THE BACKGROUND TO MOTH-EATEN AND TRUNCATED BANGLADESH TERRITORY

The geographical figure (map) of Bangladesh territory is exactly what a populist great leader once in late 1940s termed it exactly as the ‘Moth-Eaten and Truncated’ one. Neither the map of the one third of pre-1947 province of Bengal adjacently west of the Bangladesh territory anything pleasing to look at but somewhat still more odd looking like a continually skeleton of top of the body and a swelled belly under having no leg below to support the weight of the big belly. That is how the DADAS (older brothers) then based at Calcutta (now Kolkata) forced the vivisection ( See Dr. Joya Chatterjee, Bengal Divided 1997 and Bangla Bhag Holo, 2002) of the age old province of Bengal in 1947, albeit, in full connivance of the British Raz leaders during the closing years here, particularly the notorious Radcliff. Had they been little more tolerant and accommodative in late 1940s neither of us would have the ignominy of inheriting the odd-looking geographical maps nor Bangladesh would have the ‘moth-eaten and truncated’ one as of now in post 1947 period. The unfortunate but real psyche of vendetta did hardly care for minimum rationality in shaping the current odd geography of both and historical pains of the two peoples speaking the same language but staying quite apart despite being the next adjacent neighbors, fighting since then with arms to keep the border free from ‘intrusion’ or ‘infiltration’ of both from either sides, nothing changed in 24 years during 1947-71 as then onwards after Bangladesh had independence from Pakistan. Neither the design they had for grabbing both East Pakistan and then, as well, independent Bangladesh in case it had failed for welcome merger by them in the main body of the AKHANDA BHARAT or ‘Undivided India’ as yet remains somewhat a mystery despite the vulnerabilities in almost every matters of concern for the ‘moth-eaten and truncated’ Bangladesh. Where does lie the strength and power of resilience?
Despite geographical vulnerabilities and economic difficulties, the 150 million people of Bangladesh proudly inherit sustained inner strength for survival drawn from the past historical struggle in its remaining simultaneously absorbed in spiritual heritage in hearts, minds and overall psyche. The very power gave them determined courage to stand boldly to face any adversary and fight them all. No doubt that the loss of Muslim political power in this region ditched them in difficulties one after another, but nothing could keep them down for all time. In fact, they rose and continued to put up resistance. One such significant resistance came to take shape in 1906 in the founding of the All India Muslim League in Dhaka, then capital of the newly formed province of East Bengal and Assam. Although the founding of the Muslim League came in 1906, the background had quite long preparation and spade work by Nawab Abdul Latif of Faridpur, Syed Ameer Ali Calcutta and also through the Aligargh school and college movement pioneered by Syed Ahmad Khan for promoting awareness through modern education among the Muslims so long fell backward after the British took over this country in 1757 A.D. The founding of the Muslim League however, had another crucial point and issue to take on that was the preservation and maintenance of the new province of East Bengal and Assam formally created in October 1905. During the whole British period previous to 1905 this geographical area and its people remained backward in education, economy etc that the new province had some possibility and promise to redress. The British Professor of Indian History based at SOAS in late mid twentieth century Rushbrook Williams had viewed the new province in the following way:
‘Between 1905 and 1911, there came the promise of a change. In the former year the then Viceroy, Lord Curzon, decided that the enormous province of Bengal was administratively unwieldy, and that the neglect which had for centuries over-shadowed its eastern regions could no longer be tolerated. He established the new province of East Bengal and Assam, with its capital at Dacca. For the next few years, steady progress was made in education, communications and other concomitants of growth… For the first time in centuries, the land that is now East Pakistan became a separate entity…. Lord Curzon’s move was hotly denounced by the educated classes, mainly Hindu, of Calcutta and of what is now West Bengal. He was accused of striking a blow at the entire nationalist movement- of which Bengal had been for some time the spearhead – by splitting the Presidency and setting up a Muslim majority province. Agitation both violent and non-violent continued unabated. It achieved its objective in 1911….I (when visited in 1918) could understand their (Muslims) dismay. Progress had been halted; Dacca was forlorn, with its brave new buildings crumbling into obsolescence and its Muslim population relapsing into their former apathy’ (R.Williams, The East Pakistan Tragedy, Tom Stacey, London, 1972, pp.14-15).
The new province created in 1905 though made by the British Government for administrative expediency not only opened many avenues for advancement of the people in the big geographical area that was in no way intended to halt advancement of the West Bengal Presidency including then Bihar and Orissa with it. The argument that the Calcutta based elite wished to pursue was for harming the ‘nationalist movement’. What nationalist? Bangali or the big Indian nationalist? The renowned Bangali poet Tagore who had been one of the leaders in the movement for annulment of the partition of 1905 did hardly believe in Bangali nationalism but in greater Indian nationalism having his preferred hero for Indian national leadership in the person of Shivaji, not a Bangali but a Marathan Hindu, the toughest anti-Muslim fighter of the early eighteenth century. There is no authentic document available that they planned to have independent Bangali nationalist identity out of the framework of BHARAT MATA or Mother India and continued to have dream for the epical Ram Raz or Kingdom of God Ram in the whole subcontinent. Had their next generation been serious about independent Bangali nationalist they would in 1947 stood for the Independent Greater Bengal issue then formulated by Abul Hashem- Sohrawardy-Sarat Bose not only to remain outside the framework of Pakistan but also independent of the big Indian union. The well known fact is that the Calcutta based elite like Dr. Shyma Prasad Mukerjee, the leader of the Hindu Mahasava and Patel, Nehru etc of the Congress exploded this plan (See, Dr. Shila Sen, Muslim Politics n Bengal: 1937-47, 1973 and Dr. Joya Chatterjee, Op.cit.) that had earlier been nodded by the Muslim League President Jinnah (See, H.V. Hodson, The Great Divide, 1968). That is how the moth-eaten and truncated East Pakistan born in 1947 became independent Bangladesh in 1971 having the same stigma of being moth-eaten and truncated. Had there been no annulment of the partition in 1911, it can safely be presumed that this country would not have been vulnerable but be much bigger and stronger one as our forefathers had in the new province of East Bengal and Assam in 1905 that had not been anyway moth-eaten and truncated one we inherit now since 1947.