26 October, 2020

While Bengal Bled...

Under the mute gaze of the State, millions of umbilical cords were severed

While Bengal Bled...
THE descendants of Islam Khan, the Mughal subedar of Bengal, were not immune to religious prejudice. And so Dacca, the birthplace of the Muslim League, witnessed severe communal strife in the days leading up to the Partition. Adversity forced Hindus to learn to defend themselves. But they-never believed Partition would actually materialise. When the news came, my grandfather was dumbstruck. After a long silence, he muttered: "Pakistan will not survive long."

Near my house, across the main road, youngsters erected an imposing bamboo gate atop which they placed a huge cutout of Jinnah. They were ready to celebrate the birth of Pakistan. Others reacted to the gesture and dissuaded the youth. The rift marred the celebration. Secularists who sincerely wanted freedom were perturbed.

My reminiscences of the pre-Partition days haunt me. Near my school, the police lines were located in a dilapidated fort, a relic of Nawab Shaista Khan's times. We were often distracted by the sound of their alarm bells. And told that the police were being assembled--to ease tension in...



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