Anti-Partition Movement in Bengal
The time from when India came under the rule of the British Government, India was continuously destroyed and exploitation. There was destruction everywhere. There was a big turn when the War of Independence of 1857 started. It is also known as Sepoy Mutiny.
This was when the war for independence was started by the Indians against the British. During this war, many associations or parties were formed and also along with these the leaders took out various movements against the British Government. This was done to fight against the British for what destruction they had caused in India.
In the year of 1905, Lord Curzon who was the Viceroy of India, decided to divide Bengal. So, on 20 July in 1905, he issued the order for division of Bengal. It would be divided into Assam and Piston Bengal.
Then, Assam would be with a population of around 31 million and Bengal with 4 million. From the total of both the places, Bengalis constituted 18 million and rest were Oriyas and Biharis.
Reasons for Partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon
People came to know about Lord Curzon because of his decision to divide Bengal. It was because of this decision that he gained popularity among the masses. The idea of partition came to the Viceroy because of the population. During his rule, Orissa, Bihar and Bengal were one.
They belonged to the same administration. The population of the three was double than that of England. So, Lord Curzon felt he should separate them instead of keeping them as one. Assam was united with parts of eastern half of Bengal which included Dacca, Rajshahi and Chittagong. While Bihar and Orissa was as one in the western half.
He gave various reasons for the partition. He said only one Lieutenant Governor could handle a province which consisted of around eighty million people. It would become a burden for him. Moreover, the administration of the eastern half was being ignored continuously. So this made him make one province into two and each province with one Lieutenant Governor.
Problems due to Lord Curzon’s order of Partition
Before the partition, the population was mostly Bengali speaking. But after the partition of Bengal, the Bengali speaking population got separated into two. When they were together, they felt united and as one. This is because these people had common culture and language from centuries back.
So, separating them would mean breaking their unity. The Bengalis criticized this decision of Lord Curzon. He should not have separated the Bengalis. Instead, Orissa and Bihar could be made as one province and left the Bengalis together. All these acts of Lord Curzon made the people realize that he hated the Bengalis a lot.
This is why he wanted to break their unity and strength. Moreover, the way he divided Bengal resulted in the majority of Muslims in the province of Assam and eastern Bengal. This also led to separation of Bengali Muslims and Bengali Hindus.
The other reason for breaking the Bengalis was that, the spirit of nationalism was increasing among them. They were becoming more patriotic and the educated one started to use revolutionary ways to fight against the British. Lord Curzon wanted to bring differences between the Hindus and Muslims.
This can be proved because the Viceroy used to travel to the eastern Bengal; he used to tell them the benefits they would be getting by staying in that province. Lord Curzon knew that both the Hindus and Muslims were coming together to fight against them. So, in order to stop this he planned to make the Muslims go against the Hindus.
Agitation against the Partition
The nationalists of Bengal and members of the Indian National Congress did not support the partition. All of them understood that the partition was done to separate the Bengalis and break their strength and humanity. This agitation continued for a very long time.
In the starting the agitation was led by Krishna Kumar Mitra and Surendranath Banerjee. They were the moderate leaders of the party. After them, both the revolutionary and militant nationalists led the agitation. Both the types of nationalists came together to lead their anti-partition movement against Lord Curzon.
This movement took a start on August 7 in the year 1905. There was a big demonstration in Calcutta on this day. This demonstration was to show they were against the partition. The partition of Bengal was put into effect on October 16, the same year. On this day the people fasted and the leaders called this day as a day of national mourning. People were walking on the streets of Calcutta and shouting Bande Mataram.
This was what made Rabindranath Tagore make the song Amar Sonar Bangla. This song was later decided to be the national anthem of Bangladesh. Raksha Bandhan took a new chapter on this day. This day the two communities Hindus and Muslims tied rakhi to one another.
This showed and reflected the unity which existed between the two communities. In order to protest against the decision of the Viceroy, even newspapers spoke about this issue. These newspapers were Amrita Bazar Patrika, Hitavadi, Sanjivani and Vasumati.
All of these actions started to show Lord Curzon that his plan to divide Bengal could not be successful. People lost faith on the justice the British would give. This is why all the people came together in support of the Nationalist Movement to take revenge from the British for making them suffer and sacrifice.
Birth of other movements along with the Anti-Partition Movement
The new two movements which took birth during this time were Boycott and Swadeshi. These movements took place because the leaders of Bengal felt that the demonstrations, resolutions and meetings were not enough to fight against the partition. The leaders made them understand their aim and objectives for this movement.
They taught the people to be confident. They prepared for meetings and told the people to withdraw from any types of goods from outside India. Instead of using foreign goods, the goods made in the country itself should be used and promoted. After this people burnt the shops which sold foreign goods.
This showed that the Swadeshi movement was turning out be successful. Another good thing about the movement was that it taught the people to focus on self-emphasis. This movement taught the people of India to understand their own culture and promote their own industries and enterprises.
After this people also began starting to focus on their nation’s journalism, prose and poetry. The nationalists established their own educational institutions.
In this movement, students from Bengal played a very important role. They helped a lot to practice and promote Swadeshi. They would bring down the shops selling foreign goods.
Many students were caught doing this. But it did not matter to them. They still continued doing whatever they were doing. They did not lose hope. Even the women participated in the Swadeshi movement. At that time even though women were engaged mostly in the household, they managed to stop the production and sale of foreign goods. Even the zamindars took part in this movement by going against the British even though they worked for them.
The Boycott and Swadeshi movement brought all the people together and made them fight against the British for freedom. It was due to this movement that the indigenous industries in the country rose up as the foreign goods were boycotted.
Success of Anti-partition movement and end to the partition
The British government tried to put an end to the anti-partition movement by adopting repressive measures. This happened in the year of 1908. The anti-partition movement was able to achieve for what it aimed. This took place in 1911 and Lord Hardinge cancelled the partition of Bengal.
According to Mahatma Gandhi the partition of Bengal awoke the citizens. Indeed this anti-partition movement made people understand the meaning of nationalism and one could see a new political consciousness in everyone. The spirit of patriotism got a new shape because of the anti-partition movement.
After Bengal the anti-partition started to became famous as it was spreading in other provinces of the country as well. Foreign goods started to be withdrawn in northern parts of India, Madras and Bombay as well. All of them got the support of united Bengal in this movement.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak played the major role to spread Swadeshi movement in the rest part of the country. The movement became a challenge to win against the British in order to get independence. But on the other side all these movements helped the people to unite to free the country from the rule of British.