DEALING WITH ISLAMISTS: 1946-52 – Stratagem of ‘Direct Action’ & Coercive Politics of Fear

We have a lot to learn from the history of Islamists and Islamism. My hypothesis is that ‘fear’ and the ‘power of lumpen’ have always played a key role in Islamist geo-politics since the inception of this cult of barbarian marauders. I’m no scholar or historian. However, in spite of my limited knowledge and understanding of Indian history, I’m blessed with certain native wisdom. I have a feeling that having been born a ‘kshatriya’ I also have a bit of a warrior streak in me. ‘Fear’ benumbs me like it does any normal person but it also gets my adrenalin pumping and vanishes when I’m convinced of my larger ‘righteous’ cause. That’s typical of a ‘Hindu’. He/she needs a ‘righteous’ cause to be prodded into action. Even Lord Ram and Lord Krishna needed such stimulus.

Islamists don’t suffer from such debility. For them the ‘righteous’ cause is to expand their footprint and dominate a polity and crush the indigenous people and their cultures. It’s essentially the mind-set of the lumpen and goons. The ‘civilised’ and ‘literate’ Islamist scholars and clergy do try their best to hide the primitive nature of Islam by using a whole lot of flowery prophetic verbiage. However, shit is shit, even if you camouflage its stench with the best of Arabian or Egyptian attar and rose water.

The All-India Muslim League and Jinnah strategically and effectively used the primitive Islamist tool of ‘fear’ as their tactical coercive weapon to achieve their objectives post the 1946 Provincial Assembly Elections in India. The British had created two separate electorates based on religion with a predetermined agenda to balkanise India. They obviously worked in cahoots with the League and Jinnah. They also constantly worked at deepening the fault lines within the Hindu body politic but had little success in such attempts. They did prop up Sikh and Scheduled Caste ( SC)  leaders, but the Hindu body politic remained intact in spite of their subterfuges and sabotage. Even a leader like Dr B.R. Ambedkar didn’t find much traction among SC communities and thus was inconsequential.

So, Jinnah and the League were their best bets. Indian Muslims, particularly the corrupt and degenerate upper classes, had always been their allies, notwithstanding a few exceptions. The final outcome of the 1946 Provincial Assembly Elections endorsed and legitimized the League/Jinnah’s claim of being sole representative of Indian Muslims. That’s what the British and Jinnah had envisaged and conspired for. However, it also became evident to them that the path of ‘democracy’ will only lead to the marginalization of the League since it could form governments only in Bengal and Sindh. Their options were limited as India still was a Hindu country in spite of a few hundred years of Mughal and another hundred years of British rule. The Muslim population was widely dispersed except in some of the border provinces of the British dominion like Bengal, Punjab, Sindh, and NWFP.

The Cabinet Mission Plani, unveiled on 16th May 1946, was actually a plan of India’s partition on religious lines in spite of its apparently ‘democratic’ pretentions and professed intentions to keep India ‘symbolically’ or ‘nominally’ united. It was a tacit and covert approval of the League’s demand for Pakistan. The 3-tier grouping of provinces and granting them near-autonomy to have their own constitution and all residual powers beyond external security, foreign affairs, and communications, and creation of a weak and ineffectual federal government were part of the over-all design. It had offered a wide window of opportunity to Jinnah and the League to lord over the whole of Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Sindh, and NWFP and create a de-facto Pakistan.

Congress leaders understood this yet they agreed to it, as the British offered no other ‘peaceful’ alternative. Gandhi, Nehru, and Patel pinned their hopes on the proposed Constituent Assembly that would still give them an over-all majority and thus the opportunity to undo some of the covenants of the Cabinet Mission Plan after the British had departed. Soon after having been elected/selected the president of Congress and taking over the charge from Maulana Abul Kalam Azaad in the beginning of July 1946, Nehru in his press conference on 10th July 1946 in Bombay, talked about the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly and how it would not be bound by the Cabinet Mission Plan once it came into existence.

It remains a mystery as to why he presumed so naively that the British and Jinnah would buy into such an argument and keep mum when it was more than obvious to all and sundry that the ‘Hindu’ Congress would have a robust majority in the Constituent Assembly. The League and Jinnah knew all along that the road to creation of the Islamic State of Pakistan, the land of the pure, could not be paved through democratic or constitutional means. The statement of Nehru gave them the excuse to employ the known tactical weapons of Islamists – ‘coercion’ and ‘terror’ – to scare ‘non-violentsatyagrahis and banianised, brahminical, philosophical, advaitic, and Buddhistic gutless and spineless leadership of Congress into capitulation.

Jinnah and the League announced 16th August 1946 as the Direct Action Day to demand the creation of Pakistan. While replying to a foreign journalist’s question in an interview as to what did Direct Action mean, Jinnah termed it as a ‘Mass Unconstitutional Movement’. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, AIML Working Committee Member and Prime Minister of Bengal, reportedly told The Statesman, on 5 August 1946, “Bloodshed and disorder are not necessary evils in themselves if resorted to for a noble cause. Among Muslims today, no cause is dearer or nobler than Pakistan.”

Does it remind you in anyway the kinds of statements made during anti-CAA protests? The historically used fascistic tactics of Islamists have rarely changed since the rise of Islam. It’s your problem if you cannot see through their familiar stratagems and shenanigans.

Nehru actually met Jinnah in Bombay on the eve of the Direct Action Day (15th August 1946) and tried to placate him and asked him to join the interim govt. He was entrusted the responsibility by Viceroy Lord Wavell to form one. Jinnah didn’t relent and Congress decided to go ahead with govt. formation without the League.

On the Direct Action Dayii of 16th August 1946 and thereafter, the naked dance of arson, violence, wanton killings, murder and mayhem saw its worst in Calcutta and Bengal that was under the League rule. The British Governor was apparently doing the bidding of the province’s CM (then called as Prime Minister). Large-scale state-sponsored riots broke out. They were one-sided to begin — with the police acting as a mute witness until Hindus (including Sikhs) responded with all their might in defensive offence and pushed Islamists to the wall. This happened in a province that was ruled by Islamists and where Muslims dominated its police constabulary.

The ‘Calcutta Killings’ were the prelude to what was to follow. Riots and violence broke out sporadically across the nation in Muslim-dominated pockets at the slightest of instigation as if part of a pattern. The League and Jinnah unabashedly used it as a ploy to achieve their apparent goal to convince the British and the world that Hindus and Muslims could never co-exist and thus India must be divided to create Pakistan, lest it burns in the fire of a ‘civil war’.  The British also needed an alibi to override and compromise the genuine democratic process unwittingly set in motion in India. A strong and united Hindu India was as much an anathema to them as it was to the Islamists and the other divisive forces within the country, assiduously cultivated and legitimised by them.

The secularist response of Congress governments to retaliatory riots in northern provinces was reprehensible, cowardly, and perfidious. Hindus were at the receiving end of the brutal repression by the state machinery. They had voted for Congress, yet its governments instead of controlling Jinnah’s goons and protecting Hindus, were killing them when they went on an offensive to defend themselves. This was being done to appease the Islamists and Jinnah who would begin shouting ‘genocide’ over stray Muslims killed in riots while the Islamists openly indulged, beginning with Noakhali, in well-organized ‘ethnic cleansing’ in provinces where they were in majority. Hindus and Sikhs resorted to ‘offensive defence’ in their strongholds. If Congress and Gandhi expected them to submit meekly to the knives of Islamist lumpen as sacrificial goats, they were not ready for it. 

Though the proponents of partition and Hindu-hating bigots like Winston Churchill called it a ‘civil war’-like situation, the fact was except in Muslim-dominated border provinces that saw genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hindus, the rest of India with its dominant Hindu population was largely peaceful in spite of attempts by Islamists to create general disorder and mayhem on streets, and in lanes and by-lanes of Indian cities and urban ghettos.

However, what the Saint of Sabarmati witnessed in Noakhali did unnerve him and his cohorts including Nehru, and Patel. Our cowardly national leaders were ready to pay Jizya to buy peace. Jinnah’s strategy had worked. Yet again the threat of violence had produced rich rewards for the Islamist goons and forced the majority to capitulate before them. It was yet another Battle of Badriii won by Islamists.

Does it remind you of what was happening at Shaheen Baug during anti-CAA protests and the kind of cantankerous screeching speeches that were being delivered by hijab-wearing young Muslim girls from Jamia and JNU, all outfitted with Levis jeans and long fashionable boots, to the gathering of faithful there, referring constantly to the famed battle that was nothing more than a minor raid as per Indian standards of war?    


i. The British Secretary of State for India Lord Pethick-Lawrence led a three-man Cabinet Mission to New Delhi on 24th March 1946. The other two members of the British Cabinet in the mission were Stafford Cripps, the President of the Board of Trade, and A.V. Alexander, the First Lord of Admiralty. It was an initiative of Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The mandate of the Mission was to evolve the modalities of transfer of power to a single Indian administration in consultation with Indian leaders. It came up with a plan that was termed as the Cabinet Mission Plan and was announced on 16th May 1946.

ii. The All India Muslim League and M.A. Jinnah announced a day of mass protests by Muslims in support of their demand for Pakistan. They called it The Direct Action Day.

iii. The Battle of Badr was the first ever battle Mohammed and his cohorts won by stealth. It was fought in the valley of Badr. The relatively small army of Islamists (about 300 men) defeated a larger army (About a 1000) of the Quraysh tribe.


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