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Annulment of the Partition of Bengal

Annulment of the Partition of Bengal

Partition of Bengal

In 1905, Lord Curzon (1899-1905) divided Bengal into two parts to make it easy for the British Government to govern it due to its large size (189,000 square miles) and admittedly lofty number of population (80 million). It helped improve the administration of the both parts. West Bengal got the majority of Hindu population while the Muslims enjoyed the privileges of availing employment and education opportunities in the East Bengal as they were now in majority with a population of 18 million.

The Hindus agitated against this partition and a hostile nationalist literature was written and distributed among the masses to voice out the “injustice” made by the British Government. Krishna Kumar Mitra, the editor of Sanjiwani and the leaders like Surindra nath Bannergee roused the people to observe mourning and boycott the British goods along with the British officials. Literary men like Rabindranath Tegore, Dwijendra Roy and Rajanikanta Sen also participated the protest by their writings and accelerated the agitation which was further enhanced by the “Pujas” (worships in the Kali Temple on September 28,1905, especially to quote) to sanctify it among the Hindu population. The wave of gripe travelled to the other regions of India and reached Poona, Madras, Bombay, Punjab, and Central Province where the Hindus said yes to the call of boycott. The British dresses were replaced with the “swadeshi” (local) cotton and the iron and steel foundries were boycotted. The agitation was extended even to the schools and colleges of the Bengal and teachers boycotted the British goods. In Bengal, where the Hindu landlords and their “raiyats” who were generally Muslims were at bad blood due to the practices of the Hindu landlords, the agitation turned stern day by day and adopted a communal color. The Hindus landlords aggravated their protest in Bengal to secure and continue their agrarian interests on the price of the Muslims. Bampfylde Fuller, the lieutenant-governor of the East Bengal, was accused of tilting towards the Muslims but he resigned in August 1906. His resignation was seen as a repercussion to the Muslims who were enjoying the blessings of the partition.

The animosity between the two major communities accelerated and the partition was interpreted by the Hindus intelligentsia as a “Divide and Rule” policy of the British Government. But the Muslims saw it as a question of their communal identity as the agitation was overshadowing them. A group of some top rank Muslim and Hindu leaders called on Lord Minto, the Viceroy on March 15, 1907 to end this communal tussle. All India Muslim League was formed on December 30, 1906 to voice and safeguard the interests of the Muslims. Though many factors played in the background of the formation of Muslim League, but the Hindu agitation was the most important factor which was an eye-opener incident for Muslims who believed in amity with the Hindus. Hindu reaction on the partition of Bengal raised many questions in the minds of the Muslims regarding their separate identity, interests and securities. To pacify the Hindu resentment, the British Government decided to annul the partition assuring the safety of the Muslim interests by granting them special representation in the Legislative Council and the local bodies. Lord Harding, who succeeded Lord Minto, finally announced the annulment of the partition of Bengal in December 1911. Formal reunification of the Bengal was effected on April 1912 and Lord Carmichael was appointed as the first Governor of the reunited Bengal.

About SAIMA ASHRAF

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