Noakhali Riots History

Noakhali Riots का इतिहास Impact of Direct Action Day in Bengal, 1946 Communal riots in Bengal



The riots in Bengal’s Noakhali district occurred exactly seventy years ago, between October-November 1946, just before Independence.

H.S. Suhrawardy, Bengal’s interim chief minister at the time and a member of the Muslim League, was accused of allowing riots against the region’s Hindu minority to support his party’s demand for partition.

It behoves us to remember and pay attention to what was at stake and what was compromised in Noakhali during that month of communal carnage.

One way to grapple with the event is following Gandhi’s famous sojourn in Noakhali during the riots when his idea and practice of non-violence faced its ultimate test.

Gandhi knew that the large scale violence in Noakhali was meant to help the Muslim League’s case for Partition.

The communal riots presented a serious challenge not only to the idea of a unified Indian nation but also to Gandhi’s lifelong efforts to establish communal harmony.

Dying a beautiful death 

When news of the Noakhali riots reached New Delhi, Gandhi was already considering the possibility of dying there.

He wrote in a letter: “There is an art of dying… As it is, all die, but one has to learn by practice how to die a beautiful death.

The matter will not be settled even if everybody went to Noakhali and got killed.”

Gandhi added that his “technique of non-violence was on trial” in Noakhali and it “remained to be seen how it would answer in the face of the present crisis.”

If this technique of non-violence “had no validity,” Gandhi reiterated, “it were better that he himself should declare his insolvency.”

Gandhi’s aesthetic of death involved an idea of praxis: risking death in order to calm the atmosphere of violence.

In order to die beautifully, one had to perfect a certain mode of living.

Gandhi seemed to imply the mere event of people dying in Noakhali wasn’t enough, the people had to die in a particular way for it to be meaningful.

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