Articles, Opinions & Views: Noakhali Riots, October 10, 1946: Organized Muslim mobs attacked, raped and slaughtered thousands of Hindu Bengalis By Ashlyn Davis


 
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Noakhali Riots, October 10, 1946: Organized Muslim mobs attacked, raped and slaughtered thousands of Hindu Bengalis By Ashlyn Davis
Sunday, October 10, 2021


Jihad Watch : October 10, 1946 is a date to which history has not done justice.

This is a date that should have been etched into the global memory as the date of one of the greatest massacres of modern times. Instead, the record of this massacre has been largely erased, in an institutionalized manner, from our collective memories. In a bloodbath masterminded by Muslim leader Gholam Sarwar Hossaini in Noakhali of present-day Bangladesh, official estimates confirm that at least 5,000 Hindus were butchered.

But of course, the numbers could be far higher and deliberately suppressed so as not to give a bad name to the perpetrators: the Muslims of undivided India, intoxicated with religious fanaticism, desperate for an Islamic state. Thousands of Hindu men and women were forcibly converted to Islam, but not before being forced to provide a declaration that they were willingly embracing the one true religion.

Around 50,000 to 750,000 Hindus were driven out of their homes and forced into refugee camps at Agartala, Comilla and Chandpur. Some 50,000 hapless Hindus were marooned in Muslim-dominated areas and compelled to pay jizya, the tax imposed by Muslim rulers on the non-believers to allow them to survive, to the Muslim League. One can never put a number on the estimate of how many Hindu women were raped, gang-raped, and married off to Muslim men.

Why the massacre? 

The massacre took place at the time when India’s independence had become a likelihood, as the British were on the verge of deciding to leave the Indian subcontinent. The question was who would inherit the power they left behind. Muhammad Ali Jinnah had already planned and executed the Direct Action Day in Calcutta on August 16, 1946, during which some 50,000 Hindus were butchered. Jinnah thus demonstrated how far he was willing to go for a separate Islamic state. The Noakhali riots were the obvious sequel to this atrocity, and were even ghastlier.

The day of October 10 was deliberately chosen; it was the day of Kojagari Lakshmi Puja, a day of great religious significance, on which Hindu Bengalis fast and offer special prayers to the Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu deity of wealth and prosperity. Launching attacks on the Hindus when they were absorbed in their prayers would mean not only slaughtering them, but also attacking the religiosity of these children of the “pagan gods.”

The killings were orchestrated and executed by the terror-monger Gholam Sarwar Hossaini, who hailed from a Pir family, and his associate, Kasem. Sarwar Hossaini had been provoking local Muslims against the Hindus for a long time; he was waiting for the perfect occasion to exploit this hatred for action, and the time for that had come.

Mobs of Muslims were incited by a provocative after-prayer provocative speech by Sarwar Hossaini; these crowds, labelled Miya’r fauz (Miya’s army) and Kasemer fauz (Kasem’s army), went on a rampage. Hordes of other community members kept joining them and adding to their strength. The riots started with the looting of a market in the Ramganj police station area.

Eminent Hindu personalities such as Rajendra Lal Roychowdhury became the first targets of the bloodthirsty mobs. Roychowdhury put up a brave fight and went down defending his faith; upon his death, his severed head was presented to Gholam Sarwar Hossaini on a platter. Roychowdhury’s daughters were handed over to the two of Hossaini’s lieutenants.

Since Hindu Bengalis worshipped mostly feminine Gods, women, especially those between the ages of 12 to 45, became the primary targets of these mobs. They were raped, often in front of the men of her family, and forcibly converted to Islam. If you find an uncanny resemblance between the modus operandi of the genocidal Muslim mobs of then-India (now Bangladesh) and that of ISIS or the Taliban, don’t be surprised.

A member of a relief committee sent to Noakhali, Miss Muriel Leister, described the scene: “Worst of all was the plight of women. Several of them had to watch their husbands being murdered and then be forcibly converted and married to some of those responsible for their death. Those women had a dead look. It was not despair, nothing so active as that. It was blackness…….” 

Hindu freedom fighters such as Lal Mohan Sen were not spared, either. Hindu houses were burned down using gasoline. The use of gasoline in remote areas such as Sandweep, where motor vehicles were uncommon, were evidence of the fact that this was a premeditated attack, planned and prepared days in advance. Temples were gutted as well. Only a handful of Hindus managed to flee, with the help of local Muslims who then seized their property.

The Statesman on October 16, 1946 reported: “In an area of about 200 sq miles the inhabitants surrounded by riotous mobs, are being massacred, their houses being burnt, their womenfolk being forcibly carried away and thousands being subjected to forcible conversion. Thousands of hooligans attacked the villages, compelled them (Hindus) to slaughter their cattle and eat. All places of worship in affected villages have been desecrated. The District Magistrate and the Police Superintendent of Noakhali took no step to prevent it.”

This continued for weeks without any retaliation from the Hindus until the thirteenth day. 120 villages in Noakhali, including Ramganj, Lakshmipur, and Raipur, with a population of 90,000 Hindus, and 70,000 Hindus from adjoining villages of the Comilla district remained besieged by Muslim mobs. No help or rescue squads were sent from the mainland or by national leaders. The Hindus, hungry, thirsty, and humiliated, held on, staring death in the eye. Their temples had been desecrated and their idols destroyed, but the Muslims, eager to erase the last remnants of Hinduism in the souls of these Hindus, forced them to slaughter cows and eat beef. The cow is held holy in Hindu belief, and consuming beef is prohibited.

The main goal of the Noakhali riots was to transform Bengal into Darul Islam, an “Abode of Islam.” Gandhi’s policy of nonviolence did not cut ice there. The rioting stopped only when the Muslims in Bengal learned that the Hindus in Bihar had begun major retaliation for the Hindu genocide in Noakhali; riots had broken out in Chhapra and Saran, and their Muslim brethren in Bihar were now in danger.

We’ll cover that story in a future article.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:21 PM  
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