A Leaf from the Past , For the attention of Psedo Secularists

published on January 24, 2009



Pakistan First Law & Labour Minister, J.N. Mandal’s Resignation Letter






Mr. J.N. Mandal,
Minister for Law and Labour,
Government of Pakistan
On 8th October, 1950



         


My Dear Prime Minister,



          It is
with a heavy heart and a sense of utter frustration at the failure of
my life-long mission to uplift the backward Hindu masses of East Bengal
that I feel compelled to tender resignation of my membership of your
Cabinet. It is proper that I should set forth in detail the reasons,
which have prompted me to take this decision in this important juncture
of the history of Indo-Pakistan Sub-continent.


          ( 1 )
Before I narrate the remote and immediate causes of my resignation, it
may be useful to give a short background of important events that have
taken place during the period of my co-operation with the League,
Having been approached by a few prominent League leaders of Bengal in
February 1943, I agreed to work with them in the Bengal Legislative
Assembly. After the fall of the Fazlul Haque Ministry in March 1943,
with a party of 21 Scheduled Caste M.L.As, I agreed to co-operate with
Khwaja Nazimuddin, the then leader of the Muslim League Parliamentary
party who formed the Cabinet in April 1943. Our co-operation was
conditional on some specific terms in the such as the inclusion of
three Scheduled Caste Ministers in the Cabinet, sanctioning of a sum of
Rupees five lakhs (Rs. 500,000) as annual recurring grant for the
education of the Scheduled Castes, and
unqualified implementation of the communal ratio rules in the matter of
appointment to Government services.


          ( 2 )
Apart from those terms, the principal objectives that prompted me to
work in co-operation with Muslim League was, first that the economic
interests of the Muslim in Bengal generally were identical with those
of the Scheduled Castes. Muslims were mostly cultivators and labourers,
so were members of the Scheduled Castes. One section of Muslims was
fishermen, so was a section of Scheduled Castes as well and, secondly,
that the Scheduled Castes and Muslims were both educationally backward.
I was persuaded that my co-operation with the League and its Ministry
would lead to the undertaking on a wide scale of legislative and
administrative measures which, while promoting the mutual welfare of
the vast bulk of Bengal’s population and undermining the foundations of
vested interest and privilege, would further the cause of communal
peace and harmony. It may be
mentioned here that Khwaja Nazimuddin took three Scheduled Caste
Ministers in this Cabinet and appointed three Parliamentary Secretaries
from amongst the members of my community.



SUHRAWARDY MINISTRY




          ( 3 )
After the general election held in March 1946, Mr. H.S. Suhrawardy
became the leader of the League Parliamentary Party and formed the
League Ministry in April 1946. I was the only Scheduled Caste member
returned to the Federation ticket. I was included in Mr. Suhrawardy’s
cabinet. The 16th day of August of that year was observed as “The
Direct Action Day” by the Muslim League. It resulted, in a holocaust..
Hindus demanded my resignation from the League ministry. My life was in
peril. I began to receive threatening letters almost every day. But I
remained steadfast to my policy. Moreover, I issued an appeal through
our journal “Jagaran” to the Scheduled Caste people to keep themselves
aloof from the bloody feud between the Congress and the Muslim League
even at the risk of my life. I cannot but gratefully acknowledge the
fact that I was saved from the wrath of
infuriated Hindu mobs by my Caste Hindu neighbours. The “Noakhali Riot”
followed the Calcutta carnage in October 1946. There, Hindus including
Scheduled Castes were killed and hundreds were converted to Islam.
Hindu women were raped and abducted. Members of my community also
suffered loss of life and property. Immediately after these happenings,
I visited Tipperah and Feni and saw some riot-affected areas. The
terrible sufferings of Hindus overwhelmed me with grief, but still I
continued the policy of co-operation with the Muslim League.
Immediately after the massive Calcutta Killing, a no-confidence motion
was moved against the Suhrawardy Ministry. It was only due to my
efforts that the support of four Anglo-Indian Members and four
Scheduled Caste members of the Assembly who had hitherto been with the
Congress could be secured, but for which the Ministry would have been
defeated.


          ( 4 )
In October 1946, most unexpectedly came to me through Mr. Suhrawardy
the offer of a seat in the Interim Government of India. After a good
deal of hesitation and being given only one hour’s time to take my
final decision, I consented to accept the offer subject to the
condition only that I should be permitted to resign if my leader, Dr.
B. R. Ambedkar disapproved of my action. Fortunately, however, I
received his approval in a telegram sent from London. Before I left for
Delhi to take over as Law Member, I persuaded Mr. Suhrawardy, the then
Chief Minister of Bengal, to agree to take two Ministers in his Cabinet
in my place and to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries from the
Scheduled Caste Federation Group.


          ( 5 )
I joined the Interim Government on November 1, 1946. After about a
month when I paid a visit to Calcutta, Mr. Suhrawardy apprised me of
the communal tension in some parts of East Bengal, especially in
Gopalganj Sub-division, where the Namasudras were in majority, being
very high. He requested me to visit those areas and address meetings of
Muslims and Namasudras. The fact was that Namasudras in those areas had
made preparations for retaliation. I addressed about a dozen of largely
attended meetings. The result was that Namasudras gave up the idea of
retaliation. Thus an inevitable dangerous communal disturbance was
averted.


          ( 6 )
After a few months, the British Government made their June 3 Statement
(1947) embodying certain proposals for the partition of India. The
whole country, especially the entire non-Muslim India, was startled.
For the sake of truth I must admit that I had always considered the
demand of Pakistan by the Muslim League as a bargaining counter.
Although I honestly felt that in the context India as a whole Muslims
had legitimate cause for grievance against upper class Hindu
chauvinism, I held the view very strongly indeed that the creation of
Pakistan would never solve the communal problem. On the contrary, it
would aggravate communal hatred and bitterness. Besides, I maintained
that it would not ameliorate the condition of Muslims in Pakistan. The
inevitable result of the partition of the country would be to prolong,
if not perpetuate, the poverty, illiteracy and
miserable condition of the toiling masses of both the States. I further
apprehended that Pakistan might turn to be one of the most backward and
undeveloped countries of the South East Asia region.



LAHORE RESOLLUTION




          ( 7 )
I must make it clear that I have thought that an attempt would be made,
as is being done at present, to develop Pakistan as a purely ‘Islamic’
State based on the Shariat and the injunctions and formularies of
Islam. I presumed that it would be set up in all essentials after the
pattern contemplated in the Muslim League resolution adopted at Lahore
on March 23, 1940. That resolution stated inter alia that (1)
“geographically contiguous areas are demarcated into regions which
should be constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be
necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in
majority as in the north- Western and eastern zones of India, should be
grouped to constitute independent States in which the Constituent units
shall be autonomous and sovereign ” and (2) ” adequate, effective and
mandatory safeguards should be specifically
provided in the Constitution for minorities in these units and in these
regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic,
political, administrative and other rights and interests in
consultation with them.” Implicit in this formula were (a) that North
western and eastern Muslim zones should be constituted into two
Independent States, (b) that the constituent units of these States
should be autonomous and sovereign, (c) that minorities guarantee
should be in respect of rights as well as of interest and extend to
every sphere of their lives, and (d) that Constitutional provisions
should be made in these regards in consultation with the minorities
themselves. I was fortified in my faith in this resolution and the
professions of the League Leadership by the statement Quaid-e-Azam
Mohammed Ali Jonah was pleased to make on the 11th August 1947 as the
President of the Constituent Assembly giving solemn assurance of equal
treatment for Hindus
& Muslims alike and calling upon them to remember that they were
all Pakistanis. There was then no question of dividing the people on
the basis of religion into full- fledged Muslim citizens and gummies
being under the perpetual custody of the Islamic State and its Muslim
citizens. Every one of these pledges is being flagrantly violated
apparently to your knowledge and with your approval in complete
disregard of the Quaid-e-Azam’ s wishes and sentiments and to the
detriment and humiliation of the minorities.



PARTITION OF BENGAL




          ( 8 )
It may also be mentioned in this connection that I was opposed to the
partition of Bengal. In launching a campaign in this regard I had to
face not only tremendous resistance from all quarters but also
unspeakable abuse, insult and dishonour. With great regret, I recollect
those days when 32 crores of Hinduism opposed my cations, but I
remained undaunted and unmoved in my loyalty to Pakistan. It is a
matter of gratitude that my appeal to 7 million Scheduled Caste people
of Pakistan evoked a ready and enthusiastic response from them. They
lent me their unstinted support sympathy and encouragement.


          ( 9 )
After the establishment of Pakistan on August 14, 1947 you formed the
Cabinet, in which I was included and Khwaja Nazimuddin formed a
provisional Cabinet for East Bengal. On August 10, I had spoken to
Khwaja Nazimuddin at Karachi and requested him to take 2 Scheduled
Caste Ministers in the East Bengal Cabinet. He promised to do the same
sometime later.


          What
happened subsequently in this regard was a record of unpleasant and
disappointing negotiations with you, Khwaja Nazimuddin and Mr. Nurul
Amin, the present Chief Minister of East Bengal. When I realised that
Khwaja Nazimuddin was avoiding the issue on this or that excuse, I
became almost impatient and exasperated, I further discussed the matter
with the Presidents of the Pakistan Muslim League and its East Bengal
Branch. Ultimately, I brought the matter to your notice. You were
pleased to discuss the subject with Khwaja Nazimuddin in my presence at
your residence. Khwaja Nazimuddin agreed to take one Scheduled Caste
Minister on his return to Dacca. As I had already become skeptic about
the assurance of Khwaja Nazimuddin, I wanted to be definite about the
time limit. I insisted that he must act in this regard within a month,
failing which I should be at liberty to
resign. Both you and Khwaja Nazimuddin agreed to the condition. But,
alas! You did not perhaps mean what you said. Khwaja Nazimuddin did not
keep his promise. After Mr. Nurul Amin had become the Chief Minister of
East Bengal, I again took up the matter with him. He also followed the
same old familiar tactics of evasion. When I again called your
attention to his matter prior to your visit to Dance in 1949, you were
pleased to assure me that a Minority Minister would be appointed in
East Bengal, and you asked 2-3 names from me for consideration. In stat
deference to your wish, I sent you a note stating the Federation Group
in the East Bengal Assembly and suggesting three names. When I made
enquiries as to what had happened on your return from Dacca, you
appeared to be very cold and only remarked: “Let Nurul Amin return from
Delhi”. After a few days I again pressed the matter.



ANTI-HINDU POLICY




          ( 10 )
When the question of partition of Bengal arose, the Scheduled Caste
people were alarmed at the anticipated dangerous result of partition.
Representation on their behalf were made to Mr. Suhrawardy, the then
Chief Minister of Bengal who was pleased to issue a statement to the
press declaring that none of the rights and privileges hitherto enjoyed
by the Scheduled Caste people would be curtailed after partition and
that they would not only continue to enjoy the existing rights and
privileges but also receive additional advantages. This assurance was
given by Mr. Suhrawardy not only in his personal capacity but also in
his capacity as a Chief Minister of the League Ministry. To my utter
regret it is to be stated that after partition, particularly after the
death of Quaid-e-Azam, the Scheduled Castes have not received a fair
deal in any matter. You will
recollect that from time to time I brought the grievances of the
Scheduled Castes to your notice. I explained to you on several
occasions the nature of inefficient administration in East Bengal. I
made serious charges against the police administration. I brought to
your notice incidents of barbarous atrocities perpetrated by the police
on frivolous grounds. I did not hesitate to bring to your notice the
anti-Hindu policy pursued by the East Bengal government especially the
police administration and a section of Muslim League leaders.



SOME INCIDENTS




          ( 11 )
The first incident that shocked me took place at a village called
Digharkul near Gopalganj where on the false complaint of a Muslim,
brutal atrocities were committed on the local Namasudras. The fact was
that a Muslim who was going in a boat attempted to throw his net to
catch fish. A Namasudra who was already there for the same purpose
opposed to throwing of the net in his front. This was followed by some
altercations and the Muslim got annoyed who went to a nearby Muslim
village and made a false complaint that he and a woman in his boat had
been assaulted by the Namasudras. At the time, the S.D.O. of Gopalganj
was passing in a boat through the canal who without making any enquiry
accepted the complaint as true and sent armed police to the spot to
punish the Namasudra. The armed police came and the local Muslims also
joined them. They not only raided some
houses of the Namasudras but mercilessly beat both men and women,
destroyed their properties and took away valuables. The merciless
beating of a pregnant woman resulted in abortion on the spot. This
brutal action on the part of the local authority created panic over a
large area.


          ( 12 )
The second incident of police repression took place in early part of
1949 under P.S. Gournadi in the district of Barisal. Here a quarrel
took place between two groups of members of a Union Board. One Group
which was in the good book of the Police conspired to punish the
opponents on the plea of attack on the Police Station, the O.C.,
Gournadi requisitioned armed forces from headquarters. The Police,
helped by the armed forces, then raided a large number of houses in the
area, took away valuable properties, even from the houses of
absentee-owners who were never in politics, far less in the Communist
Party. A large number of students of many High English Schools were
Communist suspects and unnecessarily harassed. This area being very
near to my native village, I was informed of the incident. I wrote to
the District Magistrate and the S.P. for an enquiry. A
section of the local people also prayed for an enquiry by the S.D.O.
But no enquiry was held. Even my letters to the District authorities
were not acknowledged. I then brought this matter to the notice of the
highest Authority in Pakistan, including yourself but to no avail.



WOMEN FOR MILITARY




          ( 13 )
The atrocities perpetrated by the police and military on the innocent
Hindus, especially the Scheduled Caste of Harbinger in the Dist. of
Sleet deserve description. Innocent men and women were brutally
tortured, some women ravished, their houses raided and properties
looted by the police and the local Muslims. Military pickets were
posted in the area. The military not only oppressed these people and
took away stuffs forcibly from Hindus houses, but also forced Hindus to
send their women-folk at night to the camp to satisfy the carnal desire
of the military. This fact also I brought to your notice. You assured
me of a report on the matter, but unfortunately no report was
forthcoming.


          ( 14 )
Then occurred the incident at Nachole in the District of Rajshahi where
in the name of suppression of Communists not only the police but also
the local Muslims in collaboration with the police oppressed the Hindus
and looted their properties. The Santhals then crossed the border and
came over to West Bengal. They narrated the stories of atrocities
wantonly committed by the Muslims and the police.


          ( 15 )
An instance of callous and cold-blooded brutality is furnished by the
incident that took place on December 20, 1949 in Kalshira under P.S.
Mollarhat in the District of Khulna. What happened was that late at
night four constables raided the house of one Joydev Brahma in village
Kalshira in search of some alleged Communists. At the scent of the
police, half a dozen of young men, some of whom might have been
Communists, escaped from the house. The police constable entered into
the house and assaulted the wife of Joydev Brahma whose cry attracted
her husband and a few companions who escaped from the house. They
became desperate, re-entered the house, found 4 constables with one gun
only. That perhaps might have encouraged the young men who struck a
blow on an armed constable who died on the spot. The young men then
attacked another constable when the other two
ran away and raised alarm which attracted some neighbouring people who
came to their rescue. As the incident took place before sunrise when it
was dark, the assailants fled with dead body before the villagers could
come. The S.P. of Khulna with a contingent of military and armed police
appeared on the scene in the afternoon of the following day. In the
meantime, the assailants fled and the intelligent neighbours also fled
away. But the bulk of the villagers remained in their houses, as they
were absolutely innocent and failed to realise the consequence of the
happening. Subsequently the innocents of the entire village encouraged
the neighbouring Muslims to take away their properties. A number of
persons were killed and men and women were forcibly converted. House-
hold deities were broken and places of worship desecrated and
destroyed. Several women were raped by the police, military and local
Muslims. Thus a veritable hell was let loose not only in the
village of Kalshira which is half miles in length with a large
population, but also in a number of neighbouring Namasudra villages.
The village Kalshira was never suspected by the authority to be a place
of Communist activities. Another village called Jhalardanga, which was
at a distance of 3 miles from Kalshira, was known to be a centre of
Communist activities. This village was raided by a large contingent of
police on that day for hunt of the alleged Communists, a number of whom
fled away and took shelter in the aforesaid house of village Kalshira
which was considered to be a safe place for them.


          ( 16 )
I visited Kalashira and one or two neighboring villages on the 28th
February 1950. The S.P., Khulna and some of the prominent League
leaders of the district were with me. When I came to the village
Kalshira, I found the place desolate and in ruins. I was told in the
presence of S.P.that there were 350 homesteads in this village; of
these, only three had been spared and the rest had been demolished.
Country boats and heads of cattle belonging to the Namasudras had been
all taken away. I reported these facts to the Chief Minster, Chief
Secretary and Inspector General of Police of East Bengal and to you.


          ( 17 )
It may be mentioned in this connection that the news of this incident
was published in West Bengal Press and this created some unrest among
the Hindus there. A number of sufferers of Kalshira, both men and
women, homeless and destitute had also come to Calcutta and narrated
the stories of their sufferings which resulted in some communal
disturbances in West Bengal in the last part of January.



CAUSES OF THE FEBRUARY DISTURBANCE




          ( 18 )
It must be noted that stories of a few incidents of communal
disturbance that took place in West Bengal as a sort of repercussion of
the incidents at Kalshira were published in exaggerated form in the
east Bengal press. In the second week of February 1950 when the Budget
Session of the East Bengal Assembly commenced, the Congress Members
sought permission to move two-adjournment motion to discuss the
situation created at Kalshira and Nachole. But the motions were
disallowed. The congress Member walked out of the Assembly in protest.
This action of the Hindu Members of the Assembly annoyed and enraged
not only the Ministers but also the Muslim leaders and officials of the
Province. This was perhaps one of the principal reasons for Dacca and
East Bengal riots in February 1950.


          ( 19 )
It is significant that on February 10, 1950 at about 10 O’clock in the
morning a woman was painted with red to show that her breast was cut
off in Calcutta riot, and was taken round that East Bengal Secretariat
at Dacca. Immediately, the Government servants of the Secretariat
struck work and came out in procession raising slogans of revenge
against the Hindus. The procession began to swell as it passed over a
distance of more than a mile. It ended in a meeting at Victoria Park at
about 12O’clock in the noon where violent speeches against the Hindus
were delivered by several speakers, including officials. The fun of the
whole show was that while the employees of the Secretariat went out in
procession, the chief Secretary of the East Bengal Government was
holding a conference with his West Bengal counterpart in the same
building to find out ways and means to
stop communal disturbances in the two Bengals.



OFFICIALS HELPED LOOTERS




          ( 20 )
The riot started at about 1 p.m. simultaneously all over the city.
Arson, looting of Hindu shops and houses and killing of Hindus,
wherever they were found, commenced in full swing in all parts of the
city. I got evidence even from the Muslims that arson and looting were
committed even in the presence of high police officials. Jewellery
shops belonging to the Hindus were looted in the presence of police
officers. They not only did not attempt to stop loot, but also helped
the looters with advice and direction. Unfortunately for me, I reached
Dacca at 5 O’clock in the afternoon on the same day, in Feb.10,1950. To
my utter dismay, I had occasion to see and know things from close
quarters. What I saw and learnt from first hand information was simply
staggering and heart-rending.



BACKGROUND OF THE RIOT




          ( 21 ) The reasons for the Dacca riot were mainly five:

(i) To punish
the Hindus for the daring action of their representatives in the
Assembly in their expression of protest by walking out of the Assembly
when two adjournment motions on Kashira and Nachole affairs were
disallowed;


(ii) Dissensions and difference between the Suhrawardy Group and the Nazimuddin in the Parliamentary Party were becoming acute;

(iii)
Apprehension of launching of a movement for re-union of East and West
Bengal by both Hindu and Muslim leaders made the East Bengal Ministry
and the Muslim League nervous. They wanted to prevent such a move. They
thought that any large scale communal riot in East Bengal was sure to
produce reactions in West Bengal were Muslims might be killed. The
result of such riot in both East and East Bengal, it was believed,
would prevent any movement for re-union of Bengals.


(iv) Feeling of
Antagonism between the Bengalee Muslim and non-Bengalee Muslim in East
Bengal was gaining ground. This could only be prevented by creating
hatred between Hindus and Muslims of East Bengal. The language question
was also connected with it and


(v) The
consequences of non-devaluation and Indo-Pakistan trade deadlock to the
economy of East Bengal were being felt most acutely first in urban and
rural areas and the Muslim League members and officials wanted to
divert the attention of the Muslim masses from the impending economic
breakdown by some sort of jehad against Hindus.



STAGGERING DETAILS – NEARLY 10,000 KILLED




          ( 22 )
During my nine days’ stay at Dacca

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