Why Hindus must remember Noakhali genocide after 75 years and learn lessons from it

The Hindu civilisation still stands because it has not shied from fighting the righteous wars and fighting some of them brilliantly

Abhijit Majumder October 11, 2021 10:44:15 IST
Why Hindus must remember Noakhali genocide after 75 years and learn lessons from it

MK Gandhi in Noakhali in 1946 after the bloody Hindu-Muslim riots in the Chittagong Division of Bengal (now in Bangladesh). Wikimedia Commons

On 10 October, 1946, exactly 75 years ago, began one of the most unspeakable genocides in history.

It was Kojagari Lakshmi Puja, the day Bengali Hindus seek blessings from their goddess of health and wealth on a full-moon night. The attack on Hindus in Ramganj of undivided Bengal (now in Bangladesh) started with the murders of fishermen.

The next day, the residence of Rajendralal Roychowdhury, president of the Noakhali Bar Association, was attacked by the private militias of local politician Gholam Sarwar Husseini and a Muslim League goon called Kasem. The private army called themselves ‘Miyar Fauj’.

Rajendralal could have tried to escape with his family. But refused to leave his ancestral home to Islamists.

He started fighting a lone battle against the mob from his terrace, with his rifle and anything he could lay his hands on. Rajendralal held back the armed jihadi mob for more than a day, but terribly dark history was to break his door down at some point.

Rajendralal fell the next day. Miyar Fauj entered and butchered the family, sparing only his two daughters. The two young, Hindu women were taken as trophies. Rajendralal’s severed head was presented to Sarwar on a plate, as a trophy.

This brutality became the harbinger of a genocide that left more than 5,000 dead, thousands converted or driven out of their land penniless, hundreds of Hindu women raped and massacred.

And when reprisals against Muslims began in Bihar, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi waded into Noakhali with his travelling circus of high moral drama, walked through villages, and finally sat on a fast-unto-death so that Hindus stop all retaliation and Muslims reach some divine realisation that Hindus should be allowed to peacefully coexist.

Seventy-five years later, the Noakhali genocide of Hindus stands like a burning memory and a humbling lesson.

In Bangladesh (former East Pakistan), in which Noakhali exists like a charred dot, Hindu population has dwindled from 28 percent in the 1940s to about 8 percent now. Hindus have faced waves of Islamist genocidal purge — another massive one during 1971 Liberation, for instance — and even today are subjected to murders, rape, conversion, temple destruction and wanton land grab in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

When the Taliban was taking over Afghanistan earlier this year, there were just 50 Hindus and 650 Sikhs left. Almost all of them have left since, foregoing a land once entirely inhabited by Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.

In Kashmir, Hindus and Sikhs are again facing ethnic cleansing by Islamist terrorists, with a spate of community-targeted killings lately.

But in the middle of all this, a section of Indian and global academia and media are fanning Hinduphobia and demonising Hindus, a community that has never invaded others or carried out genocide or ethnic cleansing even as retaliation. A recent online event organised by American universities involving known Indian Hindu-haters named ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ is living proof.

Those who do not defend themselves, who have been programmed by invaders and colonisers to loathe themselves instead of fighting back, are doomed to fade out. Every thriving civilisation or nation has fought wars and defended itself bravely.

The Hindu civilisation still stands because it has not shied from fighting the righteous wars and fighting some of them brilliantly. Krishna clarity’s on waging a war when needed has saved the Hindu civilisation through these troubled centuries, not Gandhi’s circus of pacifism

The Noakhali genocide serves as a grim reminder after 75 years. A hundred Rajendralal Chowdhurys, instead of just one, could have saved the day in that bloody October, 1946.

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