Direct Action Day – 16 August 1946
Posted by The Mindset on November 15, 2010
Direct Action Day or The Great Calcutta Killing was a planned attack on the Hindus of Calcutta by the Muslims under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. On this day more than 5000 Hindus were killed by the fanatic Muslim mob.
It all started with Jinnah’s declaration – ‘We shall have India divided or India destroyed’. He did both.
Jinnah was working for an armed struggle and violent attack on Hindus since July 1946. At a press conference held at his Bombay home he openly declared his intentions of creating Pakistan and that Muslim league was “preparing to launch a struggle” and that they “have chalked a plan”. He declared 16 August 1946 as Direct Action Day.
The Muslim League declared a complete strike on this day. Muslim mobs started gathering in mosques from early morning. The League directed its workers to offer prayer for freedom of “Muslim India”. Since it was a month of Ramzaan the Muslims called the struggle an allegory of Prophet Muhammad’s Battle of Badr against heathenism and subsequent conquest of Mecca. Even from early morning the Muslims started gathering in large numbers and forced the Hindu shop owners to close their shops.
The meeting “the largest ever Muslim gathering” started by 4pm; more than 100,000 Muslims gathered in the meeting, many of them equipped with lathis, daggers and several weapons. The main speakers of the meeting were Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Khawaja Nazimuddin. Both these leaders made speech that the ‘government will not interfere’. This gave a direct indication to the Muslims that there will be nobody to stop them from looting. Muslims started attacking Hindus and looting their shops just after they left the meeting. More Muslims started coming in trucks with weapons – lathis, iron bars , swords and bottles – prepared to attack Hindus and loot their shops.
The Muslim League mobilised all its frontal organisations to make the Direct Action Day a success. Special coupons for gallons of petrol were issued in the names of League ministers to be used by their party functionaries, the petrol was used to incinerate Hindu businesses. One month’s food ration for 10,000 people was drawn in advance to feed the League activists. Once the riots began the Chief Minister, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, accompanied by his political aids, spent considerable time in the Police Control Room while Muslims executed the riots. This made it extremely difficult for the Commissioner of Police, who was primarily responsible for handling the situation, to give clear and balanced decisions on all the numerous calls for help that were pouring in. It is not of course the function of a Minister to direct detailed operations, but the position was one of considerable delicacy as the Commissioner of Police could not insist on the extrusion from the Control Room of the Minister responsible for law and order.
The Rajasthani Marwari community showed great resistance against all these odds. The Marwaris mobilised the blacksmiths and asked them to prepare spears and other weapons. They also purchased arms from some American soldiers. Thus they protected the the likely slaughter of innocent Hindus at the hands of fanatic Muslims and responded to teach them a good lesson. Nonetheless the number of Hindus died during these riots was far more than the number of Muslims. While the Hindu death toll was between 5000-10000 the number of Muslims dieed was less than 100.
Muslims followed the success of Direct Action Day – the mass murder , loot and rape of Hindus – again in Noakhali. Noakhali witnessed the worst anti-Hindu Muslim riots where the complete Hindu population was nearly annihilated. The Hindu death toll in Noakhali was more than 50,000.