Salute Gopal Mukherjee – Savior of Hindus on August 16, 1946, take inspiration to defend Bengal.

Shri Gopal Mukherjee: A man to whom Gandhi pleaded twice not to massacre Muslims and when his pleadings were rejected, Gandhi fasted for weeks together in Calcutta.

Gopal Mukherjee was born in 1913 and breathed his last in 2001.

Let’s throw some light on Gopal Mukherjee who was neither a politician nor had any political inclination. He was just a common man but nationalist par excellence. On the other hand, Suhrawardy was a terribly powerful political leader, at the helm of affairs of Muslim League and also the last Chief Minister of undivided Bengal. Taking all his might into consideration, Suhrawadry asked Muslims to fortify the general strike and later the mass meeting at Maidan (called by Muslim League) on August 16. The day had already been termed by Mohammad Ali Zinnah (All-India president of Muslim League) as Direct Action Day to partition India to have Pakistan finally. All were sure of its far-reaching effects, let alone Muslims, but our Hindu ancestors of Kolkata failed to grasp this – what an irony. 

Hindus had believed foolishly that the Direct Action Day on 16th Aug' 1946 would be another display of non-violence struggle like that of Gandhi or contemporary Anna Hazare. Perhaps the slavery of more than a millennium had failed to wake them up from the deep slumber which Hindus in present day West Bengal are still in same state. Hence, even if Muslim cadres started attacking Hindu localities on the morning of August 16, Hindus failed to comprehend what was in near future. For that reason liberal and secular Hindus went to the Muslim League meeting, embellished by the presence of Com. Jyoti Basu, Suhrawardy and Khwaja Nizamuddin, while flags of Muslim League and Communist Party adorned the podium. Jyoti Basu was also witnessed to voice the slogan of Muslim League – First Pakistan, then independence to India. I will say it that Jyoti Babu witnessed this and didn't guess what Muslims were up to and we were told that he was a great visionary of Bengal during all our childhoods.

Once the meeting ended, tens of thousands of Muslims, already armed, pounced on their preys – Hindus and Hindu-owned shops. For the next three days – August 16, 17 and 18 – Islamic onslaughts created a new saga – the worst account of non-Muslim persecution in recorded history. Hindus, genteel and simply unprepared to preclude this onslaught, were murdered in their thousands; myriad genocides of Hindus brought public life to a halt. Streets in Calcutta got red with blood of Hindus shaming the basic definition of humanity. Till now, words fail to describe the genocide, not to mention those days. The Statesman defined this period with its legendary headline “The Great Calcutta Killing” while other scribes termed it as – “Week of Long Knives.”

On the word of Phillip Talbot, a journalist present in Calcutta at that time, in a letter to Walter Rogers of the Institute of Current World Affairs:

“It would be impossible to describe everything that we saw. A sense of desolation hung over the native bazaars. In street after street rows of shops had been stripped to the walls. Tenements and business buildings were burnt out, and their unconsumed innards strewn over the pavements. Smashed furniture cluttered the roads, along with concrete blocks, brick, glass, iron rods, machine tools ñ anything that the mob had been able to tear loose but did not want to carry off. Fountains gushed from broken water remains. Burnt-out automobiles stood across traffic lanes. A pall of smoke hung over many blocks, and buzzards sailed in great, leisurely circles. Most overwhelming, however, were the neglected human casualties: fresh bodies, bodies grotesquely bloated in the tropical heat, slashed bodies, bodies bludgeoned to death, bodies piled on push carts, bodies caught in drains, bodies stacked high in vacant lots, bodies, bodies.

"Watching a city feed on its own flesh is a disturbing experience", Talbot concluded. "In spite of our war heritage of callousness, I know that I was not alone in sensing profound horror this last week as Calcutta, India's largest metropolis and the second city of the Empire, resolutely set at work to cannibalise itself". Talbot's letter is remarkable because of the clarity of his testimonial. He was an outsider and a witness whose detachment and compassion were severely tested as he wrote about the carnage all around him. "In human terms, estimated casualties ran from the Provincial Government's absurdly reductive report of 7500 dead to military guesses that 70,000 to 1,00,000 people might have been killed in span of three days. Already more than 35,000 bodies have been collected and counted, and no one will ever know how many persons were swept down the Hoogly, caught in the clogged sewers, burned up in the 1,200 fires, or taken away by relatives who disposed of their bodies privately. Women were gathered from various localities to Bada maidaan for public rape ...thousands of new widows, small girls, aged women  were raped in afternoon broad daylight in open field in between the metropolis of Calcutta and simultaneously 1000s of Muslims gathered to see it as a festivities chanting AllahO Akbar. A reasonable guess, I think, is that more than 40,000 hindu woman were raped that day and 1,10,000 people were killed in what is already being called 'The Great Calcutta Killing' or 'The Week of the Long Knives.”

And sole blamable person behind this violent catastrophe was none other than Suhrawardy. He was the person who annunciated in the said meeting that both administration and army would be paralyzed to have cherished Pakistan. All these were enough to incite Muslims but so blinded were Bengali Hindus by Gandhi's secularism that this declaration failed on their deaf ears only.

In Lalbazar, another drama was going on – Suhrawardy had placed himself within the Lalbazar Control Room to make administration effete (completely) to help his comrades to polish off Hindus en masse and thus, better their struggle to achieve Pakistan. He was not alone – to make the task a great success, three notorious Muslim culprits viz. Bombaiya, Mina Panjabi, Munna Chowdhury had been placed in New Market area, Cornwallis slum area and Harrison Road respectively. All of them participated in killing Hindus directly.

The onslaught proved to be enough to perplex Hindus in the beginning. The shock was so great that they could not even think of any reprisal. What were reputed political leaders doing then? Nehru, at that time, was the Prime Minister of interim Central Government; both he and his political guru – Gandhi – acted as best definition of Humpty Dumpty politicians. The majority of Hindus considered this as their only destiny as Gandhi Ji had preached that Hindus should surrender to death if attacked but should not raise weapons in retaliation. In such a situation, only a few Hindus could realize the need of a brutal reprisal or else Hindus in Calcutta and the greater part of Bengal would cease to exist soon.

First and foremost among these few Hindus was Gopal Chandra Mukherjee. He used to live at Malanga Lane, in Bowbazar of Central Calcutta. He owned a slaughter house (of goats) as well and that's why he was more famous as Gopal Pantha. However, despite all these his patriotism was second to none. He was a relative of Anukul Chandra Mukherjee (famous revolutionary) and follower of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. He had no confidence on the weird theory of non-violence propounded and also propagated by Gandhi in the Indian scenario. Gopal had the conviction that force was the most essential attribute to drive out British from India. Privately he had good relation with few leaders of Congress, most imperative of them was Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy.     

Gopal Mukherjee, based on his own ideology, had formed and used to conduct a small organization named Bharatiya Jatiya Bahini – Hindu youths used to learn and practice the knowledge of power and arms there. Even if people were not conscious of the same, the same organization raised the first Hindu defence in August, 1946. His disciples became successful in overcoming Muslim rowdies and Gopal was termed as savior of Hindus.

Well, there were others also in the civil war. Jugal Kishore Ghosh was one of them while on the other hand, Sikhs and Bihari cowherds acted gallantly. And the entire leadership was provided by Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee.  

Without doubt, Hindus had initial setbacks (severely) but when they started reprisals Suhrawardy had to call in Army. The onslaught led by Shri Gopal Pantha was so ferocious that Muslims were unwilling to come out of their mosques, Large Parts of Calcutta was being hunted for Muslims. Its was clear instructions from Gopal ji himself to kill any Muslims male visible and send Muslim women and children to nearest mosque. That was the following of Sanatan Dharma Gopal Mukherjee adhered. Meanwhile Muslim League leadership got the idea of the utter loss as within a day Gopal Pantha turned the tables with his group of boys supported by Bihari migrants and Sikhs. G.G. Ajmiri and Mujibur Rehman, chief of students’ organization of Muslim League and member of Muslim National Guard respectively, pleaded with Gopal to stop the bloodbath.

This was ferocity of Gopal Pantha was revenged by the anti-Hindu pogrom in Noakhali (near Chittagong) that started on October 10, 1946 on the auspicious day of Kojagari Laxmi Purnima under the leadership of Ghulam Sarwar. It’s the darkest chapter in record history when the entire humanity was raped. (If our readers insist then we have ready article on Noakholi genocide of Hindus, we can publish it as separate article).

Then it was 1947 and on August 14 India would be divided into two parts leading to the birth of Pakistan. It was decided that on August 15 India would have independence but Mohandas Gandhi settled – he would not remain in Delhi on that day but would be at Noakhali to console tortured Hindus there. With this end in view he came to Kolkata on August 9. But Suhrawadry and his accomplices requested Gandhi to save them from Gopal Pantha in the metropolis of Calcutta. Muslim police personnel, witnessing fierce Hindu attacks, were just fleeing and moving to East Pakistan; hence, they were not safe in the city. Hearing all these Gandhi remained in Kolkata instead of moving to Noakhali – his mission changed rapidly (dear readers sense the secularism of Gandhi over here, which was latter practiced by Indian National congress)– rather than helping persecuted Hindus in Noakhali, he preferred to save Muslims in Kolkata. Hindus, in large numbers, were found to ridicule Gandhi but he went on asking Hindus calmly to cast aside hatred to Muslims and submit their arms and ammunitions to him. Gandhi, personally, requested Gopal Pantha twice to surrender but he remained unmoved. When secretary of Gandhi asked the reason behind his refusal, Gopal Pantha said "I will not lay down even a nail if it has been used for defending Hindu honour."   

Only a few months back, Dipu Mani – Minister of External Affairs of Bangladesh, came to Kolkata and went to Midnapur to see the ancestral residence of Suhrawardy. Suhrawardy was born in that house. All these prove we are spending our wealth to preserve the property of Suhrawardy – foremost criminal behind the bloodbath of 1946 – but have forgotten Gopal Mukherjee – the truest and most valiant Kshatriya who saved Hindus. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Political parties in India, whether in state or centre, prefers to serve as slaves of Muslim block votes and leave no stone unturned to hide the real and cruel facts of 1946. As a result, those incidents are raising their ugly heads once more across Bengal and in this context, Hindu Samhati is endeavoring to bring forth the chronicle of Hindu valiance on August 16, 1946 and following days. 

We appeal all Hindu Rashtrabhakts across Bharat to pay homage to Gopal Mukherjee, our valiant ancestor, and take inspiration to defend Bengal.

We do want reader's comments about this entire episode of Calcutta and what the present generation think about Shri Gopal Mukherjee.

Author- Satish Mylavarapu, Bengaluru, Bharat

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