Text of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy’s Press Statement in 27 April 1947 ( United Bengal )

This is the full text of Shaheed Suhrawardy’s Press Statement about the united and undivided Bengal . This statement was published in Morning News, 28 April 1947. The Hindu, 29 April 1947 before the partition of Bengal  .

“And let us pause for a moment to consider what Bengal can be if it remains united. It will be a great country, indeed the richest and the most prosperous in India capable of giving to its people a high standard of living, where a great people will be able to rise to the fullest height of their stature, a land that will truly be plentiful. It will be rich in agriculture, rich in industry and commerce and in course of time it will be one of the powerful and progressive states of the world. If Bengal remains united this will be no dream, no fantasy. Anyone who can see what her resources are and the present state of its development will agree that this must come to pass if we ourselves do not commit suicide. I have visualized all along, therefore, Bengal as an independent state and not part of any union of India. Once such states are formed, their future rests with them. “

 

 

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It must be a matter of greatest regret to all those who were eagerly looking forward to the welfare and prosperity of Bengal to find that an agitation for its partition is being vigorously pursued in some quarters.

This cry would never have been raised had it not been due to a sense of frustration and impatience on the part of some Hindus inasmuch as the members of their community have not an adequate share in the Bengal Ministry in spite of their numbers in the province, their wealth, influence, education, participation in the administration of the province, their propaganda and their inherent strength. This frustration is largely the result of a failure to realize that the present conditions in Bengal are not applicable to an independent sovereign state as I hope Bengal will be.

Today we are in the midst of a struggle in India between contending factions of all-India importance each intent on enforcing its views on the other and neither willing to give way except at a price which the other is not prepared to pay. Their disputes profoundly affect the politics of all the provinces and the problems are being treated as a whole. An entirely different state of circumstances will arise when each province will have to look after itself and when each province is sure to get practical, if not total, independence, and the people of Bengal will have to rely upon each other. It is unbelievable that under such a set of circumstances there can exist a Ministry in Bengal which will not be composed of all the important elements of its society or which can be a communal party Ministry or where the various sections will not be better represented than they are now. I do not think that the fact that the Muslims will have a slight preponderance in the Ministry by virtue of their slender majority will be grudged by the Hindus as indeed this has hitherto been accepted by all as inherent in the nature of things in Bengal.

I have read the most fervid fulminations against the government of Bengal on its alleged treatment of the Hindu population. These denunciations have been built on the most slender and imaginary foundations. I by no means admit that the demand for the partition of Bengal is the demand of the majority of the Hindus even of West Bengal, let alone of the majority of the Hindus of Bengal.

The ties and culture of the Hindus of every part of Bengal are so much the same that it is not even to the advantage of the Hindus of one part of Bengal to sever those ties in the hope of grasping power. Indeed by the same analogy the wishes of all the people of Bengal-Muslims, Hindus and Scheduled Castes and others ought to be ascertained on the question of partition of Bengal which can only be undertaken if there is a substantial majority in its favour. It is these fundamental factors peculiar to Bengal which differentiate the question of partition of Bengal from the Muslim demand for the division of India, apart from such factors as economic integrity, mutual reliance and the necessity of creating a strong workable state. The lead of partition has been taken by the Hindu Mahasabha which hopes that by whipping up agitation for the partition of Bengal, for the dismissal of the Bengal Ministry, imposition of Sec. 93, establishment regional ministries, by arousing fanaticism against the Muslims of Bengal, by creating disturbances through hartals and violence, they will be able to ingratiate themselves with the Hindu people and destroy the influence of the Congress. The Hindu Mahasabba wishes to stage a comeback, so do sundry politicians who have not been able to find an inch for themselves. 米 米 米 米 But let us once more consider the validity of the demand itself. Why should the Bengalee Hindus demand a separate homeland?

Let me proceed on the assumption for the time being that the demand is not limited to a few but is put forward by all caste Hindus, Scheduled Caste and those who have not returned their castes. Nor has their culture, their religion, their language suffered under the present regime and how do they think that in a future set-up they will suffer so that they can only flourish and safeguard their culture and life if they have a small portion of Western Bengal. To my mind, I think, the demand is suicidal from the point of view of the Hindus. Even, if it did happen, an eventuality which I cannot conceive, that the rule passed solely into the hands of Muslims, and attitude which would combine the entire population of Hindus in opposition to Muslims, could such a policy possibly succeed or be put into effect, where any Government of Bengal would have to carry its own servants along with it and most of them belong to the Hindu community? Then again, the industry, business, the professions are in their hands.

Their youths are well-advanced and know their rights and know how to achieve their claims. Not only is the present attitude due to sense of impatience, frustration, not only is it short-sighted but is a confession of a defeatism which one hardly expected from the great Hindu Community of Bengal. Noakhali is constantly cited as an indication of what might happen in the future setup of an independent state. I have already said that it would be ridiculous to draw conclusions for the future from the present set-up but let us pause here for a moment. Can Noakhali and the incident of that area be considered typical and an augury for the future, and are there not many other districts where the Muslims are in a convincing and overwhelming majority and yet has not peace been preserved in those districts and has not the Hindus carried on exactly as before with all their powers and privileges? And let us pause for a moment to consider what Bengal can be if it remains united. It will be a great country, indeed the richest and the most prosperous in India capable of giving to its people a high standard of living, where a great people will be able to rise to the fullest height of their stature, a land that will truly be plentiful. It will be rich in agriculture, rich in industry and commerce and in course of time it will be one of the powerful and progressive states of the world.

If Bengal remains united this will be no dream, no fantasy. Anyone who can see what her resources are and the present state of its development will agree that this must come to pass if we ourselves do not commit suicide. I have visualized all along, therefore, Bengal as an independent state and not part of any union of India. Once such states are formed, their future rests with them. I shall never forget how long it took for the Government of India to realize the famine conditions in Bengal in the year 1943, how in Bengal’s dire need it was denied food grains by the neighboring province of Bihar, how since then every single province of India has closed its doors, and deprived Bengal of its normal necessities, how in the councils of India Bengal is relegated to an undignified corner while other provinces wield undue influence.

No, if Bengal is to be great, it can only be so if it stands on its own legs and all combine to make it great. It must be master of its own resources and riches and its own destiny. It must cease to be exploited by others and shall Dot continue to suffer any longer for the benefit of the rest of India. … To those, therefore, of the Hindus who talk so lightly of the partition of Bengal, I make an appeal to drop this movement so fraught with unending mischief. Surely, some method of government can be evolved by all of us sitting together which will satisfy all sections of the people and revivify the splendor and glory that was Bengal’s.


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