In 1946, Muhammad Ali Jinnah proclaimed 16 August as ‘Direct Action Day’ and asked for Muslims around the country to ‘cease all business temporarily.’ This was to force the British federal government to yield to the Muslim Organization’s (headed by Jinnah) need of separating the nation based on faith, consequently allowing the creation of a Muslim-dominated Pakistan.
The state of Bengal was one of those extremely few pockets in the country where Muslims were a majority. Nonetheless, they were precariously placed versus a political hinterland occupied by the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress, the Communist Party of India and also the Hindu Mahasabha.
Furthermore, as the freedom struggle versus the colonial masters waged on, notions of nationalism became a lot more intricately braided with religion. Being an Indian began being related to being a Hindu. Nonetheless, the idea was to insist on the Indian identity against the European colonizer.
Writings of several thinkers, especially in Bengal, borrowed much from spiritual images and also symbolism. These consisted of names like Aurobindo Ghosh, Swami Vivekananda as well as Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay.
Probably, initially, the intent was not to estrange Muslims but to discover a coherent, firm voice against the British. Regrettably, it did indeed offer to deepen the chasm between Hindus and also Muslims.
The riots did, at some point, serve to increase a sense of alienation amongst Muslims, and for that reason enhancing their wish for a different country. The physical violence made both communities aware of the degree of harm they can trigger against each other when being ‘compelled’ to live together.
‘Direct Action Day’ marked the beginning of numerous acts of violence spread over several days in what became referred to as the Week of the Long Knives. While it was seemingly established, none of the political leaders had anticipated the physical violence to get to as substantial a scale as it did. It went on to end up being a brutality-ridden microcosm of the political battle that had the whole country in its throes later in 1947.
As participants of one area assembled participants of another and killed them in cold blood, utilizing swords, blades, knives, weapons as well as steel poles, 16 August 1946 was forever engraved in the background as the day which saw the appearance of the most primitive human impulse of violence.