Direct Action Day

The Week of the Long Knives

16th August 1946, when India was exactly a year away from Independence, saw one sided massacre of Hindus in Bengal, under Direct Action plan to put pressure on Congress leaders for partition. So severe were the nature of the massacre, that the whole week from the 16th has been termed ‘The Week of the Long Knives’.

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The Massacre during the ‘The Week of the Long Knives’

Initiated by the Muslim League

The massacre called the ‘Direct Action Day’, also known as the ‘Great Calcutta Killings’ was initiated by the Muslim League, to achieve their demand for a separate nation for Muslims called Pakistan. Direct action is another name for Jihad.

The Backdrop to the Massacre

Indian National Congress and Muslim League were the two major parties in the Indian Constituent Assembly of 1946. At a time when discussions were on between the British administration and the Indian leadership on the complete transfer of power to India, Muslim League put forth an alternate demand of dividing India into Hindu Majority India and Muslim Majority Pakistan. This was not acceptable to the Congress which outrightly rejected this proposal of the Muslim League.

Call for Hartal by the Muslim League

The Muslim League leaders called for a hartal on 16th August in protest against the Congress, as Bengal and the surrounding states in the country witnessed one of the worst riots in history.

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The crowd that attended the Meeting called by the Muslim League for Direct Action

Muslim League Govt. powers the riots

In the situation prevailing then in Bengal, Muslims were the Majority with 55 % and Hindus 43%. Bengal had a Muslim League Government then with the British being the coalition partner, an alliance formed to checkmate the strong opposition that included Indian National Congress, Hindu Mahasabha Party and the Communist Party of India.

4000 killed, 1,00000 homeless

In this backdrop, the in power Muslim League carried out a great massacre, in which around 4000 were killed and 1,00000 rendered homeless within three days.

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A Newspaper called Associated Press dated 17th carrying a report on the killings

Genocide in Naokhali

The riots literally wiped out the Hindu community in Noakhali district of Bengal which saw a genocide that killed 50,000 Hindus.

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Naokhali District, Bangladesh

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An unbelieveable scene from the ‘The Week of the Long Knives’

The riots spread to other states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

These events eventually led to the Partition of India in 1947.

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