Assam : A story of repulsion

 

 

 

 

 

 


The mid August of 1947 gave birth to two different states, India and Pakistan. The background story is generally told in similar fashions in both the countries but in different moods. In Pakistan, the credit is afforded to Muhammed Ali Jinnah and his associates of the Indian Muslim League. They are praised for their consistent promotion of the theory of a Muslim state within the erstwhile territory of colonial India. Jinnah is termed as ‘Quaid-i-Azam’ and the Father of Pakistan. In India they are portrayed as villains who with the collaboration of the empire bifurcated the land. It is beyond any debate that the partition of India at the moment she got her independence was the product of a mutual hatred between the Hindus and the Muslims of the colony. The saga of partition bore not only the physical division of the map, but also killing of thousands of people, native to the land and dispersal of a million or more from area where their forefathers settled centuries ago. Never ever in the history of the mankind the elimination of foreign rule of a country happened along with such a painful experience.

But to the contrary, the credit or infamy of partition does not go to any single party or man. The systematic study of the historical development of colonial India that led to the partition reveals that. Certainly it was All India Muslim League under the leadership of Jinnah that popularized the concept of a Muslim country. But surely it was Indian National Congress, without having whose clearance; the scheme could not be materialized. Congress leaders like Nehru and Patel nodded for the partition. Only then it became a reality. Unfortunately, whether small or large, there was no political party in the colonial India on the face of ensuing independence which effectively made some contribution to prevent the bifurcation. Certainly the Congress-leadership was opposed to two-nation theory as put forward by Jinnah in theory, but in practice they did everything possible to pave the way for it. RSS and Hindu Mahasabha were against partition, but did not hesitate to consider Muslims to be a different nation. Communists were in favour of communal harmony. But in practice was persuaded by the wave. Hence, the blame or credit of partition should be shouldered by all the political forces existed there in.

It is a fact that the rift between both the communities, in spirit and also in practice, speeded havoc mostly with the advent of the nineteenth century. It is a common belief that the East India Company and the British Empire conspicuously sharpened the rift for a smooth ruling of the colony. Certainly the history of domination and also the difference of belief compelled the Hindus to have had a feeling of mistrust about the Muslims. But the tension gradually steamed out with the propagation of the Sufism and also various brands of mystic Vaktivada under the Hindu belief. There were certainly some eruptions. But those were of localized nature and did not hamper the state of harmony generally prevailing. Even Aurangzeb, the villainised Mughal Emperor did not lack to have the ardent service of Hindu noblemen. Shibaji, the rebel of Maharashtra did not consider his rise to the power to be a Hindu agenda against the Muslims. There were certainly some differences. But bearing all these the country was marching without any problem.

But the scenario changed drastically with the advancement of the British power. It is fact that the British confronted the local powers irrespective of their religious belief. But most interestingly they colluded with the Maratha Sardars and also with the Peshwa. In fact at that time, it was the Maratha confederation, if be united, that alone could have wiped out the British forces out of India. The East India Company began to woo the hidden rift and utilized one against another. It is also a fact that the educated Hindu upper caste was pioneer in accepting the British Raj for their individual development. They were pioneer in propagation of education on western norms. The British Empire found their spiritual friends in them.

This section of modern Indians had to bear a sense of indignation to their past for making a paradigm cultural shift. But in order to develop a consistent theoretical foundation, as well as being persuaded by the British tricks, they willingly or unknowingly put their steps towards a Hindu re-genesis. Certainly there were a few exceptions. But they were insignificant minority. The story of advancement of the British Raj hence is intertwined with the story of development of Hindu revivalism. On the other hand Muslims were generally aloof to the modern values. And the difference of attitude made the first crack in the society. Englishmen in their red uniform capitalized this efficiently. The Great Uprising of 1857 made a halt. But it was a temporary one. The more the land moved towards the twentieth century, the crack widened.

The entire story of repulsion is not under the coverage of this small attempt. But we must recognize that the partition of the land did not emerge all of a sudden. It has a long elaborated history. The steps involve the amalgamation of the Goalpara and Sylhet districts of the undivided Bengal to the newly created province of Assam in 1874 and the partition of Bengal in 1905. In fact it was the Bengal Partition that aroused public sentiment in both the ways. The Boycott and Swadeshi Movement that developed in the western part of the divided Bengal gave the initial impetus to the growth of nationalism. Simultaneously the spread of modern education as well as abundance of government service in the eastern part blew the whistle for Muslim fraternity. Hence our study should start from the period of 1905

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