Today is Kojagari Laxmi Purnima. On this day Bengali Hindus worship Devi Laxmi,the Hindu Goddess of wealth,and pray for prosperity. But in pre-partition Bengal,on this day (10th October 1946) there was no jubilation among the 20% minority Hindus of Noakhali district and
Chandpur,now in Bangladesh. The majority Muslims,under the leadership of a Muslim League goon called Ghulam Sarwar,mounted an attack on them. The leaders among the Hindus were beheaded. The rest were forced to ‘embrace Islam’ or die horribly. Many,including many of
the so-called ‘lower castes’,refused to give up their religion and chose death. The usual method of conversion was to kill the cow of the household and feed a forced meal of beef. For Hindu women between seven and seventy rape was the usual thing to do. The prevalent Hindu
belief was that anyone made to eat beef this way or any woman raped could not come back to the Hindu fold.
This pogrom went on till mid-November. It was stopped by savage retaliation starting in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar and other parts of the state. Gandhiji visited
Noakhali and toured almost the whole district on foot,spreading the message of love. He wanted the Hindus to come back to their half-burnt homes. Shit happened. But neither Gandhiji nor any of his companions (including Nehru) said a single word of condemnation to the
Muslims. But when retaliation started in Bihar Nehru suggested that the Air Force should bomb Hindu villages there.
But Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee also visited Noakhali and Chandpur. He could not prevent the atrocities. But he,with the help of Swami Madhavananda of Ramakrishna
Mission and different Pandit Samaj,convinced Hindu society to take back all forcibly converted Hindus back to the Hindu fold.
After the first edition of my book ‘My People,Uprooted: the Exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan and Bangladesh’ came out,I had a visit from an elderly
gentleman who bought two copies of my book. He said he was from Noakhali but refused to give his name. He also made it clear to me,without saying it in so many words,that his mother was raped in front of his eyes by local Muslims whom he knew well.
I know that some Hindu
Moolos (supporters of Trinamool Congress) would be highly embarrassed by my telling this story. They squirm at the thought of some misdeed of Muslims being exposed. Well,let them squirm all they want.
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