Partition of Bengal

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Official announcement of Partition of Bengal

  • Partition of Bengal was announced by Lord Curzon on 20th July 1905. Bengal was one of the biggest provinces at that point of time. It consists of present day West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Bangladesh and Assam. It had a total population of 78 million. 
  • Official Reason given by the Lord Curzon was that, Bengal was too big to be administered properly so it needs to be divided.
  • But the real reason was to weaken the nationalist movement which was going on at that point of time in Bengal. It was basically done to woo the Muslims, Curzon convinced them that Dacca would become the capital of Eastern Bengal.

Division of Bengal

Bengal was divided into 2 provinces Eastern Bengal with Muslims as the majority(18 million out of 31 million were Muslims) and the Western Bengal with Hindus as the majority(42 million out of 54 million were Hindus).

Reaction of the announcement of the Partition of Bengal

On August 7,1905 Boycott Resolution was passed in a massive meeting in the Calcutta Townhall. In that formal announcement of the Swadeshi Movement was made. 

Swadeshi Movement

  • Swadeshi movement was started to oppose the British decision to partition the Bengal.
  • On 16th October 1905 the partition formally came into force. 
  • Hindus and Muslims tied Rakhi to each other as a symbol of unity.
  • Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose addressed huge gatherings for support of Swadeshi Movement.

Swadeshi Movement includes:

  • Boycott of Government schools & colleges
  • Boycott of Government services, courts, legislative councils,municipalities,etc.
  • Boycott of foreign goods

Congress’s Position

In Indian National Congress meeting in 1905 under the chairmanship of Gokhale it was resolved to:

  • Condemn the Partition of Bengal
  • Support the Anti partition and Swadeshi Movement

However, Congress was divided into two groups on whether to take the movement out of Bengal or not. Extremist was of the opinion to spread the Swadeshi Movement outside the Bengal whereas the Moderates were of the opinion  to limit the movement to Bengal only.

Finally in Surat session of Indian National Congress ,Congress split into Moderates and Extremists.

Extremist movement 

  • Main leaders of the Extremist movements were: Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurbindo Ghosh.
  • Extremist wanted to transform the Swadeshi Movement into a mass struggle and wanted to free India from foreign rule.
  • Boycott and publicly burning of foreign clothes and foreign made goods was done.
  • Public meetings were held to mobilize the masses and generate public sentiment for the Swadeshi movement. Swadesh Bandhab Samiti of Ashwini Kumar Dutta emerged as a powerful method of mass mobilization.
  • Use of popular festivals: Tilak’s Ganpati festival and Shivaji festivals were used to mobilize the masses and spreading political messages.
  • Programmes of Swadeshi like establishment of Bengal National College by Aurbindo Ghosh.
  • On 15th August 1906 National Council of Education was set up. 
  • Swadeshi enterprises such as textile mills, soap, match factories,shops,etc were set up by the Indian nationals.

Extent of the mass participation

  • Students participating in the Swadeshi Movement were disqualified from the government schools and colleges. 
  • Urban middle class women took an active part in the movement.
  • Muslim participation was quite low, however some of the Muslims which participated in the movement were: Abdul Rasul, Liaqat Hussain amd Maulana Azad.
  • Movement was quite popular in lower middle town and in cities.
  • All India Muslim League was cropped up during this time as an Anti Congress front. 
  • Nawab Salimulah of Dacca favored the British Government in partition of Bengal.

Annulment of Partition

  • Finally in 1911 partition was annulled to curb the spread of revolutionary terrorism. Hindus were happy with this while Muslims repent at this decision.
  • Provinces of East and West Bengal were merged and Bihar and Orissa were made separate provinces. 

 

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