The latest phase of fascistization of India has now reached Bengal – the birthplace of India’s democratic movement and, paradoxically, also a fertile ground for religious disharmony, where historically millions converted to Islam (via Buddhism) to escape from Hindu caste oppression.
The anti-partition movement in British Bengal in 1905 gave birth to Hindu and Muslim nationalism, spreading all over British India, frustrating the incipient second democratic revolution of India. The first nascent democratic revolution was the Young Bengal movement led by eighteen year old Henry Derozio from around 1825 onwards; he died at the age of twenty-two. The movement was inspired by the ideas of French Revolution and economic philosopy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. The movement was nipped in the bud.
The infamous Calcutta riots of 1946, killing probably 8000 people, would have embarrased Hitler. The dominant feudal classes together with the new bourgeois forces from both religious communities succeeded to put the most oppressed peoples against one another. The following quote describes the participants in the riots: “Anatomy of the crowd : Predominance of up-countrymen amongst the 1946 rioting crowd represented a broad pattern of similarity with Calcutta’s preceding communal outbreaks. Amongst the Muslims the butchers, factory workers, masons, dock workers and other inhabitants of slums of central Calcutta were most active. Muslim students, including females, joined the 16th August rally. Within the Hindus the volatile section included milkmen, sweepers, rickshaw pullers, darwans (guards) of government offices and business establishments and personal retainers of the city’s prominent persons. There were communal skirmishes taken place before. But, in the history of Calcutta’s communal riots the Bengalis – Hindus and Muslims – joined the rioting crowd for the first time in 1946. Most pre-eminent in participation were potters, scavengers, petty shopkeepers, goldsmiths and Kalwars (artisans dealing with scrap metals), students and other middle-class groups.
Mamata Banerjee – Chief Minister of Bengal