus forcibly converted. However, it is accepted that figure ran into thousands and probably into hundreds of thousands. Contemporary press reports mention a figure of around 150,000 as quoted by Bangladeshi scholar Salam Azad. According to Islamic scholar M. A. Khan, at least 95% of the approximately 400,000 Hindus of Noakhali were forcibly converted to Islam.

Why there is no memorial for the victims of Noakhali Genocide?

The Noakhali Genocide was almost immediately followed by the Partition of India, within less than a year. The province of Bengal was partitioned and the eastern half, including the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah became Pakistan, the homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent. The Bengali Hindus eastern Bengal were forced to leave Pakistan through subsequent pogroms and genocides, most notably in 1950 and 1964. The rehabilitation of millions of Bengali Hindu refugees became real challenge before the Government of West Bengal and India. The memoirs of Noakhali became suppressed in the saga of struggle for a new life.

Everyone is thinking why i am putting hows it started in the end. I want to say these words because i am writing this article without any bias.

Hows it started?

The districts of Noakhali and Tipperah lay in the south eastern corner of Bengal, in the division of Chittagong and bordering the princely state of Hill Tippera. The district of Noakhali constituted of two sub-divisions Sadar and Feni covered a total area of 1,658 square miles. Noakhali was situated on the eastern bank near of Meghna near its confluence and therefore included in its domain several river islands, known as chars in Bengali, the Sandwip and Hatia being the largest two of such islands. Mainland Noakhali itself was crisscrossed by a network of small rivers and canals. The economy was mainly agrarian, with extensive plantations of jute, betel, betel nuts and coconuts. Given the physiographic nature of the district, country boats were the primary means of transport with hardly any motorable roads in the district. A metre gauge railway connecting Comilla and Chittagong ran through Feni, branching off at Laksham to connect Noakhali town.

Muslims constituted 80.57% of the population in Noakhali to 19.31% Hindus, reflecting a demographic pattern characteristic of the districts of eastern Bengal, where the Muslims were in overwhelming majority. Agriculture being the economic mainstay of the region, a majority of the population, Hindus and Muslims alike were cultivators, majority of them sharecroppers and landless agricultural labourers. Apart from agriculture, the Hindus were engaged in handloom, banking and small businesses. The educated Hindu gentry were white collared job holders, mainly teachers, lawyers and doctors, some of them small landowners.

Sinha, Dinesh Chandra; Dasgupta, Ashok (2011). 1946: The Great Calcutta Killings and Noakhali Genocide. Kolkata: Himangshu Maity. pp. 278–280.

Khan, Yasmin (2007). The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. Yale University Press. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0300120788.

Books to Read:-

  • 1946: The Great Calcutta Killings and Noakhali Genocide
    Dinesh Chandra Sinha and Ashok Dasgupta
    Tuhina Prakashani
    Kolkata, 2011
  • Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47
    Rakesh Batabyal
    Sage Publications
    New Delhi, 2005
  • Noakhali-Tipperah Tragedy
    Sucheta Kripalani
    Noakhali Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation Committee
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