The partition of Bengal in Indian History is also well known as ‘Bang-Bhang’. It took place in the year 1905 and Lord Curzon, who was the Viceroy of British India, was the leading person behind the concept of Partition. Bengal was then covering a very large part of British India comprising many neighbourhood states like Bihar Assam etc. The then Viceroy of British India Lord Curzon took a major step towards the partition of it and separating Hindu part from the Muslim majority part. However, the partition after the application went through many protests. Finally, the partition was taken back in 1911 and once again the Bengal was united to its original form.
According to Lord Curzon, the Partition of Bengal was done due to some administrative reasons but Indians believed that it was a result of ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of The British Government.
Structure of Bengal
Since the partition of Bengal was not a piece of cake for the British Government and the whole Indian population was asking for its reason. So according to the British Government, Bengal was a very large province of India at that time. It is said that Bengal was equal to France in terms of area. It had a population of more than 80 million living in the area of about Five hundred thousand kilometres square. Calcutta was the capital of Bengal and also the capital of British India.
The Bengal was covering a vast area including present-day Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Bangladesh and Orissa.
Reason for the Bengal Partition
It is already clear that the Bengal was covering a vast area and was a place for a very large population of British India. The province was lacking advancement of education, infrastructure, industrial development and the problem of unemployment.
The British Government said that the Bengal was too large to be administered single-handedly and the eastern Bengal was less prosperous than the western Bengal. Also one of the reasons that Curzon described was that he wanted to separate the Bengalis from other native Indians.
The Indians and especially Hindu was not in the support of the partition of Bengal. According to them, the partition of Bengal was just a policy of the British Government to separate Hindu and Muslim of British India. They wanted to make Bengal a Muslim majority state and with the development of the state, they would achieve the trusts of Indian Muslims and their support. Indian Hindus called it a part of ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of the British Government.
History of Partition of Bengal
It is said almost everywhere that the concept of partition of Bengal was initiated by Lord Curzon. It was his policy to divide India and Rule effectively but the actual proposal for the partition of Bengal was proposed much before Lord Curzon had become the Viceroy of British India. The British Government first in January 1904 introduced its idea of partition of Bengal to Indian Public through the publication.
The Government also conducted an official tour of Bengal and gathered the suggestions of the public especially of some effective personalities of Bengal. Sir Henry John Cotton, who had been the Chief Commissioner of Bengal, was against this policy of the British Government but Lord Curzon was indifferent to what public thought and what they wanted.
Date of Bengal Partition
Although the partition of Bengal failed to attain mass support, the proposal was signed and verified by the Secretary of British India on 20th July 1905. Finally, the day came and the partition of Bengal took place on 16th October of the same year and in the guidance of the Viceroy Lord Curzon.
The partition divided Bengal into two provinces. The first one was Bengal including West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar and the second was East Bengal and Assam. The East Bengal had its capital Dhaka while the West Bengal had the Capital Calcutta. West Bengal was declared as the state with Hindu majority while the East Bengal was a state having the majority of Muslims.
Result of the Partition
The partition of Bengal created a sense of resentment among the people of India and especially among the Hindu of British India. Widespread political unrest was created and Indian National Congress protested against the step of the British Government of creating a communal line between the people of India. Although the partition was in the favour of Muslims as they had given a separate province so Muslims of India stood beside the British Government and praised him.
The agitation against the partition rose rapidly and soon it gave birth to ‘Swadeshi Movement’ and ‘Boycott Movement’. Now people were avoiding the use of British Goods. The communal difference that the decision of partition had drawn could be seen clearly as very few Muslims stood together Hindus against the decision of Partition of Bengal.
Prominent Bengali writer Rabindra Nath Tagore wrote ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ during this period for the enlightenment of the Indians to rise and struggle against the immoral partition of the sacred land of Bengal.
Annulment of the Partition
The partition of Bengal led a mass agitation in Bengal and other parts of India. The anger of the people was proving effective and slowly the path for the annulment of the partition was being made. On 12th December 1911, a meeting was held at Delhi which declared to reunite the West Bengal and East Bengal and the new provinces were created on the basis of linguistic difference, not on the basis of communal difference. Assam was separated from Bengal and was given the status of a separate province.
Also, the capital of British India was transferred from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911 after the cancellation of the partition of Bengal.
Effects of the Partition on India and its People
The partition of Bengal affected the people of India in such a way that could never be altered again. Although the partition could last for only half decades, it created a major communal difference between the Hindu and Muslims of British India. The partition led an idea of creating a separate Muslim Political Party called All India Muslim League. It also gave an idea to Muslims to demand a separate nation ‘Pakistan’.
The Second Partition of Bengal
Despite its union in 1911, the Bengal went through another partition on 20th July 1947. It was not temporary like the earlier one and this time the Bengal was divided according to some pre-decided criteria.
The Bengal was divided into two parts as East Bengal and West Bengal. West Bengal was a Hindu majority province while the East Bengal had the majority of Muslims. The East Bengal was later joined to Pakistan on 14th August 1947 and was called East Pakistan. In 1971, because of some conflicts with Pakistan Government, East Bengal struggled and separated itself from Pakistan and created a new republic nation called ‘Bangladesh’ and adopted ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ as its national anthem.
Despite partition of Bengal in 1905 by the British Government could not remain permanent and was withdrawn by the Government after 5-6 years, it proved a very important step of British Government to continue its rule over India. According to the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy, the Government had succeeded in diving Indians into Hindu and Muslims. It could result in massive disaster but luckily with the continuous efforts of Indians, it was cancelled in 1911.