Partition of Bengal

The British role in controlling the Hindu-Muslim tension after it broke out during and after the partition, was also not entirely impartial. In fact the wrong Government policy in many cases fanned the communal flames and at the same time inspired the demand of Muslim separatism. As a result of the newfound Muslim aggressiveness, there was increasing tension between the two communities. Gradually, Muslims started their pro-partition demonstration at the very same places where the anti-partition demonstrations were being held. The atmosphere of mutual hostility loomed large. The clashes between the two were now only a matter of time.

4 a. The 1906 unrests

In the early months of 1906 in Mymensingh, lower class Muslims were reported to be harassing Hindu landlords by refusing to do any customary services or to cultivate the land of their landlords. This was attributed to the preaching of Maulvis, who had reportedly the support of the Nawab of Dhaka with them. The Nawab in turn, had the Government on his side. As a result of this backing of the Nawab as well as of the Government, the lower class Muslims believed that they were doing their duties to their community by attacking Hindus.

Many scattered cases of violence in the early months of 1906 made headlines. A rape in Mymensingh, an attack on two markets in Dhaka by 100 Muslim hooligans, and a serious incident at Magurghona in Khulna during the Bakar-Id festival were more serious in nature. In the latter case, Muslims slaughtered a cow at Magurghona despite Hindu objection and in effect a group of Hindus mistreated a Maulvi and urinated on his Qur'an. But this incident was probably greatly exaggerated. As retaliation 10,000 Muslims met at Mgurghona itself to punish the Hindus. But Abul Kasim, the Congress leader of Burdwan, along with other Hindu politicians, took great pains to calm down the mob and settled the dispute.

In another incident in Gangail in Mymensingh Muslims refused to work for Hindus, some Hindus desecrated a Qur'an and an Alter of Shiva was stolen from a Temple and was replaced by a cow's head.

The Nawab of Dhaka also asked Muslims not to participate in the 1906 Janmastami procession in Dhaka. The Muslim carters refused to lend their carts for the festival. The crowd of thousands of people, who came to see the holy procession, went away disheartened. The Nawab claimed that this announcement was made out of the fear of a possible Hindu-Muslim riot but actually he wanted to show how much dependent Hindus were on the services of the lower class Muslims.

The first eight months of 1906 passed without much of bloody violence. But the Hindu-Muslim relation was soured to such an extent that in one of the newspaper editorials in August 1906 the following doubt was expressed: "In case British rule ever disappears form India, it is doubtful if Indian Mussalmans will combine with the Hindus." - (Charu Mihir, August, 1906). The writer also expressed his concern because the number of the Indian Muslims were increasing in an alarming number and that they might very soon outnumber the Hindus. It took not a very long period of time to witness that this fear was perhaps not entirely baseless as was proved from the later political developments.

In the mean time, some very significant changes were taking place in the Indian politics that made the entire facade of politics in the whole sub-continent in near future. The most significant of them; the birth of Muslim League in December 1906.

4 b. Pattern of riots

The typical characteristic of 1906 was the widespread preaching of the Maulvis that agitated the Muslims. They were also suspected to be outside stray elements posing as Maulvis. The boycott of the Hindu landlords or to work for them by the lower class Muslims was also significant. It was also a boycott as was adopted by the anti-partition Boycott Movement, but definitely of a very opposite nature.

In 1907, mainly two types of riots took place. The first type took place in towns and cities as in the towns of Cumilla and Jamalpur, which triggered off the second type riots in far-reaching small village areas. It is to mark that the first type of disturbances took place mostly in areas where the politically advanced middle class Hindus dwelled and actively supported the Boycott and anti-partition activities. These activities on the other hand irritated the middle class Muslims, who were being provoked continuously by the outside elements to react against them.

The Cumilla riots for example, had a pattern that was followed many times. First came a political demonstration, pro- or anti-partition and then trouble causing out of it and very soon spreading it among lower class people for whom partition and Boycott was not an important part of everyday life at all. In all the cases Muslim hooligans attacked Hindu middleclass or a Hindu reported to shot a Muslim. In the case of the second type of disturbances the place is usually small villages where almost no middle class people lived and Boycott Movement was not regarded as much of an important issue. The news of the riots in the towns had been spread there and the riots involved mostly outside people than the local inhabitants.

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