CMP(A3) Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946
The deteriorating communal situation in the later half of 1946 had been a long time in the making. However, the immediate causes of violent communal flare-ups in this period were the Muslim League's call in July for direct action and the failure of Interim Government negotiations between the Viceroy, Congress and the Muslim League. These events precipitated grievious violence in Calcutta in mid-August and later attacks and mass conversions of Hindus in East Bengal in Noakhali and Tippera in October-November 1946. The Noakhali violence, widely covered in the Hindu press, led to violent retaliation by Hindus who killed thousands of Muslims in Bihar and United Provinces, sending tens or hundreds of thousands more into refugee camps. Meanwhile the assumption of office by a Congress-led interim government in Delhi in September which the Muslim League initially refused to join on the terms offered, led to prolonged riots in Bombay.
The points to note from the British reports of these episodes are
1. The Muslim League's highest leadership made highly communalized calls to action while the Congress's highest leadership did not do so overtly. However the Muslim League's government in Bengal and Congress's governments in Bihar and United Provinces could not or would not control the cycle of communal violence in their respective provinces and the Muslim League and Congress party cadres both played roles in fomenting it.
2. If the British assessment of the number of casualties in Noakhali was even approximately accurate about the order of magnitude then it can be seen that the Hindu retaliation in Bihar and U.P. for Muslim violence in Noakhali was ten-fold, the primary sufferers being the Muslim poor (as noted in the Intelligence assessment CMP(16)). However, the Noakhali episode was notable for mass forced conversions of non-Muslims, a feature which would be observed later in Punjab and North West Frontier Province[CMP(A2) , CMP(A4)].
3. While Jinnah held up communal violence following the call of direct action as proof of the validity of his various demands including that for a sovereign Pakistan, the violence in fact led to a deepening of the Congress-League and Hindu-Muslim divide, making agreement between the major parties more difficult.
The British, along with police and Army, with or without the co-operation of the various Muslim League and the Congress provincial administrations, were totally unable to control the upsurges of violence and prevent the high death tolls. Thus a political dispute at the highest levels between the Muslim League, the Congress and the British over a couple of seats in the Interim Government and the interpretation of grouping in the long-term part of the Cabinet Mission Plan had been translated by respective party cadres and the incited masses into a mass polarization of opinion and a massive law and order problem. This in turn made dispute settlement between the leaders more difficult.
Hence, in practical terms, if the League tactic of direct action had intended to pressurize the British and Congress into agreeing to the League positions on the Interim Government and the long-term Plan, then it rather reduced the British and Congress's options for bargaining with the Muslim League over power-sharing and India's constitutional future. The British could no longer depend on its war-time ally Muslim League to help forestall mass disorder and chaos and the Congress could not politically afford to make peace with the League under the threat of violence.
This period foretold the upcoming collapse of government and administration in Punjab in early 1947.[CMP(A2)]
The following are quoted from The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Volume VIII The Interim Government.
86 page 135 (full text)
Text of two Resolutions passed by the All-India League Council at Bombay on 29 July 1946
Resolution No. 2 [Resolution No 1 full text in CMP(12C)]
Whereas the Council of the All-India Muslim League has resolved to reject the proposals embodied in the Statement of the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy, dated 16th May 1946, due to the intransigence of the Congress on one hand, and the breach of faith with the Muslims by the British Government on the other; and
Whereas Muslim India has exhausted without success all efforts to find a peaceful solution of the Indian problem by compromise and constitutional means; and
Whereas the Congress is bent upon setting up Caste-Hindu Raj in India with the connivance of the British; and
Whereas recent events have shown that power politics and not justice and fairplay are the deciding factors in Indian affairs; and
Whereas it has become abundantly clear that the Muslims of India would not rest contented with anything less than the immediate establishment of Independent and fully Sovereign State of Pakistan and would resist any attempt to impose any constitution-making machinery or any constitution, long term or short term, or the setting up of any Interim Government at the Centre without the approval and consent of the Muslim League.
The Council of the All-India Muslim League is convinced that now the time has come for the Muslim Nation to resort to Direct Action to achieve Pakistan, to assert their just rights, to vindicate their honour and to get rid of the present British slavery and the contemplated future Caste-Hindu domination.
This Council calls upon the Muslim Nation to stand to a man behind their sole representative and authoritative organisation, the All-India Muslim League and to be ready for every sacrifice.
This Council directs the Working Committee to prepare forthwith a programme of Direct Action to carry out the policy enunciated above and to organise the Muslims for the coming struggle to be launched as and when necessary.
As a protest against and in token of their deep resentment of the attitude of the British, this Council calls upon the Musalmans to renounce forthwith the titles conferred upon them by the alien Government.
108 page 174 (excerpts)
Minutes by Mr Scott and Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
1-2 August 1946
Colin Reid, the correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, has just returned from attending the Muslim League session at Bombay. He had a private interview with Jinnah on Tuesday, 30th, the purport of which he has reported as follows:
(1) Jinnah is still very upset both at the interpretation of paragraph 8, and at the treatment which he says he received at the interview on the afternoon of the 25th June. [CMP(12C)]. In his own words he said "he was bullied" when he attempted to oppose the interpretation placed by the Mission on paragraph 8. He also said that Mr. Alexander called [on] him subsequently and apologised for the conduct of his colleagues.
(2) Reid asked Jinnah what he meant by direct action, to which Jinnah replied that there would be a mass illegal movement. In the text of the interview which Reid cabled to the Daily Telegraph, and showed Jinnah first, Jinnah altered "illegal" into "unconstitutional". He was not prepared to specify in any greater detail what this involved, and Reid said that he got the impression that they had not really worked out what they were going to do.
(3) One thing however which they did decide, and of which Reid was informed by Jinnah's Secretary after the last meeting of the Working Committee, was that there would be a universal Muslim hartal on Friday, 16 August, and mass meetings in every town and village, where the resolutions passed at Bombay would be explained to the people. This of course has possibilities of working up mass hysteria. It was also decided that on that date all Muslims everywhere in India, would be told that they should not go to work.
187 page 273 (excerpts)
Field Marshal Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
The Viceroy's House, New Delhi,
21 August 1946
2. The last week-end has seen dreadful riots in Calcutta. The present estimate of casualties is 3,000 dead and 17,000 injured. The Bengal Congress is convinced that all the trouble was deliberately engineered by the Muslim League Ministry, but no satisfactory evidence to that effect has reached me yet. It is said that the decision to have a public holiday on the 16th August was the cause of the trouble, but I think this is very far-fetched. There was a public holiday in Sind and there was no trouble there. At any rate, whatever were the immediate causes of the outbreak, it is clear that when it started the Hindus and Sikhs were every bit as fierce as the Muslims. The present estimate is that appreciably more Muslims than Hindus were killed. I have been told that the savagery and enthusiasm for murder was terrible. Parties of one community would lie in wait, and as soon as they caught one of the other community, they would cut him to pieces with shouts of joy. All ordinary human feelings seem to have completely deserted a considerable proportion of the population of the city. The number of troops employed is now 5 battalions British and 4 battalions Indians and Gurkhas. It is alleged that more British troops ought to have been called in earlier on. There is no truth in this as there were no other British troops available; but one shudders to thing what would have been the result if no British troops had been there. You have been kept fully informed by telegram about this gruesome business, and before this letter arrives, you will probably have an appreciation from Burrows of the causes, and of the responsibility for it.
194 page 287 (excerpts)
Mr Horace Alexander to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
I Upper Wood Street, Calcutta, 22 August 1946
Returning to Calcutta on the 12th, I was hoping for a quiet fortnight at the headquarters of the Friends Service Unit here, but of course, we have had anything but a quiet time. I think you may like to have a few comments on the events of the past week here in Calcutta.
..I was myself out in a Red Cross van on the morning of the 17th, which was perhaps the worst day of all, and I was in the affected areas on several other occasions. The Red Cross included plenty of both Hindu and Muslim workers, and they worked finely together. Some of the comments I heard from them were illuminating.
Here are a few points of interest. With regard to the police: they came in for such severe criticism last winter for acting too soon and too violently that one hesitates to criticise them for coming in too late this time. But I must record that I have not heard of any instance of effective intervention from the police during the whole of Friday and Saturday. I have heard several stories of the police looking on or refusing to intervene. .. The failure to call in the help of the military until Saturday afternoon seems to me to call for very severe censure. Their action immediately led to an improvement.
It has been very gratifying for the English man or woman to feel that, for a change, Indians of both communities have been looking upon him as a friend and protector. I had the experience, for instance, that when we went to rescue a Hindu family from a Muslim suburb where their Muslim protector had had his car burnt by the Muslim roughs(this sort of incident, by the way, has been quite common - on both sides, much to the credit of both communities) the family said they could not come out into the open road without an armed escort. But as soon as they saw my white face, apparently they decided that I was sufficient protection! They did not ask what arms I was carrying. Possibly they assumed that every Englishman always goes about armed!
But I am not at all sure that this mood of friendliness to the British will last. Apparently, on further reflection, they are, in some cases, beginning to say to themselves: "This business may have been planned by the Muslim League or some of its agitators; but see how beautifully it fits into the designs of the British Imperialists. After all, there is still a British Governor, with British advisers. He cannot divest himself of all responsibility, especially in essential matters of law and order. Why did not they intervene sooner? Perhaps because they wanted the world to see how unfit we are for self-government."
You will not think I am identifying myself with this point of view. But in the past day or two, I have heard it from more than one quarter. The position of an English Governor who is trying to act constitutionally here at the moment seems to me to be practically intolerable. .. What I am pleading is that this most grave situation should be faced squarely in its moral issues, and that it will not do to say that because law and order are the responsibility of Indian Ministers, the Secretary of State and Parliament had no responsibility for what has happened..
Enclosure to 197 page 293 (excerpts)
Sir F. Burrows(Bengal) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
Calcutta, 22 August 1946
2.. The setting. Omitting the more remote causes of the riots- the long struggle for power between Hindus and Muslims, in which Calcutta is a focal point, the weakening of our authority which is an inevitable consequence of our impending departure, the dislocation of normal life of Calcutta by war and famine, and the presence of a Muslim Ministry in a predominantly Hindu city-the proximate cause was the resolution of the Council of the All-India Muslim League passed at Bombay on July 29th, calling on "the Muslim nation to resort to direct action to achieve Pakistan", and the consequent fixing of August 16th as "Direct Action Day". I enclose a cutting from the Star of India of August 9th- it was repeated in subsequent issues till the 13th-giving the programme for "Direct Action Day" in Calcutta.
6. Friday, August 16th. Even before 10 o'clock Police Headquarters had reported that there was excitement throughout the city, that shops were being forced to close, and that there were many reports of stabbing and throwing of stones and brickbats. The trouble had already assumed the communal character which it was to retain throughout. At that time it was mainly in the northern half of the city. (Later reports indicate that the Muslims were in an aggressive mood from early in the day and that their processions were well armed with lathis, iron rods and missiles. Their efforts to force Hindu shops to close as they passed through the streets were greeting with showers of brickbats from the roofs above-indicating that the Hindus were also not unprepared for trouble-and from this sort of exchange of missiles, matters soon degenerated into arson, looting and murder). The situation deteriorated during the forenoon and at 2.40 pm the Chief Secretary rang up my Secretary to say that the position had become so serious that he supported the request of the Commissioner of Police that the Army should be called in at once in aid of the civil power...
7. Meanwhile the Muslim League meeting at the Ochterlony Monument was taking place. The meeting actually began at about 4.0 pm though processions of Muslims from all parts of Calcutta had started assembling from after the midday prayers. A large number of the processionists are reported to have been armed with iron bars and lathis. The numbers attending were estimated by the Central Intelligence Officer's reporter(a Hindu) at 30,000 and by a Special Branch Inspector(a Muslim) at 500,000. The latter figure is impossibly high and the (Muslim) Star of India reporter put it at about 100,000. The main speakers were Nazimuddin and Suhrawardy. The former in a woolly speech on the whole preached peacefulness and restraint but rather spoilt the effect by asserting that till 11.0 that morning all the injured persons were Muslims, and the Muslim community had only retaliated in self-defence. The Chief Minister made a Laodicean speech, of which his audience naturally remembered the hot passages more clearly than the cold. The Special Branch, by culpable omission, sent only one Urdu shorthand reporter to the meeting, with the result that no transcript of the Chief Minister's speech is available. But the Central Intelligence Officer and a reliable reporter deputed by the military authorities agree on one most mischievous statement (not reported at all by the Calcutta Police whose report reached us first). The version in the former's report is:-"He had seen to police and military arrangements who would not interfere". The version of the latter's is:-"He had been able to restrain the military and the police". Whatever he may have meant to convey by this- and it emphatically is not a fact that the Police received any orders to "hold back"-the impression an uneducated audience would form of such a statement by the Home Minister must have been that it was an open invitation to disorder; and in fact many of the listeners started attacking Hindus and looting Hindu shops as soon as they left the meeting.
8. At 6 P.M. on ringing up the Police Headquarters Control Room at Lall Bazar for a report on the situation, my Secretary was informed by the Chief Minister that it was "bad and likely to get worse"; the situation in Bhowanipore (a Hindu locality) was, he said, serious and he feared for the safety of the League processionists returning to their homes. (I may say in parenthesis that the Chief Minister spent a great deal of time in the Control Room in Lall Bazar, often attended by some of his supporters. This made it extremely difficult for the Commissioner of Police, who was primarily responsible for handling the situation, to give clear and balanced decisions on all the numerous calls for help that were pouring in. It is not of course the function of a Minister to direct detailed operations, but the position was one of considerable delicacy as the Commissioner of Police could not insist on the extrusion from the Control Room of the Minister responsible for law and order. Short of a direct order from me, there was no way of preventing the Chief Minister from visiting the Control Room whenever he liked; and I was not prepared to give such an order, as it would clearly have indicated complete lack of faith in him.)..
13. ... These figures give a total of 444 dead handled in hospitals, but this is only a very small proportion of the total number of fatalities as the great majority were left lying in the streets and in wrecked houses. No appropriate figure of the dead can yet be given: it must be 2000 at the very least and may be substantially more.
(On 18 November, in a Written Answer to a Parliamentary Question by Mr R.A.Butler, Mr Henderson gave the following casualty figures for Calcutta for the period 16-19 August: 4,000 dead, 10,000 injured...)
(4) That the infection did not spread immediately to the districts is a fact for which we cannot be too thankful. We had to take a big chance in denuding Howrah and the mill areas of troops on the 17th.
(5) The obligations of the Constitution make my task far harder. My special responsibility for law and order is not a "discretionary" matter, and in handling the situation, particularly at the outset, I had always to consider the susceptibilities of my Ministry. The dual personality of Suhrawardy, as Chief Minister(in charge of the Home portfolio) and as the most influential member of the Muslim League in Bengal, was a constant embarrassment.
STAR OF INDIA - 13.8.46
PROGRAMME FOR DIRECT ACTION DAY
The Secretary of the Calcutta District Muslim League notifies:-
The All-India Direct Action Day, declared by the All-India Muslim League, will be jointly observed in Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly, Matiaburz, 24-Parganas mill areas under the direction of the Calcutta District Muslim League. The programme for the Day is as under:-
(1) Complete hartal and general strike in all spheres of civic, commercial and industrial life save and except the essential services of water works, hospitals, physicians' clinics, maternity centres, light, electricity, gas and postal services.
(2) Processions, "Kafelas" and "Akharas" with music bands and Tabaljungs will start from all mohallas in Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly, Matiaburz and 24-Parganas and converge at the foot of the Ochterlony Monument between 3 and 6-30 p.m.
(3) Joint mass rally and meeting of Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly, Matiaburz and 24-Parganas will be held at foot of Ochterlony Monument from 3 p.m. on Friday the 16th August. Hon'ble Mr. H.S. Suhrawardy, leader Bengal Muslim League Parliamentary Party and Prime Minister Bengal has consented to preside.
(4) Representatives of minorities, suppressed and oppressed people and anti-Fascist parties who have been unjustly bypassed by the British Government and who are ready to make common cause with the League in its fight for the equal freedom of the Muslims, the Hindus, the Scheduled Castes, the Adibasis, the tribals, the Christians and other peoples are welcome in the meeting.
(5) Every ward and branch league must prepare a complete list of mosques in its areas, depute three workers in every mosque on Friday, the 16th August to explain the new policy and action plan of the League before JUMA prayers and to report to the District League about this arrangement. A manifesto on the subject has been specially published and is available from 8, Zakaria Street, Calcutta.
(6) Special Munajat(Prayer) should be offered in every mosque on Friday after Juma prayers for the freedom of Muslim India, the Islamic world and the peoples of India and the East in general. The "Munajat" has been printed and published and is available from 8, Zakaria Street, Calcutta.
I appeal to the Musalmans of Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly, Matiaburz and 24-Parganas to rise to the occasion and make the rally a unique success. We are in the midst of the rainy season and the month of Ramazan fasting. But this is a month of real Jehad of God's grace and blessings, spiritual armament, and the moral and physical purge of the nation. It is a supreme occasion of our trial. Let Muslims brave the rains and all difficulties and make the Direct Action Day meeting a historic mass mobilization of the Millat.
Muslims must remember that it was in Ramazan that the Quran was revealed. It was in Ramazan that the permission for Jehad was granted by Allah. It was in Ramazan that the Battle of Badr[N.B.1] the first open conflict between Islam and Heathenism was fought and won by 313 Muslims and again it was in Ramazan that 10,000 Muslims under the Holy Prophet conquered Mecca[N.B.2] and established the kingdom of Heaven and the commonwealth of Islam in Arabia. The Muslim League is fortunate that it is starting its actions in this holy month.
[N.B.1] In A.D. 624 about 300 of Mohammed's followers defeated about 900 Meccans.
[N.B.2] In A.D. 630.
302 page 482 (excerpts)
Field Marshal Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
The Viceroy's House, New Delhi, 10 September 1946
2. At any ordinary time the Bombay riots would have attracted a great deal of attention, since there have been over 200 killed and the city has been in a state of great tension now for nine days. Things have looked better lately, but there might easily be a fresh flare-up. On the whole the police seem to have done better than in Calcutta, though Chundrigar, the local Muslim League leader alleges that calls for assistance from Muslims have been disregarded. This allegation has been entirely denied by the Commissioner of Police, and I have no doubt that it is false.
3. Burrows in his last letter points out how little attention has been attracted to the riots in the mofussil towns of Bengal where there have been over 300 killed. I am afraid East Bengal is a really dangerous spot, and if "direct action" by the Muslim League is started, a large number of Hindus there would be massacred. Communal tension and bitterness is acute everywhere in India, and unless we can get a settlement with the League, the consequences may be very serious.
The following are quoted from The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Volume IX The fixing of a time limit
51 page 97 (excerpts)
Sir F. Burrows (Bengal) to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
Government House, Calcutta, 18 November 1946
My dear Secretary of State,
In reply to your telegram of the 26th October, I sent you, in my telegram No. 291 of the 29th October, a review of the communal situation in Noakhali and Tippera districts. The absence of many thousands of victims from their homes and the reluctance of those left in their villages to make full statements still militate against our having anything like a complete statistical record of the position. I am sending your, however, a note giving the latest information available which may serve as a background for dealing with any further questions in Parliament. I have, of course, sent a copy of the note to the Viceroy.
F. J. Burrows.
Enclosure to No. 51
2. Information of the actual day to day course of events during the disturbances in the two districts is not yet available. The immediate occasion for the outbreak of the disturbances was the looting of a bazar in Ramganj police station following the holding of a mass meeting and a provocative speech by the person, now arrested, alleged to be the organiser of the disturbances,- Gholam Sarwar Husseini, - arrested 22.10.46. From there the trouble quickly spread to the neighbouring villages and thence over Ramganj police station as a whole. The western part of the neighbouring police station of Begumganj and to the south the northern part of Lakshmipur and part of Raipur police stations were also affecting during the next few days. Disturbances as such may be said to have ended in Noakhali by the 16th(apart from the isolated incidents on the island of Sandwip) and by the 20th in the district of Tippera where they had spread to the southern part of Hajiganj police station on the 13th, following arrival of hooligan elements from Noakhali, and from there to the neighbouring police stations of Faridganj and Chandpur to the West and Laksham and...
9. From present information the number of villages affected by the disturbances in the two districts will be at least 350.[Note by India Office:] now 370.
10. All information at present available supports the previously expressed view that the figures of deaths were grossly exaggerated by non-official Hindu sources and that the number will certainly be low in the three-figure category. Up to date the verified deaths by violence in the two districts combined for the period of the actual disturbances is 131[Note by India Office:] now 133 and I do not imagine that the figure will in any event exceed 200.
12. There can be no doubt that looting and arson was carried out on a widespread scale. The latest estimate of homesteads and shops looted and/or burnt in the two districts combined, less the figures for the Raipur police station areas of Noakhali not yet obtained, is 2052.
13. As regards forced conversion the true facts will never be known because of the reluctance of Hindus to admit that they have even been converted, but there is no doubt that forced conversion has taken place on a large scale. In Noakhali conversions took place en masse and appear to have been carried out in several forms. In some cases it appears to have been a fairly formal, perfunctory affair involving merely the reading of the "Kalma"; in other cases initial conversion has been steadily followed up and the converts have been made to say their prayers regularly as Muslims and to eat beef; in other cases, again, there have been proposals that a girl of a newly converted family should be given in marriage to a Muslim. From impressions gained during the early part of this month, it would appear that Muslims situated near the military or police posts were not daring to pursue the matter further but elsewhere threats and pressure continued. No complaint of circumcision had been made. The District Magistrate, with the active concurrence of the Secretary of the District Muslim League and the local Congress, has issued a statement emphasising that Islam does not recognise forced conversion.
In Tippera conversions have also been on a wide scale and have taken a number of forms including forcing converts to wear a cap on which has been inscribed "Pakistan", compelling them to wear a lungi as worn by Muslims, removing the caste-marks from the foreheads of girls and women, breaking the conch-bracelets on the wrists of married women, making them recite prayers and forcing them to eat beef. No case of circumcision has been reported.
14. As regards abductions, forced marriages and rapes- all concerned are and will be extremely reluctant to make any complaint in respect of these matters. From present information available from Noakhali it would not appear that abductions and forced marriages took place on any considerable scale and in fact only one specific case of forced marriage has been brought to notice.
The exact position is equally obscure in Tippera but here also present information does not indicate that the final figures will be large. Though no verified figures have yet been supplied, investiage by a senior Judicial officer on the spot did not result in the receipt of information pointing to women being carried away and not being heard of again. Instances, based on hearsay, were however brought to his notice of women and children being collected and taken to a homestead or school and kept there for a few days. Such persons were also reported in certain cases to have been raped during the period of restraint but these allegations could not be verified locally. In the circumstances then prevailing it is too much to hope that no such incidents occurred. No single instance of a forced marriage was brought to his notice and according to the estimate of the District Magistrate the number is likely to be very few.
15. In the earlier part of the month it was still necessary for parties of police and military to escort parties of Hindus from villages in Tippera to relief centres. In Noakhali, where there have been considerable pockets in which Hindus who had been subjected to arson, looting, conversion, etc., were virtually marooned, the main areas being outlying parts of the Lakshmipur police station and some 15 villages in the Raipur police station, these operations are still in progress.
16. The following were special features of the disturbances in Noakhali-
(a) a reluctance to damage schools or post offices;
(b) numerous instances where Muslims gave shelter to Hindus;
(c) mobs seldom seriously injured or killed women; &
(d) the mobs included large numbers of Muslims belonging to the village attacked and neighbouring villages.
In Tippera the hooligans were almost invariably inhabitants of the villages attacked or neighbouring villages, except in the early stages when hooligans came across the border from Noakhali.
14 Page 24 (excerpts)
Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Sir S. Cripps
India Office, 8 November 1946
Enclosure to 14
Mr Ghosh to Sir S. Cripps
New Delhi, 31 October 1946
My dear Sir Stafford,
I have since visited the riot-affected areas in East Bengal and had a long talk with Sir Fredrick Burrows, the Governor, which lasted 2 1/2 hours! I also had a talk with Suhrawardy, the Chief Minister, whom I have known for a number of years. I then returned to Delhi and made my report to the old man and to Vallabhai and Jawaharlal.
I will tell you briefly what has happened in Bengal. There is of course great exaggeration in the reports published in the newspapers. When everybody is excited and upset there is bound to be a great deal of exaggeration and loose talk; everybody blames everybody else and people talk more emotion than reason. But even if you cut out the exaggeration what remains is bad enough. I will give you one example. I saw a report in the nationalist newspapers that one Mr. Rajendra Roy, a Hindu lawyer of Noakhali, who lived in a predominantly Muslim village was killed and along with him 400 other Hindu men, women and children who had taken shelter there had been slaughtered and the house razed to the ground. The great Mr. Sarat Bose asserted that it was absolutely true and the whole of Bengal felt deeply outraged. I insisted on finding out the truth about this story. I visited the village and different people told me different stories, but I found that it was quite true that Rajendra Roy's house was attacked in broad day light by the Muslims and he and his whole family were exterminated. When I discussed this story with the English District Magistrate (in point of fact he was an Irish man) he indignantly told me that these Congress people were telling lies and spreading dreadful stories of 400 people being killed in that one place, but the truth, he knew, was that only 21 people (Roy's family consisted of 21 people) were killed and the house, of course, was burnt. As if that was not dreadful enough! What the Muslims did was to get hold of a large number of demobilised army roughs and surround an area with a population of about 75,000 and what exactly they did inside that area is very difficult to ascertain. As far as I can ascertain, about a thousand people were killed, several thousand houses were burnt, a large number of women were forcibly taken away from their homes and "married" to Muslims and a large number of people were "converted" to Islam. This conversion does not really mean much; they will again become Hindus when peace returns to the area. But the way women have been dishonoured is outrageous and no civilised country should allow such things to happen.
19 page 38 (excerpts)
Sir H. Dow (Bihar) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
Patna, 9 November 1946
..This is my appreciation of communal situation up to November 8th. The relations between Hindu and Moslem communities in Bihar began to deteriorate seriously after "direct action" resolution of the Moslem League at the end of July. They became still worse with Calcutta riots and subsequent communal disorders in East Bengal. The first serious riot in this Province was on September 27th at Beniabad in Muzaffarpur District where 14 Moslems were killed and many Moslem houses burnt. On October 25th meetings were held all over the Province to commiserate with Hindu victims of Noakhali and it was meetings in Chapra(Saran District) and in Patna which started the present widespread riots in South Bihar. Local officers wished to prevent the meeting in Patna but Ministry insisted on permisson being given and violent speeches made at this meeting are proximate cause of serious and violent attacks on defenceless Moslem villages. Communal passions have been persistently fanned by newspapers of both communities within and outside the Province and Ministry, despite my constant advice over a long period, have neglected to control local press.
2. Rioting began in Chapra Town with murder of Moslems and burning of houses and spread into neighbouring countryside where Hindu mobs committed similar outrages on Moslem villagers. The situation in Saran was brought under control in a few days but in the meantime rioting spread south of the Ganges and became intense in Districts of Patna, the Southern part of Monghyr and Bhagalpur and Northern part of Gaya where it shows signs of spreading.
There was one bad riot in Santal Pergunnahs....
3. In Bihar the rural Moslem population is comparatively small and isolated groups have been the objects of most determined attacks. Roving Hindu mobs have sought to exterminate the Moslem population wherever they could find them. Almost all casualties have been Moslems and it is estimated that of these 75% have been women and children. Only in a few cases have Moslem victims received help from their Hindu neighbours who have exhibited a callous indifference to suffering.
4.... Large numbers of refugees are moving into Patna and other centres and arrangements hitherto made by the Moslem League are now being partly taken over by the Government. The unsatisfactory attitude of Ministry towards the services has resulted in a natural reluctance to take drastic action in a few cases but orders have now been issued, with consent of the Ministry, to all magistrates that if mobs showed themselves unlikely to disperse they should be fired upon at once, if necessary without warning. A public order ordinance giving powers of detention without trial, collective fines and control of press will be promulgated today. Nehru has been here for some days and has addressed large meetings at several places denouncing the atrocities committed by Hindus in Bihar.
39 page 73 (excerpts)
Mr Abell to Mr Turnbull
15 November 1946
Enclosure to No. 39
Extract from Dawn of 15 November 1946
"ABSOLUTE PAKISTAN THE ONLY SOLUTION"
EXCHANGE OF POPULATION MUST BE CONSIDERED, SAYS QAED-E-AZAM
MUSLIM MEMBERS ARE SENTINELS OF NATION
BOYCOTT OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY IS STILL IN FORCE
Muslim League President Qaed-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah declared on Thursday in New Delhi that in his view "the only solution" to India's present communal situation "is Pakistan and Hindustan" and said that he meant "absolute Pakistan-anything else would be artificial and unnatural."
"As soon as Pakistan is achieved," he told representatives of the foreign press, "this tension which exists, and will continue-that one nation is going to rule the other-will cease. These minorities will then settle down as minorities. They will realize minorities can live only as minorities and not as a dominant body."
Mr. Jinnah, who said he had given the press conference because of a number of individual requests by foreign correspondents, added : "at present the position is this: that the minorities in the Muslim zones naturally don't want Pakistan, because, with the backing and dissension of Hindu majorities all over India, they are encouraged and are dominating Muslim majorities."
"Once they realize they have to live as minorities, then I think you will have really a stable and secure Government in Pakistan and Hindustan. Why should there then be a national quarrel? The position is reduced to much smaller plan, that is, how best can the minorities be protected and safeguarded in the two states.
"Unless you say we are reduced to bestiality I do not see any reason why the Muslim minority[? majority] in Pakistan should not deal with the minorities in a most generous way."
Of the Interim Government, Mr. Jinnah said in response to questions that the Muslim League Ministers were there "as sentinels" who would watch Muslim interests in the day to day administration of Government.
He also commented that "this Government should not be allowed to do anything administratively, by convention or conventions which would in any way prejudice or militate the problem of the future constitution of India, and we shall continue to resist every attempt which would directly or indirectly militate or prejudice our demand of Pakistan.
Asked if he favoured abandoning the Interim Government, Mr. Jinnah replied: "I have said this: It was forced on us. The present arrangement I don't approve of."
Asked what would happen in the next six months or a year when the Congress and the League are not agreed on the question of the division of the country, Mr. Jinnah said, "What happens is what you see. You have been witnessing what is happening.".
EXCHANGE OF POPULATIONMr. Jinnah made a direct reference to the present disturbances when he said, "The exchange of populations will have to be considered seriously as far as possible, especially after this Bihar tragedy".
77 page 139 (excerpts)
Field Marshal Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
The Viceroy's House, New Delhi, 22 November 1946
2. Everything else in India is overshadowed by the savage outbreaks of communal violence in East Bengal, Bihar and the United Provinces. I doubt whether anyone in England yet quite realises the extent and bestiality of the attacks on the Muslims in Bihar and the United Provinces. The Muslims are undoubtedly to blame for their policy of "direct action", which led to the Calcutta killings in August, where the casualties in the end were perhaps 50:50; and for the Noakhali and Tippera disturbances, which were probably instigated by supporters of the Muslim League, though I am certain that the leaders of the Muslim League had nothing to do with it. But the retaliations in Bihar and the United Provinces have been, on the scale of numbers and degree of brutality, far beyond anything that I think has yet happened in India since British rule began. And they were undoubtedly organised, and organised very thoroughly, by supporters of Congress; again I am sure that the leaders were not involved, though I think that some of the Bihar Ministers acted recklessly and irresponsibly in encouraging or failing to suppress the incitement of revenge for Noakhali.
I do not yet know the numbers killed in Bihar, Jinnah as you will have seen puts the figure at 30,000, and Nazimuddin, who is an honest and moderate man, put them to me at anything from 10,000 to 20,000. The official estimate is 4,000 to 5,000, my own guess would be between 5,000 and 10,000. Nobody really knows yet, and nobody ever will know accurately. In Eastern Bengal the last report of the Governor does not put the numbers killed higher than two or three hundred, but the refugees run into many thousands. In Bihar the Governor's estimate of refugees is 120,000; the Muslim League say 150,000.
I have not yet got the full story of what happened in the United Provinces. There was a big Hindu fair, attended by two to three hundred thousand Hindus; and there is no doubt from the evidence available that a certain section made a deliberate attack, on a trivial pretext or no pretext at all, on the local Muslims and practically wiped them out, and destroyed all their property. The numbers killed are small compared with Bihar, they may be 500 or they may be 1,000 but they were practically all the Muslims available on the spot.
The above is not the full story of all these killings by any means, but it is the nearest I can get to accuracy at the moment, and I think you should know it. You should also be aware of certain features of these disturbances, which are to my mind even more serious than the outbreaks themselves. Firstly, I do not think that these were sudden outbreaks of excitable people as have often occured previously in India, but were deliberately planned by the worst political elements: those in East Bengal probably by a discarded supporter of the Muslim League; and those in Bihar and the United Provinces by the lower strata of the Congress. Secondly, and I think this is the worst factor, the events showed that neither the Police nor the Indian officials can now be relied on thoroughly to act impartially.
Thirdly, there is in Bihar particularly, and in Eastern Bengal to a lesser degree, an administrative problem which is quite beyond the capacity of the Provincial governments. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees, who dare not go back to their villages, and have lost all their property; there are crops which will be lost for lack of labour to reap them; and there is property destroyed to the value of many lakhs of rupees. The shelter, feeding and clothing of the refugees is the immediate problem; labour for the reaping of abandoned crops is the next; and the eventual settlement of these refugees and the repair of the damage done is the third.
79 page 148 (excerpts)
Sir H.Dow (Bihar) to Field Marshal Viscount Wavell (Extract)
22/23 November 1946
3. On the whole, my Ministry must be given the credit of having acted vigourously when the actual troubles started, and the military officers will, I think agree that they have not been in any way impeded by the Ministry in getting the situation under control in the shorted possible time. There are, of course, allegations against individuals in isolated instances which will have to be the subject of further inquiry, but it is generally admitted that the conduct both of troops of all kinds and of the police has been admirable. The Ministry were indeed insistent during the early days of the rioting that the military should shoot to kill larger numbers of the mobs, which generally dispersed, however great their number, as soon as firing was resorted to, and the Ministry are indeed now being attacked by the Mahasabha and other extreme Hindu elements because of the alleged ruthlessness with which they suppressed the Hindu mobs. The criticism is, in my opinion, quite unjustified, and I hope that the Prime Minister will remain staunch in his defence of the military and police, however much the political opposition to his measures heads up.
...6. The tension between the leaders of the two communities, and its dissemination in the public press, continues to be the most explosive element in the situation. It is pretty clear to all that the immediate cause of the outbreak in Bihar was the great meetings held in Patna on the 25th and 26th of October to celebrate "Noakhali Day". My Prime Minister cannot be expected to see this and sees red at any such suggestion; he is painfully aware of his own responsibility for allowing these meetings to be held in spite of the opposition by local officers. Jagat Narain Lal, M.L.A., was responsible for the organisation of these meetings, at which most provocative banners were displayed and slogans shouted that were direct incitements to violence, in spite of his undertaking to the Prime Minister that no such slogans would be permitted. It was only very elaborate police precautions that averted trouble in Patna city at the time of these demonstrations.
7. The ground for the disturbances had been, as I have pointed out before, only too well prepared by the press ever since the trouble in Noakhali started. A heavy responsibility lies on the Statesman for its greatly exaggerated reports about the slaughter in Noakhali. Naturally the Bihar papers exaggerated these still further, taking it for granted that a "sober" paper like the Statesman would understate rather than magnify the occurences. As an example of the inflammable stuff that was being daily printed, I quote the following from the Searchlight of October 23rd:-
"East Bengal is a challenge to India's manhood. We are sure that the country is not yet so utterly dead to elementary sense of honour as to remain a silent on-looker of barbarism that has few parallels in history... Neither honour nor religion is safe at the hands of the miscreants who are free to roam at large, putting defenceless men and women to fire and sword, and compelling them to choose between life and Islam... The situation involves the honour of women and the sacredness of religion... Every resource, economical and otherwise, must be forthwith organised to instil the fear of God into men who have the impudence to think they can impose their dictation by force. If there must be civil war, let there be one."
95 page 178 (excerpts)
Cutting from the Statesman of 26 November 1946
MR. JINNAH ADVOCATES IMMEDIATE EXCHANGE OF POPULATIONS
VICEROY'S DUTY IN RESTORING PEACE
League's attitude to long-term plan
PANDIT NEHRU's CHARGE REFUTED
From our staff correspondent.
Karachi, November 25th.- Asked to make suggestions for checking lawlessness and restoring order in the country, Mr. Jinnah said at a Press conference today: "In view of this horrible slaughter, I am of the opinion that the authorities, both Central and Provincial, should take up immediately the question of exchanging populations to avoid a recurrence of the brutal events that have taken place where small minority communities have been butchered by overwhelming majorities."
He suggested that, meanwhile, the Viceroy, because he alone could do it as Representative of the Crown, should adopt every means and measure to restore peace, law and order.
102 page 188 (full text)
Statement by Lord Pethick-Lawrence*
27 November 1946
STATEMENT OF CASUALTIES IN COMMUNAL DISTURBANCES IN INDIA, SEPTEMBER 2 - NOVEMBER 18, 1946
* (circulated in connection with his answer to a Parliamentary Question by Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords on 27 November 1946..)
CMP(1) - From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'
CMP(2) - Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946
CMP(3) - The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946
CMP(4) - Jinnah and ML responses to the CMP 22 May and June 6 1946
CMP(5) - Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946
CMP(6) - Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946
CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946
CMP(7) - The Congress unease with parity 8-9 May 1946
CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946
CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union
CMP(8) - More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting 11 May 1946
CMP(9) - Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946
CMP(10) - Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946
CMP(11) - Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946
CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946
CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946
CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946
CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946
CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946
CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action, July-August 1946
CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946
CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946
CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946
CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947
CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell
CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947
CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946
CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947
CMP (18) - My take
CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?
CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material
CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947
CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan
Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan
Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942
Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940
Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45
Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan
Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'
Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931
Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928
Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38
Extra(5) - BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947
Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947
Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43
Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah
Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory
Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies
Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth
Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937
Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43
Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh
Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab
Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto
Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter
Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit
1937-1940(2) Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert
1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar
1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad
1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh
1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh
1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page
1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher
Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers
Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States
Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments
1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila
1944: Gandhi-Jinnah talks, Jaswant Singh
1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)