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Muslim Politics in Bihar: Changing Contours
 9781138020177

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication
Table of Contents
Preface
Acknowledgements
Prelude
1. Community Consensus: An Overview of Muslims in Bihar Politics until 1940
2. The Polarizing Texture of Bihar Politics: A Survey till 1940
3. From Alienation to Exodus, 1940–47
4. Muslim Resistance to the Two-nation Theory in Bihar, 1940–47
5. Language Politics as a Tool of Empowerment: Political Landscape of Urdu in Bihar after Independence, 1947–89
6. Quest for Social and Gender Justice: Bihar Muslims since the 1990s
Conclusion
Bibliography
About the Author
Index

Citation preview

Muslim Politics in Bihar

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Muslim Politics in Bihar Changing Contours

MOHAMMAD SAJJAD

LONDON NEW YORK NEW DELHI

First published 2014 in India by Routledge 912 Tolstoy House, 15–17 Tolstoy Marg, Connaught Place, New Delhi 110 001

Simultaneously published in the UK by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, OX14 4RN

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2014 Mohammad Sajjad

Typeset by Glyph Graphics 23, Khosla Complex Vasundhara Enclave Delhi 110 096

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-138-02017-7

In the memory of my grandfather Late Abdul Qaiyum

Yaad-e-aiyyaam-e-salaf se dil ko tarhpaata hoon main Bahr-e-taskeen teri jaanib daurhta aataa hoon main (Iqbal)

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Contents Preface Acknowledgements Prelude

ix xvii 1

1. Community Consensus: An Overview of Muslims in Bihar Politics until 1940

48

2. The Polarizing Texture of Bihar Politics: A Survey till 1940

89

3. From Alienation to Exodus, 1940–47

133

4. Muslim Resistance to the Two-nation Theory in Bihar, 1940–47

179

5. Language Politics as a Tool of Empowerment: Political Landscape of Urdu in Bihar after Independence, 1947–89

235

6. Quest for Social and Gender Justice: Bihar Muslims since the 1990s

274

Conclusion

318

Bibliography

343

About the Author

362

Index

363

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Preface This is a study of the participation of Muslim communities, with

their intra-community socio-economic stratifications, in the politics of Bihar during the colonial and post-Independence periods. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in their resistance against Bengali hegemony, urban educated middle class Muslims (along with their Hindu counterparts, more specifically the Kayasthas or the Hindu community of scribes), organized themselves along the lines of ‘regional patriotism’ or ‘subordinate nationalism’, and succeeded in creating the province of Bihar out of the Bengal in 1912. The Congress made significant headway in Bihar only after that. Gandhiji’s intervention (1917) in the Champaran Satyagraha (which had intermittently been manifesting since the 1860s under the leadership of the local intelligentsia, and had re-intensified since 1907), and the subsequent Khilafat–Non-Cooperation Movements (1920–22) galvanized the people of Bihar in an anti-colonial popular struggle once again after the movement of 1857. In all these movements, including the movements/ initiatives for modern education in the nineteenth century, Muslims had a considerable share. Subsequently, with the growing political strength of the Congress in the 1920s, rural landed elites, like the Rajputs and Bhumihars, began dominating the Congress as also the structures of power, such as the local bodies created by the colonial state in accordance with the Act of 1919. This began creating misgivings among the increasingly politicized communities of Muslims about the Congress. Moreover, from the 1930s onwards, the Congress was under pressure from the landed elite because of which it started developing sour relations with the emerging rural forces, and the intermediate castes who began to have their own set of grievances. Thus, the Kisan movement, the Triveni Sangh, the Harijan assertion, the tribal movements, etc., remained in constant tension with the Congress. An anti-colonial, anti-League, and pro-Congress Muslim political formation, the Muslim Independent Party (MIP) emerged in

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September 1936. It emphasized agrarian issues, besides championing the protection of the religio-cultural issues related to identity without compromising its firm and consistent commitment against colonialism and separatism. The MIP was an outcome of the joint efforts of the modern educated as well as traditional clergy (including two most popular sufi shrines) of the Bihar Muslims. The MIP was an extension of the fiercely anti-colonial Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Bihar, formed in 1917, and which had formed the Imarat-e-Shariah in 1921. Yet, the Congress preferred to keep it out of the coalition in the 1937 Ministry, which had its impact upon subsequent politics. The Congress’ vehement opposition of the MIP ministry (April–July 1937) and certain cases of anti-Muslim discrimination by the Congress Ministry (1937–39) started alienating Bihar’s Muslims, upon which the Muslim League started playing its own politics. In 1939, the MIP leader wrote a long letter detailing the issues of discrimination and apprising the top leadership of the Congress of the grievances and the alienation. It was a confidential letter so that no political (mis)use could be made of the letter by adversaries like the Muslim League. However, the Congress did not give much credence to these. (It should be added here that the Kisan movements as well as the formations like the Triveni Sangh, besides the tribal populations of what is now Jharkhand, also had their own grievances with the Congress, which were much pronounced during the retreating phase of colonialism). Bihar offers a sharp contrast to some Sufi shrines in Punjab and Sindh which played crucial roles in the politics of separatism by making the Muslim League a successful player in the 1946 elections.1 After analysing all developments in the Muslim segment of Bihar politics, the Prelude and three following chapters of this work look into the political evolution of Muslim communities which were essentially anti-colonial, and anti-separatist, besides being pluralist and inclusive. This study attempts to explore inter-community cooperation

1 David Gilmartin, Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making if Pakistan, Berkley/London: University of California Press, 1988; Ian Talbot, Punjab and the Raj, 1849–1947, Delhi: Manohar, 1988; Sarah F. D. Ansari, Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sindh, 1843–1947, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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and conflicts in the process of their joint anti-colonial struggle. The stunted organizational growth, and the chequered political base of the Bihar Muslim League and its separatist politics, hardly managed to find even a single leader of any stature, though it did achieve some support base during 1938–46. Thus, the anti-separatist politics of Bihar Muslims remained relatively formidable and strong till the very end. Muslim resistance to the politics of dividing India has been a subject less studied by scholars and historians. In fact, even the Hindu majoritarian communal politics of the lower units of the Congress, as also of the organizations like the Hindu Mahasabha have been less explored.2 Chapter Four of this work attempts to fill this gap in the ever growing volume of literature on the historiography of India’s Partition. It focuses on Muslim voices which rose against the politically separatist and socially divisive politics of the colonial state. Such voices were raised by the Muslims elsewhere also. A good example is Syed Tufail Ahmad Manglori (d. 30 March 1946), an Aligarh alumnus, who in the fifth edition (1945) of his Musalmanon Ka Raushan Mustaqbil (1937),3 has a section on a comprehensive critique of the idea and politicoeconomic viability of Pakistan. It has sub-headings like: ‘Historical Background’; ‘Pakistan as Big Hurdle’; ‘How were Muslim Majority Areas turned into Muslim Minority Provinces’ (in the Lucknow Pact 1916, by Jinnah); ‘Nature of Pakistan’; ‘Economic Aspect of Proposed Pakistan’; ‘Educational Aspect of Pakistan’; ‘Pakistan as an Islamic Province’; ‘Transfer of Population’; ‘Pakistan from the Viewpoint of the Central Government’; ‘Resemblances in the Views of Agha Khan and

2

With notable exceptions being Joya Chatterji, Bengal Divided: Hindu Communalism and the Partition 1932–47, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995; William Gould, Hindu Nationalism and the Language of Politics in Late Colonial India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 on UP; and Neeti Nair, Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011, on Punjab, besides some essays of Mushirul Hasan and Papiya Ghosh. 3 Syed Tufail Ahmad Manglori, Musalmanon Ka Raushan Mustaqbil, December 1945, pp. 598–629, also reproduced in his Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, Badayun, January 1946, pp. 160–88.

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Jinnah Regarding Pakistan’; ‘Prospect after the Formation of Pakistan’; and ‘Prescription and Treatment’. Tufail Ahmad based his opposition [to the idea of Pakistan] on more secular arguments — Indian Muslims’ interests being an integral part of the interests of the whole nation and the wholesale transfer of populations not being in the realm of practicability, the creation of Pakistan would leave the problem of Muslims in the remaining part of the country where it was and [which would] make it even worse. …Concerning the circumstances which helped and paved the way for the demand for Pakistan, Tufail Ahmad, too, like Abul Kalam Azad, attache[d] importance to the Congress refusal to form a coalition government with the Muslim League in the UP in 1937, and to Jawaharlal Nehru’s statement regarding the absolute sovereign rights of the proposed Constituent Assembly, thus nullifying the agreement with the Muslim League on the Cabinet Mission Plan.4

In this assertive articulation of critique of the idea of partition, the lead was taken by Bihar’s Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940), the leader of the Bihar wing of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema (besides the president of Muslim Independent Party, Bihar), who mobilized the masses to attend the Azad Muslim Conference, to be held in Delhi on 27–29 April 1940. After his death at the age of 60, on 18 November 1940, his successors and comrades were relentless in ideologically confronting both the British colonial state as well as the League’s separatist politics. They formed Muslim Nationalist Parliamentary Board in 1945 for the electoral mobilization of Muslims in favour of the Congress. They were in correspondence with Congress leaders such as Rajendra Prasad in which ideas were exchanged on how to confront the League in the forthcoming elections of 1946. The Congress, intriguingly, did not pay much heed to these concerns. The Jamhoor League of Maghfur Aijazi (1900–1966) in Muzaffarpur, the Momin Conference, the Rayeen Conference, the Mansoori Conference, the Shia Conference, the Ahrars (who had become very vocal against the Muslim League since

4

Ali Ashraf, Towards a Common Destiny: A Nationalist Manifesto, Delhi: PPH, 1994, pp. 371–91. (This is the English Translation of Manglori, Musalmanon Ka Raushan Mustaqbil. First edition was published in 1937).

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28 October 1937, and reiterated their commitment against the politics of ‘Pakistan’ and ‘Akhand Bharat’ at its session in Saharanpur, UP, on 26 April 1943) were some of the prominently strong voices against the League’s separatism (with stronger support base in Bihar).5 The strong and vocal mobilization of Muslims in rural as well as urban Bihar for the Azad Muslim Conference of Delhi on 27–29 April 1940, and also on 28 February–1 March 1942 against the League’s divisive Lahore Resolution (23 March 1940), the growing assertion of the Khaksars against the Muslim League particularly after 1943, and the emergence of the ‘Muslim Majlis’ on 6–8 May 1944 are, relatively speaking, new stories which this work is attempting to tell in its sections on the colonial period. These were the forces which, according to Tufail Manglori,6 considered the League’s proposal of Pakistan as a strong hurdle in the way of India’s independence. They stood their ground even when the Congress, under whatever circumstances, succumbed to the idea of dividing India in 1947. Nonetheless, all such narratives throw up a pertinent question: why couldn’t such mobilization of Muslim communities and groups, electorally marginalize the League in the 1946 elections? An attempt has been made to look into this vexing question. Some new sources, (un)published archival (including the Rajendra Prasad Papers) as well as un(der)used Urdu sources, including the memoirs of some insiders of the Congress and other contemporary observers, besides some Hindi memoirs, have been helpful in telling such hitherto untold stories. This has been conducive to mapping certain kinds of patterns and trends in the evolving political behaviour of the Muslim communities of colonial Bihar. Because of their anti-colonial and anti-separatist political engagement by which they opposed the religious basis of territorial separatist nationalism till the very end, they could re-organize

5 This has remained largely unnoticed by historians, except few lines on some of them in the writings of Humayun Kabir, Muslim Politics, 1906–47, and Other Essays, Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyaya, 1969; A. R. Desai, Social Background of Indian Nationalism, Bombay: Popular, 1976 [1948], pp. 413–15; and in a few pages in W. C. Smith, Modern Islam in India: A Social Analysis, Lahore: Minerva, 1943, pp. 241–69. 6 Manglori, Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, p. 159.

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themselves in the post-Independence period with a certain degree of confidence, and to seek their integration and empowerment through the politics of claiming the spaces guaranteed by the Constitution for linguistic (Urdu) minorities. This is the theme of Chapter Five. Relatively much deeper social stratifications among the Hindus, and their manifestation of antagonism within the structures and processes of power (including the ruling Congress), helped the protagonists of Urdu in registering much success, through both Congress and nonCongress regimes. The Urdu politics (re-)started in 1951 invoked the relevant Constitutional provisions, and penetrated into the rural and urban masses and shed its elite character, in terms of the methods used to conduct the politics, idioms of mobilizations, as well as its social base which expanded much after 1971. Existing essays only on the marginalized status of Urdu in India have generally focused on state discrimination and majoritarian bias, as well as on the nondemocratic and elitist approach of the protagonists of Urdu. However, Chapter Five of this study looks at the mass-based democratic politics of Muslim communities around the issue of Urdu, and its success in securing significant ‘favours’ (linked with public employment) from the state during 1951–89. From the late 1960s onwards, the assertion of new social classes started chipping into the support base and political power of the Bihar Congress. It manifested in political instability, the rising strength of non-Congress forces and, in the 1970s, the coming to power of the Janata Party coalition, as also the implementation (1978) of the Mungerilal Commission Report (1971–76) for affirmative action/ protective discrimination in favour of the historically disadvantaged castes in public employment and educational institutions. All these had an impact on the relevant Muslim groups as well. The ‘Open Passport Policy’ of the Union government (1977–79) heralded the opportunity of employment for skilled as well as non-skilled labour in West Asian countries in the 1980s. The success of Urdu politics, howsoever limited, the remittance economy from the Middle East, and the policy of protective discrimination started contributing towards affluence among Muslim communities. However, Hindu–Muslim religious strife kept creating polarization which worked towards suppressing the political manifestations

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of intra-Muslim social stratifications. After 1992, the State became largely successful in containing communal violence. The sense of security provided an opportunity to let the intra-community social stratification of the Muslims manifest themselves, and which later got catalysed with the implementation (1990) of the Mandal Commission Report (1980) providing for protective discrimination in favour of the backward castes in public employment. A sharp opposition to it in the 1990s had its impact on Hindu society as also on Muslim society. This gave rise to the emergence of Pasmanda-Dalit movements among the Muslims, besides gender-based movements as well. Some ‘influential’ works on the rising political consolidation and assertion of the backward castes have ignored the political articulation, consolidation, and mobilizations of the corresponding groups of Muslims.7 Exploring this story, along with underlining their merits and limitations, are the subject matter of Chapter Six. The political assertion of the low caste Muslims (Ajlaf and Arzal or Pasmanda-Dalit) of Bihar in and after the 1990s has a history of such mobilizations in colonial period as well. The Urdu movement, the Pasmanda-Dalit movement, and the women’s movement (Tehreek-e-Niswan) have progressed essentially along constitutional lines using idioms of a pluralist democracy. Though they began with intelligentsia-based leadership, these movements went on to become popular, and become successful in engaging and negotiating with the state as well as society. This is one of the underlining features of the politics of Bihar Muslims emerging from this study. In the historiography of India’s Partition, Muslim resistance to the Two-nation Theory remains an underexplored sub-theme, with most works of scholarship concentrating on Punjab, Bengal, and the United Provinces. Bihar offers an entirely different perspective of Muslim politics, and explodes many myths pertaining to the historiography of partition. In colonial Bihar, even the clergy stood against

7

Christophe Jaffrelot, India’s Silent Revolution: Rise of Low Castes in North Indian Politics, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003; Harry W. Blair, Voting, Caste, and Communities: Explorations in Aggregate Data Analysis in India and Bangladesh, Delhi: Young Asia, 1979; and Harry W. Blair, ‘Rising Kulaks and Backward Classes in Bihar: Social Change in Late 1970s’, Economic and Political Weekly, 12 January 1980, pp. 64–74.

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divisive/communal politics, and insisted on pushing religion into the private domains of religious communities. While challenging British colonialism, Bihar was also chafing under Bengali hegemony, and therefore a regional patriotism for the creation of a separate province of Bihar united the educated [essentially urban] elites of the Hindus and Muslims. Within the Muslim intelligentsia, the clergy, the vernacular educated and the modern educated came together in appreciating and encouraging modern education, without neglecting traditional learning. Muslim voices (of the clergy as well as of the modern educated intelligentsia) against the Two-nation Theory were significantly vociferous in Bihar. This political legacy continued in sovereign India, with features of inclusivism (inter-community harmony) and democratic mobilization for constitutional rights. This book is new in many ways. The choice of Bihar as the object of study, the use of new and virgin sources/evidence (including Urdu sources, crucial for exploring the socio-political behaviour of the Urdu speaking communities of India), as well as the focus on the fresh theme of Muslim antipathy to the Two Nation idea makes this study quite different from most existing works which focus on Muslim responsibility for the partition of India. This difference in the political content and approach of the Muslim communities of Bihar goes back to the colonial period, and is shown to have had a significant impact on its politics after Independence. Indeed, this book argues that the academic as well as popular perception of the ‘isolation or insulation syndrome’ of Indian Muslims is not to be found as strongly in the case of Bihar. Bihar’s Muslim politics of democratic mass mobilization in the language of constitutional, secular, pluralist democracy after (India’s) independence may is an outcome of the politics of inter-community collaborations forged during the anti-colonial struggle. Thus, this work also adds new input to the study of South Asian Islam. Dekhiye is bahr ki tah se uchhalta hai kya Gumbad-e-nilofari rang badalta hai kya (Iqbal) Let us see what would spring out of the bottom of this ocean The blue-dome (sky) would change into which colour?

Acknowledgements This work took a relatively long time to come to fruition. Originally

starting as a PhD dissertation in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), it progressed slowly as it was re-worked into a book. I added two chapters on India’s post-Independence period which took more time. During the course of this study, I have drawn enormously from a number of individuals and institutions. I owe the ‘germ’ of the idea behind this book to discussions with my friend Najmul Hoda who was assigned by Indivar Kamtekar (of Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU) to write an MA tutorial on India’s Partition with the help of Urdu sources. His initial explorations in the field revealed that the studies on Partition were mainly about the three provinces of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal and that, in these studies, Urdu sources were not adequately drawn upon. This scholarly inattention to other provinces provoked in me the desire to study the recent history of my home province Bihar which has remained, by and large, unexplored. My discussions with my supervisor, Professor Raj Kumar Trivedi, only confirmed the suitability of the theme. Thus, I must begin by thanking my supervisor for his abiding support, sparing his valuable time, his sharing of knowledge and expertise on the subject with me, and for patiently bearing with my insincerities and distractions. The appreciation of Mushirul Hasan and Kapil Kumar, who examined the PhD thesis, was very encouraging, and their suggestions have been of immense help, so were the valuable suggestions of Sharmishtha Gooptu (of South Asian History and Culture) for parts of this book. I have also benefited a lot from conversations and correspondence with Professor Papiya Ghosh whose pioneering publications in my area of study have been really illuminating. Her tragic death was a personal loss for me. Ayesha Jalal and the late Arvind Narayan Das helped me whenever I sought their advice through letters or e-mail. In fact, it was Arvind who insisted that I should explore the politics of Bihar’s Muslim communities.

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I must also thank my colleagues in the Department of History, Jamia Millia Islamia ( JMI), New Delhi, where I taught temporarily. They not only stood by me but also worked out ways to ease each of the crises in which I found myself from time to time. I am particularly indebted to Azizuddin, Refaqat, Inayet, Sunita, and Narayani who were more than helpful, and their ready support shored up my resolve to complete this study. The teachers in the Centre of Advanced Study in History, AMU, have been of great assistance to me. While Irfan Habib, Ahsan Jan Qaisar (1929–2011), Iqbal Husain, Shireen Moosvi, Mansura Hyder, M. Kaiser Zaman, Ishrat Alam, and Farhat Hasan taught me various courses, and helped me grow as a student of History, Farhat Hasan also spared valuable time for more specific suggestions, and Ishtiaq Zilli remained generous in giving blessings and best wishes. Their indulgence helped in improvising my scholarship and writing. I wish to thank Imtiaz Hasnain who looked into the first draft of Chapter Five, and shared his comments with me from which I benefitted greatly. My friends Ekram Rizwi, Shadan Zeb, Dhrub, Amir, Arshad, Sayeed, Tabir, and Shakil have been a great source of support and encouragement. My sincere thanks to all of them for their suggestions, comments, queries, information about sources, hospitality, and for assistance in the onerous task of proofreading. Ali Kazim and Faisal Abdullah deserve special thanks for sharing many insightful anecdotes relevant to this work, and lending me reading materials from Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and National Archives of India. Rizwan Qaiser, Khalid Anis, Arshad Alam, Faizan, Nadim Asrar, Ehtesham Khan, Ishteyaq, and Arshad Amanullah have been helpful to me in many different ways. My thanks are also due to my senior friends Anwar, Parwez and Reyaz for constantly reminding me to complete the book. Naved Masood not only stood by me with fatherly affection in my most difficult days but also made me expedite the completion of the book. Despite his busy schedules in the high offices of the government, he went through the early drafts of some chapters, and gave valuable insights derived from his wide knowledge and extraordinary memory. I am highly grateful for his comprehensive and pertinent suggestions, while his affections shall remain a debt which can’t ever be paid back.

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I wish to express my gratitude to the staff members of many libraries who kept me well provisioned. These are: Maulana Azad Library (AMU), Centre of Advanced Study in History Library (AMU), Dr Zakir Husain Library ( JMI), NMML (New Delhi), JNU Library (New Delhi), National Archives of India (New Delhi), Central Secretariat Library (New Delhi), ICHR Library (New Delhi), Bihar State Archives (Patna), A. N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANSISS, Patna), K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute (KPJRI, Patna), and Khuda Bakhsh Library (Patna). I must also thank the University Grants Commission (UGC) for its Junior (and Senior) Research Fellowships ( JRF), awarded to me for pursuing the PhD programme. The University of Birmingham (UK), along with the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS, New Delhi), funded a modest grant which helped me substantially in the sections dealing with the post-Independence period. Amir, especially, was of great help in this regard. I also wish to recall my fond remembrances of my grandfather, the late Abdul Qaiyum (d. 19 December 1985) who, having lived through Partition, provided me, at a rather early age when I was still in school, a fund of details about the human suffering in the wake of the violence during that time. He also shared with me his angst against all the insanity he witnessed in Kolkata (where he worked with the Tramways Co. from late 1930s to early 1970s) as well as in Bihar (where his family lived, and where he spent rest of his life). Quite often, before beginning to tell his stories, he would recite: Meri suraahi se qatrah qatrah naye hawaadis tapak rahey hain Main apni tasbeeh-e-roz o shab ka shumaar karta hun daana daana (Iqbal) [Narratives of events are coming out of me like drops would come out of a vessel Even while I am counting days and nights of my ageing life like counting grains woven into a garland-thread]

I, therefore, dedicate this first book of mine to my grandfather who, rather than pressing me to choose a conventional career popular among average middle-class families, insisted on my becoming a scholar and writer.

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He often drew my attention towards Iqbal’s tribute to Ghalib: Zindagi muzmar hai teri shokhi-e-tehreer mein Taab-e-goyaayee se junmbish hai lab-e-tasweer mein Life is there in the quality of writings Silent lips of portraits would begin to conversate only with daring articulations

I am often saddened by the fact that my father saw only a raw, first draft of this book. He passed away on 25 January 2011, succumbing to the deep shock of the tragic death of his younger brother (my uncle) just five days earlier. All through these sad and difficult times, my sisters, cousins, their children, my friends and relatives, and well-wishers extended their moral support, and eagerly awaited my book. I wish to express my profound gratitude to all of them for their gentle prodding and subtle reminders to complete the study. My thanks to Nargis who ‘suffered’ many kinds of discomfiture while I remained pre-occupied with the writing of this book. She read many Urdu memoirs and much fiction for me, drawing my attention to certain pertinent points worth looking into for the purposes of this work. She also tolerated my waywardness or disorganized way of throwing books and xerox materials around, upsetting her neatly kept rooms. Whenever I found it difficult to re-trace my sources, she came to my rescue and, invariably, she rather than me succeeded in re-locating them. Our occasional ‘scuffles’ on this issue will remain some of my most cherished experiences. Most important of all are my mother’s prayers for my well-being — she prays for me more than for the cure of the rheumatoid arthritis which has rendered her bedridden. The comments and suggestions of anonymous reviewers have only added more relevant and useful details to the contents of this work. My research students Pradeep, Haider, Nishat, and Ghausiya, as well as my friends Ataullah, Ataur Rahman and Aftab have helped in their own ways, not to say of the queries of some of my MA students in different batches. Many thanks to the team at Routledge (Taylor and Francis), New Delhi, for their indulgence during the different stages before the final publication of the book. Even though I have benefited a lot from the discussions with a large number of persons, I alone am responsible for the deficiencies that remain, and for the opinions expressed in the work.

Prelude Hitherto, the historiography of India’s partition has remained con-

centrated mainly to three provinces of British India: the Punjab, the Bengal and the United Provinces (UP). Generalizations regarding this theme have largely been made on the basis of the study of these three provinces only. Moreover, such generalizations are usually reduced only to the idea of Muslim separatism. This has much to do with the (mis)perception that Partition was largely a Muslim affair rather than a Muslim League affair. However, historically speaking, the policies and programmes of the Muslim League alone have not guided the political behaviour of all Indian Muslims. Additionally, the role of the Hindu Mahasabha has been explored only inadequately. Salil Mishra has attempted to fill this gap; but his exploration is confined to UP alone, and studies only a brief period, from 1937–39, when not only the Hindu Mahasabha expanded its support base but the Muslim League also secured a meteoric/dramatic rise after the Congress refused to share power through a coalitional arrangement with it.1 An all-inclusive study of India’s Partition will, therefore, have to undertake exploration at three levels. First, an investigation must be made of the majoritarian political discourses articulated not only by the overtly communal organizations like the Hindu Mahasabha, and its essential subscription by the lower units of the Congress (notwithstanding its professed anti-communal ideological commitments).2 Second, regarding the political behaviour of the Muslims, a clear distinction

1

Salil Mishra, A Narrative of Communal Politics: Uttar Pradesh 1937–39, Delhi: Sage Publications, 2001; also see my review of this work in the Khuda Bakhsh Library Journal, no. 127, January–March 2002, pp. 17–22. 2 For the majoritarian communal orientations of the leaders of the provincial and district units of the UP Congress, see Gould, Hindu Nationalism; for Bengal, see Chatterji, Bengal Divided; for Punjab, see Nair, Changing Homelands.

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Muslim Politics in Bihar

has to be made between the politics of territorial separatism and the demand for adequate/proportionate representation in the power structure. Third, and more importantly, aspects of Muslim resistance to the communal separatism of the League are largely an untold story that needs to be examined. This work explores the political responses of the Muslims to colonialism and nationalism in Bihar. It argues that the Muslim demand for adequate representation in power structures may have produced instances of communal tension, but was not necessarily linked to a demand for territorial separatism.

Interrogating the Majoritarian Nationalism of the Congress Recent studies have sought to challenge the discourse pertaining not only to religious but also to linguistic minorities. Such studies have contested the ‘hegemonic, assimilative, dominant, intolerant, exclusivist nationalism represented [even] by the Indian National Congress’, which remained dismissive about the ‘sub-national nationalism’ of different religious and linguistic minorities, whose legitimate power aspirations were rejected by dubbing them as ‘separatist’ or ‘antinational’.3 Thus, for example, Pandian has critiqued the framework of the nationalist narrative within which the ‘linguistic insubordination’ of Tamil Nadu gets written as ‘chauvinistic’, ‘fissiparous’ and ‘divisive’.4 He argues that, to free the language question in Tamil Nadu from the stigma of being dubbed ‘anti-national’ in the nationalist narrative, and make available alternative ways of imagining politics based on the national-popular will … the anti-Hindi agitation launched by the Self-Respect Movement in 1937 (when the Congress ministry was formed) was a movement where national-popular found its articulation in mobilizing a spectrum of subalternities in support of Tamil.

3 M. S. S. Pandian, ‘Towards National–Popular: Notes on Self-Respecters’ Tamil’, Economic and Political Weekly (henceforth EPW), 21 December 1996, pp. 3323–29. 4 Ibid.

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Joya Chatterji also points out the Congress’ failure in the Bengal.5 She says that, in 1905, the bhadralok Bengalis stood against the partition of Bengal along religious lines; but in 1947, when the definitive partition of Bengal took place, this was preceded by an organized agitation (which demanded the partition of the province along religious lines) — again by the very same social class of the bhadralok. She looks at the role of the Congress in Bengal on the broader canvass of economic, cultural and political perspectives. She says that bhadralok nationalism was strongly committed to zamindari and rent receiving interests: This “avowedly ‘modern’, progressive, and anglicized bhadralok nationalism drew inspiration … [from] Hindu revivalist ideologies” … This reactionary shift emanated from the threat that was presented to the elites by the economic depression of 1930s, and by the McDonald’s Award and Poona Pact of 1932, “which further reduced high-caste Hindus to a small minority in a House which they had always expected to dominate”. This drove the Bengali Hindu elites from anti-British (and anti-Western) themes to an anti-Muslim posture.

She observes that the sudden collapse of agrarian prices and of rural credit in the 1930s placed tremendous strain on rent and debt collection. This decline in power of rent and debt extraction went in favour of prosperous tenants, constituted incidentally by Muslims. They could now flout the landlords, and could consolidate their own position in rural Bengal. Second, the Act of 1935 franchized the upper stratum of the peasantry, which became a ‘voice in the legislative arena’, besides being ‘supported by a restless Muslim intelligentsia’. This assertion of rising mofussil Muslims greatly threatened the position of the bhadralok in the power structure. Thirdly, the McDonald’s Award and the Poona Pact (1932) dramatically altered the balance of power in the province. In the legislative assembly, the bhadralok strength came down. This impending fear of Muslim dominance in politics led the bhadralok to look upon the British for favours. Moreover, the role of the Bengal Congress started declining on the all India plane, the hostility against the central Congress

5

Chatterji, Bengal Divided, pp. 13–15.

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leadership increased, and the factionalism within the Congress along the left and the right eventually led to the capture of the Congress by the right wing which created a new Hindu political identity. And, the Bengal Congress deployed the Hindu Mahasabha to organize a campaign for the partition of Bengal in 1947. Having said this, Chatterji concludes that the partition of 1947 in Bengal was the considered choice of large and powerful sections of the Hindu population. When push came to shove, bhadralok Hindus preferred to carve up Bengal rather than to accept the ‘indignity of being ruled by Muslims’. She further says that, in the case of Bengal, the Hindus evolved a parallel separatism of their own. The Bengal Congress campaigned successfully for the vivisection of its province on communal lines. The Congress high command was ready to pay the price of partition in order to strengthen its hold over a unitary India. So far as the United Bengal Plan of Sarat Chandra Bose is concerned, Chatterji argues that this plan had no takers on its home ground culture was deployed as a mark of difference rather than evidence of traditional unity in the region, and bhadralok Bengalis, far from launching agitations against it, actually fought for partition which gave them a separate homeland of their own.6

Charu Gupta argues that the very metaphors of nationalism (for example, Bharat Mata, Matri Bhasha, Gau Mata) were exclusionary and divisive.7 Tanika Sarkar also advocates against ‘viewing the colonial past as an unproblematic retrospect where all power was on one side and all protest on the other’.8 She also suggests that ‘partisanship has to take into account a multi-faceted nationalism, all aspects of which were complicit with power and domination even when they critiqued western knowledge and challenged colonial power’.

6

Chatterji, Bengal Divided, p. 266. Charu Gupta, ‘The Icon of Mother in Late Colonial North India: “Bharat Mata”, “Matri Bhasha” and “Gau Mata”’, EPW, 10 November 2001, pp. 4291–99. 8 Tanika Sarkar, ‘Rhetoric against Age of Consent: Resisting Colonial Reason and Death of a Child-Wife’, EPW, 4 September 1993, pp. 1869–78. 7

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Similar evidence can also be found in the Punjab and Maharashtra. T. C. A. Raghavan says, the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 extended franchise to the affluent sections of the rural areas and this meant the beginning of a major threat to the hegemony of the dominant urban Hindus. This section had till then a monopoly over education and the bureaucracy and an overall hold on the politics of the Punjab … Fazl-e-Husain, Minister of Education and Local Self Government, built up a block to support him by combining a number of rural interests and playing up Muslims in educational institutions and administrative services’, in 1937, ‘the Unionist Party (of Fazl-e-Husain) formed the government … and used its majority to enact a number bills which went against the interests of the commercial (Hindu) bourgeoisie’; ‘faced with a threat to the monopoly they had so far enjoyed, many affluent urban-based Hindus drew together in a number of organizations.9

Looking into western India, Raghavan says, ‘the effects of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms were less traumatic for the urban community of Brahmins … they were firmly entrenched in the reformed Legislative Councils, Municipal and Bar Associations’, but the nonBrahmin Maratha Kunbi peasants ‘were given reserved seats in the Legislative Council … and the Local Boards’, these non-Brahmin representatives started a sustained attack on the privileges of the predominantly Brahmin elite’ and these factors ‘led to the formulation of ideas like ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Sangathan’.10 Thus, it could be said that these kinds of narratives of majoritarian nationalism were not less responsible for stoking separatism. In this context, there is need to explore the political behaviour of colonial Indian Muslims of various unexplored or under-explored regions. As stated above, most of the studies on Partition have remained confined generally to UP, Punjab and Bengal. This work attempts to study the

9

T. C. A. Raghavan, ‘Origins and Development of Hindu Mahasabha Ideology: The Call of V. D. Savarkar and Bhai Parmanand’, EPW, 9 April 1983, pp. 595–600; Nair has explored Punjab in greater detail along these lines, see Nair, Changing Homelands, 2011. 10 Raghavan, ‘Origins and Development’.

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question of the partition of India, with special focus on the response of the Muslims of Bihar, without delving much into the ‘high politics’ of partition — politics at the highest level of major political parties and the colonial government; the way the politics (including negotiations) was conducted, as against the politics conducted at the lower and popular levels.

Political Evolution of Muslims and their Response to Colonial Modernity in Bihar: A Review There are a few works on the politics of Muslim communities of colonial Bihar.11 Of these, Taqi Raheem’s work is an important intervention. Raheem (1921–99) was an energetic freedom fighter, writer, and a political activist of courageous conviction; thus, his book is valuable as a memoir, especially with regard to developments during 1937–47 in which he was also a participant. Raheem has, admittedly, avoided many references lest his book become cumbersome. But none of the details (including those based on his memories) have been described without the corroboration of reliable sources and archival documents. All these works have contested the ‘Primordialist’ as well as the ‘Instrumentalist’ theories of Muslim separatism.12 The foremost

11

Md Muzaffar Imam, Role of Muslims in the National Movement, 1912–1930: A Study of Bihar, Delhi: Mittal, 1987; Kamta Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement in India, 1905–1928, Allahabad: Chugh, 1990. This work, for communal polarization, puts much emphasis on the elections of 1924–28 when Shafi Daudi, Mazharul Haq, Hadi Husain and some other prominent Congressmen were defeated; Rajendra Prasad also confirms it in his Autobiography (however, these works don’t explore Muslim politics in the late colonial period); Taqi Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi Mein Bihar ke Musalmanon ka Hissa (The Contribution of Muslims of Bihar in the Freedom Movement), Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Library (KBL), 1998; and several extremely wellresearched articles published by Papiya Ghosh in journals and edited volumes, which give refreshingly new and imaginative ideas on Muslim politics in Bihar. See also, Chapter Six, in Vinita Damodaran, Broken Promises: Popular Protest, Indian Nationalism and the Congress Party in Bihar, 1935–46, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992. 12 Francis Robinson, ‘Islam and Muslim Separatism: A Historiographical Debate’, in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), Communal and Pan Islamic Trends in Colonial

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Primordialist is Francis Robinson, whose ideas find support in the work of Farzana Sheikh.13 Robinson’s essay, ‘Islam and Muslim Separatism’, contends that the Muslims have certain primordial instincts which direct them towards separatism. He believes that they are an innately separate political entity, and that there are always some symbols in their cultural storehouse which are used for political mobilization and separatism. This, according to him, was the reason why even western educated politicians like (Maulana) Mohammad Ali Jauhar (1878–1931) and M. A. Jinnah (1876–1948) drifted away to religious nationalism, demanding a homeland for the ummah. According to Robinson, even prior to the formation of the middle class (and even before this class began competing with the Hindus for government employment and other privileges), elements of separatism existed among Indian Muslims. However, Robinson’s thesis ignores the different kinds of stratifications of South Asian Islam based on class, region, language/dialect, sect, caste/biradri/sect/doctrine, etc. Moreover, even if we don’t take into account the above mentioned stratifications, and look into the latter half of nineteenth century Bihar to scrutinize Robinson’s thesis, we find that Robinson’s thesis fails to hold ground. On the other hand, Farzana Shaikh has argued that the Muslim demand for communal separatist representation emanated from the Islamic ideology of not accepting to be represented by a non-Muslim, as well as from a sense of historical superiority, ‘grounded in Mughal values’.14 Among other scholars, Paul R. Brass relies on the theory of elite manipulation, and argues that Muslim separatism

India, New Delhi: Manohar, 1985. Paul R. Brass, ‘Muslim Separatism in United Provinces: Social Context and Political Strategy Before Partition’, EPW, Annual Number, January 1970, pp. 167–86; see also his ‘A Reply to Francis Robinson’, in Robin Jeffrey, Lance Brennan, Jim Masselos, Peter Mayor, and Peter Reeves (eds), India: Rebellion to Republic, Selected Writings, 1857–1990, New Delhi: Sterling, 1990. 13 Farzana Shaikh, Community and Consensus in Islam, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. 14 Ibid., p. 235.

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originated as an ideology of the upper class and the elite (landlords and lawyer politicians), who attempted to preserve their social privileges from the Hindus.15 The ‘Instrumentalist’ view argues that, rather than social cleavages being the determining factor in political mobilization, it was the activity of the elites who used the cleavages as an instrument of political mobilization. Thus, none of these scholars take note of the community’s espousal of muttahidah qaumiyat or mushtarka wataniyat (united or composite nationalism) and the anti-colonial and collaborative positions (with the Congress) taken by the Deoband, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH), Imarate-Shariah (Patna), the Momin Conference, the Shia Political Conference, the Rayeen Conference, the Mansoori Conference, and so on. About the ulema (clergy), Paul Brass says, ‘their religious orientation tended towards traditionalism and revivalism rather than rationalism and modernism … Culturally they were oriented towards traditional education through the medium of Urdu, rather than toward modern education through the medium of English’.16 Contrary to such formulations as available in the existing scholarship on Muslim politics, Bihar offers the historian a different perspective. As early as 1836, Shah Kabiruddin of Sasaram khanqah had appealed to the Governor General of India for providing modern education in English in a madrasa associated with the khanqah where Hindus and Muslims both received primary education.17 The first literary society called Anjuman-e-Islamia was established at Arrah (Headquarters of the district of Shahabad) in August 1866. The chief patrons included non-Muslims like Babu Surajmal besides Muslims like Waris Ali Khan, Khuda Bakhsh Khan, etc. The Society was open for both the communities.18 Syed Imdad Ali’s Bihar Scientific Society in Muzaffarpur

15 Brass, ‘Muslim Separatism in United Provinces’; Anil Seal, Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboration in Nineteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968. 16 Paul R. Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974, p. 163. 17 Imam, Role of Muslims, pp. 19–20. 18 J. S. Jha, ‘Origin and Development of Cultural Institutions in Bihar’, Journal of Historical Research, vol. 8, Ranchi: 1965.

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(founded May 1868) had 500 members, including women, and also a good number of Hindus. Its fortnightly journal in Urdu, Akhbarul-Akhyar was edited by a Hindu, Babu Ajodhya Prasad ‘Bahaar’, the vernacular author of the local history titled Reyaz-e-Tirhut (1868). The Society had many branches, and a chain of schools even in the villages of the district of Muzaffarpur and elsewhere in Bihar. Its network of schools was funded by a number of Hindu zamindars. The Society also established a collegiate school or Central College (in 1871), which was handed over to Langat Singh (1850–1912) of the Bhumihar Brahman Sabha who developed it (in 1899) to become the premier college of modern education in north Bihar.19 Similarly in Patna, Zubdat-ul-Madaris, or the Bihar Literary Society (1873), Bihar Association (1871), Bihar Upkar Sabha (1876), were all open to both communities. In March 1884, (Shams-ul-Ulema) Mohammad Hasan founded the Mohammadan Anglo-Arabic School. It published the work of gazetteers in Urdu and English, and had many Hindu students on its rolls. Syed Sharfuddin (1856–1921) opened a Dar-ul-Ulum at Bankipur (Patna) on the Deoband pattern. Thus, it is quite evident that the movement for education in Bihar was one arena where the Muslims did not show any particularist/ separatist or exclusivist orientation; and, contrary to Brass’ formulation, the more ‘traditional’ social segments operated in collaboration with others in their goal towards a more modern education. When Hindi in the Nagri script was introduced as the court language in Bihar in January 1881, both Hindus (particularly Kayasthas) and Muslims unitedly opposed it.20 In the Patna College, as well as in other schools, not less than 23 per cent of the total students were Muslims whereas 19

See Mohammad Sajjad, ‘Sir Syed’s Movement for Modern Education in Muzaffarpur, Bihar’, in S. Iraqi (ed.), Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Vision and Mission, Delhi: Manohar, 2008, pp. 181–97; also see, B. K. Sinha, ‘Syed Imdad Ali Khan: An Eminent Educationist of Nineteenth Century Bihar’, Journal of Historical Research, Ranchi, vol. 13, 1970. 20 The Hindi–Urdu dispute in colonial Bihar is an under-explored subject; even Christopher R. King, One Language Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India, Bombay: Oxford University Press, 1994, has not delved much into Bihar; Hitendra Patel has explored the subject in Communalism and the Intelligentsia in Bihar, 1870–1930: Shaping Caste, Community, and Nationhood, Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2011.

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their total population was only 13 per cent.21 It was no wonder then that when (Sir) Syed Ahmad (Khan Bahadur) advised the Muslims to stay away from the Congress, to avoid another conflict with the colonial masters after 1857, and to concentrate on modern education, the educated Muslim elites of Bihar explicitly declared that they would go along with the Congress. The leading voice representing this trend was Syed Sharfuddin who led the Bihar delegates at the Allahabad session of the Indian National Congress in 1888. Wazir Ali Khan of Gaya also accompanied him. In his speech, Sharfuddin declared, ‘I am proud to say we have here amongst us more than 200 Muslims. I hope that at least in my province of Bihar, the Muslims have the fullest sympathy with the objects of the National Congress’.22 Similarly, a large section of the ulema was associated with the Congress from the very beginning.23 In 1899, Afaq Khan set up a ‘Boys Association’ in Darbhanga to popularize Congress programmes in the region. The Bihar Provincial Congress Committee (BPCC) held its first meeting at the Sonepur fair. It was chaired by Sarfaraz Hussain Khan. Of the six delegates, two others were also Muslims, namely Hasan Imam and Najmul Hoda. Ali Imam was elected the President of the Bihar Provincial Congress in Patna in 1908. At the Madras session of the Congress, he spoke on civil liberties and demanded the repeal of the Deportation Regulation. Maulana Shibli Nomani vehemently criticized the Muslim League whereas Mazharul Haq, Sarfaraz Hussain Khan, Ali Imam, and Hasan Imam brought the League’s provincial branch nearer the Congress. Due to the overwhelming presence of nationalist Muslims in the Bihar Provincial Muslim League, it was kept out of the agitation for a separate electorate.24 In fact, during its early phase, the Bihar Congress was dominated by the Muslims rather than Hindus. The most prominent of them were Nawab Sohrab Jung, Syed Wilayat Ali Khan, Syed Fazal Imam, and Wazir Ali. Other leading figures were Syed Imdad Imam; Syed Amir Husain (1864–1910); Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953); Khuda Bakhsh Khan (1842–1908); Syed Sharfuddin (1856–1921);

21

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 99. Report of the Indian National Congress, 1888, cf. J. S. Jha, Early Revolutionary Movement in Bihar, Patna: KPJRI, 1977, p. 21. 23 Imam, Role of Muslims, p. 27. 22

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Salahuddin Khuda Bakhsh (1875–1931); Mazharul Haq (1866–1931); S. M. Fakhruddin (1868–1931); Khwaja Md Noor (1878–1936); S. Ali Imam (1869–1932); S. Hasan Imam (1871–1933); Sir Sultan Ahmad (1880–1963); S. M. Zubair (1884–1930); S. M. Umair (1894–1978); Shafi Daudi (1875–1949); Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–1974); Manzoor Aijazi (d. 1969); and Maghfoor Aijazi (1900–1967). Thus, it is clear that the ‘Instrumentalist’ thesis of Paul Brass as well as Anil Seal’s explanation regarding the ‘Muslim Breakaway’25 fail to explain the case of Bihar, where (like in UP) the Muslims were far ahead of the Hindus in education and jobs. However, unlike the Muslims of UP, the Muslims of Bihar, did not by and large, chart out an exclusivist or antagonistic course from that of the Hindus, either in establishing their educational institutions or in taking up positions against colonial rule. Neither can one make a rigid distinction between the traditionalists and the modernists because the Muslim leaders of Bihar maintained a more syncretic approach. Significantly, in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Bihar, even the champions of modern education, like Noorul Hoda and Khudabakhsh Khan (1842–1908), remained concerned about religio-cultural traditions. Hence, they revived the old madrasas and opened up new ones. In fact, regarding education, there was not a great deal of conflict between the traditionalists and modernists. Each remained committed to both systems of education, and this blend of tradition and modernity might possibly have helped check the growth of separatism. These institutions produced many leaders. Shri Krishna Sahay (first Indian member of the Governor’s Executive Council of Bihar), Dr Sachidanand Sinha (1871–1950), Dr Rajendra Prasad, Alakh Kumar Sinha, Narayan Babu (First Inspector General of Police, Bihar), and many other luminaries who got their primary education from such Anglo-Urdu/Persian madarsas, and maktabs.26 It is also instructive to note here that next

24

The Hindustan Review, 1907, vol. 8, p. 110. Brass, ‘Muslim Separatism in United Provinces’; Seal, Emergence of Indian Nationalism. 26 See M. Sajjad, ‘Resisting British Colonialism and Communal Separatism: Madrasas of Colonial Bihar’, in S. M. Azizuddin Husain (ed.), Madrasa Education in India, 11th to 21st Centuries, Delhi: Kanishka, 2005, pp. 171–78; Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 100. 25

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only to the Bengalis, it was the Muslims in Bihar who dominated public employment, and the medical and legal professions.27 Consequently, in the movement for separation of Bihar from Bengal, the Muslims were at the forefront.28 In 1905, when the Swadeshi movement was launched against Curzon’s partition of Bengal, the leadership of the movement adopted certain mobilizational symbols and methods, which alienated the Muslims, giving way to the rise and growth of communalism. On the other hand, Bihar presented a different picture of Hindu–Muslim relations. Here, although there was competition between the educationally advanced Bengalis who were Hindus (and who also dominated in government jobs in Bihar) and the Muslims, this contest was not expressed in religio-communitarian, particularist/separatist overtones. The contrast with Bengal is striking, where the bhadralok (high caste Hindus of Bengal), afraid of losing hegemony, ensured as much delay as possible in the establishment of the University of Dhaka. As A. K. Biswas writes: [By] [g]iving education to the Muslims and the low caste Hindus, the crippling monopoly of bhadralok would have eroded leading to the healthiest development that would have nipped in the bud the future danger of demand for Muslim homeland. But, even after annulment of partition (of Bengal) in 1911, the high caste Hindus ensured as much delay as possible in the establishment of the University at Dhaka which was one of the essential conditions for undoing the partition of Bengal … the high priests of nationalism, or swadeshi were frenzied over the prospect of the loss of their hegemony over the Muslims and the lower castes in Eastern Bengal. By mixing religion with politics, the upper castes made swadeshi an exclusively Hindu, that too a religious affair and precluded the participation of the Muslims and the low castes in

27

This has been explained with data by V. C. P. Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar, Patna: Yogeshwar Prakashan, 1964; Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite, Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 1982; Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement; Sri Krishna Singh, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Patna University (cf. Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi). 28 Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar; Ali Ashraf, The Muslim Elite; Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement.

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the agitation which in any case lacked mass support and base. If the bhadralok were less fanatic and more humane, the partition in 1947 could have been a distant dream.29

In Bihar, on the other hand, the positivity of Hindu–Muslim relations had reached such a high watermark that, at the third session of the Bihar Provincial Congress (Muzaffarpur, 1910), Deep Narayan Singh (1875–1935), in his presidential address, proposed to extend the principle of a separate electorate to the Hindus in areas where they were the minority. The Muslim delegates, who were as many as half of the total delegates, supported this proposal enthusiastically.30 On this, the Beharee (20 May 1910) observed that it was difficult to find any other province where such an exemplary collaboration between the political life of the Hindus and Muslims existed, and that it was an example worthy of being emulated by the rest of the country. Simultaneously, it was none other than Mazharul Haq (1866–1931) and Hasan Imam (1871–1933) who opposed the extension of the system of a separate electorate to the Muslims in local bodies. Mazharul Haq said, ‘I shall sacrifice ten thousand principles and ten thousand separate electorates simply with one object, namely, to bring the two communities together in order that they may work hand in hand’.31 Freedom fighter, activist and writer, Raheem is emphatic about the role played by Mazharul Haq in the Lucknow Pact (1916). According to him, Haq was most instrumental in bringing the League out of loyalist politics, and was closer to the Congress. Haq had already presided over the League session of 1915 in Bombay. Here, his presidential address was more daringly patriotic and anti-colonial than any other in a Congress session thus far. In this session of the League, the Congress had sent a delegation on a goodwill mission. It consisted of Lord S. P. Sinha, Surendranath Banerji, Madan Mohan Malviya (1861–1946), Annie Besant, and above all Gandhiji. Here, to

29

A. K. Biswas, ‘Paradox of Anti Partition Agitation and Swadeshi Movement of Bengal 1905’, Social Scientist, 263–65, vol. 23, no. 4–6, April– June, 1995. 30 Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement. 31 Qeyamuddin Ahmad and J. S. Jha, Mazharul Haque, Delhi: Publication Division, 1976, p. 12.

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develop a better understanding between the League and the Congress, and to also work out constitutional reforms, the League appointed a committee in which as many as nine people were from Bihar. They were Ali Imam (1869–1932); Mazharul Haq; Maulvi Fakhruddin, an advocate (1868–1931); Nawab Sarfaraz Hussain Khan; Maulvi Ahmad Hussain, an advocate of Muzaffarpur; Maulvi Akhtar Hussain, also an advocate of Muzaffarpur; Syed Mahmud; and Barrister Syed Md Naim of Bhagalpur. It is intriguing, therefore, that although the Bihar leadership so successfully arrived at a better political understanding between the communities in 1916, in the subsequent period, the region suffered from one of the most consequential communal riots in the history of the time. These were the Shahabad riots of 1917. Md Ali, Maulana Azad, and Jinnah’s roles were very important; but Ali and Azad were in jail, and Jinnah had joined the League just in 1914 at Agra. Hence, Taqi Raheem says that, for the Lucknow Pact (1916), the greatest credit goes to Mazharul Haq.32

Political Unity and Social Divide: Hindu–Muslim Relations 1917–37 The Shahabad riots (1917) very decisively ‘polarized the texture of Bihar politics’.33 This riot occurred mainly because of cow slaughter. Ever since the 1880s, organizations like Gaurakshini Sabha, Sanatan Dharma Sabha, Hindu Sabhas and Arya Samajs had started proliferating in Bihar. After 1908, the Gwala movement also emerged.34 Since 1893,

32 Ibid., pp. 132–35. Part of the reason for political cooperation among the elites of Hindus–Muslims was their common cause of resisting Bengali domination in public employment and education. It was regional rather than religious categories that dominated till the early twentieth century. See also, Mrinal Kumar Basu, ‘Regional Patriotism: A Study in Bihar Politics, 1907–1912’, Indian Historical Review (IHR), vol. 3, no. 2, January 1977, pp. 286–307. 33 Papiya Ghosh, ‘Community Questions and Bihar Politics 1917–23’, Indian Historical Review (IHR), vol. 16, nos 1–2, July 1989–January 1990. 34 Gwala, also called ahir, and gop, is a caste falling in the shudra category of the fourfold division of Hindu society. They are known for living by rearing cattle and milking cows. Inspired by the Hindu revivalist movement of the Arya Samaj (its founder Dayanand Saraswati vehemently denied the existence of caste hierarchy in the early Vedic age), they organized themselves

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communal riots had become frequent occurrences.35 The Shahabad riots however surpassed the intensity of all previous riots. In October 1917, enquiry into the riots began. Mazharul Haq put together the report of the Bihar Congress and the League, which dismissed the details of the mosques defiled, women raped, and in particular of women throwing themselves into wells to escape rape. Apparently, this was to avert the accentuation of the crisis, and communal tensions. In the 10th session of the All India Muslim League (1917), Hindu leaders were condemned; and its special session condemned the Bihar Muslim League for grossly neglecting the aftermath of the riots. In fact, to avoid any communal polarization, Hasan Imam (Chairman of the joint meeting of Bihar Provincial Congress Committee and Bihar Provincial Association) preferred not to mention the riots, and confined himself on the follow-up details of the Lucknow Pact and its application to Bihar. This, not surprisingly, alienated the Muslims. Gandhi, then deep into the Champaran Satyagraha, explained his inability to move to Shahabad … His message to the Hindus was that they were to try to stop the daily wholesale slaughter of cows.36

Consequently, the Muslim League leaders came under increasing pressure to break with the Congress. In a series of hugely attended meetings organized by Muslims from all classes, the leadership was thoroughly rejected by the ‘community’, which strongly denounced the politics of Hasan Imam, Mazharul Haq, Sarfaraz H. Khan, and Jinnah. Simultaneously, the Gaurakshini (cow protection) movements went on gaining momentum even as Mazharul Haq kept insisting on giving to demand kshatriya status, and started wearing the sacred thread called janeu. This movement of the gwalas, for kshatriya status, is also known as the Janeu Andolan. See Prasanna Kumar Chaudhry and Shrikant, Bihar Mein Samajik Parivartan Ke Kuchh Aayaam, 1912–90 (Hindi), Delhi: Vaani, 2001, pp. 70–83; and Hetukar Jha, ‘Lower Caste Peasants and Upper Caste Zamindars, 1921–25’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR), vol. 14, no. 4, October–December 1977, pp. 550–55. 35 Anand Yang, ‘Sacred Symbol and Sacred Space in Rural India: Community Mobilization in “Anti Cow-killing” Riot of 1893’, Comparative studies in Society and History (CSSH), 22, 1980, pp. 576–96. 36 Ghosh, ‘Community Questions and Bihar Politics’, p. 199.

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up cow sacrifice in the All-India Cow Conference in Patna, in 1920. The communal tension further increased due to the Shudhi movement in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly after 1923, when the focus was on converting the Malkana Muslim Rajputs back to Hinduism. Conversions were mostly in the Shahabad area. At the same time, the issue of conversion of Hindus in the Malabar and Multan led to riots, and these became recurrent issues even in the speeches of Rajendra Prasad and Shri Krishna Sinha, who were associated with the Hindu Mahasabha for several years. Retrospectively, therefore, Syed Mahmud was to say that, after 1923, the Muslims turned increasingly towards intransigent leaders in the face of the Shudhi movement, and the Congress could not be accepted as a secular body as it had a tendency to combine ‘communalism in culture with nationalism in politics’.37 The Khilafat Committee’s inaction over the Shudhi issue added to the resentment among Muslims.38 After the Lucknow Pact (1916), the most important political development was the Champaran Satyagrah (1917). As early as in 1914, [Khan Bahadur] Fakhruddin (1868–1931), from the platform of the Bihar Provincial Conference, had moved a resolution pressing the government to institute an enquiry into the conflictual relation between the European planters and the ryots of Tirhut, as the latter’s grievances, he said, were genuine.39 It is a lesser known fact of history that Peer Md Moonis (1882–1949) was one of the most prominent leaders who had organized and mobilized the peasantry of Champaran. He was an extremely well read and talented person. He was a teacher in the Bettiah Guru Training School from where he was terminated from service due to his anti-colonial political activities. Moonis was a regular columnist in Pratap, the Hindi daily in Kanpur, and was counted amongst the leading Hindi journalists of the day. The then Sub Divisional Officer of Bettiah, W. H. Louis, called him ‘a connecting link between the educated class and the ryots’.40 It was none other

37

Syed Mahmud, Hindu–Muslim Cultural Accord, Bombay: Vohra & Co, 1949. 38 Ghosh, ‘Community Questions and Bihar Politics’, p. 207. 39 Behar Herald, 25 April 1914. 40 Chaudhry and Shrikant, Bihar Mein Samajik Parivartan, p. 38.

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than Moonis who led the delegation that met Gandhiji in Lucknow in 1916.41 It is ironical that even the most progressive of modern historians have omitted his name, and highlighted the name of Raj Kumar Shukla who was only one of the delegates. The government framed some fake charges against Moonis; the police thrashed him badly, and put him behind the bars in 1918.42 Other important Muslim leaders who organized the peasants were Shaikh Gulab and Adalat Hussain.43 Hasan Imam gave financial assistance to Gandhiji when he came to Champaran. Subsequently, the enthusiastic participation of the Muslims in the Non Cooperation and Khilafat movements is too well known to be repeated here. However, there are some significant developments which are worth mentioning in the context of Bihar. The Bihar Provincial Congress Committee ratified the Nagpur resolution of 1920, and appointed several District committees: Shafi Daudi for Muzaffarpur, Syed Zakaria Hashmi for Saran,44 and Shah Md Zubair for Monghyr were appointed to popularize the Non Cooperation programme in the respective districts. In Arrah it was Mahfuz Alam. The government educational institutions were boycotted; the Bihar Vidyapeeth was set up, with Mazharul Haq as the Chancellor. Abdul Bari (1882–1947) also joined it as a teacher. Shafi Daudi made the arrangement for the examinations of the students. In the National Council of Education for Bihar, Mazharul Haq, Shafi Daudi, Nazir Ahmad, Qazi Abdul Wadood, Qazi Ahmad Hussain, S. M. Zubair, and Maulvi Wirasat 41

Shivapujan Sahay, Peer Md Moonis: Vyakti aur Kriti, Delhi: Vaani, pp. 7–9; cf. Ibid. 42 Ibid; also see, Shrikant, Peer Muhammad Munis, Patna: Gandhi Sangrahalaya, 2001. 43 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 158; Razi Ahmad, Indian Peasant Movement and Mahatma Gandhi, Delhi: Shabd Prakashan, 1987. 44 Professor Iqbal Husain (1905–91) in his Urdu memoir, Daastaan Meri, Patna: KBL, 1989, pp. 43–44, writes that Syed Zakariya Hashmi had written a booklet persuading the people to jump into the Non Cooperation movement, contributed its royalty to the Khilafat Fund, he left the court practice in Chapra (Saran), moved to Patna where he assisted Rajendra Prasad in Congress activities; Hashmi was the son-in-law of Syed Zahiruddin of Neora (Patna). Hashmi left his barristry in 1947, returned back to Neora, and then spent his last days at Chapra with his son, where Zakariya Hashmi breathed his last.

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Rasul were included. Syed Shah Badruddin Qadri (1852–1924) of Phulwari Sharif, the first Ameer-e-Shariat of the Imarat-e-Shariah, who had participated in the Non Cooperation Movement, wrote a booklet, Lama’at-e-Badariya, responding to people’s queries pertaining to the Khilafat issue, and its merger with the Congress-led national movement. He also returned the colonial honour of Shams-ul-Ulema.45 Shafi Daudi, and the Aijazi Brothers of Muzaffarpur were extremely successful in forming panchayats to adjudicate the cases of villagers as the courts were being boycotted. Daudi himself had given up a very lucrative practice in the Muzaffarpur court. Due to the remarkable organizing capacity of Daudi and the Aijazi Brothers, the Tirhut Division had become a ‘danger zone’ in official circles. Here the Congress machinery was at its highest efficiency. The volunteer corps organized by Daudi and the Aijazis became serious concern for the government. On 30 October 1921, Daudi’s house at Muzaffarpur was raided by the police, because it was the headquarters of the Central Board of Control for the National Volunteer Corps/Sewa Samitis.46 Yet, the period of 1925–28 witnessed a widening divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. The municipal and the District Board elections of 1924–25, says Kamta Chaubey, left a legacy of bad blood between Hindus and Muslims in Bihar.47 In these elections, several important Congress Muslims, namely Hadi Hussain, Shafi Daudi and others, lost. The former was a candidate for the Vice President of the Gaya District Board, and the latter was a candidate for becoming the chairman of the Muzaffarpur District Board. Both of them were extremely prominent Congressmen; yet they were not voted for by Hindu Congressmen. This was all the more distressing because Daudi was defeated by a European planter Danby, who evidently secured a good number of votes from Hindu Congressmen. This breach of ideological trust made Daudi suspicious 45

Husain, Daastaan Meri, p. 43. Cf. Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, p. 151; ‘Shafi Daudi Papers’ and ‘Maghfoor Aijazi Papers’, NMML, New Delhi. I am thankful to the Daudi and Aijazi Memorial Committees of Muzaffarpur for the papers. Also see my essay ‘Shafi Daudi (1875–1949)’, Jamia (Urdu quarterly), vol. 100, nos 4–6, April–June 2003, pp. 33–50. 47 Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, p. 181. 46

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of Hindus and the Congress. This was the decade when the Arya Samaj’s Shudhi movement was also very active in Bihar. Even more telling was the defeat of no less a person than Mazharul Haq in the elections of the Bihar Legislative Council. In utter disgust, Haq retired from politics. He retired at a time when he was needed the most to contain the monster of communalism. Maulana Azad wrote a letter (dated 20 August 1926), persuading him to accept the presidency of the Congress (for the Guwahati session, 1926); but he did not relent. Nevertheless he, along with Daudi, toured the whole of Bihar to work for communal harmony in the midst of recurrent riots.48 The Bihar Provincial Conference of 1925 was presided over by S. M. Zubair, and the District conference of Banka was presided by Daudi to popularize khadi.49 In many villages (like Kapasi), Muslim women were seen engaged in weaving and spinning,50 and despite the worsening communal relations, no important Congress Muslim leader took recourse to separatism. Rather, in a special meeting in the Anjuman Islamia Hall in Patna, on 8 May 1927, it was collectively decided that joint electorates rather than separate electorates were more desirable. The Hall was packed to its capacity with Ali Imam, Fakhruddin, Sarfaraz H. Khan, Daudi, [Khan Bahadur] M. Ismail, Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948) being the notable participants. According to Kamta Chaubey, until at least 1928, Muslim politics in Bihar were liberal, non-communal, and nationalist to the core, and opposed to the notion of separate electorates. It was due to the influence of a group of committed nationalist leaders from Bihar that even the Bihar Muslim League remained ideologically close to the Congress, and did not become ‘the citadel of communalists and reactionaries’ so much so that the presidential addresses of Mazharul Haq for the League and that of Lord S. P. Sinha for the Congress were in exact ideological conformity at Bombay in 1915.51 According to Shashi Shekhar Jha, ‘a notable feature of the Bihar Muslim League 48

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 258–59. Mahadev Desai, Gandhiji in Indian Villages, Madras: G. Ganesan, 1927, pp. 232–83. 50 Young India, 1927–28, pp. 74–76. 51 Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, p. 213. This is testified by the laurels showered upon Mazharul Haq, in several issues of The Leader and The Behar Herald of January 1916. 49

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was the absence of communal character … perhaps the leadership of Mazharul Haq and other eminent Muslims as also the natures of political activities were responsible for it’.52 On 20 March 1927, Muslims had a meeting in Delhi where Daudi, S. M. Zubair and other leaders were present. They had experienced the limitations of joint and separate electorates. Hence, while they were pressing against separate electorates, simultaneously they demanded the reservation of seats for the minorities in the legislature. S. M. Zubair had already emphasized this point in the provincial conference of the Congress at Purulia (1926).53 The Muslims gave up the demand for separate electorates in which Jinnah and Iyengar also played an instrumental role. This Muslims gesture, according to Taqi Raheem, impressed even Hindu Mahasabha leaders such as B. S. Moonje (1872–1948), N. C. Kelkar (1872–1947), M. R. Jayakar (1873–1959), and M. S. Aney (1880–1968), and was ratified by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) at Bombay in May 1927. Thus, it is evident that the fissures created in the Hindu–Muslim relationship during the elections of 1924–26 had been redeemed to a great extent, thanks to Daudi and Zubair. This went a long way in presenting a formidable united opposition against the all-white Simon Commission. On 30 January 1928, Daudi presided over a conference held at the Anjuman Islamia Hall, Patna, where it was resolved to put up stiff resistance against the Simon Commission. In Muzaffarpur’s Jama Masjid, Daudi delivered a stirring speech to mobilize the people against the Commission. He himself led a demonstration of students in Patna. Nevertheless, the Motilal Nehru Report (1928) was seen as unsatisfactory by a section of the Muslim leadership. They had insisted on some demands: a one-third reservation of seats for Muslims, a federation with complete provincial autonomy, and the creation of Sind province out of Bombay, all of which were denied. Motilal Nehru … had nothing against the Muslim demands [as none of these posed any threat to the unity of India but] he was more concerned 52 Shashi Shekhar Jha, Political Elite in Bihar, Bombay: Popular, 1972, pp. 112–31. 53 Betaab Siddiqi, Mai’maar-e-Qaum, Shah Mohammad Zubair, Patna: Maktaba-e-Khursheed Anwar, 1990.

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with placating the Hindu Mahasabha than with giving satisfaction to the Muslims … the Congress leadership during 1928–40 [failed] to satisfy Muslim aspirations regarding the sharing of power. Congress refused to set up coalition ministries with League in UP and Bombay.54

Shafi Daudi (1875–1949) and Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940) were most critical of the Report. They called a meeting in Patna in December 1928, but it was to no avail. Shah Muhammad Umair subjected his party (the Congress) to severe criticism by saying that in exchange for the joint electorate, conceding one third of the seats of the central assembly would not have been a bad bargain. While writing his autobiography in the Hazaribagh Jail during 1942–44, he further commented that it was particularly unjustified on the part of the Congress to not accommodate the Muslim League’s demand when it had conceded reserved seats to the Harijans after the Poona Pact (1932).55 While David Page takes this denial as a ‘Prelude to India’s Partition’ in 1947;56 I would argue that, notwithstanding the strong grievances of Muslims against the Congress’ denial of proportionate share in the structures and processes of power, their voices against partition were not weak or insignificant. The Congress’ denial of reserved seats to the Muslims soon propelled Daudi’s retirement from politics, a big loss for the Congress as he was one of the greatest leaders of Bihar. Mazharul Haq had already retired from politics in disgust (and subsequently died in 1931). This was a time when the Hindu Mahasabha leaders were increasing their influence in the Congress, and the share of Muslims in the politics of the Bihar Congress had started to decline visibly. It was being taken over by the upper-caste Hindus, mostly Bhumihars and Rajputs. In fact, the rise of the Bhumihars in education, politics and the bureaucracy is a subject that remains to be fully explored and elaborated. Navrang Rai, 54 Uma Kaura, Muslims and Indian Nationalism 1928–40, Delhi: Manohar, 1977, pp. 162–67. 55 Shah Mohammad Umair, Talaash-e-Manzil, Patna: Maktaba-eKhursheed Anwar, 1967, pp. 9–15. This Urdu memoir was written by Umair during his imprisonment in Hazaribagh Jail (1942–44). Only its first part could be published. 56 David Page, Prelude to Partition, Delhi, OUP, 1982.

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or Swami Sahajanand Saraswati (1889–1950), was the first leader to start organizing the Bhumihars, and was associated with the Bhumihar Brahman Sabha (founded in 1889 at Patna by the Raja of Benaras, among many others). However, he subsequently gave up addressing the caste issues of the Bhumihars, and engaged himself in the politics of peasant radicalism.57 Later, Sir Ganesh Dutt Singh (1868–1943) emerged as their leader, who remained loyal to the Raj, and entered the reformed Legislative Council and occupied the influential portfolios of education and local self-government during 1924–37. This position helped him distribute patronage to his caste-brethren.58 Later, this patronage was extended to the Bhumihars by Shri Krishna Sinha (1887–1961), who occupied the premiership/chief ministership of Bihar during 1937–39, and again during 1946–61.59 Despite their grudges against the Congress, Muslim leaders such as Syed Mahmud (1889–1971), S. M. Zubair, and Abdul Bari remained with the party. Abdul Bari gained much popularity among the workers in Jamshedpur during the 1920s and 1930s. S. Mahmud came in to fill the gap created by Daudi and Haq. In 1930, at Lahore, Mahmud was elected General Secretary of the AICC. The Maulanas Sajjad, Nuruddin Bihari, Usman Ghani, Abdul Wahab Darbhangwi, and Abdul Wadud were active within the Congress during the Civil Disobedience movement. Seeing their popularity and mobilizing capacity, they were put behind the bars. Their anti-League position remained consistent and, in March 1929, they set up the All India Muslim Nationalist Party. By July 1930, its provincial branch was

57

Walter Hauser, ‘Swami Sahajanand and the Politics of Social Reform’, Indian Historical Review, vol. 18, nos 1–2, July 1991–January 1992, pp. 59–75. 58 For the caste prejudices of Ganesh Dutt, see Rambriksha Benipuri, Mujhe Yaad Hai, Allahabad: Lokbharti, 1996; for a brief profile of Sir Ganesh Dutt, see Sachidanand Sinha, Some Eminent Bihar Contemporaries, Patna: Himalaya Publications, 1944. 59 Rajendra Ram identifies three phases in Bihar politics: Sachidanand Sinha, as the ‘creator of Modern Bihar’, Shri Krishna Sinha as the ‘creator of Forward Raj’, and Karpoori Thakur as the ‘creator of Backward Raj’. See Rajendra Ram, ‘Caste, Class, and Community in Bihar Politics’, XCIX second series, Centre for Contemporary Studies, NMML, New Delhi, 1995, p. 11.

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opened in Bihar, with Maulana Sajjad as its President. The overwhelming participation of the Muslims (in the Civil Disobedience Movement) in Saran, Champaran, and Muzaffarpur was due mainly to Syed Mahmud’s organizational ability; in Jamshedpur, Shahabad and Patna it was due to Abdul Bari. In these years, all these districts had a number of Muslim leaders associated with the Congress.60 Taqi Raheem writes that because the Bihar Muslims, in the hope of fighting colonialism, had given up the demand for separate electorates, their demand for the reservation of one-third of the total seats in the central assembly for Muslims (under a joint electorate) should have been conceded, as was done in the case of Harijans with the Poona Pact of 1932. It may be noted that the McDonald Award under the scheme of separate electorates had offered only 72 reserved seats to the Harijans in the central assembly; but after the Gandhi–Ambedkar Pact of Poona, 1932, as many as 147 seats were reserved for them in exchange for the Harijans giving up the idea of a separate electorate. However, the Congress, under the pressure of the Hindu Mahasabha, failed to accommodate this demand, which added to the Muslims’ woes against the Congress. Unfortunately, this was the time when two great leaders, Hasan Imam and Ali Imam, passed away. The situation made it increasingly more difficult for the nationalist leaders like Syed Mahmud, Abdul Bari, and S. M. Umair to keep Muslims with the Congress. This was the backdrop against which the elections of 1937 came to be held.

60

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 288; Papiya Ghosh, in her PhD thesis (1984), The Civil Disobedience Movement in Bihar, 1930–34 (Posthumously published in 2008) has said that, from the 1920s onwards — and particularly during the Civil Disobedience movement of early 1930s — the Congress could widen its base among the Bhumihars, Rajputs and intermediate and low castes; but ‘the Muslims in general kept “aloof ” from the movement, and in certain places were positively hostile to Congress mobilization efforts’ (pp. 177–78). While not disagreeing with her explanation about the tension between the Muslims and the Congress, it is difficult to agree with the fact that the Muslims in general kept aloof from the Congress in 1930–34. Her own sources in this very book, her other essays cited in the preceding pages, and other works discussed here testify that, compared to the adjacent provinces, the participation of the Bihar Muslims was considerably high.

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Denying Adequate Share of Power to the Muslims, 1937 Although many Muslims had grievances against the Congress, they did not switch over to the League; instead they formed a nationalist party, the Muslim Independent Party (MIP), which was ideologically akin to the Congress. It was led by Maulana Sajjad of Imarat-e-Shariah, a legal and spiritual institution that was set up in Phulwari Sharif in Patna, in 1921, for the implementation of the Shariat (Islamic Law), and had a formidable mass base even in the remotest villages.61 In the 1937 elections, the Congress and the MIP contested elections with seat adjustments. The MIP won 15 out of 40 reserved seats and the Congress won five seats. The League was unable to secure any seats. Such ideological affinity and electoral adjustment gave rise to an impression in the public mind that the Congress and the MIP would jointly form the government in Bihar. The Congress however, reneged on this tacit understanding, giving a rude shock to the Muslims. On the issue of ‘Governor’s discretion’, the Congress initially refused to form the ministry. It insisted that it would form the ministry only after an assurance from the governor that he would not use his special/discretionary powers. The deadlock in Bihar continued from April to July 1937; till then the MIP, the second largest party, formed its ministry under Md Yunus (1884–1952), making it clear that it would give way to the Congress, once it decided to accept office. The plea of the MIP was that the Act of 1935 itself provided for the governor’s special powers, and the very fact that the Congress contested elections on the basis of the act was evidence of the Congress’ acceptance of the condition of the governor’s special powers. Some Urdu sources indicate that the MIP wished to form a coalition ministry with the Congress, which was not acceptable for the latter even in July 1937.62 Accordingly, the MIP, being the second largest party, formed its ministry (for about 120 days during April–July 1937), making it clear that it would give way

61

Abd-us-Samad Rehmani, Taareekh-e-Imarat, Patna: 1958; Zafeeruddin Miftahi, Imarat-e-Shariah: Deeni Jidd-o-Johad ka Raushan Baab, Patna: Maktaba Imarat-e-Shariah, 1974. 62 Minatullah Rahmani, ‘Maulana [Sajjad] aur Majalis-e-Qanoon Saaz’, in Anis-ur-Rahman Qasmi’ (comp.), Hayat-e-Sajjad, Patna: Maktaba Imrat-eShariah, 1998, pp. 139–51.

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to a new ministry as soon as the Congress reconsidered its decision. However, there took place a sort of ‘Hindu backlash’ against the MIP, whereby, according to Taqi Raheem, even the Socialists were embittered by the fact of the MIP’s formation of the interim ministry.63 Raheem’s account indicates the growth of misgivings among the Muslims so far as their perception of the Hindu political class was concerned. At about the same time, the Advocate General of Bihar, Sir Sultan Ahmad (1880–1963), was replaced with Baldev Sahay (1892–1959). Sir Sultan Ahmad had been the only Muslim Advocate General in India, and his removal proved to be another addition to the growing apprehension among the Muslims. Yet another cause of disaffection was the preference given to Shri Krishna Sinha (by the Congress) over Syed Mahmud for the post of the Prime Ministers of Bihar.64 As the share of the Muslims in the organizing and building of the Bihar Congress had been significant, they had expected a proportionate share in the power structure.65 The reluctance of the Congress to give proportionate power to the Muslims was the major reason for the growth of the Bihar branch of the Muslim League which, until 1937, had been almost non-functional. And, so long as it existed in its initial phase (1908–19), it remained, by and large, ideologically consistent with the Congress. In his study, Jawaid Alam has named the increased Shudhi campaign of the Arya Samaj for creating communal tensions in Bihar.66 According to him, there was a good prospect of Hindu–Muslim rapprochement in Bihar. The Bihar Congress was in a position to curb separatist euphoria and communal instinct by projecting the Congress Muslims to the forefront of the movement, but the Bihar Congress intoxicated with electoral politics and unwilling to share power with the Muslims, failed to bring the prospect of Hindu–Muslim amity to a reality.

63

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi. A. K. Maulana Azad, India Wins Freedom, Delhi: Orient Longman, pp. 16–17. 65 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 334. 66 Jawaid Alam, ‘British Experiment of Responsible Government: A Case Study of Bihar under Dyarchy, 1921–37’, unpublished PhD thesis, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, 1996, p. 237. 64

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The Congress’ denial of power-sharing proved fatal. The League could exaggerate and magnify the grievances of the Muslims. However, contrary to the claims of the apologists of the Congress, the grievances were not completely unfounded, and hence, cannot be ruled out summarily. There may be reasons to look at the Pirpur and Shareef reports — the enquiry reports of the Muslim League about excesses committed, or discrimination perpetrated against Muslims by the Congress ministries during 1937–39 — with some doubt as they were made use of by the League as an instrument to alienate the Muslims away from the Congress. However, the one written by the consistently anti-League Imarat-e-Shariah’s Maulana Sajjad cannot be dismissed as baseless. The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, Imarat-e-Shariah and the MIP had started out by supporting the Congress, had opposed the League, and had expected to have a share in governance. But in 1939, Sajjad, in a 22-page long letter to the Congress High Command, had to reach the ‘inevitable conclusion’ that the Congress was ‘communalist to the core’, cataloguing the grievances of the Muslims against the Congress ministry. This letter was written after the Congress resigned from the ministry in 1939. It was supposedly meant for the Congress to do a ‘self examination of its failings and errors’ rather than addressed to the public, which would only have resulted in further embittering Muslim feelings against the Congress.67 In his paper on the Muslim Mass Contact Programme (MMCP) of the Congress ministry (1937–39), Mushirul Hasan clearly says that, within two years of its launching, the Mass Contacts Campaign ran into serious trouble not so much due to the Muslim League’s opposition or the lack of Muslim support, but because of the Congress’ own reluctance to pursue it with any vigour or sense of purpose.

In early 1939, it was scrapped, as it was only a ‘brainchild of Nehru’.68 Most influential Congress leaders remained either opposed to or 67

AICC Papers, no. G-42, 1939. Mushirul Hasan, ‘The Muslim Mass Contact Campaign: Analysis of a Strategy of Political Mobilization’, in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), India’s Partition: Process, Strategy, and Mobilization, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 153. 68

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unenthusiastic about it. The remarks of Shah Muhammad Umair (1894–1978), the Congress leader of Bihar and the in-charge of the MMCP, corroborate this: In fact, right since the very beginning, the Congress was considering the existence of the nationalist Muslims as a dead body (laasha-e-be jaan) … and by the time wisdom dawned upon it that only through this [Muslim Mass Contact] Programme it could strengthen the nationalist Muslims, all the organs of the Mass Contact had withered away.69

The right wing of the Congress came out with bitter criticism against its Muslim Mass Contact Programme, resulting in the fact that Abul Kalam Azad’s pamphlet titled ‘Congress and Musalmans’ could not be distributed. The lame excuse given was the lack of funds. B. S. Moonje proposed to Bhai Parmanand and Raja Narendra that all the Hindu Mahasabhites should join the Congress to counteract the effect of the Muslim influx into the organizational structure of the Congress. His indictment of the Congress was also an indication of the Mahasabhite hold on the district units of the Congress. Mushirul Hasan concludes: ‘Congress’ own position regarding Communal activities of its members remained dangerously vague’.70 Despite such differences, however, a fairly large section of the Muslim leadership remained committed to the idea of a composite nationalism, and consistently remained opposed to the League. Syed Mahmud, Abdul Bari, the famous Urdu poet Professor Jameel Mazhari, and a host of popular mass leaders were still with the Congress. Jameel Mazhari (1904–82) was the Publicity Officer of the Congress ministry of Bihar. When it resigned in 1939, Mazhari also resigned, whereas Ramdhari Singh Dinkar (1908–74), another Publicity officer and the famous Hindi poet (Rashtra Kavi), did not resign.71 In November 1940, Maulana Sajjad, a great nationalist leader who had exercised political and religious influence on the Muslims,

69

Umair, Talaash-e-Manzil, p. 25; my translation. Mushirul Hasan (ed.), India’s Partition: Process, Strategy, and Mobilization, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 153–59. 71 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 385. 70

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passed away. This may have weakened the Muslim politics of composite nationalism at a time when the League’s separatism was becoming rapidly strident. At this time, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74) emerged on the political firmament as a promising leader with tremendous popularity. He was the leader of the Momin Conference. Like other organizations of the oppressed social groups, such as the Kisan Sabha, Yadav Mahasabha, Triveni Sangh, etc., the Momin Conference also emerged mainly from Bihar (though founded in Calcutta by the people of Bihar).72 Apart from him, Syed Mahmud, Abdul Bari, Comrade Ali Ashraf, Manzar Rizvi (leader of the working class in Dalmianagar), Maghfoor Aijazi, and his brother Manzoor Aijazi (Muzaffarpur) were active leaders. A large number of Muslims became engaged in the anticolonial struggles during the World War II under the influence of these leaders. Ali Ashraf, Peerzada Syed Shah Sulaiman and Chaudhry Abul Hasnat of Arrah went to jail for their fierce anti-colonial activities. The Majlis-e-Ahrar, the Momin Conference, the Rayeen Conference, the Shia Political Conference, and the Mansoori Conference were quite popular among the relevant groups, and were vehemently opposed to the League. It is to be noted that although Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74) of the Momin Conference subjected the Muslim League to criticism for being a party of upper caste feudal elites, he never said anything against the Congress which had a similar class base. On 14 April 1940, Maulana Sajjad refuted the ‘Pakistan’ resolution of the

72 Hasan Nishat Ansari, The Momin Congress Relation: A Socio-Historical Analysis, Patna: Momin Intellectual Forum, 1989. Abdul Qaiyum Ansari was the President of the Bihar Provincial Jamiat-ul-Momineen; he entered the national movement in 1919 when he was a student at the Sasaram High school. In the wake of the Khilafat Movement, the Ali Brothers had visited Sasaram when Qaiyum Ansari came into their contact. In 1920, he became Secretary of Dehri-On-Sone Khilafat Committee, and participated in Congress sessions. Afterwards, his assertive politics in the late 1930s and 1940s put a great hurdle before the Muslim League in the province by demanding the same concessions and questions that had been put forth earlier by the League before the Congress. He became Minister in Bihar, 1946–52, 1955–57, 1962–67; the President of the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee, and Member of the CWC, 1959–63; and a Member of the Rajya Sabha, 1970–72.

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Muslim League.73 Earlier, in December 1938, he had entered into a dialogue through a pamphlet which was also distributed among common people.74 On 19 April 1940, these Muslims observed ‘Hindustan Day’ against the League’s observances of ‘Pakistan Day’ at several places. In July 1940, at a village of Bhagalpur, a famous journalist of Purnea, Syed Abdullah of the All India Azad Muslim Conference, convened a meeting of Muslims opposed to the League.75 In that meeting, the League and Jinnah were subjected to most severe criticism. Many issues (3 January–30 April 1940) of Searchlight, a Patna English daily, contained reports about frequent meetings of Momin Conference, the Rayeen Conference, and the Shia Conference in several districts in which the ‘two nation theory’ of Jinnah and his League was vehemently opposed, besides pressing for the demands of their empowerment. The Azad Muslim Conference meetings, also repudiating Jinnah and his ‘two-nation theory’, continued in several district towns and villages in the following years, particularly in 1942.76 This alarmed the Muslim League; but there was no leader of required stature in Bihar to counter anti-League propaganda. Thus, it sent out K. Nazimuddin from Bengal, who convened a ‘Pakistan Meeting’ on 29 April 1944 at Jamui, Monghyr. According to an official report, ‘[t]he attempted

73

This refutation appeared in Naqeeb (an Urdu weekly), and an organ of the Imarat-e-Shariah. It was titled ‘Muslim India aur Hindu India ki Scheme par ek aham Tabserah’ and was published on 14 April 1940. 74 Md. Zamanullah Nadeem and Mujahid-ul-Islam, Makateeb-e-Sajjad, Patna: Maktaba-e-Imarat-e-Shariah, 1999, p. 20. 75 ‘The All India Azad (or Independent) Muslim Conference was first convened in April 1940 by Maulana Azad and other Congress leaders. In his address to the Conference, Maulana Azad, who was at that time the President of the Congress, put forward proposals for overcoming the constitutional deadlock, and challenged the Muslim League’s claim to represent the Muslims of India. On 28 April 1940, the conference passed a resolution which included a declaration beginning: India, with its geographical and political boundaries, is an indivisible whole and as such it is the common homeland of all citizens, irrespective of race or religion, who are joint owners of its resources’, N. Mansergh (ed.), Transfer of Power, vol. 1, London, 1970, Document no. 216, p. 293. More on this in Chapter Four. 76 Ibid.

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reorganization of the Muslim League … however [was] not making much progress in the province. The local Shias [were] (however) very critical of the Pakistan Scheme which they describe(d) as fraud.’77 This series of meetings was preceded also by one at Gaya.78 At the same time, the activities of the RSS were also on the rise in Bihar. On 15 August 1943, in a conference at Nagpur, the RSS Headquarters, Savarkar (1883–1966) had said, ‘[w]e Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations’, and B. S. Moonje, in the same conference said, ‘let our proportion in the army be increased and every problem will be automatically solved’.79 Earlier, on 26 March 1939, in his address to the 8th session of the Hindu Mahasabha at Monghyr, Savarkar, had said, ‘Congress was manned and managed by Hindus who … (have) now fallen in wrong track by complete adherence to the Muslim vagaries’, and that ‘Hindustan belonged to Hindus and none other than the Hindus would rule it’. He also referred to Nazi Germany, saying, ‘Mahasabha is as much national as the National Government in Germany’, and lambasted the Congress for giving ‘meaningless concessions to minorities’. He further declared that all branches of the Bengal Hindu Sabha be instructed to establish gymnasiums in every village to introduce lathi, dagger play, and to hold physical tournaments periodically. Reconversion (shudhi) was also insisted upon, along with the physical training of women.80 In the subsequent 9th session of the Bihar Hindu Sabha, S. P. Mukherji, in his presidential address said, ‘one of the tasks of the Hindu Mahasabha will be to build up a national militia of Hindus against Muslims’ (emphasis added).81 Intelligence reports warned that the organizational proliferation of the RSS was

77

Fortnightly report for the second half of April 1944, File No. 18 /4/ 44Home Political (I), National Archives of India (NAI). 78 Extract from fortnightly report (Bihar) for the first half of April 1944, File No. 18/4/44-Home Political-(I) NAI. 79 The Hindu, 17 August 1943. 80 Sobhag Mathur, Hindu Revivalism and the Indian National Movement: Ideals and Policies of the Hindu Mahasabha, 1939–45, Jodhpur: Kusumanjli Prakashan, 1996, p. 62. 81 Ibid., p. 112. For more details on the rapid rise of the Hindu Mahasabha activities in district-wise units during 1937–47, see also O. P. Ralhan (ed.),

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gaining alarming pace, intruding into educational institutions, recruiting students and teachers, and indulging in lathi (stick) drills with the ‘use of certain uniform and performance of exercises of a military nature’, particularly since October 1943.82 Its branches spread across ‘11 districts lying in the northern half of the province along the Ganges’, besides ‘30 other mofussil branches’. All these continued in defiance of the administrative prohibition. Professor Diwakar, the General Secretary of the provincial wing of the RSS also visited Monghyr and Sasaram in April 1944 to mobilize gatherings of students, ‘with a view to revitalizing local activities’.83 These developments were felt to be a danger to law and order which warranted the Government of India to issue a general instruction to all the provinces: ‘If any Provincial government considers it necessary in the interest of law and order to proceed openly against RSS, it should not hesitate to do so’.84 It should also be noted that the administrative measures taken against the RSS were more stringent in the Punjab, Central Provinces, Ajmer, and Marwar, while in Bihar no such measures were undertaken.85 This was so despite the fact that senior officers of the security and intelligence agencies of the Government of Bihar were asking for them in view of the fact that ‘many military deserters, dismissed/discharged police personnel were joining the private armies of communal political organizations’, most notably the RSS.86 In the Individual Civil Disobedience Movement (1941), S. M. Umair, Manzoor Aijazi (Muzaffarpur), Abdul Bari, Ulfat Hussain (Godda), S. M. Imam (Gaya), Husain Mazhar (son of Mazharul Haq), were imprisoned. Yusuf Meer Ali, another popular leader and President of Hindu Mahasabha: Encyclopedia of Political Parties Series, Delhi: Anmol, 1997, pp. 339–42, 418, 431–37 vol. 1; and pp. 571, 724, 749–53, in vol. 2. Also see, Ram Lal Wadhwa, Hindu Mahasabha, 1928–47, Delhi: Radha Publications, 1999, pp. 339–42, 418, 431–37 in vol. 1; and pp. 571, 724, 749–53, in vol. 2. 82 File No. 28/3/43-Home Political- (I) NAI; and File No. 18/2/44 Home Political-(I), NAI. 83 Fortnightly report for the second half of April, 1944, File No. 18/4/44Home Political (I), NAI. 84 File No. 28/3/44-Home Political, dated 21 April 1944. 85 File No. 28/3/43, Home Political (I), NAI. 86 DIG-CID, Bihar, 22 July 1944, Government of Bihar Pol. (Spl.) File No. 558/44, Bihar State Archives (BSA).

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the Bihar Socialist Conference insisted on expanding the Individual Civil Disobedience Movement to the national plane. However, despite all this participation, Hindu–Muslim relations kept deteriorating due to a variety of reasons. The Congress was of the view that it was only due to the League that it was unable to corner the British Raj during wartime. Whereas the lower units of the Congress and Hindu Mahasabha/RSS were almost synonymous, they identified the League and other Muslim communities as synonymous/interchangeable entities. This overlap of the Mahasabha and the Congress was corroborated by the Hindu Mahasabha itself when it declared, ‘the Hindu Mahasabhites should not look upon the Congress as untouchables’, and that the Hindus were the mainstay of the Congress and if they [Hindus] were weak, the Congress would also become weak.87 This stance of the lower Congressmen alienated the Muslims, and fanned communal tension. The rapid rise of the Hindu Mahasabha/ RSS and the Muslim League, and the resultant growing communal polarization after 1937, began to cause more frequent communal riots in several towns of Bihar. These were sparked either by the Mahabiri Jhanda processions or by incidents of cow slaughter. After the Lahore resolution of the Muslim League in 1940 (which was construed as demanding India’s partition along Hindu–Muslim lines), religious tension became even more palpable. Consequently, a massive riot broke out in Biharshareef (1941). Since a long time, Biharshareef had been educational, cultural, religious, and spiritual centre of the Muslims. Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940), Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953), Dr A. Rahman belonged to this very place. This riot, therefore, greatly affected the Muslims of Bihar. ‘This riot had convinced them that if power is transferred to the Congress then the Muslims wouldn’t have even the right to assemble and protest for their legitimate democratic rights’.88 As a consequence of this communal polarization, the Jamiat-ulUlema, Imarat-e-Shariah and Congress-Muslims suffered a definite erosion of their mass base. However, leaders like Comrade Ali Ashraf had an abiding influence, and by this time the Communists in general had also gained much popularity among the Muslims. It was this 87 88

Mathur, Hindu Revivalism, p. 195. Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 402–3.

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section of the Muslim leadership which helped in containing Muslim alienation to a considerable extent after 1942. Thus, during the Quit India Movement, fairly large sections of Muslims remained with the national movement. Many participants are still alive and live in the same areas.89 K. K. Datta gives a long list of such Muslim freedom fighters that had been at the forefront of the movement. Reyasat Kareem (in Dalmianagar) mobilized workers; Ahmad A. Khan and Md A. Sagheer resigned from the Khagaul Development Board. Many more were killed and wounded in various villages and towns. In fact, as compared to other provinces, the share of Muslims killed in Bihar was the largest. The noteworthy point is that even when the Muslims were disillusioned with the Congress, and even when very few of them were actually at the forefront of the Party (Congress), Muslim participation in the activities of the party remained significant.90 Thus, Taqi Raheem expresses his dismay at seeing how ‘almost all Hindu historians and intellectuals, in order to cover up the faults of their leaders, keep saying that it was the Muslims of Bihar and UP who divided the country and created Pakistan’. He further says, ‘[The] fact of the matter is that during Syed Ahmad Shaheed’s “Wahabi” Movement, the Ulema of Sadiqpur like Wilayat Ali and Inayat Ali had injected anti-imperialism into the Muslims of Bihar so effectively that it never disappeared’.91 However, the most serious impact on the Congress’ Muslim support base came during and after the elections of 1946. The elections for the central assembly were held in October–November 1945, and those for the provincial assembly were held in February–March 1946. In these elections, the Congress resorted to every kind of means to defeat the League, including extending support to pro-British candidates, and creating a sectarian divide among the Muslims themselves. In order to win over the Muslims in Bihar, the Congress had to depend upon Syed Mahmud, Professor Abdul Bari, S. M. Umair and A. Qaiyum Ansari, among others. At this time, even Maulana Maududi (1902–79), 89

I have interviewed more than a dozen such people in the villages of Muzaffarpur, and the surrounding districts. 90 K. K. Datta, History of the Freedom Movement in Bihar, vol. 3, Patna: Government of Bihar Press, pp. 36, 58, 64–137. 91 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 432.

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the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1941, had opposed the League’s demand for Pakistan, even though it was for his own narrow interests. In other words, when the League went to the elections, it stood by itself. Yet, it was able to win 34 out of the 40 Muslim seats in Bihar. However, on a number of such seats, the Congress had been defeated by a very narrow margin. The Congress had contested this election with the help of Jamiat-ul-Ulema/Imarat-e-Shariah and the Momin Conference. The central office of the election was in the Khanqah-e-Mujibiya. The nationalist Muslim organizations lost most of the seats in the elections of 1946, more because of a resource crunch, and less because of the League’s popularity. According to a contemporary source, ‘the nationalist Muslim bodies had scarce resources; the Momins and the Jamiat-ul-Ulema were poor communities’.92 The Muslim leaders of the District Congress Committees had started demanding that, to win, at least `10,000 be allocated for every Muslim seat.93 The nationalist Muslim organizations demanded an assurance from the Congress to promise the appointment of Muslim teachers in primary schools; but Rajendra Prasad (who had important say in the Bihar Congress) refused to assure anything except religious freedom. This gesture of the Congress leadership created differences amongst the nationalist Muslims, thus affecting the prospects of the Congress in the elections of 1946. The Congress also refused to come out with a joint manifesto, although it did form the Nationalist Muslim [Parliamentary] Board. Thus, the campaign for the election remained ‘confused and uncoordinated’, as was confessed by Rajendra Prasad himself later.94 Jaya Prakash Narayan (1902–79) had also insisted on ensuring a share for Muslims in licenses, contracts, jobs, etc. The Congress however did not pay heed, resulting in the alienation of Muslims and pushing them towards the Muslim League in the elections of 1946.95

92 Rajendra Prasad to Sardar Patel, 7 November 1945, Rajendra Prasad Papers No. 7-5/45-6. 93 Abul Nasr Abdul Baes to Rajendra Prasad, ibid.; cf. Sucheta Mahajan, Independence and Partition: The Erosion of Colonial Power in India, Delhi: Sage Publications, 2000, p. 215. 94 Mahajan, Independence and Partition, p. 217. 95 AICC Papers No. G-36/1946.

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Nevertheless, the mere electoral victory of the League did not make the idea of Partition welcome to all Muslims. Many Muslims of Bihar continued contesting the League and its two-nation theory regardless of their disenchantment with the Congress. In Muzaffarpur, the Aijazi Brothers campaigned from house to house on bicycles along with others in 1946–47. Maghfoor Aijazi had set up the All India Jamhoor Muslim League in 1940 to oppose Jinnah’s scheme of Pakistan. Since 1940, he had been active in opposing Jinnah’s Pakistan (notwithstanding his disillusionment with the Congress which he had joined in 1920 and helped build up so assiduously. He was one of the few greatest mass leaders of the District).96 Maulvi Ahmad Ghafoor and Sayeedul Haq of Darbhanga, Fazlur Rahman of Patna, Qazi Md Husain of Gaya, Hafiz Md Sani of Bettiah, Qazi Md Ilyas of Begusarai, Md Noor of Purnea, and Isa Rizwi of Sheikhpura, remained active in the Congress. In Siwan, Abdul Ghafoor (1918–2004) of the Forward Block (future Chief Minister of the Congress-led government in Bihar, 1973–75), and Zawar Husain of AISF (future Vice Chancellor of Bihar University, Muzaffarpur) were active and popular mass leaders working for Congress candidates. Maulana Shah Mohiuddin, sajjada nashin of Khanqah-e-Mujibiya, Phulwari Shareef, had a great spiritual influence on the Muslims of Bihar. Others, such as Abdus Samad Rahmani, Usman Ghani, and Ahmad Husain, also campaigned with him for the Congress. However, the greatest help came from Qaiyum Ansari’s Momin Conference. Of the six Muslim seats won by the Congress in 1946, five were of the Momin Conference and the sixth (Syed Mahmud) was won largely because of the Momin Conference’s support. The writings of some Muslim Progressive Writers, such as Akhtar Husain Raipuri, Ali Athar, Sohail Azimabadi, Akhtar Orainwi (1910–77), Jameel Mazhari (1904–82), Ijtaba Rizvi, Razi Azimabadi, Tamannai, Parwez Shahidi helped in influencing the public opinion against the League. The League’s only leaders of some influence were Nawab Ismail (Hajjan sb.) and Latifur Rahman Ansari. The rest of the leadership came from the Bihar Muslim Students’ Federation (BMSF). S. M. Jaleel of BMSF had brought out a short-lived English 96

Interview with Asghar Aijazi, son of Maghfoor Aijazi, Muzaffarpur, in December 2000. See also, my essay on Maghfoor Aijazi’s life in Tahzibul Akhlaq (Urdu monthly), Aligarh, vol. 23, no. 2, February 2004.

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weekly which propagated the League’s politics. Besides, the League forged unity with the adibasis of what is now Jharkhand and supported their demand for a separate state. This increased the League’s support base. This was a unique achievement of the Muslim League, in which they were perceived as having gone beyond simply Muslim interests. The adibasis participated in their meetings, and shouted the slogans of ‘Pakistan zindabad’.97 Still, a large number of Muslim leaders, with considerable mass base, were present in the Congress. Among them were the (Congress) Socialists such as Abul Hayat Chand Kazmi, Ahad Fatmi, and Razi Azimabadi who helped the Congress to effectively resist the League. Other Muslims like Manzar Rizwi, Ali Ashraf and S. Habeeb Ali Amjad dominated the Communist party in Bihar. Habeebur Rahman influenced the people significantly. All of them were against the demand for a separate homeland for Muslims. The Congress formed its ministry on 16 April 1946. However, riots broke out in October 1946 and became the ‘turning point’ in Bihar’s nationalist politics.98 These riots broke out after a strike (hartal) in Patna against the Noakhali riots. On 25 October 1946, an antiNoakhali Day was observed with provocative banners and slogans at a meeting organized by Jagat Narain Lal (1896–1966), the district’s leading Congressman. Lal was one of the leaders who had been at the forefront of the shudhi campaign in the 1920s, and was a member of both the Hindu Mahasabha and the Congress. On 26 October, various Muslim villages were attacked, and soon this spread to other districts.99 The Raj, the Congress and the League gave different estimates of the total casualties, with differing numbers ranging from six to 50 thousand. There were instances of women jumping into the wells to save themselves from being raped. The sheer size of the violent mobs

97 Prasad, Autobiography; Warsi to Jinnah, Z. H. Zaidi (ed.), Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers, Karachi, vol. 1, part 1, p. 803. 98 Papiya Ghosh, ‘The 1946 Riots and the Exodus of Bihari Muslims to Dhaka’, in Sharifuddin Ahmed (ed.), Dhaka: Past, Present, and Future, Dhaka: The Royal Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 1991. See also, Francis Tucker, India’s Partition and Human Debasement, Delhi: Akashdeep, 1988, pp. 180–94. 99 Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase (MGLP), Ahmedabad: Navjivan, 1956, vol. 1, pp. 632–47.

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created panic. While visiting the affected areas in Chapra, Congress workers came across mobs consisting of close to 50 thousand people.100 Papiya Ghosh has pointed out that ever since the formation of the Congress ministry in 1937, [t]here was an increasing feeling among Hindus that the Muslim League was ‘unpatriotic’. This feeling of ‘exasperation’, based on the discourse of the League regarding the Congress, Hindus and Pakistan, had percolated to some extent to the masses and was worked on by the Hindu Mahasabha. It was in this context that the experience of the migrant Bihari milkmen, cart men, rickshaw pullers, and the watchmen in the Calcutta killing of August 1946 crystallized into the resolve for revenge.101

What is more noteworthy is the reaction of otherwise well meaning people like the editors of the two leading provincial newspapers — the Searchlight and The Indian Nation which published particularly scurrilous write-ups after Noakhali. On 23 October 1946, the editor of the Searchlight, Murli Manohar Prasad (1893–1961), wrote that ‘East Bengal was a challenge to India’s manhood and if there be a civil war let there be a civil war’. To add fuel to the fire, accounts of the East Bengal happenings from the Calcutta press were re-published in the local press, with additional inflammatory comments. A Hindu procession consisting of important Congress leaders paraded through the streets of Gaya, holding the portraits of Gandhi and Nehru, and shouting slogans such as Noakhali ka badla le kar rahenge, and Hindustan Hinduon ka, nahin kisi ke baap ka.102 Taqi Raheem, an eye witness, also recalls that in the consequent meeting, Congress leaders including K. B. Sahay, Murli Manohar Prasad (the editor of the pro-Congress/‘nationalist’ English daily Searchlight), delivered extremely inflammatory speeches, and provoked the crowd.103 Of the riots that started from Chapra on 26 October 1946, one of the most fatal was that of Biharsharif.104 Before that, in September 1946 100

Ibid., p. 636. Ghosh, ‘The 1946 Riots and the Exodus’. 102 CID SB 40/1946 cf. Ghosh, ‘The 1946 Riots and the Exodus’; Kaleem Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, Patna: Self-published, 1992, p. 93. 103 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 521–22. 104 Damodaran, Broken Promises, pp. 341–56. 101

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major riots had broken out in a village Benibad (Muzaffarpur), and in 1941 in Biharsharif. For a long time, Biharsharif had been educational, cultural, religious and spiritual centre of the Muslims and had given the national movement leaders like Maulana Sajjad, Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953) and Dr A. Rahman. This riot therefore greatly affected the Muslims of Bihar. According to official records, ‘This riot [and that of 1941] had convinced them that if power is transferred to the Congress then the Muslims wouldn’t have even the right to assemble and protest for their legitimate democratic rights’.105 Similar feeling of hurt and alienation had begun to set in among the Muslims since the July 1938 riots of Bhagalpur. There was a pattern of the involvement of the local Congressmen in the riots. The then Viceroy Wavell also testified to the complicity of the Congress in the riots. He noted that, ‘they [the riots] were undoubtedly organized and organized very thoroughly by supporters of the Congress’, in Bihar.106 This was corroborated by some Congressmen who confessed before Gandhiji to having taken part in the riots.107 Jawaharlal Nehru also admitted that some Congressmen with inclinations towards the Hindu Mahasabha were involved in the riots.108 Such developments gave much space to the discourses of the League which obstructed the relief works. The migration continued even after the leader of the Bihar Muslim League, Abdul Aziz advised against it. Thus, Papiya Ghosh has noted: It is the implications of the disillusionment among Muslim supporters of the Congress that provide an insight into the visible resolve to migrate from Bihar … For example, when the Secretary of the Telmar Congress Committee, refused to take shelter in the house of the Khusraupur zamindar household of the Hussains, he was confident that ‘no one would touch a Congress Muslim’. Not long after, he was killed, along with 16 members of his family. The Momins were among

105

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 402–3. Mansergh (ed.), Transfer of Power, vol. ix, pp. 139–40. 107 Pyarelal, MGLP, vol. 1, p. 627. 108 Nehru to Patel, 5 November 1946 in Sarvepalli Gopal (ed.), Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (SWJN), second series, vol. 1, p. 64. 106

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the worst sufferers, despite the fact that they had been supporters of the Congress. They alleged that many people high up in the Congress had taken part in the riot.109

In her yet another significant study, Ghosh comes out with ‘shocking revelations regarding the Congress’. She writes that, since 1920s, leading Bihar Congressmen indulged in shudhi and sangathan while mobilizing for swaraj. So was the case with the Hindu Mahasabha and the Arya Samaj, and a number of vernacular papers like Darbhanga Gazette, Mithila Mihir, Dharambir, etc., which routinely included reckless and venomous write-ups that helped to stoke the communal fire, and thus separatism as well. She quotes various pamphlets of such organizations which were in large circulation during the fateful decade of 1940s — for example, Hindu kya Karen (a 32-page booklet, published in November 1946) and Hindu Samaj Chetavani No. 1 written by Sukhdev Sharma Karmakandi of Silaut, Muzaffarpur. Thus, Ghosh argues that, ‘[d]uring the 1946 riot in particular the abducting Hindu, reinforced by the “Hindu Raj” of the Congress, [as alarmingly propagated by the League] became a major factor in transforming Pakistan into an imminent inevitability’.110 Ghosh further emphasizes that ‘the riots of 1946 thus saw the crystallization of communal identities. A combination of propaganda and the dimensions of the riot metamorphosed community consciousness among Hindus and Muslims into political identities’.111 Yet, even then Muslim support to the Congress was not insignificant in any measure. The then Prime Minister Shri Krishna Sinha told the Governor in 1946 that, [t]he minorities have confidence in the Congress … Non-League Muslim candidates had obtained 25% of the Muslim votes, and more Nationalist Muslims would have been returned if it had not been for the violent attitude of the League. The fears of the Muslim voters had

109

Ibid. Papiya Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste in Community and Nation Making: Bihar 1920s to 1940s’, Social Scientist, 22, January–February 1994, pp. 82, 91. 111 Ghosh, ‘The 1946 Riots and the Exodus’; ibid. 110

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been played upon, and the Muslim League secured 34 out of 40 seats for this reason even educated Muslims did not know what Pakistan meant.112

This was further corroborated by the Governor Sir T. Rutherford, who said, ‘The Muslims who constituted 14% of the population were not very strong supporters of Mr Jinnah’.113 It seems clear that the role of the Hindu Mahasabha, and the considerably communalized lower strata of the Congress have not been studied adequately. A careful look at some recent studies reveals that the complicity of the Congress and of the Hindu Mahasabha in Bihar was perhaps more than that of the League. Taqi Raheem expresses his grievances against the Congress strongly. He writes, [i]t was the local Congress workers who were leading the rioters. Therefore, the Muslims lost faith not only in the Congress but also in the Hindus as a whole. And they got convinced that whatever their political position may be the Hindus did believe in the two nation theory and counted the Muslims as ‘ghair qaum’ otherwise why would have they killed the Muslims of Goriakhari, Telharha and Ghorahwan in revenge of the bloodshed of Hindus in Noakhali.114

Ironically, what made the 1946 riots more consequential was that they took place more virulently in the Magadh region of Bihar which had produced the great luminaries of the freedom struggle. Moreover, this region was considered as the repository of cultural, religious, and political life of the Muslims of Bihar. Thus, well known Muslim personalities such as Maulvi Kareem, Justice Sharfuddin, Hasan Imam, Mazharul Haq, Md Yunus, Sir Sultan, among others, belonged to this region. After the 1946 riots, the disaffection and alienation of Muslims grew, eventually rendering even the most influential and popular organizations, like the Imarat-e-Shariah, ineffective during the last five months of colonial rule. They had all along championed the cause of mushtarka wataniyat or muttahidah qaumiyat (Composite Nationalism) 112

Mansergh (ed.), Transfer of Power, vol. 7, p. 156. Ibid., p. 43. 114 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 526. 113

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in conformity with the Congress; whereas by this time, the Congress had come to embrace the ‘two-nation’ theory. This complete turnaround by the Congress left the Imarat-e Shariah in confusion about its course of action. The assassination of Abdul Bari on 28 March 1947 by a local constable created further distrust between the Hindus and Muslims. At this time, Professor Abdul Bari was the president of the provincial Congress. The clarification that the assassination was accidental, and not communally motivated, came much later — that is, after Independence. Thus it seems clear that, in Bihar, the Muslim communities strongly favoured the composite nationalism (muttahidah qaumiyat) and opposed separatism, the two-nation theory had the support of the communalized lower strata of the Congress, the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Arya Samaj. The Bihar Provincial Muslim League (BPML), on the other hand, though weak (and incongruous with the All India Muslim League which any way remained a weaker political force in Bihar till the end) had charted out a course entirely different from that of the All India Muslim League to the effect that even though theoretically they may or may not have been opposed to the two-nation theory per se, they did however oppose Pakistan. Thus, Shashi Shekhar Jha concludes, [p]olitical history of Bihar shows that the Provincial Muslim League could not project any upper rank leader to the All India Muslim League whereas the Provincial Congress Committee since the beginning ha[d] some Muslim leaders of all India political stature. Dr. Syed Mahmud, Prof. Abdul Bari, S. M. Zubair, Z. H. Hashmi, and others who formed the core of nationalist Muslims in Bihar.115

In the face of the riots of 1946, the Bihar Muslim League, in April 1947, demanded an independent homeland in Bihar itself. They asked ‘what will happen to the five million Muslims of Bihar, who … are surrounded by a hostile majority all over the province’, and stated that their salvation lay only in having a homeland of their own within the province of Bihar where they could develop socially, politically and economically. 115

S. S. Jha, The Political Elite, pp. 112–31.

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The reason for such demand, as stated by the BPML General Secretary Jafar Imam (1903–79), was that both the Congress-led administration in Bihar as well as the common cadres of the Congress were involved in the massacre of the Muslims of Bihar in 1946.116 Thus, it seems fairly clear that the tilt towards separatist politics took place largely because of increasing communalization in the wake of the 1946 riots rather than due to any ideological appeal of the League, and the idea of Pakistan. In fact, Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948), the leader of the Bihar Muslim League, kept persuading the Muslims not to migrate from Bihar. The refusal of the Congress to incorporate Muslims in the power structure in judicious proportions, and its lower units being dominated by the Hindu Mahasabhites led to the alienation of most of the nationalist Muslim leaders. Among the first to be alienated were Shafi Daudi and Mazharul Haq. Maulana Sajjad was also not too happy with the treatment meted out to the Muslims by the Congress ministry of 1937–39. Maghfur Aijazi left the Congress in disgust in 1940; yet he continued to resist the idea of ‘Pakistan’ as expressed by BPML by establishing his own All India Jamhoor Muslim League. Above all, Syed Mahmud also felt betrayed by the Congress — a feeling which he articulated many years later in the 1960s (see Chapter Five). Despite all their grievances, none of them went over to the League, with many of them remaining firmly committed to the idea composite or united nationalism (muttahidah qaumiyat), and kept contesting the two-nation idea till the very end.117 Shah Mohamamd Umair, the Congress leader, lambasted the Ailaane-Pakistan of the Muslim League (Lahore session, 1940) as khaufnaak aur gustakhana qadam (dreaded and outrageous step). Simultaneously he also bemoaned the Muslim dilemma by recalling an Urdu couplet of Iqbal.

116

Papiya Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’, in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), Islam, Communities and the Nation: Muslim Identities in South Asia and Beyond, Manohar: New Delhi, 1998, p. 235. Also see Pyarelal, MGLP, pp. 681–82. 117 Such impressions are also expressed by the Congress leader Umair in Talaash-e-Manzil.

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Khudawanda yeh terey saadaah lauh bandey kidhar jaayen Ke sultani bhi aiyaari hai darweshi bhi aiyaari. (Oh God where should these simpletons go When being both master and slave is perfidy)118

Besides the Muslims of Bihar, the linguistic minorities of the south India also underwent similar experience of discrimination. The protagonists of the Tamil movement also felt betrayed by the Congress. Owing to the exclusionary nationalism of the Congress — once characterized as believing in ‘Sanskrit, English and Brahman Hegemony’ — Pandian writes: [A] number of non-Brahman Tamil enthusiasts within the Congress got estranged with Congressite nationalism either on the question of caste or language — both of which were closely linked in the Tamil context. Varadarajulu Naidu left the Congress in 1928 protesting against the separate dining arrangements for the Brahman and non-Brahman students practised in the Seranmadevi Gurukulam, a national school partly funded by the Congress. Somasundara Bharti joined the antiHindi agitation of the late 1930s opposing Rajagopalachari’s decision to introduce Hindi in schools. Thiru Vi Kalyanasundara Mudaliar aligned himself with the non-Brahman movement on an anti-Hindi platform in the 1940s. Chidambaram Pillai, during his last days, left the Congress and joined the non-Brahman movement.119

Conclusion Existing historiography on the politics of Partition has focused mainly on UP, Punjab and Bengal while neglecting not only Bihar but also Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and South India.120 Despite such

118

Ibid., p. 26. M. S. S. Pandian, ‘Notes on the Transformation of “Dravidian Ideology”, Tamil Nadu, 1900–1940’, Social Scientist, 22, 5–6, 1994, pp. 84–104. 120 J. B. P. More, Evolution of Muslim Political Thought in Tamil Nadu and Madras, 1930–1947, Madras: Orient Longman, 1997; Kenneth Mcpherson, How Best do we Survive? A Modern Political History of Tamil Muslims, London: Routledge, 2010. This work explores the politics of communalism and Partition in south India. See also, Kanchanmoy Majumdar, Saffron versus Green: Communal Politics in the C. P. and Berar, 1919–47, Delhi: Manohar, 2003, 119

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inadequacies, an all India paradigm regarding the politics of Partition has been made. Obviously, a paradigm based on such omissions is bound to have pitfalls. A study of the detailed history of nationalism, communalism and separatism in Bihar offers new challenges to historians of modern India since they are subjects which have so far remained unexplored. Deeper explorations into these will surely explode many myths dominant in existing historiography. Moreover, there is also a need to realize that often the meta-narratives of the Congress which have relied on high-flown ideas such as the socialism and secularism had absolutely no meaning at the provincial and local levels. It seems clear that a vast disparity existed between political principles and rhetoric voiced by the national Congress leadership, and the operation of Congress units at the district and mofussil levels. It could be that such disparities can be illuminated by the Subaltern school of historiography.121 The tools and insights that this school has been able to generate could help in understanding the kinds of discrepancies and anomalies described in the preceding pages. In conclusion, it is interesting that despite the ideological deviance of the lower strata of the Congress, this was the only organization which did not put forward any sectional and sectoral demands. Moreover, in the case of the Indian National Movement as it was conducted, no other rival parties could offer a reliable alternative administrative/political model. It is also interesting that the Muslim League did not spell out the specific bound-aries of the proposed Pakistan. This, according to some historians, probably proved advantageous for its politics of territorial separatism. The Muslim League also failed to offer any tangible

which explores the theme in the Central Provinces and Berar. Also see, my review of this book in Indian Journal of Politics, vol. 39, nos 1–2, January–June 2005, pp. 199–202. 121 The Subaltern school has many limitations. In the historiography of Partition, it has not contributed much, even though this particular subject awaits explorations at the micro level in terms of region/locality and groups through the use of the kind of tools they have been known to work with (for example, oral history, songs, fiction, poems, forgotten or ignored reports, personal diaries, re-reading traditional archival sources, etc.). For a detailed understanding about the merits and limitations of Subaltern school of historiography, see Achin Vanaik, ‘Communalism Contested: Religion, Modernity and Secularization’, New Delhi: Viking, 1997, pp. 180–92.

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blue print for a future agrarian/economic programme for a united independent India. Mohammad Ali Jauhar’s idea of a ‘Federation of Religious Communities’ could find no takers. Despite Ayesha Jalal’s persuasive assertion,122 Jinnah’s certain form of federal arrangement as a substitute for Partition still remains mired in disputed interpretations of history. Also, as far as the Hindu Mahasabha’s slogan of Akhand Bharat is concerned, it could not challenge the Congress; nor could it throw out any all-inclusive concrete blue print of Independent India. It could not emerge as a legitimate, acceptable force as it was never opposed to British Imperialism; nor did it become a mainstream force. Moreover, even in the post-colonial period, such forces of Hindutva still continue to be perceived as the greatest threat to the social harmony and political unity of India. The Marxists also did not put forward either the USSR model, or US model of federal autonomous states, or any other kind of federalism as an alternative to Partition. Nor did they contemplate plans similar to the Italian and German unifications.123 So far as Socialism was concerned, the Congress itself adopted it. Thus, the Marxists were not left with anything. In their utter ideological confusion and inconsistency, they also flirted briefly with the idea of the ‘right to selfdetermination for [religious] nationalities’. However, this only made them liable to face the charge — at least from some quarters — of a religious-communal separatism akin to the Muslim League. It was thus, largely due to the programmatic formulations of the Congress that religious pluralism/multi-culturalism, secular democracy (notwithstanding the ‘contradictory strands of Indian secularism’ which, though often characterized as ‘majoritarianism’, is nevertheless

122

Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. 123 The proponents of the Italian unification had three contending and competing models: (a) For creation of a Papal state, (b) For unification under Austrian hegemony, (c) Sardinia–Piedmont-led unification. Of these three models, the third one succeeded. In German unification also, there were three models exemplified by (a) Austria-led Holy Roman Empire, (b) Federal model (c) Prussia-led movement that waged wars and effected consolidations. It was the third model that gave final shape to the German unification.

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‘different from outright Hindu communalism’124) and socialism, remain constant reference points in the politics of independent India. A study of nationalist politics in Bihar may also help us understand the assertions of marginalized social groups/castes/biradaris of Muslims who became involved in the processes of democracy during the colonial period.125 It may explain why the composition of the Muslim leadership of post-Independence Bihar has been relatively less feudal, almost non-conservative, and relatively more connected with the masses. The Bihar Muslims’ history of democratic participation ensured the success of the movement for making Urdu the second official language in independent India.126 It created employment avenues in government offices, which considerably contributed (particularly since 1980s) to the emergence of a ‘sizeable’ middle class among the Muslims.127 And this is so, despite the fact that Bihar remains amongst the most backward provinces of India in socio-economic terms.128 In addition, such explorations may also help us understand the quest of Muslims for intra-community democratization in Bihar, where the assertion of marginalized social groups/castes/biradris of the Muslims began during colonial rule. Often referring to their roles in fighting British imperialism as well as in resisting the Muslim League’s separatism,

124

Prakash Chandra Upadhyaya, ‘The Politics of Indian Secularism’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 26, no. 4, 1992, pp. 815–53. 125 Papiya Ghosh, ‘Enumerating for Social Justice’, in Ajit Bhattacharjea (ed.), Social Justice and the Indian Constitution, Shimla: IIAS, 1997; see also, Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’. 126 This is in sharp contrast with UP where the Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu ‘was and is a private fiefdom of a particular family … (it) is less a pressure group than an extension of Congress itself or at least the extension of a particular Congress [parliamentarian] MP, Hayatullah Ansari’; see Selma K. Sonntag, ‘The Political Saliency of Language in Bihar and UP’, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, July 1996, p. 6. Also see, Zoya Hasan, Quest for Power, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998. 127 This is certainly not to deny the economic backwardness of Bihar, which has made some scholars/journalists call it India’s ‘Internal Colony’; in cultural terms also, poking fun at Biharis is a well-known phenomenon across India, and even beyond. 128 See Chapters Five and Six in this volume.

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various communities of the lower-caste Muslims (Pasmanda Biradris) of Bihar (more notably the Momins/Ansaris, Mansooris, Quraishis, and Idrisis) and the popular religious organizations like the Imarat-eShariah re-organized, and took recourse to constitutional democratic methods of mobilization and agitation in post-Independence India. It helped them gain their own space in the structures of power in Bihar, as compared to the relatively lesser space accorded to Muslim communities of the adjacent provinces of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. On account of such mobilisation, 37 out of 41 castes of the Muslims of Bihar have been enlisted as backward communities, and have secured reservations (positive or protective discrimination/affirmative action) in public employment, in rural and urban local bodies, and preferential treatment in the welfare schemes of the government.

Œ

1 Community Consensus An Overview of Muslims in Bihar Politics until 1940

I

n the nineteenth century, Bihar emerged as a strong nerve-centre of the anti-colonial movement known as the ‘Wahabi’ Movement. It began as a socio-religious reform movement with revivalist elements, but soon gathered strong anti-British political overtones. Its influence continued, particularly in Bihar, till the 1880s.1 From 1830s to 1860s, the ‘Wahabi’ movement offered the most serious and well-planned challenge to British supremacy in India. According to the British, the movement was supposed to have been influenced by the teaching of Abdul Wahab (1703–92) of Arabia. The leader of this movement in India, Syed Ahmad (1786–1831) of Rae Bareilly, was influenced by preaching of the Delhi saint Shah Waliullah (1703–62). Ahmed condemned all additions to and innovations in Islam and encouraged a return to the pure Islam and society of Arabia of the Prophet’s times. The Wahabis played an important role in spreading anti-British sentiments during the revolt of 1857, for which they suffered colonial reprisal. Taqi Raheem traces the roots of such deep seated and lingering anti-colonial sentiments of the Muslims of Bihar, in the ‘Wahabi’ movement. He says: ‘In fact the leaders of the “Wahabi” movement like Wilayat Ali and Enayat Ali had injected strong hatred against British colonialism into the Muslims of Bihar so effectively that this tendency could never peter out and kept manifesting in the 1940s also’.2 As a consequence of the repressions of the Raj, the Muslim protagonists of the ‘Wahabi’ Movement gradually realized that they would have 1

Qeyamuddin Ahmad, The Wahabi Movement in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994 [1966]. 2 Raheem, Tehreek-e Azadi, pp. 432–33.

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to come to terms with the British Raj, and thus turned their attention towards modern education to gain access to public employment in the colonial administration. Both the ulema and the modernists responded to Sir Syed Ahmad’s campaign for modern education, resulting in the Muslims of Bihar eagerly showing interest in acquiring an English education. There were large number of madrasas and maktabs in the various districts of Bihar imparting traditional education and religious teachings. However, unlike in other parts of India, even the traditionalists of Bihar quickly moved away from these towards modern education and learning.

Western Education in Bihar The ‘Wahabi’ Movement had a very significant and distinctive impact on the political and cultural landscape of Bihar. No doubt the ‘Wahabis’, or more appropriately Ahl-e-Hadis or Tariqa-e-Muhammadiya (they did not subscribe to the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence, hence called themselves ghair muqallid), apart from leaving a corpus of literature on social reforms, came to be known for setting up a number of maktabs and madrasas, orphanages and craft training centres among the Muslims of India. Madrasa Islah-ul-Muslemeen (Patna), Muzakira-eIlmiya (Arrah), and Darul-Uloom Ahmadia Salfia (Darbhanga) are a few such institutions. The Salfia Madrasa (Darbhanga) had its own press and brought out the newspaper Al Huda.3 However, their educational endeavours were centred not only on the creation of madrasas as they also started many schools and colleges imparting modern education in Bihar. In 1878, the elite Muslims of Patna helped set up ‘Sir Syed Memorial Fund’ with generous contributions.4 The embrace of modern education is well attested in the founding of the Anglo-Arabic School of Patna in March 1884 by Shams-ul-Ulema Mohammad Hasan, son of Wilayat Ali (d. November 1852), the famous ‘Wahabi’ leader. This was an offshoot of the Aligarh Movement. The Mohammedan Education Committee, Patna, was founded in 1884 on the pattern of Aligarh, with its principal objective being to encourage modern

3

K. K. Datta and J. S. Jha (eds), Comprehensive History of Bihar (CHB), Patna: KPJRI, vol. 3, part 1, pp. 310–11. 4 Al Panch, 24 June 1878.

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education and European sciences among the youth of Bihar. Its constitution was drafted under the guidance of Syed Mahmud (1850–1903), son of Syed Ahmad (1817–98) of Aligarh. The first Secretary of the Mohammedan Education Committee, Patna, was Shams-ul-Ulema Mohammad Hasan. This Anglo–Arabic School had students drawn from both Hindu and Muslim communities. The term ‘Anglo-Arabic’ re-assured the religio–cultural concerns of the Muslims. Qazi Syed Raza Husain (d. 1891) endowed an estate with an annual income of `1200 for promoting English education among the Muslims.5 As early as 1836, Shah Kabiruddin of the Sasaram Khanqah (sufi shrine) had even demanded from the Governor General of India to appoint persons who could teach English in the madrasa.6 In 1852, Syed Md Taqi [Khan Bahadur], a reputed zamindar of Muzaffarpur, came forward with a gift of the entire village of Jogiara, Pargana Nandpur (now in Darbhanga, which was valued at `20,000). It fetched an annual rental income of more than `2,000, which were used to meet the expenses of maintaining an Arabic and Persian teacher in the Government Zilla School, Muzaffarpur (founded in 1845), ‘and for such other purposes in connection with that school, as its managing committee and the Council of Education may determine’.7 He also donated land to the college or Collegiate School that was founded on 7 November 1871,8 by the Bihar Scientific Society, Muzaffarpur. (French Orientalist Garcien de Tassey, 1794–1878, called it ‘Central College’, Muzaffarpur.) Syed Md Taqi was also the founding President of the managing committee of the Muzaffarpur Central College

5 Imam, Role of Muslims, p. 22; Moulvi Syed Abdul Ghani, Qazi Syed Raza Husain, Patna: KBL, 1995. (Note: In 1964, they established the Oriental College, Patna, referring their proud past to 1884). 6 Imam, Role of Muslims, p. 22. 7 General Department, Educational O. C. No. 20, dated 30 September 1852, cf. J. S. Jha, Education in Bihar, Patna: KPJRI, 1979, p. 204; for more details, see my Contesting Colonialism and Separatism: Muslims of Muzaffarpur, Bihar since 1857, Delhi: Primus, 2014. 8 I owe this information to Dr Syed Mehdi Ahmad Rizvi, Reader, Department of Urdu, LNT College, Muzaffarpur. He claims to be a descendent of Nawab Taqi (interview, 5 June 2005).

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(Collegiate School).9 The Muslims, along with the Kayasthas, frequently submitted memorials against the substitution of Hindi for Urdu as the court language in Bihar. Thus, the 1860s in Bihar witnessed the foundation of many societies, including the first literary society called the Anjuman-e-Islamia, which was established at Arrah in August 1866. The Society was opened by both Hindus and Muslims. In May 1866, Syed Imdad Ali (d. August 1886) started the Bihar Scientific Society, Muzaffarpur,10 which enjoyed the support of both Hindus and Muslims. It also had an Urdu fortnightly, Akhbar-ul-Akhyar, and sponsored the translation of many books into Urdu. The Society invited Lieutenant Governor Campbell (1871–74) to lay the foundation of the Collegiate School. In 1899, they handed over the School to the Bhumihar Brahman Sabha’s Langat Singh (1850–1912), a railway contractor of Muzaffarpur, to start a College there.11 The Bihar Scientific Society had its branches in other towns and villages of Bihar. Its aim was to prepare the translation of English books into Urdu with a view to showing that even scientific instruction could be imparted through the mother tongue of the students. It is to the credit of the Society that it succeeded in getting many works on Trigonometry, Material Media, Optics, Animal Physiology, Chemistry, Dyeing, Geography, Botany, Physical History, Mechanics, Law of Hospitals, Mineralogy, Masonry, etc., translated into Urdu within a short period of time. It may be mentioned here that, in his efforts to dispel the prejudices of his community against English education, [Sir] Syed Ahmad [Khan Bahadur] also established a Scientific Society in Ghazipur in 1864 (where he was posted as sub-judge) which shifted to Aligarh once Syed Ahmad was transferred there. The objective of this Society was the same as that of the Bihar Scientific Society. Both Syed Ahmad (1817–98) and Imdad Ali (d. 1886) were serving as

9 The text of the inscription of the foundation stone of the college, now known as the Bhumihar–Brahman Collegiate School, contains this information. Garcin de Tassey, Maqalat-e-Garcin de Tassey, vols 1 and 2, Delhi: Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu, 1943. 10 W. W. Hunter, A Statistical Account of Bengal, London: Trubner & Co., 1877, vol. 13, p. 164; for details, see my, ‘Sir Syed’s Movement’.

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sub-judges. At both places (Muzaffarpur in Bihar, and Aligarh in UP), the respective Lieutenant Governors laid down the foundation stone of the college buildings. Explaining his motive for the establishment of the Bihar Scientific Society, Imdad Ali said: The deplorable state of ignorance in which the greater portion of my countrymen have, for many years, been immersed, excited my deepest sympathies, and actuated by the desire of ameliorating as far as lay in my power their unenlightened condition. I took active and principal part in founding the scientific society.12

The efforts of Imdad Ali proved very successful, and under his inspiration, Anglo-Vernacular schools for teaching the European Sciences were also opened not only in the towns of Bhagalpur, Gaya, Saran but also in the Tirhut villages of Narhan, Jaintpur, Hardi, Paroo, etc. He received cooperation and financial help from the Hindu Zamindars of Narhan, Hardi, and Jaintpur. In this way, the Bihar Scientific Society was socially more inclusive than its forerunner, the Sir Syed’s Scientific Society. Further, the Bihar Scientific Society had its network spread over villages, apart from commanding a broader social base among both Hindus and Muslims. Two of the three vice presidents of the Bihar Scientific Society — Shiv Prasanna Singh (the Hardi zamindar) and Bhupati Roy — were Hindus. These inter-community collaborations in the realm of education understandably resulted in similar collaborations in the political domain also. A large number of associations, anjumans and sabhas played key roles in enhancing regional political consciousness, and in the reconstruction of the moral and intellectual life of the people of Bihar. Some of these institutions may be mentioned here: The Bihar Literary Society (Patna, 1873), the Bihar Association (Patna, 1871),

11

L. S. S. O’Malley, Bengal District Gazetteers: Muzaffarpur, Calcutta: Secretariat Press, 1907, p. 134. 12 Letter from Imdad Ali to the Viceroy, Lord Northbrook, Proceedings of the general meeting of the Bihar Scientific Society held at Muzaffarpur on 1 February 1872. Cf. B. K. Sinha, ‘Syed Imdad Ali Khan’. Cf. Jha, ‘Origin and Development’.

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Bihar Upkar Sabha (Patna, 1876), Anjuman-e-Tehzeeb (Muzaffarpur, 1869). There were also a number of branches of Syed Ameer Ali’s National Mohammedan Association in Bihar by the 1880s. These educational and social organizations also brought out a number of Urdu newspapers. Starting from the Nurul Anwar of Arrah 1852, one may mention the National Akhbar (Munger, 1872); the Anis (Patna, 1876); the Qasid (Patna, 1876); the Murgh-e-Suleman (Munger, 1876); The Musheer-e-Bihar (Patna, 1880); The Al Panch (Patna, 1885); the Al Hadi (Patna, 1897); Raftar-e-Zamana (Patna, 1902); the Ittehad; the Imarat; Naqeeb; and Sada-e-Aam (Patna, 1942), etc. These newspapers emphasized cultural values, imparted political education, and advocated Hindu–Muslim unity to fight colonialism. In Bihar, the political awareness of Muslims kept pace with the spread of modern education. The initial phase of the political awakening of the Muslims evolved around the Hindi–Urdu controversy. In January 1881, the government replaced Urdu, and introduced Hindi as court language. It presented a serious threat to the educated elite among the Muslims as well as the Hindu caste of scribes — the Kayasthas who were well versed in both Urdu and Persian. Both the communities opposed it, notwithstanding some misgivings between the two communities on the issue. The Kayasthas were trained in the Perso-Arabic language and script, and had their own Kaithi script as well, which made them rise in protest against the Nagri script. There was another script in vogue in Tirhut, called Tirahutiya also known as Mithilakshar, a script for the Maithili language.13 The controversy, therefore, did not create a sharp communal divide along religious lines, unlike in UP where, during the same period, the same issue, created sharp socio-political cleavages between the Hindus and Muslims.14 Cultural and religious institutions, like Khanqahs (sufi shrines), also played a significant role. Unlike in Punjab,15 where the Sajjada Nashins of the Sufi Khnaqahs engaged in separatist politics in the 1940s, the 13

Surendra Gopal, Urdu Historiography in Bihar in the Nineteenth Century: Contribution of Hindu Authors, Patna: KPJRI, 2004, pp. 4, 26. 14 Francis Robinson, Separatism among Indian Muslims: The Politics of the United Provinces’ Muslims, 1860–1923, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974; see also, Brass, Language, Religion and Politics. 15 Gilmartin, Empire and Islam.

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khanqahs of Bihar pursued a policy of tolerance, unity and brotherhood due to a variety of reasons, which benefited both Hindus and Muslims. The two leading khanqahs, Khanqah-e-Rahmaniya of Munger and the Khanqah-e-Mujibiya of Phulwarisharif in Patna, played a remarkable role in the Freedom Movement, and were up against the League’s policy of separatism.16 The Khanqahs of Maner, Biharshareef, Patna, Sasaram, Bhagalpur, Munger, Kako, Sheikhpura, Darbhanga, Chapra, etc., pursued a policy of tolerance, unity and brotherhood benefiting both the Hindu and Muslim masses.17 The Anjuman-e-Ulema-e-Bihar (1917)18 was, in a way, the precursor of the Jamiat-ul Ulema-e-Hind (founded in 1919), and the Imarat-e-Shariah remained a strong and consistent commitment for the nationalist cause, acting as an enduring countervailing force against the gathering pace of the Muslim League’s separatist politics during the last decade of retreating colonialism in India. Sir Syed’s call to Muslims at large to stay away from the Congress had elicited very little support from Bihar. Sir Syed’s suggestion was to concentrate on modern education and not on the politics of the time because he feared that any indulgence in politics would have antagonized the Raj, and hamper the educational prospects of the Muslims. In Bihar, however, the situation was different. Even before the establishment of the Mohammadan School and the Mohammadan Education Committee (1884), not less than six zilla schools were operating. These schools were imparting modern education in English. Fifteen more high schools were running with the government aid. The Patna College had been established in 1863, with Wilayat Ali Khan of Patna being one of the highest donors: he donated `5,000. The first endowment for modern education in Bihar through a government notification was set up by a Muslim, Md Husain Khan in 1901.19 Thus,

16 Papiya Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat in Aqalliat Bihar: The Imarat-eShariah, 1921–47’, IESHR, vol. 34, no. 1, 1997, pp. 1–20. 17 Ghulam Husain, ‘Sufia-e-Karam Ki Rawadari’, in Bihar Ki Khabrein, 15 August 1969. 18 Anis-ur-Rahman Qasmi (comp.), Hayat-e-Sajjad, (Urdu), Patna: Maktaba Imarat-e-Shariah, 1998, p. 18. 19 Proceedings of the Government of Bengal, General, Department of Education, February 1901, nos 49–50, p. 137.

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both Muslims and Hindus were benefiting from all these educational institutions, suggesting that socially exclusive educational institutions were not much in demand. In many ways, the Muslims, within the corresponding class, were educationally ahead of Hindus in Bihar. For instance, in the Patna College and its affiliated schools, the proportion of Muslim students was as high as 23 per cent, whereas their total population in the state was only 13 per cent.20 Badshah Nawab Rizvi (d. 1920) helped develop a Girls’ school (of Rasheed-un-Nesa [1855–1926; the first female Urdu novelist, Islahun Nesa or Reforming the Women, written in 1881, published in 1894] into a Teachers’ Training College for girls with an endowment yielding income of `7,500 a year by 1906.21 This gave much impetus to modern education for Muslim women, and testifies to the preference for western education. The Muslims of Bihar were more inclined towards modern English education, and they were higher in social scale and enlightenment in comparison with the Hindus.22 This is evident from the fact that when, on 3 March 1914, the Government of Bihar and Orissa appointed a committee to advise it on the status and share of Bihar Muslims in education, it found that English education was preferred. Even as early as in April 1844, out of a total of 647 students, as many as 57 were Muslims.23 By 1921, out of the 155 sub-assistant surgeons in Bihar, 24 (i.e., 16 per cent) were Muslims, and only 9 per cent were Bihari Hindus.24 In the face of the growing enrolment of Muslims in the Patna College by 1907, a Mohammedan Hostel for students had to be made. Khwaja Salimullah contributed `40,000 for the purpose, and named the hostel after his father Khwaja Alimullah.25 There were five Biharis Fellows at the Calcutta University, and all five were Muslims.26 Hunter writes that, in 20

The Administration of Bengal, 1876–77, p. 368. Shreedhar Narayan Pandey, Education and Social Change in Bihar, 1900–1926, Varanasi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1975, p. 58. 22 J. S. Jha, ‘Education in Bihar’, in K. K. Datta (ed.), CHB, vol. 3, part 2, p. 393. 23 Ibid., p. 399. 24 Pandey, Education and Social Change, pp. 71–72. 25 Ibid., p. 86. 26 The Behar Times, 15 January 1899. Cf. Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar, p. 64. 21

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1870–71, J. A. Bourdillon, a colonial administrator associated with the census operations, took an educational census of seven selected circles in the Jehanabad subdivision of Gaya where, of a total enrolment of 182 students in the government English schools, 23 were Muslims; and out of 156 in the aided English schools, 30 were Muslims.27 During 1883–96, only nine Biharis were recruited as munsifs, of which six were Muslims; during 1895–98, 71 recruitments for Deputy Collector were made; of them, only 20 Biharis were taken wherein 12 were Muslims, and only seven were Hindus.28 Similarly, 10 seats were reserved for Bihari students in the Calcutta Medical College and, in 1916–17, all 10 seats were availed of by Muslims students as there was strong prejudice among the Hindus against medical education.29 In the beginning, a demand for modern education arose amongst those castes [and/or communities], which were accustomed to take government services. They desired to learn English because it was not only the language of the administration but also of the law courts. The Muslim nobility had a background of administration during the Mughal period. The Kayastha scribes during the Mughal and the British East India Company … they were the first to avail. These sections emerged as leaders in early twentieth century Bihar.30

As a consequence of the more organized and enthusiastic efforts of the Muslims of Muzaffarpur (which was second only to Patna) in their response to modern education, L. S. S. O’Malley, the author of the District Gazetteers, remarked, ‘[i]t is satisfactory to observe that … the Muhammadans of Muzaffarpur contribute their fair share of the students attending the various schools [of modern education]’. In 1885, the Muslim enrolment was 2,371 (11.4 per cent); in 1894–95 it was 4,757 (16.8 per cent). Thus, they had a higher representation in modern education in proportion to their total population in the state which 27

Hunter, A Statistical Account of Bengal, vol. 12, pp. 135–37; similar figures of a good proportion of Muslim share in modern education were obtained from the district of Shahabad, in ibid., p. 281. 28 Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar, pp. 68–69, 72. 29 Pandey, Education and Social Change, p. 97. 30 Ibid., pp. 163–64.

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was around 12.26 per cent.31 In the Census of 1911 and of 1921, ‘the literacy rate among the Brahmans and among the Syed Muslims was 17 per cent each’. Thus, Shreedhar Narayan Pandey (1975) observes, ‘[e]ducation was more widely diffused among the Muslims [of Bihar, where] … the Muslim aristocracy had shaken off the sea voyage taboos much earlier, and there had been regular departure of Musalmans to England for higher studies’.32 The ‘Bihari Muslims were [therefore] better provided in the [government] services’.33 Arguably, two things may have put some constraints on the growth of exclusivist and separatist tendencies among Muslims in Bihar. First, the modern, educated people felt the need for preserving and reviving traditional religious, cultural, educational institutions, thus there was no significant social divide between the two classes of Muslims, hence no cultural insecurity among the traditional educated sections to go for exclusivist approach in obtaining education. Second, the ulema never shied away from responding to modern education. Maktabs and madarsas were open to all for elementary education, including even Hindus. Thus, Sri Krishna Sahay, Dr Sachidanand Sinha (1871–1950), Dr Rajendra Prasad (1884–1963), and other prominent Hindus of Bihar had got their primary education in the maktabs and madrasas.34 It is interesting to see that the first three Biharis to return from England after receiving higher education in 1880 were all Muslims: Sharfuddin, Noorul Huda and Ahsanuddin Ahmad. This trend of inter-community mingling and inclusiveness in the domain of educational institutions was reflected in the political arena as well. A considerable number of Muslims, therefore, rather than going on separatist political path, had joined the Indian National Congress, and did not respond to separatism. Sharfuddin (1856–1921), who later became Judge of the Calcutta High court, presided over a meeting at Arrah, to elect delegates for the second session of the Congress to be held at Calcutta in 1886. As many as 222 Muslim delegates attended the Allahabad session of the Congress in 1888, of which 35 Muslim delegates were from 31

O’Malley, Bengal District Gazetteers: Muzaffarpur, p. 133. Pandey, Education and Social Change, p. 173. 33 Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar, p. 197. 34 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 100. 32

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Bihar itself. Sharfuddin declared, ‘I can assure you that, at least in my province of Bihar, the Mohammadens have the fullest sympathy with the objects of the Congress’.35 Syed Ali Bilgrami (1853–1911) also delivered a speech in March 1901, in which he said much the same thing. He observed, [w]ith the beginning of the 20th century, which saw many political and economic changes in India, uneasiness among the educated Muslims began to mount and they wished for a political organization like the Congress which could espouse their cause. The younger Muslims suggested that the best course for the Muslims was to join the Congress in large numbers to play their part in all activities and ensure the protection of their rights and interests.36

Apart from the pan-Islamic and revolutionary activities, which were clearly anti-colonial, the Muslims of Bihar also participated in the national activities of the Indian National Congress. Since its very inception in 1885, a fair proportion of Bihari Muslims had taken ‘liberal participation in that organization. They conspicuously and enthusiastically joined the Congress and remained associated with that national organization.’37 The anti-Congress views of leaders like Khuda Bakhsh Khan (1842–1908), Khwaja Wajihuddin (Gaya), Moulvi Mohammad Hasan (Patna), Qazi Syed Raza Hussain (Patna) received a very lukewarm response,38 and all classes of Muslims, including the ulema of Bihar associated themselves with the Congress. Muslim political activities were largely conjoined with those of the Congress, with the number of Muslim delegates to the Indian National Congress increasing by the day. In the Lahore session of 1900, there were 20 Muslim delegates from Bihar.39 After Bihar became a separate province in 1912, Congress activity in Bihar gained momentum. In 1857, Bihar had been much disloyal to the Raj, and by 1908, it ‘tried to show its steadfast loyalty’, and 35

Report of the Indian National Congress, 1888, p. 128; Ashraf, The Muslim Elite, pp. 30–31; Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, p. 11. 36 Kayastha Samachar, March 1901, p. 194. 37 Imam, Role of Muslims, pp. 27–28. 38 Ibid., p. 27. 39 Ibid., p. 30.

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by 1908,40 the colonial state ‘had reasons to believe that Bihar had become loyal’. This is how the Biharis’ movement for separate province succeeded in 1912. The movement for a separate state of Bihar began with the first demand being articulated in the Muslim owned Urdu periodicals like Murgh-e-Sulaiman of Monghyr, 7 February 1876, and Qasid of Patna, 22 January 1876. This movement of ‘regional patriotism’,41 or ‘subordinate patriotism’,42 had united the Muslim and Hindu elites of Bihar, against the dominance and hegemony of the Bengalis. Thus, by 1905, in Bihar’s political discourse, the notion of Muslim separatism was not firmly ingrained; politically conscious Muslims continued to align themselves with the Congress. For the propagation of Congress programmes in Darbhanga, the Boys’ Association was formed in 1899, under the chairmanship of Afaq Khan, Barat-law. This Association became the centre of political activities in north Bihar.43 Mazharul Haq (1866–1931), Sarfaraz Hussain Khan (1860–1931) and Syed Ali Imam (1869–1932) had made early efforts to bring the Hindus and the Muslims together in the political arena through their active role in the Bihar Provincial Conference, sponsored by the Bihar Provincial Congress Committee. The Bihar Provincial Congress Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Sarfaraz Husain Khan in 1908. The BPCC selected six delegates for the annual session of the Congress in Madras in 1908. They included Hasan Imam (1871–1933), Najmul Hoda and others. The first session of the Bihar Provincial Congress met at Patna in 1908 with Syed Ali Imam as its President. The numerically two major communities made common cause in the work of the conference. In his short speech Syed Ali Imam, spoke about the current problems of the province, and also exhorted his co-religionists to come forward and join the national movement. Heeding the call, the Muslims joined the Congress in a body, and thus, Bihar, at that time could be said to have presented a unique spectacle in the whole of India, where Muslims and non-Muslims were working with full cooperation and unity for common ideals.44 40

Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar, p. 37. Basu, ‘Regional Patriotism’. 42 Chaudhury, Creation of Modern Bihar. 43 K. K. Datta, FMB, vol. 1, p. 150. 44 Sinha, Bihar Contemporaries, pp. 79–80. 41

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Bihar as a Separate State In the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, Bihar’s regional patriotism centred around the demand to carve out a separate province out of Bengal. This was the consequence of the fact that, till 1912, Bihar was an appendage to Bengal, and the educated Bihari middle class (Hindus and Muslims alike) were increasingly coming up against the fact of Bengali entrenchment in public services, and employment in general. Due to an early lead in education, the Bengalis had managed to get a larger representation in the government jobs of the province. Thus, the Hindus and Muslims cut their political teeth together in the demand for a separate province of Bihar, and forged a joint front in political activities. For this reason, Muslim politics in Bihar presents a somewhat different picture from that of other provinces — a fact pointed out by Sachidanand Sinha in his book Some Eminent Bihar Contemporaries (1944). Along with Sachidanand Sinha and Mahesh Narayan (1850–1907), Muslim leaders such as Ali Imam, Hasan Imam, Mazharul Haq and Md Fakhruddin fought jointly for a separate province of Bihar. Urdu periodicals played a particularly big role in raising this voice. The Nadir-ul-Akhbar of Monghyr (18 May 1874), the Murgh-e-Suleman of Monghyr (7 February 1876), the Qasid (22 January 1879), the Rais and Raiyat (16 September 1882) demanded separate province, as also did Al Panch (of Bankipur, Patna; launched in 1885 by Meer Ahmad Husain and Syed Raheemuddin, 1858–1903).45 The first session of the Bihar Provincial Conference was held at Patna, in April 1908, and was presided over by Ali Imam. It came into existence after seeing that the issue of a separate province of Bihar was not being raised by the Indian National Congress. The resolution for Bihar’s separation from Bengal was moved by S. M. Fakhruddin (1868– 1933).46 On 14 August 1908, the three leading public associations — the Bihar Landholders’ Association, the Bihar Provincial Association, and the Bihar Provincial Muslim League — sent a joint deputation to

45 46

Imam, Role of Muslims, pp. 52–53. Sinha, Bihar Contemporaries, p. xxiv.

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the Lieutenant Governor to press this demand.47 The movement for separate province succeeded in 1912.

Separate Electorates Speaking on the fifth death anniversary of Mahesh Narayan (1850– 1907), Mazharul Haq demanded a High Court and a University for the province of Bihar. Thus, when, during 1905–12, the movement against partition of Bengal (along religious rather than linguistic lines for administrative convenience of an unmanageably big province) and the Swadeshi Movement had witnessed growth of communalism and separatism in UP, the province of Bihar presented a different picture where Hindus and Muslims stood united. There was mutual understanding between the two communities which had reached a high stage. When the third session of the Bihar Provincial Congress (Muzaffarpur) was held in 1910, the president Deep Narayan Singh (1875–1935) even urged the necessity of extending the principle of separate electorate to the Hindus where they were in minority. The Muslim delegates supported his proposal most enthusiastically. Its significance lies in the fact that, in the meeting, more than 50 per cent of the delegates were Muslims.48 Beharee noted that it was difficult to find any other province where such harmonious and friendly co-operation between the Hindu and Muslim communities, in public and political activities, existed. In this respect, Bihar provided an exemplary lesson to other provinces. The Minto–Morley Reforms and the idea of a separate electorate of 1909 had created a vicious political atmosphere in India. In Bihar, both Hasan Imam and Mazharul Haq were opposed to it whole-heartedly. So also Reza Husain, Md Yunus and Ali Imam opposed separate electorate vehemently. What is to be noted, particularly, that in local bodies, they were not ready to extend the principle of a separate electorate at any cost. However, in 1907, there was a movement for the establishment of a Hindu association (Hindu Sabha). This posed a serious problem for

47 The Government of India, Home Public Proceedings, October 1908, nos 15–17. 48 Beharee, 20 May 1910.

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Hindu–Muslim Unity. The initiator of this idea was the Maharaja of Darbhanga.49 The Beharee viewed it with great regret that this would be disastrous if the movement gained any headway. The paper was skeptical and sanguinely doubtful about its success. Again in 1911, there was a renewed endeavour to revive the Bihar Hindu Sabha. It caused a flutter among the Muslims. In spite of this, the vernacular newspapers remained critical of these efforts, and lost no opportunity to emphasize the importance of Hindu–Muslim unity.50 It would be worthwhile to now examine the attitude of the Bihar Muslims towards the All India Muslim League. The Bihar Provincial Muslim League which was set up in 1908, and presents a very different picture because a majority of the members of the Muslim League in Bihar were veteran Congress leaders, such as Fakhruddin, Mazharul Haq, Sarfaraz Hussain Khan, and Nurul Hasan. In Bihar, Hindu-Muslim unity and cooperation was a unique feature of the political life of the people. The aim and object of the Bihar Muslim League was similar to the Congress. There was no difference between the two both in political programmes and in the social composition of the leaders. Hence they worked cordially and smoothly in Bihar for a considerable period.51

In his presidential address at the Muslim League Session of Amritsar in 1908, Syed Ali Imam said, The League’s aims and objectives were not against national interest or against any community. It had been made quite identical with the National Congress. It had many similarities with the Congress in its demand of reforms and self-government in India soon.52

Thus, the Muslim leaders of Bihar urged upon the League to conform to the nationalist standard and maintain harmony with other 49 Beharee, 4 October 1907; see also, J. S. Jha, ‘An Unpublished Correspondence Relating to the Bihar Hindu Sabha’, Journal of Bihar Research Society, vol. 64, 1968. 50 Beharee, 23 June 1912. 51 Beharee, 8 November 1907. 52 Beharee, 1 January 1909; Sinha, Bihar Contemporaries, p. 78.

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national organizations. It kept itself out of the agitation for separate electorates. Hasan Imam characterized the scheme of separate electorates as a pernicious scheme.53 Mazharul Haq too opposed it, and declared, ‘to my mind the question was to bring the two communities together in order that they work unitedly for the regeneration of our motherland’.54

Bihar’s Muslims and Anti-colonial Politics The role of Nadwat-ul-Ulema (Club of Clergy or Ulema, a seminary founded at Lucknow in 1894 to reconcile Islam and modern education) in orienting the Muslims towards anti-colonial politics was significant. Among the Muslims, Maulana Shibli Nomani (1857–1914) was a great source of inspiration for injecting anti-colonial feelings. He was a pan-Islamist and was opposed to the Western imperialistic designs. He influenced the anti-colonial younger generation of Aligarh in the 1890s, and thereafter, the Nadwat-ul-Ulema received great response from the Muslims of Bihar, especially the youth.55 Important Muslim leaders such as Maulana Mohammad Ali Mungeri (1846–1927), Maulana Shah Suleman Phulwarwi (1859–1935), Maulana Tajammul Hasan Desnawi, Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953) were close associates of Maulana Shibli Nomani in this movement. The seventh conference of the Nadwat-ul-Ulema was held in 1900 in Patna. Maulana Shibli Nomani visited Patna first in 1896, and then in 1912. In 1907, he also visited Muzaffarpur. As early as 1906, Maulana Shibli had vehemently criticized the League, describing it as the source of conflict between the two communities.56 They succeeded in keeping the Muslim League different from what its originators wanted to make of it. The Muslim leaders of Bihar were liberal in outlook, tolerant and nationalist, and therefore they organized and nursed the Muslim League along national lines. Since most of the members of the Muslim League in Bihar were also the members of

53

Report of the Indian National Congress, 1909, p. 58. Beharee, 16 December 1910. 55 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 136. 56 Al Panch, 13 December 1906. 54

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the Congress, their attitude differed from that of their counterparts in other parts of India, and the Bihar Provincial Muslim League could not become the citadel of the communalists and reactionaries till 1937.57

It was largely due to the efforts of the leaders like Mazharul Haq that the Muslim League adopted the Congress ideal of self-government in 1913 at the Agra session of the League.58 Mazharul Haq, who presided over the League session, and Lord S. P. Sinha who presided over the Congress session in 1915, travelled to Bombay by the same train, and both showed their presidential addresses to each other. In this address, Mazharul Haq told the Muslims that the welfare of India depended on the union of the Hindus and Musalmans. He firmly declared that, ‘In the affairs of the country, I stand for goodwill and close co-operation between all communities, with a single eye to the progress of the motherland’. This address was widely appreciated by most of the newspapers including the Leader (1 January 1916), the Express, The Mithila Mihir (8 January 1916), The Beharee, and the Behar Herald.59 It was against this backdrop, that both the Muslim League and the Congress held their annual sessions at Lucknow, in 1916. It was largely due to the effort of Mazharul Haq (and others) that the Congress and the League concluded the famous Lucknow Pact (1916) in which the Hindus and the Muslims worked together to present a set of demands to British. The British administration watched these developments (the dilutions of their scheme of divide and rule through separate electorates) with anxious concern. In Bihar, the Muslim hostility against the British Raj was becoming acute due to the campaign by the Anjumane-Khuddam-e-Kaaba of Maulana Abdul Bari (Firangi Mahali).60 The spirit of unity survived the Shahabad riots (1917) and consequent Muslim alienation. Nationalist vigour continued, and communitarian unity could not be breached much. The same spirit found full play

57

Chaubey, Muslims and the Freedom Movement, p. 213. The Indian Year Book, 1914. 59 Report on the Vernacular Newspapers, Bihar and Orissa, vol. 1, 1916. 60 J. S. Jha, ‘Anti-British Connections of Khuddam-e-Kaaba in Bihar’, Journal of Bihar Research Society, vol. 61, 1975. 58

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in both the Champaran Satyagraha (1917), and the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movements (1920–22). In all these movements, Muslims were in the forefront of the anti-colonial struggle. The Champaran Satyagraha, especially, changed the political landscape of north Bihar as it saw the emergence of a large number of leaders, and also the mobilization of even those sections of the Bihari population who had hitherto remained silent sufferers of colonialism. Although existing historiography on the Champaran Satyagraha starts only with Gandhi’s visit (1917), the real picture of the Champaran Satyagraha can be drawn only when we trace its history from 1907 onwards. In fact, it could be said that the first wave of this struggle started as early as the 1860s. By 1907, there was evidence of the significant roles played by many Muslims in this region among the peasants. In a way, it was their work which proved conducive for Gandhiji to mobilize them for the Congress. Meer Enayat Kareem, Shaikh Adalat Hussain (1858–1943), Shaikh Gulab (1857–?) and Peer Md Moonis (1882–1949) were the leaders of Champaran Satyagraha. However, their roles have been acknowledged by scholars rather inadequately. A relatively less-noticed scholarly work61 tells us that, in the first wave of the Champaran peasant movement (1867–77), which was sticking more to legalities, one Meer Enayat Kareem of the village Siswa Ajgurreah, besides many others, had represented the grievances relating to the peasantry (ryots) to the local authorities, and also to the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, W. Gray, asking him to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into the causes of peasant discontentment. In the second significant wave of the peasant protest in Champaran (1907–09), which was defiant and violent too, one Shaikh Gulab of the village Chand Barwah and one Shaikh Rajab Ali of the village Kala Barwah, had supported the cause of riots. They had asked the farmers not to grow indigo, and to assault the planters if they forced them to do so. Shaikh Gulab was tried on charges of unlawful assembly, arson, loot, and causing fatal attacks upon the (European) planters and their property. Irrespective of their caste, creed, and religion, the agitators remained united in their opposition to the European planters. The Muslims took an oath 61

Razi Ahmad, Indian Peasant Movement and Mahatma Gandhi, Delhi: Shabd, 1987, pp. 53, 82–86.

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of loyalty with the Quran in their hands; the Hindus did so in the presence of their idols, cows, and under the sacred peepal trees.62 It was widely believed that the reign of the English was over, and the leaders collected funds to fight the factory owners which, in their eyes, represented the British Raj. Much before the advent of Gandhi on the Champaran scene, Peer Md Moonis, a teacher in the Guru Training School of Bettiah, had played a very important and significant role as a local correspondent of the Hindi daily Pratap (Kanpur), edited by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi (1890–1931). In order to avoid the wrath of British administrators, he used to write with pseudonyms. Before the Gandhiji’s visit, he was reporting the horrific tales of exploitation since January 1916, under many different pseudonyms like Dukhi (aggrieved), Dukhi Atma (aggrieved soul), Dukhi Hridaya (distressed heart). His properties were confiscated; he was implicated in a false case; and he was severely beaten up. He wrote numerous essays on Hindu–Muslim Unity as well.63 In December 1916, in the annual session of the Congress (Lucknow), ‘some of the leaders of the agriculturists of Champaran, the chief among them were Rajkumar Shukla and Peer Moonis, also attended the Congress to represent their grievances [before Gandhiji]’.64 Moonis was dismissed from his services for his anti-colonial activities. He was sentenced to a prison term of six months on 23 September 1918. The Bettiah’s sub-divisional officer called him a ‘connecting link between the raiyat and the educated class’.65 Shafi Daudi, Manzur Aijazi, Mazharul Haq, and Syed Mahmud were other prominent leaders active in the national movement in the province. It was during the ongoing Non Cooperation Movement that the Muzaffarpur district unit of the Congress was established, mainly by Shafi Daudi and others at Tilak Maidan. Similarly, the establishment of the Sadaqat Ashram (The Abode of Truth) at Patna by Mazharul Haq became a hub of nationalist politics. In December 1920, heeding the call of boycott of the colonial education system, 62

Ahmad, Indian Peasant Movement. Chaudhary and Shrikant, Bihar Mein Samajik Parivartan, pp. 37–38. 64 Rajendra Prasad, At the Feet of Mahatma Gandhi, Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1961, p. 1. 65 Chaudhary and Shrikant, Bihar Mein Samajik Parivartan, pp. 37–38; also see Ahmad, The Indian Peasant Movement. 63

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more than one hundred students of the Bihar Engineering School (Patna) went to Mazharul Haq, who, along with the students, left his luxurious life-style in his palatial residence Sikandar Manzil on Fraser Road of Patna, and shifted to a small house (with an orchard) belonging to Munshi Shaikh Khairuddin, near Digha on the bank of the Ganges along the Patna–Danapur Road. Huts were constructed, charkhas (looms) were brought in, bricks were used to construct a bigger building, and this was named by Mazharul Haq as Sadaqat Ashram. It also housed a residential cum day-boarding educational institution, Bihar Vidyapeeth. This Ashram soon became a symbol of the future India, completely independent, as dreamt by the likes of Gandhi, and symbolizing the ideals of the national movement, such as Hindu–Muslim unity, egalitarian social living, centre of Gandhian constructive programmes, and political activism.66 Shafi Daudi went about addressing several meetings at Purnea, Katihar, Bhagalpur, and Munger. Along with his wife Zubaida Begum (1886–1972), Shafi Daudi roamed around collecting foreign imported cloth on bullock carts, and made a bonfire of these at their residence in Muzaffarpur. He abandoned his thriving practice of law at the Muzaffarpur court in response to the call for boycott. He was also joined by another lawyer of Muzaffarpur, Abdul Wadud (d. 1955). In Munger, Shah Md Zubair, was among the prominently active leaders. Daudi made a tour of the remote villages of the Muzaffarpur district explaining to the people the Congress scheme of Non Cooperation.67 Zubaida Begum Daudi was one of the most prominent women freedom fighters from Bihar.68 Significantly, Muslim women pitched in with their menfolk in the Non Cooperation Movement. The fact that Muslim women were active participants was a new feature of the

66 Razi Ahmad, Sadaqat Ashram (Hindi), Delhi: Shabd, 1996, p. 39. The Sadaqat Ashram still endures as the provincial headquarters of the Congress; the Vidyapeeth went into oblivion during the Quit India Movement (1942) when many leaders were incarcerated. 67 Shafi Daudi Papers; Maghfoor Aijazi Papers NMML, New Delhi. Mujalla (Urdu) Shafi Daudi Memorial Committee, Muzaffarpur, 1993, Hindi booklet on Maghfoor Aijazi, Muzaffarpur: Maghfoor Aijazi Memorial Committee, 2000. 68 Abeda Samiuddin, Hindustan Ki Jang-e-Azadi Mein Muslim Khwateen, Patna: Idara-e-Tehqeeqat-e-Urdu, 1990.

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national movement in Bihar. At a meeting held at ‘Shafi Manzil’, Patna, they took a pledge for complete non-cooperation with the Raj, and to use Khadi as their permanent dress. The ‘Patna Women Association’ held a session boasting of the participation of the ladies like Mrs Hasan Imam, Mrs Sami, and Mrs S. P. Sen, etc. The enthusiasm among the women of Bihar was injected by Begum Abadi Bano alias Bi Amman (mother of the Ali Brothers) who had visited Bihar in February 1922. She went to many places in Bihar, and was joined by distinguished ladies of the respective towns. She addressed large gatherings of as many as 10,000 women.69 Apart from the activism of the individual Muslim leaders, the Imarat-e-Shariah as an organization contributed both to the freedom movement, and in promoting the spirit of religious tolerance. This was set up as a juridical–spiritual institution in 1921. This institution enjoyed the blessings of two of the most influential Khanqahs in Bihar. It subscribed to the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH) concept of muttahidah qaumiyat (composite nationalism). Its moving spirit, Maulana Md Sajjad (1880–1940) was greatly influenced by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and was in touch with Azad during his internment in Ranchi (1917–19). It brought out an Urdu journal Imarat (fortnightly), which was banned (in 1932) by the Raj during the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930–34). Subsequently, another Urdu publication called Naqeeb was also launched. In the post-Khilafat years, it was not the Muslim League but the JUH that survived well into the 1930s, to keep its ideals and national entity intact. After the collapse of the Khilafat Movement in 1923–24, the Shudhi-Sangathan campaign of the Arya Samajists and of the Hindu Mahasabhites, and the tableegh-tanzeem movements of a group of Muslims had created great divide between the two communities (more on this in Chapter Two). In this atmosphere of disharmony, Imarat-eShariah’s Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940) and Maulana Fazlur Rahman appealed to their co-religionists to maintain communal harmony, and to stop cow sacrifice.70 A Khilafat Committee meeting was held 69

Searchlight (issues of February 1922). Fortnightly Report, governments of Bihar and Orissa, 1923, D. O. No. 853-C, Patna 14 April 1923. 70

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at Muzaffarpur under Md Shafi who urged Muslims to maintain Hindu–Muslim unity.71 The Khilafat Conference, presided over by Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953), condemned the communal discord, and appealed for national unity. He urged the Muslims of Bihar to join hands with the Congress. Bihar also became an important stop in the travel itinerary of national leaders. In February 1922, Bi Amman, along with her son Shaukat Ali (1873–1939; the elder of the Ali Brothers), visited Munger, Jamalpur, Lakhisarai, and Muzaffarpur to enlist mass support for the freedom struggle. On his visit to Patna on 25 June 1925, Khwaja Hasan Nizami (1878–1955) of the famous sufi shrine in Delhi, said that in India, Hindu–Muslim unity was natural and traditional and it could not be jeopardized by artificial means. He appealed to the people to maintain communal peace in the greater interest of the country. He urged the ulema of Bihar to play their traditional role in maintaining communal peace in the province. Maulana Shah Sulaiman and Ruknuddin Dana also spoke on the same lines.72 In 1926, notwithstanding the communal riots in Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Sasaram, Munger, etc., the enthusiasm of the Muslims of Bihar for both communal harmony and Swaraj remained unshaken. The Muslim leadership did not give up on communal harmony. In his presidential address, Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (who presided over the All India Khilafat Conference at Delhi, 8–9 May 1926) explained that, in order to attain Swaraj and unity, narrow mentalities should be abandoned.73 The Muslims everywhere boycotted the Simon Commission. Shafi Daudi addressed the Muslims at the Jama Masjid of Muzaffarpur, urging the audience to observe hartal against the Simon Commission. In Munger, Shah Md Zubair mobilized the people against the Simon Commission. While the Muslims of Bihar did have their misgivings on the issue of the Motilal Nehru Report (1928), nevertheless — and due largely to the influence of Muslim organizations like Imarat-e-Sharia, the Momin Conference, Jamiat-ul-Ulema, and others — the participation of the Muslims remained notably high during the Civil Disobedience 71

Ibid. Searchlight, 28 June 1925. 73 H. N. Mitra, Indian Quarterly Register, 1926, vol. 1, pp. 409–11. 72

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Movement. Intelligence reports record instances of how Muslim leaders got into the act of mobilizing Muslims for the Civil Disobedience Movement. Nazir Ahmad, a leader of the Bhagalpur Congress, persuaded Muslims to accept joint electorates, and for the purpose also invited Abul Kalam Azad (1888–1958) and Dr M. A. Ansari (1880– 1936). Similar campaigns were undertaken in Siwan.74 On behalf of the Patna Congress, Shah Mohiuddin distributed Urdu booklets in Sasaram.75 In March 1931, several Congress meetings were held to mobilize Muslims in the Muslim concentration areas of Muzaffarpur: Pupri, Parihar, and Bela. In each of these places, the meetings attracted crowds in thousands. Similarly, Bagaha in Champaran, and many places in Saran, also attracted such crowds.76 Abdul Bari was mobilizing in Bhagalpur and the Santhal Parganas; in Purnea, he tried to allay the misgivings by saying that Swaraj would not lead to Hindu Swaraj. Moreover, ‘of the 50,000 who had been jailed for the movement, 12,000 were the Muslims’.77 Dr Syed Mahmud (1889–1971) also addressed a meeting of Muslims called the Purnea District Political Conference.78 The Muslims of Bettiah were particularly agitated against the firings in Peshawar.79 That Dr Mahmud had made an extensive tour of Bihar to organize and mobilize the Muslims, is evident by the fact that he had presented a bill of `36,000 as expenses of those tours.80 On 26 January 1930, ‘Independence Day’ was celebrated in all the towns of Bihar, and everywhere the participation of Muslims was sizeable.81 This was in response to the Lahore session of the Congress (1929) presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru, which adopted the resolution of Purna Swaraj (complete independence), and chose the date of 26 January 1930 to be observed as Independence Day by hoisting the

74

PS KW 60 (DIG CID)/ 1931, 21 September 1931. PS 48 (1)/ 1931, Shahabad CD, PE, 2 and 15 May 1931. 76 PS 40/1931, Muzaffarpur, 2 April 1931. 77 PS 44/1931 Conf. DO No. 197 C, Purnea, 9 May 1931. 78 PS 44/1931, Ranchi 15 October 1931. 79 PS KW 60 DIG CID/ 1932, WE, 21 February 1932. 80 PS 133/ 1931, confidential extracts from SB Inspector’s Report, Patna, 17 June 1931. 81 Searchlight, 29 January 1930. 75

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tri-colour flag as a symbol of India’s independence. Shah Mohiuddin, Amir-e-Shariat (Bihar), in pursuance of the JUH, appealed to the Muslims of Bihar to adopt the independence of the country as their motto, and play their historic role to achieve freedom for India.82 The Bihar wing of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema held its session on 22 October 1930 at Bankipur. It was presided over by Maulana Syed Shah Lutfullah of Munger. It expressed full faith in the Congress, and appealed to the Muslims to play their historic role for achieving the independence of the country. It congratulated the ulema who were active for the cause of country’s independence. It also did not favour the Round Table Conference without the participation of the Congress.83 Before this session on 30 June 1930, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema of Bihar had convened a meeting at Patna under the president ship of Hasan Imam. In this meeting, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was also invited to deliver a speech to allay the misgivings of the Muslims against the Congress.84 It extended its active support to the Civil Disobedience movement, which invited criticism of the League. Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940), Usman Ghani (Secretary, Imarat-e-Shariah), Hafiz Md Sani, and Shaikh Adalat Husain were imprisoned for their participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement.85 Overall, notwithstanding communal tensions, owing to such mobilizations, the sacrificial festival of Baqrid of 1931 and 1932 passed off peacefully, and by and large, Bihar remained, ‘free of communal tension’.86

The Role of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad The point of divergence between the Muslim League and the proCongress Muslim organizations was grounded in the latter’s idea of Muttahidah Qaumiyat. At the pan-Indian level, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-eHind (founded in 1919), a body of the ulema affiliated to the theological seminary of Deoband, was the votary of the idea which was popularized

82

Imarat, 16 January and 6 February 1930. Ibid., 30 October 1930. 84 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 292–93. 85 Indian Nation, 9 November 1934; Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat’; Miftahi, Imarat-e-Shariah, pp. 51–70. 86 PS 151/1931. 83

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in Bihar through the agency of its precursor, the Anjuman-e-Ulema or Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Bihar (founded in 1917) by Maulana Abul Mohasin Mohammad Sajjad (1880–1940); the idea of politically organizing the Ulema was evolving in the mind of Maulana Sajjad since 1908.87 The latter also went on to found the Imarat-e-Shariah in 1921, and launched the Muslim Independent Party (MIP) on 12 September 1936. The Imarat-e-Shariah owes its origins to Maulana Azad, in whose, scheme of things, in countries like India where Muslims were a minority (aqalliat) and did not hold political power, the Imarat-e-Shariah would function as an institution of political authority and state power … He envisaged it [as] maintaining a relationship with the country’s government through a collective agreement.88

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad enjoyed considerable popularity among the Muslims of Bihar. It was his plan to set up an institution of Amarat (or Imarat) with Maulana Mahmud Hasan of Deoband as the Ameere-Hind or Imam-e-Hind.89 In Azad’s scheme, Imarat was ‘[purported to become] political authority, state power, pure and simple’, rather than merely discharge judicial functions which could be done by the qazis.90 Azad told the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH founded in 1919) that the ulema as a class should exercise the function of Imam/Ameer.91 In the Badayun session of the JUH (December 1921), a sub-committee

87 Minatullah Rehmani, ‘Mukhtasar Sawanih-e-Hayat’, in Anis-ur-Rahman Qasmi (compiled.), Hayat-e-Sajjad, Patna: Imarat-e-Shariah, 1998, pp. 18, 20. Also see Nadeem and Qasmi, Makateeb-e-Sajjad, p. 18. 88 Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat’. 89 Rajmohan Gandhi says ‘at a Lahore meeting in 1921, about 10,000 of the ulema came close to choosing him [Azad] as Amir-ul-Hind or Imam-ulHind (leader of India)’, in Understanding the Muslim Mind, Delhi: Penguin, 1987, p. 225. 90 Malik Ram (ed.), Khutbat-e-Azad, New Delhi: Sahitya Academy, 1974, p. 29; cf. Ali Ashraf, ‘Appraisal of Azad’s Religio-Political Trajectory’, in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), Islam and Indian Nationalism: Reflections on Abul Kalam Azad, Delhi: Manohar, 1992, p. 109. 91 Ian Henderson Douglas, Abul Kalam Azad: An Intellectual and Religious Biography, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 273.

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proposed that till the liberation of the Ottoman Khalifa, his Deputy in India, the Ameer-e-Hind would be elected at a general meeting of the JUH. After securing liberation, the Ottoman Khalifa would appoint and dismiss the Ameer in consultation with the JUH; it also specified that the Ameer should be a scholar of tafseer, fiqh, hadees, besides being sufficiently aware of the politics of the time.92 The post-World War One scenario witnessed the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate, and this scheme did not materialize. Thus, during his three years internment in Ranchi, Azad thought about beginning this scheme from the provincial level.93 Thus, Azad’s ‘young friend and comrade’, Maulana Abul Mohasin Mohammad Sajjad (1880–1940) met him, and started striving to implement it.94 Sajjad started approaching the ulema and the mashaikh (associates of the custodians of the sufi shrines), and travelled very widely in 1920 to establish an institution of Imarat to address the shariat related collective problems of the community in an institutional manner, so that the religio-cultural domain of the religious minority would remain a space wherein the state would not interfere.95 Accordingly, the popular sufi shrines Khanqah-e-Rahmaniya in Monghyr, and the Khanqah-e-Mujibiya in Phulwari Sharif (Patna), extended their support. The Bihar branch of the JUH met at Darbhanga in May 1921 where it was decided that the ulema and mashaikh would be assembling to elect an Ameer-e-Shariat. In June 1921, the Bihar JUH, in the presence of Azad, persuaded Shah Badruddin (1852–1924), the sajjada nashin (chief custodian of the shrine) of the Khanqah-e-Mujibiya, to become the provincial Ameere-Shariat, the chief of the Imarat-e-Shariah of Bihar and Orissa. Maulana Sajjad was to function as his deputy (naib). This is how the Imarat-e-Shariah came into existence, and endures till date. In no other province could this ‘dream’ of Azad fructify. The Ameer and the Naib had a council of nine ulemas. At its annual session in November 1921,

92

Peter Hardy, Muslims of British India, Cambridge, 1972, p. 193. Nadeem and Qasmi, Makateeb-e-Sajjad, p. 13; also see Qasmi, Hayat-eSajjad, p. 55. Azad was released from Ranchi on 1 January 1920. 94 Ram (ed.), Khutbat-e-Azad, p. 136. 95 Miftahi, Imarat-e-Sharaiah, pp. 52–73. 93

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the JUH approved the institution, Imarat-e-Shariah. Through the baitul-maal (public exchequer, that is, the people’s contribution), from ushr (10 per cent), and zakat (a compulsory Islamic obligation of earmarking 2.5 per cent of total annual saving for charity), its financial affairs came to be taken care of. These monies were raised village-wise, and through district-level organizational networks.

The Role of Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940) Born in the village Pehnasa (situated on Rajgir-Biharsharif road), Maulana Sajjad was only four years old when his father Husain Bakhsh died. Having obtained his initial education in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, he was enrolled in the Madrasa Islamiya, in Biharsharif. Being a truant child and less sincere at studies, his elder brother took him to Kanpur, then to Deoband for six months where he had a fight with a Tibetan student and had to leave the Deoband seminary. He then came back to Kanpur, and then went to Allahabad’s Madrasa Subhaniya, from where he obtained his degree in June 1905, and became teacher in the Madrasa Islamiya, Biharsharif, where he served for three years. Later, he taught in the Madrasa Subhaniya, Allahabad, for four months, only to get back to teaching in the Madrasa of Biharsharif. In 1912, he revived the Madrasa Anwar-ul-Uloom (Gaya), which was earlier founded by Abdul Wahab. However, it was in Allahabad where he came in contact with Maulana Zahid Khan Daryabadi who used to read English newspapers for him. It is from them that Sajjad developed an interest in international affairs, more particularly in West Asian countries, and all news about British imperialist designs. In Gaya, he started taking great interest in serving the community and the nation (qaumi aur mulki kaam). He was instrumental in launching Anjuman-e-Ulema-e-Bihar in 1917, a precursor of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH founded in 1919). In his presidential address to the JUH at Muradabad (1925), he said that siyasat ain deen hai (politics) — particularly the siyasat-e-aadila (emancipatory politics) — is the very essence of religion, whereas the Siyasat-e-Zalima (oppressive politics) is Islamically prohibited. He also said that the ulema shouldn’t stay away from politics.96 Here, he 96 Mujahid-ul-Islam Qasmi and Md Zamanullah (eds), Maqalat-e-Sajjad, Patna: Maktaba Imarat-e-Shariah, 1999, pp. 47–51.

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also reiterated that the Congress had earned the pride of being India’s mushtareka wa muttahidah majlis, the united and shared platform.97 He kept reiterating that, in order to attain independence from the British, Muslims must cooperate with the Congress.98 Sajjad’s elder son had also served six months imprisonment for participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement.99 He also persuaded all the Indians including Muslims to join the Non-Cooperation Movement (Tarke-Mawalaat) so that the British rule could be paralyzed, and that the people should shun the idea of pleasing the British.100 Known for his simplicity and austerity, his priorities gradually shifted from teaching to politics, as well as to some reformist and educational roles among the low caste Muslims, such as the Gaddis and the Bhants of Champaran and elsewhere. He also stood in the face of the Shudhi-Sangathan Movement of the 1920s.101 He also established some schools — for example, in the village of Chautarwa (Bagaha, Champaran), where 400 houses of the scavenging Hindu caste, magahiya doms, converted to Islam because of his educational and other social services among the community.102 All these public activities earned him laurels and the support of the common people even in the rural hinterlands of Bihar. Having played significant roles in the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movements (1920–22), and the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930–34), his political prominence came to centre-stage with the formation of the Muslim Independent Party (MIP) in 1936. This had strong agrarian concerns, rather than being merely an exclusivist political organization of an embattled religious minority. It eventually formed the ministry to run the Bihar administration during April–July 1937, with Md Yunus (1884–1952) being the Premier. On 20 February 1940, he wrote in Naqeeb, ‘Firqa warana maamlaat ka faisla kin usulon pe hona chahiye (On which principles should religious disputes be resolved?)’. He felt that, since the country consisted 97

Ibid., p. 80. Qasmi, Hayat-e-Sajjad, p. 96. 99 Ibid., p. 107. 100 Nadeem and Qasmi, Maqalat-e-Sajjad, p. 92. 101 Qasmi, Hayat-e-Sajjad, p. 113. 102 Ibid., p. 174. 98

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of populations following different religions and sects, there had to be specifications about the limits of religious spaces. He asked, ‘Mazhabi Azadi ke hudud kya hain (what are the limits of religious freedom)’? He then elaborated that aqeedah ka public muqamat mein ailaan, izhar aur amal se insani tehzeeb aur shaistagi ko nuqsan pahunchegi (public pronouncements of faith, and the practice of taking out religious procession harms human civility and public harmony)’. He, therefore, suggested that such rituals should be practiced in privately in the confinement of individual homes (Tamam firqon aur qaumon ke mazhabi jalsay aur julus public muqamat par band kar diye jaayen, that religious rituals and festivities should be done, parda ke saath aur apney gharon mein). Maulana Sajjad was a man of action in, winning the hearts and minds of the masses, especially the common marginalized sections of society, through his massive charity and welfare works besides his mission of educating the weaker sections. His columns and editorials in the Naqeeb (the Urdu weekly of the Imarat-e-Shariah), his presidential address at the JUH session of Moradabad (1925), and his damning letters to Jinnah in which he described him as a stooge of British imperialism are well known. In fact, Sajjad advised Jinnah that, in his forthcoming public address at the 26th session (26–29 December 1938) of the League at Patna, he should pass a resolution for a nonviolent Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) against British rule, and that from mid-January 1939, he should formally launch it. Sajjad hoped that in this form of resistance, the JUH, the Ahrar, and other Congress people would join the League. He lamented the communal riots on cow slaughter as painful and troublesome, but believed that the bigger and more dangerous problem were the Acts of 1909 and 1935. In order to prepare a significantly popular support base, the Imarat-eShariah had to establish shariat courts (Dar-ul-Qaza), assisted by the ulema and mashaikh. The MIP was described as a party for the emancipation of the poor and the improvement of agriculture. The MIP supported the Congress’ goal of independence, but also aimed at securing constitutional safeguards for the religion and culture of Muslims. For bearing ‘an unmistakable resemblance with the Congress’, the MIP earned the condemnation from the Bihar Muslim League.103 Imarat-e-Shariah’s 103

The Indian Nation, 9 November 1936.

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mouthpiece Imarat, an Urdu fortnightly which was banned during the Civil Disobedience Movement and subsequently gave birth to the Urdu weekly called Naqeeb, articulated the muttahidah qaumiyat (composite nationalism), and contested the two nation theory of Jinnah’s Muslim League till the very end. The Imarat-e-Shariah offered the most vehement opposition to and critique of the League’s Lahore Resolution [for Pakistan] of March 1940. It contested the League’s Pakistan movement with the argument that it neglected the aqalliyat subahs (minority provinces), and went on to declare the League’s leadership as un-Islamic. Maulana Sajjad disapproved of Jinnah’s assertions against the Congress, and in the letter to Jinnah dated 24 December 1938, he took issue with Jinnah over the alleged instances of the victimization of the Muslims in the communal riots, discrimination in public employment, and under-representation in the ministry. Sajjad asserted, asli fasaad-o-halakat ka sarchashma British Hukumat ka laanati dastur-ehukumat hai, yeh rog ba manzilahi sill-o-diq hai aur firqa warana fasadat ya naukriyon ya wizaraton mein haq talfi ba manzilahi phorha aur phunsi hain (the mainspring of all evils of strife is the colonial rule, which is deadlier compared to the smaller issues like the religious strife, and conflicts over shares in administration). He went on to advise Jinnah that, in order to fight these evils, in its (forthcoming) Patna session of 26 December 1938, the Muslim League should pass a resolution to launch a civil disobedience movement against the British. In this letter, he also criticized the communally divisive Act of 1909 for its separate electorate.104 Sajjad lamented the League for talking of ‘Direct Action’ against the Congress, rather than against the British.105 On 23 January 1939, Sajjad wrote another letter to Jinnah titled, ‘Islami Huquq aur Muslim League’, wherein he regretted that with its opposition to the Congress and its pro-British politics, the Muslim League would not be able to ensure religious freedom to the Muslims. He expressed his disappointment and displeasure as the League’s Patna session (26–29 December 1938) did not pass any such resolution.

104 105

Nadeem and Qasmi, Makateeb-e-Sajjad, pp. 20–21, 25. Ibid., p. 58.

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The whole correspondence between Sajjad and Jinnah was published as pamphlets for public circulation, with the titles, ‘Islami Huquq aur Muslim League’, and ‘Muslim League aur Mazhabi Huquq ki Hifazat’. Sajjad asked Jinnah to explain why the League had not ever insisted on complete independence for India. He also asked why the League had ignored religious questions pertaining to the Muslims. These included (a) the Lex Loci Act of 1850 which did not take away the right to inherit properties even after converting to Christianity, (b) The abolition or atrophy of the institution of the Qazi to adjudicate the disputes of certain Personal Laws of Muslims, like marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc., (c) The Sarda Act (Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929–30), which remained enforced against Muslims, was opposed by the JUH and Md Ali Jauhar, but the League had remained silent about it. He further argued that civil disobedience as a political strategy against the colonial rule was first used by Muslim leaders in 1907 — by Shaikh Gulab and Shaikh Adalat — when leading the Champaran peasants. He also quoted an Urdu couplet by Iqbal to drive home the point that the League was going astray, and prayed for it to get onto the real/straight path. Bhatkey huey aahoo ko phir soo-e-haram le chal Is shahr ke khoo gar ko phir wusa’t-e-sahra dey106 [Let the vagrant fellow (deer) be shown the right path/ Take them away from the cozy confines of urban comforts/ To the harsh realities of the vast expanse of the desert].

Maulana Sajjad asked the Muslim League to adopt the resolution of complete independence (azadi-e-kaamil ka nasabul ain), and advised it to join hands with the Congress.107 Sajjad contended that the League did not have any answer for the problems of the Muslim minorities of Bihar and UP, and therefore there was no logic for the Muslims of these two provinces to extend their support to the ‘Pakistan’ Movement. He even wrote a very long article in Naqeeb (14 April 1940) with the title ‘Muslim India aur Hindu India key scheme par ek aham tabsera’

106 107

Ibid., pp. 22–23. Ibid., pp. 32–35.

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(A Critique of the schemes of Muslim India and Hindu India)108 in which he wrote, [t]his country is inhabited by the people of different religious faiths and the differences so sharp have reached their extreme which is very painful, e.g. the practice of idolatry which is offensive for monotheists, beef eating which is painful for cow worshippers, and when the situation is like this, our leaders should find out the ways and fix limits for religious freedom in a way that no sect feels that they have been adversely discriminated. Then he suggests that religion should be made a private matter rather than demonstrating it publicly, so that its practice does not become instigator or inflammatory.109

Muslim Leadership and Hindu–Muslim Unity An analysis of the character of the Muslim leadership in Bihar throws ample light on Hindu–Muslim Unity in Bihar. Most of the leaders like Ali Imam, Hasan Imam, Mazharul Haq, Sarfaraz Husain Khan, Sharfuddin, Shafi Daudi, Abdul Bari, Shah Md Zubair, Syed Mahmud, Maulana Sajjad, Maghfur Aijazi, etc., were ‘trained in western learning, the majority of the leaders were aware of the liberal principles of the west and were secular in their attitudes towards political problems’. They were ‘broadminded and nationalist to the core’. They all rejected the thesis that the Muslims were a separate nation, and they stood by the cause of the nation. They were popular equally among the Hindus and the Muslims.110 G. A. Natesan (1873–1948), the editor of the English monthly The Indian Review and the author of Eminent Mussalmans, also wrote, [i]f there is anybody in Bihar today who also enjoys an extraordinary degree the confidence alike of the Hindus and the Musalmans, who is

108

Some representative essays written by Maulana Sajjad in Naqeeb have been compiled and published by the Imarat-e-Shariah. In one of these essays, Maulana Sajjad has suggested ways to avoid communal conflicts and to keep harmony. This reflects his political leanings (Maqalat-e-Sajjad). 109 Nadeem and Qasmi, Maqalat-e-Sajjad, pp. 51–52. 110 Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, pp. 217–25. 111 Ibid., p. 220.

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acclaimed as the accredited leader of the present generation of public men in the province, and whom the social reformer, the public list, and the student of politics, equally regard as the greatest champion of all their movement, it is surely Mr. Hasan Imam.111

Both the brothers, Hasan Imam and Ali Imam, consistently opposed a separate electorate for Muslims. Mazharul Haq was the greatest apostle of Hindu–Muslim unity, and remained a staunch nationalist throughout his life. It was his earnest desire to forge a common front of Muslims and Hindus, of the League and the Congress, and his endeavours bore fruit in Lucknow in 1916 where the Congress–League compromise was brought about. Abdul Bari (1882–1947) belonged to those type of leaders who, like Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, strongly criticized the Motilal Nehru Report (1928) for having recommended only Dominion Status for India, because nothing short of complete independence could satisfy him. He represented the new Muslim middle class. Chaubey says: Muslim politics in Bihar remained non-communal, anti-sectarian and nationalist in outlook so long as the Hindu leadership was also non-communal. The honeymoon of Hindu–Muslim co-operation and understanding could not last for long. The Municipal, District board and Bihar legislative council elections of 1923, 1926, produced a rift in the lute of Hindu Muslim co-operation in Bihar. In the district board elections of Muzaffarpur, Shafi Daudi was defeated by a European planter Danby due to the betrayal of the Congress. It gave him a rude shock and he began to think differently. It poisoned the political atmosphere of Bihar.112

Subsequent developments caused a breach in the harmony that had existed. But even more shocking was the defeat of Mazharul Haq who, in utter disillusionment, withdrew from active politics creating a void. Taqi Raheem holds the same view: In the politics of Bihar, communalism and caste-ism started after the electoral politics of Swarajists. In the local bodies, there was no provision

112

Ibid., p. 229.

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for separate electorate, which resulted in gross under-representations of Muslims, as anti-Muslim electoral politics was practiced quite openly.113

In his autobiography, Dr Rajendra Prasad wrote that certain Hindu candidates carried calves to the doors of electorates during election campaigns and votes were demanded on religious lines. Swami Shradhanand, Dr B. S. Moonje, Lala Lajpat Rai, Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya, and others, who were Hindu Mahasabhites, stoked the fire of communalism. The Congress leaders themselves campaigned on caste and communal lines. Such campaigns on caste/communal lines, with full play of religious symbols, could not but undercut the Hindu–Muslim relations. These things depressed and disappointed the Muslim leaders of Bihar, and those of them who had opposed separate electorates stood discredited by the Muslims. Such developments took place at the time when even Jinnah had been persuaded to agree for conditional joint electorates. Taqi Raheem observes: Undoubtedly, the Hindu Congressmen displayed narrow mindedness and opportunism in the local bodies’ elections. It shocked the Bihar’s Muslims who had not witnessed communal chauvinism earlier. Therefore, from upper to lower classes, Muslims got disillusioned against [the idea of the] joint electorate, and this tendency went on increasing subsequently. Even then, credit goes to the Muslims of Bihar that in the collective social life, they did not develop separatism and kept supporting the Congress.114

Significantly, Taqi Raheem also remarks that communal tension and riots were not occurring due to religious reasons but because of a tussle for political power. The Nehru Report (1928) had further alienated Muslims in these circumstances. Even then, in Bihar, the leaders of Jamiat-ul-Ulema and Imarat-e-Shariah actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Maulana Sajjad, Nooruddin Bihari, Maulana Usman Ghani, Abdul Wahab Darbhangwi, Abdul Wadud, etc. joined in the movement, along with hundreds of Muslims. Again, during the Salt Satyagraha in Bihar, the maximum numbers 113 114

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 249–56. Ibid., p. 254.

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of people arrested were Muslims. Shah Umair and Abdul Bari are known to have said that it was the duty (farz) of every Muslim to support the Lahore Resolution of Complete Independence passed by the Congress in 1929–31. After this, there were not too many high-ranking Muslim leaders except Abdul Bari (1882–1947) and Syed Mahmud (1889–1971) at the provincial level. At the district level, Muslims still had a sizeable presence among the leadership. Syed Mahmud concentrated on mobilizing the Muslims in Saran, Champaran, and Muzaffarpur, while Abdul Bari concentrated on Shahabad, Jamshedpur, and Panta. Some of the district-level leaders were Aziz Munami, Saghir Hasan Arzoo and Zaheer Qasim in Patna; Md Ismail (wakeel) in Mazuffarpur; Shah Umair in Gaya; Zahurul Hasan Hashmi and Moulvi Zakariya Hashmi in Bhagalpur; Abdul Wahab in Darbhanga; and Abdul Wadud and Abdul Ghafur, Hafiz M. Sani, Shaikh Adalat Husain, and Peer Md Moonis in Champaran were at the forefront of the Civil Disobedience Movement.115 Nematullah Razi (1904–1944), son of Hafiz Rahmatullah (d. 1927; the founder of the Madrasa Jamial Uloom in 1889 at Muzaffarpur), along with Maghfur Aijazi and Manzur Aijazi were leading the movement in Muzaffarpur.116 Besides all these leaders, several new leaders emerged, and strongly resisted the League’s Pakistan movement in the 1940s. The Jamiat-ul-Ulema held several conferences in many places to mobilize the support of the Muslims in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Begum Hasan Imam, Begum Sami, etc., worked among the women for the prohibition and boycott of foreign goods. By the 1930s, fortuitously, many nationalist Muslim leaders of Bihar passed away. While considerable disillusionment had set in among the Muslims against the Congress in some Muslim quarters, on the whole, Bihar’s Muslims did not desert the Congress. Some of them became inactive, but such passivity did not make them switch over to any Muslim separatist organization. This was in sharp contrast with the Muslims of Punjab and Sindh where disillusionment against the Congress quickly developed into separatism.117 Even the Muslim Conference (formed in 1929) of Shafi Daudi, which for some time took positions 115

Ibid., p. 288; Imam, Role of Muslims, pp. 195, 206. See my, ‘Sir Syed’s Movement ’. 117 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 312–13. 116

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against the Congress, became defunct after the announcement of the Communal Award in 1932. Moreover, it did not find the ready support of the Muslims of Bihar notwithstanding their grievances against the Motilal Nehru Report (1928). At this time, there was hardly any prominent Muslim leader to propagate a separatist agenda. The nationalist ranks, on the other hand, had leaders of the stature of Syed Mahmud, Professor Abdul Bari and Shah Umair who were quite popular, and commanded considerable influence among the masses.

Jinnah’s All India Muslim League and the Muslims of Bihar In the elections of 1937, the Muslims of Bihar did not have any concern with Jinnah and his League. The League was virtually non-existent in Bihar. The Khilafat movement of the 1920s, with its sharp anti-colonial thrust, had struck a severe blow to the existence of the League as it found it hard to live down the image of being a loyalist party. Moreover, anti-colonialism always struck a responsive chord among the Muslims of Bihar as they had strongly imbibed this streak under the influence of the ‘Wahabi’ movement. It won’t be out of place to mention here that the Deoband movement, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema, and the Imarate-Shariah were the ideological offshoots of the ‘Wahabi’ movement, anti-colonialism being its main plank. The Imarat-e-Shariah soon captured the imagination of the Muslims of Bihar, and by 1937, it emerged as their most popular organization. The Imarat-e-Shariah’s organizational network had penetrated deep down to the remotest villages. It had religious as well as political credibility. Its social works and religious services had earned a great reputation. It had become so popular that the sheer demand of the nationalist Muslims prompted it to take part in the elections of 1937. In this election, the Muslims of Bihar did not have anything to do with Jinnah and his Muslim League. It was the Imarat-e-Shariah, which had the greatest influence on the Muslims of Bihar. That’s why Mr. Jinnah had to nominate Mufti Kifayatullah (a non-Bihari) to his Parliamentary Board. In fact, the disillusionment that had set in against the League and Jinnah during the Khilafat Movement, could still be felt in the minds of the Muslims of Bihar. The anti-British sentiments were still quite strong. Consequently, the League did not exist even on paper (so to say)

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whereas the Imarat-e-Shariah had penetrated deep down to villages. Moreover, the Imarat-e-Shariah was the product of fierce anti imperialist sentiments. Therefore, its role was both religious as well as political. Hence its associates used to go hand in hand with the Congress in the freedom struggle. Simultaneously, they also thought that the Muslims of Bihar should be led only by the Imarat-e-Shariah. Thus, they formed the MIP to contest the provincial elections of 1937.118

Consequently, on 12 September 1936, it launched a party called the Muslim Independent Party (MIP) in the Anjuman Islamia Hall, Patna. Maulana Sajjad was elected its president. Complete Independence was declared to be its goal. Its election manifesto was akin to the Congress. On the question of land reforms and mahajani (moneylenders) loot, its radicalism foreshadowed/anticipated the Faizpur Agrarian Programme (1936) of the Congress. It may not be out of place to refer to the Krishak Praja Party (KPP) of Bengal, founded in April 1936 mainly by A. K. Fazlul Haq (1873–1962), who cultivated his politics among the Bengal’s peasants, speaking their language, and opposing Bengal’s landlords on their behalf through the Calcutta Agriculture Association (1917), a precursor of the KPP. While forming the ministry in 1937, the Congress refused to strike an alliance/coalition (both pre-poll and post-poll) with the MIP in Bihar as also with the KPP in Bengal, despite Fazlul Huq’s keenness. ‘Such a partnership would not have been unnatural: the KPP’s goals were couched in secular terms, and Congress’ pronouncements were no longer pro-landlord.119 Joya Chatterji also says that the KPP politics was ‘not couched in religious terms … it tried to maintain a non-communal stance … and kept its focus on agrarian issues’.120 She concludes that ‘for at least those Muslim peasants who had the vote, the “communal” Muslim League was by no means an automatic choice’.121 118

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 319–20. Gandhi, Understanding the Muslim Mind, p. 196. (Till then, the Muslim League’s Bengal unit was lifeless. The KPP had won 35 seats in 1937, and 23 out of 41 of the Independent Muslims had joined the KPP to raise its tally to 58, whereas the Congress had 60, in a total strength of 250 in the Bengal Assembly. Fazlul Huq had defeated Khwaja Nazimuddin, 1894–1964). 120 Chatterji, Bengal Divided, pp. 79, 83. 121 Ibid., p. 88. 119

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It should be noted that it was only in Bihar and NWFP where the Muslim League could not find any candidate to field for the elections in 1937. They were realist enough to realize that they stood no chance of winning any seats in these provinces. The MIP, on the other hand, could secure as many as 15 (out of 40, plus one reserved for woman) Muslim seats. In other provinces, the League did succeed in winning some seats. This amply demonstrates that the Muslims of Bihar were more pronouncedly opposed to the political stance of the League than their counterparts in any other province. Thus, Taqi Raheem concludes that, with regard to anti-imperialism and independence, the Muslims of Bihar were more committed than those of any other provinces.122 Thus, till the formation of the Congress ministry (1937), despite all odds and ruptures in Hindu–Muslim unity, the League’s separatism was almost non-existent in Bihar. The Muslim League made some organizational and ideological headway in Bihar only after 1937. Yet, the dominant trend among the Muslims of Bihar was that of anti-League and antiPakistan till the riots of 1946; and even this separatism was expressed in ways that were at variance with the All India Muslim League. After the riots of 1946, the Bihar Provincial Muslim League convened a conference at Gaya, known as ‘Division of Bihar Conference’ on 19 April 1947. In the meeting, rather than approving and stressing the demand for Pakistan, they demanded the division of the province of Bihar into Hindu and Non-Hindu autonomous provinces.123 Thus, the wording of the resolution suggests that even as late as in April 1947, the Bihar Provincial Muslim League was talking of the division of the province, and not of the country. Notwithstanding the fact that this provincial division was being sought along religious lines, what is conspicuous is that it was not toeing the line of the Jinnah’s scheme of separatism. This is definitely an indicator of the weak influence of the All India Muslim League in its Bihar wing. Between 1937 and 1939, the experience of the Congress ministry was alienating the Muslims, giving opportunities to the League to make inroads in Bihar. Even Maulana Sajjad of Imarat-e-Shariah had

122 123

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 323. Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, pp. 801–2.

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a number of grievances. However, he expressed them only in a secret letter to the Congress High Command.124 He kept the letter a secret because he feared that the League might use it as a propaganda tool to target the Congress, and thereby wean the Muslims away from its hold. Even after having grievances against the Congress, Muslims remained with it in order to attain an independent united India. Besides the Imarat-e-Shariah, the other popular organization among the Muslims, the Momin Conference, also kept contesting the League’s separatism and its stance of politics. Started as Falah-ul-Momineen in 1914 by the Momins of Bihar and UP living in Calcutta, the All India Momin Conference, fostered and helped the Congress when there was an ideological conflict between progressive and secular Congress and conservative, reactionary and Communal All India Muslim League, and left a record of its active participation in the freedom struggle. During 1937–38, it was converted into a separate political entity to counteract the venomous communal politics of the Muslim League Largely through the efforts of Abdul Qaiyum Ansari.125

Since the Momins rallied behind the Momin Conference in large numbers, the League could not succeed in extending its support base among this group, which was the most numerous caste group within the Muslim community. In Bihar it was an organization with ‘considerable grass root support’, was in the ‘forefront of the Muslim Mass Contact Campaign’ to enlist the support of the Momins and other sections of the Muslim community to the struggle for freedom and national unity … It succeeded in preventing the spread of the poisonous Two-Nation theory in the Momin community in particular, and among the other Backward Muslims in general.126

124

AICC Papers, no. G–42/1939. Ansari, The Momin Congress Relation, p. 7. 126 Ibid., pp. 8–10. 125

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In the 1930s and 1940s the Momin Conference grew from strength to strength because The Momin movement was necessitated as the Muslim League represented the Muslim feudal, capitalists and upper classes, and ignored the interests of the general Muslim masses of the Muslim commonalty. The aristocratic or so called high classes of Muslims, consisting of nawabs, zamindars, capitalists, religious leaders and others were indifferent to their conditions.127

The Momin Conference attempted to use those very ‘weapons’ against the League which it had employed against the Congress.128 To oppose the League’s separatist resolution of Lahore, a ‘Nationalists’ Muslims’ Conference’ was held at Delhi from 27 to 29 April 1940. This is also known as Azad Muslim Conference. This conference was convened on behalf of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, and few other Muslim organizations. Due to the considerable influence of the Deoband educated ulema in several districts of Bihar, and the particularly great influence of the Imarat-e-Shariah, the participation of the Muslims from Bihar was spectacularly high.129 Besides these ulema, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, the leader of the All India Momin Conference, played a remarkable role in mobilizing the Muslims, particularly the Momins of Bihar. Abdul Qaiyum Ansari’s influence can be gauged from the fact that, in 1940, when Sir Stafford Cripps came to India and asked Jawaharlal Nehru as to who were the Muslim leaders in the Congress with a formidable mass base in opposition to Mr Jinnah of the League, Nehru replied that they

127

Ansari, The Momin Congress Relation, p. 6. It is noted by S. M. Wasi, Director, Publicity, Government of Bihar, in a chapter about political and general events relating to Muslim organizations in the government publication, Bihar in 1938–39, that the ‘Momin Muslims advanced criticisms of the aims and objectives of the Muslim League’. Also see Hasan Nishat Ansari, The Momin Congress Relation, p. 10. 128 Humayun Kabir, Muslim Politics 1906–47 and Other Essays, Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1969, pp. 38–39. 129 Details in Chapter 4.

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were Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Husain Ahmad Madani and Abdul Qaiyum Ansari.130 According to some estimates, not less than forty thousand (40,000) Momins attended the Azad Muslim Conference.131 The All India Shia Political Conference also attended this conference. All these organizations — which commanded support among the students and teachers of several madrasas of Bihar — proved to be great obstacles to the League’s project of Pakistan in the 1940s.

All these organizations commanded support among the students and teachers of several madrasas of Bihar and who played a very active role during the Quit India Movement of 1942. The most prominent of these madrasas were Madrasa Shams-ul-Hoda (Patna), Madrasa Salafiya (Darbhanga), and Madrasa Jamia-ul-Uloom (Muzaffarpur).132 Interestingly, most of these anti-colonial (and later anti-League) madrasas had come into existence after the movement of 1857.

Œ

130

Ali Anwar, Masawat Ki Jung: Pas-e-manzar-Bihar Ke Pasmanda Musalman, Delhi: Vaani, 2001, p. 11. 131 Manglori, Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, pp. 140–42. 132 See my, ‘Resisting British Colonialism’.

2 The Polarizing Texture of Bihar Politics A Survey till 1940

I

t is generally seen that multiple political trends interact and co-exist among a particular social group. The Muslim communities of Bihar were no exception to this. This chapter traces the origin and growth of discord between Hindus and Muslims that led to the emergence of a separatist political trend, howsoever weak, among the Muslims of Bihar. In India today, nationalism and communalism are understood as being essentially modern phenomena, with the two ideologies often coexisting. During the late nineteenth century, sectional consciousness began to grow, being encouraged by the British colonial administration. There are instances of localized skirmishes between Hindus and Muslims even before nineteenth century; but communal riots were extremely rare before 1880.1 In Bihar, as elsewhere in India, communalism sprang up in conflicting situations: either to seek political favour, or while competing for limited employment opportunities during colonial rule. Communalism was not confined to the educated elites, having percolated down to the masses from the very beginning. However, it was mainly the elite manipulation of communalism that began to influence every aspect of life.2 Landlords were prevailed upon, and were often prey to imperial conspiracies. They also had their own personal interests, as for instance their laying emphasis on the protection of cows, held sacred by the Hindus. After the formation of the Gaurakshini Sabhas (societies/associations to protect cows), incidents 1 2

Sumit Sarkar, Modern India 1885–1947, Delhi: Macmillan, 1983, p. 59. Ibid.

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of communal rioting became recurrent. On 17 April 1890, a serious riot broke out in the Berhampur village cattle fair. Here, Gopalnand Swami, a member of the Benaras Gaurakshini Sabha, was found to be the instigator.3 On 30 March 1891, at Nurnagar (in Chapra), Muslims were attacked by a large Hindu mob, resulting in loot and arson.4 The reason for this was Hindu opposition of the Muslim practice of cow slaughter during Baqr-eid festival. It resulted into a series of communal violence in large parts of the ‘cow belt’, which became more frequent from 1880s onwards. In Bihar, the Basantpur (Siwan, Saran) riots of 1893 was one of the most ferocious and well-organized riot of late nineteenth-century Bihar.5 There was a spurt in the Gaurakshini Sabhas in Northern India. When serious rioting took place over the issue of cow slaughter during 1888–93,6 Arrah, Saran, Gaya, and Patna were the worst affected districts. To give a religious colour to cow protection, the Gaurakshini Sabhas propagated that the cows were sacred for the Hindus, and that Hinduism found its sole expression in them. The ‘Ploughmen’s Begging Movement’ had strong roots among the villagers who kept the cow protection movement afloat. Rumourmongering was adopted to convince the Hindus that Lord Mahadev would not expiate the sins of those Hindus who did not rescue cattle from over working, to say nothing of killing them.7 The Movement was started to keep the cow protection agitation afloat. The Hindu votaries of this movement claimed to be the worshippers of Lord Mahadev. Those who declined to join this movement were not allowed to feed the Brahmans, purohits and the kinsmen. No chamars (leather workers), lohars (iron-smiths), washermen were allowed to

3 Political (Police) Proceedings (1891–95), Patna: Bihar State Archives (BSA), p. 6. 4 Ibid. 5 As studied by Anand Yang, ‘Sacred Symbol and Sacred Space’; and Gyanendra Pandey, ‘Rallying Round the Cow: Sectarian Strife in the Bhojpuri Region, 1888–1917’, in Ranajit Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies, vol. 2, Delhi: OUP, 1983; and S. A. A. Tirmizi, ‘The Cow Protection Movement and Mass Mobilization in Northern India, 1882–93’, PIHC, Waltair, 1979. 6 Sarkar, Modern India, p. 59. 7 O’Malley, Bengal District Gazetteers: Muzaffarpur, pp. 32–33.

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work for such ‘defiant Hindus’. The Sabha was authorized to prevent even the marriage of their children. As a matter of fact, these Sabhas constituted themselves into tribunal trying the offenders against the movement. The chief weapon in the hands of the Sabhas was their power of ostracizing, imposing religious penalties and punitive fines. Therefore, the fear of social boycott forced many people to adhere to these ideals. Sometimes fear was generated by these Gau Rakshaks (cow protectors) that if they did not care for the ‘holy mother cow’ they will die issueless, as a leper, and that their property, service, offspring all will be cursed. The cow protectors were active and instrumental in inciting communal riots, with several being planned and organized by them. Even a short notice from them could mobilize thousands of people. The rioters came on horses, elephants, and cycles from different areas to neighbouring villages and towns to indulge in riotous fights.8 Butchers driving their cattle along the roads in normal ways were suspected, and generally attacked. In March 1895, a serious riot engulfed the village of Mathurapur in the Sheohar thana of the then Muzaffarpur district. The Hindus attacked the Muslims on the plea that the latter were going to sacrifice a calf at the mosque on the occasion of Eidul Fitr.9 In some instances, as mentioned earlier, landlords were involved in financing the rioters. Most people responsible for these crimes went ‘scot free’ because administrative bureaucracy and judiciary were both in league to protect the landlords.10 The atmosphere became so vitiated that even cattle fairs ended up in conflicts. The main cattle fairs were held in Berhampore, Sonepur, and Ainkhaon. In Sonepur, the British policy of winning over local allies by creating a wedge between the two communities became quite evident in 1893, and also in 1915.11 It should be noted that the cow was being used only as a symbol for communal mobilization. The

8

Akhilesh Kumar, Communal Riots in India: A Study of Social and Economic Aspects, Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers, 1991, pp. 49–51. 9 O’Malley, Bengal District Gazetteers: Muzaffarpur, p. 32. 10 Kumar, Communal Riots in India, p. 53. 11 Behar Herald, 11 December 1915; Yang, ‘Sacred Symbol and Sacred Space’.

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Gaurakshini Sabhas spread the idea of the sacredness of cows for the Hindus. At no stage was any resentment shown against the beef eating Englishmen; the antipathy was solely aimed against Muslims. While speaking on community relationships, Gandhiji could see through this partisan outlook, and said, ‘I have never been able to understand the antipathy towards the Musalmans on that score. We say nothing about the slaughter that daily takes place on behalf of Englishmen. Our anger becomes hot when a Musalman slaughters a cow’.12 Besides religious affiliations, cattle were a great asset in the agrarian economy of lower middle class Hindus; whereas for lower middle class Muslims, cow slaughter was a source of income in the leather trade.13 In order to avoid tensions, upper class Muslims were otherwise in favour of giving it up.14 Apart from the leading landowners of Bihar, the Maharajas of Darbhanga, Hathuwa, Bettiah, Dumraon were found to be contributors and sympathetic to the Gaurakshini Sabhas.15 Hitendra Patel says, the Hindi intelligentsia of Bihar ‘did hold strong opinions about cow protection in the early 1880s’; in 1884 a book titled Goraksha was published, which ‘contained some persuasive economic explanations for cow protection, and asked for support for the cause from the government and the intelligentsia’; ‘cow protection was an important issue for many educated Hindus in the early 1880s’.16 D. F. McKracken’s ‘British Intelligence Note’ (9 August 1893) says, [t]o Hindus it is the question of all questions and it will always be the war cry of the discontented. The primary danger is that the cow protection furnishes a common platform on which all Hindus of whatever sect, however much at variance on another questions, can and do unite.17 12

Behar Herald, 7 June 1924. Kumar, Communal Riots in India, p. 54. 14 Behar Herald, 11 December 1915. 15 Peter Robb, The Evolution of British Policy towards Indian Politics, 1880-1920: Essays on Colonial Attitudes, Imperial Strategies and Bihar, Delhi: Manohar, 1992, p. 131. 16 Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia in Bihar, p. 201. 17 Cited in Dharmpal and T. M. Mukundan, The British Origin of Cow Slaughter in India, Mussoorie: Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas, 2002, p. 112. 13

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Moreover, for the upwardly mobile Shudra castes like the Goalas (Ahirs), this movement was an opportunity to improve their ritual status to Kshatriya, and therefore, a vehicle for upward social mobility.18

Hindi–Urdu Conƀict The Hindi–Urdu conflict became a factor for community-based polarization in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In 1837, the Government of India replaced Persian as the court language with Urdu, also known as Hindustani. Written in the Persio-Arabic script, it was supposed to be a surrogate of Persian. Kayasthas, Khatris, and Kashmiri Brahmans were the major Hindu communities having strong ties with Urdu. However, the latter half of the nineteenth century saw the rise of Hindi–Nagri movements against Urdu. This movement away from Urdu was led by caste Hindus, which heightened ‘communal awareness in pre-independence India’. Christopher R. King (1994) says, [t]he Hindi movement had strong anti-Muslim overtones … [and the colonial state] aided the process of identification of language and religion … the Hindi press and a number of voluntary associations provided the necessary organization … during the 1860s, the first statements identifying Hindi with Hindus and Urdu with Muslims appeared, and the process of developing awareness of a common identity on the basis of language and religion began.19

King also points out that the contradictory and inconsistent British language policy intensified the underlying differentiation between the Hindus and the Muslims in north India by supporting an educational system that encouraged two different styles for the same linguistic continuum, Hindi and Urdu.20 In 1862, E. T. Dalton, Commissioner of Chhotanagpur, proposed the replacement of Urdu in Persian script with Hindi in Nagri or Kaithi scripts.21 In Bihar, Sir George Campbell,

18

Pandey, ‘Rallying Round the Cow’, pp. 74–75. King, One Language, Two Scripts, pp. 16–19. 20 Ibid., p. 54. 21 Aditya Prasad Jha, ‘Political History of Bihar’, in K. K. Datta (ed.), Comprehensive History of Bihar, vol. 3, part 1, Patna: KPJRI, 1976. 19

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the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal (1871–74) began a vigorous hate campaign against Urdu in late 1871. In his address at Muzaffarpur on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the Bihar Scientific Society’s Collegiate/Central College (7 November 1871), Campbell openly spoke against Urdu in intemperate language, demonstrating his acute hatred of Urdu. He [Lt. Governor, Mr. George Campbell 1871–74] found, to his astonishment, that ‘the bastard, hybrid language of which the old Persian writers were too fond’ (i.e., Urdu) still held sway not only in the courts and offices but also in the schools despite earlier efforts to root it out. Impressed by the claims of some education officers that the large majority of Hindus did not accept Urdu, he ordered Urdu ‘absolutely abolished’ in all schools. He followed this with a decree in 1873 making the use of the ‘Hindi character’ obligatory for certain purposes, and allowing district officers to use their discretion in introducing Hindi into court proceedings as much as possible.22

By 1880, after Ashley Eden ordered the ‘exclusive’ use of Nagri or Kaithi in much of Bihar’,23 the official policy was to promote both Nagri and Kaithi scripts, Accordingly, the teaching of Urdu was stopped in the lower classes of [Darbhanga] raj schools. In 1902, there was a move to stop the teaching of Persian also. The Raj authorities hesitated owing to the probable effect of such a measure on the Mohammedan and Kayastha students. For these students, the main attraction of Raj High Schools was free

22

King, One Language, Two Scripts, p. 72; also see de Tassey, Maqalat-eGarcin de Tassey, pp. 174–75. On 4 December 1871, again Campbell made highly contemptuous remarks against Urdu; for details, see de Tassey, Maqalate-Garcin de Tassey, pp. 175–82. It created a furore among British officials and in some newspapers as well. The Indian Daily News ridiculed the ‘silly’ views of Campbell; see also, J. S. Jha, ‘Some Rare and Unpublished Documents in the Darbhanga Raj Archives on “Linguistic Problems” in Modern India’ (Special Issue), Journal of Bihar Research Society ( JBRS), 1968, pp. 238–54. 23 The Calcutta Gazette, 16 June 1880, p. 503, cited in Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia, pp. 77–78; see also King, One Language, Two Scripts, pp. 67–68.

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tuition and teaching of Persian. About this time, there was pressure from the government for the levy of tuition fee. The headmaster, therefore, advised caution in the matter.24

Subsequently, the Darbhanga Raj actively and generously promoted Hindi. On 30 September 1872, the Government of Bengal instructed the Director Public Instruction (DPI) and the Commissioners of Patna and Bhagalpur, that no Hindu student was to be taught Urdu in any government school till he had acquired complete felicity in Hindi, and the teaching of Urdu was to remain confined to the Muslim maktabs.25 During 1868–1925, the publication books of grammar, language primers, etc., printed by the government in Nagri increased greatly.26 In 1912, the Nagri Pracharini Sabha of Arrah sent a memorial to the government of Bihar asking that the textbooks for lower primary classes be printed in the Nagri script.27 Besides Dalton and Campbell, officials like G. A. Grierson (the Collector of Patna) and the Inspector of Schools Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay (1827–94) who had come to Bihar in 1877 to join his services; voluntary associations like the Arrah Nagri Pracharni Sabha, Laheriasarai Hindi Sabha, Bhagalpur Hindi Sabha, the Kharagvilas Press; the Hindi newspaper Bihar Bandhu (1875); and the financial and other kinds of help extended to the cause by the Darbhanga Maharaj, the Raja of Gidhaur, the Banaili Raj, etc., were the forces behind the phenomenal success of the Nagri movement in Bihar. It is significant that a movement that had begun in the 1860s had achieved its objective by the 1880s, that is, after struggling for a mere two decades. This testifies to colonial prodding and encouragement resulting in the creation of linguistically polarized religious communities. Besides clubbing Muslim history with Urdu and launching a hostile anti-Urdu campaign, this movement contained anti-Muslim communal elements. Thus, ‘Hindi supporters and writers always remained courteous while approaching the [colonial] government, but exhorted readers extensively to write about Urdu [and Muslims] in derogatory terms’.28 24

Jha, ‘Some Rare and Unpublished Documents’, p. 248. Jha, ‘Political History of Bihar’, pp. 209–16. 26 King, One Language, Two Scripts, p. 41. 27 Ibid., p. 67. 28 Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia, pp. 54–91; also see, King, One Language, Two Scripts, pp. 72–75; for a detailed account of communal 25

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The Urdu press, and some Muslim elites of Patna, offered only feeble resistance or criticism against the colonially induced marginalization of Urdu. Shah Mohsin Ali of Munger submitted a petition calling this policy of restricting Hindu students to Hindi and Muslim students to Urdu as being unfair. The Qasid, an Urdu weekly of Patna (18 January 1877),29 and the Central National Mohammaden Association also sent a memorandum to the Viceroy in 1882, but the Viceroy declined to make any interference.30 One reason why the colonial administration in Bihar became anti-Urdu is revealed in the correspondence between C. Bernard (officiating Secretary to the Government of Bengal) and the Director Public Instruction (DPI), which says, The Lt. Governor desires me to take this opportunity to remark that while in Bengal, where Muslims preponderate, they have scarcely any share in educational appointments, in Bihar, where they are in a small minority, they have a very large share.31

This spells out the government’s policy towards the two vernacular languages. Given the employment prospects associated with language politics, it also explains colonial intent and its role in communalizing the language concerns of the two major religious communities.

Music before Mosques Another major irritant between the two communities was the playing of music in front of mosques. Processions by rival communities demonstrated the antagonism between them, resulting in violent clashes.

polarization between the Hindus and Muslims along the Hindi–Urdu dispute beyond Bihar, see Alok Rai, The Hindi Nationalism, New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2001; and Vasudha Dalmia, The Nationalization of Hindu Traditions: Bharatendu Harishchandra and Nineteenth-Century Banaras, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999. 29 Report on Native Newspapers, January 1877 (Bengal State Archive). Cf. Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia, p. 74. 30 Jha, ‘Political History of Bihar’, p. 216. 31 Education Department Proceedings, October 1872, File No. 13.

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This rivalry, however, was not always present. This is admitted by the colonial gazetteer, O’Malley, who writes that ‘previously Muslims and Hindus shared one another’s customs and religious ceremonies’. He says, ‘Hindus and Muslims did adopt some religious customs of their rival community. Muslims also observed the Hindu practice of launching paper boats on the Ganges after marriage or birth. In Patna, among Panch Pir, two are Hindu names’.32 On 10 July 1891, in Phulwarisharif (Patna), a riot took place when Muslims attempted to stop the Rath Yatra procession. In 1892, Patna, Chapra, and several other places remained troubled due to cow killings and the playing of music before mosques during Rath Yatra processions.33 Before 1895, incidents of communal riots were an infrequent occurrence. However, they increased after the partition of Bengal in 190534 and after the Shahabad riots in September 1917. Moreover, riots from the 1920s took more virulent forms and were marked by greater degree of violence since these were planned, organized, and well financed by the communal socio-religious organizations, landlords, and bureaucrats. The imperial administration, whose sole aim was to check the tide of the national movement, nurtured these vested interest groups. On the other hand, landlords used riots as a potent weapon to bring about disunity among the exploited peasantry. Factory owners also had their class interests, and showed no hesitation in using such communal organizations and religious movements to cause disunity amongst the exploited workers on religious grounds.35 For example, in village Sagi (Begusarai), a riot on the qurbani issue took place on 21 November 1912 in which one Macdonald, the owner of a Daulatpur factory close to Sagi, hired some goons to start a riot.36

32

O’Malley, District Gazetteers: Patna, p. 63. Political (Police) Proceedings (1891–95), p. 4. 34 Suranjan Das, Communal Riots in Bengal, 1905–47, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991. Das essentially explores Muslim majority districts of Bengal, whereas Joya Chatterji (in Bengal Divided) explores Hindu majority districts such as Burdwan, Howrah and 24 Parganas. 35 Kumar, Communal Riots in India, p. 55. 36 Behar Herald, 5 December 1912. 33

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Political Fallout of the Shahabad Riots (1917) The Shahabad riots (1917) were the most vicious of their kind,37 and subsequent developments provided grist to the mill of future separatist politics. During the years 1917–23, Hindu Muslim antagonism hardened, and became more and more manifest in political articulations.38 Nevertheless, ideas of national unity still held firm. The Hindu–Muslim divide did not result in permanent divisions, as was evident from the massive participation in the Rowlatt Satyagraha, and the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movements.39 While the riots of late nineteenth century were essentially spontaneous, the riots post1917 were more organized in terms of planning and timing. They often coincided with the Baqrid festivities which involved the slaughter of cows held sacred by the Hindus. The Shahabad riots (1917) were a manifestation of these planned riots. The Shahabad riots were meticulously planned, with even the dates and villages to be targeted specified beforehand.40 Every day, 15–20 villages were attacked by large marauding Hindu mobs. Within nine days of rioting, between 28 September and 7 October, as many as 129 villages were looted.41 Subsequently, the riots spread to other districts of Bihar. The riots began from a village Ibrahimpur near Piro on 28 September 1917: a crowd of 3000 Hindus attacked the village to stop cow slaughter on Bakrid. On 30 September, Hindus attacked the village Piro; on 1 October, around 10,000 Hindus attacked Bikramganj; on 2 October, seven villages were attacked, and on the following day, six more villages were attacked. Overall, 124 villages in Shahabad were attacked where properties worth Rs 7 lakh were looted, and 28 villages in Gaya were attacked where 37

Behar Herald, 13 October 1917. Ghosh, ‘Community Questions’; Peter Robb, ‘Officials and Non-officials as Leaders in Popular Agitations’, in B. N. Panday (ed.), Leadership in South Asia, New Delhi: Vikas, 1977, pp. 179–210, and his ‘The Challenge of Gau Mata: British Policy and Religious Changes in India 1880–1916’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, 1986, pp. 285–319. 39 Gyanendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 203. 40 Political Special File No. 112/1918, C. E. A. Wiliam Oldham (Commissioner, Patna Division) Report on the Baqrid Disturbances. 41 Pandey, ‘Rallying Round the Cow’. 38

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properties worth one lakh rupees were plundered/destroyed.42 Muslims throughout the province felt outraged; and being incensed over the riots, some joined akharas (gymnasiums) which sprang up to impart training for lathi practices (stick-drills), primarily for self-defense and also for taking revenge. Speeches made in the mosques expressed a sense of outrage and insisted on performing qurbani for fear that other Islamic religious practices would be banned. Such articulations injected a feeling of persecution complex among the Muslims working towards community-based solidarity. Joya Chatterji’s analysis can help understand the rising insistence on the notion of qurbani. The performance of korbani [qurbani] by a minority community reflected not only its prosperity but also indicated a new sense of confidence on its part [and] when performed for the first time …, was a symbol both of the [Muslim minority’s] rising status and of its greater political influence or assertion of identity (emphasis mine).43

Handbills, pamphlets detailing the atrocities during the riots were distributed throughout the province. A fund-raising drive was also launched to help the riot victims.44 On 14 October 1917, about 1000 Muslims assembled in Patna, demanding an enquiry into the riots. Significantly, no Home Rule supporter was included in the committee, because there was a feeling that some Home Rule leaders of Shahabad were involved in the riots. The findings of the committee reported the devastations of 150 villages, and noted the partisan role of Hindu chowkidars, the defiling of mosques and the Quran, the rape of women and their mass suicides by throwing themselves into wells.45 The report prepared by Mazharul Haq on behalf of both the Congress and the Muslim League, expediently concealed the accounts 42

Robb, ‘Officials and Non-officials’. In 1893, there was a planned communal riot in Basantpur (Saran), and in Koath (Sasaram) on the issue of cow slaughter (see Yang, ‘Sacred Symbol and Sacred Space’). 43 Chatterji, Bengal Divided, pp. 215, 219. 44 Political Special File No. 58/1918; see also, Mushirul Hasan, Nationalism and Communal Politics in India: 1885–1930, Delhi: Manohar, pp. 123–24. 45 Police Abstract of Intelligence, 8 December 1917.

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of outrages described in the public enquiry committee report.46 This report particularly outraged the Muslims. At this time, Gandhiji was busy in Champaran, and he considered Shahabad riots a local outbreak and not an indication of the disunity between the two communities. He insisted on preventing cow slaughter, but also advised the Hindus to pay the Muslims twice the value of their losses, with the help of Hindus from all over India if necessary. These riots did have echoes outside Bihar, and the pamphlets distributed by Muslims in Kanpur, Calcutta, Dhaka, etc., reveal that the impact of the riots was not localized. The Shahabad riots changed the texture of Bihar politics, and paved the way for the All India Muslim League (AIML) to implant itself in the province. At the 10th session of the All India Muslim League, it observed: ‘The laissez faire attitudes of the Hindu leaders are the most regrettable part of the whole affair. They have refrained from denouncing the rioters even in the name of humanity if nothing else.’47 The Bihar Provincial Muslim League (BPML), which often charted its own course (and had hitherto kept a progressively different attitude from the AIML in the province). But given the severity of the riots, the BPML felt compelled to join the AIML in criticizing the gross apathy regarding the atrocities, and the loss of life and property during the riots. For this very obvious reason, the joint meeting of the Bihar Provincial Congress Committee and the Bihar Provincial Association, chaired by Hasan Imam, chose not to make a mention of the riots. And due to this, the Lucknow Pact (1916) received no encouraging response on the ground after the Shahabad riots of 1917. The Muslim League leaders of Bihar came under heavy pressure to leave the Congress. On 29 October 1917, the BPML resolved that the joint reform scheme prepared by the League and the Congress at Lucknow did not sufficiently protect the interests of the Muslims, and in its stead contemplated forming a committee to draw up a scheme which would safeguard Muslim interests more adequately than provided under the Lucknow Pact.48 There was a widespread impression that certain leaders of the Home Rule League 46

Ahmad and Jha, Mazharul Haque, pp. 76–77. The Pioneer, Lucknow, 18 November 1917; Z. H. Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. I, New Delhi: S. Chand and Co., 1978, p. 53. 48 Ghosh ‘Community Questions’. 47

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had been involved in the riots, and by this taint of the Home Rule League, many Muslims were not very enthusiastic to join the Home Rule League. Rather, several towns and rural hinterlands witnessed the holding of anti-Home Rule meetings in which those Muslim leaders who were still aligned with the Home Rule League, came to be denounced as the traitors to the community. A meeting at Arrah, attended by 7,000 Muslims in October 1917, denounced the politics of Hasan Imam, Jinnah, and Sarfaraz Husain Khan for not protesting the woeful plight of the Shahabad Muslims. It was asserted that Home Rule would be injurious to the interests of Muslims, and may mark the end of religious liberty, and could even compel ‘migration to some other country’.49 In a speech on 30 September (two days after the riot started), Farzand Ahmad gave up the Gaya District Muslim League, along with 21 other members, declaring that ‘he opposed the Home Rule because there were two nations in the country. The successive Baqr ld riots convinced them further. It was even felt that, were it not for a third power, the Muslims would have been obliterated.’50

Cow Sacriſce/Slaughter A speech delivered by another Muslim leader in a remote part of Darbhanga, also expressed similar fears; a common refrain or running theme of their misgivings as articulated in their speeches was shrinking space for their religion: if the Hindus wanted them to give up cow sacrifice, Muslims could well have chosen some other animals for sacrifice. But what would happen if tomorrow they were asked to stop the azan, and gradually to give up other religious observances as well? The setback resulting from such questions was evident because some leaders began to inject, influence, and exploit the feelings that a third power was indispensable for some time to come.51 Such was the impact of the riots on the psyche of the Muslims that Maulana Abdul Hakim Saheb of Sadiqpur, a ‘Wahabi’ with a reputation of being anti-British, came to oppose the participation of Muslims in the 49

Political Department (Special Section) (PS) 203/1917. Political Department (Special Section) (PS) 203/1917. 51 Political Department (Special Section) (PS) 203/1917. The meetings were held in Bhadya thana of Gaya, and also in the town of Gaya. Also see, Ghosh, ‘Community Questions’. 50

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Rowlatt Satyagraha. Maulana Badruddin of Phulwari, who wielded considerable influence amongst Bihar Muslims, also followed suit, with instructions on similar lines.52 Yet, the cow protection movement kept growing. The Gaurakshini movement was revived in April–May 1919 in Shahabad, Darbhanga, Champaran, Purnea, Muzaffarpur, Saran, and Dhanbad districts. This period also saw the emergence of caste sabhas, like the Gope Sabha, which were the protagonists of cow protection as they lived by cattlerearing and selling milk. Bands of sadhus started circulating patias (snowball leaflets) and began preaching against the sale of cows to Muslims. This further caused the alienation of the Muslims. Earlier, Hindus took little notice of qurbani as long as it was done in privacy; but now they had an organized ‘system of spies’, and began to question every case of sacrifice.53 The revival of the Gaidar festival by the Hindus in the vicinity of mosques was another flashpoint of communal rioting. The festival centred on the baiting of pigs by cattle. Pigs are a defiling presence for Muslims, and to hold such baiting in Muslim neighbourhoods was regarded as being offensive in the extreme. There was also a noticeable withdrawal of the Hindus from participation in Muharram processions. In some places, counter processions were also resorted to.54 In order to tackle the problem, some people, including the Maharaja of Darbhanga, suggested that the government constitute Conciliation Committees. Initially, these attempts failed. In July 1920, some seven Muslims and five Hindus, which included Mazharul Haq also, convened a meeting. In this meeting, Abdul Aziz (1885–1948, who later joined the Muslims League in 1937), Syed Md Fakhruddin (1868–1933, a government pleader, who also served as education minister in 1921–33), and Moulvi Jalil, a vakil and the Vice Chairman of the Darbhanga municipality, complained that the Hindus were not so much opposed to cow slaughter as to the Muslim religious obligation to perform 52

Abstract of Intelligence Report, 12 April 1919; Political Department (Special Section) File No. 421/1919. 53 PS 421/1919 September (1); Hetukar Jha, ‘Lower Caste Peasants’; Pandey, Construction of Communalism. 54 PS 360/1919 September. DIG’s correspondence with the IG police, 29 September 1919.

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qurbani on Bakrid. Similar was the grievance of Khwaja Mohammad Ahad Noor (a Gaya vakil). In fact, their grievance was that, in this way, the Hindus were intending to disallow Muslims from fulfilling their religious obligations. Syed Mohd. Ahmad Naim, the Commisioner of Bhagalpur municipality, sought to harmonize Hindu–Muslim relations. Hence, the Bhagalpur Conciliation Board made it a rule to persuade Muslims not to sacrifice cows in places where it was not customary.55 However, these conciliation efforts seemed to have met with only limited success. In December 1919, the Muslim League gave a call to give up cow sacrifice on Baqrid. It naturally drew a reaction, and it was argued that the sacrifice of a cow could fulfill the religious obligation of seven persons while that of a goat could fulfill only that of one person. Moreover, economics was also involved in this because a goat would cost only Rs 8 while a cow Rs 10–12. The Muslims perceived this resolution of the League as unwarranted interference in a religious matter. Md Naim pointed out that the qurbani of a cow was insisted upon only by ignorant, low class Muslims who could be educated up to the level of the educated classes to give up cow sacrifice. Syed Fakhruddin and Moulvi Jalil were of the opinion that the League’s directive was hardly known to the people at large. The outcome of this July meeting convened by the provincial government was the decision that the Conciliation Committees of non-officials be given a try. Mazharul Haq had suggested employing moulvis and pundits to jointly tour along with the political activists. Such Committees started functioning in seven districts; but, in practice, they seldom managed without official assistance, and their use became rarer after 1922.56 Maulana Sajjad of Imarat-e-Shariah and Shah Sulaiman of Phulwarisharif also advised against cow slaughter. In March 1920, Mazharul Haq chaired the All India Cow Conference at Patna. Here, he emphasized the stopping of cow slaughter. Besides giving agrarian reasons, he gave two other suggestions: a) The Muslims should be persuaded peacefully to give up cow sacrifice 55 56

Ghosh, ‘Community Questions’. Ibid.

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b) Hindus and Muslims should jointly give a representation to the government demanding the abandonment of cow slaughter in military mess.57 Simultaneously, following the Muslim League’s resolution against cow slaughter (19 December, 1919), Congress leaders made efforts to effect unity in Shahabad which resulted in Muslims of Arrah demanding the release of the Hindus who had attacked them, and had been imprisoned.58 Thus, the 1920 Baqrid passed off peacefully. But, in 1921, a campaign end cow sacrifice by using threats, intimidation, and pamphlets spread from Gaya to the adjoining districts. Thus, Hasan Imam called on Gandhiji to visit them. The latter, along with Mohd. Ali, Azad Sobhani, Maulana Sajjad, and several other Bihar Congressmen, went to Shahabad, Gaya, Biharsharif and Patna, to defuse the tension. The thrust of their speeches was to conciliate and maintain unity. Rajendra Prasad recalled that, ‘during the year there was mutual trust and cordiality not seen before’.59

The Shudhi Movement By 1921–22, the provincial ulema took up the Khilafat/NonCooperation work very vigorously. This was not much to the liking of the supporters of colonial rule and administration. The most notable ulema among them were the Imarat-e-Sharia of Phulwarishareef (Patna). Its Naib Amir-e-Shariat, Maulana Sajjad, was a member of the provincial Khilafat Committee and was very close to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.60 But this unity, so laboriously achieved, received a heavy blow due to the resurgence of the Arya Samaj’s shudhi Movement in 1923. The shudhi campaigners had their focus on the Shahabad district. Shahabad had a sizeable number of Malkana Rajputs where, by 1923, the population of Muslims Rajputs had increased from 500

57

Searchlight, 8 April 1920. Searchlight, 29 January and 12 February 1920. 59 Prasad, Autobiography, p. 138. 60 Gail Minault, The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1982, pp. 153–54. 58

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(in 1911 census) to 1300. Seeing this, a rich Marwari expressed his desire before the police superintendent to launch the shudhi movement in the district.61 The Imarat-e-Shariah, therefore, issued a firman pointing out that the Muslims were being converted to Hinduism by the Arya Samaj. It claimed that the Rajput Muslims were Hindu in appearance and habits. Therefore, the Imarat-e-Shariah exhorted Muslims to give up non-Muslim dress and habits etc. The Jamiat-ul-Ulema needed Rs 10 lakh for organizing and campaigning to meet the Arya Samaj onslaught. Thus, in the month of Ramzan, Muslims were asked to make contributions to save Bihar, which, like Punjab, was threatened by the Arya Samaj’s invasions.62 Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940) started a vigorous campaign from April 1923 to counter the shudhi (re-conversion to Hinduism) of Malkana Rajputs. The vitiated atmosphere heightened the communal tensions in the districts of Gaya, Munger and Shahabad. In June 1923, Congress leaders wanted to tour the disturbed areas, but they did not do so. In August, Swami Sharadhanand visited Arrah, Patna, Bhagalpur, etc. whereas Maulana Sajjad issued a poster demanding funds to counter the shudhi onslaught. However, the Muslims were peeved at the Khilafat committee’s inaction over the issue.63 A meeting was convened by the Hindus in Patna against the Muslims who were opposed to the shudhi movement. Here, the protagonists of the shudhi campaign spoke about the outrages against the Hindus in the Malabar, Amritsar, and Multan where they had been converted to Islam. One Sukhlal of UP suggested that a society should be formed consisting of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains to prevent Hindu women from worshipping at the graves of pirs. The audiences were asked to warn Muslims that if the water of a dirty bandhna and the kalima are powerful enough to convert Hindus, the water of the Ganga and the Gayatri mantra were far more powerful to convert men of any religion to Hinduism.64

61

Ghosh ‘Community Questions’. PS 120/1923. 63 PS 208/1923 64 PS 120/1923. 62

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The war of rhetoric undoubtedly communalized both politics and social relationships. Community feeling was implanted in the majority community also. At the famous Sonepur fair in 1922, some prominent Congress members from north and south Bihar were elected to the Provincial Boards of the All India Hindu Mahasabha and the Akhil Bharat Gosewa Mandal. In a letter to Shafi Daudi in 1923, the secretary of the Bhagalpur district Khilafat committee expressed his grievances against the Congressmen who were involved in setting up a district branch of Hindu Sabha; conversely put, the Congress–Hindu Mahasabha overlap was becoming more and more visible.65

The Hindu Mahasabha The Hindu Mahasabha made much propaganda of the conversion of Hindus in Malabar, and atrocities against Hindus in the Multan riots. Some Congressmen also joined the Hindu Mahasabha in this campaign. Rajendra Prasad narrates his observation of the Multan riots. He says that weeping women made a deep impression on him and on the Hindus in general. These riots caused much excitement, and the necessity of a Hindu organization began to be felt. He proposed it to M. M. Malaviya who agreed to attend it, but on the condition that Rajendra Prasad should also be present. Rajendra Prasad agreed to do so because he saw nothing wrong with it; the venue in 1923 was Gaya; he said that a Hindu Sangathan was a prerequisite.66 Shri Krishna Sinha (1887–1961) also said that it was the Moplah riots (1921) which outraged the Hindus. While addressing the

65

PS 120/1923. No. 480. March 10, 1923. Cf. Ghosh ‘Community Questions’. 66 Prasad, At the Feet of Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 136–37; also see his Autobiography, p. 182. ‘Sangathan meant the acquisition of strength through the consolidation of communal resources; it became an articulated movement by building on the organizational base provided by the Hindu Sabhas, a loose network of local and regional voluntary societies which dated from the first decade of the [20th] century’; it purported to militarize the Hindu community, and started from the Punjab (G. R. Thursby, Hindu–Muslim Relations in British India: A Study of Controversy, Conflict and Communal Movements in Northern India, 1923–28, Leiden: Brill, 1975, pp. 158–59).

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15th session of the Bihar Provincial Conference in Purnea in 1924, he said that while the Non-Cooperation Movement was an antidote to Hindu–Muslim tensions, the Moplah uprising had reversed the situation. Hindus thought that the Congress was incapable of protecting their sacred places of religion and temples. They, therefore, took to organizing themselves with a view to protecting themselves. He further said that the Muslims had become suspicious of Swaraj, either because of their numerical weakness or due to some other reasons, such as growing communalization. Their fears were confirmed by the Shudhi and Sangathan movements in which several Congressmen were also included, and the two communities took different paths.67 Even Shri Krishna Sinha was associated with the Hindus Sabha for many years. In the 1920s — in fact till 1938 — the better known Hindu Congressmen of Bihar were also associated actively with the Hindu Mahasabha.68 In 1924, Shri Krishna Sinha said that the Congress was seen as incapable of protecting Hindu interests, and having also lost faith in Hindu–Muslim unity, they embarked upon organizing themselves. In 1925, at the Muzaffarpur session of the Bihar Hindu Mahasabha, Shri Krishna Sinha was worried about the conversion of Hindus to Christianity and Islam, and that this would be enough to create anger among the Hindus; he thus moved a resolution to preempt conversion.69 (Rai Bahadur) Dwarkanath (d. 1938) of Muzaffarpur, who, for some time, also edited a Muzaffarpur periodical Bihar Standard (owned by a zamindar of Muzaffarpur, Babu Bindeshari Prasad Singh; the periodical survived till 1917–18) was happy about the fact that thousands of Congress non-cooperators were joining the Mahasabha.70 In 1925, Rajendra Prasad and Braj Kishor Prasad were elected executive members of the Mahasabha; Jagat Narain Lal was the Secretary, and Rajandhari Singh was elected treasurer.71 In 1926, at the Chapra

67

Searchlight, 7 December 1924. Prasad, Autobiography, pp. 249–50; also see PS 120/1928, Confidential, Patna: 4 July 1928. 69 Searchlight, 5 April 1925. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid., 7 August 1925. 68

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conference of the Sabha, S. K. Sinha extended his support to the Sangathan, and asked the people to set up branches of the Sabha.72 In 1927, Rajendra Prasad, Braj Kishor Prasad, Anugraha Narayan Sinha, S. K. Sinha and others set up the Swami Shradhanand Memorial Fund Committee,73 which issued an appeal to the Hindus of Bihar to contribute for Shudhi and the Sangathan.74 Earlier, in 1924, the AIHMS had appointed Rajendra Prasad and J. N. Lal to a committee which had to oppose the Delhi Unity Conference resolution, and this opposition had to be demonstrated through musically accompanied processions.75 In 1926, the Bihar Hindu Mahasabha had passed a resolution prohibiting the Hindus against participating in the Muharram processions.76 The Madras Congress (1927) had endorsed the Calcutta Unity Conference, according to which Muslims could slaughter cows in private homes, and Hindus could play music in all thoroughfares. Toeing the line of the Mahasabha, S. K. Sinha had argued, in the Bihar Legislative Council in 1930, that this should not be acceptable for the Hindus; Rajendra Prasad had also written that it was not acceptable to the Congress Hindus, let alone Hindus in general.77 By 1931, there were 344 branches of the Hindu Mahasabha in Bihar.78 This shift in the ideological orientation of the provincial Congress was also reflected in the idioms and contents of its report written in early 1930s. ‘The language was characteristically head-in-the-sand’.79 It praised the brutality exercised by the Hindus in the riots of 1917, and this brutality was described as ‘vigorous continuance of the national movement’.80 Both at the ground level and at the level of the Congress leadership, a major shift in the political spectrum had taken 72

Ibid., 23 April 1926. Ibid., 19 January 1927. 74 Ibid., 6 February 1927. 75 Ibid., 9 October 1925. 76 Ibid., 9 and 18 July 1926. 77 Ghosh, ‘Articulating Community Rights’, pp. 81–82. 78 The Indian Nation, 25 September 1931. 79 Ghosh ‘Community Questions’. 80 A History of the Hindu-Muslim Problem in India: Being a Report of the Committee Appointed by the Indian National Congress to Enquire into Cawnpore Riots of March 1931, Allahabad, 1933, p. 166. 73

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place. Syed Mahmud was of the opinion that the Shudhi movement had finished the communal amity of 1920–22. He gave vent to this frustration in a letter to Shafi Daudi.81 After 1923, the Muslims started falling into the lap of ‘more and more intransigent leaders’, and the Congress developed a tendency to combine ‘communalism in Culture with nationalism in politics’.82 Thus the Congress neglected the plans of Hindu–Muslim unity. The Bihar Congress began to represent the dominant trend of the Hindu Sabha. Thus, expressing anger against the Muslims, Rajendra Prasad said, ‘[n]o Muslim, whatever his opinion in other matters may be, thinks or believes that it is wrong to convert non-Muslims to Islam yet Swami Shradhanand’s movement aroused such bitterness in them that they became his deadly enemies.83 He also indicted Gandhi saying, ‘Gandhiji had fanned the flames of religious bigotry and the Muslims became fanatical by supporting the Khilafat agitation. Even as the Khilafat movement grew weaker, the cleavage between the two communities grew deeper and the riots began to occur’. Sometime later, he also said that ‘the consciousness created among the Muslims spread to the realm of politics. They began to think in terms of political supremacy’.84 In fact, in the 1920s, it was increasingly becoming ‘difficult to disentangle religious community and political activism’ which hardened the communal divide getting articulated in politics. In his recent study on the vernacular (Hindi) intelligentsia of the Hindus in Bihar of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Hitendra Patel writes that the Hindi intelligentsia was, ‘moving towards the idea of an organized communal identity of “Hinduism” and a new soci[o-political] order centred around the ideals of new “Hindu” nation’.85 They created a ‘Hindu communal ideology’ because of which ‘there was consistent ideological and political mobilization of the Hindus against the Muslims’. Patel continues saying, for many Congressmen communalism was unavoidable … it was difficult to have a clear cut distinction between the exponents of composite 81

PS 120/1923. Patna, 14 April, Dr Mahmud to Shafi Daudi. Mahmud, Hindu Muslim Cultural Accord, pp. 47, 78–79. 83 Prasad, At the Feet of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 137. 84 Prasad, Autobiography, p. 141. 85 Patel, Communalism and Intelligentsia, p. 46. 82

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nationalism of the Indian National Congress variety and the communal ‘nationalism’ of the Hindu Mahasabha variety till the 1920s. Even after that, there existed … an association between Hindu communal organizations and the ‘Congress Hindus’ … it was not unusual for Hindu communal organizations to look upon the ‘Congress Hindus’ for support on issues which involved ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ interests … [and] a kind of communitarian association between both types of [Hindu] nationalists existed.86

The Growth of Communalism This polarization gave way to the Muslim League in Bihar where it started receiving wide support. The gulf between the two communities went on increasing. In April and May 1924, some minor clashes took place in Sasaram, Shahabad, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Santhal Pargana.87 ‘The Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha took to belligerent communal propaganda. This had the effect of undermining national unity and national consciousness’.88 As a result of these developments, the Muslim League got the opportunity to spread its influence in Bihar. So did the Hindu Mahasabha. There was a growing disenchantment against the Congress. It was felt that the Congress had almost increasingly become a Hindu organization.89 The period of 1923–27 witnessed the unprecedented growth of Hindu and Muslim communalism not only in Bihar but also in the whole of India. There were riots on a large scale in Kohat, Calcutta, Dhaka, Patna, Rawalpindi, and Delhi.90 There were at least 91 riots in UP. Communal bodies also began to proliferate rapidly. The crucial factor behind the growth of communalism in the 1920s lay in the very logic of participation in the post 1919 political structure. The

86

Ibid., pp. 223–25, 228–29. Datta, Freedom Movement in Bihar, vol. 3, pp. 496–97. 88 Desai, Social Background of Indian Nationalism, p. 328. 89 Administrative Report to the Government of Bihar and Orissa, 1924–25, p. 4. 90 Thursby, Hindu–Muslim Relations; Sandria Freitag, Collective Action and Community: Public Arenas and the Emergence of Communalism in North India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990; Das, Communal Riots in Bengal. 87

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Montford reforms had broadened the franchise, but preserved and even extended separate electorates, there was, therefore, built in temptation for politicians working within the system to use sectional slogans and gather a following by distributing favours to their own religious, regional or caste groups. Hereafter, communalism thrived more due to electoral factors rather than socio-economic and religious reasons. In any analysis, it was at the root and the bane of Indian politics. The second factor was the considerable spread of education in the 1920s without corresponding growth in employment opportunities.91

Thus, ‘the resentment and bitterness of school, office and shop ... were sharpened by the disappointment of rising expectations’.92 From this period onwards, frequent communal riots widened the gap between the two communities in urban centres. The question of cow slaughter gave way to the problem of playing music before mosques. In rural areas, communal riots were mostly organized and financed by the landlords. This was done by them for their vested class interests by diverting the resentment of the rural masses against zamindari oppression, taxation and money lending. The politically ambitious groups played the same role by making their political fortunes out of communal polarization. They took recourse to vicious propaganda against the Congress for taking up the cause of peasants everywhere.93 This polarization and cleavage found its expression in the elections of 1924 and beyond. More often, even the staunch nationalist Muslims of Bihar ended up losing the elections. These results affected very badly the body politic of Bihar. The Municipal and District Board elections in 1924 left behind a legacy of bad blood. Hadi Hussain contested for the Vice-President of the Gaya District Board against Sidheshwar Prasad Singh. Hadi Hussain lost the election. This annoyed Hasan Imam and Sir Sultan Ahmad (Hadi was Sultan’s brother). Even more disastrous things happened at Muzaffarpur. Shafi Daudi was a well-known Congress leader, a devout nationalist, and a valiant noncooperator. He was the builder of the Congress organization in north Bihar, and the founder of Muzaffarpur Congress. He was a candidate

91

Sarkar, Modern India, p. 234. Hardy, Muslims of British India, p. 204. 93 Kumar, Communal Riots, pp. 60–61. 92

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for the membership of the Muzaffarpur District Board, against Danby, a European planter. Daudi lost the election. Obviously, Congressmen had deceived him, and did not vote for him. Completely disillusioned, Daudi turned against the Congress, and subsequently retired from the politics. This resulted in the massive alienation of the Muslims from the nationalist mainstream.94 Communal and caste considerations gained an upper hand over preferred ideals. In his autobiography, Dr Rajendra Prasad wrote the following about the 1926 elections: ‘In Bihar, vigorous election campaigns were conducted by leaders of the different parties and regrettable communal/caste considerations influenced the election propaganda very much’.95 The ‘shocking’ electoral outcome of many constituencies redefined Bihar politics retrogressively. The most tragic result was the defeat of Mazharul Haq who had vigorously fought against communal feelings throughout his life. He was deserted by his own community for what they called his pro-Hindu attitude, while the Hindu voters disowned him due to his being Muslim.96 Extremely outraged by this, he retired from active politics for good. He retired at a time when he was needed most by the nation.97 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad persuaded him to become the president of Indian National Congress because of his being the most suitable person to bring about Hindu–Muslim unity. But he did not agree, remaining adamant about his withdrawal from active politics.98 These developments paved the way for the rapid growth of communal organizations and ideas. Now, both elite and popular communalism combined. Tabligh and tanzim spread from 1923 onwards.

94 Anugraha Narayan Sinha, Mere Sansmaran, Patna: Kusum Prakashan, 1961, pp. 85–89; Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 253. 95 Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, p. 185. 96 Ibid., p. 186. On this kind of ironical situation, the following Urdu couplet fits in very aptly: Zahid-e-tang nazar ne mujhe kafir samjha/Aur kafir yeh samajhta hai Musalman hoon main. 97 Administrative Report to the Government of Bihar and Orissa in 1926–27. 98 Ahmad and Jha, Mazharul Haque, pp. 83–84.

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The Kohat riots (1924), the murder of Munshi Ram (alias Swami Sharadhanand) in 1926 by a Muslim fanatic, and the revival of the Muslim League on the debris of the petered away Khilafat bodies, are too well known to be repeated here in detail.99

The Muslim League For the first time after 1918, the League met separately from the Congress at the Lahore session in 1924. This session was presided over by Jinnah. Here, he raised the demand for a federation with full provincial autonomy in order to preserve Muslim majority areas from the danger of ‘Hindu domination’. This demand was in addition to the separate electorates, a demand that persisted till 1940s while insisting on the demand for Pakistan.100 The Hindu Mahasabha (founded in 1915 by M. M. Malaviya) had become defunct for a while; but a major revival began from 1922–23. In August 1923, at its Benaras session, it incorporated the shudhi programme, called for armed squads, and advocated an alliance with Arya Samaj and Sanatan Dharma conservatives to form a common, enlarged Hindu communal front. Emphasis was laid on the Hindi–Hindu link. It is significant to note that as many as 87 per cent of the delegates were from UP, Delhi, Punjab, and Bihar.101 In 1925, at Nagpur, the RSS was set up by K. B. Hedgewar (1889–1940). Thus, in 1926–27 an atmosphere of ‘fear psychosis’ and acute nervousness prevailed in Bihar. Hindus and Muslims began collecting secret stores of lathis and other weapons. Patna, Gaya, Saran, Munger, Darbhanga, Sasaram, and Santhal Pargana were caught in the fire of communal riots. 99

Hasan, Nationalism and Communal Politics; Thursby, Hindu–Muslim Relations (Note: Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew (1884–1963), a Khilafat leader of the Punjab and an associate of Shaukat Ali, launched Tanzim movement in 1924, which was ‘scattered and did not generate any strong new institutions’; it ‘failed to survive after a brief spell of popularity. It gained no substantial support outside the Punjab because of the paucity of funds and the lack of organization’; it was Muslim response to Hindu Sangathan movement; see Hasan, Nationalism and Communal Politics). 100 Sarkar, Modern India, p. 235. 101 Ibid., p. 265.

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The communal riots that took place on 4 August 1927 in Bettiah were a consequence of the activities of the Arya Samajists. They disturbed the whole Tirhut division. Here, a new kind of provocation ensued, that is, the coinciding of the Muharram procession with the Mahabiri Dal procession. This type of provocation was quite absent in the previous years.102 In 1928–29, during Baqrid, major riots took place in Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur. At several places the police also connived with the rioters.103 This is testimony to the colonial government’s scheme of dividing the two communities to check the tide of the national movement. The colonial administrators saw their success when prominent Muslim leaders in Bihar drifted away from the Congress. Some of them became active in the Muslim League. This became the basis of the manifesto of their demand for separate electorates against the Delhi proposals for joint electorate in 1927. Muslim representatives of Bihar and Orissa met on 8 May 1927 in the Anjuman Islamia Hall, Patna, to deliberate upon the proposal. Though Ali Imam, Shafi Daudi (1875–1949), and Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948) supported the Delhi proposals, a large number of Muslim leaders opposed them.104 The Muslim Conference of Delhi, presided over by Jinnah, had unanimously decided about joint electorates because the Muslim Conference of Delhi, which comprised many Muslim leaders across parties, said that separate electorates were one of the causes of the bitterness between Hindus and Muslims.105 One could ask why the issue of separate electorates dominated Muslim politics in spite of the idea being opposed by many prominent Muslim leaders, including Jinnah. The answer to this question is best expressed by Shashi Shekhar Jha: This was prompted due to the riots that took place in Bihar following the Hindu Mahasabha conference at Patna in 1927, and the belligerent 102 Administrative Report to the Governments of Bihar and Orissa 1926–27 and that of 1927–28. Also see Political Special File No. 216/1927, p. 9, Bihar State Archives, Patna. 103 Political Special File No. 115/1928. Special Report of Crime, Schedule XLVII, Form No. 23. 104 Jha, The Political Elite, p. 118. 105 The Indian Quarterly Register, 1926, vol. 1, p. 16.

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attitude of the Hindu communalists in the majority. This was the reason why the separate electorate resolution was passed in spite of the opposition of many leaders of the Muslim community.106

It is worthwhile to reproduce the text of the resolution passed at Patna’s Anjuman Islamia Hall on 8 May 1927, where separatism was expressed with least ambiguity. In view of the fact that some leaders of the sister community are taking advantage of the proposals made at the Delhi Muslim Conference, and there is danger that Muslims could be deprived of their rights of separate representation without their rightful demands being accepted, and in view of the fact that separate representation of minorities was necessary so long as communalism reigned supreme in the country, and also in view of the fact that, in spite of all sorts of friendly gestures on the part of Musalmans, the sister community has developed a marked tendency towards communalism which is evident from its hostile attitude towards all political and religious rights of Musalmans, and has recently been given public expression on the platform of the All India Hindu Mahasabha at Patna, this conference of Musalmans of Bihar and Orissa is of the opinion that the proposals for replacing separate electorates by mixed electorate are premature, and as such harmful to the interests of Musalmans and, therefore, this conference deprecates any attempts to take away the rights of separate representation from Musalmans and declares that, in the circumstances mentioned above, the Musalmans are not at all prepared to give up the rights of separate representation for any price. This conference ... hopes that Hindus, as proof of their change of heart, will support the demands of the Musalmans and, thus, pave the way for settlement of political differences.107

The language of the resolution suggests that the demand for separate electorates was not an obsession; rather, it was fuelled by the growing strength of the Hindu Mahasabha; otherwise, as we have seen, the nationalistic trend was quite stronger in Bihar.108 106

Jha, The Political Elite, p. 118. The Indian Quarterly Register, vol. 1, 1927, pp. 39–40. 108 At the Bankipore Congress session (1912), Mazharul Haq and M. A. Jinnah had urged upon the Congress leadership not to pass any resolution moved by Tej Bahadur Sapru (1875–1949) that the separate electorate for Muslims should not have the advantage of both the general seats as well as 107

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The Bihar Provincial Muslim League In its ideology, the BPML was somewhat different from the AIML. The BPML was closer to the Congress, with its leadership being nationalist to the core. And it remained so till the late 1920s. [The] political history of Bihar shows that the Provincial Muslim League could not project any top rank leader at the level of the All India Muslim League whereas the Provincial Congress Committee, since its beginning, was able to have in its ranks Muslim leaders of all India political stature … [These included] Dr. Syed Mahmud, Prof. Abdul Bari, Shah Md Zubair, S. Zahurul Hasan Hashmi, Shah Md Umair, Moulvi Ismail, Dr. Zainuddin Nadvi, Kazi Ahmed Husain and others who formed the core of Nationalist Muslims in Bihar during late 1920s, and early 1930s. Many of them had attended All India Muslim Nationalists Conference at Lucknow in 1931 and supported the resolution in favour of a joint electorate. They also formed a Muslim Mass Contact Subcommittee for the enrolment of large number of Muslims as Congress members.109

The efforts of these nationalist Muslim leaders to bring in Muslim masses into the Congress were successful. Broadly speaking, till 1937–38, the Muslim League was not popular in Bihar and the political activities of Muslims centred on the Congress.110 Leaders such as Mazharul Haq, Syed Hasan Imam, Syed Ali Imam played a significant role in moulding the aims and objects of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League to be identical with those of the Congress.111 G. McDonald also argued that, from 1927 onwards, it was becoming clear that in the foreseeable future, the Congress would become a Hindu organization in Bihar. This was also indicated by the extension of the national

a separate electorate. The resolution was not forced since these two leaders insisted that they were attempting to get the problem resolved. They felt that if this resolution was to be passed at that stage, their efforts would be nullified. However, nothing came of their efforts. 109 Jha, The Political Elite, pp. 120–21; Datta, Freedom Movement in Bihar, vol. 2, p. 163. 110 Imam, Role of Muslims, p. 31. 111 Imam, Role of Muslims, pp. 33–34.

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movement in the rural areas, and the organizational re-structuring of the Congress in the 1920s in which the urban leadership of the Kayathas and Muslims (the main protagonists of the movement for the separate province of Bihar) was being substituted by the Rajputs and Bhumihars.112 This phenomenon came to be perceived by the Muslims as their marginalization from the structures and processes of power. The ascendancy of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League after the formation of the Congress ministries in 1937 may also be seen in this context; and the Congress’ rejection of the coalition with the MIP being another cause.113 The anti-Congress attitude and anti-Hindu feeling fanned by the Muslim League evoked a ready response from the Muslim community in Bihar, who were already scared of the belligerent attitude of the Hindu communalists. On 22 September 1937, the Muslim League held a meeting and passed a resolution against the recitation of Bande Matram as a national song, and asked the Congress ministry to stop its singing at public meetings/schools/colleges.114 Jinnah and other top ranking Muslim League leaders, especially those from Bengal, paid frequent visits to Bihar, and made efforts to see the merger of other Muslim groups of the province in the Muslim League. Numerous meetings were held, and several new local branches of the League were opened. In January 1938, Jinnah addressed a large gathering of Muslims at Gaya. The League’s membership began to increase. It extended its activities by forming All India Muslims Students Federation, training volunteers and holding parades even in remote villages of Bihar.115 As an example of how one communalism feeds another, the activities and developments of the League were in response to the rapid rise of the Hindu Mahasabha, the changing scenario of national politics after

112 G. McDonald, ‘Bihar Polity 1908–37: The Bihar Congress and the Political Development of the Region’, unpublished Ph. D. thesis, University of Western Australia, 1978, pp. 235–36, 277. 113 Mukul Kesavan, ‘Congress and the Muslims of UP and Bihar 1937–39’, Occasional Papers Second Series, No. 27, June, 1990, pp. 1, 3, 6–7; more on this in the next chapter. 114 Datta, Freedom Movement in Bihar, vol. 2, p. 232. 115 Ibid., pp. 332–36.

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the Round Table Conference, and the Act of 1935. By the mid-1920s, together with qurbani and the playing of music before mosques, the abduction of women came to be regarded as one of the factors polarizing the politics of Bihar. In 1926, when Mazharul Haq convened a conference at Chapra to salvage the Hindu–Muslim unity plank of the Congress, the question of women abduction was hotly discussed.116 The origin of the Hindu Mahasabha’s Shudhi movement under B. S. Moonje was seen as being responsible for the fate of Hindus in Malabar, especially the reports of wells filled with the bodies of Hindu women who had jumped in to save their honour, as well as to prevent their rape under ‘the very eyes of the menfolk’.117

The Shudhi Campaign Jagat Narain Lal began pitching the Shudhi campaign in Bihar. He was the general secretary of both the Bihar Hindu Sabha and the All India Hindu Mahasabha in 1926. Mahavir, the Hindi weekly founded and edited by him, frequently carried communally strident articles.118 He was the Assistant Secretary of the Bihar Congress 1922–28; and Secretary, Patna District Congress in 1930, and also of the Sewa Samiti; in the same year he also founded the ‘Hindusthan Sewa Sangh’; in 1934 he left the Congress; in 1937, he had joined M. M. Malaviya’s Independent Party even though the Congress had nominated him for the Bihar Legislative Council; he was brought back to re-join it in 1937 as Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Minister, Anugraha Narayan Sinha. Jagat Narain Lal admits in his memoir, that the Mahavir had ‘to advocate the Hindu cause’. The Mahavir was started as weekly in 1926; in 1932 it became daily. It was closed down during the 1932 movement as the government demanded a security deposit.119 By his own admission, Jagat Narain Lal was the major fund-raiser of the

116

Searchlight, 13 June 1926; Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 118 PS 15/1927, Annual Report on Indian Newspapers and Periodicals in Bihar and Orissa, p. 36. 119 Jagat Narain Lal, Light unto a Cell, Bombay: Hind Kitabs Ltd., 1947, p. 53; Jagat Narain Lal also became minister in Shri Krishna Sinha’s cabinet in 1957. 117

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Hindu Sabha. He made extensive tours of Bihar along with Moonje for the purpose; and, at the Darbhanga session of the Bihar Hindu Sabha, he won it many members from the Maithil Brahmans because they were ‘overawed’ by his impressive oratory and erudition. Moreover, the Banaili Raj’s financial and other kinds of support could be enlisted because of his dauntless efforts. Initially, his anger was directed against the ‘Christian peril’,120 but it later shifted against Muslims.

Hindu–Muslim Polarization Stereotypes were deployed to justify the Shudhi campaigns of Hindu Mahasabha and the Arya Samaj. The vernacular press, like the Darbhanga Gazette, Mithila Mihir, Dharambir, Kayastha Patrika all began to pour out venom against the Muslims.121 The central theme of the Hindu Mahasabha propaganda was against the Congress. The Hindu Mahasabha believed that Hinduism should be the agenda of nation making. They were against the assumption that swaraj was unattainable without Hindu–Muslim unity. They contended that if the Hindus unite, they would be strong enough to attain it alone.122 Similarly, the Urdu papers in Bihar, like the Imarat and Al Mobashir, voiced complaints against the specific targeting of Muslim women, as well as the Shudhi and Sangathan campaigns. They interpreted it as an attack on Islam. The argument was stretched to the extent that all these coercions were meant to force the community out of the country.123 This polarization sharpened after 1937–38. The British administration played on the widening divide between the two communities. Their stance shifted from being a ‘balanced’ one to ‘uncontrolled’ communalism. They began to encourage total communal division, and openly supported the Muslim League, particularly in its anti Congress role, and tolerated its efforts to acquire a mass base and following. From now onwards, communalism gained rapid grounds and communal riots 120

Lal, Light unto a Cell. For more, see Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 122 Raghunandan Prasad of the Munger Hindu Mahasabha and many others talked in such language. For more, see ibid. 123 PS 30/1926. Annual Report (the Imarat) PS 15/1927, Annual Report (Al Mobashir). Cf. Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 121

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became a recurrent feature. The visits of Jinnah in Bihar raised communal tension in the province. When Jinnah arrived at Gaya in 1939, an armed procession was taken out. The communal riot of 7 May 1939 in Gaya may be seen as a consequence of Jinnah’s visit. In Aurangabad also, a riot had occurred in 1937. Such visits of Jinnah galvanized local leaders of the Muslim League who engaged themselves in intense campaigns which often tended to promote communal hatred against the other community. Towards the end of 1938, at the session of the Provincial Muslim League in Patna, we find the first expressions of the argument that the two communities were separate entities in the speeches that were delivered. The Congress ministry of the province was dubbed the ‘Hindu Raj meant to endanger Islam’. Naturally, the atmosphere got vitiated further and greatly excited the Muslim population of Bihar, which had, thus far, not taken any extreme stand and view, in spite of the deteriorating communal situation.124 After the Shahabad riots of 1917, the League’s stereotyping of the nationalist Muslims as Congress–Muslims, and the electoral politics of the 1920s, became the ‘mobilizational bottom line of the (Muslim) League’.125 Nevertheless, efforts were still made to prevent the decline in support for the Congress among the Muslims. Through his tours in the countryside, Shafi Daudi tried to arrest any further alienation of the Muslims from the Congress. Consequently, in the elections for the Central Legislative Council, six out of 14 Swarajist Muslims, who stood for 18 seats, were elected.126 However, in the District Board elections held in the same year, Daudi lost the election to a European planter named Danby. This was seen as the betrayal by Hindu leaders of the Congress, and left behind a ‘legacy of bad blood between the two communities’.127 Two years later, in 1928, the Nehru Report caused a split in the Provincial Congress Muslim leadership, with Syed Mahmud for and Shafi Daudi against it. Similarly, Shah Mohammad Zubair was for it, and his younger brother Shah Mohammad Umair was against it. Ever since the Delhi session (1923) of the Congress, Hindu–Muslim unity was a central concern, and efforts were on to develop workable 124

Kumar, Communal Riots, p. 66; RPCSD, vol. 3, p. 334. Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 126 AICC Papers No. 21/1926. Shafi Daudi’s letter to Nehru. cf. Page, Prelude to Partition, p. 138. 127 Chaubey, Muslims and Freedom Movement, p. 182. 125

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understanding between the two communities on the issues of powersharing in the legislature. Muslim demands included the creation of Sind province out of Bombay; that NWFP and Baluchistan be given all legislative and judicial institutions which other provinces had; and, one third of the seats in the Central Legislative Assembly had to be reserved for the Muslims, in exchange for which they were ready to give up the idea of separate electorates besides offering similar and adequate concessions to the Hindus in the Punjab and the Bengal. The CWC and the AICC (Bombay, 15 May 1927) appreciated this, the Madras session (1927) of the Congress endorsed it, with Govind Ballabh Pant (1887–1961) describing it as ‘the best and most suitable arrangement’. All this was also endorsed by the former presidents of the Hindu Mahasabha, M. R. Jayakar (1873–1959) and M. M. Malaviya, and the Muslim League also accepted this in its Calcutta session (1927) in which Ali Imam played a significant role. Accordingly, the All Parties Conference in Delhi (12 February 1928) moved ahead to draft a Swaraj constitution. But the Hindu Mahasabha became intransigent on the issue of reservations for Muslims, which wrecked the ship of the national movement. Otherwise, Shafi Daudi and S. M. Zubair had suggested to M. A. Ansari to let the provinces settle their matters at the provincial level as was already happening in Bihar ‘where the Hindus and Muslims had been having a sort of Round Table Conference’ to work out a compromise. However, things began falling apart with Lajpat Rai’s presidential speech at the Etawah session (27 October 1928) of the Mahasabha that strongly opposed any Muslim demands. This opposition was reiterated by the Mahasabha in its Surat session (April 1929). Motilal Nehru (1861–1931) also did not do much ‘to mollify the dissatisfaction of the Muslims’. Thus, [for] the failure of the Congress leadership to satisfy Muslim aspirations regarding the sharing of power, the main reason was that the lessons of the 1926 elections, when the Swaraj Party had met with a serious challenge from candidates like Madan Mohan Malaviya and Lajpat Rai who were sympathetic to the Mahasabha, were still fresh in his memory.128

128 Kaura, Muslims and Indian Nationalism , p. 165 (see his Chapter Two for details).

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Consequently, the Bihar wing of the All Parties Muslim Conference charged the Motilal Nehru Report to be favouring the Hindu Mahasabha. The Muslim Conference (formed mainly by Shafi Daudi in 1928) supported separate electorates and a federal system.129 Though the impact of the Muslim Conference was very limited and short-lived, yet it succeeded in alienating Muslims. For example, in 1931, Daudi was alienated to such an extent that he denounced the Lucknow Conference of Nationalist Muslims as having been convened solely to enlist Muslim support for the Nehru Report.130 Here, the Muslim Nationalist Party, the Momin Conference, Ahrars, and the Khudai Khidmatgars were united, but they failed to make much headway in winning over the Muslims. The Congress, on its part, could attempt merely a hesitant mobilization among the Muslims of Bihar. Thus, during the Civil Disobedience Movement, there was a ‘low participation’ of Muslims’.131 The 1930s proved to be unfortunate for the Muslims of Bihar. By 1929, the greatest stalwart of nationalist Muslims, Mazharul Haq, had retired from politics in utter frustration, and his death in 1930 left a vacuum in the province. By this time, the other nationalist, Shafi Daudi, had also left the Congress after having been betrayed by the Hindu Congressmen in the 1926 elections of the District Board. He had 129

Ibid. Page, in Prelude to Partition, has devoted a chapter on the emergence and fall of the Muslim Conference. 130 Papiya Ghosh, ‘The Making of the Congress–Muslim Stereotype: Bihar 1937–39’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR), vol. 28, no. 4, 1991, pp. 417–34. 131 Francine Frankel, however, refuses to see the low participation of Muslims in the Civil Disobedience Movement in religious terms, and says that during 1930–32 movements, the poor peasants cutting across religious lines abstained due to price slump in 1930s, they were not as much hard hit as they were hit during movements of 1920–23 when the prices of the commodities had gone up. The author further argues that by 1930, the poor peasants, sharecroppers and labourers had come to realize that the Congress, especially in Bihar, did not care for their sufferings. See Francine Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance in Bihar: Breakdown of the Brahmanical Social Order’, in Francine Frankel and M. S. A. Rao (eds), Dominance and State Power in India: Decline of a Social Order, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 46–132. 126

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resigned from the Swaraj Party in the Legislative Assembly as a protest against its anti-Muslim policy.132 Shah Md Zubair (1884–1930), an ardent Congressman, also died in 1930. They were the architects of the Bihar Congress. The absence of such respectable persons (and popular leaders) had its effect on the Muslim response. The vacuum had occurred at a time when they were needed most to bridge the widening gulf between the two communities, and take constructive stands in the developing scenario.

The Muslim Independent Party (MIP) While there had been an unmistakable shift away from the Congress, in spite of this, the Muslim League was still so weak in Bihar that it did not contest the 1937 election. In 1936, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema launched the Muslim Independent Party (MIP) with Maulana Sajjad (of Imarat-e-Sariah) as president. Its ideology was along nationalistic lines, very similar to that of the Congress. It supported the Congress’ goal of independence but aimed at securing the constitutional safeguards for the religion and culture of the Muslims. In 1937, of the 40 Muslim seats in the assembly of Bihar, the MIP won 15 — six went to the MUP, and three to the Ahrar. The Congress won five of the seven seats it had contested. Why did the Congress contest only seven Muslim seats? This question in itself reveals the Congress’ weakness in reaching out to the Muslims, a fact which was also seen in UP and Bombay. The Congress did not win even a single Muslim seat on its own ticket … and at that time, it would not have been difficult for it to find men amongst the Muslim League who were prepared to work whole-heartedly with the Congress. Khaliquzzaman broached the question of a coalition ministry in UP on his own initiative, and in Bombay it was Jinnah who did the spade work. But the Congress was not prepared to accept the idea except on its own terms, and these included the dissolution of the Muslim League.133

132

Shafi Daudi to Motilal Nehru, Motilal Nehru Papers, 29 August 1929. Cf. Kaura, Muslims and Indian Nationalism, pp. 49–50. 133 Kaura, Muslims and Indian Nationalism, p. 169.

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The MIP in Bihar had ideological resemblance with the Congress. And yet it ruled out both pre and post-poll alliance with it. This raises intriguing questions about Congress politics in 1937. After the brief tenure of MIP’s Yunus-led ministry (April–July 1937), the Congress formed the ministry in Bihar. During its short tenure, its Muslim leaders — Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Syed Mahmud, Abdul Bari, the ulema, and the Momins — were all closely monitored, and described by the Muslim League as being the supporters of the Hindu Raj of the Congress, and as having failed in giving priority to the mazhab. The Congress Ministry of Bihar played up the dismissal of (Sir) Sultan Ahmad (1880–1963) from the post of Advocate General, and placed Baldev Sahay (1892–1959). Of all the provinces, Sultan was the only Muslim Advocate General. More than three dozen meetings were held all over Bihar. The district branches of the Muslim League cited this dismissal as a blatant case of discrimination against Muslims.134 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was especially targeted, and declared a tool in the hands of the Congress. The different district branches of the League continually discredited the Congress in an attempt to expand the League’s base. Thus, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s challenge to Fazlul Haq to prove that Muslims were being oppressed in the Congress-ruled provinces was seen as proof of the Congress Muslims having become too accustomed to seeing things from the Congress/Hindu point of view. The League criticized the Parliamentary Secretary, Jagat Narain Lal (also the General Secretary of the All India Hindu Mahasabha), who was seen as responsible for pitching the shudhi campaign in Bihar. It also criticized S. K. Sinha who was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and yet was made Premier (and not Syed Mahmud). This issue played a prominent role in the Muslim League’s propaganda against the Congress, and contributed to the alienation of the Muslims. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad also expressed his misgivings regarding this, and indicted Rajendra Prasad, the tallest Congressman from Bihar. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad says: Dr. Syed Mahmud was the top leader of the province when the elections were held. He was also a Secretary General of the All India Congress Committee and, as such, he had a position both inside and outside the

134

Star of India, 30 November 1937.

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province. When the Congress secured an absolute majority, it was taken for granted that Dr. Syed Mahmud would be elected the leader, and become the first chief minister of Bihar under Provincial Autonomy. Instead, Sri Krishna and Anugraha Narayan Sinha, who were members of the central Assembly, were called back [by Rajendra Prasad] to Bihar and groomed for the Chief ministership … Stories of atrocities circulated by the Muslim League were pure invention; but two things happened at the time, which left a bad impression about the attitude of the Provincial Congress Committees. I have to admit with regret that, both in Bihar and Bombay, the Congress did not come out fully successful in its test of nationalism.135

This discrimination affected even Syed Mahmud’s credibility among the Muslims. His attending a debating society function at Patna College despite the resignation of Muslim students in protest of their non representation on its executive committee was read as an index of his indifference to the oppression of Muslims in Gaya and Patna districts.136

The Muslim students therefore boycotted the function as corroborated in Daastan Meri. Md Ashique Warsi, the President of the Gaya Muslim League condemned Syed Mahmud for this ‘apathy’ and Warsi listed the incidents of Muslim suffering, for example, loot of houses in Nawada and Arrah, riots in Deo, Madanpur, Gaya, Bhui, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, and Aurangabad.137 Many Muslims barraged Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Syed Mahmud with letters of derision. Even the Muslims within the Congress were feeling discriminated and under-represented. Some Muslims of the Shahabad Congress wrote a letter to Rajendra Prasad,

135

Azad, India Wins Freedom, pp. 16–17. Star of India, 31 August 1937, cited in Ghosh, ‘The Making of the Congress–Muslim Stereotype’; also corroborated by Iqbal Husain’s Urdu memoir Daastaan Meri (1989). Iqbal Husain (1905–91), an alumnus of the Patna College, was also principal of the College. For more on Iqbal Husain, see my Contesting Colonialism and Separatism. 137 See Star of India, 28 August 1937. 136

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demanding that some seats be fixed for them in Congress organizations and that they should not be ignored in government services. Star of India, the League’s mouthpiece, reacted very sharply against Muslims approaching a Congress leader for redress of their grievances rather than to the Muslim League. It wrote: ‘These Congressite Muslims by praying and sending petitions to Congress are only humiliating the great Muslim community and disgracing the self-respect of the followers of Islam’.138 Such grievances were not totally groundless. They were also based on other political experiences of the Muslim leaders who had fallen away from the Congress, and had gone over to the League. Shah Md Qasim, a very old Congressman of the Gaya district Congress Committee, and Dr S. Qamruddin, a Congressman of Gaya, who was Congress dictator of Bihar in 1920, complained that the Congress had become another name for the Hindu Mahasabha. He said that ‘to catalogue the Congress’ act of communalism, a book or at least a booklet was required, and that the Congress was ready to give Muslims anything but power, or could offer position without power’.139 And soon after, Shah Umair became the Chariman of the Gaya municipality in 1937, but his powers were reduced. This caused great resentment. As many as 16 Congressmen sent a letter of complaint140 to the Congress President, Subhash Bose, that the Congress did not need Muslims. Consequently, the Gaya district Congress lost many Muslims to the League, including Syed Ali Manzar, Shah Manzoor Asdaq, Md Fazlur Rahman, and Ahsan Akhlaq, the President, Gaya district Congress.

The Congress Muslim Mass Contact Committee In Bhagalpur, when a riot broke out in July 1938 over a Rath Yatra procession, Abdul Hamid Rusumi, Secretary, Bihar Congress Muslim Mass Contact Committee, alleged that many of the district Congress leaders who were also office bearers of the Hindu Mahasabha, were actively involved in it. The enquiry committee that was set up by the

138

Ghosh, ‘The Making of Congress–Muslim Stereotype’. See Star of India, 23 September 1938. 140 The dismissal of Sultan and stripping of the powers of Umair were the grievances underlined in the letter, see Star of India, 19 September 1938. 139

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Bhagalpur Congress confirmed this.141 This was also confirmed by the three Muslim League reports: the Pirpur Report, the Shareef Report and Fazlul Haq’s account. The pro-Muslim League paper, Star of India, got readymade masala to alienate the Muslims from the Congress. In Darbhanga, Dalsinghsarai and Ranchi, the League’s ranks swelled at the cost of Congress. The Muslim Mass Contact Committee was nicknamed the ‘Muslim Massacre Committee’. The Congress was also indicted for having ignored the issue of certain grievances of the Muslims, such as the one in Bagaha (Champaran) where the Muslims had suffered a social boycott of 45 days over a controversial Mahabiri Jhanda procession, and the issue remained unaddressed by the Congress. Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948), the President of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League, found the Muslim leaders of the Congress wanting. Outside Bihar also, such instances of anti-Muslim attitudes of the Congress ministries were to be found. To Wylie, the Governor (of the Central Provinces), ‘the ministers appeared eager to exculpate Hindu offenders from criminal cases and implicate the Muslim suspects in them. Shukla would rather remain inactive during communal riots than give up, under the governor’s pressure, his tendency to blame the Muslims alone for them; he would let riot cases in the court linger when unable to prosecute only the Muslims as guilty’. Wylie had strong grounds to doubt if the Shukla ministry was sincere in solving the communal problem for the Premier and his colleagues harboured a strong anti-Muslim bias…Shukla [was] prone to discriminate against Muslim officers deserving promotion in service and to punish apparently erring Muslim police officers before officials established either their deliberate lukewarmness in dealing with riots or their complicity in the aggravation of the troubles … so much so that Shukla had no Muslim in his cabinet, despite the Governor’s pleading on behalf of Muslims.142

141

AICC Papers No. G-22/1938. Majumdar, Saffron versus Green, Delhi: Manohar, 2003, pp. 158, 163, 193; also see its review by me, Indian Journal of Politics, vol. 39, nos 1–2, January–June 2005, pp. 199–202; Majumdar cites LP reel no. 2196, Wylie to Linlithgow, 23 March, 18 April, 23 June, 6 July 1939. 142

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The Muslim League employed all the tricks in the trade to give a mass character to its campaign.143 It now aimed at broad-basing its reach in rural Bihar.144 Jinnah’s Bihar visit in October 1937 galvanized the Muslim League. He announced an 18 member committee to organize district, subdivision, and village level branches of the League.145 Within a few months, it had added 70,000 more members.146 It used mosques and the press most vigorously and frequently.147 The annual session of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League passed a resolution that the president and the secretary of the League would have to spend two weeks every month vigorously touring in their areas, or else they will have to resign.148 When the Congress launched its Rural Development Department, the publicity officer of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League called it a bribing exercise to few Congress Muslims. The Jamiat-ul-Momineen was divided, and Latifur Rahman, a Gaya district zamindar owning several thousand acres of land,149 split away (from the pro-Congress Abdul Qaiyum Ansari’s faction) to merge with the Muslim League. The growing (ostensible) agrarian radicalism of the Congress (particularly of the Congress Socialist Party) in Bihar was also a cause of discomfiture for the Muslim landed elites, as it was also for the Hindu zamindars, who were greatly dismayed by the Congress’ Kisan Enquiry Committee (1936) regardless of the fact that the Congress’ sincerity about the ryots was deeply suspect, and it had its own impact after 1937. At the end of 1937 the Lalganj (Muzaffarpur, now Vaishali) thana’s Zamindar Sabha passed a resolution accusing the Kisan Sabha of inciting violence; the Zamindar Sabha warned the Congress which responded to it by directing the District Congress Committees to be 143

See my, ‘The All India Muslim League’s Techniques of Mass Mobilization 1940–47’, Indian Journal of Politics, vol. 35, nos 1–2, January–July 2001, pp. 7–22. 144 Star of India, 5 October 1937. 145 Ibid., 30 October 1937. 146 Ibid., 25 October 1937. 147 Linlithgow Papers, Roll 46, secret 490 GB, 7 April 1939; Star of India, 25 June 1937. 148 Searchlight, 3 March 1939. 149 Latifur Rahman Ansari was a zamindar of 52,000 acres of land in the Gaya district villages of Nagmatia, Nawabandh, Bania, Badam, etc.; he had

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on the alert and report Kisan Sabha activities; they were directed to remain aloof from the Kisan Sabha, and such decrees created a permanent wedge between the Congress and the Kisan Sabha. During the last decade of the colonialism, ‘while the British lost zamindar support considerably, the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha lost its precious alliance with the Congress to finally become almost extinct’.150 Syed Mohammad Ismail, who became president of the Bihar Muslim League in 1940, was particularly angry with the agrarian radicalism of the Congress. Before joining the League, he shared his ‘angst’ in a letter, dated 5 October 1937, with Rajendra Prasad.151 This period also saw a growing concern for the labour class in Bihar. The Bihar Muslim League started developing its concern for the industrial working class by the early 1940s. The Munger Muslim League passed a resolution appealing to the management of the Peninsular Tobacco factory to be sympathetic towards the demands of the casual workers of the factory.152 Similarly, Syed Badruddin Ahmad (1901–83; an Urdu poet with nom de plume Badr Azimabadi), the general secretary of the BPML, was in contact with Zahiruddin Ahmad, President of the Jamshedpur (Tatanagar) branch of the Muslim League: he asked the League to look into the grievances of the Tata workers. This concern for the pathetic victimhood of Muslim labour was conveyed to Jinnah by Badruddin Ahmed.153 participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement, and was the General secretary of the Gaya District Congress Committee for some time in the 1920s; he was selected by Mazaharul Haq to edit the Motherland; in 1936, he joined the Muslim United Party and, after its merger with the Muslim League, he became Vice-President of the Bihar Muslim League, and member of the AIML working committee (Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation, pp. 60–61). 150 Tirumal Mundargi, ‘Congress and Zamindars: Collaboration and Consultation in Bihar, 1915–36’, EPW, vol. 25, no. 22, 2 June 1990, pp. 1217–22; also see Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Mera Jivan Sangharsh (Hindi Autobiography). Patna: Sitaram Ashram, Bihta, 1985 [1950]. 151 RPCSD, vol. 1, 1984, p. 105. 152 Star of India, 31 May 1940. 153 CID SB 9/1942, Patna City, 3 November 1942; Badruddin Ahmed’s Urdu memoir, Haqeeqat Bhi Kahani Bhi: Azimabad Ki Tehzibi Daastan, Patna: Bihar Urdu Academy, 1988, maintains a conspicuous silence about his involvement in the League politics.

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The League used the card of caste also. Latifur Rahman Ansari pointed out that the faction of Abdul Qaiyum Ansari was controlled not by a Momin but by a Syed (Nasim Gorganwi). Abdul Qaiyum Ansari was asked why he had remained silent when the Momins were being killed in the riots of Tanda, Bhagalpur, Amingaon, Jamui, Majhaul, Triloki, etc. The Muslim League also sponsored a conference of the rayeens (kunjras or vegetable-growers and sellers), a community of backward Muslims, at Biharsharif in July 1938, and focused on winning over such communities to its side.154 However, it should be noted that such an attempt of the League met with much resistance from the backward (now famous as Pasmanda) communities of Muslims. In Saran, around 50 Momins joined the Congress in various places like Ranchi, Arrah, and Danapur, many Momins also started deserting the League in October 1938: for example, in Darbhanga 250 Momins declared their dissociation with both the League as well as the Congress.155 The Wardha Scheme of education was considered as a Hinduizing effort, and was, therefore, resented by the Muslims. It was Gandhian vision of anti-colonial nationalist school education which attracted criticism from within the Congress for its emphasis on child labour (manual labour by the students). Sections of Muslims also resented it by arguing that under the guise of the name of Hindustani, the Scheme was meant to spread highly Sanskritized Hindi and to suppress Urdu which according to them was really the lingua franca of India; the textbooks prescribed and provisionally sanctioned by certain Provincial Congress ministries were highly objectionable from the Muslim point of view, in that they were not only offensive to the feelings and sentiments of Muslims but were mainly devoted to the praise of Hindu religion, philosophy, and heroes. While it is true that the League may have exaggerated, it should be noted that the nationalists also substantially corroborated such 154 Extract from the Chief Secretary, Report for the second half of July 1938, PS 16/1938, Patna, 5 August 1938; Basudev Chatterji (ed.), Towards Freedom, 1938, part 2, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 1415. 155 Chatterji (ed.), Towards Freedom, p. 1420, Extract from the Chief Secretary, Report for the second half of August 1938; and p. 1427, Extract from the Chief Secretary, Report for the second half of October 1938.

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grievances. A letter, written by Maulana Sajjad to the Congress Working Committee,156 gives insights into the genuine and sincere aversion for the Congress. It was submitted only after the resignation of the Congress ministry in 1939. The letter begins with complaining that, in order to counter the obstructionist tactics of several proLeague Muslim organizations (for example, the Muslim Conference, the Muslim United Party, etc.) it was blunder for the Congress not to have made an alliance with the Muslim Independent Party whose political programme was akin to its own. He demanded a thorough inquiry into the riots by an impartial tribunal. He questioned why the Congress had not countered the League’s allegations boldly. He suggested that the Congress introspect as to why it had lost its popularity, and why the League had become more credible for the Muslims and swept away the popularity of the Congress. He expressed grief that, since M. A. Ansari’s death, there had never been more than two Muslims in the Congress Working Committee (CWC). For Maulana Sajjad, the ‘[m]ost blatant of all’, and which ‘betrayed the narrow mindedness of the Congress’ was the bypassing of Syed Mahmud for the post of prime minister. He also mentioned Shah Umair’s and Sir Sultan’s dismissals, the non-recruitment of Muslims for two years to the Rural Development Department, the foisting of Wardha Scheme of education, not encouraging Hindustani, and not compensating (through nominations) the meagre ratio of Muslims in the elections to local bodies. And finally, he too came to the conclusion that the Congress was ‘communalist to the core’. Similar was the complaint of Syed Mahmud to Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru. Syed Mahmud also said that the Congress had failed to win the confidence of the minorities.157 Within two years of its launching, the Muslim Mass Contacts Campaign Programme (MMCP) ran into serious trouble. A brainchild of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress launched this Programme under K. M. Ashraf (1903–62). In Bihar, Shah Umair was the Congressman to head this programme. This was not so much due to the Muslim 156

AICC Papers No. G-42/1939. V. N. Datta and B. E. Cleghorn (eds), A Nationalist Muslim and Indian Politics: Select Correspondence of the Late Dr. Syed Mahmud, Delhi: Macmillan, 1974, pp. 184–86. 157

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League’s opposition or the lack of Muslim support, but because of the Congress’ own reluctance to pursue it with any vigour or sense of purpose.158 The programme was not backed by any social and economic content, and offered ‘too little too late’. The right wing of Congress was another obstruction. K. M. Ashraf (1903–62), the chief of the MMCP, received many letters complaining that most of the committee could be effective only with the support of the district branches, most of which were controlled by the leaders of anti Muslim proclivities of the Hindu Mahasabha.159 Sometime later, K. M. Ashraf also said that one reason why the League had overnight turned into a full-fledged manager was because the Congress had abandoned the struggle for mass contact for ministry making.160 Thus, the communally polarized politics in the province of Bihar emerged in the 1920s and 1930s because the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha continued their attempts to construct political communities based on projections of putative Hindu and Muslim communities, while the Congress tried to oppose the politics of religious communities by taking up the issue of communalism to the masses through the MMCP. But since the Congress also continued its communitarian mobilizational strategies, it could not make the MMCP a significant success. In such a situation, and combined with the imperial prodding, the League finally came out with its ‘Pakistan Resolution’ on 23 March 1940, in Lahore.

Œ

158

Hasan, ‘The Muslim Mass Contacts Campaign’, pp. 149–57. Horst Kruger (ed.), Kunwar Muhammad Ashraf: An Indian Scholar and Revolutionary, 1903–62, Berlin: Academic–Verlag, 1966, pp. 413–14. 160 Ibid. 159

3 From Alienation to Exodus, 1940–47 Organizationally, after the 1920s, the Muslim League was almost

non-existent in Bihar. During the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movements, it had been virtually wiped out. Even after the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement, the Muslims of Bihar remained more inclined towards the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, and the Imarate-Shariah. The Communal Award (1932) and the Act of 1935 could not lead to revival of the Muslim League in Bihar. At most, certain individuals, mainly self-appointed office-bearers of the non-existent League organization, used to issue certain press statements. In fact, it could be said that certain individuals of Patna kept the provincial branch of the League in their pockets.1 However, soon after the establishment of the Congress ministry in Bihar in July 1937 (from April to July 1937, the MIP had formed the ministry), the League started making a rapid advances. The League made district units in 1936. Not less than 1200 delegates from Bihar attended the 25th session of the League, in October 1937 at Lucknow. Prominent among them were Latifur Rahman and Moinullah (the then Secretary of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League). Jinnah was elated to see so much support from a province where the League had failed to enlarge its base. Moinullah impressed upon Jinnah to make Patna the venue of the League’s 26th annual session to be held on 26–29 December 1938. Ten days after the Lucknow session, Jinnah reached Patna where he was given a warm reception. He addressed a meeting, and warned Muslims that the victory clinched by the Congress in the provincial elections of 1937 was not going to give them freedom, and that India’s freedom was not necessarily the freedom of 1

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 324–36.

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Indian Muslims. He cited the example of how a free USA did not mean that the Blacks of USA were also free.2 He also addressed the All India Muslim Students’ Federation (MSF) meeting in the Anjuman Islamia Hall, Patna (29 December 1938). The MSF was started in 1936 by M. A. Jinnah, who warned the young men ‘not to be deceived by the empty talks of the Congress’ and appealed ‘not to be deluded, but to assert themselves and be prepared for sacrifices for the advancement of the community and the freedom of the country’.3 The first session of the All India Muslim Students’ Federation (AIMSF) however was held at Calcutta on 27 December 1937 where, in his inaugural address, Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948) of Patna said that he was not yet fully convinced about a religion exclusive federation of students; he therefore ‘urged to try to remedy the backwardness of their community and cooperate with others in all matters’.4 Interestingly, while addressing the meeting, even A. K. Fazlul Haq (1873–1962), the founder of the Nikhil Praja Samiti, 1929, which later became Krishak Praja Party of the Bengal in 1936 (he was earlier with the Congress and was the Premier of the Bengal in 1937–38) ‘advised the delegates to avoid all separatist tendencies’. Humayun Kabir (1898–1969) delivered presidential address of the All India Muslim Students’ Conference (27–28 December 1937, Calcutta), in which he said, ‘the Muslim students today must stand shoulder to shoulder with their brothers in other countries and communities, solving the common problems of the world’.5 It further adopted a resolution that, ‘it was detrimental to the interests of Muslim students as well as to the student community in general to organize themselves on communal lines’. However, within a year (in 1938), things changed, with the Ahrar Party and the Muslim United Party (MUP) merging with the Muslim League. Nevertheless, the Muslim Independent Party (MIP) of the Imarat-e-Shariah did not merge. Moreover, it remained opposed to the League.

2

Taqi Raheem was present in the audience. Z. H. Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. 5, New Delhi: S. Chand & Co., 1978, pp. 644–46. 4 Ibid., pp. 637–38. 5 Ibid., p. 642. 3

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Haji Sharfuddin of Barh, Chaudhry Nazeerul Hasan (Simri Bakhtiyarpur, Saharsa), Moulvi Badrul Hasan (Muzaffarpur), and Moulvi Tahir (Purnea) joined the League. The Provincial Committee of the Muslim League was set up with Moulvi Ibrahim as President and Jafar Imam as Secretary. Within a few months, the League appeared to becoming organizationally strong in Bihar. On 1 January 1939, Jinnah visited Gaya, and his meetings were attended by large crowds. Abdul Aziz (who later, in 1939, became the wazir of Hyderabad) and Nawab Ismail were the main people who organized the League in Bihar after 1937. They claimed to have recruited as much as 7,500 members by March 1938. In his Urdu memoir, the poet and writer Kaleem Aajiz (b. 1926) recalls and records that the then Registrar of Patna University, Akhtar Husain, and a teacher of the Patna High School, Nizamuddin, were particularly active in recruiting razakars (volunteers) for the Muslim League.6 The Muslim League began to hold meetings in almost every town and qasba. In all such meetings, the Congress ministry was severely attacked. In general, the allegations were that it had failed to prevent communal riots, was restricting Baqrid slaughter, was pressing Muslim students to sing Bande Matram in schools, encouraging Hindi/Devnagri, and neglecting Urdu. The League sneered and ridiculed the Congress’ Muslim Mass Contact Programme. Interestingly, at the Patna session of the League Sher-eBengal, Sher-e-Punjab and Qaid-e-azam titles were given respectively to Fazlul Haq, Siknadar Hayat and Jinnah.7 In order to further enlarge the social base of the Muslim League, at its Lucknow session of October 1937, it was decided that the membership fee be reduced from Rs 10 per annum to two annas. Significantly, dual membership was discontinued, and instead of demanding Self Government, now its goal was to gain ‘complete independence’. Earlier the Congress men could also join Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League. In 1937, the League disallowed its members to have this concurrent membership. Afterwards, Maulana Azad complained to the Congress that many Congressmen, particularly in the C. P. were members of the Hindu Mahasabha too. In December 1938, therefore, the Congress Working Committee declared that the 6 7

Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, p. 31. Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi; Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, pp. 29–31.

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Mahasabha membership would disqualify the Congress membership. Reacting against it, V. D. Savarkar declared at the Nagpur session of the Mahasabha (December 1938) that ‘[w]e Hindus are a Nation by ourselves … Hindu nationalists should not at all be apologetic to being called Hindu communalists’.8 There are several explanations for this development. Taqi Raheem explains the alienation of Muslims from the Congress as being due to its opposition for a coalition ministry even with those parties who were nationalists, and close to the Congress in its political programmes, as for instance, the MIP. The introduction of electoral principles under the Act of 1935 injected a new element in intra-communal and political relationships. The Muslim League had not been able to score on mere communal appeal. Therefore, the concept of Two Nations was evolved. The wedge that had existed was widened by the elections. The Congress dilemma was to accommodate communal demands, or go wholeheartedly for its goal of Indian Independence. Where elections had failed to narrow the gap, the Two Nation concept had made inroads, and its full implications had not been realized by Muslims in general, and the Bihar Muslims in particular. The Parliamentary majority system of government had been introduced. In the elections of 1937 the intercommunity relations were not that bitter, as testified by the fact that the Muslim League had performed very poorly, so much so that it did not have enough number of candidates to put up in these elections. But after the formation of the ministries, bitterness started growing between the communities on the issue of sharing power. Though the Congress had to become accommodative to the idea of power-sharing, this disappointed the Muslims. Thus, sharing of power arises when there is fluidity. In the Bihar state elections of 1937, out of 152 seats, the Congress won 95 seats. Of these, as many as 90 seats were General and where Muslims had no franchise. This revealed that the Congress had won due to Hindu votes. Understandably, that is why Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Patel refused to make a Muslim (Dr Syed Mahmud) the chief minister of Bihar in July 1937. It was the first democratically elected government where it was the Congress, rather than the British Governor, that had to decide about who will become the Premier and 8

Sarkar, Modern India, pp. 356–57.

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his ministers. However, this resulted in the Muslims in Bihar losing trust in the Congress, and feeling betrayed. They felt that it was the Bihari Muslims who had been at the forefront of the movement to separate Bihar from Bengal. The provincial headquarters of the Congress — Sadaqat Ashram — had also been their creation. Even in the elections of 1937, the Congress had secured as much as 65 per cent of the votes from Muslim constituencies, which was equal to the percentage of votes secured from the General constituencies. Syed Mahmud had proposed to the Congress to make an alliance with the MIP, and to extend financial support to their candidates with the Congress fund. However, Rajendra Prasad refused to do so, even while insisting on having as many Muslim candidates on the Congress ticket as possible.9 The Congress had to form ministry by replacing the Yunus-led ministry of MIP, a pro-Congress Muslim formation, which had remained in office from April to July 1937. The candidature of Syed Mahmud, therefore, understandably carried some sensitivity, hence he was worth considering. Syed Mahmud’s high stature in the Congress was acknowledged even by Rajendra Prasad. He said, Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha [1887–1961], Anugrah Narayan Sinha [1887–1957], Dr Syed Mahmud [1889–1971] and Ramdayalu Sinha [1881–1944] were four of the leaders who had been suggested [to be made the Chief Minister of the province’s Congress ministry]. Among them, Dr Mahmud had been a member of the AICC and the Working Committee for many years … after weighing all factors I decided that the mantle of leadership of the legislature party should fall on S. K. Sinha.10

Therefore, his exclusion from power was a big tactical blunder by the Congress.11 Rajendra Prasad himself admits that This decision caused a feeling of bitterness among Muslims, particularly among non-Congress Muslims. They complained that Dr. Syed Mahmud was ignored only because of his being a Muslim although in 9

Dr Rajendra Prasad to Dr Syed Mahmud, 5 October, 1936. Rajendra Prasad Papers. File No. 1/36. (I am thankful to Rizwan Qaiser for pointing out this letter and sharing it with me). 10 Prasad, Autobiography, pp. 437–38. 11 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 324–36.

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all-India Congress he was better known and had worked longer than S. K. Sinha. The matter was even represented to Maulana Azad.12

Prasad goes on to add that Maulana Azad ‘retorted to the discontented complainants that, had he been in my place, perhaps his decision too would have been the same’.13 However, Maulana Azad himself had very different things to say. When the Congress secured an absolute majority, it was taken for granted that Dr. Syed Mahmud would be elected the leader and become the first chief minister of Bihar under Provincial Autonomy. Instead, Sri Krishna Sinha and Anugraha Narayan Sinha who were members of the central Assembly were called back to Bihar and groomed for the Chief Ministership.14

The alienation of the Muslims of Bihar was also manifested in a byeelection (1938) in Hazaribagh which, according to Jinnah ‘had given a proper reply to the Congress challenge’.15 Mukul Kesavan (1990) is rather more emphatic when he says that the Congress rejection of a coalition with the MIP in Bihar was the main factor behind Muslim alienation; he feels that the MIP was ideally suited to be a coalition partner of the Congress, which was also formally representative of the Muslim electorates.16 On the all-India scale, the situation was even more disturbing for the Muslims, which further added to Muslim alienation. If the top Congress leaders in the late 1930s, now insisted more than ever before on secularism, their attitudes were not being implemented at lower down in party hierarchy or even by ministers. The Congress men from Central Provinces could not join the League, but were found active in the Hindu Mahasabha.17 The Hindu Mahasabha was gaining strength during these years. At the Nagpur session of 1938, its President

12

Prasad, Autobiography, p. 438. Ibid. 14 Azad, India Wins Freedom, pp. 16–17. 15 Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. 5, p. 98. 16 Kesavan,‘Congress and the Muslims’, pp. 1, 3, 6–7, 64–65, 70. 17 Sarkar, Modern India, p. 35. 13

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V. D. Savarkar (1883–1966) declared that ‘we Hindus are a nation by ourselves. Hindu nationalists should not at all be apologetic to being called Hindu communalist’. By 1940, under Golwalkar’s leadership, the RSS had 100,000 trained and highly disciplined people in cadres pledged to an ideology of uncompromising communalism. Most Congressmen did not regard communalism as a serious challenge as they were utilizing the ministries for personal gains ‘sudden access to power and patronage bred the usual evils of opportunistic place-hunting and factional squabbles’.18 This ‘blunder’ on the part of the Congress leaders led not only to the alienation of Muslims, but also of the peasantry and the working class, who were also expressing their grievances against the Congress at this time. Not much was done for Harijan welfare. Ambedkar himself had become a bitter critic of the Congress, and went to the extent of joining the Muslim League in celebrating the resignation of the Congress ministries on 29 October 1939 as a day of ‘deliverance’. The failure of the Congress to develop and implement genuine socially radical measures, proved disastrous. The Muslim Mass Contact Programme remained largely on paper, and secularist and radical rhetoric ended in alarming Muslim vested interests without winning over the Muslim masses.19 Thus, Khan Bahadur S. M. Ismail’s leadership (a big zamindar, and the President of the Bihar Muslim League in the 1940s) revitalized the League through new slogans and frequent demonstrations. At various places, ‘Urdu Day’ and ‘Pakistan Day’ were observed. Since there were not many charismatic leaders of the League in Bihar as yet, top ranking leaders of the Muslim League from Bengal started visiting Bihar. In April 1940, a mass meeting at Jamui (Munger) was held under Nazimuddin’s presidentship (he was the Chief Minister of Bengal). He gave the new slogan: ‘Pakistan is our birthright, and we have, once and for all, decided to achieve it’. The Secretary of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League sent out a circular letter to all the secretaries of the district Muslim Leagues to hold public meetings throughout the province on Friday, 19 April 1940, to explain fully to the public the ‘Pakistan’ resolution of Lahore.20

18

Ibid., pp. 351, 356–57. Ibid., p. 354. 20 Searchlight, 26 April 1940. 19

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Thus, even the mosques were used to mobilize the support for the League’s religious bi-national nationalism. On 8 March, the Purdah Conference at Nagpur had decided to establish the Women Muslim League. Here, not less than 2,000 women participated. It appointed a committee to tour all village and cities.21 The Women’s Sub Committee of the League was formed at the Patna session in 1938 in order to ‘enlist a larger number of women’, and ‘to create in them a sense of the greatest political consciousness. Lady Anees Imam (1901–79), the widow of Ali Imam, and Begum Akhtar, were on its sub-committee.22 On 19 April 1940, the League observed ‘Independence Day’ in every district. Consequently, later in April, several riots broke out: on Mahbiri Jhanda procession in Ballia (Begusarai); in Rajmahal, and on the Ramnavami procession in Hazaribagh. These riots became the staple item of speeches in the League meetings. Hindu communal forces also increased their activities. The pro-communal faction in the Indian National Congress also started growing. Up till 1945, the political scenario of the country forced even the secular organizations to join forces with the communal and reactionary organizations. The Congress leaders proclaimed electoral alliance with the Hindu Mahasabha to safeguard their electoral fortune. The pact on this line was initiated by Rajendra Prasad, one of the active Congress workers. But the idea was resented by Jawaharlal Nehru, not so much to maintain the secular character of the Congress, as out of fear of losing Mohammedan support in the Muslim majority provinces.23 The conferences and meetings of the Hindu Mahasabha increased. On 26 March 1939, the Bihar Hindu Mahasabha (founded in 1907 at Muzaffarpur, and revived in 1911; the Punjab Hindu Sabha was also established in 1907, which is said to be the first Hindu Sabha) had its 8th session at Monghyr. V. D. Savarkar addressed the meeting with these words, Congress was manned and managed by Hindus who … [have] now fallen in wrong track by complete adherence to Muslim vagaries … Hindustan 21

Searchlight, 9 March 1940. Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. 5, p. 108. 23 Nehru to Rajendra Prasad, 6 October 1945, in B. N. Pandey (ed.), The Indian Nationalist Movement: Select Documents, Delhi: Macmillan, 1979, p. 172. Also see, Kumar, Communal Riots, p. 68. 22

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belonged to the Hindus and none other than [them] would rule it … Mahasabha is as much national as the National Government in Germany … the Hindu Mahasabha embraced the entire social, political, and economic life of Hindu India … the Hindu Mahasabha does not agree to giving meaningless concessions to minorities… the attempt to pollute Hindi language by the brutal assimilation of Urdu, was an outrage of a great magnitude.24

He also gave instructions about establishing a gymnasium in every village, and to introduce lathi (stick) and dagger play, and to hold physical tournaments periodically. He also announced that ‘reconversion (Shudhi) was urgently needed’. He also insisted on physical training being given to women.25 Earlier, on 29–30 March 1936, Kumar Ganganand Singh had presided over a meeting of the Bihar Provincial Hindu Conference, at Patna, where he insisted on military training being given to Hindus. He expressed his gratitude to B. S. Moonje for having decided to start a military training school for the purpose. Colonial prodding to this communal body is testified by the fact that the Commander-in-Chief and the Viceroy had encouraged them to open such an academy, as admitted by Ganganand Singh in his speech. He further said that the Hindus were a martial race, even though the martial spirit had become dormant.26 He also lamented that the representation of the Muslims is far excessive in almost all the Departments. Ever since the province was created, if one minister was a Hindu, another was a Muslim, if there were two Hindu judges in the High Court, there two Muslims as well. Leave aside them, even the portfolio of education has always been in the hands of the Muslims; no Hindu has yet been the Vice Chancellor of Patna University; to be a Muslim is an easy passport to public services; Hindus are told by the officers to learn Urdu script; in the local bodies’ schools, there is a provision for at least one Urdu teacher even if there could only be a handful of Muslim pupils.27

24

Mathur, Hindu Revivalism, p. 62. Ibid. 26 Ralhan (ed.), Hindu Mahasabha, pp. 26, 339–42. 27 Ibid., p. 341. 25

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On 28 December 1938, at the 20th session of the All India Hindu Mahasabha at Nagpur, it was decided that ‘Sanskrit-nishtha Hindi with Devnagri script, not Hindustani, deserved to be the national language’.28 It exhorted all the provincial branches of the Hindu Mahasabha to open akharas and Rifle Clubs; it further asked the Hindu youth to join the RSS as it was ‘great asset to the Hindu Nation’.29 The Mahasabha further declared, [s]o far as the Moslem minority is concerned … we must watch it in all actions with the greatest distrust possible … even after India is free, we must look upon them as suspicious … [and that the Mahasabha had to] see that the northern frontiers of India are well guarded by staunch powerful Hindu forces.30

It further exhorted the Hindus to capture political power in order to actualize these objectives.31 In the 20th session of the AIHMS at Nagpur on 28 December 1938, Savarkar had criticized the Congress for having appeased Muslims, and for suppressing the Hindu Sangathan; he also felt that a nationhood based on Hindu–Muslim unity would remain elusive.32 By mid 1944, each district unit of the Hindu Mahasabha had more than 110 branches; and in 1945, there was a group called the Ram Sena, belonging to the Darbhanga and Champaran units of the Mahasabha, which even though it did not have the Hindu Students’ Federation, it had the support of organizations such as the Hindu Mahila Sabha, the Hindu Youth League, the Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha, and the Arya Samaj.33 After a workers’ camp in Bhagalpur on 2 February 1945, a dozen AIHMS workers were deputed in all the divisions of Bihar to expand its membership before the elections of 1946. In December 1941, there was an agitation in Bhagalpur against banning the HMS;

28

Ibid., p. 437. Ibid., p. 431. 30 Ibid., p. 418. 31 Ibid. 32 N. N. Mitra (ed.), Indian Annual Register (IAR): An Annual Digest of Public Affairs of India, vol. 2, 1938, pp. 316–28. 33 HMS Papers, P-67/1945. 29

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this galvanized the BPHMS, and Shyama Prasad Mukherji advised Savarkar to take advantage of the situation, to tour Bihar, and to capture the province where feelings were deeply stirred.34 Moonje also made an election trip in the Bhagalpur and Tirhut Divisions and Gaya for the same purpose. In Bihar, the RSS (founded in 1925, with headquarters at Nagpur) also became active, having launched its provincial wing in 1938, with headquarters at Patna. Babu Rao Diwakar was the chief organizer (Mukhya Sangathak). Many district unit caretakers were sent from Nagpur. The Bhagalpur unit was established in the same year by Bhaskarji Jingarde. During 1940–44, other district units were set up and organized: the Muzaffarpur unit was started by S. S. Harkare; the Munger unit by Madhukar Rao Dave; the Darbhanga unit by Wadekar; the Champaran unit by Ramkrishna Bhave; the Saran unit by Prabhakar Rao Panchkhare; the Gaya unit by A. D. B. Lokhandy (who was extended immense help by an upper caste Hindu zamindar named Krishna Ballabh Narayan Prasad Singh).35 Orthodox upper caste Hindu zamindars and pleaders (as in the case of Darbhanga maharaj, Hathwa, Bettiah and a few others extended their support to Hindu Mahasabha, here too Dumraon Maharaja hosted meetings addressed by Shyama Prasad Mukherji and Bhai Parmanand) were the main support base of the RSS.36 On 14–15 April 1940, the ninth Bihar Provincial Hindu Conference was held at Ranchi. Processions were brought out on elephants, etc. At this conference, Bhai Parmanand (1876–1947) said that now the Muslims had forfeited all their rights.37 The Maharaja of Dumraon organized a meeting of the All India Kshatriya Sabha at Patna in April 1940, which denounced the Pakistan Plan in a tone similar to that of Bhai Parmanand’s in the Ranchi meeting, where Bhai Parmanand said that Muslims were no longer needed; Hindus alone could wrest

34

Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Leaves from a Diary, Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 53. 35 File No. 6/1944 (Confidential), BSA, Patna. 36 Prasanna Kumar Chaudhry and Shrikant, Swarg Par Dhawa: Bihar Mein Dalit Andolan, 1912–2000, Delhi: Vaani, 2005, p. 239. 37 Searchlight, 16 April 1940.

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freedom.38 The presidential address at this meeting was delivered by Shyama Prasad Mukherji (1901–53), who said that ‘one of the tasks of the Hindu Mahasabha will be to build up a national militia’.39 It also talked of the ‘restoration of Hindu temples which had gone into others’ hands during Muslim rule’.40 Even before the Lahore Resolution (23 March 1940) of ‘Pakistan’ (that is, as early as in January 1940), the Hindu Mahasabha was very active throughout Bihar. B. S. Moonje (1872–1948) addressed the meetings of Hindu conference at Begusarai on 24 January 1940; and at Muzaffarpur on 25 January 1940 where processions were taken out around the town. Here, Gandhi’s Hindu–Muslim unity programme was denounced, and the Congress was condemned very strongly. Hindus were asked to elect only Hindu Mahasabha candidates in the next elections.41 At Dumka, a Congressman, Lambodar Mukherji, participated in the Hindu Mahasabha meeting on 23 January 1940.42 Moonje attended the Bihar Hindu Mahasabha meeting at Hathuwa (Saran) on 20 January 1940. Thousands of people welcomed him. Processions were carried through streets and roads on elephants, camels, horses, etc., and were surrounded by 500 trained Hindu Sainik Dal. Here, military training for all Hindus was emphasized. Moonje talked of launching a vigorous movement for the Hindu Sangathan Movement. The Rajmata of Hathuwa presided over the meeting. Kumar Sahib of Manjha and Pandit Govindpati Tiwari (MLA) were present there.43 A leading Congress worker, Jagat Narain Lal, was already inclined towards Hindu Sangathan, and took part in the activities of the Hindu Mahasabha in which quite a number of Congressmen were actually members. Rejecting a Congress ticket, Jagat Narain Lal stood for the elections as Malaviya’s nominee in the November 1926 elections.44

38

Searchlight, 18 April 1940. Mathur, Hindu Revivalism, p. 112. 40 Ralhan, Hindu Mahasabha, p. 571. 41 Searchlight, 28 January 1940. 42 Ibid., 25 January 1940. 43 Ibid., 21 January 1940. 44 Prasad, Autobiography, p. 249. 39

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The Muslims had been complaining about discrimination against Urdu, which had become a major cause of Muslim alienation. This was fully used by the League to broaden its base among the Muslims. At the same time, the Hindu right wing was increasingly becoming assertive in its demand for Hindi. On 30–31 December 1939, the Saran district branch of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan held its meeting in a village Shitalpur Bairya. This was attended by students, teachers, kisans, zamindars, public workers, etc. The conference was hosted by the ‘Hindi Mandir’ on the 18th anniversary of its foundation. In his address, the chairman of the reception committee, Pandit Upendranath Mishra ‘Manzul’, complained against the ‘unwholesome movement carried on in the sacred name of Hindustani’, the common national language of India, which, he said, was bound to prove dangerous to the growth of Hindi literature and language. He exhorted the members of the conference to gird up their loins to oppose this anti-national campaign.45 Thus, the Hindi–Urdu controversy added to communalism entrenching itself in the remotest village. It seems clear that communalism had spread to the popular level, with the district branches of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan having meetings and conferences in various villages. Even the Hindu Mahasabha was spreading its branches far and wide in Bihar. From Bihar, Rameshwar Mishra and Jagat Narain Lal were the office-bearers of the All India Hindu Mahasabha. The former was on its working committee (in 1942), whereas the latter was the secretary, and had been in charge of the volunteer corps of the Mahasabha since 1934. Jagat Narain Lal had also opposed the separation of Sind from Bombay.46 By June 1939, Bagaha (Champaran) village had a very strong branch of the Hindu Mahasabha, with Shyama Charan Shukla as its local secretary. A serious riot had broken out in several villages around Bagaha. The Mahabiri Jhanda procession through a road on which a mosque existed led to the riots, and the subsequent social boycott of the Muslims. The Congress ministry and the colonial police remained helpless, and could not tame the Hindu Mahasabha.47

45

Searchlight, 10 January 1940. Ralhan, Hindu Mahasabha, vol. 2, pp. 437, 724. 47 Ghosh, ‘Articulating Community Rights’. 46

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The Bihar Muslims’ grievances against the Congress ministry (1937–39) regarding the denial of a proportionate share in the structures of power and discrimination, the rising assertion of Hindu communal groups led to Muslim estrangement. Sardar Patel wrote to Rajendra Prasad that the ‘Muslims as a body have been alienated’, ‘because they feel and rightly feel’ that they have been denied a share in power; and had these misgivings been allayed, they wouldn’t have opposed even ‘schemes like the Wardha Scheme’,48 as ‘too Hinduised’ even though the ‘distinguished Muslim intellectual Zakir Husain was prominent both in the Wardha Scheme as well as in preparing Urdu textbooks for Bombay schools which the League condemned as antiIslamic.49 Similar grievances were expressed by Syed Mahmud in his letter to Nehru on 9 December 1939. The Congress in power has further failed to win the confidence of the minorities, not only Muslims but Christians and others … That is why I threw a suggestion, for whatever it was worth, that the majority should share power with the minority and I had certainly in mind all the minorities — Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees, etc. as well as the Hindu minority in Bengal and Punjab … As to the communal problem … I would have succeeded in Bihar but I had better say no more about it. Even now it can be tackled without any reference to Mr. Jinnah.50

Earlier, on 18 October 1939, Nehru admitted to Rajendra Prasad, ‘there is no doubt that we have been unable to check the growth of communalism and anti-Congress feeling among the Muslim masses’.51 [Sir] Sultan Ahmed conveyed similar views to Rajendra Prasad. He said, when the Congress decided to accept office last year no one outside the Congress circle was more pleased than myself. I felt that the Indians had got power to do good to the people of the Provinces and those who were assuming office had tremendous responsibilities to discharge and

48 Patel to Rajendra Prasad, 15 October 1938, RPCSD, vol. 2, pp. 112–14; also see, S. A. I. Tirmizi (ed.), Paradoxes of Partition, 1937–47, vol. 1, New Delhi: CFS, Jamia Hamdard-Manak, 1998, p. 494. 49 Sarkar, Modern India, p. 356. 50 J. L. Nehru Papers, vol. 97, pp. 160–65, in Tirmizi (ed.), Paradoxes of Partition, p. 884.

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needed our best support in spite of our differences of opinion. I felt that their action should not be criticized with hostility and that the criticism should always be constructive and not destructive … for a long time I attached no importance to the catalogue of grievances placed before me but within the last few months I was compelled to study the attitude of the Congress Ministry towards the Muslim community and other minorities and I have been led to most depressing conclusions … I shall give you the details upon which my conclusions are based … is the Ministry above communalism … ? Is the Ministry living up to the life which Mahatma or yourself intended them to live up to?52

An unnamed letter to the editor published in Searchlight (12 January 1940) also testifies to Muslim alienation. [I]t is very painful to note that, in the local bodies, the Muslims are much under-represented, especially in the higher posts, though suitable Muslim candidates with high qualifications are available in this province. For example, in no District Board in this province has a Muslim been appointed as a permanent District Engineer up till now, except in a solitary case of Gaya District Board where Ameer Hyder was appointed as a District Engineer, but after his death, there is no Muslim engineer in Bihar.53

In its October–December 1938 issues, the Muslim League newspaper Star of India published a series of detailed news items cataloguing Muslim grievances against the Congress ministry of Bihar. Sultan Ahmed’s replacement with Baldev Sahay (1892–1959) as the Advocate General of Bihar was condemned in more than 36 meetings of Muslims across Bihar.54 Maulana Azad challenged Fazlul Haq to substantiate the allegations of Muslims suffering under Congress rule. However, for this Maulana Azad was subjected to sharp criticism, and was condemned by the Saran District unit of the Muslim League. As a result, Maulana Azad asked

51

Kaura, Muslims and Indian Nationalism, p. 123. Sultan Ahmed to Rajendra Prasad, 16 Nov 1938, RPCSD, vol. 1, pp. 161–62; also see, Tirmizi (ed.), Paradoxes of Partition, pp. 510–11. 53 Searchlight, January 12, 1940 54 Star of India, 30 November 1937. 52

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to be disallowed to lead (Imamat) for the Eid prayers. Other Chapra mosques, a masjid of Siwan, and the Bhagalpur Muslim League also lambasted Maulana Azad.55 Syed Mahmud was also criticized for his condemnation of Fazlul Haq’s charges of adverse treatment of Muslims by the Congress ministry. Other Muslim leaders remained critical of the Congress. Thus, Mahbub Warsi, the leader of the Gaya Muslim League, wrote a letter to Syed Mahmud in which he said that the ‘Congress onslaught on Muslim language and culture’ was ‘deplorable and shameful’.56 Shah Mohammad Qasim, who was associated with the Imarat-e-Shariah for 20 years, resigned from the Gaya District Congress because he was aggrieved with Shah Mohamamd Umair’s marginalization within the Congress.57 Dr S. Qamruddin, another Congress leader of Gaya, left the Congress because, according to him, it had become synonymous with the Hindu Mahasabha.58 On the issue of marginalizing Shah Umair, as many as 16 Congressmen of Gaya, including Syed Ali Manzar, Shah Manzoor Asdaq, Md Fazlur Rahman, Ahsan Akhlaq (President of the district unit of the Congress), submitted a memorial to Subhash Chandra Bose, the President of the Congress, apprising him of the angst of the Congress Muslims.59 Besides Muslim League accounts, even Congress documents testify to the massive alienation of the Muslims from the Congress in and after 1938. Maulvi Abdul Hameed ‘Rusumi’ of Bhagalpur, the Secretary of Congress Muslim Mass Contact Committee, reported that a large number of Congress members and office-bearers — including Upendranath Mukherji, President, Bhagalpur Town Congress Committee — were into the Hindu Mahasabha, and were active rioters in the communal violence of Bhagalpur in July 1938. That this allegation is correct was proved in the findings of an enquiry committee consisting of Naqi Imam, and Jaleshwar Prasad of the Bhagalpur Congress, which said that some Congressmen were contaminated by the communalism of the Hindu Mahasabha. The Congress Hindus looked at the ministry as

55

Ibid., 22, 23 November; 3 December 1938. Ibid., 28 August 1937. 57 Ibid., 3 December 1938. 58 Ibid., 23 September 1938. 59 Ibid., 19 September 1938. 56

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Hindu Raj.60 Later, on 8 August 1943, the Punjab Hindu Conference adopted a resolution, ‘The Hindu Mahsabha should not look upon the [Hindu] Congressmen as untouchables. The Hindus are the mainstay of the Congress and if they are weak the Congress will also become weak’.61 It testified the charge of Congress-Hindu Mahasabha overlap leveled by the Muslims during 1938–39. As a result of which, ‘[t]he Congress increasingly lost the support of the Muslim masses, despite its Muslim Mass Contact initiative, Rabita-e-Awam’.62 In 1938, Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948) joined the Muslim League. With a distinguished record of personal achievements, Abdul Aziz was famous as a criminal lawyer at Patna 1913 onwards, after having studied in England during 1907–12. He was associated with the Cooperative movement; had donated for relief work in the earthquake of 1934; had provided generous funds for the blind and was the founder of the provincial Blind Relief Association. In 1935–36 he was Minister of Education and Development, Bihar and Orissa; he won the 1937 elections but resigned in December 1937. Given his integrity and objectivity, the Congress had constituted a Corruption Enquiry Committee under his chairmanship. Until 1938, he stayed away from the Muslim League, and was praised by the leading pro-Congress daily, Searchlight (21 January 1940) as being ‘high above sectarianism’, and for upholding Hindu–Muslim unity. However, in 1938, after joining the Muslim League, he became the President of the Bihar Muslim League, and was taken on the Working Committee of the All India Muslim League. In January 1940, in a Muslim League meeting at Jabalpur, Aziz also expressed his sense of alienation: ‘Muslims will not join the fight for freedom so long as is meant to snatch more powers for political exploitation and misuse the same against weaker parties’.

60

AICC Papers No. G-22/1938. See Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940)’s secret letter to the Congress High Command (AICC Papers No. G-42/1939), and also Raheem’s Tehreek-e-Azadi. This was about the anti-Muslim proclivities of the Congress ministry, 1937–39. 61 Mathur, Hindu Revivalism, p. 195. 62 Papiya Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation: Bihar in the 1940s, Delhi: Routledge, 2010, p. 1.

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He was perhaps referring to the Muslim League as one of the ‘weaker parties’. He further added that ‘the Muslims are prepared to fight for more political powers if an adjustment of their claims and rights is made … by the Congress, so that no particular party may be placed in a position of domination and power’.63 In the letters written to Jinnah, dated 19 July 1941, and 18 August 1941, Hossain Imam (a Muslim League functionary) referred to the April 1941 riots of Bihar Shareef, and expressed his anger, against the government which was reluctant to concede to the demand of a trial of the rioters by ‘Special Tribunal’. In these letters, he also complained that the ‘docile policy of ’ the Bihar Muslim League Working Committee on the issue had made ‘the Muslim masses restive’, and they would be ‘ready to follow’ the Muslim League only if it could ‘take direct action’.64 Muslim alienation from the Congress is also corroborated by the fact that by mid-1938, K. B. Sahay (1898–1974), the parliamentary secretary of S. K. Sinha, had proposed to create a Muslim Propaganda Department, with 52 workers and Rs 22,000 dedicated towards explaining to the Muslims through hand-bills that, contrary to the ‘mischievous’ press campaign of the League, the Congress ministry had done some ‘positive work’ for the Muslims.65 On the other hand, Syed Mahmud, the Education Minister, was charged by the Hindus for having favoured Muslims in public employment. At this, Mahmud wrote to Rajendra Prasad making it clear that he had not appointed a single Muslim.66 On 9 April 1944, at the Gaya Pakistan Conference, Khwaja Nazimuddin, the chief minister of Bengal, in his presidential address said that he remembered, ‘the terrific struggle that the

63

Searchlight, 4 January 1940. Rizwan Ahmed (compiled), The Quaid-e-Azam Papers, Karachi: East West Publication, 1976, pp. 107, 59. Rajendra Prasad recollects the details of these riots in his Autobiography, chapter 101, ‘Bihar Sharif Riots’, pp. 518–22. 65 Linlithgow Papers Roll 45, Enclosure 2. Cf. Ghosh, ‘The Making of the Congress Muslim Stereotype’, p. 433. 66 Syed Mahmud to Dr Rajendra Prasad, 18 July 1938, RPCSD, vol. 2, p. 70; Searchlight, 17 December 1939. 64

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Bihar Muslims had to put up during the Congress regime’ and asserted that ‘during the Congress regime, Muslim rights were trampled upon by the government’.67 In Bhagalpur and Samastipur, the Hindu Mahasabha could fearlessly bypass the administration orders and make riots inevitable. The discourse of religious nationalism centred on the ‘women as a community signifier’, as described by Papiya Ghosh, was men’s agency in particular that was invoked in the causes of shudhi, sangathan and Hindu rashtra. Women’s agency was only selectively invoked before and after riots to double the guard on their besieged chastity, and by extension, that of the Hindu community and nation. In effect the intermittent and transitor invocation of women’s agency was merely meant to compensate for the failures as well as the fissures in Hindu male patriarchic claims of community and nation making.68

The Hindu Mahasabha’s Shudhi campaign rationalized its activities about taking revenge against the Muslims who, according to them, had vilified, raped and killed Hindu women in the Malabar in 1920 and in Noakhali, Bengal in the 1940s. Thus, after Noakhali, women became the agenda of nation-making. In Bihar, after Noakhali, the women symbolized the victimhood of an embattled community.69 Much like the Hindu Mahasabha, the grievances against the abduction of Muslim girls figured most recurrently in the Shareef Report prepared by the Bihar Provincial Muslim League. The League publicized these abductions massively through various mechanisms, resulting in a persecution complex amongst the Muslims. And thus, the League garnered votes in the elections of 1946 on an unprecedented scale. In June 1946, in the Andhana village of Bihar Shareef, a riot broke out when the Muslims wanted to recover an abducted Muslim girl. In September 1946, at Benibad in Muzaffarpur, a riot broke out when the Arya Samajists got enraged on hearing a rumour that a Muslim boy (of Benibad) named Ali Hasan, had ‘abducted’ a Hindu girl named

67

Mitra, Indian Annual Register, January–June 1944. Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 69 Ibid. 68

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Kalyani Dey from Bengal, and converted her to Islam.70 The records of Tirhut Commissioner reveal that the ‘idea of retaliation’ flowed more from the accounts of abductions of women and forcible conversions rather than from those of the killings in Noakhali. B. S. Moonje of the All India Hindu Mahasabha and Ganganand Sinha of the Bihar Hindu Mahasabha made extremely offensive statements that ‘the Muslims had been fully paid back in their coins yet without any cowardlinesses’.71 “Beneath the self-congratulatory rhetoric lay the pedagogy of Akhand Bharat that came to recommend violence as the most effective means of shudhi”. Moonje noted that among the Muslims of Bihar, the ‘fear of death’ was ‘great’ ... some Muslims approached Moonje while on his Bihar tour, with folded hands and said, “sir we will leave Islam and become Hindus”. That was the ‘first experience of its kind’ in his life … He advised Hindus to acquire fire arms both lawfully and otherwise.72

Many booklets were distributed by the Hindu Mahasabha in Bihar. A good example is Hindu Kya Karen?, a 32-page booklet, priced two paise and published in Gorakhpur in November 1946, reflected the gender ideology of the Hindu Mahasabha, in which the Hindus were warned that due to obsession with Swaraj, they had neglected Hindutva, and that at Noakhali, the Hindu dharma, jati, sanskriti — everything had been destroyed. Another booklet Hindu Samaj Chetavani No. 1, written by Sukhdev Sharma Kanmakandi of Silaut in Muzaffarpur (priced two annas, it was a collection of songs addressed only to Hindu men), said that Hindustan belonged to Hindus alone; a large number of its copies were seized from Hargovind Prasad Gupta, a bookseller and fruit merchant of Teghra (Munger).73

70

Fortnightly Report, second half of Sept 1946, File No. 18/9/46, NAI; for more details on the September 1946 riots of Benibad, see my, Contesting Colonialism and Separatism. 71 B. S. Moonje Papers, Diary No. 6, entries for 22, and 27 November 1946, cited in Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 72 Ibid. 73 PS 43/1947 and PS 209/1947. Cited in Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’.

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Thus, we see that from the early 1940s onwards, the Hindu Mahasabha had become triumphant. Streets echoed with the slogans Hindustan Hinduon ka hai. Savarkar had declared Hindudom as an organic national being. These stridencies of the Hindu Mahasabha supplied provocative input to the Muslim League’s discourse. The elections of 1946 were contested in this highly polarized atmosphere. The stridently communal overtones of the League were evident in the language in which the Bihar Provincial Muslim League had issued an electoral appeal in Urdu: Allah-o-Akbar Brethren in Islam Assalamo-Alaikum Now you yourself judge whether the bricks of votes should be used in the preparation of fort of ‘Ram Raj’ or for the construction of a building for the independence of Muslims and Islam … You should know that the colour of the Muslim League box would be green. The colour of our Prophet’s tomb is also green.74

‘Hundreds of educated men’ had ‘poured into the constituency [Champaran, where Dr Syed Mahmud was contesting against the Muslim League candidate, Zubair Khan] in the garb of faqirs, hakims and pirs of Arabic designs’ making ‘passing remarks to the unsuspecting villagers in favour of the Muslim League’.75 And, ‘during the 1946 riots, the abducting Hindu, reinforced by the ‘Hindu Raj’ of the Congress, became a major factor in transforming Pakistan into an imminent inevitability’.76 ‘Much of Moonje’s November 1946 tour of Patna, Gaya and Munger districts was spent in congratulating the Hindus for their role in the 1946 riots, recommending that they stock up weapons’.77 During the 1946 riots in Bihar, government officials connived with the anti-social elements who were local Congress workers also. A prominent Congress worker, deputed by Rajendra Prasad, was 74

Letter from Rai Bahadur R. H. Prasad, Returning Officer, Palamau Mohammedan Rural Constituency, 17 March 1946. Cf. Sho Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism, and the Partition: 1946 Provincial Elections in India, Delhi: Manohar, 1998, p. 196. 75 Dawn, 25 February 1946. 76 Ghosh, ‘The Virile and the Chaste’. 77 Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation, p. 127.

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reported to have told a gathering of Hindus at Fatuha High School on 27 September 1946, ‘I’m one of the 86 persons deputed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and this is the right time for us to destroy and annihilate our enemies’.78 These goonda elements went scot free, moved fearlessly, and took an active part in riots. The anti-Muslim, arrogant and callous attitude of many Hindu officials was all too evident. In many cases, it so happened that though the majority killed were Muslims, other Muslim survivors were arrested on charges of arson, murder loot, etc. while the Hindu goondas who actually did the killings were let off scot-free, or if arrested, were let off on bail. Some Muslim residents of village Rupahua in Munger district appeared as prosecution witness ... when these Muslims were narrating how even children had been massacred, the high police officer immediately interrupted and said that this was revenge for Noakhali … one of the officers used abusive language.79

In many places, the officers seized the lawfully held arms of the Muslims on the assurance that they were there to protect them, but then quietly withdrew from the scene, allowing the Muslims to be butchered. On the other hand, Hindus were allowed to retain their licenses secretly.80 Thus, the relatives of Shri Krishna Sinha and other ministers could get licenses without any inquiry. All these actions of the government officials went unnoticed because the British imperial ruler seated at the centre enjoyed the fun of seeing the Congress ministry getting discredited. The British had to convince the local people that the claim of own their leaders of being able to rule was nothing but a farce. Frustrated at such developments, Nehru wrote a letter to Sardar Patel, saying: ‘[i]n Patna, Gaya and Monger there has been a definite attempt on the part of Hindu mobs to exterminate the Muslims. The local officials, including the ICS elements, brought much damage’.81 The CID reported that a Hindu procession that paraded through the 78

The Morning News, 20 October 1946. Cf. Kumar, Communal Riots, p. 68. 79 Kumar, Communal Riots, p. 69. 80 See Kumar, Communal Riots in India. 81 Ibid., p. 70.

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streets of Gaya for two hours, with important Congress leaders holding up Gandhiji’s and Nehru’s portraits, shouted slogans such as Noakhali ka badla le kar rahenge, and Hindustan Hinduon ka, nahin kisi ke bap ka.82 Kaleem Aajiz observed that the agrarian violence of Noakhali was portrayed as communal violence and in retaliation, the inflammatory and exaggerated reporting of nationalist newspapers fuelled the fire of communal violence in Bihar.83

Muslim Exodus from Bihar Jagat Narain Lal, a leading Congressman and erstwhile secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, organized an anti-Noakhali meeting at Patna, and led a procession with provocative banners and slogans. A. P. Wavell recorded that the outbreaks were planned by the lower rungs of the Congress. Some of them confessed to Gandhi for having joined the rioters.84 Nehru also reported that, notwithstanding the involvement of some Congressmen (who had Hindu Mahasabha inclinations), several other Congressmen did excellent work in 1946. The League obstructed relief and rehabilitation works, discouraging Muslim refugees, who had left Bihar due to the riots, from returning to their villages — rather they actively forced them to migrate from Bihar whereas, by late December 1946, the refugees wanted to leave the Asansol camps and return to their homes in Bihar.85 The League, in fact, was more interested in making a political capital out of this than in helping the evacuees.86 The geographical vagueness of Pakistan was more acute in Bihar than anywhere else. This was evident from the quickly shifting views of the League about the Bihar Muslims. In November 1946, the League demanded that a committee should be appointed to plan and arrange for the exchange of population and property (with Muslim majority provinces).87 By mid-December, some League leaders had realized that 82

CID SB 40/1946 vol. II. Cf. Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi. Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, p. 93. 84 Mansergh (ed.), ToP, vol. 9, pp. 140, 150; Sinha, Mere Sansmaran, p. 425. 85 Cabinet Note, 14 January 1947, File No. 5/12/46; Home Pol., GoI (1946); NAI, in Sarkar (ed.), Towards Freedom, p. 744. 86 Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi, the Last Phase (MGLP), vol. 2, p. 648. 87 ToP, vol. 9, p. 130. 83

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the mass transfer of population was impractical. Yet, many Muslims did not foresee that creation of Pakistan would mean migration to some place far away from their land of birth and of strong emotional ties. Many believed that Pakistan would mean only a province of Muslims within Bihar (and not a separate state/homeland).88 The Bihar Muslim League leader, Abdul Aziz, wrote an Urdu pamphlet, Haadsaat-e-Bihar Par Ek Nazar in which he urged upon the government to provide armed protection to Muslims in certain areas.89 But the exodus of Muslims from Bihar continued. In early February, the AIML Working Committee demanded that at least 10 per cent of Bihari Muslims should be given licenses for arms, and to protect the Muslim populated pockets, 50 per cent in the police force should be Muslims. However, by early 1947, the idea of pockets and the partition of Bihar (as provided by the Bihar Muslim League, wherein there was a confusion as to whether ‘Pakistan’ will be created where it is today or it will be formed in Bihar itself in some Muslim majority districts) had become a favourable proposition even to Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind. Having seen the exodus of Muslims in uncertain conditions, there were advocates for the division of Bihar, and such ideas were aired. The Muslim Students Federation (MSF) issued a pamphlet titled ‘Divide Bihar’ at Gaya, in April 1947. This proposed that the homeland for the 5 million Muslims was to include the regions of Purnea, South Bhagalpur, South Munger, Patna, Jehanabad, Nawada, Gaya, etc.90 In the second conference of ‘Divide Bihar’ at Patna (11 May 1947), as much as 1/6th area in Bihar for the formation of a national homeland for the 50 lakh of helpless, unprotected and oppressed Muslims of the province.91 In another meeting of ‘Divide Bihar’ at Gaya, on 19 April 1947, Bihar’s division into Hindu and non-Hindu autonomous provinces with separate ministries each to be made directly responsible to the governor was demanded, as also the formation of two interim governments at the centre — one in charge of the Pakistan provinces 88

Mahboob Ahmad Warsi to Jinnah in Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, p. 801. Syed Abdul Aziz, Haadsaat-e-Bihar Par ek Nazar, 25 October 1946 se 28 February 1947 Tak, Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Library, Dilkusha, 1947. 90 Pyarelal, MGLP, p. 681. 91 Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, vol. 1, part 1, p. 801, M. A. Warsi to Jinnah, 19 May 1947. 89

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and another in charge of the Hindustan provinces.92 The meeting expressed its agony over the 1946 riots, and indicted the Congress ministry for its failures or complicity. It stressed that [t]he Congress hopelessly and totally failed to protect the life, honour, property and religion of the Muslim minority of the province. Hence, it (Bihar) be forthwith partitioned into Hindu and Non Hindu autonomous provinces and separate ministries be immediately formed for the Hindu and Non-Hindu autonomous provinces, and each ministry be made responsible to the Governor.93

This latter idea was, perhaps, only vaguely present among the common rural Muslim masses, because these sections of people had neither the idea nor the imagination to believe that Pakistan could be formed somewhere else. Nor did they anticipate that they would have to migrate elsewhere. They vaguely — and somewhat gullibly — thought that they would only be governed by the League rather than by the Congress;94 or that the League would help them gain their proportionate share in the structures and processes of power. Nevertheless, the migration of Muslims from Bihar had begun soon after the riots. In the Patna refugee camps, the League propaganda that the Hindus were planning to attack the Muslims from all sides between 22 December 1946 and 3 January 1947 resulted in a further exodus of Bihari Muslims to Bengal.95 There was acute disillusionment among Muslims who had been supporting the Congress, and now had to migrate. The rioters had not shown any mercy even to such Muslims (Congress Muslims) and their families. For example, when the Secretary of the Telmar Congress Committee refused to take shelter in the house of the nearby Khusraupur Zamindar household of the Husains, he was

92

Ibid., p. 805. Some people I interviewed in the villages around Muzaffarpur in 1998–99 also confirmed this, 20 December 1998. 93 Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 801–2. 94 Attia Hosain, Sunlight on a Broken Column, Delhi: Penguin, 1961. The central character of the novel cannot imagine that Delhi, Agra and Lucknow will not be included in the proposed Pakistan. 95 Sada-e-Aam, 2 January 1947. This Urdu newspaper of Patna was launched in 1942.

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confident that no one would touch a Congress Muslim. But he was killed with 16 members of his family. The Momins were among the worst sufferers in Biharshareef [both in May 1941, and June 1946 riots which started from a village Andhana], despite the fact that they had been supporters of the Congress. They alleged that many people high up in the Congress had taken part in the riot.96

The Muslim League played a leading role in organizing the exodus of Bihar Muslims. Yet, the Congress also cannot be absolved of this, because it was the riots of 1946 which ‘saw the crystallization of communal identities. A combination of propaganda and the dimensions of the riot metamorphosed community consciousness among Hindus and Muslims into political identities’.97 The party (Congress) failed at another level as well. The Congress policies and attitudes towards the minorities, and especially towards the Muslims, demonstrated an unhealthy association with Hindu communal forces. In consequence, Congress institutions failed to gain the confidence of Muslims of all sections of the community. Perhaps the most serious of all the police were seen to be clearly biased in favour of the majority community. Thus, both during the period in office from 1939 to 1939 and during the critical year of 1946, a considerable number of district committee actively encouraged communal rioting. In this vital respect, the Congress in power revealed itself to be a God with feet of clay while the economic betrayal of the poorest classes may have been serious enough, the failure to protect the religious minority constituted, in the long term, a far more serious failure on the part of Congress. Indeed, it was a failure which helped to set the scene for a sad history of communal friction in post-independence India.98

Thus, it is necessary that an analysis be made of the economic, political and social context in which communal–separatism took its ugliest form in the 1940s. The post-World War II situation effected a great change in India and Bihar: rising inflation, increasing unemployment, and adding to these problems was demobilization of two million soldiers from the Indian army. As a natural corollary of these problems 96

CID SB 40/1946, vol. ii, cited in Ghosh, ‘The 1946 Riots and the Exodus of Bihari Muslims to Dhaka’. 97 Damodaran, Broken Promises, p. 373. 98 Ibid.

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emerged a series of agrarian upheavals and gory communal rioting. In several districts, communal rioting and agrarian unrest broke out almost simultaneously. The storm centres of the Kisan Sabhas were also the hotbed of communalism. The Gaya, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Munger, and Bhagalpur districts were most disturbed regions of Bihar in 1945–1946. Thus, all ideologies — nationalism, religious communalism, and peasant unrest — coexisted and operated at several different layers of consciousness. A careful scrutiny of the internal dynamics of the communal riots of the 1930s and 1940s reveals that mere elite manipulation was not the only reason for the growing incidents of communal riots.99 In Bihar, sectarian conflict and class conflict coexisted, and one cannot identify which of the two contradictions was primary. The communal polarization had already assumed a popular dimension during 1880–1920 around the issues of cow protection and playing music before mosques. And the polarization was never confined to the elite alone.

Post-World War II A quick survey of the economic situation of Bihar in the post World War II era will give an idea about the context which was defining the politics of nationalism and separatism. The post-war inflation reached its zenith in 1943–44, and then started slackening by 1946. It again began increasing due to the failure of rice and rabbi harvest. Thus, the hoarding and black-marketing of grain increased in Barh, Buxar and Daltonganj. Food scarcity prevailed in Saran, Hajipur, Munger, Chotanagpur, etc. Newspapers like Searchlight and People’s Age give us the details. Indian industry was hit hard, and demand had slackened. Distress sales and mortgaging of land became frequent. By 1940, the rural crisis was accentuated by the prospect of the abolition zamindari. Evictions became common. All these developments resulted in massive agrarian rioting. By the time Congress formed the ministry in April 1946, Bihar was rioting on a massive scale. Police went on strike demanding an increase in pay and perks to keep up with rising inflation. This was followed by worker strikes in industries. There was acute economic discontent not only among the peasantry but also among

99 For details about the configuration of communal and agrarian rioting that developed in Bihar in 1946, see Damodaran, Broken Promises.

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government employees, including the law enforcing bureaucracy. The Bihar administration also suffered from acute resource constraints: lower-rung policemen were not getting their salaries, and the constabulary had gone on strike. Sir Henry Dow, the Bihar Governor (earlier he was the Sindh Governor), wrote to Viceroy Wavell on 11 June 1946 complaining that the annual budget for Sindh and Bihar were the same whereas Sindh had only 4.5 million of population and Bihar had 36 million. As a result public works were neglected. Besides this, government employees like the school teachers in Bihar were getting a meager salary of Rs 7.5 per month, with a dearness allowance of Rs 4 only, and that too was being paid ‘only intermittently and in arrears or even not at all’ for which both the politicians and the bureaucracy had utter ‘apathy because there was no money to alter it’.100 Colonialists’ compulsion to transfer power had become imminent. Therefore, the Muslim League began challenging the Congress’ bid for supremacy. By 1946, Jinnah was looming large on Indian politics as the ‘sole spokesman’ of the Muslim political factions.101 Communal propaganda and passions were running high, pushing the situation on the brink of widespread rioting. The League took full advantage of the period of 1942–45 when Congressmen were in jails: it built up its organizational machinery. The end of first Congress ministry in 1939 had seen a rapid development of the League, more particularly and significantly in Muslim minority (aqliyat) provinces. This was accompanied by growing communal tension at the popular level. During the War years, the League had succeeded broadening its base through various novel mechanisms and methodologies, slogans, populism and propaganda, etc., and mobilized the Muslim majority provinces around the communal banner, and over the demand of ‘Pakistan’ that was conveniently unspecific and vague. In Bihar, by 1944, recurrent meetings of Pakistan Conferences were being held in several towns, and in the country side. The Muslim League National Guards’ militant outfits were aiding the League in bringing huge crowds to its meetings. Students and educated unemployed youths were especially attracted towards it.102 100

ToP, vol. 7, p. 874. Jalal, The Sole Spokesman. 102 Y. B. Mathur, Growth of Muslim Politics in India, Delhi: Pragati, 1979, pp. 218–20. 101

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Similarly, the Hindu Mahasabha was also becoming increasingly stronger in Bihar. It was aided by the RSS. Its membership increased dramatically. It believed that India would not be able to overcome her national problems, or achieve a prominent international position until the Hindu community had organized effectively. By 1940, it had branches all over India.103 Its main base was urban areas, but had spread down to the villages also. The Arya Samaj’s and the Hindu Mahasabha’s Shudhi campaign had already entrenched itself in the remotest villages. The RSS gave military training to its cadres. Its recruits were students, unemployed youths, lower middle class, shopkeepers, clerks and tradesman. By 1946, a large number of its cadres were actively engaged in whipping up Hindu communal feelings. The attitude of the Congress towards the Hindu Mahasabha was interesting for, though the official leadership of the Congress declared firmly that it would have nothing to do with Hindu communal parties, many lower level Congress functionaries were active in the Hindu Mahasabha and sympathetic to its ideology.104

The activities of all these organizations increased the communal tension in Bihar. Communal riots became quite frequent, erupting most of the time, over petty matters. Though, during 1940–45, few communal riots took place, and religious propaganda was also kept low. However, the 1941 riots of Biharshareef were bad and had political consequences. About these riots, Rajendra Prasad wrote, I saw heartrending scenes. I was deeply pained by the aggressive mood of both Hindus and Muslims, who forgot their religion and humanity. Though both the communities had suffered, the Muslim toll was heavier … villages … were reported to have been affected.105

Taqi Raheem felt that the Biharshareef riots of 1941 were as fatal as the Shahabad riots of 1917; and that these riots created tremendous bad blood between the two communities impacting upon their future

103 J. A. Curran, Militant Hinduism in Indian Politics, New York: International Secretariat, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1951, p. 61. 104 Damodaran, Broken Promises, p. 314. 105 Prasad, Autobiography, p. 518.

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political relations. Contrary to his observations, Muslim participation in the Quit India Movement was fairly good (elaborated in Chapter Four). After 1944–45, there was ‘good deal of uneasiness’. The pro-Congress newspapers of Bihar like the Searchlight, and The Indian Nation, and the Muslim League paper like Dawn were rousing passions of the respective communities. While the former two newspapers ‘accused the police of indiscriminate arrest of Hindus’, the latter ‘demanded the infliction of punitive police, collective fines etc., on the Hindus in the area’.106 ‘Most provocative editorials were written, for example by the Searchlight, and even Gandhiji’s statements were distorted’.107 The RSS–Hindu Mahasabha kept propagating the politics of hate and vengeance, and that ‘to establish Hindu Raj, extermination of Muslim was quite necessary’.108 Their activities had increased so dangerously that Ramesh Jha of the Bhagalpur Congress Socialist Party demanded from S. K. Sinha that the RSS must be banned.109 The Muslim League viewed the rising communal tensions in Bihar with some satisfaction, as it provided the best context in which to use the Bihar elections of 1946. The Bihar Congress had been overtaken by its extreme right wing members. Many Congressmen were in jail. During the poll campaigns and meetings, the private armies of zamindars were used to stifle the dissent against the Congress.110 The alienation of the Muslims against the Congress was so high that even the greatest Muslim stalwart of the Congress, Abdul Bari, lost the election. The only Congress Muslim to win was Syed Mahmud, with the help of the Momin Conference that too, with much difficulty and the poll campaign in his constituency showed how much deep the League had gone into the masses.111 It should however be significantly noted that the Momin Conference had still held its ground. This can

106 The Fortnightly Report for Bihar for second half of June 1946. File No. 18/6/1946; Home Pol. GoI, NAI, in Sarkar (ed.), Towards Freedom, p. 745. 107 People’s Age, 10 November 1946. 108 Punam Kumari, Chatra Andolan ka Itihaas, Delhi: Radha Publications, 1999, p.157. 109 A Circular, Government of Bihar, File No. 201/44. 110 People’s Age, 24 February 1946. 111 Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism, and the Partition.

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be partly explained because the Congress ministry in 1937–39 had tried to do something concrete to win over the Momins, and had approached them with some welfare measures. On the whole, the 1930s ministry provided 15000 rupees for special scholarships to Momins and other backward classes among Muslims, and made a grant of free-studentships to Momins enrolled in colleges, irrespective of whether they got any merit scholarship or not.112

Even the 1946 ministry of the Congress had thought to pursue this kind of policy. [It] set aside a sum of 200,000 rupees for backward Muslims, and started 500 maktabs throughout the province for the education of backward Muslims. It decided to build a separate hostel for backward Muslim students at Patna at the cost of 60000 rupees. Seven hundred scholarships of the value of three, five, and seven rupees per month were launched for them in schools, and 80 of the value of 15, 20, and 25 rupees per month for those enrolled in colleges, and 15 scholarships for Arabic students. Six thousand rupees were set aside for libraries run by backward Muslims and 12000 rupees as grants-in-aid for schools and madarsas run by backward Muslims.113

Thus, in the 1946 elections, of a total of forty Muslims seats, 32 went to the League, six went to the Momins, and two to independent Muslims. The Congress was nil on the Muslim seats. Thus, the communal divide seemed more unbridgeable than ever before, and the stage was set for the bitter communal killings of October–November 1946. On 16 April 1946, the Congress had formed the ministry. The ministers, including the Prime Minister (Premier) S. K. Sinha, came mainly from the Congress right wing. Food scarcity, economic crises, unemployment, hoarding, black-marketing, general crime — all were rising. Police strikes had already taken place. In such a situation, the Congress ministry showed utter inefficiency. Widespread agrarian agitation over the restoration of bakasht land, and against the exploitative 112

AICC 34/1939, Press Note-1: What Government have Done to Further Muslim Interests; cf. Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation, p. 20. 113 Searchlight, 26 November 1946.

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incursions of the zamindars was occurring in 11 districts (out of 17) of Bihar from the summer of 1946 onwards. These peasant actions included both Hindu and Muslim peasants who made common cause against the zamindars. In November 1946, this situation had changed; communal rioting now engulfed rural areas. Between October and December 1946, Bihar witnessed one of the worst communal outrages in history. In August 1946, the great Calcutta killings had changed the situation. Many people from Bihar were living in Calcutta engaged in different professions, and in most of the cases these Bihar families survived on money remitted from Calcutta by the bread-winners of the family. Hence, a communal violence in Calcutta had immediate impact in Bihar where the disturbances were further accentuated by the newspaper reports inspired by the Mahasabha ideology. In the early stages, the press were restrained in their comments, but they were not so later on when both the Searchlight and The Indian Nation accused the police of indiscriminate arrest of Hindus … The Muslim League paper Dawn had a leader on the subject in which it demanded the infliction of punitive police, collective fines etc on the Hindus in the area.114

The communal tension had reached a breaking point, where slightest of dispute was provocative and explosive enough. In two instances of trivial and ordinary disputes in cinema deteriorated into escalating communal violence in the form of riots in Monghyr and elsewhere. In one case, a Muslim boy was pushed out of the seat by a Hindu employee at the cinema, resulting in 200 Muslim boys marching towards the cinema, understandably to settle scores. In another incident in Monghyr town, an altercation over a seat resulted in one man getting assaulted. Some persons spread the rumour that this case had a communal background. Consequently, four Muslims playing music at a Hindu family’s tilak ceremony were brutally assaulted by a mob of Hindus, and one of them succumbed to death. In Benibad village of Muzaffarpur many Muslims were killed on 27 September 1946, and

114

Fortnightly Report for Bihar, second half of June 1946, File No. 18/6/46, Home Pol. GoI (1946), NAI, in Sarkar (ed.), Towards Freedom, p. 745.

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their houses were burnt on account of a rumour that a Bengali (Hindu) girl had been brought from Calcutta by a Muslim of the village.115 A mob of 20,000 attacked and looted this village, killing about 14, amongst whom most were Congress Muslims including Hafiz Mohammad Shafi… the situation was made worse by speeches, writings and lectures of certain Hindu leaders such as Mr. Jagat Narain Lal, MLA, and Mr. Murli [Manohar Prasad, 1893–1961], editor, Searchlight.116

Shri Krishna Sinha ‘visited the scene, called for a detailed report from the Commissioner, and then went off to Simla on a month long holiday’.117 As if holidaying in Simla was more necessary than preventing the massacre! After Sinha left for Simla, the Revenue Minister, Krishna Ballabh Sahay, demanded immediate punishment of the officers, including the Sub Divisional Magistrate, without waiting for the Commissioner’s report. Two constables were recommended punishment, but the sub-inspector who had run away was exonerated. In the face of such administrative prejudice, inaction and paralysis, the communities started arming themselves against each other.118 Moreover, the Congress ministry in Bihar made no efforts to scale down the inflated rumours of the numbers who had died.119 Instead, it attempted to make political capital out of the matter and, on 25 October, the provincial ministry in Bihar authorized the celebration of Noakhali Day to mourn the death of Hindus in East Bengal. This ill-advised action further provoked the feelings of the communities against each other. ‘The Congress Working Committee held that the outbreak of 115 Fortnightly Report, the second half of September 1946, File No. 18/9/46. NAI. 116 Report on Bihar Riots (October–November 1946) by Naranjan Singh Gill, 20 February 1947, Zaidi, Jinnah Papers, vol. 1, part 2, p. 46 (Henceforth, Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots). 117 Sir Henry Dow to Wavell, dated 26 October 1946, ToP, vol. 8, London, 1979, Document No. 519, p. 813. 118 Ibid. 119 Francis Tucker, While Memory Serves, London: Cassell, 1950, pp. 182–84.

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brutality was direct result of policies of hate, intimidation and civil strife that the Muslim League had practiced for years past’.120 Another reason of communal conflict was Hindu resentment against Muslims sharing political power. This was noted by H. Dow, in his letter to Wavell, From the tone of the press it may be gathered that in this predominantly Hindu province there is general disappointment that the Muslim Leauge have decided to enter the Interim Government. From the Hindu point of view, Pandit Nehru and his colleagues were getting on very nicely: the new Muslim members are criticized as being nobodies, and the inclusion of an Ambedkarite from the depressed classes arouses particular anger.121

N. S. Gill (1906–92) concluded, The [Bihar] Government must have been aware of the seriousness of the situation and should have taken adequate steps for the prevention of any large scale riots. Instead, in spite of Section 144, the Government allowed the holding of Noakhali Day. For two days, 25th and 26th of October [1946], large meetings and processions, headed by the Congress leaders, were held in Patna and slogans such as Khun ka badla khun se lenge (We will avenge blood with blood) were shouted, bringing the crowds to a frenzy point. This was the spark that set fire.122

Francis Tucker records that, between 31 October and 2 November 1946, 8000 men, women and children were butchered. However, Anugraha Narayan Sinha (1887–1957), the Finance Minister, put the figure of death toll at 300–400.123 In Fatuha, the majority of the people who attacked were lower caste Kurmis, Goalas and Dusadhs. In Kanchanpur, both the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha were especially active before the riots. The cry of Jai Mahabir had become a rallying cry for Hindu militants who saw Hanuman, the monkey God,

120

Hindustan Times, 23 October 1946. Sir Henry Dow to Lord Wavell, 26 October 1946, ToP, vol. 8, London, 1979, Document No. 519, p. 812. 122 Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots, p. 47. 123 Free Press Journal, 4 November 1946. 121

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as representing the power and vigour of Hinduism. In the village of Kanchanpur, the mass rape of women took place and, after the rape, they were killed and thrown into wells. The rapes of women during the communal riots symbolized the attempt by one community to defile and humiliate the other. It was rarely an act motivated by sexual desire, rather more by vengeance.124 During 1880–1920, the participation of the Ahirs, Koeris and Kurmis in anti-cow killing riots was directed at improving their ritual status, and at emphasizing the purity of their faith.125 But in 1946, looting belongings became another motive. The Zamindar of Pachrukhi (Munger) noted, ‘the Hindus in my village are looking at the houses left behind by fleeing Muslims, and are determined not to allow them to rehabilitate’. In villages like Kanchanpur (Fatwah) and others, there is evidence of the complicity of zamindars in fomenting riots. Jawaharlal Nehru visited many parts of Bihar and addressed several public meetings during 4–9 November 1946, and he wrote to Patel (on 5 November 1946) that some educated people of the Hindu Sabha variety were involved in the riots, and that ‘some landlords backed these disturbances partly to divert attention of their tenantry from agrarian problem, partly to discredit the ministry. It is also said that the black market element also gave encouragement’.126 In Gaya, arms were supplied by local zamindars and by a mahanth of Loghar. The newspapers of December 1946 alleged that the zamindars were trying to defuse agrarian tension by inciting communal riots, and dividing the exploited tenants along communal lines. At a zamindar conference held at Patna under the Darbhanga Maharaj, some zamindars suggested making the kisans and khet mazdoors fight among themselves.127 However, zamindars were not

124

Damodaran, Broken Promises, p. 344. Pandey, The Construction of Communalism, p. 192. 126 S. Gopal (ed.), Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, second series, vol. 1, New Delhi, 1984, p. 63. 127 It may be recalled here that it was Darbhanga Maharaj (Rameshwar Singh) who along with the Bihar Landholders’ Association and the leaders like Sachidanand Sinha, Langat Singh, Deep Narayan Singh, Parmeshwar Lal, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Anugraha Narayan Sinha, Krishna Ballabh Sahay, etc., had revived the Bihar Hindu Sabha in August 1911. See J. S. Jha, ‘An Unpublished Correspondence’, pp. 339–44. 125

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the only elite group actively fomenting the agitation. In Chapra, this trend was quite visible. ‘Mutual hate has grown so far that even the office-bearers of the town Congress Committee and Muslim League helped in fomenting the trouble by their rabid propaganda’.128 ‘Hindu Sabhaites, Arya Samajis, profiteers and Zamindars, who have recently entrenched themselves inside the Congress organization, exploited its fair name to aid their nefarious propaganda’.129 Traders and merchants were also actively involved in financing some of the operations. In Masaurhi, the local rice and flourmill proprietors organized the rioters, and the mill sirens were used to collect and disrupt the rioters. At a time when the peasantry was under severe economic pressure, loot constituted a major temptation. ‘The reactions of the Congress ministry to the communal rioting, was markedly inefficient’. At many other places, the policemen were instigating riots rather than protecting the Muslims.130 In Chapra, ‘behind all this instigation was the connivance and active assistance of the police and the bureaucracy’.131 In some of the cases, the DIG Police, Blewitt let off the culprits by saying, ‘Let bygones be bygones’.132 Colonial culpability by being unhelpful in dousing the fire of communal violence is evident in the fact that the Chief Minister’s desperate appeal to Army chief, Brigadier Goadby, for military help fell on deaf ears: he replied that the situation was not as serious as in August 1942, and that civil administration was not that paralyzed. The Inspector General of Police agreed with Brigadier Goadby, and assured the Premier that his police would soon bring the situation under control.133

Badshah Khan shared with N. S. Gill that the British put obstacles in the way of effective dealing of the riots. Whereas to suppress the 1942 riots they sent soldiers in batches of two and three all over the country, they refused to do so now. The Prime Minister himself went to Ranchi to get military support but even then it 128

People’s Age, 10 November 1946. Ibid. 130 Agrarian Disputes in Munger, File No. 6 (1)/ 47. 131 People’s Age, 10 November 1946. 132 Ibid. 133 Ibid. 129

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was delayed. The police joined in to create trouble to please the British ... The Governor went to Bombay to receive his wife when the riots were in full progress … There was some softness in the Government’s dealing with the riots … the relief is totally inadequate and not a single house has yet been rebuilt. Corrupt and inefficient administration is making relief work worse.134

The Congress ministry was also to be blamed. The number of criminal cases filed after the riots were pitifully low. Most of the (Hindu) accused were acquitted.135 Moreover, the administrative inaction to contain the riots was inspired by additional reasons. The Congress was afflicted with two factions: the Brahmans/Bhumihar-Brahmans, and the Kayasthas; ‘the latter being out to bring the former into disgrace’ which ‘brought about softness and hesitation in Government actions and so failed to prevent riots in spite of warnings. The police either watched silently, or in other cases, actively encouraged the Hindus’.136 Murli Manohar Prasad himself admitted that ‘he did write strong articles … he never expected such serious barbaric riots’.137 In his Urdu memoir, Kaleem Aajiz (b. 1926) has protested against this kind of communalism. He writes that the agrarian riots of Noakhali were presented by such news-writers/leaders of Patna as communal riots. He recalls that a procession of the Congress leaders, with highly provocative slogans, was brought out passing through the Muradpur– B. N. College Road of Patna.138 Whereas, just four years back, during the Quit India Movement of August–September 1942, this particular spot had witnessed the anti-colonial assertion unitedly by both Hindus and Muslims when one Abdul Quddus was passionately shouting anti-colonial slogans: Kaleem Aajiz, the famous poet of Patna, in his characteristic Urdu prose, recalls in his autobiography that one

134

Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots, p. 51. Rajendra Prasad Papers, File No. 6-B/1946. 136 Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots, p. 47. 137 Ibid., p. 51. 138 Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, p. 93; MGLP, p. 634. Note: Kaleem Aajiz belongs to a village Tilhara which suffered a huge massacre on 3 November 1946, killing 150 persons including one assistant inspector of police. (Free Press Journal, 6 November 1946, in Sarkar (ed.), Towards Freedom, p. 748). 135

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Abdul Quddus, looking straight into the eyes of a repressive, cruel police inspector, kept shouting the slogans, with even greater passion, in front of the B. N. College of Patna and ultimately that made an impact on the police inspector who joined the ranks of the nationalist crusaders. By 1946 however, according to Kaleem Aajiz, ironically, politics and social relations were changing too fast.139 All these added insult to the injury of the Muslims, and the Muslim League played up all this. The Socialists, who were conducting relief work, often found themselves hampered by the local Congress leadership. The relief was poor and slow, as observed by Dr Syed Mahmud. To the Benibad victims, the promised amount of relief of Rs 40,000 remained undelivered, cases of looting continued to happen till February 1947, and Mahmud had received applications from 400 Muslims wishing to go to Sind.140 Another great worry of the Muslims was house-search, which was quite tortuous and harassing, so much so that it accelerated the process of migration.141 All in all, the Congress ministry dealt with the riots completely inefficiently and without seriousness. It instituted no official enquiry, imposed no collective fines, and arrested very few. The police had also shown themselves to be hopelessly biased and had almost entirely lost the trust of the Muslim. This was the one main opportunity the Congress organization was to have to strongly attack Hindu communalism, to build itself an image as a secular party, and to create a politically and communally unbiased police force. It fouled on all counts, and lost what little support it had once had amongst the Muslims. There was a political corollary to this. Henceforth, until the 1950s, Hindu communal parties like the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS were able to ally themselves closely with the Congress and thereby increase their popular support in Bihar. The disastrous consequence of this Congress policy is still keenly felt today, particularly by the Muslim population.142

139

Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, p. 288. Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots 47; MGLP, records the amount to be Rs 45,000, p. 643. 141 PS (1) 27/ 1946. Also reported by Dawn, 21 November 1947. Some other newspapers also reported this. 142 Damodaran, Broken Promises, p. 356. 140

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Thus, the clinching event for the League’s notion of Pakistan was the riots of 1946 which ‘saw the crystallization of communal identities’, which ‘metamorphosed community consciousness into political identities’. It was from the core areas of the riots that the Bihar Muslims migrated first to Bengal after Partition, mainly to the then East Pakistan. It is significant to note that ‘Pakistan came to be visualized as the embodiment of the sacrifice of the Bihar Muslims in the riots of 1946’.143 Urdu writer Taqi Raheem emphasizes this point. He also indicts the growing communalization of the Congress, which according to him, was most responsible for the 1946 riots, and the consequent migrations. He writes, In Noakhali, Muslim rioters killed hundreds of Hindus, burnt thousands of Houses, raped women ... and the government took time to check it ... But the Congress leaders of the stature of Sucheta Kriplani and Acharya Kriplani and others, along with the Hindu controlled press blow it out of proportion ... Bihar’s newspapers like Searchlight, Indian Nation, Aryavart, Pradeep all published inflammatory news. The Searchlight and Pradeep were Congress newspapers. Its editor Murli Manohar Prasad was an old Congressman. Searchlight was brought out by the personal finance of Syed Hasan Imam. Bihar was already in flames. The announcement of observing 25th October as Naokhali Day by K. B. Sahay, Murli Manohar Prasad, Jagat Narain Lal, etc., added fuel to the fire. Thus, from 25th October, stabbings and killings started from Patna itself many provocative slogans like ‘Khoon ka badla khoon sey lengey’ were shouted. In the conference at Gandhi Maidan, the Congressmen delivered extremely inflammatory speeches (which were resented by Abdul Bari on the stage itself ). Then the riot spread to Chapra, Bhagalpur, Banka etc. The central target of these riots was the Magadh region, which was considered as the religious, educational, cultural centre of the Muslims of Bihar.144

If Chapra had produced a towering nationalist like Mazharul Haq, then Magadh had produced dozens of great nationalist Muslims. Moulvi Ali Kareem (Dumri); Sarfarosh Salar-e-Azadi; Nawab Imdad Khan Azar; Fazle Haq Azimabadi; Dr Azimuddin Ahmad (1880–1949), 143 144

Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation. Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi; Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, p. 93.

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Justice Syed Md Sharfuddin (1856–1921); Syed Ali Imam; Syed Hasan Imam (Neora); Md Yunus (Penhara); Sir Sultan Ahmad; Shah Zubair (Arwal); Maulana Sajjad (Penhasa); Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (Desna); and numerous others. But ‘in this riot, the Hindus completely devastated those villages which were the repository of rich cultural heritage’.145 He further says that local Congressmen instigated all the riots. Therefore, ‘the Muslims lost faith in them and they came to realize that whatever might be the intention of the Muslims, the Hindus themselves believed in the two nation theory’ and that they considered the Muslims to be an ‘alien population (ghair qaum)’.146 Badshah Khan had also observed that the Hindu Mahasabha members, working under the Congress label, were distributing incendiary pamphlets advocating the killing of Muslims.147 More importantly, it should also be noted that the colonial hand in exacerbating the communal situation and their willful mishandling of the riots were no less important a factor. K. A. Hamied (the founder of the pharmaceutical firm CIPLA, and a close associate of Gandhiji) in his autobiography (1972) records that, ‘the worse possible riots [1946] took place only in towns where the District Magistrates and other officials were British’.148 Having seen the gulf between the Muslims and the Congress, the League, in its last bid for clinching the notion of Pakistan at any cost, made Husain Shaheed Suhrawardy (1892–1963; from 3 July 1946 to 15 August 1947, he was the chief minister of the Bengal) announce in Bihar that he was ready to give settlement to Bihari Muslims in Bengal. He had set up a relief camp at Asansol for Bihari Muslims from where they could go to Dhaka. Others got attracted to the supposedly greener pastures in West Pakistan. Hence, in Karachi, a

145 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, pp. 521–23. For profiles of most of the eminent persons mentioned here, see Iqbal Husain (1905–91), Daastan Meri (Urdu memoir), Patna: KBL, 1989, pp. 350–482. 146 Ibid., p. 526. 147 ‘Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots’, p. 51. 148 K. A. Hamied’s autobiography excerpted in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), Islam in South Asia, vol. VI: Soundings on Partition and its Aftermath, Delhi: Manohar, 2010, p. 11.

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separate Bihari colony of construction labourers came into existence even before Pakistan was formally created.149 This raises a few questions. Who were the Muslims who chose to migrate? Why did they so choose and who/what made them to do so? A simple answer to these questions would be that mostly either riot victims migrated, or fear-psychosis made others migrate. However, there were other factors at work also. ‘The Bihari muhajirs in East Pakistan held a variety of skilled and semiskilled jobs as mechanics, artisans, shopkeepers, and labourers in the jute industry and the railways’. As Urdu speakers, the Biharis had an advantage over Bengalis in managerial positions that required knowledge of Pakistan’s official national language. Moreover, some of the wealthier Biharis migrated towards West Pakistan. In order to induce further migration, Maulana Abdul Quddus Bihari, Chairman of the Bihar Relief Committee (Karachi) and also of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam began propagating that there was a better scheme of land and flats to be given to them in Karachi by January 1947.150 Quddus presented the province of Sindh as a destination that offered openings for traders, cultivators, labourers, contractors, manufacturers, weavers and professionals, and therefore was the ‘best substitute for Bihar’.151 The Sind government announced that 800 plots of 500 square yards each, totaling 10,000 acres, had been set aside near the Karachi municipal border in Golimar for the construction of a Bihar model colony. The PWD minister, M. A. Khuhro, outlined that the construction of the Lower Sindh Barrage would bring an area of 60,000 acres under cultivation within two years, and these would be allotted to Muslim immigrants.152 149

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 527 Papiya Ghosh has explored this aspect in detail in her Partition and the South Asian Diaspora: Extending the Subcontinent, Delhi: Routledge, 2007, p. 7; Ghosh, ‘Reinvoking the Pakistan of the 1940s’; besides this well-researched work, some fictional depictions help reconstruct history to an extent. Abdus Samad’s award-winning Urdu novel Do Gaz Zameen, Lucknow: Nusrat Publishers, 1988, could be a better reference. 151 Morning News, 1, 13, 15 January 1947, cited in Ghosh, Partition and the South Asian Diaspora, p. 8. 152 Ghosh, Partition and the South Asian Diaspora, p. 8. 150

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An anecdote from an Urdu autobiography may be added here to record an instance of a Congress leader inducing Hindus to migrate from Sindh. Syed Shahabuddin Desnawi (b. 1913) recalls his meeting with Jinnah in May 1941, and during the conversation with him, Jinnah displayed some letters written by J. B. Kripalani (1888–1982) to fellow Sindhi Hindu (traders) of Karachi, persuading them to shift to Bombay. In these letters, Kripalani promised to extend all kinds of help in shipments. In other words, India’s partition was visualized by Kripalani even before May 1941.153 An Urdu short story by Ibrahim Jalees (1923–77), depicts that its character Ayesha, daughter of a motor mechanic in Patna and wife of a taxi-driver, had migrated to East Pakistan in 1947.154 The bulk of the migrations took place from Patna, Munger, Gaya, and Purnea, which were worst hit by the riots in 1946. It has been estimated that more than 50,000 railway employees from Bihar were absorbed in East Pakistan. A mix of factors was there under consideration for migration, which promised better livelihood, better career prospects, and the anticipation of an atmosphere unlike that of Bihar in 1946 where, in many cases, the state machinery and the cadres of the lower units of the Congress were seen to be colluding with the rioters. Moreover, migration remained a slow (and to an extent imperceptible) process with considerable reluctance on the part of kin to share aspects of their lives. There were some people who migrated as late as in 1964–65, when there were communal riots in India (specially in Calcutta, Jamshedpur and Rourkela, where a good number of the Muslims of Bihar lived in the hinterland to earn money), and more particularly when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru — upon whom a large number of Muslims looked at with hope and confidence — died. Zahra Daudi (1923–2003), a vocal, un-inhibited, and rebellious writer-cum-political

153

Syed Shahabuddin Desnawi, Deedah wa Shuneedah (Urdu Memoir), Delhi: Maktaba Jamia Ltd., 1993, pp. 37–41 (This conversation with Jinnah also revealed to Desnawi that there was no constructive programme of the Muslim League, nor did Jinnah have able leaders [qabil ham nawaa] in his company). 154 Ibrahim Jalees, ‘A Grave Turned Inside-out’, in Alok Bhalla (ed.), Stories about the Partition of India, Delhi: Harper-Collins, 1994, p. 441.

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activist of Muzaffarpur, migrated to Karachi in 1964–65 along with her husband Habib Daudi, a railway officer. In her Urdu memoirs, she regrets having consented to migrate without any argument against her husband’s wish to do so — and that too without considering the pros and cons of getting uprooted, even though they were materially and otherwise quite well-off.155 However, she remains emotionally attached to their ancestral villages but wants to go back only if they could be assured of protection.156 This emotional tie also finds fictional depiction in Husain-ul-Haq’s Urdu novel, Furat (The Euphrates, 1992) in which some of the riot victims of 1946 reluctantly move to the relief camps of Asansol (Bengal), anticipating that if Pakistan’s territory reached up to there, they will be living at a relatively lesser distance from their ancestral villages and towns of Bihar. ‘Having sold out all their belongings at throw away prices in utter haste they had frantically reached Asansol expecting that the territory of “Pakistan” would reach up to there (Asansol)’, which will be closer to their ancestral places in Bihar’; it is further added that, ‘the majority of the Congressmen were considering these hapless Muslims as their slaves, whereas the Hindu communal formations were considering them as war-booty, and therefore the Muslims were sandwiched between the two political forces the Muslims were unable to come out of the worthless dreams’.157 They had Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948), a former President, Bihar Muslim League records that the League however had even paid railway fares to induce their migrations.158

155 See my essay on Zahra Daudi (1923–2003) in the Annual Hall Magazine, Sarojini Naidu Hall for girl students, AMU, Aligarh, 2011; Zahra’s father-inlaw Shafi Daudi (1875–1949) was a noted lawyer and a veteran Congressman, the founder of the District Congress in Muzaffarpur (Bihar). He had dissuaded the Muslims of his village and other villages around it from migrating; Zahra’s husband’s cousin, Col. Mahboob Ahmad (1920–92) of the INA, had also made a tour of many Muslim inhabited villages for the purpose of preventing migration (see my, Contesting Colonialism and Separatism). 156 File No. 5/12/46; Home Pol., GoI 1946, NAI; People’s Age, 22 December 1946 in Sarkar, Towards Freedom, pp. 744, 761. 157 Husain-ul-Haq, Furat, Delhi: Takhleeqkaar Publishers, 1992, p. 15. 158 Aziz, Haadsaat-e-Bihar, pp. 1–2.

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It is significant to note that while on the one hand, Muslims were being induced to migrate, the Bihar Muslim League had charted out a different course so far as territorial notions were concerned. Most of its leaders were persuading the Muslims not to migrate by throwing out a different territorial plan which neither the All India Muslim League nor any other provincial branch of the League had proposed. Rather than accepting the creation of a new nation-state, the Bihar Muslim League convened a series of the Division of Bihar Conferences. On 19 April 1947, this conference was held at Gaya under the Presidentship of Chowdhury Abid Husain, MLA (Central); Mahboob Ahmad Warsi was the General Secretary of the Conference. It adopted a resolution that, whereas the Caste Hindu-dominated Congress Ministry has hopelessly and totally failed to protect the life, honour, property and religion of the Muslim minority … this Conference demands that the province of Bihar be forthwith partitioned into Hindu and non-Hindu autonomous provinces … separate Ministries be immediately formed for Hindu and non-Hindu autonomous provinces, and each Ministry be made directly responsible to the Governor … This Conference fully supports the demand of the Adibasis for a separate autonomous province of Jharkhand.159

In the next Division of Bihar Conference at Patna’s Anjuman Islamia Hall on 11 May 1947, presided over by Mohammad Noman, MLA, it was resolved that ‘1/6th area in Bihar [should be carved out] for the formation of a national homeland for the 50 lacs of helpless, unprotected and oppressed Muslims of the province’.160 This second Conference reiterated the ‘immediate establishment of the Jharkhand Province and the formation of a separate Ministry for the said province’.161 It also condemned the Congress ministry for banning the newspaper Morning News ‘which [was] a further negation of granting civil liberties to the Muslim press by demanding securities [from the] Muslim press

159

Zaidi, Jinnah Papers, Enclosure 1 to No. 446, F. 908/93–98, p. 802. Warsi to Jinnah, 19 May 1947, in Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, F. 908/92, p. 802. 161 Zaidi (ed.) Jinnah Papers, Enclosure 2 to No. 446, F. 908/95–98, p. 804. 160

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such as the Sada-i-Aam and stopping subsidy of the Orient Press’.162 Another meeting of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League demanding ‘pockets’ for resettlement of Muslims by partitioning of Bihar, was held in Kishanganj (Purnea) in May 1947. It was presided by Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan. They demanded the inclusion of Purnea, North Bhagalpur, North Monghyr, and the Santhal Parganas in Bengal.163 Thus, quite a baffling geographical confusion about Pakistan was there even in the minds of the politically informed leadership till as late as mid-1947. Besides the idea of the division of Bihar instead of the creation of a nation-state by partitioning India, we also have some instances of communitarian cooperation in the midst of the bestiality of 1946 riots, as reported by the People’s Age. Congressman Girish Tewari led a group of people on a tour of the affected areas, persuading the angry mobs to disperse which helped saving a large number of lives in Chapra. In village Nagraj (Chapra), Narbadeshwar Pande did the same exemplary work. A number of Hindus faced the angry mobs of their own community for having given shelter to their Muslim neighbours, among them were the Communists of Dalhawa. There is also the story of a Muslim Hakim, Khuda Bakhsh, [who] had his brother slaughtered before his own eyes. But in the night he found a Hindu boy belonging to one of the murderers’ families taking shelter in his house. He fed and kept the boy for the night and sent him back with an escort, the next morning.164

Such instances were more numerous in the railway colony of Chapra as well as in the railway town of Sonepur, and also in a nearby village Sabaichak.165 The Gill’s report on the Bihar riots also concluded: There are some silver linings too. Many Muslims were saved by Hindus just as a number of Hindus were saved by their Muslim friends … I found Mr. Jaffar Imam, President of the [Bihar] Muslim League, as 162

Ibid., p. 805; also see Pyarelal, MGLP, p. 634. Report of the Events in Bihar during the second half of May 1947, cited in Datta, Freedom Movement in Bihar, vol. 3, p. 360. 164 People’s Age, 10 November 1946, in Sarkar (ed.), Towards Freedom, p. 751. 165 Ibid. 163

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a very reasonable … man, and so were a number of others … such as Mr. S. A. Aziz. Then Bihar has excellent Muslims such as Dr. Mahmud, Prof. Bari, and Col. Mahboob (I.N.A.). So why should the problem not be solved?166

An informed writer, Iqbal Husain (1905–91) made an unambiguous remark in his Urdu autobiography: ‘Muslim League Ki siyasat ne aam taur se Bihar ke musalmanon ko past himmat bana kar unhen sakht nuqsan pahunchaya (The politics of the Muslim League frustrated the Bihar Muslims, and inflicted harsh adversities upon them).167 With such an ethos of Bihar politics and society, it was hardly surprising to find that the Bihar Muslims demonstrated relatively much more strength, and were vocal in resisting the League’s territorial separatist politics of ‘two-nations’, which is the subject of the next chapter.

Œ

166 167

Gill’s Report on Bihar Riots, p. 64. Husain, Dastan Meri, p. 484.

4 Muslim Resistance to the Two-nation Theory in Bihar, 1940–47 The astonishing electoral success of the Muslim League in 1946 and

the division of India in August 1947 have led to the abiding assumption among academics and laymen that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim masses were in favour of the two-nation theory. This assumption is based largely on the studies of the Punjab, the Bengal and UP, while the other regions remain relatively less explored. This chapter argues that, as far as Bihar is concerned and unlike the areas just mentioned, strong voices were raised by Muslim communities against the separatist politics of the Muslim League. The Muslims in Bihar displayed far more affinity for mushtareka wataniyat, that is, common/ composite nationalism — the expression used by one of the Muslim leaders of the Bihar Congress, Shah Mohammad Umair (1894–1978), in his Urdu autobiography (1967), Talaash-e-Manzil (In Search of a Destination), as also for muttahidah qaumiyat, that is, united/composite nationalism — the expression used by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, the organization representing the clerics of the Deobandi school. It is remarkable that such voices were raised notwithstanding the horrendous communal riots that Bihar saw in 1946, in which Muslims were systematically targeted, and the administrative apparatus working under the Congress government was either apathetic or downright hostile. Be it recorded that the upheaval led to the exodus of Muslims on a fairly large scale from the State — a phenomenon that can be regarded as a precursor of the much larger migration that was to take place from either side of the new geopolitical divide in 1947. It is one of the ironies of history that Muslims were dislodged from an area where the community elite were far better disposed to the cause of

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the composite nationhood. We can do no more than to briefly draw attention to this aspect whose pathology deserves to be explored by scholars of disciplines like Social Psychology and Political Science. On 23 March 1940, the All India Muslim League, in its annual session at Lahore, passed a resolution, which was drafted by Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan (1892–1942) of the Punjab but moved by A. K. Fazlul Haq (1873–1962) and seconded by the Khaliquzzaman (1889–1973) respectively of the Bengal and the United Provinces. The resolution read: [T]hat geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute Independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.1

Significant here is that neither ‘Pakistan’ nor the idea of India’s partition was explicitly mentioned in the Resolution. Yet, due to a variety of reasons, tenable or otherwise, the Resolution was perceived as a demand for a separate nation-state.2 Even before the Resolution was passed, the League’s sympathizers were in an upbeat mood, sensing that, in the Lahore session, the League had something substantial to say about the political rights of the Muslims. For instance, a number of Muslim National Guard volunteers left for Lahore from Allahabad in two motor lorries equipped with microphones and loudspeakers to join the Muslim League’s session there.3 There was extensive propaganda, and persuasive mobilizational campaigns for mass participation in the session. Even bicycles were used for the purpose of mobilization. The Secretary of the Bihar Provincial Muslim League had sent a circular letter to all the secretaries of its district units, asking them to hold public meetings on Friday (19 April 1940) throughout the province, to ‘explain fully to the public’ the Resolution adopted at Lahore regarding ‘the future Constitution of India and the position of Muslims 1

Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. 5, p. 215. Ayesha Jalal discusses this at length in The Sole Spokesman. 3 Searchlight, Patna, 10 March 1940. 2

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in it’.4 The circular directed that the Lahore Resolution should be read in the Juma (Friday) prayers in every village and town of Bihar. Khan Bahadur Ismail, one of the important leaders of Bihar Muslim League, said that it should be read with ‘well-reasoned speeches explaining the resolution and its implications without being unnecessar[ily] provocative’.5 Here, it should be noted that religion and a religious place was being used with impunity for political objectives; it was, in fact, part of a strategy of mobilization. Reacting against this scheme of the League, Dr Syed Mahmud (1889–1971) of the Congress protested: ‘The two-nation theory and Partition scheme does not have any historical background. It will benefit not the Hindus nor the Muslims but Britishers alone’.6 Earlier, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74) had visited Karachi to study the Sukkur (Sindh) riots, and while addressing a meeting, he suggested, The Congress should once and for all abandon the idea of talks with the Muslim League because the more eager we appear the more considerate we are, the attitude of the League becomes more stiff; we should have a clear cut programme before us and approach the Muslim masses direct[ly].7

Ansari continued to rail, in particular against Syed Abdul Aziz (1885– 1948), the President of the Bihar Muslim League and a member of the social elite, by drawing attention to the socially deprived sections of the Muslim community like the Momins to which he belonged. For instance, on 8 February 1940, he observed, the Momin movement was in reality a movement of the poor and the oppressed as it aimed at the uplift and progress of not only 45 million Momins but also of 35 million other backward Indian Muslims belonging to categories like Rayeens, Mansooris, Quraishis [etc.].8

In this rapidly unfolding scenario, the concerned nationalist groups of the Muslims convened a conference of ‘Patriotic Muslims’ in Delhi 4

Ibid., 6 April 1940. Ibid., 9 April 1940. 6 Ibid., 5 April 1940. 7 Ibid, 3 January 1940. 8 Searchlight, 10 February 1940. 5

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on 27–29 April 1940 to ‘defeat [the] reactionary and disruptive forces of Muslim Communalism’. The prominent nationalist Muslim leaders from Bihar, like Professor Abdul Bari, Anisur Rehman, and Syed Hasan Razi, appealed to ‘freedom loving Muslims’ to attend the conference.9 The Bihar Theosophical Society organized a ‘Mel-Milap Conference’ at Chapra, presided over by Mohammad Yunus, MLA.10 In the meeting, he emphasized Hindu–Muslim unity and religious tolerance. The Muslim Independent Party (MIP), founded on 12 September 1936 by Maulana Sajjad of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind (who was also the deputy chief, that is, the Naib Ameer-e-Shariat of the Imarate-Shariah) of Bihar, declared that the foundational principle of the party was to secure independence of the country, and to safeguard the interests of Musalmans including the sanctity of their religious tenets.11 Sajjad also said that it stood for complete independence; and thus the League’s Resolution of Lahore had to be opposed.12

The Naqeeb’s Repudiation of the Two-nation Theory The president of the MIP, Maulana Abul Mohasin Mohammad Sajjad (1880–1940) appealed to the Muslims to participate in the Delhi’s Nationalist Muslims Conference of 27–29 April 1940.13 However, of all the above-mentioned responses, the most outstanding one was the profoundly logical and convincing criticism that appeared in the the Imarat-e-Shariah’s Urdu periodical Naqeeb of 14 April 1940. The editor Maulana Abul Mohasin Mohammad Sajjad, came out with sharpest possible criticism against the League’s idea of separatism. This longish article had the caption Muslim India aur Hindu India ki Scheme par ek Aham Tabsera14 (an important Commentary on the Scheme of Muslim India and Hindu India). The text of the article deserves to be read carefully: it reflects not only the political outlook of the Imarate-Sharia but is also an important document about the application of Islamic resources against colonialism. In the article, Maulana Sajjad 9

Ibid., 6 April 1940. Ibid., 18 April 1940. 11 A. M. Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought in India, vol. 4, pp. 638–39. 12 Searchlight, 18 April 1940. 13 Searchlight, 10 April 1940. 14 Naqeeb, 14 April 1940. 10

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begins with comments on the League’s attitude before the Lahore Resolution of 1940. He states: For the last two to two and a half years, the Muslim League has been resorting only to breast-beating against perceived or real tyranny of the Congress or Hindu Majority; but thus far, it has not come out with any solution whatsoever despite being repeatedly asked to do so by the Congress leaders … even if one concedes that the League’s allegations against the Congress in U.P., Bihar, C.P. are totally correct, the irony is that the League has not been able to put forward any principle to ameliorate the conditions of Muslims … Now, when Jinnah has put his scheme before the people, any person of least wisdom would clearly understand that Jinnah’s scheme does not have any solution whatsoever for the Muslims of Hindu majority provinces … In any constitutional scheme, be it a democratic set up, or provincial autonomy, or unitary centralized government — Muslims of Muslim majority (aksariyat) provinces do not, now or earlier, face problems [of the kind supposedly encountered by them in provinces where they constituted a minority] and the League apparently had no grievance against the Congress in such provinces. Still Jinnah asserts that Muslims will become free from Hindu tyranny in such provinces.

He continues to argue pertinently against the premises of certain concepts, ostensibly seeking clarifications: Regarding the Muslims of Hindu majority regions, Jinnah only says that the Muslim majority provinces will be a guarantee to the rights and interests of the Muslims of Hindu majority provinces (aqalliat subahs). What it implies is that if some oppression against the Muslims in Hindu majority regions takes place, the Hindus of Muslim majority provinces will be subjected to oppression in retaliation. This kind of barbarity can be perpetrated only by a fool (Ahmaq) or insane (Majnun).

It is clear that Maulana Sajjad, in a forthright manner, questions the very basis of any idea of a ‘hostage’ people. He also writes, No government can subject its peaceful and loyal citizens to oppression only because their coreligionists are being oppressed under another government. (Koi Hukumat apni pur amn aur wafadar re’aaya per mehaz is liye zulm nahin kar sakti hai ki doosri hukumat men us ke ham mazhabon ke maujuda ahd mein aisa Kheyal sirf koi ahmaq aur majnun hi kar sakta hai).

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He brands Jinnah’s proposed ‘Muslim State’ as unreal, impractical, inappropriate, and unjustified. He then poses a difficult question for Jinnah and his associates: why are Jinnah and the League breast-beating about the oppression of Muslims in Hindu majority provinces, when they are proposing a Muslim state only for the Muslims of Muslim Majority provinces (aksariyat subahs)? He even asks Jinnah why he failed to place his scheme of a separate nation state in the Round Table Conferences of the early 1930s. He writes: To say that Jinnah and League [then] trusted Hindus is nothing but a lame excuse because if recurrent riots are the causes of putting forward this scheme, then between 1917 and 1927, more riots and casualties have taken place than those during 1937–1939.

Then, the Maulana explains the reason behind Jinnah’s/Muslim League’s desperation to come out with their Pur Fareb (deceitful) scheme. Having condemned the proposal, Maulana Sajjad then comes to the crux of the Indian Muslims’ plight which has not been addressed by Jinnah. Since the poor and ignorant Muslims have become poorer during British rule, they, may get attracted to the fanciful idea of Islamic rule in a greater part of India, where their Islamic identity will be safer; they ignore their physical and emotional pains and consequently rally round the League’s flag so that when elections to the assemblies and councils take place, then on the slogan of Islamic-rule they may mislead the poor ignorant Muslims and keep holding power.

Thus, Maulana Sajjad’s profound analysis and intellectually informed pragmatic arguments against League’s desperation to come out with the plan of ‘separate statehood’ suggests his fear that this idea may degenerate into an instrument of further exploitation in the name of religion. Maulana Sajjad also repeatedly stresses that nowhere in the Resolution does the League commit itself to freeing India from the British colonial yoke: Jinnah does not, however, talk of freedom from British Colonial tyranny. Goya Muslim League aur Mr Jinnah ko Bartaniya ki Ghulami bahar hal manzoor hai. (It follows that the Muslim League and Mr Jinnah are quite prepared to be slaves of Britain). Summing up his discourse, Maulana Sajjad makes an appeal that Hindus and Muslims should together fight for complete independence,

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and for setting up a free democratic India where neither Hindus will be subordinated by the Muslim majority, nor will Muslims be subjected by the Hindu majority in any part of India, and that the state will not interfere in the cultural affairs of the religious minorities. Even in the subsequent issues of Naqeeb, Maulana Sajjad continued with his efforts to explain and inquire. He was deeply concerned about ongoing developments, particularly about ways of resolving communal conflicts. He pondered over issues which were the cause of conflicts, and came out with certain corrective suggestions. In another essay,‘Firqa-warana Maamlat ka faisla kin Usoolon per hona chahiye?’ (On what principles should the communal affairs be decided?),15 he wrote that the leaders of a multi-religious society like India should work out the limits of religious freedom which should be based on the judicious treatment of all sects. He writes that one’s faith should not be demonstrated in public in a manner which proves hazardous to other faiths — it should not be provocative. For instance, he believes that every Muslim does have the right to eat beef, but cow slaughter should take place within homes, and not in public. Similarly, he advises that no religious procession of any sect or community should be allowed in public spaces. While this may not be appreciated by all, he argues that this is, nevertheless, desirable and judicious. Moreover, it will do away with frequent communal riots. Earlier, on 24 December 1938 (before the 26th session of the Muslim League at Patna, 26–29 December 1938) and on 23 January 1939, Maulana Sajjad had written few letters (also circulated among the masses in the forms of pamphlets) to Jinnah, exposing the ‘infirmities’ of League politics. In these letters, he points out that the League has not been able to spell out any constructive economic (tameeri iqtisadi) programme for the common Muslim, as against the capitalist (sarmayadaar) Muslims who have come around and joined the League. He also argues that, while the Congress has pondered over the questions of industrial development, the League remains obsessed with criticizing the Congress and the Hindus without locating the roots of India’s economic problems in British imperialism. He also felt that the

15

Naqeeb, 5 Jamadi ul Ula, 1358 A. H. (20 February 1940), in Qasmi and Nadeem, Maqalat-e-Sajjad, pp. 51–53.

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League did not issue any instructions to the ministries of Punjab and Bengal for making special efforts towards the economic upliftment of poor Muslims.16 Like Maulana Sajjad of the Imarat-e-Shariah, the Deoband leadership also stood for the unity of India. The Deoband leadership was more popular among the Muslim peasantry and other backward classes, was aware of the inherent danger of the League ideology, and stood for the undivided interest of the Muslim Community as a whole. Furthermore, its patriotism embraced the whole of India, and could not tolerate any idea of the division of the country based on political or economic considerations. Sometimes it also made religious appeals, but only to the effect that it was the religious duty of every Mussalman to fight for the freedom of the country.17

The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH), along with many other organizations, convened the Azad Muslim Conference on 27–30 April 1940, in Delhi. Maulana Sajjad, being the leader of the Bihar wing of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema (besides being the president of the Muslim Independent Party of Bihar; he had presided over the 1925 session of the JUH at Muradabad), mobilized the masses to attend the Azad Muslim Conference (1940). It is important to quote some excerpts of the resolutions that were passed in the Azad Muslim Conference.18 This Conference, representative of Indian Muslims, who desire to secure the fullest freedom of the country, consisting of delegates and representatives from every province, after having given its fullest and more careful consideration to all the vital questions affecting the interests of the Muslim community and the country as a whole declares the following: India will have geographical and political boundaries of an indivisible whole, and as such is the common homeland of all the citizens, irrespective of 16

Nadeem and Qasmi, Makateeb-e-Sajjad, pp. 21, 34, 60–61, 68–70. The essays had the titles such as ‘Islami Huquq aur Muslim League’ (i.e., Political rights of the Muslims and the Muslim League), and ‘Muslim League aur Mazhabi Huquq Ki Hifazat’ (i.e., The Muslim League and Protection of Religious Rights of Muslims). 17 Zia-ul-Hasan Faruqi, The Deoband School and the Demand for Pakistan, Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1963, pp. 95–96. 18 Searchlight, 10 April 1940.

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race or religion who are joint owners of its resource. All nooks and corners of the country are hearths and homes of Muslims who cherish the historic eminence of their religion and culture, which are dearer to them than their lives. From the national point of view, every Muslim is an Indian. The common rights of all residents of the country and their responsibilities, in every walk of life and in every sphere human activity, are the same. The Indian Muslim, by virtue of these rights and responsibilities, is unquestionably an Indian national, and in every part of the country is entitled to equal privileges with that of every Indian national in every sphere of governmental, economic and other national activities, and in public services. For that very reason, Muslims own equal responsibilities with other Indians for striving and making sacrifices to achieve the country’s independence. This is a self-evident proposition, the truth of which no right thinking Muslim will question. This conference declares unequivocally, and with all emphasis at its command, that the goal of Indian Muslims is complete independence, along with protection of their religious and communal rights, and that they are anxious to attain this goal as early as possible. Inspired by this aim they have in the past made great sacrifices, and are ever ready to make greater sacrifices.19

In his Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil ( January 1946), Tufail Ahmad Mangalori (d. 30 March 1946), an alumnus of the Aligarh University, records that from 27 to 30 April 1940, the Azad Muslim Conference consisting of six organizations — Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, Ahrar, MIP of Bihar, Momin Conference, Krishak Praja Party of Bengal, Shia Conference and others — and presided over by Allah Bakhsh, the former Prime Minister of Sindh, and attended by as many as 75 thousand people from various regions and provinces, assembled at the Company Bagh of Delhi, and the deliberations continued up to 3.30 a.m. On 28 February to 1 March 1942, the All India Azad Muslim Conference was held again in Delhi. Allah Bakhsh (1897–1943) presided over the meeting, while Asaf Ali (1888–1953), Nurie (ex-Minister, Bombay), and Ibrahim (ex-Minister UP) were also present in the meeting. Fazlul Haq and Miyan Iftikharuddin (1908–62) also addressed the 1942 meeting. This conference claimed to speak for the bulk of Indians.20

19 Mangalori, Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, pp. 140–41; see also Faruqi, Deoband School, pp. 96–97. 20 Linlithgow to Amery, telegram, 2 March 1942, ToP, vol. 1, p. 293. (Note: Allah Bakhsh was later killed by a man of the Muslim League, and the killer remained unpunished by the British administration.)

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It was made up of nine Muslim organizations like the Ahrars (‘who were among the most militant of the Nationalist Muslims who supported the Congress and strongly favoured the Civil Disobedience Movement’),21 Jamiat-ul-Ulema, Shias, Momins, Ittehad-e-Millat (Blue Shirt Volunteers, formed in 1935 by Zafar Ali Khan, 1873–1956, of Lahore), and the Red Shirts.22 It denied the ‘claim of the Muslim League to speak on behalf of all Indian Moslems’.23 It further said, no effort should be spared to knit all people of India into united endeavor … Specious plea of Secretary of State and British Government that Moslem League is Authoritative Spokesman Moslem and that its attitude and demands constitute insuperable obstacles in the way India’s freedom is indefensible subterfuge to mask disinclination of British Government to part with power. Serious gravity of situation occasioned by menace of early invasion imperatively demands British Government should immediately recognize India’s freedom and transfer real power enabling representatives of people to assume complete responsibility for defence of country as a whole in full and mutual collaboration with other free countries of the world.24

He further informs us that, on 6–8 May 1944, again such groups of Muslims had assembled in Delhi under the banner of the All India Muslim Majlis, which was founded earlier by Shaikh Mohammad Jan in Calcutta. Shaukatullah Ansari was elected its Secretary, while Abdul Majeed Khwaja (1885–1962) of Aligarh was elected its President. Shamsuddin, secretary, Krishak Praja Party, Hafiz Md Ibrahim (Ex-Minister, UP), Maulvi Zahiruddin, president, Momin Conference, Dr Md Ashraf of the JUH were also there in the meeting.25 The All India Muslim Majlis pressed the point of collaborating with forces like the Congress to attain complete independence for a united India (Hindustan ba dastoor ek muttahidah mulk rahey; India should remain united as usual). This Muslim Majlis had close collaborations with the

21 Mansergh (ed.), Transfer of Power, vol. 1, Document No. 269, Linlithgow to Amery, 7 March 1942, p. 362. 22 Linlithgow to Amery, telegram, 7 March 1942, ToP, vol. 1, p. 362. 23 Amery to Linlithgow, telegram, 5 March 1942, ToP, vol. 1, p. 320. 24 Linlithgow to Amery, telegram, 2 March 1942, ToP, vol. 1, pp. 293–94. 25 Manglori, Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, pp. 145–46.

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Momin Conference, which had its strongest base in Bihar. Furthermore, Mangalori then adds that these promising goals remained unaccomplished, more because the leaders involved in taking these initiatives were behind the bars by 1944.26 The Jamiat-ul-Ulema and the Deoband leadership considered British imperialism the greatest enemy, and seriously suspected a British hand in the proposed scheme of the partition of the country. They repeatedly warned the Muslims of the dangers inherent in it. They also warned them that if the scheme materialized, it would divide the Muslim community into three groups, and that this division would be more harmful to them than to any other community in the subcontinent. Indeed, it would be even more ruinous to that group of Muslims who would be left behind in the Hindu province as a small and less effective minority.27 An ‘Anti-Partition Day’ was observed in a meeting held at the Jama Masjid of Delhi, attended by a Muslim crowd of 10,000, where Maulana Samiullah said that the alliance of the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha in Sind and the Forward Block and the League in Calcutta had demonstrated beyond doubt that the League leaders did not feel concerned over Muslim rights, but were after something else.28

A huge procession of 50,000 Muslims was taken out on the streets of Delhi to reach the Jama Masjid and, on 27 April 1940, the attendance in the conference were about 75,000, whereas inside the pandal it was around one lakh.29 The Azad Muslim Conference’s Subjects Committee 26

Mangalori, Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, pp. 140–42. Historians have used Mangalori’s Musalmanon ka Raushan Mustaqbil, but I have not come across the reference of this other Urdu book, published in January 1946 from Badayun. 27 Hussain Ahmad Madani, Khutbat-i-Sadarat: delivered at the 13th session of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema at Lahore in March 1942, cited in Faruqi, Deoband School, p. 111. 28 Hindustan Times, 20 April 1940; K. N. Panikkar (ed.), Towards Freedom, 1940, vol. 1, Delhi: IHR/Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 653. 29 Hindustan Times, 27 and 29 April 1940. Cf. Rizwan Qaiser, Resisting Colonialism and Communal Politics: Maulana Azad and the Making of Indian Nation, Delhi: Manohar, 2011, p. 229; Kabir, Muslim Politics; Smith, Modern Islam in India.

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consisting of Syed Mahmud, among many others. The Conference adopted a Resolution (moved by Mufti Kifayatullah of the JUH) for a united India, as against the League’s Lahore Resolution.30 Five years later in 1945–46 — and probably taking a cue from Maulana Sajjad (1940) — Mangalori included a critique on the idea of Pakistan in the fifth edition of his Musalmanon ka Raushan Mustaqbil (1937).31 This was also reproduced in his Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil ( January 1946: 160–88). The critique has sub-headings like: ‘Historical background’, ‘Pakistan as a big Hurdle’, ‘How Muslim Majority Areas were turned into Muslim Minority Provinces’ (by the Lucknow Pact 1916, by Jinnah), ‘Nature of Pakistan’, ‘Economic Aspect of Proposed Pakistan’, ‘Educational Aspect of Pakistan’, ‘Pakistan as an Islamic Province’, ‘Transfer of Population’, ‘Pakistan from the Viewpoint of the Central Government’, ‘Resemblances in the views of Agha Khan and Jinnah Regarding Pakistan’, ‘Prospect after the Formation of Pakistan’, and ‘Prescription and Treatment’. Ali Ashraf says: Tufail Ahmad [Manglori] based his opposition [to the idea of Pakistan] on more secular arguments — Indian Muslims’ interests being an integral part of the interests of the whole nation, and the wholesale transfer of populations not being in the realm of practicability, the creation of Pakistan would leave the problem of Muslims in the remaining part of the country where it was and make it even worse … Concerning the circumstances which helped and paved the way for the demand for Pakistan, Tufail Ahmad, too, like Abul Kalam Azad, attaches importance to the Congress refusal to form coalition government with the Muslim League in the UP in 1937, and to Jawaharlal Nehru’s statement regarding the absolute sovereign rights of the proposed Constituent Assembly, thus nullifying the agreement with the Muslim League on the Cabinet Mission Plan.32

Likewise, Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seohaarwi (d. 1962), a Jamiat-ulUlema-e-Hind cleric, brought out his comprehensive critique of the 30

The Tribune, 29 April 1940; Panikkar, Towards Freedom, p. 646. December 1945, pp. 598–629, translated into English by Ali Ashraf, 1994, pp. 371–91. 32 Ashraf, Towards a Common Destiny (this is the English translation of Manglori’s Musalmanon Ka Raushan Mustaqbil, 5th edition; first edition was published in 1937). 31

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League’s idea of Pakistan on the eve of the 1945–46 elections, in his 64-page booklet, Tehreek-e-Pakistan Par Ek Nazar, published by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema. Seohaarwi has been publishing such contents in the Madina (Bijnour), owned and run by Maulvi Majeed Hasan (d. 1966) of the Mirza clan of Bijnour, edited by Md Hasan Mateen, launched on 1 May 1912, Madina, was initially a weekly published on 1st, 8th, 7th, 15th, and 22nd of every month; from January 1917 it became bi-weekly; in 1936 some of the issues carried columns and editorials against Muslim communalism, and also against Hindu majoritarian tilts of Indian nationalism (see, for example, the issue of 21 January 1936). In the early 1970s Madina closed down. The association of a large number of Muslims with the Azad Muslim Conference was not to the liking of the League, and the League–British connivance against the nationalist Muslims is evident from the correspondence of H.S. Suhrawardy with Leopold Amery, ‘[The] Azad party … does not command Muslim confidence’, and that the ‘Muslim League is undoubtedly the exponent of Indian Muslim opinion and has achieved mass support’.33 This was also the sort of response made by Leopold Amery when Viceroy Linlithgow asked him to fathom Jinnah’s ‘approximate strength’.34 Shah Muhamamd Umair (1894–1978), a prominent Bihar Congressman, referred to the Lahore Resolution (Ailaan-e-Pakistan) of the Muslim League as a khaufnak aur gustakhana qadam (or a dreadful and mischievous step).35 He complained to Rajendra Prasad that his initiatives at mobilizing ‘Muslim Public Opinion’ had never been taken seriously. For instance, soon after the Azad Muslim Conference, when Syed Abdul Aziz of the Muslim League had left for Hyderabad in 1940, he argued that multiple advantages could be derived out of Aziz’s absence, and a determined headway to reach the Muslim masses should be made; however, this fell on deaf ears.36 Thus there were three huge public meetings (in Delhi) of the Muslim groups against the League’s politics of separate homeland; they were in April 1940, February–March 1942, 33

Suhrawardy to Amery, telegram, 5 March 1942, ToP, vol. 1, p. 325. Amery to Linlithgow, 4 March 1942, ToP, vol. 1, p. 320. 35 Umair, Talaash-e-Manzil, p. 26. 36 Rajendra Prasad Papers, Roll 21, vol. 1, 3-M/4, 21 November 1941 (NMML). 34

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and in May 1944. It is, however, indeed intriguing that the Congress remained neutral or indifferent to these loud voices of Muslims against the League’s communal–territorial separatism. Thus, it seems clear that the Muslim League’s two-nation theory was subjected to the severest possible criticism by the Imarat-e-Shariah which was led by the President of the Bihar wing of Jamiat-ul-Ulema. They remained consistent in their views even after Maulana Sajjad’s death on 18 November 1940. In May 1942, official secret correspondence from the Bihar’s Lieutenant Governor T. Stewart to Viceroy Linlithgow noted that, amongst the Muslims in Bihar, ‘the urge towards Pakistan was not very great’.37 This was reiterated in March 1946 by T. Rutherford, the Governor of Bihar, ‘The Muslims, who constitute 14 per cent of the population, were not very strong supporters of Mr. Jinnah’.38 The very same correspondence (between Stewart and Linlithgow) also reveals the weak position of the Provincial Muslim League of Bihar, which was ‘overshadowed by the visit to Bihar’ by the League leaders from UP and Bengal. They met Stewart at Ranchi, on 1 May 1942, to assure their colonial masters of all help during war time. The correspondence makes the League–British nexus evident.39 Similar assurances of cooperation to the British were given by the Muzaffarpur district Hindu Mahasabha.40 Further, in September 1944, when the Gandhi–Jinnah talks were in progress, the official machinations to sabotage them were also underway, ‘We have dragged in’, said Wavell, ‘the Depressed Classes and encouraged them and other vocal minorities to obstruct a settlement’.41 It may be worthwhile to note that there was a deliberate ploy on the part of both the British and the League to keep the idea of Pakistan as vague as possible, as an adequate elaboration of the idea would have brought to the fore all its implications, and defeated the politics of Partition. This is eminently testified by a note on the Regional Governors’ Conference, 27–29 November 1944, by Mr Porter, Secretary to the Governor of Bengal: Cassey raised the question of Pakistan. Should the British policy be to influence the situation should be made possible or impossible? 37

T. Stewart to Linlithgow, 6 May 1942, ToP, vol. 2, p. 44. ToP, vol. 7, p. 43. 39 Stewart to Linlithgow, 6 May 1942, ToP, vol. 2, p. 44. 40 Stewart to Linlithgow, 25 May 1942, ToP, vol. 2, p. 119. 41 Wavell to Amery, 12 September 1944, ToP, vol. 5, p. 30. 38

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Politicians, including the Ministers in Bengal, were incapable of comprehending the economics of Pakistan. When he had put the question to Ispahani and asked what the alternative was, Ispahani could only say that the Muslims would not stand the idea of being under the domination of the Hindus. If this was so, is it not possible to devise safeguards which would provide what the Muslims want? If such safeguards could be presented reasonably, it ought to be possible to put arguments which would convince the Muslims that Pakistan would not be a practical possibility. If such a policy were followed, it would be necessary that arguments should be canvassed extensively and that if this were done, he thought that many intelligent men could be weaned away from the idea.42

In that conference of regional Governors, officials like Sir Thomas Rutherford held the view that Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan was merely a ‘bargaining point, the object being to obtain a guarantee of more jobs and protection against Hindu domination’, and that particularly in Bihar, the Muslim Leaguers thought that Jinnah had ‘overstepped the line’. Rutherford believed that the Muslims of Bihar were more concerned with their protection. Sir Maurice Hallett thought that the demand for Pakistan [was] merely a forceful indication of the strength of the Muslim opposition to a Hindu raj, and that by screaming for Pakistan they can hope to obtain coalition governments in the provinces and 50/50 representation at the Centre.43

In October 1945, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH), the Momin Conference, and the Muslim leaders of the Congress jointly convened a meeting in the Khanqah-e-Rahmaniya of Munger. Here, they reiterated their resolve to campaign for the independence of the mulk (country) and millat (community). One lakh rupees was collected for the forthcoming elections of 1946. They vehemently opposed the two-nation theory of the Muslim League in these elections.44 The Mufti (Expounder of Islamic law) of the Darul Ifta, Imarate-Shariah also came out with a fatwa, which declared it un-Islamic to join the Muslim League. The reason it gave was that the League’s

42

ToP, vol. 5, p. 247. ToP, vol. 5, p. 249. 44 Naqeeb, 12 October 1945. 43

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claims of protecting and representing the siyasi (political) and mazhabi (religious) rights of the Muslims were not rooted in the Quran but on the arithmetic of majoritarianism.45 Mohiuddin Qadri, (the Naib Amir of Imarat-e-Shariah) and Abdus Samad Rehmani (the Successor of Maulana Sajjad after the latter’s death on 18 November 1940) criticized the Pakistan movement, and lambasted Jinnah’s lack of concern for the Muslims of the aqalliat subahs. The JUH supported neither Pakistan nor Akhand Bharat but mukammal azadi (complete independence) for all the provinces within a loose federation. Pakistan implied not just confining Islam to the extremities of the subcontinent but abandoning the Muslims living in India. It was only in the JUH scheme of things that the aqalliat subahs (Muslim minority provinces) would not get a raw deal. Both Husain Ahmed Madani, the JUH President, and Abdus Samad Rehmani pointed to the Islamic roots of muttahidah qaumiyat (composite nationalism), and justified deploying it to ensure religious freedom in the forthcoming polity.46

The Imarat-e-Shariah also defined the nation in ways which were patently opposed to the way the Muslim League or Hindu Mahasabha sought to define it. The Hindu Mahasabha said that common territory alone could not overcome religious, racial and cultural differences. Therefore, according to the Hindu Mahasabha, the Hindu nation which was a 5,000 years old national being, did not need the partnership of Muslims who, anyway, could not authentically support territorial nationalism given that their extra territorial affiliations because the punyabhumi (holy land) of the Muslims lies elsewhere. On the other hand, the Imarat-e-Shariah visualized mazhabi azadi (religious freedom) as a concomitant of watani (territorial) azadi, within the parameters of a loose federation.47 Those who lived in the country together constituted a nation: Kul sarzameen-e-Hind ke rahne wale ek qaum ke hain. Not only was the Congress flag regarded as a

45

Naqeeb, 23 February1946. Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat’, p. 8; also see, Naqeeb, 23 February 1946, and 11 December 1946. 47 Naqeeb, 19 February 1945. 46

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qaumi and mulki (of the land) flag, but Urdu was also characterized as a mulki (national) and not a mazhabi (religious) zaban (language).48 The Muslim League abstained from mentioning the test of watan (homeland) as the basis of a nationhood, which the nationalist Muslims, including the Jamiyatul-Ulema regarded as being the very love of their conception of Indian nationalism. In other words, Mr. Jinnah’s Nation at this stage, was homeless and was striving to have a homeland whereas the Jamiat’s nation had a home which was under foreign domination from which it was struggling to free itself.49

While expressing its disapproval of the League, the Imarat-e-Shariah went on to say that even the post-partition trauma of Muslims was said to be due to seven years (1940–47) of a wrong struggle for Pakistan. Editorials in its organ, Naqeeb, pointed out that house-searches (for arms), disloyalty charges, and the partitioning of Muslim families were a vindication of Husain Ahmad Madani’s unheeded advice to the aqalliat subahs that Pakistan held nothing for them.50 Papiya Ghosh concludes that the Imarat-e-Shariah’s contestation of the Pakistan Movement was ‘a singular intervention of the ulama and Sufi’s acting in tandem ... The combination of the implementation of the Shariat with the struggle for Swaraj linked the cultural autonomy of the millat with the attainment of freedom for the mulk.’51

The Opposition of the Momin Conference against the Muslim League Apart from the Imarat-e-Shariah in the 1940s in Bihar, another formidable organization that consistently fought against the Muslim League was the All India Momin Conference. It was founded at Rohtas in 1925–26; its precursor was the Falahul Momineen, founded in 1914 at Calcutta mainly by the Momins of Bihar, with branches in many 48

Naqeeb, 11 December 1945; and 8 April 1945, cf. Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat’. 49 Faruqi, Deoband School, p. 94. 50 Naqeeb, 6 October 1947. 51 Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat’.

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districts of Bihar and other provinces. This was the ‘decade when the Muslim League was opposed by the Momin Conference to replace the Islam in Danger– agenda with one aimed at correcting the un-Islamic razil-sharif (labouring and well born) divide’.52 To protest against the League’s Lahore Resolution, not less than 40 thousand Ansaris/ Momins attended a meeting held in Delhi in April 1940.53 On 21 April 1940, at Alamganj (renamed as Mominabad) Patna, a Bihar Provincial Momin Conference’s meeting was held against the Lahore Resolution of League. Here, its leader Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, said, It is blasphemy to say that Islam is in danger here. It is a tragedy to place orders for a Pakistan for the segregation of Islam. It is a defeat of Islam to run away from the battle of life in search of a privilege. It is a fantastic wavering of a fevered mind.54

Abdul Qaiyum Ansari emphasized that the League’s plea of cultural dissimilarity between the two communities did not hold any water. He dwelt on the defects of the Pakistan scheme, and said, [t]he scheme would not be able to protect the Muslims of the minority provinces as they would remain in the hands of the majority community with the difference that Muslims would have no control over the administration of the province which they have got in the present state of affairs. The plea that Muslim states in India would protect the Muslim minority province was utterly useless. Even today there were Muslim states of Afghanistan, Turkey, Persia and many others, but they could not interfere in the matters of India even on the complaints made by the League that Muslims were being crushed by the Hindus. In the same way, the Pakistan states would also be unable to do anything. And the plea was simply meant to hide the reality and hoodwink the Muslims of the minority provinces.55

He also said that even the Muslims in general would not be in a better position if the scheme materialized. The Pakistan states would be 52

Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’, p. 232. Anwar, Masawat Ki Jung, p. 111. 54 Searchlight, 23 April 1940. 55 Ibid. 53

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scattered in the East, North–West and the extremes of the North, and the Hindus would be able to make a compact state, organized on a sound basis. If antagonized, the Hindu states would prove a great menace to Muslim culture and language, for the protection of which the League had been crying hoarse. Ansari also warned that Urdu and religious monuments and places would suffer in Hindu majority provinces, and that Islamic religious places, like mosques, would suffer more after Pakistan was made, and the Muslims migrated there. This psyche of the Muslims also finds expression in the character of Kammo Miyan in Rahi Masoom Raza’s famous Hindi novel Aadha Gaon (The Divided Village, 1966).56 The apprehensions of a minority against the majority have been always argued. In the same meeting of the Bihar Provincial Momin Conference, another leader, Zahir-ul-Haq, pointed out that, Freedom of the Islamic world in India depends to a great extent upon the freedom of the country as a whole. Had the question of partition been of any advantage for the Muslims, the Chinese Muslims would have been first to propose it because they were only seven crores [70 million] out of total population of forty crores [400 million].57

The meeting of the Momins declared that the entire community of Momins intended opposing partition tooth and nail, and that since the Muslim League did not represent the Momins, it did not have the right to decide their fate. It was also pointed out that, even in the Muslim majority provinces, Momins and other working class Muslims were regarded and treated as razil (literally, ‘of no use’). There was, therefore, no logic in supporting Pakistan. To the Momin Conference, the slogan of ‘Islam in Danger’ was nothing but a ploy to distract the Momins from becoming organized. The Momins were advised to stay away from the upper caste led capitalist and power hunting Muslim League. At Muzaffarpur, in a meeting of the district Momin Conference, 56

He says, ‘O Mister! When Muslims will migrate to Pakistan, then whether a horse is kept in the mosque or a cow is kept there, it won’t make any difference. Hindus won’t offer prayers in those mosques; it is illogical that we migrate to Pakistan and expect Hindus to take care of the mosques’, Rahi Masoom Raza’s Hindi Novel, Aadha Gaon, Delhi: Rajkamal, 1998, p. 245. 57 Searchlight, 23 April 1940.

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all Ansaris were urged to resist the Muslim League.58 At the Shahabad meeting of the District Momin Conference, Qaiyum Ansari exhorted every true Momin to do everything possible to make the un-Islamic Muslim League non-existent.59 The Muslim League was baffled by Ansari’s speech at Patna (on 21 April 1940) when he declared the idea of Pakistan to be a defeat for Islam. Another leader of the Momin Conference, Asim Bihari (1892–1953) said that the Momins had no religious, linguistic, or cultural fears. Wherever they lived was their Pakistan. A similar reaction came from A. A. Muhammad Noor. While addressing the All India Momin Youth Conference meeting at Patna, Noor said that the Pakistan scheme was un-Islamic, and absolutely impractical, and that it was nonsensical to work towards dividing India because the intermingled existence of the communities in the country was the only reality. In October 1939, Ansari wrote to Rajendra Prasad, craving his indulgence ‘to guard against the numerous injustices, humiliation, and indignities meted out to the inferior groups of Muslims’.60 In the same letter to Rajendra Prasad, Ansari also explained the aims and objects of the Momin Conference, and said, the Momin Conference is quite distinct and separate from the All India Muslim League in which the Momins (Ansaris) as a community have neither faith nor confidence because the League is run, controlled and manned chiefly by such Muslims as belonging to the rich section or the superior group (ashraf), whose interests are obviously antagonistic to those of the poorer sections or the inferior group of Muslims. The Momins who are poor, backward and downtrodden can naturally have nothing to do with such a body as the Muslim League.61

He further clarified that the Muslims in India were divided into two main groups: the shareef (superior or high) and razeel (inferior or low). In December 1939, Ansari wrote another letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, saying, ‘History and experience have taught the Momins not to trust 58

Ibid., 2 March 1940. Ibid., 22 June 1940. 60 A. Q. Ansari to Rajendra Prasad, Jawahar Lal Nehru Papers, vol. 136, 30 October 1939; see also, Tirmizi (ed.), The Paradoxes of Partition. 61 Ibid., vol. 1, 1937–39, pp. 781–85. 59

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any organization mainly manned and managed by the upper class Muslims. The Muslim League is evidently one such institution’.62 He further argued that ‘[t]emperamentally, the Momins are God fearing and freedom loving, and it is no wonder that a majority of the thinkers among them trust the Indian National Congress and the Jamiat-ulUlama more than the Muslim League’.63 The British government kept a watch over these developments and the anti-League attitude of the Momin Conference and Jamiat-ul-Ulema was reported in the fortnightly reports about the political events in Bihar ( July 1938). It was noted that the meetings of the Momins continued to dissociate themselves from the Muslim League, and that there was a meeting of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema at Bettiah, which condemned the League’s activities.64 The fortnightly reports of August 1938 write of the League’s discomfiture over the Momins’ anti-League approach wherein a good number of Momins had declared their allegiance to the Congress in Saran and Darbhanga.65 The report states that: Their signs of defection are worrying the Muslim League, and an appeal has recently been issued by some leading Mohammedans of Bihar and Bengal stressing the danger of a split in the Mohammedan ranks and urging all Momins to stand together against the League.66

In a similar vein, in his telegrams to Gandhiji and Rajendra Prasad in November 1939, Ansari takes note of the growing dissension and divide among Muslims. He writes that the four and a half crore [45 million] strong Momin community does not accept the League as its representative, and wants separate representation in all matters.67 Their demand is that 50 per cent of the Muslim seats should be earmarked for the Momins, with the introduction of universal adult suffrage and separate representations to Momins in the central and provincial 62 J. L. Nehru Papers, vol. 136, pp. 10–14; see also, Tirmizi (ed.), Paradoxes of Partition, pp. 877–79. 63 J. L. Nehru Papers, vol. 136, pp.10–14. 64 Home Political, F.18-7/38, 25 July 1938, Government of Bihar, Political Department, Special section. 65 Ibid. 66 Ibid., F.18-8/38, pp. 1–2. 67 Searchlight, 3 November 1939.

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legislatures as well as in the constituent assembly. This was because the electoral roll was prepared on the basis of property, and taxpaying and educational qualifications, which protected the interests of the higher class Muslim capitalists and landed aristocracy represented by the Muslim League who, besides owning property, had a very high percentage of literacy. This voting qualification deprived the Momins, who were mostly poor, landless labourers and artisans, of the right to vote.68 On 27 and 29 December 1939, A. A. Muhammad Noor, MLC from Bihar, moved a resolution that the future constitution of the country should only be framed by a constituent assembly based on universal adult franchise, with separate electorates for the Momins which will effectively outnumber the Muslims League.69 It appears that not only at the level of political meetings of the leaders but also at the ground level in day to day social interactions, the League–Momin divide was sharpening. For example, at Tappa Deoraj in Bettiah, the graveyards of the Momins were desecrated, and ‘everything was done to wound their feelings by the [z]amindars who belonged to the Muslim League’. Noor, therefore, moved a resolution to institute an enquiry committee to investigate the atrocities perpetrated by the zamindars against the Momins.70 Aminuddin Ahmad of Biharshareef headed the enquiry committee which reported that some Momins of Deawan (a village in Hilsa, Patna) were deliberately implicated in a framed false case because they refused to give up the Momin Conference, and switch over to the local unit of the Muslim League. Aminuddin Ahmad compared it with the legendary animosity of Bani Umayya and Bani Abbasiya of Islamic history (this refers to the perennial animosity and bloody clashes between the two Arab clans; Yazid, who killed the Prophet’s grandson, belonged to the Bani Umayya clan). He also forecast that the Muslim League would finally have to take political retirement, and withdraw to the homeland it had mapped out in 1940.71 Such kinds of oppressions perpetrated by the ashrafs were reported by

68

Hasan Nishat Ansari, The Momin Congress Relations, pp. 15–16. Hasan Nishat Ansari, ‘Momins, Cripps Mission and Aftermath’, Journal of Bihar Research Society, vols 13–14, 1977–78, pp. 689–90. 70 Searchlight, 24 April 1940. 71 Searchlight, 1 June 1940. 69

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Maulvi Hafiz Din Muhammad (President of the Champaran District Jamiat-ul Momineen and also rais of Chainpatia). At the meeting of the Shahabad district unit of Momin Conference, Hafiz Manzoor Husain expressed similar grievances.72 The Momin Conference’s conflict with the League also manifested itself on the issue of census. The Bihar Provincial Muslim League had directed the Muslims to enrol themselves as Muslims, with their language as Urdu, and their religion as Islam. In this way, the League opposed the entry of individuals under caste and sub-caste heads. This was contested by the Momin Conference. It interpreted the League’s stance in this regard as an obvious attempt to reduce the number of Momins in colonial records. In a meeting of the Momin Conference at Ramda Chapra in December 1940, Ansari said that this move was directed at depriving the Momins of their rights because the Momins, who formed the largest single group among Muslims, had demanded them on the basis of their population. The Momin Conference, therefore, called upon all members to be enumerated as Momins, and not Muslims in the forthcoming census (1941). Six months before the above-mentioned meeting, Zahiruddin, the President of All India Momin Conference, had advised that all those who described themselves as Ansars, Ansaris, Safed bufs, Nur bufs, Momins or Julahas were to return themselves as one community.73 Even in the census of 1931, Momins were the only biradari for which statistics were tabulated separately.74 Thus, the Momin Conference in ‘its attempts to forge a transformative razil collective’, subjected the sharif politics of the Muslim League to interrogation, and its verdict about the homogenizing politics of the League was that it was impossible to coalesce all Muslims on a common platform, given the divergence between the rich and poor. The very fact that labouring Muslim communities other than the Momins had organized themselves was, according to the Momin Conference, a confirmation of the selfishness of the League leadership.75 72

Searchlight, 22 June 1940. Ibid.; Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’, p. 249. 74 W. G. Lacey, Some Aspects of the Census Operations of 1931 in Bihar and Orissa, Patna University, 1933, pp. 78, 104. 75 Searchlight, 15 October1940; cf. Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’, p. 249. 73

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Thus, the Momin Conference, in its attempt to build up a consolidated, united constituency of razil Muslims, against the sharif politics of the Muslim League, also mobilized the non-Momin backward biradaris of Muslims — the rayeens (Vegetable sellers and growers), mansooris (cotton carders), idrisis (tailors), quraishis (butchers), etc. The attempt of the Momin Conference to mobilize these occupation groups falling in the lower rungs of the social pecking order was premised on two objectives: first, as their total number was eight out of nine crores of Indian Muslims, they could outnumber and overthrow the ‘capitalist’ Muslim League leadership, and put India on the road to freedom — which would also mean the amelioration of not only 45 million Momins but also 35 million other backward Muslims;76 second, the Momin Conference also aimed at achieving for the Muslim depressed classes, at least some of the ‘privileged treatment, recognition and tangible amenities’ that had been given to the depressed castes among Hindus.

Rayeen and Mansoori Assertion against the Muslim League Reports of the newspaper the Searchlight 1940 onwards reveal that non-Momin ‘backward’ biradaris of Muslims had become quite active as well as organized, and were ranged against the Muslim League by the 1940s. The Rayeens first organized themselves in Punjab in April 1915, where a significant number of families from that group were affluent, and their wealth qualified them to be reckoned among the Muslim elite of Lahore, except that inter-marriages with other elements from that group were rare. In Bihar, the Rayeen Conference could be established only on 2 October 1938. Its president was Abdus Shakoor of Bihar Shareef. On 6 January 1940, a meeting of the Rayeen Conference was held at Arrah under the Presidentship of Zainuddin, a pleader of Samastipur. It was attended by many maulvis; some of them also addressed the meeting. There too, like the Momins,

76 This numerical computation has been given by A. Q. Ansari himself (Searchlight, 10 February 1940). Ansari asserts that the Momins formed almost 50 per cent of the total population of the Indian Muslims, whereas the 1931 census of Bihar does not show Momin population at more than 25 per cent of total Muslims of the Bihar, as recorded by W. G. Lacey.

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Zainuddin was critical of the shareef politics of the Muslim League. Their main objection was that they had no place in society, and that they were treated as inferiors or as low castes. The so called shareefs among the Muslims looked down upon them, and treated them worse than untouchables. Their numerical strength stood next only to the Momins, as they counted two and a half crores. In view of the extent of their population, their rights as Muslims had been recognized, and their position be brought to the same level as the shareefs of the Musalmans. They sounded a note of warning to the upper class led Muslim League that they would fight against them with the combined forces of the so called inferiors, and would take the protection of the Congress just as the Momins had done.77 Compared to other ‘lower order’ groups like the Momins, the Rayeens now also had more affluent members within their fold. It needs to be reiterated that while addressing a meeting of the local unit of the Momin Conference, on 1 December 1940 in Ramda Chapra (Arrah district), A. Q. Ansari said, the Muslim League has miserably failed to achieve its object of ameliorating the condition of the Indian Muslims, because its leadership is in the hands of selfish people who are mad after grabbing power, and position for themselves while leaving the teeming millions of the Muslims to their own fate.78

Similarly, the Mansoor (Dhunia or Carders) biradari of Muslims formed an organization, the Bihar Provincial Jamiat-ul Mansoor which had been functioning since the 1930s.79 Along with the Jamiatul Quraish (the organization of the butchers founded in 1930) in Bihar, the Jamiat-ul Mansoor also went along with the Momin Conference during the elections of 1946. In the same year, the Hazaribagh district unit of the Jamiat-ul Mansoor passed a resolution against the Muslim League.80 77

Searchlight, 9 January 1940. It may be added here that, by virtue of their political organization and assertion, a Rayeen, Abdul Malik had become Member Legislative Council (MLC) in 1937. 78 Ibid., 1 December 1940. 79 Ibid., 13 February 1940. 80 Ibid., 14 December 1946.

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The Shias Corner Jinnah In addition to these backward biradaris, the Shia sect of Muslim — the majority of whom are in the category of ashrafs — also organized themselves as All India Shia Political Conference, with its own provincial units. The Bihar unit of the Shia Political Conference was led by many notables, including Sir Sultan Ahmad. In April 1940, the Shia Political Conference had its annual meeting at Lucknow. Here, Sir Sultan Ahmad denounced Jinnah.81 The Bihar unit of the Shia Political Conference had its meeting at Chapra on 18 April 1940, which was presided over by Shabbir Hasan. This meeting was attended by a huge gathering, including Yahya Nazim, a pleader, Syed Hasan Askari, Mozaffar Husain, Ali Muzaffar, Abdul Aziz Ansari, etc. All of them condemned the League’s resolution of Lahore.82 It appears that the choice of Chapra as the venue was a conscious one because, four days earlier on 14 April, the Bihar Provincial Muslim League had its session to mobilize support for the Lahore Resolution, and the district unit of the League was also planning a similar meeting at Chapra with a view to encouraging counter-mobilization. On 22 October 1944, the All India Shia Political Conference Working Committee met at Lucknow. Syed Ali Zaheer, the president of the Shia Political Conference, drafted a letter to Jinnah, requesting him to ‘elucidate and define the status of the Shias in the scheme of Pakistan as proposed by the Muslim League’. It said the following: a)

Several attempts have been made to propose from the Muslim League’s platform that the government in Pakistan should be modeled on the lines of the Government that prevailed in Arabia just after the Prophet’s death. Although it is realized that it is not possible to put the clock back by so many years, yet it is feared that this may be an attempt to curtail the freedom of religious rights and observances, which had been enjoyed by the Shia heretofore. b) During the election for Muslim seats, it is a very common experience of a Shia candidate, whenever he is pitched against a Sunni candidate, to find that appeal is made to the religious fanaticism of the majority of voters, and a Shia is defeated merely because he is a Shia. It is a common practice on such occasions to allege that

81 82

Ibid., 21 April 1940. Ibid.

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a Shia, because of certain peculiarities of his articles of faith, is not a Muslim at all and, as such, not entitled to their votes. c) The bitter experience which the Shias had during the regime of the Congress in UP of the two Congress Muslim ministers makes them unwilling to trust themselves in the future to a similar type of Muslim minister. They are afraid that although in Pakistan’s provinces there will be no Congress ministries, yet the men who will form the cabinet may be of the same class and type. d) The Shia Political Conference gives considerate importance to its creed of complete independence for India, and desires to carry on the struggle for it side by side with other political bodies in the country, which have the same creed. The Shias are convinced that with the freedom of the country, Pakistan will also be automatically achieved if the majority of Muslims so desire.83

Syed Ali Zaheer’s letter also demanded some assurances from Jinnah for the Shias in his proposed state of Pakistan. The letter says the following: a)

That there will be no encroachment on their religious freedom and observances in Pakistan, and no innovation which will hurt their religious susceptibilities, will be inflicted upon them. b) That during elections there should be no propaganda directly against the religious beliefs or practices of the Shias, and if there is any such propaganda, then irrespective of the proof whether it has affected the result of the election or not, the election will be set aside at the instance of the Shia candidate. It may be necessary to give a guarantee that the election rules will be amended to give effect to this assurance. c) That the Shias should be guaranteed sufficient number of seats in the ministries, legislatures, all elected bodies ... in proportion to their population. d) That the All India Muslim League, while fighting for Pakistan, will at least simultaneously carry on its struggle for the independence of the country as a whole, and should be willing to settle its differences with other political parties in order that the movement for the freedom of the country may not be jeopardized. It should be realized that insistence on the attainment of Pakistan is likely to delay considerably both independence and Pakistan.84 83 84

Mitra, Indian Annual Register, July–December 1944. Ibid.

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Thus, it seems fairly clear that the Shia Conference gave primacy to fighting for complete independence. Secondly, the Shia Conference demanded the kind of assurances and constitutional guarantees for Shias in the proposed state of Jinnah’s Pakistan, which were being demanded by the League from the Congress. Jinnah’s response to this demand of Shias was, at best, extremely vague. His letter (31 August 1944) read like this: the majority of Shias are with the League, and such of them are still outside the League under some sort of misapprehension are in my opinion, unwise, in not joining the League without any reservation, in the interest of the Shias as well as of Muslim India generally. The Muslim League stands for fair justice and fair play, and will always stand for these fundamental principles, and there is no need for the Shias to think that they will not be justly treated by the All India Muslim League ... The League cannot recognize any other political organization. Besides, most points that you have raised, are matters for the Muslims to deal with themselves internally. Other points are irrelevant.85

Thus, with Jinnah refusing to give the concrete assurances or guarantees that were being demanded by the Shias, the Shia Committee Resolution declared Jinnah’s reply to be unsatisfactory.86 Even before the League passed its Lahore Resolution, the Shia Political Conference was opposed to the League. On 29–31 December 1939, the Shia Political Conference met at Chapra. It was presided over by Kalbe Abbas, and a resolution was passed ‘demanding the introduction of joint electorates and the abolition of separate electorates’.87 The resolution expresses dissatisfaction with the Muslim League. It said: It is also necessary in the opinion of the Conference to make it clear that the Muslim League, which has also trampled upon the feelings and susceptibilities of the Shia minority, claiming in the same breath to be the only representative body of the Muslims of India, is utterly wrong in its pretension because in so far as the Shias are concerned, as a sect they have never considered the Muslim League to be their representative,

85

Ibid. Ibid. 87 Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. 5, p. 627. 86

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and they declare that any pact which the Muslim League enters into with other bodies without consulting the Shia Political Conference will not be binding on the Shias of India.88

In the meeting, Jaffar Hussain, the General Secretary of the Conference, declared that ‘it was “harmful” for the Shia community to keep itself aloof from the Congress’.89 Again, in the first week of January 1940, the Shia Conference had its meeting at the same venue in Chapra where it lambasted the League so much that the Searchlight commented in its editorial that The proceedings of the All India Shia Political Conference which met at Chapra during the weekend — the generality of the Speeches and most certainly the resolutions adopted — can leave no doubt on anyone’s mind that, as a community, the Shias are progressive and patriotic to the core, and that they are anxious to contribute their share to fight for achieving the freedom for the country.90

In the same meeting, Maulvi Sajjad (not the Imarat-e-Shariah’s Sajjad), the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the Shia Political Conference, said the following in his welcome address: ‘The aim of the Shia Political Conference is to live and die for the nation and the country, and to do all and stake all for the attainment of freedom of our land’.91 Another speaker, Syed Hyder Mehdi, spoke thus: The Shias must champion all movements based on nationalism and patriotism launched by any political party. He further prayed for the day when all parties would be merged, and only the Indian National Congress would be left as only the Indian National Congress was for all — Shias, Sunnis, Hindus.92

The editorial of Searchlight commented upon the Shias’ relationship with the League, and wrote that the ‘Shias as a body are not with the

88

Ibid., p. 628. Ibid., p. 627. 90 Searchlight, 4 January 1940. 91 Mitra, Indian Annual Register, July–December 1944. 92 Ibid. 89

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League, and do not want at all to be with it’.93 In fact, almost every resolution of the Conference showed opposition to the ideals and programmes of the League. The speech of Kalb-e-Abbas, the President of the Shia Political Conference, was full of bitter references against the League. He said, Reasonably and logically, the Muslim minority cannot and should not deny to the Shia minority the very same demand which it considers essential and indispensable for its protection against the Hindu majority, for the only justification for claiming such safeguards is the difference of religion and the fear of the invasion of those rights by the Hindu majority, and both these grounds exist with equal force in the case of the Shia minority as well.94

Arguing that ‘If the tyranny of the Congress ruled provinces had necessitated Royal Commission to go into the grievances of the Muslim minority, the Shias can, with greater reason demand that such a Commission should enquire into their complaints’, he continued, If other factors and not merely its numerical strength, including the political importance of a community in the past, play an important part in determining the proportion of representation of a community, then the Shias are entitled to the lion’s share of the weightage given to the Muslims for the major part of the Indian territory was taken possession of by the British from the Shias.

Thus, the resolutions passed at the Conference repudiated the Muslim League’s stand by ‘knocking on the head of the League’.95 They observed the following: It is necessary in the opinion of the Conference to make it clear that the League, which has always trampled upon the feeling and susceptibilities of the Shia minority claiming in the same breath to be the only representative body of the Muslims of India, is utterly wrong in its pretensions because, in so far as the Shias are concerned, as a sect, they have never considered the League to be their representative and 93

Ibid. Mitra, Indian Annual Register, July–December 1944. 95 Ibid. 94

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they declared that any pact in which the League enters into with other bodies without consulting the Shia Political Conference, will not be binding on the Shias of India.

The resolution even questioned the raison d’etre of the separate electorate provisions by stating that: ‘Joint electorates are the only panacea for the present evils and demands from the British Parliament that in the future Constitution of India separate electorates should be abolished and joint electorates should be introduced in all the legislatures’.96 The resolution went on to demand that any ‘sectarian bias campaigned by a Party should be declared a corrupt practice’.97 Having explored and analyzed the views and attitude of the Momins, Mansoors, Rayeens, Shias, etc., against the Muslim League’s contention for separate electorates, the views and attitudes of the Muslim leaders of the Indian National Congress will now be examined. How did they react to the League’s Lahore Resolution? How did they go to the masses, explaining and expressing their reaction against the League? In Bihar, during the period under study, Muslim presence in the Congress was not as large as it had been during the early decades of the twentieth Century. In fact, during its first two decades (till middle of 1920s), the Bihar wing of the Congress was overwhelmingly led by the Muslims. By the 1940s, the most prominent Muslims left in the Congress were Syed Mahmud (1889–1971), Abdul Bari (1882–1947), Shah Md Umair, Manzoor Ahsan Aijazi (1898–1969), Maghfoor Ahmad Aijazi (1900–1966). Besides them, there were some other Muslim leaders who enjoyed considerable support among the Muslims of their respective districts. Among them were Maulvi Ahmad Abdul Ghafoor and Sayeedul Haque of Darbhanga; Maulvi Fazlur Rehman of Patna; Qazi Md Hussain of Gaya; Hafiz Md Sami of Bettiah; Qazi Md Ilyas of Begusarai; Md Noor of Purnea; Isa Rizvi of Sheikhpura; Sami Nadvi; Rafiuddin Rizvi and Doman Babu, advocate of Siwan; Syed Md Aquil of Biharsharif; Dr Manzoor Ahmad of Nawadah; Fida Husain Ansari of Jahanabad; Wajihuddin Minhaji of Gaya; and Syed Anisur Rehman of Danapur.

96 97

Ibid. Ibid.

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Apart from them, there were also members of the Congress Socialist Party, like Abul Hayat Chand Kazmi (1914–58); Razi Azimabadi; and Ahad Fatmi (1915–80). All were opponents of the Muslim League and its policies. They played an important role during the elections of 1946, and their only objective was to defeat the League and see that the Congress nominees or Congress supported nominees won the elections. In this task, Abdul Ghafoor (1918–2004) of Siwan (the future Chief minister of Bihar) and Fazlur Rehman of Bettiah who, despite being members of the Forward Block, which was opposed to the Congress on ideological grounds, also aided them. Among the youth, Zawar Hussain Karbalai (1916–80) of the All-India Students’ Federation also campaigned for Congress candidates during the elections of 1946.98 Reacting sharply against the League’s Lahore Resolution, Syed Mahmud said, ‘[t]he two-nation theory and partition scheme does not have any historical background. It will benefit not the Hindus nor the Muslims but the British alone’.99 While persuading people to attend the Conference of Nationalist Muslims, scheduled to be held in Delhi on 27–29 April 1940, Abdul Bari, Anisur Rehman, S. H. Razi, etc. made an appeal that: ‘All the freedom loving patriotic Muslims must attend the meeting to defeat the reactionary and disruptive forces of Muslim Communalism’.100 The Bihar Provincial Students Conference also convened a meeting at Darbhanga to record their resentment and protest against the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution. The meeting was held in April 1940, and was presided over by Md Faruque whereas Jawaharlal Nehru had gone to inaugurate it.101 In Patna, ‘Hindustan Day’ was celebrated on 20 April 1940, which strongly denounced the Pakistan scheme. Addressing the meeting, Abdul Bari criticized the Muslim League for taking up issues which have no constructive programme. He pertinently remarked: That movement alone can stay which aims at developing the latent potentialities of a people to their fullest limit with a view to their self-realization, that movement alone can stay which tries to solve the

98

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 499. Searchlight, 5 April 1940. 100 Ibid., 6 April 1940. 101 Ibid., 9 April 1940. 99

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problems of poverty, illiteracy, disease, works for economic emancipation of the masses. None of the movements that have been started amongst Muslims had these aims in view. The Khilafat agitation, separate electorates, Fourteen Points, Pakistan scheme, all is bound to collapse.102

Abdul Bari further observed: [A]s all had gone their way and receded into the background so also the partition plan of India cannot live for long. Where is the basis for the plan to stand upon? He questioned and proceeded to say that the League aims at safeguarding the cultural, religious and linguistic interests of the Muslims. But where are those interests in danger? The Hindus and the Muslims of Bengal speak the same language. Their dress, manners, and customs are alike so is in the Punjab.

While delivering a speech (in a meeting organized by the Satyagraha Training Camp at Sonepur) on the Minority Problem in India, Abdul Bari laid emphasis on approaching Muslim masses directly in order to defeat the League’s designs. He said: ‘I do not expect much from the Nationalist Muslim Conference to be held at Delhi, and I do not like that it should be carried too far. Direct approach to the Muslim masses is the only remedy’.103 Abdul Bari claimed that dozens of meetings had been held to educate Muslim public opinion. Even in the villages, people in thousands had attended late night meetings in which appeals were made that Muslims should attend the Azad Muslim Conference in large numbers. Here, Bari, along with Husain Ahmad Madani (1879–1957), Rafi Ahmad Qidwai (1894–1954) and Hafiz Md Ibrahim (1888–1968) argued that, for the emancipation of oppressed cultivators, rent reduction, wage increase, employment generation and other such objectives, obtaining freedom from colonial rule was a prerequisite. Bari further reiterated that the identity of the minorities could be preserved only if they advanced the struggle in alliance with other communities.104 He also pointed out that the League was in the hands of reactionaries, and advised Congress workers to select a district

102

Ibid., 21 April 1940 Ibid., 26 April 1940. 104 Searchlight, 26 April 1940; 1, 25, 26, and 29 June 1940. 103

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for an experiment, and carry out an intensive propaganda amongst the Muslim masses to defeat the reactionary designs of the League.105 In this regard, efforts were made even months before the Lahore Resolution of the League. The leadership tried its best to keep Muslims away from the League. In January 1940, the news that Arab Muslims had denounced Jinnah and his separatist politics was given considerable space in Searchlight. It reported: ‘High Arab leaders are of one mind in deploring Jinnah’s uncalled for and baseless demonstrations. Jinnah’s sense of proportion as well as political timing is disastrously at fault’.106 Their statement that the ‘Cause of Islam will suffer if Muslims play into the hands of British’ was made the highlight of newspaper, with the sub-heading, ‘Grand Mufti’s nephew supports Congress demand — Free India would contribute to the liberation of Islam in Arabia’. The news item read: That the Congress demand for self-determination has the warmest support of all Palestinian Arabs, that India’s freedom would powerfully contribute to the cause of Islamic nations of Syria, Palestine, Trans Jordan and indeed all the Arab world, that Congress stand was not only entirely just but also precisely the same as ours, that Arab leaders would welcome the visit of a Congress leader, and that Pan- Islamism “of which so much is heard in India,” finds absolutely no echo in the heart of the patriotic Arabs[ — these] are the views of Musa Hussain, nephew of Grand Mufti, and cousin of Jamal Hussain, a member of the higher Committee

This categorical denunciation of the Muslim League by the Arab leaders was widely reported by most of the leading newspapers of Bihar. While there is no concrete evidence about the impact it had on the attitude of the Muslims, there is no doubt that the leaders tried to use the anti-League stance of Arab leaders to convince Muslims against the League’s Lahore Resolution. It may be recalled here that, less than a year earlier, in its meeting on 2–3 July 1939 in Bombay, the Muslim League Working Committee had expressed its solidarity with the issue of Palestine and had ‘urged [upon] the British Government to meet the Arab demands’.107 105

Ibid. Searchlight, 13 January 1940. 107 Zaidi (ed.), Evolution of Muslim Political Thought, vol. 5, p. 170. 106

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The Jamhoor Muslim League Contests Separatism Maghfoor Ahmad Aijazi (1900–66) of Muzaffarpur formed the All India Jamhoor Muslim League (April 1940) in the district of Muzaffarpur precisely to contest the League’s idea of separatism. He went on a door to door to campaign (1946–47) against League’s Lahore Resolution — the whole campaign of the Jamhoor Muslim League was in operation since its foundation in April 1940; it merged with Congress by 1942. Even though by 1940, Aijazi had become disillusioned with the Congress because of a variety of reasons, the organization that he had built up so assiduously openly opposed Jinnah’s two-nation theory with the strongest force at its command. He continued with his campaign as late as 1947, when due to prolonged and recurrent riots, Muslims had started planning to migrate from Bihar. He and his companions — Gharibul Hasan (Head Maulvi, Marwari School, Muzaffarpur); Haji Abdus Salam (Mutawalli or Manager, Jama Masjid, Company Bagh, Muzaffarpur); Ali Reza Qadri; Haji Ramzan Ali; Mohammad Yusuf Halwai; and Mehmood Karim Bakhsh (a bookseller) — travelled from village to village on bicycles, persuading Muslims that Pakistan would not have another God to save their life, property, and honour. Confronting them with religious idioms, he tried to persuade Muslims against the League’s idea of separate nationhood. He mobilized people around mosques, and tried to acquaint them with the inherent flaws in Jinnah’s League Resolution and how they would affect the Muslims of Bihar.108 However, in spite of the Muslim League’s Resolution being contested, resisted and opposed by many Muslim organizations, and also by popular and better known Muslim leaders associated with and representing various Muslim organizations, in the Gandhi–Jinnah talks of 1944, Gandhiji conceded that the League was the most powerful Muslim organization, and that in his capacity of being the President of the Muslim League, Jinnah was the representative of 108

Interview with Dr Aijazi’s son, Asghar Aijazi, December 2000; see also, Maghfoor Aijazi Papers, NMML, New Delhi. I am thankful to Mr Asghar Aijazi for giving me a copy of the papers. These people were with Maghfoor Aijazi since 1921, when with them he had also formed ‘Anjuman-e-Khuddame-Millat’ for educational upliftment of Muslims (Rizwan Aijazi (ed.), Khatabaat-e-Dr Aijazi, Muzaffarpur: Aijazi Memorial Committee, 2011).

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Indian Muslims.109 There is evidence that the Momin Conference was quite baffled at this kind of status being granted to Jinnah by no less a person than Gandhiji. As early as 1939, the Momin Conference had put forward six demands before the Congress. However, the Congress did not respond positively to them. The Momin Conference and many others came to believe that had it done so, then the ‘League’s poisonous fangs would have been destroyed automatically’.110 The six demands of the Momin Conference put forward by Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74), on 8 December 1939, were as follows:111 1) One Minister, at least, of the Central (or federal) Governments be taken from the Momin Community. 2) 50 per cent of the seats in the Central (or Federal) legislatures, and in each of the provincial legislatures, be reserved for the Muslims, and some be allotted to the members of the Momin community. 3) Seats in local self-governing and civic bodies be reserved for the members of the Momin community, proportionate to their population in the area served by such a body. 4) Appointments in government and semi government services be reserved for the Momins in proportion to their population. 5) Special facilities be provided by the Government for imparting general as well as technical education to Momin boys and girls. 6) State protection and State aid be provided for the handloom textile industry owned and carried on by the Momins. It was further made clear that, the Momins [would] be the first to denounce the reservations in the above demands of their objective of a “Happier and Free India” and a

109

MGLP, vol. 1, p. 89. Anwar, Masawat Ki Jung, p. 111. 111 Jawaharlal Nehru Papers, vol. 136, pp. 10–14, in Tirmizi (ed.), Paradoxes of Partition, pp. 878–79. 110

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“Truly Democratic Islamic Society” [was] achieved. The reservations are means to an end, and not an end by themselves.112

It is, however, worth asking the question as to why Abdul Qaiyum Ansari did not raise this demand of reservation in 1932 and say similar things about the class character of the Congress leadership, when B. R. Ambedkar was bringing up such questions and the Gandhi– Ambedkar Pact of Poona (1932) should have been an issue worth looking into by the likes of Abdul Qaiyum Ansari. It has been argued that: If the Congress leaders [had[ accepted these [six-point] demands by making some amendments so as to include other dalit–backward Muslim biradaries, then the League’s dream of making Pakistan would never have succeeded, because when the dalit–backward Muslims would [get] an option to choose between the League and its opponents, the backward Muslims, they would have chosen the later.113

However, Nehru responded to Abdul Qaiyum Ansari’s demands of reservation, and others, in the next year, i.e., 1940, with the argument that the reservation of seats would only weaken the community, and that this was neither feasible nor desirable — rather it was very dangerous.114 Moreover, by this time, sectional demands of this kind appeared to have no force to stem the tide on which the Muslim League had set sail. A similar observation was made by Ram Manohar Lohia (1910–67) who wrote, I got an interesting viewpoint from one Mughal Mian of Patna. He is a julaha by caste, who never deviated from the path of nationalism. In fact, backward castes of Muslims in general have remained aloof from the Muslim League. Except during riots, they were never excited. Even during riots, very few of them were excited. Occasionally, the Indian National Movement did adopt a policy of encouraging the backward Muslims and the Momin, but this policy was 112 Jawaharlal Nehru Papers, vol. 136, pp. 10–14. Letter from Abdul Qaiyum Ansari to J. L. Nehru, 8 December 1939, and letter from Abdul Qaiyum Ansari to Rajendra Prasad, 30 October 1939. 113 Anwar, Masawat ki Jung, p. 111. 114 RPCSD, vol. 4, p. 153.

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so full of tricky manipulations that it failed to give satisfactory results. If these backward castes [had] been encouraged by the Indian National Movement to annihilate the Caste system and if this policy [had] been brought properly into practice, at least since the Non Co-operation Movement, then India would have not been partitioned.115

Such an analysis of detecting the ‘guilty-men’ responsible for the ultimate partition of India, apparently, was more polemical than offering any historical explanation. The Condemnation of the Muslim League by the Momin Conference during the election Campaign of 1946 seems worth mentioning here. [The][c]ondemnation of the Sharif viewpoint of the League remained a major electoral thrust of the Momin Conference in 1946. Thus, a leaflet of the Momin Students’ Federation in Dehri-On-Sone (Abdul Qaiyum Ansari’s hometown) deployed a narration of the situation in Latifur Rehman Ansari’s Zamindari in the village Nagmatia (in Gaya) to embarrass the Momin supporters and candidates of the League. It carried a mention of Rehman insisting on forced labour from his biradari and extorting fowl from his tenants and neglecting the fate of the Momins during the Yarn famine. A pamphlet in support of Ramzan Ali, a Momin Conference candidate, ‘Zila Palamau ke Momin Biradari Se Appeal,’ circulated that the Momin Panchayats had decided against voting for the League which was being openly funded by Bhaiya Saheb whose Zamindari covered much of the district. The Palamu Momin Conference campaign was directed against the vagueness of the Pakistan Scheme and the abolition of the Zamindari System. ‘Momin Conference Zindabad’ an election pamphlet doing the rounds of Manbhum and the Jharia Coal fields, summed up that it was the ‘five crore’ [50 million] Momin nation’ that the League wanted to obliterate. Predominantly an organisation of nawabs and Khan Bahadurs, the League had only ‘a look of contempt’ for them. The Momins had ‘an immense numerical superiority’ which was not to be wasted, or else their fate would be sealed forever.116

115

Lohia, Bharat Vibhajan ke Gunahgar, p. 58. Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’, pp. 247–48. Ghosh cites many archival sources, including the pamphlets that have been mentioned. Besides Latifur Rahman Ansari, a big landlord of Gaya district (owning 52,000 acres of land), few more important Momin (Ansari) leaders, like Asim Bihari (1892–1953) 116

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Moreover, evidence of the anti-separatist and anti-colonial commitments of the Bihar Muslims is also to be found in their big participation in the Quit India Movement (1942). Maghfoor Aijazi not only participated but also provided his able leadership to the people of Muzaffarpur during the Quit India Movement. The police raided his house near the Tilak Maidan in Muzaffarpur, also the Congress headquarters in Muzaffarpur. He operated in an underground, clandestine manner. His son Muzaffar Aijazi died on 25 July 1942, but he remained undaunted and stood his ground. The government had already given the District Magistrates of respective districts a list of the leaders, and the Aijazi brothers were very much in the list. Besides them, there were many other Muslim leaders117 in Muzaffarpur who organized and operated the ‘Do or Die’ movement (Gandhi had given this slogan on 8–9 August 1942 at the Gowalia Tank of Bombay while blowing the whistle of the Quit India Movement), many of whom sacrificed their life for their cause. On 3 September 1942, five Muslims were martyred by the police at the Bajpatti railway station, Sitamarhi: Razaq of the village Awapur; Rafiq of the village Shahpur; Idris Mohammad, son of Nur Mohammad of Awapur; Mohammad Muslim, son of Shaikh Fakhruddin of Awapur; Mohammad Siddiq, son of Shaikh Munsif of the village Sholapur — all in the Sitamarhi subdivision of Muzaffarpur district. Kaleem Aajiz, the famous poet of Patna, recalls in his autobiography (in his characteristic Urdu prose) that one Abdul Quddus, looking straight into the eyes of a cruel police inspector standing in front of the Bihar National College of Patna, kept shouting slogans with great passion: Hindustan Chhorh do/Inqilaab zindabad, Danda phenk do/Inqilaab zindabad, naukri chhorh do/Inqilaab zindabad, wardi utaar do/Inqilaab zindabad (Quit India/Long live Revolution, Throw away the stick/Long live Revolution, Quit government jobs/Long live

and Abdul Jalil (of Darbhanga), had switched over to the League by 1945; cf. Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation, p. 60. 117 Many leaders and participants of the movement are still alive. I have talked to many of them in several villages of the district. Muslim participation in the Quit India Movement was high in Begusarai district also, as noted by the District Magistrate, and this participation was in defiance of the Muslim League’s instruction to stay aloof. See Vinita Damodaran, ‘Bihar in the 1940s: Communities, Riots, and the State’, South Asia, vol. 18, 1995, p. 160 (footnote).

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Revolution, Throw away the police uniform/Long live Revolution). This made such an impact that ultimately the police inspector joined the ranks of the nationalist crusaders.118 The nationalist Muslim organizations in Bihar were so strong that, instead of the Congress, it was the leaders of the Imarat-e-Shariah, Jamiat-ul-Ulema and Momin Conference who were looking after the entire affair of the election campaign in 1946. This was true at least for the Muslim seats. Amongst the most prominent leaders was Maulana Shah Mohiuddin Quadri, the Sajjada nashin of Khanqah-e-Mujeebiya, Phulwari Shareef; he was also the Amir of Imarat-e-Shariah. He was assisted by Maulana Usman Ghani (1896–1977), and Qazi Ahmad Husain, Maulana Abdus Samad Rehmani. They supported the Congress quite openly. From the platform of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema, Maulana Nooruddin Bihari, Maulana Fakhruddin (of Gaya), and Abdul Wahab (of Darbhanga) worked hard for the Congress during the elections. The local units of Imarat-e-Shariah were the only organizational machineries upon which the Congress solely depended for its campaign in the Muslim reserved constituencies. Abdul Qaiyum Ansari’s formidable organization (Momin Conference) was assisted by capable leaders like Ahad Mohammad Noor (1894– 1975); Hafiz Manzoor; Shafiqullah Ansari; Sami Nadwi; Rezaur Rehman Ansari; and Amanat Ali Ansari. It is interesting that, on the eve of the elections, even the Jamaat-e-Islami turned against the Muslim League. This was so despite the fact that Maulana Maududi (1902–79), a former associate of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema and the editor of its organ Al Jamiat, in 1925; later he fell out with it and founded the Jamaat-e-Islami at Pathankot (Punjab) on 11 March 1941. While vehemently opposing the League, Maulana Maududi went to the extent of lashing out at Jinnah, his personal life, and the idea of Pakistan.119 On 1 May 1945, in the pro-League paper Nawa-e-Waqt (Lahore), Maududi also proposed a settlement of the Hindu–Muslim problem in undivided India by suggesting a federal arrangement, especially for the Muslim minority provinces.120 118

Aajiz, Abhi Sun Lo Mujh Se, p. 288. Raheem Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 494. 120 Nawa-e-Waqt, 1 May 1945. Cf. Jalal, Self and Sovereignty, pp. 453–56; Later on, Maududi, who was not a votary of the Two-nation Theory, migrated to Pakistan in his pursuit of a theocratic state. 119

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With all the leading Muslim organizations of Bihar, especially those with a considerable mass base, being against the Muslim League, the Momin Conference, the Imarat-e-Shariah/Jamiat-ul-Ulema, and even the Congress were quite optimistic about the end result. ‘There was a fair degree of hope about winning seats in the provincial elections if extensive propaganda was done’.121 By March 1946, as the election came closer, the optimism began to evaporate. However, even as late as 2 March 1946, Rajendra Prasad expected the Congress and its allies in the nationalist Muslim organizations to win about 50 per cent of the Muslim seats in Bihar.122 But, when the results were declared, 34 seats out of the 40 seats were bagged by the League. This came as a big shock to all those who had taken stand against the Muslim League. Even the League had not expected such victory in Bihar, and was quite surprised. From Bihar, only Syed Hossain Imam … migrated to Pakistan; no other member of the central legislature or the provincial assembly migrated …We did not have any record as to who Nawab Syed Ismael [of Patna, and the President of the Bihar Muslim League] was, what contribution was made by young Syed Jafar Imam (1903–79) and what role was played by the clean shaven Moulvi Lutfur Rahman [Latifur Rahman of Nagmatiya, Gaya] in organizing the Muslims of Bihar that out of 40 provincial seats, the League won 34, polling 73.88 per cent votes.123

Moreover, ‘in the Muslim constituencies, the Congress set up 9 candidates and got only one seat, though it claimed that 5 Nationalist Muslims who were elected, worked to all intents and purposes, as party members’.124 ‘The biggest setback to the Congress was the defeat of

121

Mahajan, Independence and Partition, pp. 214–15. Rajendra Prasad to Sardar Patel, Rajenda Prasad Papers, File no. 7-5/45-6. 123 Khalid Shamsul Hasan, Quaid-e-Azam’s Unrealized Dreams: Selections from Shamsul Hasan Collection, Karachi: Royal Book Co., pp. 98–102. (Note: Syed Shamsul Hasan (1885–1981), also a biographer of Jinnah, Plain Mr. Jinnah, was an important but till very recently rather less known leader of the Muslim League who had close associations with Jinnah. His son, Khalid Shamsul Hasan has founded a research institute in his name in Karachi.) 124 Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism, and the Partition, p. 192. 122

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Prof. Abdul Bari’,125 who had jumped into the freedom struggle during the Khilafat Movement, become leader of the Tata Workers’ Union in 1936, and was also the President of the [ Jamshedpur/Singhbhum] District Congress Committee. The Momins won five seats, including Abdul Qaiyum Ansari who was elected from Ranchi Muslim constituency. He was the only non-Congress candidate to be made a minister in Bihar. Syed Mahmud, the only Congress nominee, was elected from Bettiah (Champaran) with Momin Conference’s support. He won with 1374 votes as against the Muslim League’s Zubair Khan, who polled only 1167 votes.

The Electoral Victory of Muslim League in 1946 A question much asked and debated is: What accounted for the success of the Muslim League in the 1946 elections? Several factors can be identified. While many historians have felt that the vagueness of the [geographical] idea of Pakistan is also regarded as strength of the Jinnah’s political strategy,126 Papiya Ghosh strongly disagrees with this explanation. She says that, ‘As early as the Lahore session of the Muslim League in March 1940 it was amply evident that the aqalliat subah Muslims [Muslim minority provinces] were going to be excluded from the forthcoming Pakistan’.127 Nawab Siddiq Ali Khan during his tour of Ranchi on behalf of the Muslim League in September 1940, the Raja Sayed Mohammed Mehdi of Pirpur, and Mazhar Imam at the Shahabad district Muslim League meeting in November 1940 had to explain that if Hindus victimise Muslims in the minority provinces, ‘we will retaliate in our majority provinces’.128 Notwithstanding the disagreement among scholars, people were afraid of the prospect of migration, and for this reason were not prepared to support the League’s Pakistan. Thus, frantic efforts were made

125

Prasad, Autobiography, p. 575. Anita Inder Singh, Origins of the Partition of India, 1936–47, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 56; Imtiaz Ahmad, ‘Pakistan and the Indian Muslims’, Quest, no. 93, January–February 1975, p. 40. 127 Ghosh, Muhajirs and the Nation, p. 65. 128 Star of India, 27 September 1940; Searchlight, 12 and 14 November 1940. 126

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by the League to ensure through persuasive propaganda that the Lahore Resolution did not imply migration; rather, the League tried to invoke the ‘hostage argument’ (the League argued that the Hindu minorities of Pakistan will be like hostage for the security of and political share of the Muslim minorities to be left in India after Independence. The League had to rule out the fear of migration among Muslims of the minority provinces) through which they constructed their support-base. It was elucidated by K. B. Ismail, that the Muslim minorities in the Hindu majority provinces would be entitled to the same protection which the Hindu minorities would be given in the Muslim majority provinces.129 In his An Autobiography: A Life to Remember (1972), K. A. Hamied (the founder of the pharmaceutical firm CIPLA in 1935 and a close associate of Gandhiji), writes that he argued with Sardar Patel about holding a plebiscite with three columns specifically making it clear that those who voted for Pakistan would have to leave India, go to Pakistan, and reside there. This should have clearly shown how many Muslims would vote for and against Pakistan. Sardar Patel kept quiet. I felt that in his heart he agreed that he made a mistake in not taking a plebiscite in the form I suggested …

Hamied was confident because, according to him 36 per cent of the Muslim electorates had voted against Jinnah in the 1946 elections.130 It has been argued that, had there been a universal adult franchise, it would have been impossible for the Muslim League to divide the country. In fact, on the issue of Pakistan, many common Muslims were rooted in their homes, and were not allowed to give their opinion. They were deprived of franchise. Yet, the elections of 1946 were made to be a kind of referendum for Pakistan. It would, therefore, be proper to say that the common Muslims are not responsible for the Partition. Dalit and backward Muslims, particularly 129

Star of India, 20 April 1940; this was vehemently criticized by Maulana Sajjad in the Naqeeb (discussed earlier). 130 K. A. Hamied, in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), Soundings on Partition, 2010, p. 14.

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Momins (Ansaris), who constituted the overwhelming majority of Muslims, were opposed to the Partition. It is said that the majority of Muslims called arzal and ajlaf did not have voting rights. Franchise was given to ashrafs, nawabs, jagirdars, rais who voted for Muslim League.131

In April 1946, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Krishna Sinha (1887–1961), said, The minorities have confidence in the Congress … Non-League Muslim candidates had obtained 25 per cent of the Muslim votes, and more Nationalist Muslims would have been returned if it had not been for the violent attitude of the League. The fears of Muslim voters had been played upon, and the Muslim League had secured 34 seats out of 40 for this reason. Even educated Muslims did not know what Pakistan meant.132

In fact, the Muslim League was supported only by a section of Muslim ashraf. Sinha attributed the League’s electoral victory to violent electioneering which intimidated even the Muslim electorates, and that ‘even educated Muslims did not know what Pakistan meant or implied’. The fact that, out of a total population of India (including Hindus and Muslims), only 13 per cent had the right of vote,133 and the franchise being restricted on property-owning qualifications, only those people who could pay Rs 64 per annum as malguzari, Rs 1.25 as chowkidari tax, matriculate men, and literate women, had the right to vote.134 This factor was particularly foreseen by the colonial administrators — they knew that this limited franchise would help Jinnah’s League. ‘[A] vote of the whole adult population or of the enfranchised population would be unlikely to provide the result that Jinnah requires’.135 Thus, Sumit Sarkar comments, with extremely limited franchise (about 10 per cent of the population in the provinces, less than 1 per cent for the Central Assembly) … [the] 131

Anwar, Masawat ki Jung, p. 114. ToP, vol. 7, p. 156. 133 Ibid., p. 115; SWJN, vol. 14, p. 83. 134 Ibid., p. 115. 135 Field Marshal Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick Lawrence, 20 November 1945; ToP, vol. 6, Doc. No. 219, p. 509. 132

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Congress leaders … quietly accepted the election of the Constituent Assembly by the existing provincial legislatures based on limited voting rights … the League won its demand for Pakistan without its claim to represent the majority of Muslims being really tested, either in fully democratic elections or … in sustained mass movements.136

It may be argued that the Congress’ effort towards stemming the tide of Muslim alienation was, perhaps, inadequate. The rising political assertion of the Momin Conference had persuaded the Congress ministry in Bihar during 1937–39 to give the backward communities of the Muslims some sops in the sphere of education: welfare measures included providing 15,000 rupees for special scholarships to Momins and other backward classes among Muslims, and grants of free-studentships to Momins enrolled in colleges, irrespective of whether they got any merit scholarship or not.137 This was again put into practice in November 1946 when the Congress ministry ‘set aside a sum of 200,000 rupees for backward Muslims, and started 500 maktabs throughout the province for the education of the backward Muslims. It decided to build a separate hostel for backward Muslim students at Patna at the cost of 60,000 rupees. Seven hundred scholarships of the value of three, five, and seven rupees per month were launched for them in schools, and 80 of the value of 15, 20, and 25 rupees per month for those enrolled in colleges, and 15 scholarships for Arabic students. Six thousand rupees were set aside for libraries run by backward Muslims, and 12,000 rupees as grants-in-aid for schools and madarsas run by backward Muslims.138 It may, therefore, be assumed that other sections of the Muslims could have similarly been won over by the Congress.

Hindu Communalism: The Mahasabha–Congress Overlap With many well-known Congress leaders in jail, both the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha made a rapid rise. Because many

136

Sarkar, Modern India, p. 427. AICC 34/1939, Press Note-1: ‘What Government has done to Further Muslim Interests’. 138 Searchlight, 26 November 1946. 137

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Congressmen were into the Hindu Mahasabha, this created general disaffection amongst the Muslims against the Congress. There were 40,000 Swayamsewaks (RSS) in Bihar by 1946 to extend political help to the Hindu Mahasabha. ‘The lower level Congress functionaries were active in the Hindu Mahasabha and sympathetic to its ideology’, and felt infused with the spirit of a ‘Hindu rashtra’. ‘The Muslim League viewed the rising communal tension in Bihar with some satisfaction as it provided the best context in which to win elections’.139 After 1945, the Congress leaders had started proclaiming an electoral alliance with the Hindu Mahasabha. Even Rajendra Prasad agreed to this, and was quite enthusiastic about giving it a practical shape. Nehru, however, warned that this sort of arrangement would give credence to the League’s propaganda that the Congress was the Hindu Mahasabha in disguise. Nehru wrote to Rajendra Prasad saying, [a]ny formal or informal arrangements with the Hindu Sabha will have far reaching repercussions on the Muslim electorate. The Muslim League will exploit this situation fully and again emphasize, as they have done in the past, that the Congress is Hindu Mahasabha in different guise.140

Among other reasons advanced for the drubbing of nationalist Muslim organizations at the polls was that they had scarce resources to contest the elections.141 In contrast, the ‘Muslim League spent money lavishly during the campaign’.142 The Momins were a poor community; and the position of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema/Imarat-e-Shariah leaders was similar. The leaders were aware that financial constraints would play a role in the final outcome of the elections, and had corresponded with the Congress leaders for help and support. The amount of expenditure on Muslim seats, Rs 2,63,575, amounted to three fourths of the total amount spent. The President of Chandi Thana District Congress Committee, Abu Nasr Abdul Baes, had suggested 139

Damodaran, Broken Promises, pp. 314–15. Nehru to Rajendra Prasad, 6 October 1945, in Pandey, The Indian Nationalist Movement, p. 172. 141 Rajendra Prasad to Patel, 7 November 1945’ Rajendra Prasad Papers, File No. 7–5/45–46, NAI, New Delhi. 142 Prasad, Autobiography, p. 575. 140

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to Rajendra Prasad that Rs 10,000 be allocated for every Muslim seat, and all the seats be contested by the Congress.143

However, this request was turned down (Baes Ashrafpuri, Member, Bihar Provincial Jamiat-ul-Ulema (who had also demanded fund for elections), was lambasting Jinnah’s separatism in hard hitting languages since long. On January 9, 1940 he had written a letter to the editor, Searchlight, taking on Jinnah). Had it been accepted, it would have been a better political proposition and a better investment, as the Congress message would have reached much deeper into the Muslim masses.144 In Laheriasarai (Darbhanga), in order to counter League propaganda, a local Muslim resident named S. Haq wrote to Rajendra Prasad making an urgent demand for money to ‘create a patriotic atmosphere’ in the province.145 Several months before the election, a nationalist Muslim of Patna named Yunus, who was MLA at that time, also suggested that a fund be earmarked so that 2,000 boys may tour the province (the fund was not provided).146 Thus, one of the biggest factors for the electoral defeat was lack of the Congress support to those Muslims who were consistently opposed to the Two-nation theory of the Muslim League. This lack was glaring in the case of the Azad Muslim Conference. It is indeed quite intriguing why didn’t the Congress extend any political support to the forces comprising the Azad Muslim Conference which had clearly demonstrated its support-base and political strength by mobilizing up to one lakh people in Delhi (in April 1940), and elsewhere. In comparison, the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution Meeting of 23 March 1940 had not more than 50 thousand people present in the session (as reported by Mangalori). This lack of support was both political as well as financial. For instance, one Syed Imamuddin Ahmad, the then Inspector of Motor Vehicles of the Tirhut Division, was persuaded by Manzoor Aijazi and Abdul Bari to contest the election (from Patna City Muslim Urban 143 Rajendra Prasad Papers, 9–R/45–6; see also, Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism, and the Partition, p. 198. 144 Ibid. 145 S. Haq to Rajendra Prasad, 19 February 1946, Rajendra Prasad Papers, File no.9–R/45–6. 146 Yunus to Rajendra Prasad, 10 December 1945; Ibid.

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constituency) against Jafar Imam (1903–79, the Vice President of the Bihar Muslim League). Upon losing the election, Imamuddin Ahmad wrote an angry letter to Sardar Patel on 8 February 1946. He called his betrayal as, ‘one of the worst types of the Congress cheat’ of which he was made victim. He had been given ‘their words of honour’ that: (a) the Congress Government would re-appoint him to the government post which he was resigning to contest the election, and till his appointment he would get his salary from the Congress; (b) the Congress would meet all the election expenses for him. He says, On those undertakings and assurances by prominent men of the Congress Party of Bihar, I resigned my Government post, and came headway to fight (the election). The date of polling is quite near at hand but the money to contest the election… is not given to me, nor is my salary (`400 per mensem) paid.

He requested that, if at all the Congress and its leadership was ‘sincere to the cause of the freedom of this country’, Patel should enquire into the ‘dirty trick of the Congressmen’ had played on him He was particularly angry against the two leaders, Manzoor Aijazi and Abdul Bari. Using rather intemperate language, he describes it as the ‘mean behaviour of those Congress Muslims’ of the Bihar province. He raised two harsh questions: (a) Is this befitting on the part of prominent Muslim Congressmen to deceive another Muslim who, for the sake of the Congress, has done such a great sacrifice?’ (b) Will such conduct of the Congress leaders gain the sympathy of other Mussalmans than Congressite Muslims for their party (Congress), or would it make them to think the Congress a Hostile Body, as pleaded by the Muslim League?

He further demanded that an early reply and immediate remedial steps ‘would no doubt save the Congress from defamation and a very bad name’. Otherwise, if no steps were taken to resolve the matter by the All India Congress leaders, he threatened, ‘to send the whole affair to the press for public information’.147 (This episode shows Imamuddin 147

Letter from Haji Saiyed Imamuddin Ahmed to Sardar Patel, 8 February, 1946, RPCSD, vol. 6, 1996, pp. 82–83. For more instances like these, see Mahajan, Independence and Partition, p. 215; Kuwajima, Muslims, Nationalism,

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to be both foolish and greedy — to claim that the Congress will pay his salary till his reappointment is ludicrous and one wonders what led Congress to choose him as a candidate in the first place!) Yet another reason was that the Congress and the Nationalist Muslim organizations could not arrive at a proper coordination with each other. Despite having formed a Nationalist Muslim Board, they could not come out with a joint manifesto. The failure to do so come out with a common manifesto led to ‘confused, un-coordinated, joint campaign with the nationalist Muslims’ in the election.148 Moreover, in order to write off the League propaganda of discriminations against Muslims, the nationalist Muslims demanded some assurances from the Congress. This it refused to give. These demands included employment quotas, the appointment of a Muslim teacher in primary schools, special qazi courts, etc. The President of the Muslim Parliamentary Board, Qazi Ahmad Hussain Saheb, had recommended that the Congress should make these promises in a joint manifesto. His argument was that, without such assurances, they would not succeed in pushing out the League.149 Unfortunately, the Congress, refused to concede such demands. Rajendra Prasad argued that only the fact that the Muslims would have the liberty to pursue religious education could be ensured, but nothing more.150 As early as 1939, the nationalist Muslim organizations of Bihar (like the Imarat-e-Shariah) had begun warning the Congress about the growing alienation of the Muslims against the Congress. However, the Congress did not look into the matter with as much seriousness as this warranted. That is why a nationalist Muslim of Patna, Yunus, had this to say: ‘Nobody is to be blamed except the Congress for it talks and writes about Muslim Mass Contact but does nothing’.151 Maulana Abul Mohasin Mohammad Sajjad (1880–1940, Naib Amir-e-Shariat of Imarat-e-Shariah and the President of the Bihar

and the Partition, p. 198, Rajendra Prasad Papers, File No. 7–5/45–46, and 9–R/45–46. 148 Rajendra Prasad to Patel, 8 March 1946, Rajendra Prasad Papers 7–5/45–6. 149 Qazi Ahmad Hussain of Phulwari Sharif to Rajendra Prasad, 22 November1945; Ibid., 5–RP/PSF(1) 1945. 150 Rajendra Prasad to Maulana Azad, 19 December 1945, Ibid. 151 Yunus to Rajendra Prasad, 10 December1945, Ibid., 9–R/45–6. Col.1.

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wing of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind) in November 1939 wrote a letter to the Congress to look into the matter of Muslim alienation on a priority basis. This letter, consisting of several pages, was addressed to the Congress leadership for self-introspection, and it was not the intention of the writer that it be made public for the League to make ‘dirty’ use of it. He wrote, Since 1920, the present leaders of the League have been opposing (the Congress), but this opposition was never so severe. Most of the Muslims now entertain a genuine and sincere aversion for the Congress152… It is an imperative call of the time that the responsible leaders of the Congress and the members of the working Committee should deeply probe into the matter... in order to find out the root cause of all the present discontent153…. What is needed most is that responsible leaders of the Congress should be bold enough to plead guilty for such errors which may be definitely proved to exist, and should declare their firm determination not to let them recur again; and that no time should be spent to redress such wrong.154

He goes on to say that the choice of Krishna Sinha (rather than Syed Mahmud) as the chief minister of Bihar in 1937; the failure of the Bihar Assembly to nominate even a single Muslim representative in the Bihar Council; ignoring the able leadership of S. M. Umair; and launching Muslim Mass Contact only half-heartedly — all contributed to Muslim alienation. He also pointed out that there should have been only ‘Mass Contact’, as there was nothing like Hindu Mass Contact, Christian Mass Contact, Sikh Mass Contact.155 He also accuses ‘the Congress [of ] commit[ting] innumerable blunders’: In Bihar when the Rural Development Department was started, for two long years not a single Muslim was appointed as an office-bearer. The chief organizer, Asst. organizer, and Superintendent were all Hindus. Even the clerks were all of one and the same community. It did a great harm to the prestige of the Congress.156 152

AICC Papers, No. G–42/1939. Ibid. 154 Ibid. 155 Ibid. 156 Ibid. 153

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In the letter, there are many other grievances recorded against the Congress about Urdu and Urdu medium schools. It also says that, even in 1937 when the Muslim Mass Contact was launched, an effective and persuasive pamphlet written by Maulana Azad for the purpose of winning over the Muslims to the side of the Congress, could not be published and distributed due to the constraint of funds.157 Another factor for the electoral defeat was because right-wing elements in the Congress ‘girded themselves to resist the campaign that threatened their political dominance’. With Muslim Mass Contacts making rapid progress, they (Congress Hindus) were faced with the prospect of a Muslim influx into the Congress. The District Congress Committees remained idle. Most of the (Hindu) leaders of the Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) remained reluctant to pursue the Muslim Mass Contacts Campaign. In these efforts, they were aided and supported by the Hindu Mahasabha whose calculated strategy was to starve the Mass Contact Committee of funds, to fill them with their trusted lieutenants, and to ensure that Muslims were kept out of Provincial and District Committees. Men with anti-Muslim proclivities, who had close links with the Hindu Mahasabha and other overtly communal organizations, controlled most of the Provincial and District Committees. Moreover, they were also involved in many incidents of communal violence. And thus, ‘by letting the Mass Contacts Campaign peter out, the Congress allowed Jinnah, perhaps involuntarily, to take advantage of deteriorating communal relations and rally his community around the divisive symbol of a separate Muslim homeland’. About this, K. M. Ashraf (1903–62) is known to have said: ‘due to such failures on the part of the Congress, the Muslim League turned overnight, into a full-fledged manager’.158 If from 1937 to 1945, the agenda of Muslim Mass Contact Programme remained absent from the Congress priority, on the eve of election in 1946, the ‘Muslim Mass Contact was brought out from the cupboard where it had been stashed away a decade ago and dusted and readied for use’.159

157

Hasan, ‘The Muslim Mass Contacts Campaign’. AICC Papers No. 11/1937; Hasan, ‘The Muslim Mass Contacts Campaign’, pp. 155–59. 159 Mahajan, Independence and Partition, p. 219. 158

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Jay Prakash Narayan (1902–79) made a similar observation in his Note on Communal Question. He suggested that the Congress take up tasks like the economic betterment of Muslims; their representation in Congress Committees; ensure a share for Muslims in licenses, contracts, jobs; give support to nationalist Muslims, etc. These were, according to Mr J. P. Narayan, all desirable, most necessary.160 Besides the grievances of Muslims expressed by Syed Mahmud in his letter to Nehru on 9 December 1939, and by Sultan Ahmed in his letter to Rajendra Prasad, on 16 November 1938 (discussed in the last chapter), Sardar Patel also shared such feelings with Rajendra Prasad in his letter dated 15 October 1938. Lord Wavell also wrote to Sir Andrew Clow (Governor, Bombay), on 7 October 1946, The present ascendancy of the Muslim League is, I think, very largely due to the treatment of the Muslims in the economic and political sphere in the Congress Governments in 1937–39 ... a great majority of the [Muslims’] complaints were from economic and political causes rather than accusations of actual religious oppression. This may have been the symptom of the deep-seated antipathy between the two.161

The mere electoral victory of the League in 1946 did not make Pakistan a reality.162 Pakistan was made a reality only by the colonial masters, and all varieties of communalism which got the support and the encouragement from the colonial state. In Bengal, it was Muslim League’s ‘Direct Action’ which perpetrated the most heinous bloodshed against the Hindus, while in Bihar it was the Hindu reaction of avenging the Noakhali riots (where Muslim majority were the aggressors and Hindu minority was the aggrieved, in terms of the total number of causalities) that brought about the slaughter of thousands of Muslims in Bihar, with many of them rendered homeless and forced to migrate towards Bengal. It was this forced migration, which made the League’s designs succeed. What was baffling in Bihar was the fact that most of the riotous mobs were attended, and even led by, Congressmen. In Patna, the anti-Noakhali meeting (25 October 1946) that precipitated

160

AICC Papers, G–36/1946. ToP, vol. 8, Doc. No. 414, p. 674. 162 Mahajan, Independence and Partition, p. 219. 161

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the outbreak of riots on the following day, was organized by Jagat Narain Lal, the leading Congressman of the district. In fact, some Congressmen confessed to Gandhi their participation in the riot.163 Lord Wavell also testified the complicity of the Congressmen in the riots: he noted that, in Bihar, the lower strata of the Congress planned the outbreaks.164 Jawaharlal Nehru also admitted to Sardar Patel that the Congress-run administration, and many party members, had succumbed to Hindu communalism. He reported the involvement of some Congressmen with Hindu Mahasabha inclinations.165 Rajendra Prasad also testified that the, ‘Congressmen acknowledge[d] their manifold sins and wickedness’ in the riots.166 The Muslim League also knew that, despite its electoral victory, at least in Bihar, it was not going to have a formidable mass-base. Since its foundation in Bihar, the Bihar Provincial Muslim League (BPML) had toed a somewhat different line from that of the All India Muslim League. This difference was also reflected in the 1940s when the Bihar Provincial Muslim League had demanded the partition of Bihar on religious lines rather than support the idea of Jinnah’s Pakistan.167 Hence, the League was quite desperate about making further inroads among Muslims. It was only after the September–October 1946 (when the riots started) that ‘the League extracted the utmost political mileage from the riots and turned it to communal ends. The exodus of refugees into Bengal was influenced, if not organized, by the League’.168 Free land and houses were promised in Bengal, and people left their homes even from those areas which had remained relatively unaffected by the riots. About 60,000 refugees left Bihar between the third week 163

MGLP, pp. 624–27. Lord Wavell wrote to Pethik Lawrence, see ToP, vol. 9, p. 140. New Delhi, 22 November 1946. 165 Nehru to Patel, 5 November 1946. Durga Das (ed.), Sardar Patel’s Correspondence 1945–50, vol. 3, p. 165. Also see, CID, SB, 40 (A), 1946, Top Secret, (November 1946. G. O. Patna, DIG–CID). 166 Henry Dow (Bihar) to Wavell, 8 October 1946, ToP, vol. 8, Doc. No. 418, pp. 678–79. 167 Zaidi (ed.), Jinnah Papers, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 801–3, M. A. Warsi to Jinnah, 19 May 1947; also see Datta, FMB, vol. 3, Patna, 1957, p. 360. 168 Nehru to Suhrawardy, 1 January 1947. SWJN 2nd series, vol. 1, p. 104; see also, Mahajan, Independence and Partition, p. 264. 164

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of November and the end of December 1946.169 Volunteers of the League were active in distributing relief in Bihar. On the other hand, Sardar Patel refused to send any team of relief workers to Bihar. He had arranged funds for N. S. Gill and a batch of 100 men of the Indian National Army for their programme of relief work in Noakhali. But he disapproved of Gandhi’s agreeing to send Gill and his party to Bihar to serve the Muslims and establish their credentials. He went on to say, quite insensitively, that ‘there is no trouble in Bihar’.170

The Congress and Communalism in Bihar Thus, there is evidence that the Congress had become fairly communalized on Hindu lines in Bihar in the decades before 1947. The Viceroy was emphatically of the opinion that the lower strata of the Congress were responsible for the killings in UP and Bihar: ‘they were undoubtedly organized and organized very thoroughly, by the supporters of the Congress’.171 H. B. Chandra, a Congressman from Bihar, wrote to Rajendra Prasad saying that Hindu peasant mobs, by resorting to killings, were only doing what the Congress leaders had asked them to do after Noakhali.172 Not only this, Gandhi’s suggestion of appointing an enquiry committee by the Government of Bihar was announced with much reluctance and delay, on 13 February 1947. Syed Mahmud wrote to Gandhi that, even four months after the trouble, suspicion and fear persisted, and removing their fear was the main challenge. Mere relief was not enough, and even that was not entrusted to his charge, despite Maulana Azad’s advice to the chief minister to do so. Syed Mahmud also pointed out that it was Congressmen who had called for avenging Noakhali: the Congressmen leading the processions had shouted incendiary slogans, and thus had been responsible for the riots. The contemporary Urdu writer and political activist, Taqi Raheem has corroborated the contents of Syed Mahmud’s letter by pointing out that the press, including the pro-Congress daily the 169

Rajendra Prasad Papers, 6–B/46, Part 1, S. No. 80. Patel to N. S. Gill, 26 January and 10 February 1947, SPC, vol. 4, p. 224; Mahajan, Independence and Partition, p. 264. 171 Viceroy to Secretary of State, 22 November 1946, ToP, vol. 9, pp. 139–40. 172 R. P. Papers, 6–B/46, Part 1, S. No. 83. 170

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Searchlight, had incited communal riots. Its editor, a Congress legislator, Murli Manohar Prasad, along with K. B. Sahay (1898–1974) and Jagat Narain Lal, decided to observe 25 October as Naokhali Day, and in Patna, a procession shouting slogans — like Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge (blood to be avenged with blood) — went through the city and assembled at Gandhi Maidan where, under the Presidentship of K. B. Sahay, a public meeting was held. Here, Congressmen themselves delivered extremely inflammatory speeches.173 Responding to Syed Mahmud’s letter (16–17 February 1947), Gandhi reached Patna on 2 March 1947, which made the Congress complicity even more clear. The Ministers were opposed to Gandhi’s visit to the affected villages on foot. They also opposed Gandhi’s advice that the Bihar government should buy those Muslim houses from which the Muslims wanted to move out. Gandhi remained annoyed that the Congress Government in Bihar for not having instituted an enquiry committee even after having announced it. This was conveyed by Rajendra Prasad to S. K. Sinha twice;174 however, Chief Minister Krishna Sinha, kept repeating that the League would make political capital if the government appointed an enquiry committee.175 Gandhi further advised that Syed Mahmud should be made in charge of relief work; but the Ministers again refused. Thus, factors such as these led the common Muslims of Bihar to think that, regardless of the position of the Muslims vis-à-vis the Muslim League, the common Hindus including most of the Hindu Congressmen of Bihar, thought Muslims to be a separate nation. They also began to feel that the Hindus themselves had come to believe in the two-nation theory.176 By 1946–47, as put by Gandhi, even Hindus also wanted Partition.177 Even relief measures in the camps of the riot 173

Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 521. For Syed Mahmud’s letter to Gandhi, see R. P. Papers. 24 C/46–7, S. No. 58. Pyarelal (p. 638) describes that the crowd with inflammatory slogans had merged with a meeting at Bankipur Maidan, presided over by Abdul Bari, the then President of the Bihar Congress. 174 R. P. Papers, 24–C/46–7, 25 March and 19 June 1947. 175 MGLP, p. 621. 176 Raheem, Tehreek-e-Azadi, p. 526. 177 Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG), vol. 88, p. 75; for more details on the Hindu demand for Partition, see Chatterji, Bengal Divided; also see her Spoils of Partition.

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victims were suffering not only from mismanagement but also from communal cleavages. ‘The association of the local Congress MLAs with the district officers in the distribution of food grains and other essential supplies has been an unmitigated nuisance’.178 Once this feeling seized the hearts and minds of the Muslims, it became almost impossible for the nationalist Muslim organizations to corner the Muslim League. ‘The Bihar disturbances of 1946 finally shattered the dream of an undivided India’.179 In fact, after the riots broke out in Bihar, all such organizations (most prominent of them being the Imarat-e-Shariah and the Momin Conference) got engaged in relief work and in persuading people not to migrate elsewhere. They kept saying that for the Muslims of Bihar (or for all the aqalliat subahs) Pakistan held nothing. Even on 6 October 1947, an editorial in the Naqeeb, the organ of Imarat-e-Shariah (launched in 1932, after this Imarat was banned), contested the League’s two nation theory, and reiterated its faith in muttahidah qaumiyat (composite nationalism). The editorial asserted that rather than League’s brand of nationalism (taqseem, that is, Partition), it was composite nationalism that really made more political sense.180 Even the editorial in the Sada-e-Aam (an essentially/arguably pro-League Urdu newspaper of Patna, launched in 1942), 28 August 1947, asked ‘Nationalist Musalman Kya Karein? (What should Nationalist Mussalmans do?)’. In this editorial, it criticized the communally divisive politics of the League, and persuaded the Muslims to fully integrate with pluralist democracy. With such an ideological position and political worldview, cultural institutions and organizations like the Imarat-e-Shariah and the Momin Conference, and the Urdu intelligentsia, besides many others of Leftist and Socialist orientations, continued to provide leadership to the Muslims of Bihar after Independence, and the cross-section of the Muslim communities looked up to such institutions, organizations, and leaders, for their engagement with pluralist democratic politics after 1947.

Π178

H. Dow to Wavell, 8 October 1946, ToP, vol. 8, Doc. No. 418, p. 678. For more details, see my, Contesting Colonialism and Separatism. 179 MGLP, p. 641. 180 Naqeeb, 6 October 1947 (editorial).

5 Language Politics as a Tool of Empowerment Political Landscape of Urdu in Bihar after Independence, 1947–89 Muslim Politics in Post-Independence Bihar

T

he 1946 riots that took place in the wake of Partition politics were a haunting memory for the Muslim communities of Bihar, influencing all aspects of their life, including their electoral/political behaviour. Besides caste-based formations like the Momin Conference, Rayeen Conference, Mansuri Conference, and also the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH) and its formidable and enduring branch, Imarat-e-Shariah, many others remained consistently opposed to both British colonialism and the territorial separatism of the Muslim League. The Sufi Khanqahs of Bihar, like the Khanqah-e-Rahmaniya (Munger) and Khanqah-e-Mujibiya (Phulwarisharif, Patna) stridently opposed the League’s politics, and consistently remained in alliance with the Congress-led anti-colonial struggle. Sir T. Rutherford, the then governor of Bihar (1946), said, ‘The Muslims who constituted 14 per cent of the population were not very strong supporters of Mr Jinnah’.1 This was further substantiated by the Chief Minister Shri Krishna Sinha (1887–1961), who said that, the minorities have confidence in the Congress … non-League Muslim candidates had obtained 25 per cent of the Muslim votes [in 1946] and more nationalists would have been returned if it had not been for the violent attitude of the League.2

1 2

ToP, vol. 7, p. 43. Ibid., p. 156.

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Yet, the entire Muslim ‘community’ was perceived to have subscribed to the separatist politics of the Muslim League, and the ‘guilt of Partition’ was squarely placed on the Muslims; faced with a traumatic experience, bewildered and demoralized … [t] he Muslims perceived that the Hindus consciously or unconsciously held that after the foundation of Pakistan, the Muslims had no moral right to live in India. The Muslims were not only depicted by their neighbours as responsible for the partition of the country but suffered from a sense of guilt. The wounds of communal violence inflicted [back] in 1946 were deep and created a sense of insecurity and uncertainty about their future in the land of their birth.3

Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), free India’s Home Minister, was of the opinion that the Muslims were bound to be disloyal, and that they should therefore be dismissed from the services like police and military; to him the Indian Muslims were hostages to be held in security for the treatment of Hindus in Pakistan.4 ‘Among those who did not wholly trust the Muslims was Vallabhbhai Patel’.5 H. V. R. Iyengar, the Secretary of Patel’s Home Ministry, wrote ‘top secret’ letter (17 July 1948) to other secretaries, including Tara Chand, the Education Secretary: ‘there is growing evidence that a section of Muslims in India is out of sympathy with the Government of India, particularly because of its policy regarding Kashmir and Hyderabad, and is actively sympathetic to Pakistan’.6 The Muslims of Bihar [as also of Delhi and UP] were experiencing greater trauma (in comparison to many other parts of India) of Partition. Nehru, in his letters to the chief ministers (d. 20 November 1953), was pained to discover that some

3

Ashraf, The Muslim Elite, p. 43. Mushirul Hasan, ‘Adjustment and Accommodation: Indian Muslims After Partition’, in K. N. Panikkar (ed.), Communalism in India: History, Politics, and Culture, Delhi: Manohar, 1991, p. 66; Abdus Samad’s Urdu novels Do Gaz Zameen (A Strip of Two Yards Long Land) and Khwabon Ka Sawera (Dawn of Dreams) give a picturesque and poignant details of how Muslims adjusted and accommodated to the situation after the Independence and Partition 5 Ramchandra Guha, India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy, London: Picador, 2008, p. 365. 6 Cited in ibid. 4

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of his fellow travelers in the nationalist struggle were being harassed simply because some of them had their distant relatives in Pakistan.7 Francine Frankel observes, [t]he Muslims … found it difficult to project their influence under the new political system precisely because they had been denied the artificial aid of reserved constituencies. On the one hand, the national loyalty of Muslims appeared suspect to many Hindus after several prominent leaders had displayed a preference for the Muslim League in the 1940s and, after Independence, raised the demand to make Urdu an official state language. On the other, fears among the Muslims about the rise of Hindu communal parties generated by the persistence of communal riots after Partition created a pervasive sense of insecurity. The Muslims, therefore, as a group, fell back on the secular Congress party.8

In his letters to the Chief Ministers, Nehru recurrently mentions the anti-Muslim proclivities/practices of Congress leaders. This dilemma and pain of Bihar Muslims has been portrayed by novelist Husain-ulHaq in his Urdu novel Furat.9 In the novel, the Congress considered the Muslims as zar khareed ghulam (purchased slaves), whereas a Hindu communal party like the Jan Sangh took them as war booty (maal-e-ghaneemat), and that pressed or sandwiched between these two, i.e., the overt majoritarian communalism of the JanSangh and covert communalism at least of the lower and provincial units of the ruling Congress party the community (qaum) was frustrated in independent India.10 Despite such a situation, Muslim pro-Congress nationalist freedom fighters/leaders like Syed Mahmud (1889–1971) and Abdul Qaiyum Ansari worked to persuade their community to overcome such difficulties, and repose their faith in the state. They invited erstwhile Muslim League leaders, like Jafar Imam [(1903–79), to become a minister under two Chief Ministers: Binodanand Jha (1900–71), 1961–63 and K. B. Sahay (1898–1974), 1963–67. Mazhar Imam, Mohammad Shafi, and Maqbool Ahmad also joined the Congress, which was the 7

Letters to Chief Ministers, vol. 2, p. 379; also see vol. 3, p. 451. Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance in Bihar’, p. 83. 9 Husain-ul-Haq, Furat (The Euphrates, Urdu novel), 1992, p. 15. 10 Ibid. 8

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ruling party both at the Centre and in the province. Apart from these Congress leaders, there were many Socialist leaders who had opposed the Muslim League’s politics of communal separatism. They were Ahad Fatmi (1915–80), Abul Hayat Chand (1914–58), and Razi Azimabadi. They threw themselves into social service, and helped restore confidence and security among the Muslims. Along with the formidable Socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan (1902–79), they helped stop police raids and searches of Muslim houses during 1947–48, and were able to remove some of the fears among the community.11 This went a long way in determining the relationship of the community with the state and its politics. The Imarat-e-Shariah, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, and the Momin Conference were other anti-colonial, nationalist and proCongress organizations which had a following among the Muslims, and these institutions were looked upon by the community to obtain guidance while making electoral/political decisions. They helped prevent demoralization among the community in those hours of crisis.12 The Naqeeb, the Urdu weekly of the Imarat-e-Shariah, protested strongly against the house search of Muslims in 1947. The Communist Party of India (CPI) had first supported the politics of Partition (on the principle of the right to self-determination for different ‘nationalities’), but subsequently opposed separatist politics. This political formation had sizeable Muslim presence amongst its leadership in Bihar. Comrade Ali Ashraf, Syed Habib, Habibur Rahman were quite well known CPI leaders. They organized the poorer sections of the masses, industrial and biri (a native cigarette) workers, students and peasants, etc. These sections had a substantial Muslim population. Thus: They were the people who chose to stay back in the country of their birth. Their decision was prompted by other considerations like property, business, family ties etc. as well. But this was not all. There were still others who were committed to a secular democratic polity. They were the people who were neither swept by the appeals in the name of Islam nor lured by the prospect of improving their material fortunes in the

11 12

Ashraf, The Muslim Elite. Also see, Ghosh, ‘Muttahidah Qaumiyat in Aqalliat Bihar’.

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promised land of plenty (i.e. Pakistan) … Jinnah’s Pakistan, more than anything else, threatened to destroy their cross cultural networks and age-old inter communal linkages.13

In the immediate aftermath of the Partition, while Hindu–Muslim reconciliation was relatively difficult in UP — largely because UP had thrown up many League stalwarts — it was even more so in Punjab, Bengal, and cities like Delhi which had the greatest influx of refugees who were contributing to Hindu communalism. Bihar was relatively free from such problems, probably because: (a) Bihar did not have any major centre of refugee Hindus coming from Pakistan; (b) there were stronger caste divisions among Hindus in Bihar; (c) it had a history of Hindu–Muslim cooperation against Bengali domination over Bihar’s resources and employment opportunities, therefore lesser Hindu–Muslim antagonism; moreover, the Muslim League was much weaker political force in colonial Bihar; and (d) it was a stronger centre of anti-colonialism in the ‘Wahabi’ movement, and therefore the Muslim participation in the anti-colonial politics in Bihar was more as compared to adjacent provinces. Moreover, the organization of the Congress was something like a ‘coalition of castes and factions’, in which ‘Muslims were accommodated like just another caste’.14 According to Ali Ashraf, this factionalism made Muslims a valuable ally of different factions within the ruling Congress party. Thus, ‘Muslims recovered a meaningful role for themselves in the caste-ridden popular politics of Indian democracy’.15 This caste-based factionalism was notably more entrenched in Bihar, than elsewhere.16 This is also testified by the fact that, after Independence, as many as 13 per cent of the ministers in the Bihar cabinet were invariably Muslims. Consequently, as the ruling party, the Congress was helpful in extending governmental rewards/favours/patronage to Muslims. The 13

Hasan, ‘Adjustment and Accommodation’. Ashraf, The Muslim Elite, p. 45. 15 Ibid. 16 For details, see, Shrikant, Bihar Mein Chunao; see also, Roy, ‘Caste and Political Recruitment in Bihar’; Chetkar Jha, ‘Caste in Bihar Congress Politics’, in Iqbal Narain (ed.), State Politics in India, 1975, pp. 575–87; Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance in Bihar’. 14

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co-option of the Congress Muslims in governmental structures, and their establishmentarian/status-quo-ist politics weakened their links with the larger Muslim community, as they refrained from pursuing such politics and raising such issues which were essentially related to Muslims exclusively. Thus, in the first three general elections, ‘the nomination and election processes worked to put such Muslims into the legislatures who were inclined to be docile and not raise embarrassing issues too persistently lest they were denied re-nomination or shifted to less safe constituencies’.17 Thus, even Zakir Husain (1897–1969), the then president (1948–56) of the Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu, who had launched a massive signature campaign in support of Urdu, ‘developed cold feet’ after becoming the Governor of Bihar.18 His career continued to flourish, first becoming the Vice-President, and then the President, of the Indian republic. A few Muslim leaders of Bihar tried to disentangle themselves from such politics, and attempted to participate as free citizens. Leaders like Maghfoor Aijazi (1900–1966),19 Moulvi Abdul Ghani, Syed Aiyub (1910–64) advocated concentration on the educational upliftment of the community.20 This was also because, in the 1960s, communal riots took place and some Muslim leaders of the Congress, like Syed Mahmud, Maghfur Aijazi expressed their grievances against the Congress government’s inability to protect the Muslim minorities. They also protested against the unfair treatment meted out to

17 Theodore P. Wright Jr., ‘The Effectiveness of Muslim Representation in India’, in D. E. Smith (ed.), Religion and Politics in South Asia, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966, p. 110. 18 Sonntag, ‘The Political Saliency of Language’. 19 For details on Maghfoor Aijazi, see my essay, in the Tahzeebul Akhlaq, February 2004. 20 This was also the time when many other social groups/classes were deserting the Congress, giving way to non-Congress governments in several provinces in the Assembly elections of 1967. This had economic reasons as well. The Indo-Pak and Indo-Chinese wars had ravaged the Indian economy. Amidst the rising inflation, intermediate castes of the middle peasantry in Bihar (like the Yadavas, Koeris and Kurmis), began asserting their opposition to the Congress. For details see, Chaudhary and Shrikant, Bihar Mein Samajik Parivartan.

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Urdu. On 8–9 August 1964, an All India Convention of Muslims was held at Lucknow, presided over by none other than Syed Mahmud, a senior Congress leader, and once a minister in the Nehru’s cabinet. This convention discussed Muslim alienation from the Congress. Several issues of the weekly Radiance (during October–December 1968) alleged that the Muslims had been victims of discrimination in government jobs, particularly in security departments like the police. Another political organization of the Muslims also emerged during this period. On 1 June 1966, Md Yaqub Yunus, a hotel owner of Patna, [and son of Md Yunus (1884–1952), the Chief Minister of Bihar from April 1937 to July 1937], started the Bihar branch of the All India Muslim Majlis Mashaweraat (AIMMM). This organization joined hands with the Jamaat-e-Islami-e-Hind ( JIH) and the Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Hind. The All India Muslim Majlis Mashaweraat (AIMMM) also had its public meetings at various places, including Champaran and Sitamarhi, where it expressed its grievances against the Congress governments.21 Thus, during the first two-three decades of Independence, the electoral preferences of the Muslims in Bihar were determined by three identifiable groups of the political leadership: (a) Parties like the Congress, the Socialists, and the CPI. (b) The ulema (clergy), who spoke openly and relatively more fearlessly for Muslim causes like the protection of the religious rights, and preservation of the Muslim Personal Law. They were divided broadly into two groups; one was Deoband school of thought, represented by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind and the Imarat-e-Shariah. They remained pro-Congress. They had significant popularity both in rural and urban areas. The other was Jamaat-eIslami-e-Hind ( JIH) whose support base was limited to a small section of ‘elites’. The two groups of ulema and religious leadership had joined hands in 1964; but by early 1972, the JIH declared the Jamiat-ulUlema-e-Hind as its primary enemy within the Muslim community.22 (c) The third were the Backward Muslims, mainly Momins/Ansaris. Their leader, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, who was also a minister in

21 22

Radiance, 18 September 1966 [This magazine is the organ of the JIH]. Radiance, 2 April 1972, p. 4.

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the Congress government of Bihar, attacked the JIH as communal bodies, similar to the Jan Sangh/RSS and other Hindu communal organizations.23 Till the 1980s, the issues of Urdu and of the communal riots were the most predominant concerns of the Bihar Muslims. The two issues often overlapped. These concerns determined their electoral preferences. In the post-Partition/Independence period, when it became taboo for the Muslims to express their demands for political recognition on the basis of religion, the language movement emerged as a convenient tool of minority politics. This chapter, therefore, examines the political landscape of Urdu in Bihar during 1951–89. In studies about the decline or marginalization of Urdu in India after Independence, state discrimination has been identified as a major factor.24 Very few works have delved into the role/failings of the protagonists of Urdu. However, Ralph Russell (1918–2008) emphasized that Urdu must be saved self-reliantly by Urdu speakers out of their own resources, and added, In those days [1949–51], in the area regarded as the heartland of Urdu, UP and to a lesser extent Bihar, the state governments were doing everything possible to destroy it. This was achieved by an absurd interpretation of the ‘three language formula’ devised by the government of India.25

In one of his reflective essays, Syed Shahabuddin (born in 1935 he was a Diplomat turned Parliamentarian) has lamented that, ‘far from exerting due and legitimate pressure on the government to prepare the ground for Urdu at primary and secondary levels, [the protagonists of Urdu] have been silent and callous spectators to the [state] apathy

23

Radiance, 14 August 1966 and 23 October, 1966. Various essays included in Ather Farouqui (ed.), Redefining Urdu Politics in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006, insist on this factor. See also, Kerrin Ditmer, ‘The Hindi–Urdu Controversy and the Constituent Assembly’, Indian Journal of Politics, vol. 6, no. 1, January–June 1972, pp. 13–22, argues that Urdu lost its case in the Constituent Assembly itself, when the Constitutionmaking process was in progress. 25 Ralph Russell, ‘Urdu in India since Independence’, EPW, vol. 34, nos 1–2, 2–15 January, 1999, pp. 44–48. 24

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toward Urdu’.26 Syed Hamid (b. 1920), the former Vice Chancellor (1980–85) of Aligarh Muslim University, has blamed both the state as well as the Urdu protagonists.27

Language Politics as a Tool of Empowerment It has rightly been said that, language movements are everywhere vehicles for the pursuit of economic advancement, social status, and political power by specific elites … By doing so, these elites also place[d] themselves in … a mediating position, in which they could communicate effectively with the rulers, acquire positions of influence and power in government administration, and build a constituency among their own language speakers on whose behalf they might then make a claim to speak and, thereby, to enhance further their own political influence.28

This chapter attempts to explore the mass-based democratic politics of the protagonists of Urdu in post-Independence Bihar. This politics achieved relatively greater success in persuading the provincial government to offer incentives of public employment for the Urdu speaking population of Bihar, all of them Muslims. This study will therefore narrate Muslim and Urdu politics almost interchangeably. Compared to the adjacent province of Uttar Pradesh, the status of Urdu in Bihar just after 1947 was much less discouraging. The Muslim communities of post-Independence Bihar largely succeeded in creating an active modern public sphere29 around the issue of their mother 26 Syed Shahabuddin, ‘A Trinity without a Church: Urdu Language, Urdu Education in India, and Muslim Indians’, in Ather Farouqui (ed.), Redefining Urdu Politics, 2006, p. 173. 27 Syed Hamid, ‘Urdu Ke Liye Jidd-o-Johad ke Teen Mahaaz’, Tahzib-ulAkhlaq, vol. 7, no. 7, July 1988, pp. 20–22. 28 Paul Brass, ‘Elite Interests, Popular Passions, and Social Power in the Language Politics of India’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 27, no. 3, 2004, pp. 360–61. 29 Unlike Francesca Orsini’s Hindi Public Sphere, it is probably difficult to use the term ‘Urdu Public Sphere’ here, because this essay does not deal with the literary sphere; it remains confined to language politics. See Francesca Orsini, The Hindi Public Sphere 1920–40: Language and Literature and the Age of Nationalism, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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tongue, Urdu.30 This kind of ‘Urdu Public Sphere’ could not be carved out by the Muslim communities of UP after Independence despite being ‘the homeland of a nationally significant Urdu speaking Muslim elite, instrumental in setting up educational and political institutions which fostered a distinctively Indian Muslim politics [in the colonial period]’.31 One of the reasons for a more assertive political movement for Urdu in Bihar (compared to UP) could be the fact that the Muslim League’s separatist politics in late colonial-Bihar was much weaker.32 Moreover, ‘[i]n the post-Independence period … when it became taboo for groups to express their demands for political recognition on the basis of religion, language movements flourished and, in several cases, displaced religious identifications for political purposes’.33 Second, besides the Muslim agitation for Urdu, there were political mobilizations of other respective groups of [Hindus] for Maithili, and Bhojpuri also. They demanded the inclusion of their languages in the eighth Schedule of the Constitution, in the recruitment examinations conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission, and in educational institutions. Arguably, the lower level of subjective consciousness about

30

It should, however, be added here as a note of caution that the notion of Urdu as the mother tongue of all Muslims of Bihar is far from a settled issue. Perhaps, most Muslims of Bihar speak their regional languages (besides so many rural dialects). Thus, there is Maithili in the Darbhanga region; Bhojpuri in the districts of Shahabad, Saran, and Champaran; Angika in Bhagalpur; Vajjika in Vaishali, Muzaffarpur; Magahi in Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabd, Nawadah, etc. Simultaneously, it should also be kept in mind that the politics of obtaining public employment through one’s mother tongue is pursued in the name of a standardized language, with ‘acceptable’ quantum and quality of literature. Such politics can hardly be pursued in the name of a dialect that people speak in their everyday life. The matter becomes even more complex with the finding that, in a given village (of Bihar and possibly elsewhere also), the Ashraf Muslims would speak a dialect distinctly different from those of the Pasmanda Muslims and Hindus. This complexity needs to be studied by the scholars of linguistics, preferably with groundings in social anthropology. 31 Gould, Hindu Nationalism, p. 2 32 See my, ‘Muslim Resistance to Communal Separatism and Colonialism: The Nationalist Politics of Bihar Muslims’, South Asian History and Culture, vol. 2, no. 1, 2011, pp. 16–36. 33 Brass, ‘Elite Interests’, p. 354.

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linguistic identity among the Hindus of Bihar is attributed to higher levels of caste consciousness, which partly prevented the Muslim political mobilization for Urdu from becoming antagonistic to the Hindus beyond a certain limit. Partha Chatterjee makes a distinction between ‘civil society’ and ‘political society’. According to him, while ‘civil society’ refers to self organized associations and social movements, ‘political society’ refers to democracy; and that in postcolonial states, ‘political society’ will be the crucial site for social transformation where contestants for power will make use of it as a site for maneuver for the subordinated groups.34 Drawing upon, questioning, and benefiting from Chatterjee’s arguments, this study of the ‘popular politics’ of Urdu in post colonial Bihar suggests that it cohabits both domains, that is, ‘civil society’ as well as ‘political society’. Chatterjee believes that ‘Democracy … should be seen as the politics of the governed’, and that ‘popular politics’ should be seen to be in conflict with ‘modern politics’. He clarifies, [i]t is the opposition between the universal ideal of civic nationalism, based on individual freedoms and equal rights irrespective of distinctions of religion, race, language, or culture and the particular demands of cultural identity, which call for the differential treatment of particular groups on grounds of vulnerability or backwardness or historical injustice, or…35

While in the first phase (1951–71), the Urdu movement essentially functioned more as a ‘political society’, in the second phase (1971–89) it functioned essentially more as a ‘civil society’, when as a closed association of Urdu ‘elites’, it remained to some extent — only to some extent — ‘sequestered from the wider popular life of the communities walled up within enclaves of civic freedom and rational law’.36 It was in this

34

Partha Chatterjee, ‘On Civil and Political Society in Post-colonial Democracies’, in Sudipta Kaviraj and Sunil Khilnani (eds), Civil Society: History and Possibilities, New Delhi: Cambridge, 2001, pp. 165–78; and Partha Chatterjee, Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2004, p. 4. 35 Chatterjee, Politics of the Governed, p. 4. 36 Ibid.

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second phase that the Urdu Academy was established (1973), the Bihar State Madrasa Education Board came into existence with statutory strength (1978), and a large number of Urdu medium schools were established by the government. The latter happened particularly when one of its chief protagonists, Ghulam Sarwar (1926–2004), became the education minister (1977–79), and subsequently in December 1980, when the Congress government declared Urdu as the second official language, first in selected districts, and by the late 1980s, in the entire province. Besides this, many literary personalities in Urdu secured political rise and high administrative positions.37 Overall, throughout the period of 1951–89, the Urdu political movement maintained

37

Ghulam Sarwar (1926–2004), a Rayeen by caste (vegetable-sellers, and contemptuously also referred to as Kunjras), ran a literary organization called Halqa-e-Adab and was editor of a fiery Urdu weekly Naujawan; in October 1953 he launched an Urdu weekly Sangam; in January 1963, it became a daily, with high popularity for articulating the cause of Urdu/Muslims and also for anti-Congressism, even though he admired Nehru and Maulana Azad. He also served brief incarcerations in the 1960s, where he wrote an Urdu memoir Goshay Mein Qafas Ke (In Prison’s Corner, 1964), and Jahan Ham Hain (Where I Am), besides few other subsequent booklets like Kehti Hai Khalq-e-Khuda. In the Karpuri Thakur led cabinet of the Janata Party and coalition, he was minister for education (1977–79); in February 1990, when the Lalu led Janata Dal government was formed, he became Speaker of the Assembly (1990–2000); then Minister for Agriculture, and continued in the office till his death in 2004. In this way, Sarwar’s rise to political power may be attributed to his Urdu movement. Meanwhile, in 1998, Sangam went into the hands of his son-in-law, Dr Ejaz Ali, who vociferously articulated a critique of the Ashraf dominated Muslim politics of Bihar, formed his All India Backward Muslim Morcha in 1994, and also launched campaign for a constitutional amendment (or Presidential ordinance) to include many lower castes (Arzal) Muslims in the Dalit or Scheduled Caste category. In June 2012, a series, ‘Yadon Ka Janazah’ a biographical account of Ghulam Sarwar, was being published in the Sangam. Professor Jabir Husain (b. 1945), a Shia Syed, started as a student political activist in the L. S. College, Muzaffarpur; served as a professor of English literature; was associated with the anti-Congress Socialist movements in the post-independence period represented by Jai Prakash Narayan (1902–79) and Ram Manohar Lohia (1910–67), then became minister for health in Karpuri

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effective links with the relevant common rural population. However, it could also be argued that the greater priority of the Urdu protagonists was more to seek the support and patronage of the government for the language to survive, and less to ensure the growth of the language in a self-reliant way, except the case of those Madrasas which have preferred to remain reluctant about state funding.

Thakur’s cabinet (1977–79) of Bihar; in the 1990s he served as the Chairman, Bihar State Minorities Commission and subsequently as the Chairman, Bihar Legislative Council (BLC). Presently, he is a Member of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Parliament, as a nominee of Lalu Prasad’s political party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). He has also launched his literary organization, ‘Urdu Markaz’ to popularize the cause of Urdu and publish literary outputs (my ‘Bihar mein Urdu Tehreek’, Tahzibul Akhlaq, vol. 22, no. 1, January 2003). Many rare books/essays/poems have been retrieved and published by Urdu Markaz, accompanied by his introductory/prefatory essays. In the capacity of Chairman, Bihar Legislative Council (BLC), Jabir Husain recruited Urdu translators/ interpreters and typists; he also published Urdu volumes reporting the legislative deliberations of the BLC, called Council Khabarnama; besides this, he also edits a multi-lingual journal of the BLC, Sakshya. He himself is a gifted writer of creative prose and poetry. During March– May 1994, he wrote essays on the sad socio-economic plight of some weaker sections of Bihar Muslims in the Qaumi Tanzeem, the Urdu daily of Patna, then published the compiled the essays with title, Bihar Ki Pasmanda Muslim Abaadiya, Patna: Bihar Foundation, 1994. Then he published, Sun Aiy Kaatib, Patna: Urdu Markaz, 1997; this is an account of painful social realities of rural Bihar, agrarian massacres, oppressions against Dalits. Described as creative prose, it is titled Diary, and is written in a style of creative short stories, but he claims that they are real accounts in which even the real names of people and places have remained unchanged. Then, Ret Par Kheema: Jabir Husain Ki Diary was published by Urdu Markaz, Patna, 2002, and received the Sahitya Academy Award. Professor Shakeelur Rahman, a critic of Urdu literature, was the Vice Chancellor of two universities of Bihar in the 1980s, and then became India’s Health Minister in 1990; Professor Lutfur Rahman (1941–2013), a known critic of Urdu literature, and a poet, was minister for Public Works (1990–95); Professor Wahab Ashrafi (1936–2012), another famous critic of Urdu literature, was the Chairman, Universities Services Commission, during the 1990s. Professor Abdul Mughni (1936–2006), also earned fame for his writings on Urdu literature, and became Vice Chancellor. There are a few other Urdu critics

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Interestingly, even though the Urdu politics — and most of its protagonists — were essentially anti-Congress, most of the demands pertaining to Urdu were fulfilled more by the Congress-ruled regime.

Urdu, Reservations and the Muslim Share in Public Employment In one of his studies, Ather Farouqui said, ‘In Bihar, the status of Urdu is more or less satisfactory, even though it enjoys no government favour or aid’.38 At best, this argument/observation is only partially true. Farouqui says that ‘there are only twenty three colleges and eighty high schools where Urdu is taught’. This is also factually wrong. Several decades of political struggle demanding ‘second official language status’ for Urdu in Bihar created a favourable atmosphere for the spread of Urdu: thus, in almost every government educational institution, schools, colleges, and universities, at least one post of a teacher for Urdu language and literature is earmarked. There are many Urdu medium primary (up to class V) and middle (up to class VIII) schools. In the undergraduate and intermediate courses of Science, Arts, and Commerce, one course in the mother tongue (Urdu) is compulsory for students. Urdu has received substantial benefits from this arrangement as it has also necessitated teachers for Urdu language and literature in theses institutions. Besides this, translators and typists (stenographers) were recruited on a large scale in various offices of the government. Thus, the argument that the issue of Urdu has been merely emotive and elite-centric is a little difficult to accept, given the fact that it is mostly due to Urdu that many Muslims in Bihar have got public employment both as teachers in the educational institutions run by the government, and also as translators/typists in government offices. and creative writers who have secured such positions (including becoming think tanks of political parties) by virtue of their recognition in the field of Urdu literature. And crowning them all is the highly distinguished critic of Urdu literature, Professor Kalimuddin Ahmad (1908–82) the Director, Public Instruction; in this capacity he served the cause of linking Urdu with employment, according to Brass, Language, Religion and Politics, 1974. Aslam Azad, professor of Urdu literature in Patna University, is the latest beneficiary; an MLC from the ruling JD-U, he is Deputy Chairman, Bihar Legislative Council. 38 Farouqui, Redefining Urdu Politics, p. 186.

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Moreover, Urdu speaking candidates have had a relatively higher rate of success in the provincial civil services recruitment examinations, which offer Urdu and Persian literature as optional subjects. Besides this, there are government recognized and funded madrasas, which offer modern as well as religious education in the Urdu medium to the lower economic rungs of the Muslim population. This has been helpful for Urdu knowing Muslims in terms of public employment after reservations for the backward castes (in public employment) were implemented in 1978. The Karpuri Thakur (1924–88) led non-Congress government of Bihar (1977–80) was perceived as the ‘Backward Raj’, which implemented the old Lohiaite Socialist slogan of pichrha pawey sau mein saath (the backward classes should get 60 per cent). He accepted the recommendations of the Mungerilal Commission (1971–76), with 12 per cent reservations in government services for the Extremely/Most Backward castes (EBC/MBC, the lower Shudras), and 8 per cent for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs, the upper Shudras).39 Except the four upper castes (Ashraf ), every other Muslim community (there are a total of 41 castes/biradris of Muslims in Bihar) of Bihar was put under either of the two categories of backwardness, and hence entitled for the reservations. It yielded good results for the Muslims. This is testified by the following data recorded in a report of the Bihar State Minorities Commission (BSMC): In the cadre division for Bihar in the provincial administrative service (May 2003), there were 178 Muslims out of a total of 1756, which is 10.1 per cent; in the state police services, there were 41 Muslims (12.9 per cent). There were 35 Muslim Deputy Superintendents of Police out of 316 (11.1 per cent); Sub Inspectors, 8 per cent, Reserve Sub Inspectors (S.I), 5.1 per cent, Asstt. Sub Inspectors, 9.7 per cent; Havildars 16 per cent, Constables 7.8 per cent, Bihar Military Police (BMP) –7.8 per cent.40

39 Harry W. Blair, ‘Rising Kulaks and Backward Classes in Bihar: Social Change in late 1970s’, EPW, 12 January 1980, pp. 64–74; Tanweer Fazal, ‘The Conundrum of Muslim Reservation: Negotiating Caste and Community’, Contemporary Perspectives, vol. 1, no. 2, July–December, 2007, p. 125. 40 Socio-Economic and Educational Status of Muslims in Bihar, 2004, a Report prepared by the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) in Collaboration with the Bihar State Minorities Commission, 2005.

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The success rate of Muslims in the BPSC is far greater than in West Bengal and UP. This is so despite the fact that West Bengal has been ruled by a secular Left Front for the last three decades. The Sachar Committee Report (2005) has testified that, compared to Bihar, Muslims are grossly under-represented in education and public employment in West Bengal. Despite being about 24 per cent of the population, the Muslim representation in public employment is merely 4.2 per cent. This is far worse than Gujarat, where their representation in public employment is 5.4 per cent even though their population share is only 9 per cent. This is also true of the general economic status of Bengali Muslims as compared to Muslims in Gujarat.41 It is said that more than 90 per cent of the Muslims in West Bengal are registered as ‘upper caste’ (Ashraf), which is contrary to sociological common sense that such a huge proportion of a population would belong to upper social crust claiming noble foreign descent. Anyway, as a result of such claim, the Muslims of West Bengal could not be classified as ‘backward’ and therefore have not been able to take advantage of the benefits of OBC reservations, hence, not much incentive of getting government jobs. As a consequence, school dropout rates among them after class VIII are much higher than among the Bihar Muslims; the dropout is even higher at college level education.42 This is testified by the Sachar Committee Report of 2005.43

The Politics of Urdu: 1947–71 The issue of Urdu was taken up on a priority basis by its protagonists, and around this particular issue there was no caste/biradri-based conflict.44 The Bihar Reyasati Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu was revived

41 Abd-us-Salam Aasim, Hukumat-e-Bengal aur Musalmanon Ka Jumood, Bazm-e-Sahara, Urdu monthly, Delhi: December 2007, pp. 6–8. 42 I am thankful to Arshad Alam for sharing this view with me. 43 In May 2010, on the eve of the Assembly elections, faced with massive erosion of their support base, most Muslim communities of West Bengal were declared OBCs by the incumbent Left Front provincial government. See next chapter for more details. 44 The absence of dissent from any Muslim group was probably not because Urdu was seen as a mother tongue by all Muslims of Bihar, but because Urdu was arguably articulated as a religious language, a language of Islam, and

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in 1951. Ghulam Sarwar claims that his Urdu weekly Naujawan had formed (1949) Halqa-e-Adab Bihar, which formed the Bihar Reyasati Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu in May 1951. This was done at the suggestion of Qazi Abdul Ghaffar, the then General Secretary of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu-e-Hind, Aligarh. Its president was Zakir Husain (1897–1969), the then Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (who later became the Governor of Bihar, and then President of the Indian Republic). Ghaffar had come to Patna as the chief guest of the annual function of the Halqa-e-Adab.45 In May 1951, Professor Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi (1894–1977) of the Aligarh Muslim University and a towering Urdu satirist, presided over the function of the Bihar Reyasati Urdu Conference, convened by the Halqa-e-Adab. It was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister Shri Krishna Sinha (1887–1961). Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74), the Minister of Public Works, was the president of the reception committee. Here, Siddiqi made an appeal to the President of the Indian Republic that, in accordance with the Article 347 of the Indian Constitution, for some specific purposes (such as provision of Urdu-medium primary schools, of teaching Urdu literature as mother tongue in high schools and colleges, and accepting Urdu letters/correspondence in government offices) Urdu, with its script, should be declared the second official language of Bihar. His second proposal was to form Bihar Reyasati Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu. Thus, the Reyasati Anjuman came into being, with Sardar Md Latifur Rahman MLA as its President, and Ghulam Sarwar as its Secretary. This Reyasati Anjuman soon became an active and popular institution, which organized a band of dedicated workers for the purpose of launching a strong democratic mass movement to link Urdu with government

Muslims. Moreover, the role of the madrasas in conflating Urdu with Islam and Muslims could probably have been significant. It raises the question as to why Urdu, rather than Arabic, was foregrounded as a religious language. It would be interesting and worthwhile to probe separately how Urdu was ‘ethnicized’. By way of explanation, one could add that ‘language identifications depend both upon perceived life chances offered by particular language choices and … upon patterns of elite political competition for power’ (Brass, ‘Elite Interests’, p. 364). 45 Ghulam Sarwar, Bihar Mein Urdu Tehreek Ke Pachaas Saal, Urdu Booklet, Patna: KBL, 1988. Reprinted from the Masaa’el, Urdu weekly, Azadi Number.

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jobs. Afterwards, the issue of Urdu dominated the electoral politics of Bihar Muslims, which became more concerned with the demand of making Urdu the second official language (in accordance with Article 345 of the Indian Constitution) so that more opportunities of public employment could be created. This strategy of the Muslim leadership in Bihar proved quite successful in securing public employment for Muslims as school teachers, translators, and typists in public offices.46 This politics insisted that in accordance with the Article 350 (A) of the Indian Constitution, the state should make arrangements for primary education (up till standard 8) in their mother tongue (Urdu), and facility for the teaching of Urdu literature till University level. The Bihar Reyasati Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu had more than 180 subbranches in Bihar. It conducted three organizational elections: in 1951, 1956–57 and 1960. With more than 10 thousand members, it launched a two-year signature campaign, obtaining over 10.25 lakhs signatures in January 1952; it also conducted a census campaign to reach out to every Urdu speaking household. From time to time, it sent deputations to the central and provincial ministers and to the President of the Indian Republic, to achieve recognition for Urdu in government schools, colleges, state administration, Patna’s All India Radio (AIR), etc. It also sent deputations to the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities and to numerous commissions and official bodies at the local, provincial, and national levels. In 1956, Ghulam Sarwar recalls how a delegation led by Anees Imam (1901–79), MLC, with around 10.5 lakhs signatures, met Rajendra Prasad (1884–1963), the then President of the Indian Republic, with following seven demands:47 1. Primary education in Urdu for those children whose parents claim Urdu as their mother tongue 2. Students with Urdu as their mother tongue should be given facilities of education for Urdu literature from the secondary stage to university level, 46 An authoritative survey of Muslim representation in Bihar’s public employment (particularly the recruitments made since 1970s) would be of great help in ascertaining their definite proportion, and to examine the idea whether the issue of Urdu is emotive and elite-centric. 47 Sarwar, Bihar Mein Urdu Tehreek Ke Pachaas Saal.

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3. Urdu teachers should be provided wherever schools have at least 20 students with Urdu as their mother tongue 4. In the government offices and law courts of Bihar, the use of Urdu with its own script should be permitted 5. Urdu speaking members of the provincial Assembly should be permitted to deliver their speeches in Urdu, and the same should be reported in Urdu with its own script 6. All government announcements and reporting — the preparation of electoral roll, ration cards, census reports, gazette notifications, etc. — should, be also made in Urdu with its own script, along with Hindi, 7. All government sign/bill boards intending to communicate with the masses, be displayed in Urdu besides Hindi.

Urdu Politics in Late-Colonial Bihar In the latter half of nineteenth century, the colonial state extended its official support to the Hindi–Nagri movement in Bihar. Hindi was introduced in Bihar without much resistance in 1880, when Ashley Eden ordered the exclusive use of Nagri or Kaithi script.48 This process had begun in 1862. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Nagri script was strongly entrenched in education and offices of Bihar and, within a short span of merely two decades, the Bihar’s Nagri movement had crystallized the ideology of the Hindi intelligentsia into a communalized Hindu community.49 Consequently, Urdu was pushed on to the margins. The forces behind the phenomenal success of the Nagri movement in Bihar were many: the Kharagvilas Press; the Bihar Bandhu edited by Keshavram Bhatt (1854–1905); colonial officials like George Campbell, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal (1871–74); G. A. Grierson, the Collector of Patna; and Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay (1827–94), the Inspector of Schools who had come to Bihar in 1877; the Arrah Nagri Pracharni Sabha; the Laheriasarai Hindi Sabha; the Bhagalpur Hindi Sabha; and the financial and other kinds of help extended to the cause by the Darbhanga Maharaj, the Raja of Gidhaur, 48

The Calcutta Gazette, 16 June 1880, p. 503, cited in Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia, pp. 77–78; also see, King, One Language, Two Scripts, pp. 67–68. 49 King, One Language, Two Scripts, pp. 77, 88–89, 117.

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the Banaili Raj, etc. These organs of the movement clubbed Muslim history with Urdu, and launched hostile anti-Urdu campaigns. This movement also contained anti-Muslim communal elements: ‘Hindi supporters and writers always remained courteous while approaching the [colonial] government but exhorted readers extensively to write about Urdu [and Muslims] in derogatory terms’.50 During the 1860s, many statements were made by both colonial officials and the protagonists of the Hindi-Nagri identified Hindi with Hindus, and Urdu with Muslims. Such statements began the process of developing the awareness of a common identity based on language and religion. Between 1880–1900, the Hindi-Nagri movement won a major political victory where community had become nationality.51 The Hindi movements had strong anti-Muslim overtones;52 and the colonial state aided the process of identification of language with religion.53 The feeble resistance that Urdu could offer in Bihar came from Qasid (18 January 1877), an Urdu weekly from Patna. The Central National Mohammedan Association (CNMA) founded in Calcutta by Ameer Ali (1849–1928) also put up resistance by submitting a memorandum (in 1882) to the Viceroy, who refused to interfere.54 The third considerably ‘noticeable’ resistance was in the Census of 1901 when there was a campaign among the Muslims in Patna to enter their mother tongue as Urdu.55 However, in the last two decades of the colonial period, the issue of linking Urdu with public employment had become one of the central agendas of the politics of Bihar Muslims. As early as in 1918, Khan Bahadur Syed Zamiruddin Ahmed (1862–1921) had established the Patna branch of the Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu (founded in 1903 in Aligarh) on the persuasion of Abdul Haq (1872–1961), the then 50

Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia, Chapter 2, pp. 54–91; also see, King, One Language, Two Scripts, pp. 72–75; for a detailed account of communal polarization between the Hindus and Muslims along the Hindi–Urdu dispute beyond Bihar, see Rai, The Hindi Nationalism, and Dalmia, Nationalization of the Hindu Traditions. 51 King, One Language, Two Scripts, p. 19. 52 Ibid., p. 16. 53 Ibid., p. 17. 54 Jha, ‘Political History of Bihar’, p. 216. 55 Census of India, VI (1901), 322, cf. Patel, Communalism and the Intelligentsia, p. 75.

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chief of the Anjuman. Zamiruddin was joined by Syed Mahmud Shere, Zubair Siddiqi, and also by few Hindus. It was started in the Hugh Library of Patna. After returning from Cambridge, Qazi Abdul Wadud (1896–1984) made this branch quite pro-active and popular, and shifted its library to Bankipur in Patna. In the 1950s, S. M. Aiyub, Betaab Siddiqi, Ghulam Sarwar, and Maghfur Aijazi (1900–1966) launched a massive campaign with several demands, including provision for Honours and Post graduate level teaching of Urdu literature in colleges and universities.56 Qazi Wadud (1896–1984) also ran Idara-e-Tehqeeqat-e-Urdu, (literally, Centres for Research in Urdu).57 In 1922 the then education minister of Bihar and Orissa, Syed Md Fakhruddin (1868–1933) established a Madrasa Board in Patna which took care of and promoted Urdu language in which substantial number of theological texts were there.58 In 1929, the protagonists of Urdu had secured a concession that, the Urdu script could be used by the government in the Commissioner’s Division of Patna on an experimental basis. From 27 May 1937, the conferences (jalsas) for Urdu were organized — first in Patna, followed by more than one thousand such mobilizational campaigns in rural Bihar. In June 1937, Md Yunus (1884–1952), the first Chief Minister of Bihar (April–July 1937), allowed the use of the Urdu script in government offices. His government also brought out a bilingual (Urdu/Hindi) magazine called Mel Milap, and passed a Bill in the Assembly for the protection (tahaffuz) of Urdu.59 In order to dilute the growing Urdu–Hindi divide, a pact was signed between Rajendra Prasad (the then President of the Nagri Pracharini Sabha) and Abdul Haq (Baba-e-Urdu) in the Wheeler Senate Hall of the Patna University (28 August 1938), agreeing to the use of Gandhi’s ‘Hindustani’ in both Urdu and Nagri scripts.60 In 1940, Daaera-e-Adab (literary circle) was formed in the Patna University for

56 See my essay on Maghfoor Aijazi in Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq, vol. 23, no. 2, February 2004, pp. 44–56. 57 Ahmed , Haqeeqat Bhi Kahaani Bhi, pp. 475–78. 58 For more about Fakhruddin’s contributions, see Husain, Dastan Meri, pp. 382–87. 59 Asghar Imam Falsafi, Mr. Md Yunus Ke Daur-e-Wizarat Ka Ek Aks, Patna, 1987, pp. 32–42. 60 Sarwar, Urdu Tehreek; Farman Fatehpuri, 1977, p. 488.

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the promotion of Urdu literature. In 1941, a mass rally was convened in Patna to re-assert the ‘Rajendra–Haq Pact’, which was followed by the massively attended Tirhut Urdu Conference of Muzaffarpur (6–8 July 1945) organized mainly by Betaab Siddiqui and Maghfoor Aijazi.61 Encouraged by such a massive response, Abdul Haq went on to demand a Urdu University in 1946.62 Rajiv Ranjan Prasad Sinha, the first Chairman (1937–48) of the Bihar Legislative Council, also made an official statement in favour of Urdu.63 Thus, while the Urdu Defence Committee agitation of 1900–1901 in UP was directed against the ‘Nagri Resolution’ (which in effect had permitted the use of Hindi in Nagri script alongside Urdu in lower courts and certain administrative offices), the votaries of Hindi endeavoured to obtain all possible concessions and the patronage of the State, to develop the language through voluntary bodies, and craft a new identity for Hindi by increasing lexical borrowings from Sanskrit.64

Urdu as an Election Issue after 1947 In 1960, several mass rallies were organized in different district towns to mobilize people around the Urdu issue. The volunteers of the Anjuman visited thousands of villages persuading Muslims to enter Urdu as their mother tongue. From 1962 onwards, at the suggestion of S. M. Aiyub, Urdu was made an election issue by these leaders. In 1965, the Bihar Urdu Convention was held to press the demands

61

Betaab Siddiqi, ‘Bihar Mein Urdu Tehreek aur Akhtar Orainwi’, in Saaghar-e-Nau, 1965, Akhtar Orainwi Number, edited by Qamar Azam Hashmi (1942–2012), pp. 150–52, 157. 62 Syed Hashmi Faridabadi, Panjah saalah Taareekh-e-Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu. Karachi, 1953, pp. 121–22. It is interesting to learn that the urge to have an Urdu university in Bihar, was expressed in nineteenth century also, when the Bihar Scientific Society, Muzaffarpur, planned to advance its cause of modern education towards establishing an Urdu university (Badruddin Ahmed, Haqeeqat Bhi Kahaani Bhi: Azimabad Ki Tahzeebi Daastaan, Urdu memoir, 1988, p. 456; and my, ‘Sir Syed’s Movement for Modern Education in Muzaffarpur’). 63 Council Khabarnama, Urdu, vol. 3, nos 20–21, Patna, 2003. 64 King, One Language, Two Scripts; Rai, The Hindi Nationalism; Orsini, The Hindi Public Sphere.

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pertaining to Urdu in the next elections. Aiyub ‘threatened’ the then Chief Minister (1961–63) Binodanand Jha (1900–1971) that he would contest the forthcoming Assembly elections against him in the Rajmahal (now in Jharkhand) constituency. This strategy seems to have worked, and a few small demands — like replies to applications submitted to government offices in Urdu would be given in Urdu — were fulfilled.65 The 1967 Assembly elections witnessed a dwindling support-base for the ruling Congress, cutting across the social groups, and the Muslims were no exception to this. During and after 1967, a new set of leaders among the Muslims of Bihar emerged around the cause of Urdu. Betaab Siddiqi; Abdul Mughni (1936–2006); Ghulam Sarwar; Shah Mushtaq Ahmad (1917–2002), Taqi Raheem66 were the new leaders. Except for Taqi Raheem (who belonged to the CPI and subsequently joined the CPI-ML Liberation; whereas Ghulam Sarwar joined the Janata Party in mid/late 1970s), all were un-attached to any political party. Ghulam Sarwar, a fiery orator since his student days and his vocal Urdu daily Sangam, emerged as a relatively more popular leader, and remained so in subsequent days. With its vehement anti- Congress stance, Sangam had become quite popular among the Muslims of Bihar. Its role in advancing the cause of Urdu was so spectacular that, by the time of the elections of 1967, the issue of Urdu had achieved a position of significant political saliency.67 Ghulam Sarwar (and Taqi Raheem too) was categorical about it, and said, In Bihar, since very beginning, the Urdu movement emerged and sustained as a popular, and democratic movement, popular and able leadership of the Reyasati Anjuman kept the movement alive and better organized, therefore, it succeeded, whereas in UP the feudal elites spoiled the entire cause of Urdu (UP mein samanton aur khwaas ney Urdu ki lutiya gharq kar di). As against UP, in Bihar, in the early 1950s, for signature campaign, we reached each and every Urdu household, in

65

Sarwar, Urdu Tehreek. Taqi Raheem was an Urdu writer and columnist, has authored few books including a thick volume on the role of Bihar Muslims in the freedom struggle, see Tehreek-e-azadi. 67 Sonntag, ‘Political Saliency of Language’. 66

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the early 1960s, we reached thousands of villages convincing the people [Muslims] that while reporting to the census officials, they should enter Urdu as their mother tongue ... we maintained a consistent contact with the people, the ruling political Party as well as with the opposition political parties … throughout Bihar we observed Urdu day in 1957, 1958 … in 1960 a series of primary education conferences were organized in various district towns just to demonstrate that there were sizeable Urdu population in Bihar … we launched our own Urdu censuses in 1951 (27 lakhs), 1961 (41 lakhs), 1971 (51 lakhs), and 1981 (85 lakhs).68

In the 1967 elections, taking a strong anti-Congress position, this Anjuman also released a list of the candidates to whom it extended its support (rather than extending an unqualified support to a particular political party). This time, the food crisis,69 inflation (worsened by the Indo-China war in 1962 and the Indo-Pak war in 1965), growing poverty and unemployment, and some instances of communal riots added to the people’s disenchantment with the ruling Congress. In the 1967 Assembly elections, the Momins also joined hands with other Muslim leaders in opposing the Congress.70 This was because the Congress government had not extended any satisfactory support to the handloom society. In March 1967, a new Momin organization, the Bihar State Momin Advisory Committee, was formed. This was to negotiate with the non-Congress government for aid to the weavers, and for the better representation of the Momins in the government departments. A few years earlier (in 1964), Abdul Qaiyum Ansari had also formed a federated caste organization, the Bihar State Backward Muslim Federation, consisting not only of the Momins/Ansaris but also of the Rayeens (vegetable sellers), the Mansuris (carders of cotton and threads), the Rangrezs (dyers), the Dhobis/Hawaris (washermen), etc.71 This, subsequently, made the internal differentiations within the backward caste Muslims more pronounced and definitive. 68

Sarwar, Urdu Tehreek; Raheem, Urdu Ke Masaa’el, Patna: KBL,1988. Paul Brass, ‘The Political Uses of Crisis: The Bihar Famine of 1966–67’, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, 1986, pp. 245–67. 70 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics, p. 246. 71 It may be important to note that, after 1950, ‘the momentum of the [Hindu] Backward Classes movement declined’ as their leader R. L. Chandapuri had been co-opted by the ruling Congress. Also, a parallel organization was formed under the leadership of Jagjivan Ram. Chandapuri was, admittedly, troubled 69

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With these developments, and rising anti-Congress feelings, a non-Congress coalition government was formed in 1967. This coalition consisted of the Left (CPI and CPI-M), Sanyukt Socialist Party (SSP), and Jan Kranti Dal ( JKD). In this election, unlike the UP’s Muslim Majlis-e-Mashawerat (MMM), its Bihar branch supported only 53 candidates of the Congress. In the rest of the constituencies, the nominees of the JKD, CPI, etc., were supported by different Muslim organizations. As many as 69 candidates (non-Congress) contesting the Assembly elections of 1967 pledged to the ‘People’s Manifesto’ of the MMM. This manifesto ‘did contribute to the heightening of Muslim discontent against the Congress’.72 This strategy probably proved beneficial for the Muslims of Bihar in terms of representation in the provincial Legislative Assembly. During the first 20 years of Congress rule, Muslims were better represented in Bihar than in UP. While as many as 19.3 per cent of the ministers in the provincial cabinet of Bihar were Muslims, this was only 13.4 per cent in the case of the UP.73 The following table/data,74 pertaining to the percentage of Muslims in the legislature in Bihar gives us an idea of Muslim representation, or under-representation, in comparison to the proportion of Muslims in the total population which was around 15 per cent in the 1991 census; the Urdu speaking population was around 10 per cent of the total population of Bihar. Even though, the data does show the under-representation of the Muslims in proportion to their total population in Bihar, the figure is more encouraging as compared to UP. Thus, it has been remarked that, ‘Bihar’s Muslims are probably making the best of their opportunities; more Muslims are getting elected in Muslim areas, but Bihar politics has not become polarized along communal lines, for some Muslims can still be elected from non-Muslim areas’.75 by the ruling Congress, who had to defer the publication of his ‘movemental’ magazines like Pichara Varg and Pichara Varg Sandesh; cf. Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance’, p. 85. 72 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics. 73 Ibid., p. 229. 74 Based on Ashraf, The Muslim Elite; Shrikant, Bihar Mein Chunao, pp. 142–43. 75 Harry W. Blair, ‘Minority Electoral Politics in a North Indian State: Aggregate Data Analysis and the Muslim Community in Bihar 1952–72’, American Political Science Review, vol. 67, no. 4, 1973, p. 1287.

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Years of Assembly Elections

Total No. of Muslim MLAs

Total Strength of the Assembly

Muslim MLAs (percentage)

1952 1957 1962 1967 1969 1972 1977 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 February 2005

24 25 21 18 19 25 25 28 34 20 19 20 24

330 319 319 319 318 318 324 324 324 324 323 243 243

7.27 7.86 6.60 5.67 5.67 7.85 7.72 8.64 10.50 6.19 5.88 8.23 9.86

November 2005 2010

16

243

6.58

19

243

7.81

Party/Coalition in the Government Congress Congress Congress SVD Congress Janata Party Congress Congress Janata Dal ( JD) JD/ RJD RJD Due to unworkable fractured verdict, the Assembly could not be formed NDA–( JD-U, BJP) NDA–( JD-U, BJP)

Notwithstanding the fact that in terms of the issues, making Urdu the second official language (besides security of life and property in the communal riots) was the predominant concern of the Muslim communities in the politics of Bihar. Overall, during the first two/three decades of Independence, the electoral preferences of the Muslims in Bihar were determined by three identifiable groups of the political leadership: (a) parties like the Congress, the Socialists, and the CPI; (b) the ulema (clerics), who spoke openly and relatively more fearlessly for Muslim causes like the protection of the religious rights and the preservation of the Muslim Personal Law. (These clerics were divided broadly into two groups: one was the Deoband school of thought represented by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH) and the Imarat-e-Shariah. They remained pro-Congress and had significant popularity both

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in rural and urban areas. Another was the Jamaat-e-Islami-e-Hind ( JIH) whose support base was limited to small section of the ‘elite’. The two groups of ulema had joined hands in 1964, but by early 1972, the JIH declared the JUH as its primary enemy within the Muslim community);76 (c) Backward Muslims, mainly Momins/Ansaris. (They form about 20 per cent of the Muslims, ever since the formation of the Momin Conference in early decades of the twentieth century, they remained with the Congress (until the Bhagalpur riots of 1989 when the Congress governments, both at the centre and in the province, failed to protect the Muslims, most of whom were of the weaving community of Momins/Ansaris). In 1948, they established an economic organization of the weavers with the Congress patronage. This was The Bihar State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Union. ‘The conspicuous improvement in the status of the Momins is an example of change brought about by such governmental favours’, and these determined the electoral preference of the Momins in the elections. Their leader, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, attacked the JIH as communal bodies similar to the Jan Sangh/RSS and other Hindu communal organizations.77 Despite these stratifications within the community, the issues of Urdu and communal riots were the most predominant factors in determining the electoral preference of the Bihar Muslims. The two issues often overlapped. Throughout the decades of 1960s and 1970s, the issue of Urdu remained almost central political concern of the Muslims of Bihar. After the 1967 elections, ‘it proved to be the most bitter and divisive issue (during the non-Congress governments of Bihar) where it became intertwined with a ghastly communal riot (August 1967) in the city and suburbs of Ranchi’.78 While the Sanyukta Socialist Party (SSP) and the CPI pressed for Urdu in the coalition government (1967–69) of Bihar, the Congress leadership, ‘quite reluctantly’79 permitted a Muslim member (Naseeruddin Hyder Khan, the raja of Parsauni, and the then MLA of Pupri, Sitamarhi, then a Subdivision of Muzaffarpur) of the party to introduce a private member Bill in the Bihar Assembly to 76 Radiance, 2 April 1972 ; this English weekly is the organ of the Jamaate-Islami-e-Hind, JIH. 77 Radiance, 14 August 1966; 23 October 1966. 78 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics, p. 262. 79 Ibid.

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declare Urdu in Persian script as the second official language of Bihar. This was opposed by the President of the Jan Sangh (The Ranchi/ Hatia riots of August 1967 started with the anti-Urdu demonstrations). However, the Deputy Chief Minister (of the Sanyukta Vidhayak Dal, SVD, coalition government) Karpuri Thakur, decided to implement it.80 He issued instructions, with the approval of the cabinet, in July, 1967: (a) to make arrangements for the teaching in the Urdu medium in government schools which would naturally create job opportunities Muslims as teachers in the government schools; (b) for governmentt officers to reply in Urdu to all applications presented in Urdu, thereby creating job opportunities for Urdu translators in these offices; and (c) for the printing of government publications in Urdu.81 However, the implementation of this decision was deferred owing to the Jan Sangh’s opposition.82 Moreover, despite the non-implementation of this decision, anti-Urdu politics had gained momentum. Besides the Jan Sangh/RSS, the Congress leader, Lakshmi Narayan [Mishra] Sudhanshu (1908–77) — the former Speaker of the Bihar Assembly, and the spokesman of the movement for the Maithili language — many members of the Bihar Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, MLAs/members of the Praja Socialist Party (PSP), the BKD, and a large number of Hindu students all united against Urdu.83 The Bihar Hindi Sahitya Sammelan convened a meeting of all these people in Patna, on 27 July 1967, in which they decided to launch a two week long anti-Urdu agitation, from 12 August 1967. This two-week long agitation saw many meetings, processions, rallies, and demonstrations in different towns of Bihar.84 The forces supporting the Urdu demand comprised of the Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu, the SSP, and the two Communist Parties. The Congress leadership maintained a studied silence, whereas a good number of its MLAs remained opposed to Urdu in one way or another. Mahamaya Prasad Sinha (1909–74), the Chief Minister (1967–68), made an

80

Searchlight, 18 July 1967. Indian Nation, 29 July 1967. 82 Searchlight, 2, 6, 8, 9 August 1967; Indian Nation, 29, 30 July 1967. 83 Searchlight, 30 March 29, 30 July; 2, 23 August 1967. 84 Searchlight, the issues from 12 to 24 August, 1967. 81

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announcement about giving Urdu its constitutional right, only to face charges that he had privately assured Lakshmi Narayan (Mishra) Sudhanshu (1908–77) to keep this announcement confined to the papers only.85 Needless to say, all these developments polarized the politics of Bihar, which significantly determined the electoral behaviour of the Muslims in the next elections. Thus, Harry Blair found out that while, ‘in [the] 1950s, Muslims were returned to the Assembly from all regions of Bihar … by 1972, they were returned for the most part only from areas of Muslim voting strength’.86 Yet, the strong assertion of the Muslim electorates against the Congress and in favour of the SVD ministry of Karpuri Thakur that came into being after the mid-term polls of 1969, did grant one concession to the Muslims. It established a minority commission to, ‘look after the interest of the religious and linguistic minorities and suggest measures for their educational, social, political, economic well being’.87 Thus, the strategy of the Muslim electorate and their leadership till 1967–69 was to demonstrate to the major political parties, including the Congress, that the Muslim vote could no longer be taken for granted and to force the political parties to bargain for Muslim support by promising concessions to Muslim demands in exchange for Muslim votes.88

The Politics of Muslim Communities around Urdu, 1971–89 The decades between 1971 and 1989 registered significant success in obtaining some concessions for Urdu; they enhanced the political representation of Muslims in the provincial Legislative Assembly (1985), even though communalization also increased. This phase also demonstrated amply that the Muslims had succeeded in getting only those ‘favours’ from the state which they had demanded stridently, particularly with reference to democratic mass mobilization. This

85

Brass, Language, Religion and Politics, p. 263. Harry Blair, Voting, Caste and Communities: Explorations in Aggregate Data Analysis in India and Bangladesh, Delhi: Young Asia, 1979, p. xiii. 87 The Indian Nation, 2 June1971. 88 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics. 86

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mode of politics has not been pursued by the Muslims of the adjacent provinces of UP and West Bengal. Besides the communal riots and Urdu, another issue that emerged as a concern of the Muslims in the Assembly elections of 1972, was the issue of the treatment of the Urdu speaking Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh during the creation of Bangladesh and after the Indo-Pak war of 1971.89 The Sanyukta Socialist Party (SSP) took a sympathetic attitude towards the issue as demanded by some Muslim leaders of Bihar. Overall, anti-Congress-ism did not dilute much. The editor of Urdu daily Sangam, Ghulam Sarwar started the Bihari Bachao Committee which urged the Indian government to allow uprooted Biharis to return to Bihar.90 This issue of Urdu speaking migrants called ‘Biharis’ in Bangladesh made a significant contribution to alienating

89 Ashraf, The Muslim Elite, pp. 50–51, 115–16; Ghosh, ‘Partition’s Biharis’, p. 240. Scholars have generally missed the sense of insecurity and fear among Muslims, particularly of West Bengal and Bihar in the 1960s, when their loyalty was under a cloud and they were under the surveillance and suspicion of police authorities. Abdus Samad’s Urdu novel Do Gaz Zameen (1988) and the semi-autobiographical work of M. J. Akbar (Blood Brothers: A Family Saga, Delhi: Roli, 2006) are good source material in the absence of more scholarly writing on the subject. In fact, this specific topic cries for the attention of historical scholarship. Also, Ghulam Sarwar was detained under the Defence of India Rules in the wake of Indo-Pak war. I owe these points to Naved Masood, IAS. 90 The Biharis were being victimized because the Bangladeshis had some grievances against them like: (a) The ‘Biharis’ in general collaborated with the Pakistani occupation army during the Liberation war in 1971 and were responsible for the killing of thousands of Bangladeshis, (b) they were nothing short of ‘war criminals’, (c) they were seen as ‘stranded Pakistanis’ who should be sent back to Pakistan. See Taj-ul-Islam Hashmi, ‘The “Bihari” Minorities in Bangladesh: Victims of Nationalisms’, in Mushirul Hasan (ed.), Islam, Communities, and the Nation: Muslim Identities in South Asia and Beyond, Delhi: Manohar, 1998. Abdus Samad’s award winning Urdu novel, Do Gaz Zameen, gives a better understanding of the Bihar Muslims’ sensibilities being associated with the Bangladesh incident. Also see, Syed Husain Imam, The Sad Plight of the Biharis From 1971 to 1983, Karachi: 1993; Ghosh, ‘Re-invoking the Pakistan of 1940s’; Ghosh, Partition and the South Asian Diaspora.

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the Muslim electorate of Bihar from the ruling Congress. It should, however, be mentioned that a great section of the Hindu electorates also remained anti-Congress for a variety of socio-economic and other reasons.91 Such electoral considerations were reflected more significantly in the 1977 elections held after the movement called Sampurna Kranti or ‘Total Revolution’ led by Jai Prakash Narayan (1902–79), which had also opposed the Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi led Congress government in June 1975. The backbone of this movement was the student community, mainly upper OBCs, whose enrolment in educational institutions had gone up by this time.92 The results of the 1977 elections significantly changed the social composition of the Bihar Assembly, and of the ministers.93 It should be added here that many Muslims had participated in the ‘JP movement’ (or Sampurna Kranti as it is popularly known), despite the fact that the movement was opposed to the Muslim Abdul Ghafoor led Congress government of Bihar.94 Prominent Muslim leaders Jabir Husain, Ghulam Sarwar, and Jawaid Mahmood (one of the members of the Bihar Urdu Youth Forum who suffered imprisonment under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency of 1975), formed a pressure group of Muslims in 1972 in Patna to push the cause of Urdu. This forum was registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 in 1975 bearing the registration no. 45/1975–76. It had a large number of district coordinators. In response to the growing assertion of Muslims around the issue of Urdu in the 1970s, the Congress tried its best to accommodate them. In 1972–73, when Kedar Pandey was the Congress Chief Minister of Bihar, he had more Muslims (13 per cent) in his cabinet, besides the 91 Blair, Voting, Caste and Communities; Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance in Bihar’. 92 Ghanshyam Shah, Protest Movements in Two Indian States: A Study of the Gujarat and Bihar Movements, Delhi: Ajanta, 1977, pp. 96–109. 93 From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, the rise of backward castes [and/ through] anti-Congress politics was becoming perceptibly/visibly stronger; see Harry Blair, ‘Electoral Support and Party Institutionalization in Bihar: Congress and the Opposition, 1977–85’, in Richard Sisson and Ramashray Roy (eds), Diversity and Dominance in Indian Politics: Changing Base of Congress Support, New Delhi: Sage, 1990, pp. 123–67. 94 Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance’.

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Harijans and the tribes in order to checkmate the upper OBC assertion. After Chief Minister Abdul Ghafoor (1918–2004) who remained in the office from 9 January 1973 to 11 April 1975, Jagannath Mishra, who remained in office till 30 April 1977, had 13 per cent of his ministers from among Muslims, including Shamaael-e-Nabi, an Urdu activist/ protagonist, as health minister. During 1971–75, around 1,100 acres of land were re-distributed among rural poor and, in 1975–76, 110,000 acres of land were claimed to have been re-distributed.95 In 1975, the Bees Sutri (20-point) welfare programme of the ruling Congress was implemented with much vigour and efficiency to reduce rural poverty. It appeared to have been received well by many Muslims, especially the Momins and a section of Ashraf Muslims. However, the Rayeens, presumably under the influence of Ghulam Sarwar, were more inclined towards the Janata, particularly in the 1977 elections.

Urdu in the Janata Party Government 1977–79 Thus, throughout the 1970s, the electoral/political utility of Muslims was being recognized by the ruling Parties. The Janata government led by Karpuri Thakur (1924–88) announced a sop for Muslims on 13 September 1977, in which he promised to extend the facility of remission of fee in education to all the backward castes of Muslims, which was restricted only to the Extremely/Most Backward Castes (EBC/MBC or Annexure-I) of non-Muslims. Earlier, in 1973, the Bihar Urdu Academy was established with an annual budgetary allocation of Rs 2 crore (20 million), which was further enhanced to Rs 10 crore (100 million) in 1978, when Ghulam Sarwar was the education minister (1977–79) in the Karpuri-led cabinet.96 He also gave statutory status to the Bihar State Madrasa Education Board (BSMEB) 95

Ibid. Raheem, Urdu Ke Masaa’el. Raheem stresses that it was munazzam awami tehreek (organized popular mass movement) which helped them extract success from the state; he also says that no middle school (up to standard VIII) was recognized by the Janata led government of Bihar unless it also sanctioned at least one post for an Urdu teacher, which according to him, came to be ignored by the Congress-led government in the 1980s, leading to about 1600 vacant posts of Urdu teachers by 1988. Also see, Taqi Raheem, Bihar Ki Urdu Aabaadi ka Chaudah Nekaati Qaul-e-Faisal (Fourteen Point Final Verdict of the Urdu Population of Bihar), Urdu Booklet, Patna: KBL, 1988. 96

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in 1978. This was the outcome of its long struggle (since 1922) to go beyond being merely a body conducting examinations. After 1978, within a decade, many madrasas (around 1250 in all) were affiliated to it, and offered religious cum modern education in the Urdu medium. The Madrasa Board had an annual budgetary allocation of Rs 5 crore, which offered public employment to a large number of Muslims in the 1980s.97 This budget was reduced to a mere Rs 2.40 crore by the Lalu Yadav government during 1990–95 without inviting any significant murmuring from the protagonists of Urdu. This was possibly because, by this time, almost the entire Muslim leadership had been co-opted by the ruling political party.98 Ather Farouqui writes, madrasas have therefore played a significant role in the development of Urdu in the state…Unfortunately, the Bihar Madrasa Education Board is the most unsatisfactory of all the educational bodies in the country, and is a centre of irregularities and widespread corruption.99

Ghulam Sarwar, the minister for education in Karpuri cabinet (1977–79), is also credited with granting recognition to about 175 Urdu medium schools. In addition, provision for the posts of Urdu teachers was made in as many as 62 government high schools (up to class X) and 855 Government Middle Schools (up to class VII–VIII).100 In this context, it would be better to understand non-Congress politics, that is, the Socialist politics of Bihar after Independence and its major provincial leader, Karpuri Thakur. Bihar has been the leading stronghold of the Indian Socialist movement. In the first elections in

97

Shah Nawaz Ahmad Khan, the Secretary of the Board, had demanded an annual budget of Rs 20 crore to employ more staff, and to give out salaries comparable with those of other government employees. Khan articulates history and contemporary problems of the Madrasa Board, in his Bihar State Madrasa Education Board: Taa’ruf wa Jaayeza, Patna: 1992. However, unlike the preceding decades, this demand remained confined to pamphlets, and no significant/noticeable mass demonstrations were organized since 1990. 98 The only exception was Syed Shahabuddin who wrote an editorial in his Muslim India, July 1994, partially articulating the anti-Urdu stances of the Lalu-led government in Bihar. 99 Farouqui (ed.), Redefining Urdu Politics, p. 187. 100 Raheem, Urdu Ke Masaa’el.

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1952, it emerged as the principal opposition party in the state, and as the most important unit of the Socialist Party. In the 1972 elections, it secured 16.1 per cent of the votes, winning 33 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Karpuri Thakur was a strong leader within the Socialist party, and was the one most respected in all factions of the party; he ‘encouraged backward-ism’ (or favouring the backward castes) during 1967–72. Thakur was a ‘truly skilful political leader and he moved along the lines of obtaining power without losing contact with his social base’. Due to his leadership, Bihar’s Socialist movement was identified more with backward castes even when there was some sort of ‘a revival of Brahmanism in the Socialist Movement, with the Brahman leaders like S. M. Joshi, N. G. Goray, Madhu Dandvate, Madhu Limaye, and Ramanand Tiwari were bonding together’. Because of Thakur, the question of caste was of greater importance in Bihar’s Socialist political formations than it was in UP; and because of Thakur, the issue of preferential treatment to the backward castes became a more powerful political issue in Bihar. Being a skilful leader, Thakur maintained a delicate balance between the normative language appropriate for public discourse and the pragmatic idiom used to mobilize support. Thus, while in the opposition, he even kept the ruling Congress on tenterhooks.101 For enlisting an effective political support to the Socialists’ campaign of ‘banish English’, Thakur remained friendly towards Urdu.102

Urdu as Second Ofſcial Language: 1980s This pro-Urdu gesture of Karpuri Thakur (who headed the Bihar branch of the Lok Dal) helped Charan Singh’s Lok Dal emerge as popular political force in the 1980 elections among the Muslims. While the Lok Dal secured as much as 23 per cent votes in ‘Muslim’ constituencies, it secured only 16.6 per cent votes in the whole province. Moreover, perceiving the shift of Muslim votes towards parties like the Lok Dal, the Congress manifesto promised to grant ‘second official language’ status to Urdu in Bihar. Within two days of winning the June 1980 elections, the Congress government, announced the implementation of the promise. 101

Paul Brass, ‘Leadership Conflict and the Disintegration of the Indian Socialist Movement: Personal Ambition, Power, and Policy’, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, vol. 14, no. 1, 1976, pp. 19–41. 102 Ibid.

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The Bihar Official Language Act was passed in December 1980. In early 1981, a faction of Muslims led by Betaab Siddiqi, Ghulam Sarwar and Taqi Raheem, expressed its dissatisfaction against the inadequacy of the Act as it did not talk about the script. Subsequently, the government had to give in and, by April 1981, even this demand was accommodated. The Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra implemented it, first in 10 districts of the Maithili region, ‘so that he could manage the anti-Urdu protests by bringing some hospital units in those regions. Thus, his home turf was silenced’.103 Subsequently, in 1986, it was implemented in 6 more districts; in 1988, it was extended to 15 districts; and by late 1989, in the entire province.104 During these years, the Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu of Bihar, even though split during the Emergency (1975–77) into the Abdul Mughni and Ghulam Sarwar factions, continued its mass struggle for the recognition of Urdu as the second official language of Bihar. Often been missed in writings on ‘second language’ status is the confusion about what the term connotes. The Constitution does not per se recognize such a status, except (a) Article 345 (through a legislation) and leaves room for more than one language to be used for ‘all or any of the official purposes’ of a State; and (b) Article 347 (through an executive order issued by the President) enables that a ‘language shall also be officially recognized throughout the State or any part thereof for such purpose’ as the order may specify. This makes it very easy for the State legislature to grant the ‘second/other language’ a purely titular recognition. Further, aspects like providing education through the medium of the second language do not fall within the purview of ‘official purposes of the state’.105 Finally, the major motivation for the movement has been creation of jobs. This is, obviously, a very narrow and short-sighted goal, and does not serve any real purpose for spreading the language. It is time to give up the craze for ‘second official language’, and to concentrate on obtaining more focused bene-fits. This will first entail abandoning the hankering of jobs through Urdu, and to recognize that, in the really 103

Sonntag, ‘Political Saliency of Language’. The Telegraph, 1989; Sonntag, ‘Political Saliency of Language’, pp. 1–18. It should be noted that this ‘favour’ to Urdu was extended after the Bhagalpur riots of October 1989, and the Assembly elections were to be held in February 1990. 105 I owe these points to Naved Masood, IAS. 104

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long term, the identity of the community itself will be obliterated if the language becomes extinct. The quest for Urdu should therefore be a quest for maintaining the distinct cultural identity of Muslims, and not primarily as a means of earning livelihood.106 Both Husain and Sarwar were ministers in the Karpuri cabinet. Mughni was charged by Ghulam Sarwar for being loyal to the Congress, whereas Jabir Husain was reported to have alleged that ‘but for Sarwar’s perceived “chicken-heartedness”, if not duplicity, Urdu would have been given second official language status’ as early as in 1978 itself; ‘Sarwar is learnt to have opposed the move on the plea that it will cause tension and disharmony in the state’ during Karpuri’s tenure (1977–79).107 Throughout the 1980s, the pitch of the Urdu movement remained high, with many mass rallies and sharp articulations in the Urdu media. Karpuri Thakur, the leader of the Opposition, also extended his full support to the government. The pro-Urdu gesture of the Congress Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra made him tremendously popular among the Muslims of Bihar in the 1980s, to be rivaled only by Lalu Yadav in the 1990s. It should also be added here that two factors enhanced Muslim representations in public employment: (a) expanded opportunities of public employment after Urdu being made second official language of Bihar, and (b) implementation of reservations of jobs in public employment for the backward castes (which included 36 out of 41 castes/biradris of Muslims) in 1978 by the Karpuri Thakur led government.108 This has led Paul Brass to conclude that ‘Muslim demands can be pressed more effectively through voluntary associations than through political parties’.109 106

Omar Khalidi, ‘Urdu Language and the Future of Muslim Identity in India’, Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, vol. 7, no. 2, July 1986, pp. 395–403. 107 Abdul Qadir, The Times of India, 14 September 2002. 108 Ghulam Sarwar and Taqi Raheem kept asserting that as many as 16,000 posts of Urdu teachers and translators in government schools/departments were either vacant, or occupied by non-Urdu knowing employees. It may seem ironical, but during 1990–95, Sarwar and his associates did not raise their voices to pressurize the Lalu Yadav government to fill up those vacancies. Sarwar had joined the ruling party to become the Speaker of the Bihar assembly, and minister of Agriculture in subsequent period, till his death in October 2004. 109 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics, p. 269.

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The late 1980s saw the swelling of the middle class among the Muslims of Bihar. This was possible essentially because of two factors: (a) public employment with Urdu (teachers, translators, typists, etc.), inclusion in the provincial civil services in which Urdu and Persian as optional subjects helped Muslims qualify in competitive exams, and (b) the remittance economy from the West Asian Gulf countries. This expanding base of the Muslim middle class created economic competition/rivalry which was, possibly, an important cause of rising communal animosities between the two communities in the 1980s.110 Even though it was the Masjid–Mandir dispute of Ayodhya that caused many riots across India. In October 1989, the Bhagalpur riots111 had broken out. It created extremely strong aversion among the Muslims against the incumbent Congress Party. The Congress had become massively unpopular all over India among many sections of Indian society; therefore, V. P. Singh’s Janata government came to power at the Centre in 1989. While the Congress brought back Jagannath Mishra as the Chief Minister in the Bihar Assembly polls of 1990 — arguably to assuage the Muslim electorates — it was perhaps too late.112 The Congress suffered an irreversible defeat, giving way to Lalu Yadav’s Janata government. His acts — like the arrest of the Hindu nationalist leader L. K. Advani and the stopping of his Rath Yatra (even though it resulted in the fall of V. P. Singh’s government at the Centre in 1990), and his firm handling of communal riots, (particularly the Sitamarhi and Riga riots of October 1992),113 combined with his strong opposition to upper 110

Sarvepalli Gopal (ed.), Anatomy of a Confrontation: The Babri Masjid– Ramjanmabhoomi Issue, Delhi: Viking, 1991, pp. 18–19. 111 Indu Bharti, ‘Bhagalpur Riots and the Bihar Government’, EPW, vol. 24, no. 48, 2 December 1989, pp. 2443–44; and ‘Recalling Bhagalpur: Aftermath of 1989 Riots’, EPW, vol. 31, no. 18, 4 May 1996, pp. 1055–59; Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Meri Yaadein, Meri Bhoolein (Hindi Memoir), Delhi: Gyanganga, 2005. 112 Abdul Qadir wrote that Jagannath Mishra became popular among a large section of Muslims of Bihar because he ‘took the rather bold decision to award the second official language status to Urdu … established parity between the constituent and minority colleges in all respects including post-retirement benefits and promotional avenues’ (The Times of India, 14 September 2002). 113 To stop this riot, Lalu Yadav himself quickly rushed to Sitamarhi and stationed himself there, moving from door to door of the aggressors and

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caste hegemony with his characteristic native wit and rustic wisdom, made him tremendously popular among the Muslims (and lower caste Hindus). His electoral equation, Muslim–Yadav (M–Y ), became the famous mantra (chant) for his subsequent electoral successes (together they constituted around 25 per cent of the total electorates of Bihar). Once again, even though the communal riots proved to be a strong concern of the Muslim electorates, the anti-Congress mood of the time was not confined to the Muslims alone.

Conclusion As the economic backwardness of Bihar has resulted in shrinking opportunities for public employment, and government jobs — including the posts of teachers, translators and typists are increasingly being made contractual and are under-paid, the politics of Urdu is neither able to draw masses nor able to throw up leadership. This chapter suggests that if a mass-based democratic movement or munazzam awami tehreek114 could be launched to put pressure on the government, Urdu could succeed in retrieving some space for itself, and could be linked with public employment. In the recent past, even Bihar has not been able to throw up the kind of leadership and movement that it had witnessed earlier. Syed Shahabuddin laments, [t]he Urdu movement is therefore reduced to agitating for the sanction of a few more posts of Urdu teachers and translators, or filling up the vacancies of sanctioned posts. The Urdu elite have failed to realize that this short-sightedness would only spell the extinction of the language.115

He also says, The Urdu lobby or the Urdu elite have never given thought to reviving the roots and endeavouring to change the situation at the school level. the aggrieved, and telling his caste brethren that if had to continue as the Chief Minister, all the Yadavs would have to help stop the riots. For the Riga riots, see Ajay Singh’s reports, The Economic Times, 11, 12, 13, 19 October 1992. See also, Asghar Ali Engineer, ‘Sitamarhi on Fire’, EPW, 14 November 1992, pp. 2462–70; my essay, Tahzeeb-ul-Akhlaq, vol. 26, no. 5, May 2007, p. 57. 114 Raheem, Urdu Ke Masaa’el; Sarwar, Urdu Tehreek. 115 Shahabuddin, ‘A Trinity without Church’, p. 173.

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They have been content with awards, college and university lectureships, token advertisements for fictitious newspapers, jobs of translators with nothing to translate, and typists with nothing to type.116

The situation is even bleaker now. During the last decade, the Bihar government has recruited school teachers and other comparable employees only on a contractual basis — and that too on the lowest possible fixed, consolidated honorarium. As noted by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, The denial of proper public education to a significant linguistic community such as Urdu speakers is, to this extent, an attack on their sense of citizenship….The denial of language rights is a denial of the political agency of a group to negotiate their terms of participation, it is to deny them a basis for active citizenship…Does India want to be the sort of nation that routinely produces a sense of alienation and powerlessness for a significant group of its citizens?117

Does Urdu need another wave of a mass-based democratic, political, as well as a literary movement for its survival? Sadly, no such movement seems to be emerging in the foreseeable future. This announces a serious note of caution for the state, civil society in general, and for the protagonists of Urdu.

Œ

116

Ibid., pp. 175–76. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, ‘Urdu: Between Rights and the Nation’, in Ather Farouqui (ed.), Redefining Urdu Politics, p. 21. 117

6 Quest for Social and Gender Justice Bihar Muslims since the 1990s

With the ‘collapse’ or ‘near accomplishment’ of the Urdu cause in

1989, the Muslim communities in the politics of Bihar in the 1990s demonstrated a radical transformation in terms of assertions for political empowerment, socio-economic justice, educational upliftment, and against the Ashraf-led feudal leadership. The Ashrafs considered themselves noble, claiming high origins/descent from Arab, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia; they include the Syeds who claim to be direct descendants of Prophet Mohammad and also the Sheikhs, Mughals, Pathans, Mullicks) as against the Ajlaf (those of ‘low’ social, economic, political and ritual status) and the Arzal Muslims (literally ‘of no use’, comprising castes like Nats, Dhobis, Halalkhors, Mehtars, etc.). These assertions were articulated through organizations like the All India Backward Muslim Morcha (founded 1 July 1994), the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (launched on 25 October 1998, after breaking away from the AIBMM, protesting against the proposal of inclusion of Shaikhs in the list of the backward castes); the Inquilabi Muslim Conference (1992), Muslim Intellectual Forum (1993); and Tehreek-e-Niswani (1994) of the radical Marxist political formation like the CPI-ML Liberation. They also began to demand justice for Dalit Muslims who, according to the Backward Morcha, added up to 20 per cent of the Muslims of Bihar included in the Mandal list. The relative sense of security due to the more or less firm handling of the communal riots after October 1992 (the Lalu-led administration was more firm in preventing communal riots in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid) facilitated the manifestation of these

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stratifications within the community. Thus, ‘with the implementation of Mandal Commission [in 1990] and inclusion of 82 “backward” Muslim castes from across India into it, the political agenda shifted from secularism and communalism to social justice; from security to development, equity and empowerment’. Despite the fact that the Muslim communities of Bihar had been articulating their political concerns in terms of caste-based stratifications since colonial days, the scholars working on the rise of backward castes have ignored this reality pertaining to the Muslims.1 The last chapter discussed the fact that the politics of Muslim communities in Bihar till the late 1980s was mainly centred around the demand of making Urdu the Second Official Language, which was almost accomplished in 1989 with the long, sustained, organized politics of mass movements (munazzam awami tehreek); and security in communal riots which were relatively more restrained after the October 1992 riots of Riga–Sitamarhi. Even though the Muslims did not get justice in terms of punishing the rioters, the agenda of social justice for the ajlaf and arzal by challenging the hegemony of the Ashraf came to be at the centre of ‘Muslim’ politics of Bihar. The immediate provocation for the Backward Morcha was the launch of ‘Association for Promoting Education and Employment of Muslims’ in 1994 by Syed Hamid, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University (1980–85) and Syed Shahabuddin (b. 1935), a diplomat turned veteran politician as well as the editor of the Muslim India, an English monthly started in 1983. Within less than a year of its foundation, the Backward Muslim Morcha claimed to have become an umbrella organization of 32 backward castes, and the Backward Muslim Morcha saw this move of the upper caste Muslims for total reservation for the entire community as a ploy of the forward caste Muslim leadership to appropriate the substantial advantages of reservations for the upper castes (Ashraf ) at the expense of the Backward (Pasmanda-Dalit or Ajlaf and Arzal) castes.2

1

Instances of this omission are Jaffrelot, India’s Silent Revolution; Blair, Voting, Caste and Communities; Blair, ‘Rising Kulaks and Backward Classes’. 2 The Economic Times, 29 July 1995.

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The publication of ‘Muslim Agenda 99’ by a conglomerate of Muslim organizations, consisting of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mashaweraat, Jamaat-e-Islamie-Hind, All India Milli Council, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind,3 provocatively argued that the Indian Muslims were economically and educationally backward because of religious discrimination, and therefore demanded that the entire community should be declared backward so that they could become entitled for preferential treatment in public employment and educational institutions.4 This was categorically rejected by the Pasmanda Mahaz in a booklet ‘Pasmanda Agenda 1999’, published on 15 August 1999. It also raised doubts about the grand alliance of the traditional Muslim organizations/leadership. It further argued against including the Ashraf into the fold of reservation entitlements. Earlier, in December 1998, Aarakshan Bachao Rally (Save Reservation Rally) was held in Delhi. Both the Backward Morcha and the Pasmanda Mahaz had also demanded that 8.44 per cent of the OBC quota (27 per cent) should be set aside exclusively for backward caste Muslims, if the reservation policy in the rest of India was not to be rationalized along the lines of Bihar, where during the Janata Party rule (1977–79), as per the recommendations of the Mungerilal Committee Report (1971–76), the backward quota was internally divided by segregating the quotas for lower and upper OBCs. By this time, relatively enhanced representation in public employment (as Urdu teachers and translators, and reservations for the socially and economically backward castes), and the remittances from the West Asian Gulf countries, created a significant proportion of Muslim middle class. The mobilizations through both Urdu and biradri (brotherhood) based associations aimed at obtaining government jobs and other state benefits. This is because in an economically underdeveloped province like Bihar, government jobs and political power are the greatest source of economic upliftment, and politics is the sole arbiter of human fate,5 hence a need to look into the political behaviour of Muslim communities. 3

Arshad Alam, ‘Challenging the Ashrafs: The Politics of Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, vol. 29, no. 2, 2009, pp. 171–81. 4 Theodore P. Wright Jr., ‘A New Demand for Muslim Reservations in India’, Asian Survey, vol. 37, no. 9, 1997, pp. 853–58. 5 Ratnakar Tripathy, ‘The Problem’, Seminar (The Paradox that is Bihar: A Symposium on the state’s Efforts at Overcoming a Troubled Legacy), No. 580, December 2007, p. 14.

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It has also been discussed that some caste-based organizations of the backward (Pasmanda, literally those ‘left behind’) Muslims had contested the Muslim League’s separatist politics in the late colonial era. Among these backward Muslims, the Momins/Ansaris, who form about 20 per cent of the Muslims, ever since the formation of the Momin Conference in the early decades of the twentieth century, remained invariably with the Congress (until the Bhagalpur riots of 1989, when the Congress government both at the centre and in the province, failed to protect the Muslims, most of them of the weaving community of Momins/Ansaris). The Momins had established the ‘Bihar State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Union’ (an economic organization of weavers) with Congress patronage in 1948. ‘The conspicuous improvement in the status of the Momins is an example of change brought about by such governmental favours’, and these had determined the electoral preference of the Momins in the elections. Their leader, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74), attacked the Jamaat-eIslami-e-Hind ( JIH) as a communal body similar to the Jan Sangh/RSS and other Hindu communal organizations.6 As discussed in the previous chapter, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari had also formed a federated caste organization, Bihar State Backward Muslim Federation, consisting not only of the Momins/Ansaris but also of the Rayeens (vegetable-sellers), the Mansuris (carders of cotton and threads), the Rangrezs (dyers), the Dhobis/Hawaris (washer-men), etc.7 This, subsequently, pronounced the internal differentiations of the backward caste Muslims also. In March 1967, a new Momin organization, Bihar State Momin Advisory Committee was formed. The goal of this organization was to negotiate with the then non-Congress government for aid to the weavers and for better representation of the Momins in government departments. The 1967 Assembly elections witnessed a dwindling support-base for the Congress, cutting across the social groups, and the Muslims were no exception to it. In the 1967 Assembly elections, the Momins had also 6

Radiance, 14 August 1966 and 23 October 1966. It may be important to note that after 1950, ‘the momentum of the [Hindu] Backward Classes movement declined’ as their leader R. L. Chandapuri had been co-opted by the ruling Congress, and also a parallel organization was formed under the leadership of Jagjivan Ram. Chandapuri was, admittedly, troubled by the ruling Congress, who had to defer the publication of his movemental magazines such as Pichara Varg and Pichara Varg Sandesh. Frankel, ‘Caste, Land and Dominance’, p. 85. 7

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joined hands with other Muslim leaders in opposing the Congress,8 because the Congress government had not extended any satisfactory support to the handloom society. In the previous chapter we have seen that in Bihar, during the initial decades of Independence, this objective was sought to be fulfilled through mobilization of people on the issue of Urdu, demanding to make it the second official language of Bihar so that various public employment could be earmarked for Urdu-speaking people, who happen to be Muslims only, even though their vulnerability in the communal (i.e., Hindu–Muslim) riots also remained a strong concern. The Muslim communities of post-Independence Bihar largely succeeded in erecting a mass-based democratic political movement around the issue of their mother tongue, Urdu. This kind of language politics as a tool for empowerment could not be pursued by the Muslim communities of UP, which was/is ‘the homeland of a nationally significant Urdu speaking Muslim elite, instrumental in setting up educational and political institutions which fostered a distinctively Indian Muslim politics [in colonial period]’.9 Social stratifications within the Muslims remained relatively less pronounced in the political domain due to their collectively prioritized concerns on Urdu and communal riots, even though some caste/biradri-based organizations did exist.10

8

Brass, Language, Religion and Politics, p. 246. Famine and rural distress, agrarian tensions, poverty and unemployment had created general aversion against the ruling Congress which suffered reverses in the 1967 elections, and was unseated from power; see also, Brass, ‘Political Uses of Crisis’. 9 Gould, Hindu Nationalism, p. 2. 10 The term ‘caste’ usually refers to the vertical endogamous social divisions among all the four varnas of Hindus, whereas, for the Muslims, biradri (brotherhood) is a preferred term with a consideration that, unlike Hindus, there are no scripturally ordained varnas in the social stratification of Muslims, and therefore this is a horizontal division. But this essay explores that, contrary to scriptural emphasis on equality, there are three distinct social divisions among the Muslims of Bihar viz. Ashraf (comparable to the castes falling in the upper two varnas of Hindus), Ajlaf (comparable to the Hindu castes falling in the shudra varna), and Arzals (comparable to the untouchable castes of Hindus falling outside the four varnas). As the issue is academically contentious, I would prefer to use both terms (caste/biradri) interchangeably.

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On the issue of Urdu, all the Muslim communities of Bihar spoke almost unanimously, articulated in the idioms of secular democracy and constitutional provisions rather than in a language of religious exclusivism. This politics, therefore, encountered only a marginal and weak resistance from a section of Hindus. Thus, it offered two advantages to the Muslims: (a) weaker resistance from the Hindus and (b) relatively less pronounced intra-Muslim conflicts in the political sphere. The objective of making Urdu the second official language of Bihar could be accomplished only in late 1989, but significantly large scale democratic mobilizations kept the provincial government constantly responsive, offering some public employment through Urdu (mostly as teachers, translators and typists), particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. This feature of the politics of Muslim communities, witnessing relatively lesser antagonism with Hindus, in Bihar, may be traced back to the colonial days. Bihar, as a separate province, was carved out from Bengal in 1912. It happened as a result of regional patriotism of the educated middle class, consisting mainly of the Kayasthas and the elite Muslims, who were fighting against Bengali hegemony in modern education and public employment, and in the law courts. Largely because of their common fight against the Bengalis, Hindu–Muslim antagonism was much less in Bihar than in the adjacent provinces of the Bengal and United Provinces, now called Uttar Pradesh (UP). Till the 1920s the provincial branch of the Congress in Bihar was led mainly by the Muslims and Kayasthas. Even in subsequent days (its heydays, 1938–47), the Muslim League did not find any big leader of national stature from Bihar. As a result of which the communal separatist politics of the Muslim League was much weaker in Bihar than in the adjacent provinces. Muslim communities of colonial Bihar showed stronger resistance to the territorial separatist politics of the Muslim League and had enthusiastically collaborated with anti-colonial nationalism of the Congress. Probably because of this, the Muslim leaders of Bihar did not suffer from the guilt of having divided India in 1947, which arguably provided them with greater self-confidence than their counterparts in UP. In the post-Independence period, therefore, the Muslim communities of UP, could not pursue the kind of politics pursued by those of Bihar, whereas, Urdu is essentially the mother tongue of the Muslim communities of both Bihar and UP.

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Similarly, the Ansaris (Momins), Rayeens, Mansuris had formed their caste/biradri associations in the 1920s and 1930s, contesting the Ashraf-led Muslim League’s politics of communal separatism. This is how they formed their self-image, staking their claims in the resources and power structures of the sovereign nation of India. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, profound and decisive changes took place in the political landscape of Bihar. By this time, due to sustained mass mobilizations, the Urdu issue was almost resolved as it was made the second official language in all the districts of Bihar in 1989. And, after the communal riots of October 1992 in Riga–Sitamarhi, the Lalu–Rabri led administration (February 1990–February 2005) showed its relatively greater success in handling the communal riots. After these ‘successes’, the agendas of social justice and the demand for a proportionate share in the power structure became the top priority of Muslim politics. Now, the three broad social stratifications of Ashraf, Ajlaf and Arzal were to be articulated more pronouncedly in the political sphere. Backward caste Muslims became [more] aware of the gap between their viewpoint and that of upper caste Muslims after 1990, when the Union government accepted the Mandal Commission’s recommendation to extend job reservations to backward castes. As a consequence, a backward caste perspective that challenges the establishment has emerged within the Muslim community.11

This phenomenon had another global politico-economic consequence as well. The discourse of social justice, once centred on distribution, is ... divided between claims for redistribution, on the one hand, and claims for recognition on the other ... recognition claims [however] tend to predominate. The demise of communism, the surge of free market ideology, the rise of ‘identity politics’ in both its fundamentalist and

11

Rajendra Vora, ‘Multiple Identities of Backward Caste Muslims in India’, in Manu Bhagavan and Anne Feldhause (eds), Claiming Power from Below: Dalits and Subaltern Question in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 42.

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progressive forms—all these developments have conspired to decentre, if not to extinguish, claims for egalitarian redistribution.12

Thus, by the 1990s, the Ashraf were arguably rendered almost issueless as they could no longer raise the ‘bogeys’ of Urdu and/or communal riots. Consequently, a sharp critique of Ashraf hegemony started coming out. Intra-Ajlaf tensions (the Rayeens’ grievances against Ansaris) and Arzal–Ajlaf conflicts as well as collaborations could also be articulated.13 The traditional Marxist political parties refused to recognize caste as an exploitative hierarchized identity among the various religious communities of India. On a theoretical plane, the Marxists defined it as a false social consciousness and, according to them the only acceptable identity was class identity. By the 1990s, the radical Marxist–Leninist political formation (the Communist Party of India–Marxist–Leninist Liberation, that is, CPI-ML Liberation), which has a significant support base in parts of Bihar, claimed to be theoretically resolving this caste–class debate by taking a position that class exists in caste itself. It believed that mere economic location could not explain the social exploitation and that the psychological pain historically suffered by the lower castes since centuries. In its view, the latter should also be taken as justification for preferential treatment from the state. Till the 1980s, this point of view of the CPI-ML Liberation referred only to the Hindus. However, it subsequently began to address the question of caste and gender among the Muslims as well, and formed Inquilabi Muslim Conference (in 1992), the Muslim Intellectual Forum (in 1993), and Tehreek-e-Niswan (that is, the women’s movement) in 1994. Such articulations threw a new challenge before traditional/religious institutions and ideas. Significantly, they also put even the essentially immutable religious scriptures under sharp scrutiny — which could be described as their moving towards the creation of some kind of Liberation Theology, which seeks to re-interpret the Holy Quran from the perspective of the ‘wretched of the earth’, i.e., Mustad’afun f ’il-ard or those who are ‘vulnerable, marginalised or oppressed in the socio-economic sense, by the policies of the powerful’.

12

Nancy Fraser, Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Re-distribution, Recognition, and Participation, Delhi: Critical Quest, 2008, p. 3.

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Politically organized mobilizations and articulations of such social stratifications were also an outcome of the caste-based reservations (affirmative action/protective discriminations/preferential treatment) in public employment provided by the non-Congress provincial government of Bihar in 1978; and then by the non-Congress Union government of India in early 1989–91. Fierce opposition by upper caste Hindus against such reservations gave rise to strong consolidation as well as the assertion of the backward castes in the early 1990s, and the phrase ‘social justice’ emerged as a powerful language of politics. Quite obviously, Muslim societies could no longer remain unaffected. The emergence of the All India Backward Muslim Morcha (1994), and All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (1998) should be located in this context. Moreover, the extension of this reservation to the rural and urban local bodies of Bihar in 2001 provided further ‘incentive’ to such movements of social justice. In 1989–90 and subsequent elections, Bihar witnessed a major power shift in terms of the social composition of the legislatures. Lalu Yadav’s Chief Ministerial tenure proved to be much more significant in challenging upper caste hegemony.14 Muslim society also underwent this change. The Momins/Ansaris, the Rayeens, the Kulhaiyas, Pamarias, and the Bhatiyaras (Faruqis) mobilized their caste groups for access to social justice, demanding not only reservations in government jobs in accordance with the reports of the Mandal Commission (1980–94), but also a share in political power, besides calling for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Castes, as the last two groups (Pamarias/ Abbasis and Bhatiyaras/Faruqis, Nats, Dhobis, Halalkhors, Mehtars, etc.) identified themselves as Dalits.15 As of now, Article 341 of the 13

Papiya Ghosh, ‘Enumerating for Social Justice’, in Ajit Bhattacharjea (ed.), Social Justice and the Indian Constitution, Shimla: IIAS, 1997. 14 Sanjay Kumar, ‘New Phase in Backward Caste Politics Bihar, 1990–2000’, EPW, vol. 34, no. 5, 1999, pp. 2472–80; see also, Christophe Jaffrelot, India’s Silent Revolution: Rise of Low Castes in North Indian Politics, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003. 15 While this assertion was probably more pronounced in Bihar, the rest of India also witnessed such assertion, where oppressed social groups of Muslims asserted for dignity, emancipation and empowerment. See Javeed Alam, ‘A Minority Moves into Another Millennium’, in Romila Thapar (ed.), India Moves into the New Millennium, Delhi: Viking, 2000.

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Indian Constitution restricts the Scheduled Caste status only to the Hindus which, they demand, should be delinked from religion through a Presidential ordinance. This ejection of the comparable sections of the Muslims and Christians was also a negation of the Act of 1935, which had listed the non-Hindu ‘Dalits’ as SCs. Interestingly, the Dalit Sikhs were included in the SC list in 1956, and Neo-Budhists in 1990. In 1984, the Bihar State Momin Conference had negotiated with the Bihar government for the Momins to move from the ‘Backward Caste’ (Annexure II) to the Extremely/Most Backward Caste (MBC) or Ati Pichhrha (Annexure I) list, whereas the Bihar Jamiat-ur-Rayeen had found it difficult to be included into this category of MBC.16 This created some fissures within the backward castes of Muslims — for example, between the Ansaris and the Rayeens. This was partially reflected in the voting behaviour of the two biradris/castes, also. In February 1991, under the mass pressure of the Rayeens, Lalu made some moves towards including the Rayeens into Annexure I. He directed the A. N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANSISS Patna) to determine the level of their backwardness. The Institute conducted a sample survey in districts having larger Rayeen populations such as Nawada, Madhubani, Saharsa and Bhojpur, and gave a favourable recommendation for the Rayeens. Yet, Lalu remained inactive. Again, in November 1991, a rally of the Bihar Jamiat-ur-Rayeen was held in Patna. They claimed to be 26 per cent (with some exaggeration?) of the total Muslim population of Bihar. Apart from being listed in Annexure I, they, also included other demands for their economic upliftment. Easier loans for vegetable and fruit sellers, reservation of seats in technical and non-technical educational institutions, complete control of the Bihar State Fruit and Vegetable Development Corporation, adequate representation in the public sector undertakings, cooperatives, corporations and the legislative council, and priority in the allotment of shops by the bazaar committees.17

This assertion forced Lalu to concede their demands, and include them in the Annexure I. Its leader, Ejaz Ali (a professional doctor and the

16 17

Ghosh, ‘Enumerating for Social Justice’. Rayeen Jati Par Ek Shodh Prativedan, ANSISS, 1993.

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son-in-law of Ghulam Sarwar) formed the All India Backward Muslim Morcha, in 1994,18 and pressed for recognizing some of the castes of Muslims (for example, Mehtars, Lalbegis, Halalkhors, etc., identified as Arzals) as Scheduled Castes.19

Muslim Castes in Bihar As per the census of 2001, the Muslim communities constitute about 16.5 per cent (137 million) of the total population in Bihar, which is about 10 per cent of the total Muslims of India. After the separation of Jharkhand in September 200, there are nine divisions (headed by a Commissioner) consisting of 37 districts. Of them, two divisions — that is, Purnea (eastern Bihar, with districts of Kishanganj, Araraia, Purnea) and Tirhut (north Bihar, with districts of West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur, and Vaishali) have the largest concentration of Muslims. As many as 64 per cent of Bihar Muslims are illiterate; 45 per cent of their households are indebted (loans taken not for productive investments but for consumption); only 8.2 per cent of rural Muslim households have two acres of land (the rest are either landless or have less than two acres); 39.6 per cent are low wage agricultural labourers; and 63 per cent of rural Muslim household are out-migrants, (mostly out of Bihar, some to Arab countries).20 If we take caste/biradri-wise internal diversities of the Bihar Muslims into account, such indices of human development would be much lower. The higher the Muslim concentration in a district/Division, the lower is its literacy rate. Their condition is, therefore, characterized by high mass illiteracy, low standard of living and hence low level of performance in every walk of life. According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) 2004–05, access to socio-economic resources over the years improved because of affirmative action policies and political ascendancy for the backward castes in Bihar. But, as per the same report, the Muslim communities ‘constitute the poorest segment

18

For details, see Yoginder Sikand, Muslims in India Since 1947: Islamic Per-spectives on Interfaith Relationsm, London: Routledge, 2004, pp. 204–8. 19 Hindustan Times, Patna, 12 January 1994. 20 Socio-Economic and Educational Status of Muslims in Bihar, 2005

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of the population and experience lower access to socio economic resources in the state. Vast majority of them are either casual workers or engaged in self-employment in unorganized sectors’.21 Given the socio-political and organizational articulation of different caste-based associations, the Muslim communities of Bihar are distinctly divided into three broad categories: Ashraf, Ajlaf and Arzal.22 The Ashraf (noble birth/foreign descents or converts from upper caste Hindus) consist of Syeds, Mughals, Mullicks, Pathans and Sheikhs. The Ajlaf consist mainly of the castes/biradris like Ansaris, Momins/ weavers), Rayeens or Sabzi-farosh (vegetable-growers and sellers; contemptuously called the Kunjras), Mansuris (cotton carders/Dhuniyas), Quraishis (butchers or chiqs), Kulhaiyas, Idrisis (tailors), etc. who are comparable with the shudras of Hindus. The Arzal consist mainly of the [‘unclean’] castes like Mehtars (sweepers), Lalbegis (scavengers), Halalkhors (sweepers), Garherhis (the shepherds, or the donkeykeepers and brick-makers), Dhobis (washermen), Bakhos (sweepers), Machhuaras (fishermen), Bhatiaras (inn-keepers), Naalband (horse shoe makers), Gorkans (grave-diggers), Hawaris (cleaners), Dafalis (drum makers), Miryasins, Khatiks, Bhaats, Churihars (bangle-makers/ lass-workers or sheeshagars/bisatis), Rangrezs (dyers), etc. These are comparable with the Dalits of Hindus. Nats and Bakhos are street performers, and don’t have permanent sedentary dwellings. Together, the two categories (Ajlaf and Arzal) have organized themselves as the All India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM, founded in 1994 by Ejaz Ali) and the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM, founded in 1998 by Ali Anwar Ansari, a Hindi journalist, who was associated with the CPI for about two decades before he started articulating Pasmanda politics). In 2001, Ansari’s book, Masawat Ki Jung (Struggle for Equality), articulated the Pasmanda Politics coherently and forcefully, with academia and the media particularly

21

Md Sanjeer Alam, ‘Bihar: Can Lalu Prasad Reclaim Lost Ground’, EPW, vol. xliv, no. 17, 25 April 2009, p. 12. 22 The theological divisions along the lines of sub-sects or maslak (i.e., Barelwi, Deobandi, Ahl-e-Hadis/Wahabi, Shia, etc.) cut across the castes/ biradris. Exploring this aspect is beyond the scope of this work.

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taking it into account.23 This book was the outcome of Ali Anwar’s frequent interventions in regional vernacular periodicals in which he emphasized the need to uniting lower caste Muslims on a common platform. Both the organizations are demanding the inclusion of the Arzal castes/biradris into the list of Scheduled Castes, and call them Dalit Muslims. In fact, Ejaz Ali’s AIBMM ‘prides itself in having coined the term Dalit Muslims’.24 By way of clarification, it needs to be added here that ‘Scheduled Caste’ is a legal and administrative term denoting castes among Hindus, Sikhs, and Neo-Budhists which possess three principal attributes: engagement in traditionally defiling occupations, exclusion from the main residential areas within localities, and untouchability practised against them by other castes on account of a presumed superiority of ritual status.25

But this is denied to such castes falling within the fold of Islam and Christianity. This discriminatory denial based on religion is questioned by Imtiaz Ahmad, who says: there exists a strong case for extending the benefits of the ‘Scheduled Castes’ to severely stigmatized and extremely excluded Muslim castes, and any attempt to shy away from this obvious action would expose the State to the allegation that it is indirectly seeking to prevent the depletion of the ‘Hindu community’ by ensuring that the Scheduled Castes

23

The origin of the politically more organized Muslim OBC initiative in post-independence India may be traced to the Maharashtra organization founded in 1981 by Shabbir Ahmad Ansari and Vilasrao Sonawane, inspired by the Bahujan Samaj, Ambedkar, Lohia, and Karpuri Thakur. On 5 February 1984, they had a huge rally at Jalna in Maharashtra. Similarly, in the northern districts of West Bengal, the Uttar Bango Anagrasar Muslim Sangram Samiti is also one of the most assertive and organized movements, which though localized, became more active after the provincial government listed 60 castes, including 8 castes of Muslims, as OBCs. See various essays in Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 38, no. 46, 15 November 2003, pp. 4881–4907. 24 Islam and Muslim Societies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2005, pp. 204–8. 25 Imtiaz Ahmad, ‘Recognition and Entitlement: Muslim Castes Eligible for Inclusion in the Category of Scheduled Castes’, Contemporary Perspectives, vol. 1, no. 2, July–December 2007.

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stay within the Hindu fold, and if they hanker for those benefits, they should change over to Hinduism and one of the other religions of Indian origin whose deprived sections are included in the category ‘Scheduled Castes’. The State’s secular credentials will remain in doubt.26

Socio-economic Proſle of Bihar’s Muslims Bihar is probably the only province where reservation for the backward castes in the government services has existed since 1978 in two tiers, with clear demarcation between the internal differentiation between the less and more backward, thus making the arrangement more judicious. Based on the recommendations of the Mungerilal Commission (1971–76), the Karpuri Thakur led Janata (coalition) government implemented it in 1978. The two categories were identified as Extremely/Most Backward Castes (E/MBC or Annexure I, having 93 caste groups, including 27 caste groups of Muslims), and Backward Castes/classes (BC or Annexure II, having 128 caste groups, including nine caste groups of Muslims). Respectively, 12 per cent of the seats were reserved for the lower backward castes, and 8 per cent for the upper backward castes.27 Despite this arrangement, such was the level of educational and economic backwardness among different social groups of the backward Muslims that the reports (collected through field studies undertaken by academics, journalists, and political activists like Jabir Husain, Ali Anwar Ansari and Safdar Imam, in the 1990s) about various social groups of Bihar Muslims, continue to testify to their extreme backwardness and therefore gross under-representation in the structures and processes of power.28 The poverty and backwardness of the Muslim communities of Bihar was further affirmed by

26

Ibid., p. 107 Blair, ‘Rising Kulaks’; see also, Fazal, ‘The Conundrum of Muslim Reservation’, p. 125. 28 What follows is taken substantially from, Jabir Husain, Bihar Ki Pasmanda Muslim Abadiyan (Urdu), Patna: Bihar Foundation, 1994. Note: The author, Jabir Husain, a Shia Syed, born in 1945 in a village in Rajgir and educated from the LS College, Muzaffarpur, was a Professor of English Literature, and a gifted creative Urdu-Hindi writer and columnist; was associated with the antiCongress socialist movements in the post-Independence period represented by Jai Prakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia, then became Minister for 27

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the findings of the 2005 Report of the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), Patna. The study was sponsored by the Minorities Commission of Bihar. During April 2001 and May 2002, it surveyed 8159 households, in 20 out of 38 districts, 14 towns, and 169 villages. It found that 49.5 per cent of rural households, and 44.8 per cent of urban households of Muslims lived below poverty line; 45.1 per cent of the Muslim households were indebted for day to day consumption, and the levels of poverty were, ‘higher ammong the Muslims than the general population’. The Muslims of Kishanganj and Katihar, in eastern Bihar, were found to be particularly most backward.29

The Ajlaf Castes/Biradris The Kulhaiyas live mainly around the river Kosi, in eastern Bihar, and have their distinct cultural life and dialect. According to some reports of the early 1990s, their total population was around 12 lakh. Of them, only 3 per cent were literates (5 per cent male literacy, and 1 per cent female literacy). Cattle grazing, pulling bullock carts and boats, apart from unskilled labourers migrating to Punjab and some metro-politan cities, are their livelihood. Ninety-nine per cent of them live in rural areas. Half (50 per cent) of their population are perennially indebted to private moneylenders of their villages. Consequently, none of them are represented in the Bihar Police Service. There were only seven doctors (one female and six male), seven college teachers, 25 high school teachers, 1000 primary teachers. Their women live by weaving mats of date leaves, broom making, and goitha (lump of animal dung) making. They drink water reserved in tanks, ponds, wells and rivers; most of their women own only one sari, and still harbour superstitious beliefs. In 1993, they had formed the Kulhaiya Vikas Sangathan.

Health in Karpuri Thakur’s cabinet (1977–79) of Bihar; in 1990s, he served as the Chairman, Bihar State Minorities Commission, and subsequently, as the Chairman, Bihar Legislative Council; during 2006–12, he was a Member of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Parliament, as a nominee of Lalu Prasad’s political party Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD). A brief profile of him is given in Chapter Five also. 29 Socio-Economic and Educational Status of Muslims in Bihar, 2005.

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In colonial records, the Shershahabadi were entered as criminal tribes, and are mainly settled in eastern Bihar. They were known as Mal Dahiya, Bhatiya, Budhiya, Bediya in various districts in the Kosi belt. Around 75 per cent of them were landless labourers, living in bamboo and grass huts. Literacy varied between two/three per cent. In 1976–77, the District Magistrate (DM) of Katihar had recommended that they be included in the list of MBCs. Subsequently, on the initiative of Karpuri Thakur, the Tribal Research Institute, Ranchi also made a survey of their socio-economic situation and arrived at the same conclusion; but given their low numerical strength, they could not manage to push themselves into the category of Annexure I in the game of the electoral politics. The Sheeshagar (glass workers/bangle makers) have now begun calling themselves Siddiqain under the influence of Ashrafization. This almost akin to what M. N. Srinivas calls ‘Sanskritization’ among Hindus. In 1976, a report estimated their population at about 5.5 lakhs, located mostly in the plateau area of Bihar, now Jharkhand. Around 90 per cent of them are landless labourers. The Mungerilal Commission Report (December 1971–February 1976) details their socio-economic condition. Their economic position worsened with the onslaught of ‘modernity’ which made women dispense with their bangles. This particular social group has only few ‘success stories’, with a mere 300 having passed the Intermediate examinations. There are only 125, graduates, 25 Postgraduates, and 30 with Diploma from Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), with almost nil representation of girls in this list. In December 1980, a delegate of this community met the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, who gave some assurances. She promised to shift them into the MBC category, make provisions for easy loans to get rid of usurious moneylenders, etc. In 1993, similar recommendations were made in a report submitted to the government of Bihar. However, nobody knows what happened to such assurances and reports. The population of Silai Kamgar (tailors/idrisis) is estimated to be around 20 lakhs. At the initiative of Jabir Husain, they formed an organization in 1981, and had their rallies in 1981, 1982 and 1993; they also organized some hartals against their employers who used to pay them only the meagre amount of `8 to 16 a day. A survey of their economic

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conditions in Patna city found that the tailoring shopkeepers paid them a mere Rs 3 for a blouse whereas the shopkeepers charged `8–16 for the same from customers. In 1984, Governor, A. R. Kidwai responded by forming a seven member committee under a Labour Commissioner, asking it to suggest some ways of improving their lot. But there is no information about its outcome. In 1986, H. N. Bahuguna and Karpuri Thakur led a rally, and submitted a memorandum to the Governor for the enhancement of their wages; again in 1993, the Bihar State Minorities Commission also made some recommendations to this effect. The dust loaded files are still waiting to be circulated in the desirable directions. The Bunkar (weavers) are a variant of the Ansaris/Jolahas/Momins, and are settled in the Chota Nagpur plateau area (now Jharkhand). They have been anthropologically identified as the descendants of the Oraon tribe, and have a distinct language and culture. However, even then they have not been included in the list of Scheduled Tribes. In September 1991, the Rayeens (vegetable growers and sellers, also called Kunjras or Sabzi Farosh) agitated against the Lalu-led government. The pressure worked and the A. N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANSISS) Patna was requested to survey their socio-economic condition. They identified a sample of 350 families from the districts of Nawadah, Madhubani, Saharsa, and Bhojpur in which they exist in a large concentration. Of this sample, 91 per cent were landless labourers, 213 families were illiterate, and 280 families could earn only Rs 20 a day as wage. The Gaddi or banjara type of cattle grazers survive by selling milk. They are mainly settled in Champaran and Jharkhand, and can be called Muslim goalas. They have many characteristics of tribal life: they live in total poverty, and their literacy rate is abysmally low. Their only success story is the three great creative writers of Urdu: the late brothers Gheyas Ahmad Gaddi and Ilyas Ahmad Gaddi, both writers of fiction, and Siddiq Mujeebi, the poet. All three have feelingly articulating the deprivations and oppressions of their community, although they have also written about other social groups also. The population of Mansuri (carders, also called Dhuniya/Taani/ Naddaaf) is estimated to be around 35 lakh. They are settled mainly in the Tirhut, Darbhanga and Kosi areas. They also survive by selling

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meat and vegetables. About 98 per cent are landless labourers. They are included in the E/MBC list, less than 5 per cent are literate, and thus their representation in jobs is also less than 0.5 per cent. Quite a large number of them are rickshaw-pullers in Kolkata.

The Arzal Castes/Biradaris A study was conducted of some randomly selected castes/biradris of the Ajlaf category.30 A hundred families of Patna, with a total population of less than 600, were surveyed. They consisted of the castes like Dhobi (Hawaris, washermen), Halalkhor, Bakho, Pamaria (calling themselves as Abbasis), Machhuara (fishermen), Nalband (Horse shoe makers), Nat, Gadheris (donkey-keepers and brick-makers, calling themselves as Ibrahimis), Bhatiyaras (calling themselves Faruqis, who had formed the Bihar Pradesh Jamiatul Faruq in 1980), Gorkans (grave-diggers/Sains/ Faqirs), Pasis (toddy-sellers), etc. There were only three people with Intermediate certificate, one graduate — and ironically, all of them were unemployed. Only one person among all of them was a matriculate. There were only five people with government jobs: two peons, two sweepers, and one sipahi. Twenty-five per cent of the families could have only one meal in 24 hours, with breakfast being the left-overs of their dinner at night. Only 5 per cent could afford pulses in their food, that too not very frequently. Around 78 per cent of them could not afford shoes/chappals — they lived bare-footed. On an average, every family had five members, who required about `75 every day to lead a subsistence life — but they could hardly earn this every day. The question of education irritated the respondents, given their miserable economic position; 72–80 per cent of the families had no houses/toilets of their own. Almost all of them are absolutely landless.

30 Ali Anwar, Dalit Musalman-Sandarbh-Rajdhani Patna Ki Dalit Muslim Abadi Ka Laghu Sarvekshan, Delhi: 2004. This survey was done in 1999. The author, Ansari, is presently a member of the Rajya Sabha as a nominee of the Janata Dal United ( JD-U), which is ruling over Bihar in alliance with the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). He is a vernacular Hindi journalist, and had been with the Communist Party of India (CPI); he became a member of the Bihar State Backward Classes Commission, and thereafter formed his own All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz in 1998.

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Another field study (sample survey) about a community called Meer Shikars (chief hunters) of Patna has also been published.31 The community lives in rampant poverty and illiteracy, and a few of the castes were not entered even as E/MBC or BC. This is so even though the survey conclusively establishes their position as being far worse than that of Hindu Dalits. Their cry for inclusion in the list of the Scheduled Castes remains unheard because of constitutional restrictions on the basis of religion — raising serious questions regarding the secular credentials of the Indian constitution. Undoubtedly, the Arzal castes/ biradaris need to be enlisted as Scheduled Castes/Dalits. Lately, a few people have started talking of Sheikhs to be included among the backward castes. The proponents of this line invoke some of the observations/findings made by colonial ethnologists like Francis Buchanan who remarks that, in the early decades of nineteenth century, ‘low fellows’ among the Muslim peasantry started assuming the title Sheikh, ‘implying highly coveted Arab origins’. He writes that [a] few alone can boast of this distinction, and the greater part are not to be distinguished from the [low caste/Upper Shudras] Hindu peasantry of the vicinity. These Sheikhs are in general cultivators, and seem much fonder of the plough than of any other profession.32

Another colonial ethnologist, Henry Miers Elliot,33 also confirmed this observation, saying that most of those claiming to be Sheikhs were non-Aryan (non-Persian, non-Arab, non-Turk, that is, were local converts). Based on such records, William R. Pinch also observed that ‘a significant number of Muslim peasants sought to achieve a modicum of self-respect through the articulation of a noble past’, which was, according to him, ‘analogous to the changing identities among the

31

Safdar Imam, ‘The Untold Story of Meer Shikar Community [of Patna]’, in Abdul Waheed (ed.), Muslims of Uttar Pradesh, Aligarh: AMU, 2007, pp. 132–39. 32 Buchanan–Hamilton, An Account of the District of Purnea 1809–1810, cf. Pinch, Peasants and Monks, pp. 86–87. This observation seems more credible, given the fact that according to an estimate, 44 per cent of the Bihar Muslims are Ashraf (upper caste), most of them being Sheikhs. See Socio-Economic and Educational Status of Muslims in Bihar, 2005. 33 Henry Miers Elliot, Encyclopedia of Castes, Delhi: Sumit, pp. 185–87.

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Kurmi, Yadav and Kushvaha peasants’.34 These origins are now being invoked by the proponents of the demand for Sheikhs being included in the list of backward castes. Ejaz Ali’s All India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM) also voiced its willingness to include the upper caste of Sheikhs among the beneficiaries of this reservation.35 It may be added that, even today, in the daily social discourse among the Sheikhs of Bihar — at least in matters of match-making for marriages — two distinct stratifications crop up. They are the dhelphorhwa Sheikhs (those who work on land) and the elite Sheikhs (suggesting probably those that are land-owning). It has, therefore, been observed that the ‘category of Sheikh is perhaps the most fuzzy and fluid among the Indian Muslims: many lower caste Muslims have entered this category as a result of Islamization’.36 This is further corroborated by a report of the census of 1931 in Bihar when some of the Ansaris (weavers), Mansuris (carders), Idrisis (tailors) wished to be entered as Sheikhs, that is as Sheikh Ansaris, Sheikh Mansuris, Sheikh Idrisis, etc.37 In October 1998, the AIBMM suffered a split on the issue of including an upper caste Sheikh in the list of OBC, which gave birth to another body against the proposal:38 Ali Anwar’s Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz. In December 1993, the Kulhaiya Vikas Sangathan also started making assertions through mass demonstrations.39 Earlier, in 1980, the Bihar Pradesh Jamiat-ul-Faruq, an organization of the Bhatiyaras, was 34

William R. Pinch, Peasants and Monks in British India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996. It is also to be noted that the Sachar Committee Report (2005), based on the 61st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) account for the General Muslims being 51 per cent, and the Backward Caste Muslims being merely 41 per cent of the total Muslim population in India. This cannot be considered accurate because of methodological limitations, i.e., the self-perception of the respondents, and sociological common sense also refuses to accept it; see also, Arshad Alam, ‘Sachar Committee Report and the Bogey of Muslim Representation’, a privately circulated essay. 35 Alam, ‘New Directions in Indian Muslim Politics’, p. 134. Recently, Mulliks, otherwise counted as Ashraf, were also enlisted as a backward caste, which is being objected to by some sections of backward caste Muslims. 36 Alam, ‘New Directions in Indian Muslim Politics’, p. 135. 37 Lacey, Some Aspects of Census. 38 Anwar, Masawaat Ki Jung. 39 Jansatta, 29 December 1993.

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also formed. However, their activities have got catalyzed only recently.40 In 1995, another organization called Dalit Muslim Pamaria/Abbasi Sangh was formed in Patna. It was led by Noor Hasan Azad.41 They articulated their concerted voice more stridently when they convened the Dalit Muslim Maha Panchayat Ewam Jan Samman Rally in Delhi on 4–5 December 2004.42

Blending Class, Caste and Gender in the 1990s Besides these caste/biradri based formations, some gender based formations also made their presence felt in Bihar. Registering protest against patriarchal structures (mardana tasallut), the Tehreek-e-Niswan was started in January 1994, with branches in Patna, Gaya, Dhanbad, and Delhi. It is an affiliate of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) of the CPI–ML (Liberation), a radical left political formation. Shahida Hasan was the main leader of the Tehreeke-Niswan. Through its organ, Adhi Zameen, the AIPWA pressed for securing liberal progressive reforms in personal laws.43 The CPI–ML (Liberation) argued that, given the virulent assertion of the Hindu 40

The Bhatiyaras (this is also used as an abusive word) worked in and around the sarais (inns) in the Medieval period, as the second caliph of Sunni Muslims had also built many sarais. They identified themselves with the Caliph, and under the influence of Ashrafization (akin to what M. N. Srinivas says about the Sanskritization of Hindus), called themselves Faruqis. They survive by selling tobacco and by pulling horse carts. They claim to have a population of around 1 lakh in Bihar, mainly in Sasaram and Gaya. Md Kalim Faruqi, an advocate of Gaya, claims the leadership of the Faruqis. Their demand from the state is to be awarded contracts for canteens and vendor-shops on railway platforms, and Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets. See also, Ali Anwar, Dalit Musalman. 41 They call themselves Abbasi; made news when the Pathans of the village of Bihiya (Bhojpur) disallowed a dead body (maiyat) of the Pamarias to be buried in the village graveyard. Some of them have joined the CPI–ML (Liberation), which organized poor Dalits and provided them with the arms and ideology of assertion and empowerment. See, Ali Anwar, Ibid. 42 Pasmanda Awaz, Hindi Monthly, Patna, December 2004. 43 Sylvia Vatuk’s recent study on Muslim feminist movements in India has overlooked this movement in Bihar. See ‘Islamic Feminism in India: Indian Muslim Women Activists and the Reform of Muslim Personal Law’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 42, nos 2–3, March–May 2008, pp. 489–518.

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Right, apprehensions have genuinely cropped up in Muslim minds regarding the issue of the Uniform Civil Code.44 They also aimed at organizing mainly Dalit Muslim women working on land for agrarian struggles, and to secure their rights to ijtehad (interpretations) for prayer in mosques, and to interrogate laws relating to divorce (talaq), polygamy (kaseer-ul-azwaaj), and inheritance by underlining the fact that such re-interpretations had taken place in other Islamic countries like Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, etc.45 This was preceded by the formation of Inquilabi Muslim Conference, by the CPI–ML (Liberation) in early 1992. It identified the Muslims as an ‘oppressed community’. It said, In the face of communal onslaught, to defend itself the Muslim community does show certain obscurant or retrogressive trends. Under this pressure, they overlook the questions of democracy and criminalization and rally around a saviour coming up under the banner of Congress or centrist party. This has impeded the process of democratic politicisation within the community. In order to break this trend, Inquilabi Muslim Conference has, while fighting against cases of communal oppression, endeavoured for spreading revolutionary–democratic ideas among the community. The objective of Inquilabi Muslim Conference is to encourage Muslims to participate in the national political life entering into its mainstream as a revolutionary-democratic force.46

After the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya (in eastern Uttar Pradesh) on 6 December 1992, it aimed to represent ‘the specific needs and demands of the Indian Muslims’,47 and focused on organizing Muslims of the labouring classes and middle class intellectuals. In its 44

Papiya Ghosh, ‘Contemporary Patriarchies: Reconfigurations in Bihar’, in Biswamoy Pati and Shakti Kak (eds), Exploring Gender Equations: Colonial and Post-colonial India, Delhi: NMML, 2005. 45 Shahida Hasan, Adhi Zameen, July–September 1994. 46 Speech delivered by Vinod Mishra at a convention titled ‘50 Years of Indian Independence and Muslims’, organized by the All-India Muslim Forum in Lucknow on 10 August 1997; see Liberation, September 1997, http:// cpiml.org/archive/vm_swork/31whither_indian_muslims.htm (accessed 5 February 2008). 47 Ibid.

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All India Muslim Convention of 1993, it lamented the feudal mode of Muslim politics (darbari siyasat), and insisted on organizing peasant movements among them so that grass root politics could emerge among the Muslims. Its objective was the ‘protection and modernization of the Muslim identity’ because to them, the preservation of Muslim identity is an important component of the struggle for secularism. BJP’s concept of Hindu Rashtra demands the submission of Muslim identity, and intends to transform Muslims into a sect of Hinduism. It is only natural, therefore, for Indian Muslims to react as a community for preservation of their identity … [and demand] complete separation of religion from politics.48

Besides opposing the Hindu Right, it supported the Indo–Pak– Bangladesh Confederation and demanded the punishment of the killers of the communal riots of Bhagalpur in 1989. Protesting against the killings of the Dalit Muslims ‘in Baithani Tola and Narahi, they organized an Awam Majlis (literally, public meeting) at Arrah which established the links of the killers with the BJP and the Ranveer Sena’.49 They also formed the Muslim Intellectual Forum in late 1993. This was, in many ways, also a response to the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya (UP) on 6 December 1992, after which the community was fairly depressed, besides becoming disillusioned with the existing Muslim leadership. There were several ‘Muslim Intelligentsia Meets’ in various cities like Delhi and elsewhere, where the existing leadership of the Muslims was subjected to scathing criticism by the informed sections of the community, mostly students and educated youth. It should be noted here that while this ‘New Left’ redefined Marxism, and advocated the recognition of the caste/community identity (as according to them, caste and class largely coincide); it also talked of Pasmanda and Dalit castes among Muslims, and their efforts of mobilization was/is mainly among such groups. It said, Now there are demands of reservation on religious basis as Muslims. But at the same time from among Muslims demands are coming up

48 49

Ibid. Hindustan Times, Patna, 4 July 1997.

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for effective reservations for backward Muslims listed in Mandal Commission. Even the demand for reservations to Dalit Muslims is gaining momentum. So this question too merits serious attention.50

By 1994, a very small segment of Muslims (particularly the educated middle class) had started feeling an aversion against the Laluled government. Syed Shahabuddin (MP on Lalu’s Janata Dal from Kishanganj, Bihar, who joined politics in the 1980s after quitting the Indian Foreign Service) catalogued many grievances. He lambasted Lalu for treating Muslims like ‘political hostages’ who ‘must accept humiliation and terrorization by Lalu’s Herculean projection of criminals as community leaders’. He complained about many issues: that ‘there has never been any discussion in the Assembly on the situation of the religious minorities of Bihar’; ‘no separate budgetary allocation’ for the ‘much trumpeted Department of Minorities Welfare’; no function allowed to have been performed by the reluctantly constituted State Minorities Commission; treating Muslim ministers like ‘virtual slaves’; only 2 per cent Muslims recruited as constables; the forcible closing down of the Commission of Inquiry into the Bhagalpur riots; not including the Bhatiyas into the list of Backward castes; reducing the budget for Bihar Minorities Finance and Development Corporation from `30 lakhs to 5 lakhs, and then to zero; and therefore no loans to [unemployed] Muslim youth; and keeping the posts of Urdu teachers, translators, typists vacant which had been sanctioned over a decade ago. Finally he said, ‘For Lalu Yadav, who swears by Mandal, social justice means the substitution of Bhumihar–Rajput Raj by Yadava Raj, that is, dominance and pre-eminence of the Yadavas in every walk of life’.51 A similar cataloguing of Muslim grievances against the Lalu–Rabri regime was also done elsewhere. Official records show that Jagannath Mishra during his third [brief ] stint [late 1989 and early 1990] as the state chief minister, established 50 http://cpiml.org/archive/vm_swork/32muslims_should_align.htm (accessed 5 February 2008). 51 Syed Shahabuddin, ‘Laloo’s Objective: Yadav Rule and Submission of All Communities and Castes, Laloo’s Method: Nepotism and Corruption, Demagoguery and Blackmail, Charge sheet Against Laloo’ the Self-styled Supreme Leader of the Muslims of Bihar’, editorial, Muslim India, July 1994.

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parity between the constituent and minority colleges in all respects including post-retirement benefits and promotional avenues. One of the first things done by Lalu Yadav was to undo the Mishra cabinet decision on minority colleges, and even after 12 years, the minority college teachers are deprived of pension and gratuity facility available to their counterparts in the constituent colleges, and the plight of non-teaching staff of these colleges is even worse as the government does not even pay the basic salary component of their emoluments … There are many other issues [which] include the low conviction rate of the Bhagalpur riots cases, discrimination against the Muslim victims of Naxalite violence in the Dumaria Imamganj region, and the virtual death of the much hyped minority finance corporation.52

By this time, apart from the upper caste Hindus, the Koeris and the Kurmis also deserted Lalu, and formed the Samata Party after debacle of the Janata Dal nominee, Mrs. Kishori Sinha (only daughter of an important Rajput Congressman of Muzaffarpur, Rameshwar Singh (d. 1965), and wife of Satyendra Narayan Sinha (1917–2006), the Congress Chief Minister of Bihar during the Bhagalpur riots of 1989) in the bye-election of Vaishali Lok Sabha in 1994. Syed Shahabuddin, the diplomat turned politician, also joined the Samata Party which made an alliance with the CPI-ML Liberation in the Assembly polls of February 1995. The Samata Party faced a debacle in the elections, and broke away from the CPI-ML to align with the BJP. From then onwards, the tally of the BJP kept rising in Bihar. In fact, due to Lalu–Rabri’s poor performance on land reforms, development, and governance, as well as fast institutional degeneration, delayed, irregular and under-payment of salaries to government employees, resulted in strong aversion of the middle classes of every social group against the incumbent regime. This alienation kept increasing more visibly after 1995.53 In this context, the resolve of the CPI–ML (Liberation) to organize Muslims along the lines of a blended identity of class, caste and religion 52

Abdul Qadir, ‘Mishra Questions Laloo’s Secular Credentials’, The Times of India, 14 September 2002, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articles how/22104481.cms. 53 Sankarshan Thakur, The Making of Laloo Yadav: The Unmaking of Bihar, Delhi: Harper Collins, 2000.

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became even stronger. The Baithani Tola (Bhojpur district) massacre of 11 July 1996 in which Dalit Muslims, Churi Farosh (bangle-sellers) were raped and killed brutally only added to their resolve. Bela Bhatia believes that it was the ‘dalit identity, their organization and consequent resistance against landed interests which earned them the wrath of [Hindu] upper caste landlords’.54 These landlords, belonging to the Ranveer Sena, had also captured the 1.5 acres of lands of Karbala and Imambara, where they assemble to perform certain religious rituals of Muharram. In February 1996, a victim, resident of the village Naimuddin, a cadre of the CPI-ML organized the Karbala Mukti March against this encroachment. It was Ram Naresh Ram, an elected member of the Bihar Legislative Assembly on the CPI-ML Liberation ticket, and other leaders of the party, who first visited the spot of the massacre, fought for an impartial post mortem of the deceased for a fair deal in criminal justice, and for better medical treatment to the grievously wounded survivors. This made it quite clear to the world of the Pasmanda–Dalit Muslims that the bodies like the Imarat-eShariah, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, the Muslim Personal Law Board, the Jamaat-e-Islami-e-Hind, the All India Muslim Majlis Mashaweraat, etc., were not concerned about their plight. Rather, they kept displaying their support for the Lalu led Janata Dal government whose many leaders were (clandestinely as well as openly) with the Ranveer Sena. Moreover, police complicity/inaction was also self-evident.55

54

Bela Bhatia, ‘Anatomy of a Massacre’, Seminar, 450, February, 1997, p. 58. Tension was mounting since 1978, when Md Yunus won the election of Mukhiya (village head) by defeating a Bhumihar, Kesho Singh. On 13 August 1991, a case was lodged against the capture of the Imambara land by the Bhumihar landlords. They also captured the qabristan land in Kanpahri (Sahar) and Navadih (Tarari) on 10 January 1996. The Karbala Mukti Jan Jagran Manch was organized to protest against the occupation of this land on 25 April 1996. A villager Md Sultan was killed, and his body was not allowed to be buried in the qabristan of Kharaon by the Ranvir Sena gang. From May to July 1996, as many as seven attacks were made on this tola (hamlet) by the Ranvir Sena. See http://cpiml.org/archive/vm_swork/47bathani_tola_massacre_government.htm. 55 Bhatia, ‘Anatomy of a Massacre’. For further details pertaining to lawlessness in Bihar and the electorates’ growing disillusionment with the

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A small group mostly consisting of Bihari student activists in the Aligarh Muslim University, called the Forum for Democratic Rights (FDR 1994–99) also subjected Lalu to scathing criticism particularly when, in March 1997, Chandrashekhar [a leader of the All India Students Association (AISA), the student front of the CPI–ML Liberation, and former President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU) Students’ Union], was killed allegedly by one of Lalu’s associate, a notorious history-sheeter gun-wielding Parliamentarian of Siwan, Mohammad Shahabuddin.56 Such assertions kept challenging Lalu’s vote politics, and he couldn’t ignore the demands put by Tasleemuddin, a Kulhaiya (a caste/biradri in the eastern districts of Bihar; this part of Bihar happens to have the highest concentration of Muslim population) leader, and a minister in Lalu’s cabinet. Similarly, despite repeated promises, Lalu refused to have a Dalit as the deputy chief minister. Thus, while the majority of poorer Dalits (especially in central Bihar) always remained with the CPI–ML Liberation, the relatively affluent Dalits switched over to Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). After the local bodies’ elections of 2001, the lower OBCs also deserted Lalu’s RJD. In 2002–3, about 30 per cent of the rural households had no land to cultivate, whereas in 1991–92, according to the NSSO, it was only 14.19 per cent. Again, 59.3 per cent of rural households had land less than a hectare (marginal holdings), and the rest 11.7 per cent

Lalu regime, see Walter Hauser, ‘General Elections 1996 in Bihar: Politics, Administrative Atrophy, and Anarchy’, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 32, no. 41, 11–17 October 1997, pp. 2599–607. 56 See S. M. Faizan Ahmed (compiled), Forum for Democratic Rights: Towards a New Brand of Muslim Politics, a collection of the pamphlets issued by the FDR, AMU, Aligarh, 1994–99. The FDR also led the AMU Students’ Union in February–June 1999, with an unprecedented gain of votes, despite tremendous administrative repression of its cadres, largely due to which it ultimately petered away. Also see, Soroor Ahmed, ‘From Syed Shahabuddin to Md Shahabuddin: A Look at Muslim Politics’, http://bihartimes.com/articles.sahmad/shahabu. html, 9 May 2007, and my ‘Muslim Dilemma in Lalooland’, http://www. bihartimes.com/articles/general/muslimdilema.html, 6 November 2004.

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households cultivated land above one hectare each.57 The Planning Commission of India reported that about 42 per cent of Bihar’s population was identified as living below poverty line in 2004–5 as against 28 per cent for the whole country.58 Similarly, the annual growth rate of GSDP was 4.66 per cent during the 1980s, and it fell down to 2.69 per cent during the 1990s; and the annual growth rate of per capita GSDP fell from 2.45 per cent to 1.12 per cent during the decades;59 so also was the situation pertaining to crimes like kidnappings, abductions, dacoity, and murder.60 All these factors combined finally to the debacle of Lalu’s party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in the Bihar Assembly elections of 2005.

‘Muslim Vote-Bank’ Demystiſed: The Nitish Era, 2005–10 The Pasmanda’s urge for social justice, political power, and economic development seemed to have made the task of politicians difficult as far as managing the ‘Muslim vote bank’ was concerned.61 It also exploded the myth of the Muslim monolith in a much stronger way than ever before. This was reflected more clearly in the Assembly elections of February and November 2005. While in the February 2005 elections, according to a survey, as much as 75 per cent of the votes of the upper caste Muslims went in favour of the Lalu-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and its allies, only 66 per cent of the Pasmanda Muslim votes went in his favour.62 In the November 2005 elections,

57

National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), 48th Round, Report No. 492, 2002–3, cf. Alam, ‘Bihar: Can Lalu Prasad Reclaim Lost Ground’. 58 Sanjeer Alam, ‘Bihar: Can Lalu Prasad Reclaim Lost Ground’. 59 M. S. Ahluwalia, ‘Economic Performance of States in Post–Reform Period’, EPW, vol. 35, no. 19, 12 May 2000. 60 Crime in India, 1990 and 1999, National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 61 For an empirically substantiated argument on heterogeneous voting pattern of India’s Muslims, see, Sanjeer Alam, ‘Whither Muslim Politics?’, EPW, vol. xliv, no. 39, 26 September 2009, pp. 92–95. 62 Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 11 November 2005, p. 8. However, Ejaz Ali campaigned for the RJD in the November 2005 Assembly elections. In

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a pre-election survey observed that the lower OBCs ‘sided with the NDA more than anyone else’.63 In early 2005, Ejaz Ali, the leader of the AIBMM, charged Lalu–Rabri regime that RJD supporters had grabbed about 400 graveyards, and 2370 units of Waqf lands.64 The leader of the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, Ali Anwar Ansari, openly asked his voters to vote for the NDA, rather than for the RJD. Partly as a consequence of it, the Lalu–Rabri-led RJD government was unseated, as the Pasmanda Muslims were said to have moved away from the RJD.65 One of the reasons why the RJD still held its base among the Bihar Muslims was, possibly, because of the Gujarat riots of February 2002, which were largely seen as one of the worst instances of state complicity and collusion. The province of Gujarat was run by the BJP, and the Union government was also headed by the BJP-led NDA. While in the Lok Sabha elections of 1999, only 48 per cent of the Muslim votes had gone to the RJD and its allies, after the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, in the Lok Sabha elections of 2004 as many as 79 per cent of the Muslim votes went in favour of the RJD and its allies. However, in the Assembly elections of February 2005, it went down to 68 per cent, and even lower in the October–November 2005 elections which were held because of a non-workable verdict that had come out in February 2005; as many as 56 per cent of the Muslims surveyed by the CSDS did not want the RJD to continue in power.66

March–April 2008, he joined the Janata Dal United ( JDU), and was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament. 63 Ibid. It is said that only 12 per cent of the lower OBCs voted for the RJD–LJP combine in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009. See Kumar and Ranjan, ‘Bihar: Development Matters’, EPW, 26 Sept 2009, p. 143. 64 The Times of India, 2 February 2005. 65 Praful Bidwai, ‘Heading for Mandal Mark-II’, Frontline, vol. 22, no. 25, 3–16 December 2005. Also see, Verghese K. George, ‘After 15 years, M-Y Turn their Back on Laloo’, The Indian Express, 28 February 2005. Also see, Papiya Ghosh, ‘Pasmanda Politics in Bihar’, paper presented in a seminar on ‘Protective Discrimination in Favour of Muslims: Possibilities and Challenges’, CEPECAMI, AMU, Aligarh, 18–19 November 2006. 66 The Hindu, 10 March 2005, based on CSDS Survey; also see, Vidya Subrahmaniam, ‘Mismatch between Nitish wave and vote share’, The Hindu, 26 November 2010, p. 13.

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In the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, only 31 per cent of the Muslim votes went to the RJD–LJP alliance.67 The allegations of the AIPMM and AIBMM leaders against Lalu–Rabri regime were that it had favoured the Ashraf and had ignored the cause of the Pasmanda Muslims. In fact, most of the Ashraf Muslim ‘notables’, particularly more well-known academicians, were co-opted by the RJD-led government. While some were rewarded with ministerial berths, others were made Vice-chancellors, Chairmen of various prestigious bodies (like the University Service Commission), nomination/election to the legislative bodies, and other such favours.68 Some examples are: Lutfur Rahman, a known Urdu poet and critic, was brought into the RJD, was elected as MLA, and given ministerial berth; Wahab Ashrafi (1936–2012), another known Urdu writer, was made Chairman of the University Service Commission. He recruited around 1400 lecturers (including around 300 Muslims) and a few Principals, including his own close relatives (only to face charges of malpractices, and to serve under-trial imprisonments).69 Abdul Mughni (1936–2006), another Urdu writer, was made Vice-Chancellor (Mithila University, Darbhanga), to face charges of irregularities and served under-trial imprisonment. The same consequences had to be borne by Shamshad Husain, the successor of Wahab Ashrafi. Ghulam Sarwar, a Rayeen, and Jabir Husain, a Shia Syed, had been active politicians since the Janata days, and were ministers in Karpuri cabinet of 1977–79 also. However, none of them ever raised voice of protest against the Lalu government’s withdrawal of benefits to the teachers and non-teaching staff of minority colleges in the early 1990s. Interestingly, Abdul Mughni charged the Lalu–Rabri-led government only after it was unseated in the November 2005 Assembly elections. He is known to have said that ‘Urdu lovers have been cheated for

67

Sanjay Kumar, Rakesh Ranjan, ‘Bihar: Development Matters’, EPW, vol. xliv, no. 39, 26 September 2009, p. 143. 68 Except Ghulam Sarwar, all are Ashraf. 69 Wahab Ashrafi, Qissa Be-Samt Zindagi Ka (Story of a Disoriented Life), Urdu memoir, Delhi: Educational Publishing House, 2008, p. 205. (For details, see his chapters 9 and 14).

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15 long years of Lalu–Rabri rule, and that the ‘Urdu Day should not be observed on 11 July which happened to be the birthday of Lalu’.70 Watching these developments closely, Nitish Kumar was hoping to break the Yadav–Muslim alliance in Bihar by way of initiating various welfare measures for the Muslims, especially for the weaker sections among them. The Bihar government [led by Nitish since 2005] identified the backward Muslims such as weavers and dhobis [washer-men] who constitute nearly 15 per cent of the Muslim population, and devised a policy of reservation for them [Ati Pichhrha] in local bodies. The government also devised the scheme of providing educational scholarships to the Pasmanda Muslims. It announced a rehabilitation scheme and started a monthly pension of `2,500 for the affected families of the victims of the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, many of whom belong to the lower class. Following this, cracks did appear in the Yadav–Muslim alliance.71

This is how Nitish approached the Muslim communities in the Lok Sabha elections (April 2009), and the Vidhan Sabha elections (October 2010). Thus, the 1990s witnessed a significant shift in the politics of Muslims in Bihar. Questions of security (in communal riots) got pushed aside in favour of a concern with issues of dignity and empowerment which became centre-stage.72 To substantiate this point, a study of the Pasmanda Awaz, a monthly mouthpiece of the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, brought out by Ali Anwar Ansari from Patna, is of great help in understanding the idioms, objectives, and limitations of the resurgence and radicalization of the social, political and economic dynamics of the Muslim communities of Bihar.

The Pasmanda Awaz The Pasmanda Awaz, a monthly publication and a mouthpiece of the Pasmanda movement, reveals the increasing democratization of the social composition of Muslim leadership in Bihar. It tells how it is 70

Farhana Kalam, ‘Lalu Draws Urdu Flak’, The Telegraph, Monday, 28 November 2005. 71 Kumar and Ranjan, EPW, 26 Sept 2009, p. 143; but sizeable numbers among the Muslims (29 per cent) preferred to vote for the Congress as well. 72 Javeed Alam, ‘A Minority Moves into Another Millenium’, p. 140.

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raising its voice, and trying to mobilize the hitherto neglected social groups for their share in the power structure and public employment. It is also revealing of the general demand of Muslim leaders for the democratization of the ideas and institutions that govern the Muslims, like the Waqf Boards, Personal Law Boards, etc. This magazine is brought out by Ali Anwar Ansari, a vernacular journalist and leader of the Pasmanda Mahaz. Its inaugural issue came out in December 2004, and began by pointing out that masawat (equality) and secularism is not only their motto but a matter of their imaan (faith), and that the magazine will act as the voice (zubaan) of be-bas (helpless), voiceless (be-zubaan) Dalit Pichray. It declared its commitment to acting as a powerful antidote to the conspiracies which snatch away the rights guaranteed by the constitution. In the inaugural issue (December 2004) the periodical complained that the Govt. of India Act of 1935 had provided for the reservation for Dalit Muslims, but this was deleted with an ordinance of the President of the Indian republic in 1950, which is a glaring example of Constitutional discrimination based on religion, quite antithetical to secular credentials of the constitution. Yet, the political and religious leadership of the Muslims never made it an issue.

Besides reservations in public employment, the magazine writes of how the Muslim leadership should propose to join hands with the displaced people languishing in urban slums, workers movements, peasant movements, ecological movements, gender movements, musahar (rat-eaters), and other Dalit movements by forging a mahagathbandhan (grand coalition) of all these oppressed groups, cutting across religious boundaries. This magazine also attempts to bring together the leaders engaged in such movements beyond Bihar, like Ashfaq Husain Ansari (d. 2008) of Gorakhpur (UP); Waqar Ahmad Hawari, who is organizing the Muslim Dhobis (washermen) of Azamgarh (UP), Md Ibrahim Quraishi of Madhya Pradesh. However, the Pasmanda Muslim politics/ movement of Bihar — unlike that of Madhya Pradesh — have not taken recourse to establishing educational institutions. The All India Muslim Backward Classes Federation led by Md Ibrahim Quraishi of Madhya Pradesh is spearheading an educational campaign that has led to the establishment of 30 colleges, including a women’s college in Jabalpur, an engineering college, and some more of such educational

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institutions in Indore and Bhopal as well.73 But unlike this one, the Pasmanda movement in Bihar is concentrating solely on political mobilization. The Pasmanda Awaz lashes out at the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) led by the upper caste clergy for ‘maintaining criminal silence (mujrimana khamoshi) on the problems of poverty, hunger among the artisanal lower caste Muslims’, and on the frequently reported incidents of upper caste Muslims disallowing the burial of dead bodies (maiyat) in graveyards.74 Thus, they have demanded that every district should elect its own members of the PLB, who will elect the members for the provincial PLB; and they, in turn, will elect the members for the AIMPLB. It proposes a ‘radical’ democratization of the AIMPLB. It also cries out against the prevalence of loot in waqf properties like that of in the Bibi Jan Trust of Arrah.75 It may be added that the Tasawwur Ali Waqf Estate of Muzaffarpur, which had 40 acres of land in 1948, had lost 16 acres by 1991. Many other such waqf estates, like (Nawab Syed Md Taqi Waqf Estate and) the Soghra Waqf Estate had 1300 acres of land, but had lost more than 1000 acres by 1991. Soghra Waqf Estate also has its huge landed properties and ‘heritage’ houses (in Muzaffarpur, as well as in Biharsharif, Nalanda), suffers from loss of landed properties through ‘fake sales’, ‘being utilized for serving the personal interests’ of the mutawallis (managers), thus, ‘they have miserably failed in fulfilling their objectives’.76 73 Mushirul Hasan, Muslims in Secular India: Reporting Problems and Prospects in Education, Delhi, ATWS–JMI Monograph no. 7, 2003, p. 18. 74 In December 2007, a few houses of the Ansaris were reportedly set on fire by the Ashrafs in the village of Allahpur, Kesaria, East Champaran. See Pasmanda Awaz, January 2008, pp. 6–7; see also, Hindustan, Hindi Daily, Muzaffarpur, 5 and 7 December 2007; The Telegraph, Calcutta, 7 December 2007. In a village near Hajipur, a Nat Muslim was not allowed to be buried; see Pasmanda Awaz, December 2004. For more instances of such caste-based discrimination in providing charitable fund to run madrasas, see Arshad Alam, ‘New Directions in Indian Muslim Politics’, p. 135 (footnote), and Imtiaz Ahmad, ‘Recognition and Entitlement’, pp. 106–7. 75 Pasmanda Awaz, February 2005, p. 2. 76 M. P. Pandey, ‘Land with Religious and Charitable Institution: An Appraisal in the Context of Ceiling Laws’, in B. N. Yugandhara and K. Gopala Iyer (eds), Land Reforms in India: Bihar-Institutional Constraints, Delhi: Sage, 1993, pp. 146–51.

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A writer in the magazine also asks, The Pasmanda Muslims should establish their own distinctive identity (pehchaan), because in the name of minority (aqalliat), the identity (shenaakht) of the Pasmanda Muslims, have been lost . The word ‘aqalliat’ appears draculous (draawnaa) and deceptive (chhaliya). We have relations of pains and sufferings (dard ka rishta) with the Pasmanda and Dalits of other religious communities.77

It repeatedly reiterates its primacy on the pasmanda (backward) identity, and tries to reject or downplay the (religion-based) minority (aqalliat) identity.78 It also complains against the state for being discriminating in providing bank loans/credits to the weavers of Bhagalpur who were the riot victims of 1989, and asks why the branches of the nationalized banks shifted away from the mohallas of the Pasmanda Muslims.79 Another target is the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) rule (February 1990–2005) for having extended state benefits only to the Yadavas and to the Ashraf Muslims; for the falling economic position of the weavers; for the non-payment of salaries to the employees of the Bihar State Handloom Weavers’ Association; and not implementing centrally funded schemes, etc.80 It is significant that this Pasmanda movement remained mediacentric and person-centric. Its leader, Ali Anwar Ansari, was subjected to criticism for not allowing the emergence of leadership at the district levels. This was seen as an impediment in the emergence of a well-oiled organizational machinery to accomplish the task of a sustainable radicalization of the movement.81 The leaders of the Dalit Muslims, like Usman Halalkhor and Noor Hasan Azad (non-Ansari and office bearers of the Pasmanda Mahaz; the former was General Secretary of the Mahaz), broke away from Ansari on several issues of 77

Pasmanda Awaz, February 2005, p. 9. Pasmanda Awaz, January–February 2006, p. 4. 79 Ibid., pp. 7–8. 80 Pasmanda Awaz, February 2005. It is significant that no such criticism was made by Ali Anwar Ansari when he was the member of the Bihar Backward Classes Commission. Neither he, nor Ejaz Ali, nor the Ashraf leaders, ever demanded justice for the Dalit Muslim victims of the Riga riots of October 1992. 81 Conversation with Khalid Anis Ansari, Aligarh, 2 February 2008. 78

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conflict which included the latter’s willful negligence of the interest of Dalit Muslims when awarding some favours and contracts — that is, those distributed solely by him in the capacity of a Parliamentarian which included contracts for the constructions in the Local Area Development Scheme (LADS), the recruitment of personal assistants for Members of Parliament (MP). Also, Ali Anwar’s un-ambiguous support to the candidates contesting elections on the BJP (an ally of the JDU of which Ali Anwar is a member) ticket in Bihar was another irritant.82 Moreover, so long as Ansari was a member of the Bihar State Backward Classes Commission (a beneficiary of the RJD rule), he conveniently maintained silence on the issues of demanding justice for the Pasmanda Dalit Muslim victims of the Riga riots of October 1992, and of the Baithani Tola (Bhojpur district) massacre of July 1996.83 In the villages around Riga (district Sitamarhi), the Pasmanda Dalit Muslims were organized by their mukhiya (village head) Ilyas (elected in 1978) by obtaining loans from the banks and forming cooperatives of bidi workers, tailoring, etc. They sold their products — like flutes, fiddles and other musical instruments — in the adjacent Nepal market and thereby began gaining economic independence. This was an eyesore for the landlords, whose land workers they used to be, and were therefore targeted by the Bhumihar, Rajput and Yadav landlords, who paid them merely `20 for a day’s work on their land. Some Hindu upper castes and a few Yadavas had already been threatening them before the riots. Even now, the report of the enquiry into the Riga riots has not yet been made public. Rather than the activist organizations mentioned above, it is a local news reporter of an Urdu daily who is exercising the Right to Information (under the RTI Act 2005) to get

82 The Dalit Muslims probably constitute a very small population of around 3/4 lakhs scattered throughout Bihar, which renders them electorally less significant. This is probably a reason why Ali Anwar, or any power-seeking political individual/formation, can afford ignoring the constituency and leaders of the Dalit Muslims. 83 For the Riga riots, see Ajay Singh, ‘Riga Riots ignited by Break from Feudal Set up’, in The Economic Times, Delhi: 11, 12, 13 October 1992. For a history of communal riots in Muzaffarpur district (1895–1992), see my essay in Tahzibul Akhlaq, Urdu monthly, Aligarh, May 2007.

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the report made public. It is yet to succeed. In Riga, even the usual practice of distributing relief by some community owned institutions was also found wanting. Despite much emphasis on philanthropy in Islamic theology, the poor pasmanda victims of the Riga riots remained unattended, raising further questions about the legitimacy of the community specific bodies. In fact, the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM) or the All India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM) or even several other Ashraf controlled bodies of Muslims have maintained a complete silence on this particular issue. Yet, the Nitish led government has expedited the enquiry process into the Bhagalpur riots (1989), and many aggressors have been convicted. Most of these happen to be Yadavs, which raised uncomfortable questions about Lalu’s famous mantra of the Muslim–Yadav (M–Y) electoral partnership. The Nitishled government’s arguably better performance in matters of law and order, road construction, electric supply, reservation of seats for the EBCs and women in the PRIs, daily announcements to implement 15-point package for minorities, etc., are gestures which are looked at with some hope by the common Muslim communities, even though some suspicions and uncertainties do persist among the Muslims due to his alliance with the Hindu BJP. The Muslim Mahila Mahaz, the women’s wing of the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM) was also hardly able to create any significant mobilization even in selected urban pockets. Ali Anwar’s political rival and the pioneer of the movement of the Dalit Muslims, Ejaz Ali forged an alliance with the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH) and formed All India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM). It has puzzled many that, while forging such alliance, he did not spell out the JUH stand on the caste-based oppressions of Muslims.84 This was a 84

The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH) was formed in 1919 by the Ulema of Deoband who, confining their arguments merely to scriptures, have always denied the existence of caste among Muslims. This position of the Ulema had been inviting sharp criticism from these leaders. We see fragmentations among the forces of social justice on the one hand; on the other is the opposition to such assertions for social justice, to the reservation (by the Nitish-led NDA government) of seats for E/MBCs for elections to local bodies in 2006, and other such ‘grievances’. A section of the upper caste Hindus and Ashraf Muslims have formed their own joint group, called S-4.

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surprising change in his position which appears to have been the result of electoral compulsions. This may also be because, in early 1995 during the campaign for the Assembly polls (February 1995), Ejaz Ali was alleged to have made a statement in a public meeting at Jehanabad, that ‘he would not get peace (sukoon) till he made some Ashraf women dance in his courtyard’. His father-in-law, Ghulam Sarwar, who was then electioneering in the Keoti Assembly constituency as the RJD nominee (Darbhanga district), reportedly spent several sleepless nights because of the anger of a large number of Syed and Sheikh voters against such statements of hatred and vengeance. They felt that this sort of revenge seeking for past oppressions smacked of the Sangh Parivar’s Babri Masjid demolition rhetoric.85 It stoked sharp hatred among the Ashraf Muslims against Ejaz Ali. Perhaps the most important of all is that none of these political groups are coming out with comprehensively elaborated programmes about political economy and the shrinking subsidies on social security. Needless to say, the demand for (caste-based) reservations in public employment and educational institutions will help only to a limited extent in this era of a liberalized economy. However, its wider implications are certainly more momentous in their probable consequences. It might actually help facilitate a radical shift in the very terms of Muslim political discourse. Its stress on secularism and human rights (its programmes) to re-unify the ‘Dalit nation’ may provide a key to the intractable communal problem of India. The Nitish-led government expedited the enquiry process of the Bhagalpur riots of 1989. Many aggressors were convicted, and most of them happened to be Yadavas. This again raised uncomfortable the questions for Lalu’s chant (mantra) of Muslim–Yadav (M–Y ). Moreover, the relatively better performance of the Nitish-led government — regarding law and order, road construction, electricity supply, and reservations for the lower OBCs in the 2006 elections of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and of the urban local bodies, announcements 85

Ghosh, ‘Contemporary Patriarchies’, p. 374. Ejaz Ali denied having made such remark (ibid., p. 384). Ejaz Ali, a Rayeen, son-in-law of Ghulam Sarwar was nominated in March 2008 to the Rajya Sabha by Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United ( JD-U), which was an ally of the BJP till June 2013, and known for its anti-Muslim proclivities.

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for the recruitment of Urdu teachers, and the implementation of the 15-point package for minorities. For example, it granted Rs 80 lakh to the Bihar State Sunni and Shia Waqf boards, besides an annual grant of Rs 27 lakh easy/low interest (3 to 6 per cent simple interest) loans to Muslims and other minorities Also, Rs 10 thousand was given to those poor minorities who pass the matriculation examinations. All such gestures are looked at by the common people, including a section of Muslims, with some hope.86 The reservation of seats for the lower OBCs (E/MBC, now called and popularised as Ati Pichhrha, in Annexure I), by the Nitish led government has made a far greater impact by diluting the hegemony of the upper shudras (that is, the Yadavas, Koeris and Kurmis).This will go far in helping the majority of Muslims because of the fact that 28 of the 37 ‘backward’ Muslim biradris are enlisted as Ati Picchra in the Annexure I.

Conclusion Thus, while the issues of Urdu and communal riots have been major factors in determining the electoral preferences of the Muslim communities of Bihar after Independence, their urge for a greater share in the power structure and governance has also been a significant factor. It has also been argued that the ‘upper caste/class Indian Muslim leadership has historically and consciously focused on the politics of identity … which has stymied attempts towards democratization within the community … such attempts only serve to perpetuate the domination of a uniform monolithic Muslim community’.87 The grossest under-representation of the backward castes of Muslims is to be seen in the institutions/organizations like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, All India Milli Council, All India Muslim Majlis Mashaweraat, the Waqf Boards, custodians of sufi shrines (sajjada nashins of dargahs), minority educational institutions, Minority Commissions, Urdu Academies, Haj Committees, Maulana Azad Foundation, etc. 86

The Times of India, Delhi, 26 January 2008, p. 16. Anwar Alam, ‘Democratization of Indian Muslims: Some Reflections’, EPW, 15 November 2003; my essay, ‘Hindustan Ka Siyasi Pasmanzar aur Musalmanon ke Husul-e-Ikhteyarat Ka Sawaal’, in Tehzibul Akhlaq, Aligarh: Urdu monthly, September 1999. 87

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However, by 1989–90, the issue of making Urdu a second official language stood almost resolved, and after October 1992 riots of Sitamarhi–Riga, the incidence of communal riots also almost stopped. In the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the disillusionment of the community against the traditional feudal and clergy leadership of Muslims started manifesting itself in the assertion for social justice among the Muslim communities. Such assertions included not only Ashraf vs. Ajlaf, but also in other many layered fissures within the Ajlaf — for example in the rayeen vs. ansari conflicts. More vocal demands are being made for the inclusion of some castes/biradris of arzal in the list of the Scheduled Castes and, in 1985 elections, en bloc/ monolithic voting by the Muslim communities ensured their enhanced representation (highest ever at 10.5 per cent) in the provincial legislative assembly. In the electoral history of Bihar, there have been three milestones for the Muslims, that is, 1967, 1977 and 1990. On all these occasions, it cannot be said that only Muslims voted differently; other communities also voted against the incumbent Congress in quite significantly large numbers, effecting governmental change. The appeal of social justice did cut across the religious communities. However, it should be argued that these caste and gender-based socio-political movements have not been able to come out with a liberation theology (including the democratization of the ideas and institutions governing the Muslims),88 and a defined programme of a promising political economy for the underdeveloped province of Bihar, without which the movements will probably not be able to accomplish their objectives.89 88

A comprehensively worked out Liberation Theology and political economy may also be of great help in organizing the artisan and trading social groups of Muslims. The pioneering proponent of this idea is Farid Esack, Quran, Liberalism and Pluralism, Oxford: One World, 2006. See, Khalid Anis Ansari and Shahrukh Alam, ‘An Engagement with Class and Identity’, Patna Collective, Typescript, 2006, pp. 2, 7. For an empirical and theoretical understanding of religion and development, see Harriss-White, ‘India’s Religious Pluralism and its Implications for the Economy’, Queen Elizabeth House Working Paper Series No. 82, Oxford: February 2002. 89 For the causes and remedies of underdevelopment in Bihar, see Arvind N. Das, The State of Bihar: An Economic History without Footnotes, Amsterdam:

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As of now, various Muslim communities are witnessing an emergence of a tiny middle class due to some employment as teachers and Urdu translators/typists in the government schools and offices, and the remittance economy from West Asian Gulf countries. The growing assertion of this tiny middle class has helped them get some political power in local bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). For instance, the representation of Muslims as a whole (a caste-wise break up of Muslims is not available) in the Panchayati Raj elections of 2001 have been quite in proportion to their population. Almost 15.6 per cent of the mukhiays (elected village head), 16.2 per cent of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the District Boards, 13 per cent of the members of the District Boards (zillah parishads) were Muslims.90 This visibly higher, proportionate with their population representation of Muslims (especially as compared to West Bengal91 and UP) in the local bodies/ Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) of Bihar are of great significance

VU University Press, 1992; Shaibal Gupta, ‘Non Development of Bihar: A case of Retarded Sub-Nationalism’, EPW, 12 September 1981; Dipankar Bhattacharya, ‘Bihar After Bifurcation: A Challenging Future’, EPW, 28 October 2000; and Prabhat P. Ghosh, ‘Change From the Middle’, Seminar, 580, December 2007. See also, my ‘Bihar’s Political Elites Lack Vision for Development’, in http://bihartimes.com/articles/sajjad/lackofvision.html, 5 December 2007. 90 Shaibal Gupta, ‘Subaltern Resurgence: A Reconnaissance of Panchayat Elections in Bihar’, EPW, 21–27 July 2001; Prabhat Khabar, Hindi daily, Patna: 27 June 2001, and Milli Ittehad, Urdu monthly, Delhi: June–July 2001. 91 In West Bengal, with about 24 per cent of Muslim population, the Muslim representation in public employment is merely 4.2 per cent, which is far worse than Gujarat, where their representation in public employment is 5.4 per cent, even though their population share is only 9 per cent. Thus, in terms of employment and economic development, the Muslim situation in West Bengal is worse than that of in Gujarat. See also, Abdus Salam Aasim, ‘Hukumat-e-Bengal aur Musalmanon ka Jumood ’, in Bazm-e-Sahara, Urdu monthly, Delhi: December 2007, pp. 6–8. It is said that more than 90 per cent of the Muslims in West Bengal are registered as Ashraf, as a result of which they have not been able to get the benefit of OBC reservations; consequently, after class VIII, the dropout rates among them become much higher than among the Bihar Muslims. This is even higher in college level education. This is testified by the Sachar Committee Report.

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because the PRIs are crucial in the semi-feudal rural political economy of Bihar. It is these institutions that get the control of centrally funded development programmes. In the Panchayat elections of 2006, seats were reserved for lower backward castes (Ati Pichhrha), which benefitted the Pasmanda Muslims as, out of 41 castes of Muslims in Bihar, 37 are non-Ashraf, and 28 of these 37 Muslim groups are listed as E/MBC/Ati Pichhrha/ in Annexure I. It also reserved 50 per cent of the seats in each category for the women of the relevant social groups, a significant move towards the concrete empowerment of women. The economic upliftment of marginalized communities depends upon their share in the structures of power; this is the domain of rural development where Bihar, as compared to other developed provinces of India, has failed, and any solution to the dilemmas of rural stagnation would have to stem out of political action from below — from the middle and lower orders breaking into the political arena and forging a place for themselves, from which they could demand policy and implementational changes that would begin to deliver the goods for rural development.92

The drive for political empowerment of the Ajlaf (backward castes) and Arzal (dalits) Muslims in Bihar is still in its early stages, and is dependent for its programmes and political direction on mainstream politics. The problem with the assertions of these groups has been the slow development of mass education, and the continued monopoly of the cultural sphere and communications and other domains of power by the Ashrafs. Their political struggle for emancipation and empowerment in Bihar remains largely oblivious of alternative cultural, social and developmental issues as well as to the question of the exploitation of the subsistence labour of women and peasants. Conversely put, they are still not able to come out with an elaborate sustainable politico-economic programme and promising models of

92

Harry Blair, ‘Success and Failure in Rural Development: A Comparison of Maharashtra, Bihar, and Bangladesh’, p. 13, Draft Copy, 10 May 1997, also published in William Pinch (ed.), Speaking of Peasants: Essays on Indian History and Politics in Honour of Walter Hauser, Delhi: Manohar, 2008.

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development with equity, including programmes like flood control, land reforms, power (electric) production, and industrialization, etc. Given the existing priorities of most leaders of such movements for social justice, these issues are either neglected or still remain relegated to a secondary concern, having a goal of carving and securing their political base only through caste-based vote-bank politics.93 In fact, under the leadership of Ali Anwar, the Pasmanda Mahaz remained confined only to electoral politics, and hence it could hardly be called a movement. It did not talk much about reforms within Indian Muslim society; it toned down its rhetoric on reforming the Muslim Personal Law; it has remained silent on religious orthodoxy; and its association with the Janata Dal United (which has its alliance with Hindu right wing BJP), has earned criticism as it has undermined its secular agenda. Consequently, in January 2009, the Mahaz expelled its President Ali Anwar from the Mahaz. The central emphasis of these movements of the backward caste Muslims is to seek reservations around the concepts of recognition and representation in the structures of power and, therefore, this movement privileges caste identity over the religious identity. Notwithstanding its limitations, its leadership does not come from the clergy — Ejaz Ali is a professional doctor, and Ali Anwar is a vernacular journalist. It mobilizes the common masses of the relevant social groups, underlines non-religious issues of concern, and contains the possibilities of forging unity with similarly located caste groups of other religious communities. To attain a certain degree of cultural self-confidence in the political arena, these movements are inventing and discovering their own icons — like Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Abdul Hameed, Asim Bihari (1892–1953) — while trying to appropriate or identify with Kabir, Phule, Ambedkar, Periyar, etc.

93 Ali Anwar got membership of the Rajya Sabha after he joined the Janata Dal United, an ally of the BJP, a Hindu majoritarian party. Ali Anwar condemned minority fundamentalism in the strongest possible words, but his attack on majority fundamentalism remained weak. See Khalid Anis Ansari, ‘Pasmanda Movement and the Question of Secularism’, Mainstream, 26 July 2008. This alliance broke in June 2013, and the JD-U alone remains the ruling Party in Bihar since then.

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However, a long term movement for empowerment requires the ability to lead a cultural revolution, and to formulate and move a programme for socio-economic transformation. Until these issues are also linked to the larger project of emancipation and empowerment, the transformation of Muslim identity politics in larger political process of Bihar is likely to remain un(der)accomplished. They may have to think of moving much ahead of narrow, identity-based electoral politics. They will have to become a movement so that the co-option of a few individual leaders does not impede the process of democratization and empowerment. Meanwhile, essentially speaking, some sort of collective pride in these movements for social justice — rather than a politics of hatemongering against the upper castes or its reverse, a haughtiness of the upper castes in contempt against the lower castes — is also emerging slowly but perceptibly. This is typified and testified best by the editorial comments of the then Chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council, Jabir Husain, who raised some questions, reflecting the increasingly assertive politics of social justice in Bihar. If everything in Bihar is bad, then how would you look at the changing social composition of the structures of power, and at the political participation of the people located on the lowest ladder of the social structure? Or how would you see the common people’s urge to get out of traditional social conservatism? Not only these, what kind of expressions would you invent to describe the consolidation of the oppressed human population, pushed on the margins since centuries, and their growing assertion in the democratic transactions?94

In 2001, while arguing before the Supreme Court, the then Additional Solicitor General of India made a contemptuous remark in which he described the growing lawlessness in Delhi as the ‘Bihar Syndrome’. It also insinuated contempt against the region’s poverty and backwardness. Cutting across the divides of ideology, class, caste, religion, and languages, the ‘regional-cultural’ identity of Bihar 94

Jabir Husain, Sakshya: Nishanay Par Bihar, vol. 11, July 2001, p. 10 (translation from Hindi into English is mine). I am thankful to Prof. Jabir Husain for having gifted me a copy of this journal.

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collectively reacted sharply against such contemptuous remarks, and recorded its objections in the journal of the legislative body, Sakshya. To this special issue of the journal, Jabir Husain aptly added a sub-title ‘Nishaney Par Bihar’ or ‘Bihar in the line of fire’. This was evidence of Bihar’s efforts to rise above the divides of caste and religion. This could be seen as a significant outcome of the movements within a relatively short span of time.

Conclusion This study of the political evolution of the Muslim communities of

Bihar has attempted to offer an entirely different perspective on Muslim politics by calling into question some of the assumptions pertaining to the historiography of India’s Partition. In colonial Bihar, the ‘Wahabis’ confronted the colonial state during and before 1857 and, in the face of the state repression, this confrontation petered away, but not without leaving behind some legacies of education, social reform, and tradition of political resistance. In the post-1857 period, the Muslim clergy joined hands with the modern educated intelligentsia for promoting modern education among their co-religionists, stood against divisive/ communal politics of territorial separatism, and insisted on pushing religion into the private domains of the religious communities. Thus far, studies on India’s Partition have spoken of Muslim separatism, colonial prodding, majoritarian communalism of overtly Hindu nationalist organizations, and of the lower Congress alienating Muslims from the Congress. However, most of these studies have remained largely confined to the provinces of Punjab, Bengal and UP. With the few wonderfully well-researched essays of Papiya Ghosh, Bihar began to attract scholarly attention. (In fact, this work has benefitted not only from her published research but also from her comprehensive suggestions). Nevertheless, the vocal and widespread resistance of the Muslim communities to the Muslim League’s politics of territorial separatism has remained an underworked theme. This study attempts to fill this gap by delving into the relatively underexplored region — Bihar — where Muslim resistance to the Muslim League’s separatism remained strong. This political legacy of Bihar’s Muslim communities continued after India’s independence, as is evident in the components of inclusivism and democratic mobilization for constitutional rights that have marked the state’s history in the last few decades. My effort has been to tell the almost untold story of the loud, strong and strident resistance of Muslim communities to the politics of communal territorial separatism. The inclusionary and pluralistic

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contents of their ideological position have given rise to a particular kind of ‘Muslim Politics’ in the post-Independence period. This account of the political participation of the Muslim communities of Bihar suggests that Muslim opposition to the religious bi-national ‘patriotism’ of the Muslim League during the colonial period was far more pronounced and stronger than their politics in favour of the League. The Imarat-e-Shariah remained consistently opposed to the communal separatist nationalism of the League. It advocated a kind of state, which would remain a non-interventionist in the matters of religion, and made common cause with the Indian National Congress. The Imarat-e-Shariah was founded (in 1921), at a time when a large section of Indian Muslim leadership (both religious/ traditionally educated and the modern educated) were disgruntled with western imperialist designs in the Ottoman Empire as well as with various issues at home in India. This kind of response demonstrated by the Muslims against the colonialism of the West is defined as Pan-Islamism. This term calls for amplification, at least in the Indian context. We may say PanIslamism was against imperialism; therefore it represented the forces of sub-nationalism.1 Rizwan Qaiser (1996) feels that the western scholars have not seen Muslim resistance against western Imperialism as a manifestation of nationalism. Rather, this has been interpreted — and subsequently propagated — by them as borne out of religious passion, whereas similar resistance offered by East European countries against Imperialism has been interpreted as a manifestation of nationalist sentiments. He strongly asserts that Pan-Islamism should be viewed as a strong cultural resource employed against colonialism to gain independence. It was this potential of Pan-Islamic sentiments that Maulana Azad and Mahatma Gandhi capitalized on to forge Hindu–Muslim unity against British colonialism, and to launch the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movements.2 1

Rizwan Qaiser, ‘Pan Islamism, Hindustan ki Jang-e-Azadi aur Mahatma Gandhi’, Jamia (Urdu Journal), June 1996; Mushirul Hasan, Nationalism and Communal Politics in India 1885–1930, Delhi: Manohar, 1991, p. 121. 2 R. K. Trivedi, The Critical Triangle: India, Britain, and Turkey, Jaipur: Publication Scheme, 1993; Gail Minault, The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization, Delhi: OUP, 1982.

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This resurgent anti-colonial sentiment could not be accommodated within the Muslim League. Similarly, the Ulema of Bihar displayed even stronger commitment to attain Swaraj and religious freedom by establishing the Anjuman-e-Ulama-e-Bihar (founded in 1917), which was a forerunner of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind (founded in 1919) and the Imarat-e-Shariah. In keeping with the concept of communitarian unity called Muttahidah Qaumiyat and/or Mushtareka Wataniyat (Composite Nationalism), the Muslims through various organizations/institutions (including the Congress, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind (founded in 1919), and the Imarat-e-Shariah), kept fighting both communal– territorial separatism of the League and the colonialism of the British. Its leaders supported the idea of confining religion to the private sphere, banned contentious religious processions and rituals, and also repudiated the Two-nation theory of the League which they began pushing more vigorously after 1940. This kind of collaboration with the Indian National Congress continued even after their disillusionment with it, particularly after the kind of treatment meted out to the Muslims by the Congress Ministry of 1937–39. Even though the founder of the Imarat-e-Shariah, Maulana Sajjad (1880–1940) declared the Congress to be ‘communalist to the core’ (in a longish letter to the Congress, November 1939, AICC Papers G-42/1939), yet its opinion about the League remained unchanged, and their resolve to fight against the League’s separatism or British colonialism remained as strong as ever. In contrast, quite a few important Congress leaders (like Jagat Narain Lal, Murli Manohar Prasad, and other taller Congressmen) associated with the Hindu Mahasabha, and were alleged to have provoked communal riots, including those of 1946. None of the Imarat-e-Shariah leaders was ever alleged to have indulged in such practices. After the Khilafat movement petered out, communal polarizations and cleavages between the two communities sharpened further. However, the literature and forum of the Imarat-e-Shariah continued to espouse the idea of Hindu–Muslim unity. It can be said that it was due to the ideologies and practices of the Imarat-e-Shariah that the Muslim League remained almost non-existent in Bihar till 1938; and even after 1938, it could not strike as deep roots as it did in the adjacent provinces of UP and Bengal.

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It has been pointed out3 that the Sufi Khanqahs and the Sajjada Nashins (the hereditary custodians of Sufi shrines) exercised their spiritual influence by providing religious underpinnings to rural politics, thereby suggesting that the idea of Pakistan was the establishment of a religious state. The network and influence of these spiritual leaders proved to be of great help to the League in the 1946 elections in Punjab and Sindh. Similarly, in his study of Punjab, Ian Talbot4 says that, despite certain limitations of the League (that is, it being led by English educated urban elites), it was able to mobilize widespread support by relying on the Sufi and kinship networks, and thereby penetrating down to rural voters which, in his view, proved decisive in the creation of a new Muslim nation state. However, the Sufi Khanqahs of Bihar (the Khanqah-e-Mujibiya, Phulwariasharif, Patna, and the Khanqah-e-Rehmaniya, Munger) present a contrasting picture. They inspired the foundation of the Imarat-e-Shariah which fought for Swaraj, and was consistently opposed to League politics. The other formidable and consistent opponent of the League in Bihar was the All India Momin Conference. Migrant Momin Muslims from Bihar and UP founded this organization in Kolkata. But, in Bengal and UP, it could neither strike roots nor throw up any effective leadership to stand up to the Muslim League. However, it emerged as an important political force in Bihar, where it was led by Abdul Qaiyum Ansari (1905–74). It put up a formidable resistance to British colonialism and communal separatism of the League. Incidentally, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari’s political career also started from the NonCooperation and Khilafat Movements. The opposition of the Momin/Ansari Muslims to British colonialism also had an underlying economic content because weaving, which was their hereditary occupation, was the first industry to have been completely wiped out by the colonial onslaught. Having been at the receiving end of colonial exploitation, they nursed a grudge against it.

3

See Gilmartin, ‘Religious Leadership and the Pakistan Movement’; see also, Sarah F. D. Ansari, Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind 1843–1947, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 4 Talbot, ‘The Growth of the Muslim League in the Punjab 1937–46’.

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The Momin Conference’s opposition to the League was premised upon class analysis, thus encouraging other caste organizations of Muslims to also join the Momins to resist the League. The Momin Conference perceived the League to be a party of the landed Muslim aristocracy whose religious nationalism did not have anything for the lower social orders of the Muslims. Apart from these two popular organizations, Muslim leaders associated with the Congress were equally popular, and had a tremendous support base. Almost every district and locality had its own popular leaders, who kept repudiating the Two Nation Theory. It was due to their influence that the League’s separatism remained an un-appealing idea. Moreover, they also ensured the success of the Individual Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement. Some these leaders were Syed Mahmud (1889–1971); Abdul Bari (1882–1947); Shah Mohammad Umair (1894–1978); and Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (1884–1953); and the Aijazi brothers [Maghfoor Aijazi 1900–1966 and Manzoor Aijazi 1898–1969)] of Muzaffarpur. They moved on bicycles, knocking on doors to expose the ‘hollowness and dangers inherent in the religious separatist nationalism of the League’. Maghfoor Aijazi set up All India Jamhoor Muslim League (1940) to fight against the League’s separatism. His politics of communitarian consensus remains a reference and an inspiration for the people of Muzaffarpur, his home town in north Bihar. Shah Mohammad Imam in Gaya played a similar role. Husain Mazhar (son of Mazharul Haq) and his associates participated in the Individual Civil Disobedience Movement and were jailed. During the Quit India Movement, Abdul Jaleel played a great role in Tajpur (Darbhanga, now in Samastipur District), and Fida Hussain played a similar role in Jehanabad. A large number of Muslims sacrificed their lives during the Quit India Movement at Bajpatti (Sitamarhi). Several students and teachers from madrasas like Madrasa Shamsul-Hoda of Patna, Madrasa Ahmadiya Salfiya of Darbhanga, and Madrasa Jamia-ul-Uloom of Muzaffarpur participated enthusiastically in the Quit India Movement, and were the greatest forces resisting the League’s separatism. Interestingly, all these madrasas had come into being in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and were heavily influenced by the ‘Wahabi’ movement and its tradition of strong anticolonialism. The leaders associated with the peasant and workers’

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movements (who were ideologically aligned to Socialism) were another group which fought British colonialism and the League’s separatism. Comrade Ali Ashraf, Manzar Rizvi, Pirzada Syed Shah Sulaiman, and Chaudhry Abul Hasnat of Arrah were a few such leaders. In July 1940, it was these forces which, led by the famous journalist Syed Abdullah of Purnea, convened a conference called Azad Muslim Conference in the village Sahnola (Bhagalpur) to reject Jinnah’s Two Nation theory. Thus, Muslim opposition to Pakistan was not confined to cities only; rather effective mobilizations were made in mofussil areas also. The Azad Muslim Conference convened mass rallies attended by as many as 75,000 to even one lakh people (in Delhi in April 1940), as against only 50,000 attendance in the League’s Lahore session of March 1940.5 However, this is not to say that the League’s separatism did not have any takers among the Muslims of Bihar. It did find significant support in Bihar after 1938 when Jinnah visited Patna, addressed a public meeting there, and which was also the venue of the 26th annual session (26–29 December 1938) of the Muslim League. Subsequently, on 1 January 1939, Jinnah also visited Gaya and addressed a public meeting, resulting in many Muslim leaders deserting the Congress, and a few even joining the League. Patna also hosted the session of the All India Muslim Students Federation. All these developments galvanized a section of Muslims to become pro-League, and Muslim League Volunteer Corps proliferated across various towns. Syed Abdul Aziz (1885–1948), Mahbub Ahmad Warsi, Syed Badruddin Ahmad (1901–83), and Jafar Imam were some of the important leaders of the League active during this period. While none of Bihar’s Muslim League leaders ever attained national stature, it is necessary here to go into the issues which contributed to the alienation of Muslims against the Congress, and paved the way for the spectacular rise of the League after 1938. When the Congress Ministry took over in Bihar in July 1937, it did not take on the MIP as its coalition partner despite its unmistakable ideological affinity with the Congress (from April to July 1937, the MIP had formed the Ministry, with Md Yunus as the Prime Minister/Premier). As a result, several Muslims switched their affiliation from the Congress to the 5

Manglori, Rooh-e-Raushan Mustaqbil, 1946, p. 138.

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League in Bhagalpur, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Arrah, and Gaya. Shah Md Qasim of the Gaya District Congress Committee, expressed his indignation by pointing out that he and his associates had been in the Congress for 20 years, but were compelled to leave the Congress because, it was forcing Hindu Culture and language in disregard of the serious objections made known to the Congress by the Imarat-eShariah and the Jamiat-ul-Ulema.6 Syed Qamruddin, a Congress leader of Gaya, also left the party observing that, the Congress had become another name for the Hindu Mahasabha which was ready to give Muslims anything but power so much so that not only Syed Mahmud was denied the Premiership but when Shah Md. Umair lost the 1937 election, he was not nominated by the Congress to the legislative council. Even though he was made chairman of the Gaya Municipality, his powers were reduced.7

Immediately after that, Moulvi Abdul Hameed Rusumi, Secretary of the Bhagalpur Congress Muslim Mass Contact Committee, alleged that many of the district Congress leaders who were also office bearers of the Hindu Mahasabha had played a distinctly communal role during the Bhagalpur riot of July 1938, over a Rath Yatra procession. The Bihar ministry had interfered with the discretion of the District Magistrate allowing the Rath procession against previous customs of the routes used for taking out such religious processions. Maulana Shah Minnatullah Rehmani (1912–91), a pro-Congress MLA, had also issued a press statement, ‘scathingly denouncing’ the Congressmen’s complicity. An enquiry made by the Congress confirmed this allegation.8 Three Muslim League reports (the Pirpur Report, Fazulul Haq’s Report, and the Shareef Report) also indicted the Bihar Congress for having unleashed a ‘Hindu Raj’. Maulana Qamar of Darbhanga, Maulana Mohammad Abbas, Mahfzul Haq, etc., left the Congress to join the Muslim League on these grievances only. The degree of ‘genuine and sincere aversion for

6

Star of India, 3 October 1938. Star of India, 23 September 1938. 8 AICC Papers No. G-22/1938; Aziz (ed.), Muslims under Congress Rule, vol. 1, p. 397. 7

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the Congress’ can be gauged also by Maulana Sajjad’s confidential letter to the Congress Working Committee9 which revealed that even the anti-League and Nationalist Muslims had also concluded that the Congress was ‘communalist to the core’. Even Syed Mahmud had also to undergo a painful experience. In the course of his tenure as minister of education, Syed Mahmud found the charge that he had been favouring Muslims, ‘so painful’ that it was only because of his ‘strong sense’ of loyalty to the Congress that he did not burst up.10 Thus, he wrote to Rajendra Prasad that, [t]hose friends who call themselves Congressmen bother me more than others and bring all sorts of impossible requests. The Mussalmans think that their claims are overlooked and they must be provided for. But on the other hand, in Congress circle, so I am told, it was thought that I am giving posts [government employment] only to Mussalmans. The other day I explained the whole thing before the Provincial Working Committee [of the Congress] and gave a list of all the Mussalmans I have appointed from beginning to end. In fact I have appointed none. They have been appointed in due course of time by the department concerned. Soon after the first appointment when I heard that such thing is being talked in Congress circle I introduced competitive examination and since then people are appointed on that basis. Communal quota is of course fixed. The whole [of ] this is so painful that it is only strong sense of my loyalty to the Congress that I do not burst up. I will send you the list later on and I intend to give it to the Press and to the public. But I have not done it up till now because it will bring discredit to our organization.11

Syed Mahmud even made known to Gandhiji that the grievances of the Muslims were not due to the propaganda of the League alone.12 Another ‘folly’ of the Congress leadership was that even as the Congress report on the 1938 Bhagalpur riot blamed both the Muslim 9

AICC Papers No. G-42/1939. Syed Mahmud to Rajendra Prasad, 18 July 1938, in Valmiki Choudhary (ed.), Dr. Rajendra Prasad: Correspondence and Select Documents (RPCSD), Delhi: Allied, 1984, vol. II, p. 70. 11 Syed Mahmud to Rajendra Prasad dated 18 July 1938, RPCSD, vol. II., p. 70. 12 RPCSD, vol. II, p. 432. 10

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League and the Hindu Mahasabha and even after the Congress confessed a Congress–Hindu Mahasabha overlap in Bhagalpur,13 the Congress kept blaming only the Muslim League for the riots and was less strident against the Hindu Mahasabha. A note signed (dated 12, 14 June 1938) by the Premier Shri Krishna Sinha and his parliamentary secretary K. B. Sahay testifies this blame game.14 This is also testified by the fact that the Congress Ministry (1937–39) created a propaganda department to counter the Muslim League’s divisive politics, though no such effort was directed against the propaganda of the Hindu Mahasabha.15 Thus, even a Muslim League leader like Abdul Aziz from Bihar had to say that ‘at one time the Congress had considerable Muslim support. But it had subsequently alienated the Muslims by its acts of omission and commission’. All along there had been a dogmatic disregard of the viewpoint of the minorities and their rights.16 In fact, this alienation began with the Shahabad riots of 1917; subsequently, the Hindu Mahasabha’s Shudhi activities had started during the 1920s in Bihar. Jagat Narain Lal (a member of both the Hindu Mahasabha and the Congress) was one of the leaders in the forefront of the Shudhi campaign. Moreover, while The Darbhanga Gazette, Mithila Mihir, Dharmbir, Kayastha Patrika (Gaya) recklessly poured out venom advocating the attainment of Swaraj with Hindus alone, no Urdu newspaper in Bihar indulged in spreading this kind of communal poison. However, despite the Hindu Mahasabha’s assertion in the 1920s and Muslim League’s rise after 1938, the appeal of the League’s separatism remained much weaker in Bihar as compared to the strength of the League in the two adjacent provinces of Bengal and UP. So much so that the Bihar Provincial Muslim League could not project any upper rank leader to the All India Muslim League whereas the provincial Congress Committee, since the beginning was able to have some

13

Searchlight, 20 December 1938; AICC Papers No. G-22/1938 Linlithgow Papers, Roll 45, Enclosure 2, Hallett to Brabourne, secret 200, GB Ranchi, 14 October 1938, cited by Papiya Ghosh, ‘Articulating Community Rights’, pp. 79–97. 15 Ghosh, ‘Articulating Community Rights’. 16 Political Special KW 638/1938; Indian Nation, 23 December 1939. 14

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Muslim leaders of all India political stature like Dr Syed Mahmud, Prof. Abdul Bari, Shah Mohammad Umair, Syed Zahurul Hasan Hashmi, Shah Mohammad Umair, Shah Mohammad Zubair, Maulvi Ismail, Dr Zainul Abidin Nadvi, Qazi Ahmad Husain and many others who formed the core of Nationalist Muslims in Bihar. It was due to the efforts of these leaders that the Pirpur Report’s call for migration of Muslims from Bihar to ‘escape the dread of Hindu majority’ was largely unheeded. It was the events of 1937–39, and the riots of 1946 that threw Muslims into the vortex of pro-Pakistan and anti-Pakistan politics. There were large scale killings of Hindus in Calcutta and Noakhali, and the Suhrawardy led ministry did nothing to stop them. Bihar’s Congressmen called for a hartal in Patna on 25 October 1946 to protest against these killings, which was being observed as Noakhali Day. The communal atmosphere got so charged that it set off a series of riots in different places of Bihar. The complicity of Congressmen (particularly of the lower strata) in these riots marred the reputation of the Congress as a secular organization in the eyes of the Muslims. That this was no mere allegation is substantiated by the confessions of some Congressmen to Gandhi about their participation in the riot.17 In Patna, it was Jagat Narain Lal, the leading Congressman of the district, who organized the anti-Noakhali meeting that precipitated the outbreak of riots. Lord Wavell also testifies to the complicity of the Congressmen in the riots. He noted that in Bihar, the lower strata of the Congress planned the outbreaks.18 The riots of 1946 provided Muslim League with the opportunity to cash in on the injured feelings of Muslims against the Congress, and carve out a space for itself in their hearts and minds. The Muslim League cadres from Bengal went around the relief camps in Bihar, and spread rumours which accentuated the fear psychosis of the Muslims and added to the panic in order to drive them to Dhaka. As Papiya Ghosh says, ‘The riots of 1946, thus, saw the crystallization of communal identities. A combination of propaganda and the dimensions of the

17

MGLP, vol. 1, pp. 624–27. ToP, vol. IX, p. 140. New Delhi, 22 November 1946; Wavell–Pethik Lawrence. 18

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riot metamorphosed community consciousness among Hindus and Muslims into political identities.’19 Things came to such a pass that the even the division of Bihar along communal lines was contemplated. The proposition was deliberated in a meeting called ‘Division of Bihar Conference’ in Gaya on 19 April 1947. The meeting which was presided over by Chaudhry Abid Husain, a Muslim League MLA, who demanded that ‘the province of Bihar be forthwith partitioned into Hindu and non-Hindu autonomous provinces’.20 They however did not talk of ‘states’. The conference met again at Kishanganj. Raja Ghazanfar Ali, who presided over the meeting, even specified the districts to be included in the Muslim majority province to be carved out from Bihar. It is significant to note that, in this rhetoric of division of Bihar, the idea was to create a safe haven for the beleaguered community within the bounds of the province. A majority of the League’s leadership in Bihar, including its tallest leaders like Syed Abdul Aziz, dissuaded the people from migrating out of Bihar. He himself stayed on in Bihar. The migrations that took place were a panic reaction to the series of riots engineered by local Congressmen, and inefficiently contained by the Congress led ministry. The cadres from the Bengal Muslim League who came as relief workers further exacerbated the feeling of panic by resorting to rumour mongering, which induced a migration spree among the Muslims of Bihar. In this whole episode, the complicity of Bihar Muslim League is conspicuously either marginal, or absent. In fact, the Muslim League in Bihar, during the early days it was free from communal character, if not entirely, very greatly. Probably, the leadership of Mazharul Haq and other such people were of great help, who kept opposing the separate electorate’.21 Another reason for Muslim separatism remaining weaker in Bihar can be traced in the nineteenth century itself, when both the movement of 1857 was fought shoulder to shoulder by the two communities as well as

19

Ghosh, ‘The 1946 Riot and the Exodus’. Zaidi, Jinnah Papers, vol. I, no. I, pp. 801–2. 21 Shashi Shekhar Jha, The Political Elite in Bihar, Bombay: Popular, 1972, pp. 112–31; also see Chaubey, Muslims and the Freedom Movement, p. 200. 20

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educational institutions and political organizations (including the Congress) were set up by remarkable co-operation between the two communities. These harmonious/consensual approaches helped in significantly marginalizing (if not eliminating) communally divisive issues like cow slaughter — although organizations like the Gaurakshini Sabhas in the late nineteenth century, the Hindu Sabha (1907, 1911 and more pronouncedly in the 1920s), and Shudhi/Sangathan campaign continued to follow their own agendas. Since unlike in UP and Bengal, divisive trends did not become strong forces in Bihar, this state cannot be clubbed with them while making generalizations about Partition. The political behaviour of the Muslims in both the colonial period and in the post-Independence period has been strikingly different in Bihar, notwithstanding linguistic and other similarities especially with UP. In other words, the present work suggests that confining the investigation to Muslim separatism does not tell the whole story of Partition. This study argues against the general belief that Partition was a consequence only of the separatist politics of the Muslim minorities. At least in the case of Bihar, some of the causes of the Partition also lie beyond the Muslim League. In fact, there were some League activists who were very openly against India’s partition. For instance, the noted Urdu poet and Bollywood lyricist Akhtar-ul-Iman (1916–96), despite being associated with the Muslim [League’s] Student Federation, was a strong opponent of India’s Partition.22 ~~ Broadly speaking, for a quick recap of the history of Hindu–Muslim rift in the twentieth century colonial Bihar we may identify that there were four milestones: (a) The Shahabad Riots of 1917: After these riots (1917–23), Bihar witnessed, ‘a reconstruction of the terrain in which Hindu– Muslim antagonism appeared to be hardening’.23 While Muslim leaders like Mazharul Haq, Hasan Imam and Sarfaraz Husain Khan expediently dismissed the details of the mosques 22

As narrated in Akhtar-ul-Imaan’s Urdu memoir, Is Aabaad Kharaabay Mein, Delhi: Delhi Urdu Academy, 1996, p. 83.

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defiled, women raped etc. so that the animosity may decrease, the Hindu Mahasabha spread its shudhi campaign after 1922 quite stridently. Ironically, many district level Congressmen remained associated with the Hindu Mahasabha besides leaders of larger stature like Rajendra Prasad and Sri Krishna Sinha. (b) The electoral politics of 1923 and 1926: In the municipal, District Board, and Council elections of 1923 and 1926, certain undesirable events happened which poisoned the politics of Bihar. These include the defeats of the veteran Congressman, Shafi Daudi, in the District Board elections of Muzaffarpur; of Mazharul Haq in the election to the Bihar Legislative Council; and of Hadi Husain in the District Board elections of Gaya. These electoral results, combined with the militant spadework of the Hindu Mahasabha, the Arya Samaj, and the Shudhi movements created a wide gulf between Hindus and Muslims.24 (c) Grievances against the Congress Ministry 1937–39: During the Congress Ministry, the League made a breakthrough by blowing out of proportion cases of discriminations against Muslims. However, a ‘mere reconstruction of the League’s view is misleading’.25 The Congress’ refusal to make an alliance with the MIP, preferring S. K. Sinha to S. Mahmud for the post of chief minister,26 dismissing Sultan Ahmad from the post of Advocate General, anti-Urdu attitudes of the Congress ministry,27 the series of riots, and Congress-Hindu Mahasabha nexus,28 led to the disillusionment of a large number of Muslim leaders of the Congress in Bhagalpur, Munger, Arrah, Gaya, etc. Many of them switched over to the League. (d) The riots of 1946: These riots proved to be a major turning point when even some Congressmen were involved in the

23

Ghosh, ‘Community Question’, p. 195. Chaubey, Muslims and the Freedom Movement, pp. 181–82, 229–30. 25 Ghosh, ‘The Making of the Congress-Muslim Stereotype’; Ghosh, ‘Articulating Community Rights’. 26 Azad, India Wins Freedom, pp. 16–17. 27 AICC Papers No. G-42/1939. 28 AICC Papers No. 22/1938. 24

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planning and execution of the riots.29 They were triggered off by the observance of Noakhali Day in Patna on 25 October 1946 in which Congressmen were seen leading the procession in which provocative and divisive slogans were raised. Leading dailies like the Indian Nation and the Searchlight kept publishing inflammatory and provocative write-ups, which also added further fuel to the fire. The editor of the Searchlight, Murli Manohar Prasad, was particularly provocative in his conduct even though he had won the provincial elections of 1946 from Tirhut (urban) area, unopposed on the Congress ticket. The involvement of the landed elite in such riots had been evident from 1880s onwards (the Gaurakshini Sabha led riots) right until the 1946 riots. Notwithstanding the above factors, in the society and polity of Bihar, Muslim proclivities were more towards the Congress, or towards the Socialist forces, rather than with the League. A look at the rise and growth of the Muslim League in Bihar clearly shows that from 1908 (when the BPML was founded) to 1920, it remained liberal, noncommunal, and even opposed to the separate electorate. From 1920 to 1937, the League was non-existent. From 1938 onwards, it made a breakthrough in divisive politics; yet it could never produce any leader of national eminence. The most important leader of the League in Bihar, Syed Abdul Aziz, dissuaded Muslims from migrating out of Bihar in 1946 riots. Despite the communalization of the lower rungs of the Congress, it was largely due to the ideals set by the Congress-led national movement that all-inclusive ideals, like religious pluralism and secular democracy, remain the guiding principles of independent India. The Congress may be blamed for many things; but there is no gainsaying the fact that this was the only organization which did not pursue any sectional or sectoral demands. The fact, therefore, remains that India could be partitioned only in the presence of the British who were in a hurry to leave India, as evident from the shifting the date of independence ahead. Similarly, the haste with which the Radcliffe Commission was given the task of demarcating the boundaries between the two newly 29

MGLP, p. 641; ToP, vol. ix, p. 140.

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created dominions had its own implications. The Bihar Muslims were dazed, bewildered, and broken that in spite of their consistent resistance to the very idea of Partition, it had taken place. In the initial years after Independence, Muslims had few misgivings and apprehensions about their future. In varying degrees, this was true of the adjacent provinces of West Bengal and the UP as well. Joya Chatterji says that the accession of Hyderabad, the Kashmir war, and the Jubbulpore riots of 1961 led to relatively modest migrations; but the communal violence of 1964 which followed the Hazratbal incident resulted in a significant exodus.30 This was despite the fact that even Husain Shaheed Suhrawardy had convened a conference of Muslim leaders in Calcutta to discuss their way forward, and had insisted that ‘the Muslims should now steer their course in independent India’. Around the same time, another gathering of Muslims in Lucknow called upon their co-religionists to be members only of non-communal political parties, and advised them to join the Congress. The resolution was moved by S. A. Barelvi, the editor of the nationalist periodical, Bombay Chronicle, and was seconded by Humayun Kabir.31 The Jubbulpore riots had created ‘a sense of panic among some sections of Muslims at Dilkusha Street (Park Circus) and Kalabagan areas [of Calcutta]. These Muslim[s] apprehend[ed] that Hindus may retaliate on the occasion of Holi festival’.32 And those Muslims of Bihar who opted for Pakistan, have remained Muhajirs in the land of their choice/compulsion, and subsequently have become envious of the rights enjoyed by the Muslim minorities in the secular democracy of India. The Muhajir Qaumi Movement has not been granted enough political space (by the state of Pakistan) to wage its struggle against discrimination. Their leader, Altaf Husain, lives in exile in London. Additionally, while India’s plural democracy has constitutionally guaranteed and gradually (albeit with the help of political movements), conceded regional-linguistic-cultural cohesion,

30

Joya Chatterji, Spoils of Partition, 2009, pp. 166–67, 172–73, 180. AICC Papers-I, G-23/1946-8, cited by Joya Chatterji, Spoils of Partition, pp. 172–37. 32 GB File No. 12758/59, Part I, 1 March 1961, cited by Joya Chatterji, Spoils of Partition, p. 180. 31

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Pakistan has not experienced any cultural synthesis among the Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, Pakhtoons, Saraikis, and Biharis. Because of this lack of cultural synthesis or adjustment, combined with geographical separation, it underwent dismemberment in 1971. In contrast because of their strong anti-separatist politics during the late colonial era, Bihar’s Muslims could devise methods of participation in the democratic politics of post-Independence India without much diffidence. This participation was also facilitated by the relatively stronger caste-based factionalism within the ruling Congress in Bihar. It is true that even the West Bengal Congress was divided along the competitive factions of individual leaders like B. C. Roy, the chief minister, and Atulya Ghosh which facilitated the entry of Muslims’ into the Congress.33 (In Uttar Pradesh, taller Congressmen like Govind Ballabh Pant, Sampurnanand and Purushottam Das Tandon had anti-Muslim proclivities and majoritarian communal prejudices). But in Bihar this competitive factionalism was mainly along the caste lines of Bhumihars and Rajputs which was further challenged from 1967 onwards by the growing assertion of the new rural elite from upper Shudras. Such competitiveness proved more helpful for the Muslims whose support became crucial for all factions within the ruling Congress as well as for the Socialist–Leftist opposition. Thus, the Muslims of Bihar aligned themselves with the ruling Congress, invoked Constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities, and organized themselves to seek state favours in education and public employment through the route of Urdu. Till the late 1980s, the politics of Muslim communities was mainly centred around: (a) the demand of making Urdu the Second Official Language, which was ‘accomplished’ finally in 1989 with a long sustained organized politics of mass movements (munazzam awami tehreek) beginning 1951, and (b) the fear of being killed in communal riots which stood almost restrained after the October 1992 riots of Sitamarhi. In contrast, in UP, the [provincial wing of the all India] Anjuman [Tarqqi Urdu] was … a private fiefdom of a particular family, the head of which, Hayat Ullah

33

Chatterji, Spoils of Partition, pp. 172–73.

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Ansari, was a prominent Congress (I) MP. His influence in Congress (I) [was] apparent from his claim that, “[he] never asked, even Mrs Gandhi, for a [legislative] seat for [his] wife”, that is, as though it was his for the asking. In UP, the Anjuman [was] less of a pressure group than an extension of Congress (I) itself, or at least an extension of a particular Congress (I) MP. Ansari’s wife was president of the Anjuman in the 1980s [and after also]. Mrs. Ansari, as a wife of an established Congress (I) MP and as president of an organization that, according to many sources [was] barely active despite receiving more financial aid than the Anjuman in Bihar, [she] could not perhaps take an independent role in pressurizing the V.P. Singh [led] state government as [Abdul] Moghni had done in Bihar (Moghni … never sought any political office).34

Moreover, in September–October 1989, there was a communal clash in Badayun UP around the Hindi–Urdu dispute. The pro-Hindi and anti-Urdu protagonists came out with a student procession shouting a slogan, Urdu thopi ladkon pe/to khoon bahega sadkon pe (if Urdu is imposed upon the students there would be violence and blood-letting on the streets). This riot killed dozens of people. This was against the UP government’s attempt to legislate in favour of making Urdu the second official language. The bill was passed, but the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan filed a suit. The judicial verdict (1993) was split. and the legislation could never be implemented. Thus, during the 1980s, the case of Urdu in UP saw turbulence and hostility. By this time, Bihar had largely accomplished the task of getting second official language status for Urdu (by 1989) and, in the 1990s, its Muslims had moved on to asserting themselves for ‘caste’ and gender-based justice. Thus, the academic as well as popular perception of the ‘Isolation or insulation Syndrome’ of the Muslims is not to be found as strongly in Bihar. Its Muslim politics of democratic mass mobilization in the language of constitutional secular democracy after Independence is an outcome of the politics of communitarian collaboration forged during the colonial era. Scholarly essays only on the marginalized

34

Selma K. Sonntag, ‘The Political Saliency of Language in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh’, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, vol. 34, no. 2, July 1996, pp. 1–18.

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status of Urdu in India have generally focused on state discrimination, majoritarian bias, and on the non-democratic, elitist, approach of the protagonists of Urdu. Chapter Five focussed on mass-based democratic politics of Muslim communities around the issue of Urdu, and its success in securing due favours from the state. With decades of strong mass mobilizations, press campaigns, and street demonstrations, finally on 17 April 1981, the Congress-led government of Bihar issued a notification granting second official language status to Urdu for seven specific purposes first in 15 districts: Dhanbad, Gaya, Nawadah, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, West Champaran, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Purnea, Katihar, Saharsa, and Begusarai. On 29 June 1989, another notification extended it to 11 more districts; and on 16 August 1989, this was granted to 13 more districts, thus covering entire Bihar. The seven specific purposes included: receiving application and letters in Urdu and replying them in Urdu by the government offices, all important government legislations, notifications, circulars, district gazettes, and publicities, sign boards, etc., to be published in Urdu as well. But the word ‘important’ provided leverage or discretion to the bureaucracy to ignore the compliance with regard to such provisions for Urdu. Moreover, it did not say anything about education. It took 12 more years to get it ‘rectified’ on 20 March 1993, when the government of Bihar’s Department of Rajbhasha issued a notification deleting the word ‘important’; only then it could become mandatory for the bureaucracy to comply with the seven-point rights obtained by Urdu. But the issue of Urdu in educational institutions remained still un-addressed. For all practical purposes Urdu’s assertion through mass-based political movements became almost non-existent in and after the 1990s in Bihar ( Jharkhand included). One question that arises is: What about Urdu’s status in Jharkhand (created out of Bihar on 15 November 2000)? It presently consists of 24 districts. So long as it was part of Bihar, its sub-regional tribal languages (like Santhali, Ho, Oraon, Mundari, and Kirmali) remained neglected by the successive regimes of Bihar. After becoming a separate province in November 2000, the provincial government started paying some attention to promote such languages. But, Urdu remains neglected.

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Jharkhand is perhaps the only province where Urdu medium government schools have recruited non Urdu teachers like those for Bengali, Oriya, Hindi … at the level of colleges even though there is no restriction on writing examination papers in Urdu; but [since] the answer scripts are often evaluated by non-Urdu examiners, [this] has its own fall out, resulting in disillusionment among the students who eventually give up Urdu medium and take recourse to Hindi medium … text books and reference books are not made available in Urdu … As there are no efforts towards linking Urdu with employment, one can’t be hopeful about the endurance about Urdu despite the fact that a few good news periodicals like Rashtriya Sahara, Qaumi Tanzeem, Faruqi Tanzeem, Awami News, Jamhuriyat Times, Aghaz-e-karo Baar, Sada-e-Ansari, and literary periodicals like Rang (Dhanbad), Waqt (Dhanbad), Ahad Naama (Ranchi), Ufaq-e-Adab (Hazaribagh), Tahqeeq ( Jamshedpur), Ibarat ( Jamshedpur), do come out of Jharkhand.35

This dismal scenario about Urdu in contemporary (twenty-first century) Bihar is, unlike pre-1989 era, not giving rise to a concerted mass movement with political mobilization to mount pressure on the state as well as on the Urdu speaking populations to do the needful towards protecting and promoting the language. However, on 30 July 2009, Tanweer-ul-Hasan, a member of the Bihar Legislative Council, raised this issue in the Council. In a prompt response, the Chairman of the Legislative Council constituted a committee, headed by Tanweer-ul-Hasan, which submitted a comprehensive report on 7 December 2010. This report categorically blamed the Bihar bureaucracy for neglecting the cause of Urdu, and for not implementing the seven specific rights granted to Urdu. It pointed out that hundreds of positions of teachers (in the government schools, colleges, universities), translators, typists (in the provincial government offices) were not filled. It exposed the fact that the Urdu Directorate (of the Department of Rajbhasha) had been rendered perpetually dysfunctional. However, the protagonists of Urdu have failed to demonstrate any vigour in raising such issues with popular political mobilizations, or

35 Manzar Kaleem, ‘Jharkhand Mein Urdu Zubaan Ki Surat Haal’, Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu Daily, Delhi, Sunday, 8 December 2013.

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by renewing the struggle. The political movement of Urdu is no more to be seen in Bihar; as testified in the Tanweer-ul-Hasan Report, the state apathy against Urdu is not provoking any mass movement from the protagonists of Urdu. Secondly, production and dissemination of language and literature should also be a part of the language movement which has undergone a decline except the efforts of the Urdu Markaz of Prof. Jabir Husain. The only exceptions are recently formed organizations such as the Tehreek-e-Urdu by one Kamal-uz-Zafar, and the Urdu Markaz founded by Jabir Husain which have survived for more than a decade. While the former concerns itself more with political movements, raising issues of public employment (Urdu translators in government offices and teachers/para-teachers in government educational institutions), the latter concerns itself with creative literary production, retrieving obscure and lost manuscripts and publishing them for wider circulation. However, it still remains to be seen whether such efforts will really build up a strong mass movement for Urdu, or recall the more assertive political mobilizations of 1960–80. As of now, even though news periodicals in Urdu are said to have significant market in Bihar, they are alive and read more in the madrasas, and much less in government or educational institutions.36 It must, however, be said that, in this twenty-first century, when most of the leaders (political as well as intelligentsia) of yester years have either passed away or have gone into oblivion, one doesn’t see many Muslim leaders in Bihar connected with the masses who could agitate either for Urdu, or for other non-parochial issues. Yet, recent protests against the state’s negligence of Urdu in public employment (like the recruitment of para-teachers in government schools) and the pressure they put on the incumbent government which did concede, may suggest that Urdu continues to have political saliency. Needless to say, given the provision of reservations for the Pasmanda–Dalit Muslim communities, they have every reason to be concerned with such

36

Rehan Ghani, ‘Bihar Mein Urdu Ki Surat-haal’, and Zain Raamish, ‘Urdu Ke Saath Ghair Munsifana Rawaiya’, Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu daily) Sunday supplement, ‘Umang’, 24 November 2013 provide updated and detailed account of the dying or dead struggle of Urdu and they also lash out against the protagonists of Urdu in Bihar.

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issues. However, it may seem ironical that their movement’s periodical Pasmanda Awaz is brought out in Nagri rather than in the Urdu script, and is very irregular in publication, with limited circulation. Nevertheless, like before, Urdu literary persons continue to enjoy some political favours. For example, Manazir Hasan, an elected member of Parliament from Munger, affiliated to the ruling Janata Dal United ( JD-U), is having doctorate in Urdu literature. Harry Blair’s essay (1980) on Bihar and Christophe Jaffrelot’s book India’s Silent Revolution on backward caste politics has ignored the politics of the backward castes (Pasmanda-Dalit) of Muslims. Even some of the new essays dealing with lower caste assertion in Bihar politics have continued to ignore similar social stratifications and their political consolidations and articulations among the Muslims.37 Chapter Six has attempted to fill this gap. This chapter explored a brand of ‘Muslim’ politics engaged in obtaining socio-economic justice and political empowerment through democratic means. In the 1990s, the Muslim communities in Bihar politics demonstrated a radical transformation in terms of assertions for political empowerment, socio-economic justice, educational upliftment, and a sharp critique of the Ashraf-led feudal leadership as against the Ajlaf and Arzal Muslims. This was/is articulated through the organizations like All India Backward Muslim Morcha (1994), All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (1998), and Inquilabi Muslim Conference (1992), Muslim Intellectual Forum (1993), and the Tehreek-e-Niswan (1994) of the radical Marxist political formation like the CPI-ML Liberation. They also demand justice for Dalit (Arzal) Muslims. Thus, the agenda of social justice for the Ajlaf and Arzal by challenging the hegemony of the Ashraf came on the centre-stage of ‘Muslim’ politics of Bihar in the 1990s. By this time, relatively enhanced representation in the public employment, and the remittances from West Asian Gulf countries created a significant Muslim middle class, paving the way for greater political assertion.

37

For instance, another omission of caste among Muslims is to be found in a recent essay of Sanjay Kumar, Md Sanjeer Alam, Dhananjai Joshi, ‘Caste Dynamics and Political Processes in Bihar’, Journal of Indian School of Political Economy, vol. 20, nos 1–2, January–June 2008, pp. 1–32.

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Chapter Six examined this story of political evolution of the subordinated caste groups of the Bihar Muslims, articulated through different organizations. The mobilizations [through both Urdu and biradri-based associations] aimed at obtaining government jobs and other state benefits, more particularly because of the fact that, in an economically underdeveloped province like Bihar, government jobs and political power are the greatest source of economic upliftment. Significantly, the political agenda of the Muslim communities shifted from secularism and communalism to social justice; from security to equity. In the articulations of the caste/biradri-based movements, communalism appears increasingly as a weapon of the advantaged classes and castes in India to subvert democratic and subaltern assertion. Though its main driving force and beneficiaries are the advantaged castes, in the majority community the story remains incomplete without acknowledging the role of the elite (largely upper caste) of the minority communities in abetting it.38

Meanwhile, there has also emerged a new demand of separate quota for backward Muslim communities within the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes. Muslim OBCs have not benefited through reservation in the way they should have. Therefore, separate quotas for OBC Muslims within the 27 per cent OBCs reservation, rather than for all minorities, should be allocated by the government if it is really committed and believes in inclusive development. Further, dalit Muslims should be included in the SCs list, even if it requires a constitutional amendment. Nonetheless, even that is not enough. Those Muslim [communities] who remain without the benefit of any affirmative action, should be targeted through various programmes, as in the case of the SCs/STs. And last but not the least, the long pending demand for implementing land reforms should be met. The issue involved here is not only about distribution of resources but also about the healthy functioning of democracy. Unless this is tackled in the right perspective, the ideas of sectarianism

38

Khalid Anis Ansari, ‘Segregate and Rule’, Communalism Combat, vol. 15, no. 137, February 2009.

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and communalism will always have space to create further trouble. An honest effort is required in this direction by the state and even within the community.39

Political struggle of the Pasmanda-Dalit Muslims, since 1990s, for emancipation and empowerment in Bihar however remains oblivious to alternative cultural, social and development issues as well as to the question of the exploitation of the subsistence labour of women and peasants. An elaborate sustainable politico-economic programmes and promising models of development with equity, including the programmes like flood control, land reforms, power (electricity) production and industrialization are still awaited. For which these movements may have to move ahead of caste-based ‘identity politics’. Further they seem to be looking more towards the state and less towards mobilizing their own community resources for educational uplift. As of now, essentially speaking, there is no visible mass movement for Urdu or other issues, which could throw up political leadership. The Pasmanda-Dalit consolidation and assertion could throw up leaders for their parochial causes with their limitations. However, the history of their political struggle, informed articulation, and concerted mobilization shows that they have been successful in not allowing state policies to ignore them in the allocation and distribution of resources, be it the appointment of vice chancellors in universities, or conducting eligibility tests for school teachers. And most important of all, a fairly large number of Muslim communities have been listed as Ati Picchra (Most or Extremely Backward Castes) for whom there are reservations in the three-tier rural and urban local bodies. (The group only feeling left out even in the Lalu–Rabri regime (1990–2005), is a heterogeneous caste group of EBCs who make up 32 per cent of the population but had less than 5 per cent representation in the Bihar Assembly). These perceptible efforts towards the empowerment of the historically oppressed communities seem to be giving way to the re-orientation of Bihar politics towards good governance, agrarian and industrial development, and welfare of the masses. This is partly 39

Manjur Ali, ‘Indian Muslim OBCs: Backwardness and Demand for Reservation’, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. XLVII, No. 36, 8 September 2012, pp. 74–79.

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testified by a massive rally, biggest after independence, in Patna on 4 November 2012, demanding the ‘special category’ status for Bihar. If granted this status, Bihar will get additional resource support through higher maintenance expenditure on irrigation, roads and bridges, higher central funding (90 per cent) as grants to the State Disaster Relief Fund, non-plan revenue deficit grants to make up for assessed deficits, and higher incentives for grid-connected renewable energy which will attract private investment engendering industrialization and generating employment.40 It is said that the class and caste neutral economic policies of Nitish Kumar have broad sub-national support, and have triggered the formation of a ‘Bihari’ identity for the first time, especially after the implementation of positive discrimination for women, lower backwards, and the Dalits in the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), and the Nitish Kumar led incumbent ruling party — JDU — essentially represents the agglomeration of non-powerful social categories (Ati Picchra which also includes most of the Arzal and Ajlaf communities of Muslims, and Maha Dalit), especially after divorcing its alliance with Hindu nationalist BJP in June 2013. Many observers, like Shaibal Gupta, hope that this breakup of the Nitish-led regime with essentially upper caste and upper backward caste supported BJP would further brighten the prospects of the rise of the non-powerful social categories like Ati Pichhrha and Maha Dalit.41 Whereas, contrary to Shaibal Gupta, there is another argument that: While in the regime of Lalu [and Rabri, 1990–2005], the core issues of land to the tiller, distribution of surplus land, wage increase, containing distress migration, ensuring law and order, and facilitating economic development, were relegated to the background; Nitish Kumar led political establishment [in power since November 2005] can only claim to attend to only a very limited number of these issues. Although obsessed with social engineering, Nitish Kumar presents an impression of relating with population through the governmental 40

Shaibal Gupta, ‘Why Bihar is Special’, Indian Express, 17 November 2012. 41 Shaibal Gupta, ‘Not Just an Eight Year Itch’, Indian Express, 28 November 2013. The JDU remains in power (since 2005) having thrown BJP out of its coalition in June 2013.

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concern of welfare and development, while Lalu Prasad’s modus operandi was to relate to population squarely by way of the agenda of justice, dignity, and distribution of governmental resources. [H]is politics of ‘backward assertion’ and the policy of ‘fairness as increased ownership of governmental and other political resources’ could not integrate the agenda of social development within the ambit of the ‘social justice’ plank. The experiences of the last seven years of Nitish Kumar’s politics also seem to be obsessed with caste management and social engineering in a functional manner rather than attending complex and contentious issues of fundamental nature. The political symbolism and overplay of caste-based politics, for which Lalu Prasad was held responsible ad nauseam, still holds sway over political discourse and remain the primary preoccupation of the government. However, the shift of power in 2005 from one backward caste-dominated political party [RJD of Lalu–Rabri] to another coalition led by another backward-caste leader [Nitish Kumar] has revealed that the socio-political churning in the caste community groups increases aspiration, forms new coalitions and brings forth new leadership. It confirms that caste/community alliances and social-engineering processes are dynamic and itinerant rather than stagnant. It also confirms that for an emancipative politics of the Dalits this history holds a clue as to how to advance. This is also a history of passive revolution in Bihar; yet within this history Bihar is fated to search out the clues to further social transformation – be it the passive or the active way.42

~ This work is thus an attempt to make and enable an informed watch on the unfolding directions of the various shades of the politics of the Muslim communities, who haven’t remained politically as insulated from the corresponding non-Muslim communities.

42

Manish Kumar Jha and Pushpendra, Governing Caste Managing Conflicts in Bihar, 1990–2011, Kolkata: Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, 2012, pp. 26–27.

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About the Author Mohammad Sajjad is Assistant Professor, Centre of Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University. Earlier, he taught at the Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. His research papers have been published in various international journals, including South Asian History and Culture, Annual of Urdu Studies, Contemporary Perspectives: History and Sociology of South Asia, and South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. His most recent book is Contesting Colonialism and Separatism: Muslims of Muzaffarpur since 1857 (2014).

Index Aarakshan Bachao Rally (1998) 276 Abdullah, Syed 29, 323 Act of 1909 77 Act of 1935 3, 24, 118, 133, 136, 283, 305 agrarian rioting 159 Ahl-e-Hadis 49 Ahmad, Imtiaz 286 Ahmad, Sultan 11, 25, 111, 124, 146–47, 172, 204, 230, 330 Ahmad, Syed 10, 33, 48–49, 51; campaign for modern education 49 Ahmed, Bahadur Syed Zamiruddin 254 Ahrars 122, 134, 188 Aijazi, Maghfoor Ahmad 209, 213, 217 Ajlaf castes/Biradris 288–91; political empowerment of 314 Akhbar-ul-Akhyar (Urdu journal) 9, 51 Akhil Bharat Gosewa Mandal 106 Alam, Jawaid 25 Aligarh Movement 49 Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) 243, 251, 275, 300 Ali, Imdad 8, 51–52 Ali, Raja Ghazanfar 177, 328 All India Azad Muslim Conference 29, 187 All India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM) 274–75, 282, 293, 309 All India Congress Committee (AICC) 20 All India Convention of Muslims 241

All-India Cow Conference, Patna (1920) 16, 103 All India Hindu Mahasabha, Patna 106, 115, 118, 124, 142, 145, 152 All India Jamhoor Muslim League 35, 42, 213–20, 322 All India Khilafat Conference, Delhi 69 All India Kshatriya Sabha 143 All India Milli Council 276, 311 All India Momin Conference 86–87, 195, 201, 321 All India Muslim Backward Classes Federation 305 All India Muslim League (AIML) 100, 116, 180, 326; Working Committee of 149, 156 All India Muslim Majlis Mashaweraat (AIMMM) 188, 241, 311 All India Muslim Nationalist Party 22 All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) 276, 306, 311 All India Muslim Students’ Conference 134 All India Muslim Students’ Federation (AIMSF) 117, 134, 323 All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM) 274, 282, 309 All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) 294 All India Radio (AIR) 252 All India Shia Political Conference 88, 204, 207 All India Students Association (AISA) 300 All Parties Conference in Delhi 121

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Ameer-e-Hind 73 Amery, Leopold 191 Anglo-Arabic School of Patna 49–50 Anglo-Vernacular schools for teaching 52 Anjuman-e-Islamia 8, 51 Anjuman-e-Tehzeeb 53 Anjuman-e-Ulema-e-Bihar 54, 72, 74, 320 Ansari, Abdul Qaiyum 28, 87, 196, 214–15, 218, 277, 321 Ansaris 47, 196, 198, 241, 258, 261, 277, 280, 281–83, 285, 290, 293 A. N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANSISS Patna) 283, 290 anti-colonial movement 48, 63–71, 279 anti-imperialism 33, 85 anti-Noakhali Day (25 October 1946) 36, 331 Anti-Partition Day 189 anti-separatist politics 333 anti-Urdu campaigns 95, 254, 262 Arrah Nagri Pracharni Sabha 95, 253 Article 341 of the Indian Constitution 282–83 Arya Samaj 14, 19, 25, 39, 41, 105, 113, 119, 142, 161, 330 Arzal–Ajlaf conflicts 281 Arzal castes/Biradaris 291–94 Ashraf, K. M. 131–32, 229 ashrafs 200, 274–75, 281 Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), Patna 288 Association for Promoting Education and Employment of Muslims 275 Autobiography: A Life to Remember, An (1972) 221 Azad, Abul Kalam 27, 104, 112; role in Muslim politics of Bihar 71–74; Subjects Committee 189 Azad, Maulana 14, 19, 72, 135, 138, 147–48, 229, 232, 311, 319

Azad Muslim Conference 29, 87–88, 186, 225, 323 Aziz, Syed Abdul 38, 42, 102, 114, 127, 134–35, 149, 156, 175, 181, 191, 204, 323, 326, 328, 331 Babri Masjid, demolition of 274, 295–96, 310, 312 backward castes: of Muslims 283, 292; politics of 338 backward quota 276 Backward Raj 249 Bahuguna, H. N. 290 Baithani Tola (Bhojpur district) massacre ( July 1996) 296, 299, 308 bakasht land, restoration of 163 balance of power 3 Bangladesh, creation of 264 Baqrid festivities 98, 104 Barelvi, S. A. 332 Bari, Abdul 17, 22–23, 27–28, 31, 33, 41, 64, 70, 79–80, 82–83, 116, 124, 162, 171, 182, 209–11, 210–11, 220, 225–26, 322, 327 Begum Daudi, Zubaida 67 Bengal Congress 3–4, 333 Bengal Hindu Sabha 30 Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) 229 bhadralok 3–4, 12–13 Bhagalpur Hindi Sabha 95, 253 Bhagalpur riots (1989) 271, 277, 296, 309–10, 324 Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) 296, 315, 341 Bhumihar Brahman Sabha 9, 22, 51 Bihar: economic backwardness of 272; economy during post-World War II 159–78; employment opportunities 239; ‘regional-cultural’ identity of 316–17; as separate state 60–61 Bihar Association (1871) 9, 52 Bihar Engineering School (Patna) 67

Index Bihar Hindi Sahitya Sammelan 262 Bihar Hindu Sabha 30, 62, 118, 119, 140 Bihari Bachao Committee 264 ‘Biharis’ in Bangladesh 264 Bihar Jamiat-ur-Rayeen 283 Bihar Landholders’ Association 60 Bihar Legislative Council 19, 80, 108, 118, 256, 316, 330, 336 Bihar Literary Society (1873) 9, 52 Bihar Minorities Finance and Development Corporation 297 Bihar Muslim League 38, 41, 176, 328; Working Committee of 150 Bihar Muslim Students’ Federation (BMSF) 35 Bihar Official Language Act (1980) 269 Bihar Provincial Association 15, 60, 100 Bihar Provincial Conference (1908), Patna 59–60 Bihar Provincial Congress Committee (BPCC) 10, 15, 17, 59, 100 Bihar Provincial Hindu Conference 141, 143 Bihar Provincial Muslim League (BPML) 41, 60, 62, 85, 100, 116–18, 151 Bihar Provincial Students Conference 210 Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC): recruitment examinations 244; success rate of Muslims in 250 Bihar Reyasati Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu 250–52 Bihar Scientific Society, Muzaffarpur 8–9, 50–52; objectives of 51–52 Biharshareef riots (1941) 32, 37–38, 54, 158, 161, 200 Bihar Socialist Conference 32 Bihar State Backward Classes Commission 308

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Bihar State Backward Muslim Federation 258, 277 Bihar State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Union 261, 277 Bihar State Madrasa Education Board (BSMEB) 246, 266 Bihar State Minorities Commission (BSMC) 249, 290 Bihar State Momin Advisory Committee 258, 277 Bihar Theosophical Society 182 Bihar Upkar Sabha (1876) 9, 53 Bihar Urdu Academy 266 Bihar Urdu Convention 256 Bihar Urdu Youth Forum 265 Bihar Vidyapeeth 17, 67 Bilgrami, Syed Ali 58 biradaris of Muslims 46, 202–3 Blind Relief Association 149 Blue Shirt Volunteers 188 Bose, Subhash Chandra 4, 80, 126, 148 Boys Association, Darbhanga 10, 59 British colonial administration 89 British colonialism 48, 235, 319–21, 323 British imperialism 45–46, 76, 185, 189 British Raj 36, 48–49, 54, 58, 66, 94; Muslim hostility against 64 budgetary allocation, for public employment of Muslims 266–68, 297 Calcutta Agriculture Association (1917) 84 Calcutta Unity Conference 108 Calcutta University 55 Campbell, George 51, 93–95, 253 caste-based factionalism 239, 333 caste-based politics 342 caste organizations, of Muslims 322 Central Legislative Council 120

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Central National Mohammedan Association (CNMA) 96, 254 Champaran Satyagraha (1917) 15–16, 65, 70 Chatterjee, Partha 245 Chatterji, Joya 3, 84, 99, 332 child labour 130 Christian Mass Contact 228 Civil Disobedience movement 22, 23, 31–32, 68–71, 75, 77, 82, 122 civil services recruitment examinations 249 Clow, Andrew 230 Collegiate School see Muzaffarpur Central College colonial education system, boycott of 66–67 Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities 252 Communal Award (1932) 83, 133 communal identities 39, 158, 171, 327 communalism 89, 126, 170, 275; Congress and 232–34; growth of 110–13, 146; Hindu see Hindu communalism; Muslim see Muslim communalism communal riots 14–15, 32, 37, 40, 77, 85, 90, 114, 120, 140, 151, 161, 164, 174, 179, 185, 261, 271, 278, 327, 332; Babri Masjid, demolition of 274; Bhagalpur riots (1989) 324, 277, 296, 309–10, 271; Biharshareef riots (1941) 32, 37–38, 161, 54, 158, 161, 200; for creation of Pakistan 230; due to cow slaughter 91, 167; Gaidar festival 102; Gill’s report on 177; Hatia riots (August 1967) 262; Jubbulpore riots (1961) 332; Kohat riots (1924) 113; Moplah riots (1921) 106; Noakhali riots (1946) 36–37, 40, 151–52, 154–55, 169, 171, 230, 232, 330–31; rapes

of women during 167; Shahabad riots (1917) see Shahabad riots (1917); Sitamarhi–Riga riots (1992) 271, 275, 280, 284, 312, 333, 335 communal separatism, politics of 238, 280 communal socio-religious organizations 97 Communist Party of India (CPI) 238, 281 communitarian, politics of 322 community-based polarization 93 composite nationalism 8, 77, 179, 234, 320; concept of 68; geopolitical divide 179; Muslim politics of 28, 41, 179 Conference of Nationalist Muslims 122, 210 Congress Muslim Mass Contact Committee 126–32, 135, 148, 324 Congress Working Committee (CWC) 131, 135, 165, 325 Corruption Enquiry Committee 149 cow protection movement 15, 90, 102 cow slaughter 14, 97, 101–4, 329; during Baqr-eid festival 90, 135; prevention of 100; sacredness of cows, idea of 92 Cripps, Stafford 87 Dalit Muslim Pamaria/Abbasi Sangh 294 Dalit Muslims 274, 286, 294, 296–97, 299, 305, 308–9, 340 ‘Dalit nation’ 310 Dalits 282–83, 285, 341 Dalton, E. T. 93, 95 Darbhanga Raj 95 Darul-Uloom Ahmadia Salfia (Darbhanga) 49 Dar-ul-Ulum, Bankipur 9 Deoband movement 74, 83, 179

Index depressed classes 166, 192, 202 Desnawi, Syed Shahabuddin 174, 242, 272 Devnagri script 142 ‘Direct Action’ 77, 150, 230 Director Public Instruction (DPI) 95, 96 ‘Divide Bihar’ conference 156 Division of Bihar Conference 85, 176, 328 Diwakar, Babu Rao 143 ‘Do or Die’ movement 217 Dow, Henry 160, 166 economic upliftment 186, 276, 283, 314, 339 Eden, Ashley 94 educational campaign 305 educational institutions 11, 31, 55, 67, 248; for minorities 311; OBCs, enrolment of 265 educational upliftment 274 education system, Wardha Scheme of 130 electoral alliance 140, 224 electoral politics 120; Urdu, issue of 256–63 Elliot, Henry Miers 292 Emergency of 1975 265 employment, government 46 English education among Muslims 50, 55 Extremely Backward Castes (EBC) 249, 266, 283, 287 Faizpur Agrarian Programme (1936) 84 Fakhruddin, S. M. 11, 14, 60, 62, 102–3, 217–18, 255 Falahul Momineen 195 Farouqui, Ather 248, 267 fatwa 193 ‘Federation of Religious Communities’ 45

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food crisis 258 forced migration 230 foreign goods, boycott of 82 Forum for Democratic Rights (FDR) 300 Forward Block 35, 189, 210 Frankel, Francine 237 freedom movement 54, 68 Gaidar festival 102 Gandhi–Ambedkar Pact of Poona (1932) see Poona Pact (1932) Gandhi, Indira 265, 289 Gandhi–Jinnah talks (1944) 192, 213 Gandhi, Mahatma 319, 325; Hindu– Muslim unity programme 144 Gau Rakshaks (cow protectors) 91 Gaurakshini (cow protection) movements 15, 102 Gaurakshini Sabhas 14, 89–90, 92, 329, 331 Gaya district Congress Committee 126, 324 Gaya District Muslim League 101 Gaya Pakistan Conference 150 Ghafoor, Abdul 35, 209–10, 265, 266 Ghosh, Papiya 37–38, 151, 195, 220, 318, 327 Gill, N. S. 166, 168 Gope Sabha 102 Government Zilla School, Muzaffarpur 50 Govt. of India Act of 1935 see Act of 1935 Gupta, Shaibal 341 Guru Training School of Bettiah 66 Gwala movement (1908) 14 Haj Committees 311 Hallett, Maurice 193 Hamied, K. A. 221 Haq, A. K. Fazlul 84, 180 Haq, Mazharul 80, 118 Harijans 21, 23, 139, 266

368

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hartals 36, 69, 289, 327 Hasan, Mushirul 26–27 Hatia riots (August 1967) 262 Hindi–Nagri movements 93, 253–54 Hindi Sahitya Sammelan 145, 262, 334 Hindi–Urdu controversy 53, 93–96, 145 Hindu communal ideology 109 Hindu communalism 46, 231, 239; Mahasabha–Congress overlap and 223–32 Hindu domination 113, 193 Hindu Mahasabha 1, 4, 16, 20–21, 23, 30, 32, 36, 38–39, 106–10, 113–14, 117, 119, 126, 132, 135, 138, 140, 142, 144, 194, 320, 324, 326, 330; Akhand Bharat 45; Mahasabha–Congress overlap and 223–32; Shudhi campaign see Shudhi movement Hindu Mahila Sabha 142 Hindu Mass Contact 228 Hindu–Muslim reconciliation 239 Hindu–Muslim relations 12, 32, 103; music before mosques 96–97; political unity and social divide 14–23; religious symbols, use of 81 Hindu–Muslim unity 66–67, 69, 109, 120; against British colonialism 53, 319; communal division and polarization 119–23; Gandhi’s programme for 144; importance of 62; League’s sep-aratism and 85; Muslim leadership and 79–83; and religious tolerance 182 Hindu political identity 4 Hindu Raj 39, 120, 124, 149, 153, 162, 193, 324 Hindu rashtra 151, 224, 296 Hindu Right 145, 296, 315 Hindu Sabha 14, 30, 61–62, 106, 109, 118–19, 140, 167–68, 224, 329

Hindu Sainik Dal 144 Hindu Sangathan 106, 142, 144 ‘Hindustan Day’ 29, 210 Hindustani language 93 Hindusthan Sewa Sangh 118 Hindu Students’ Federation 142 Hindu Swaraj 70 Hindu Youth League 142 Home Rule 99–101 Husain, Iqbal 178 Husain, Jabir 289, 316–17 Husain, Zakir 240 Hussain, Jaffar 207 Hyderabad, accession of 332 identity politics, caste-based 280, 340 illiteracy, issue of 292 Imam, Hasan 100 Imarat-e-Shariah (Patna) 8, 32, 34, 40, 54, 68–69, 72, 83–84, 105, 133, 182, 195, 218–19, 224, 234, 319–20 Imdad Ali, Syed 8, 51–52 Indian National Army 232 Indian National Congress 10, 57–58, 60, 110, 199, 207, 319; alienation of the Muslims against 162; antiNoakhali meeting (25 October 1946) 230–31; Bihar Muslims’ grievances against 146–47; campaigns on caste/communal lines 81; and communalism in Bihar 232–34; demand for self-determination 212; election manifesto 84, 120; electoral alliance with Hindu Mahasabha 224; Faizpur Agrarian Programme (1936) 84; Kisan Enquiry Committee (1936) 128; Mahasabha–Congress overlap 223–32; majoritarian nationalism of 2–6; Muslim Mass Contact Committee 126–32, 135, 148, 324; pro-communal faction in 140; report on the 1938

Index Bhagalpur riot 325–26; Working Committee 325 Indian National Movement 44, 215–16 Indian Socialist movement 267–68 India’s Silent Revolution 275, 338 Individual Civil Disobedience Movement 31–32, 322 Indo–China war (1962) 258 Indo–Pak–Bangladesh Confederation 296 Indo–Pak war (1965) 258 Indo–Pak war (1971) 264 industrial development 185, 340 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) 289 Inquilabi Muslim Conference (1992) 274, 281, 295, 338 intra-Muslim conflicts 279 Islah-ul-Muslemeen (Patna) 49 Ismail, Bahadur 19, 181 Jaleel, S. M. 35–36 Jamaat-e-Islami-e-Hind ( JIH) 34, 218, 241–42, 261, 277, 299 Jamiat-ul Mansoor 203 Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind ( JUH) 8, 32, 34, 54, 68–69, 71, 74, 82–83, 87, 123, 133, 156, 179, 182, 186–87, 189, 193, 195, 199, 218, 224–25, 228, 260, 320 Janata Dal United ( JDU) 315, 338 Jan Sangh 237, 242, 261–62, 277 Jauhar, Mohammad Ali 7, 45, 78 Jha, Binodanand 237, 257 Jinnah, M. A. 7, 114, 117, 120, 133, 138; All India Muslim League 83–88; Gandhi–Jinnah talks of 1944 213; and Muslims of Bihar 83–88; Pakistan, idea of 231; political strategy 220; proposal for ‘Muslim State’ 184; Shia Political Conference 204–12; ‘two-nation theory’ see ‘two-nation theory’

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job opportunities 262 Jubbulpore riots (1961) 332 juridical–spiritual institution 68 Kabir, Humayun 134 Kaithi script 53, 93–94, 253 Karbala Mukti March 299 Kashmir war 332 Kayasthas 9, 51, 53, 56, 93–94, 119, 169, 279, 326 Kesavan, Mukul 138 Khanqah-e-Mujibiya of Phulwarisharif 34–35, 54, 73, 235, 321 Khanqah-e-Rahmaniya of Munger 54, 73, 193, 235 Khanqahs (sufi shrines) 53–54, 68, 235, 321 Kharagvilas Press 95, 253 Khilafat Committee 16, 68, 104–6 Khilafat movements (1920–22) 65, 68, 75, 83, 98, 105–6, 109, 133, 211, 220, 319–21 Khudai Khidmatgars 122 Kidwai, A. R. 290 King, Christopher R. 93 Kisan Enquiry Committee (1936) 128 Kisan Sabha 28, 128–29, 159, 228 Kohat riots (1924) 113 Krishak Praja Party (KPP) 84, 134, 187–88 Kulhaiya Vikas Sangathan 288, 293 Kumar, Nitish 301–4, 341; 15-point package for minorities 309 Laheriasarai Hindi Sabha 95, 253 Lahore Resolution of Complete Independence (1929–31) 32, 77, 82, 113, 144, 181–83, 196, 204, 210, 213, 225, 323 laissez faire attitudes, of Hindu leaders 100 Lal, Jagat Narain 36, 118 Lama’at-e-Badariya 18

370

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language politics, in Bihar: Bihar Official Language Act (1980) 269; issue of Urdu in 252; linguistic identit y among the Hindus of Bihar 245; linguistic minorities and 43, 333; Maithili language 262; in postindependence Bihar 235–43; as tool of empowerment 243–48; see also Urdu language; Urdu politics Lex Loci Act of 1850 78 lingua franca of India 130 linguistic minorities 2, 43, 252, 263, 333 Linlithgow, Viceroy 191–92 Local Area Development Scheme (LADS) 308 Lohia, Ram Manohar 215 Lok Dal 268 Long live Revolution 217–18 Louis, W. H. 16 Lucknow Pact (1916) 13–16, 64, 100, 190 McDonald’s Award 3 madrasa 8, 49, 57, 337 Madrasa Ahmadiya Salfiya (Darbhanga) 88, 322 Madrasa Anwar-ul-Uloom (Gaya) 74 Madrasa Islamiya (Biharsharif ) 74 Madrasa Jamia-ul-Uloom (Muzaffarpur) 88, 322 Madrasa Shams-ul-Hoda (Patna) 88, 322 magahiya doms 75 Mahabiri Dal procession 114 Mahabiri Jhanda processions 32, 127, 145 Maharaja of Darbhanga 62, 92, 102 Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) 265

Maithili language 53, 262 Majlis-e-Ahrar 28 maktabs 11, 49, 57, 95, 163, 223 Mandal Commission (1980–94) 274–75, 280, 282, 297 Mansoori Conference 8, 28 Marxist–Leninist political formation 281 Masawat Ki Jung (2001) 285 mashaikh 73, 76 Masjid–Mandir dispute of Ayodhya 271 mass-based democratic movement 272 mass-based political movements 335 mass education, development of 314 mass movements, politics of 223, 251, 275, 333, 336–37, 340 Maududi, Maulana 33, 218 Maulana Azad Foundation 311 medical education 56 Mehta, Pratap Bhanu 273 Mel-Milap Conference 182, 255 migration: forced 230; process of 170 Minorities Commission of Bihar 288, 311 Minto–Morley Reforms (1909) 61 Mishra, Jagannath 1, 266, 269–70, 270–71, 297 Mithilakshar (Maithili language) 53 Mohammadan Anglo-Arabic School 9 Mohammedan Education Com-mittee (1884), Patna 49, 50, 54 Momin Conference 8, 28, 29, 34–35, 69, 86–87, 122, 162, 187, 193, 197, 214, 218–19, 234; electoral preference of 277; formation of 277; ‘Islam in Danger’ slogan 197; opposition to Muslim League 195–202, 322; political assertion of 223; six demands of 214 money lending 111

Index Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms (1919) 5 Montford reforms 111 Moonis, Peer Md 16–17, 65–66, 82 Moonje, B. S. 118, 141, 143–44, 152 Moplah riots (1921) 106 Most Backward Caste (MBC) 249, 266, 283, 287 Motilal Nehru Report (1928) 20, 69, 80–81, 83, 122 Muhajir Qaumi Movement 332 Muharram processions 102, 108, 114, 299 Mukherji, S hyama Pr asad 30, 143–44 Mukhya Sangathak 143 multi-culturalism, notion of 45 multi-religious society 185 Mungerilal Committee Report (1971–76) 249, 276, 287, 289 munsifs 56 mushtareka wataniyat 8, 40, 179, 320 ‘Muslim Agenda 99’ 276 Muslim castes, in Bihar 284–87; Ajlaf castes/Biradris 288–91; Arzal castes/Biradaris 291–94; backward castes 283; categories of 285; class, caste and gender in the 1990s 294–301; extremely/ most backward castes (E/MBC) 287; indices of human development 284; internal diversities of 284; literacy rate among 290; socio-economic profile of 287–88; socio-economic transformation of 316 Muslim communalism 110, 182, 191, 210 Muslim community: alienation of 138, 162; and anti-colonial politics 63–71; backward castes of 283; and colonial modernity in Bihar 6–14; exodus from Bihar 155–59; main groups of 198;

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371

mass-based democratic politics 335; Pasmanda–Dalit Muslim communities 337, 340; political evolution of 6–14; politics of, around Urdu (1971–89) 263–66; power sharing, denial of 24–43; punyabhumi (holy land) 194; school dropout rates 250; separatism, issue of 1, 7; social stratifications 278 Muslim Conference of Delhi 114 Muslim electorates 138, 221–22, 224, 263, 265, 271–72 Muslim goalas 290 Muslim identity, protection and modernization of 296 Muslim Independent Party (MIP) 24, 72, 75, 84–85, 123–26, 137, 182; ‘Hindu backlash’ against 25 Muslim Intellectual Forum (1993) 274, 281, 296, 338 Muslim leadership 20, 27, 33, 46, 69, 79, 120, 252, 267, 275, 305, 311, 319; and Hindu–Muslim unity 79–83; social composition of 304 Muslim leaders of Bihar: Azad, Abul Kalam 71–74; Jinnah, M. A. 83–88; Sajjad, Maulana 74–79 Muslim League 1, 15, 26, 34, 113–15, 126; Agra session 64; communal– territorial separatism 2, 192, 238, 280; contention for separate electorates 209; demand for Pakistan 34, 42, 77, 82, 132, 171, 191; denunciation of, by Arab leaders 212; ‘Direct Action’ 230; electoral victory of 220–23, 230; idea of separatism 182; Lahore resolution 32, 77, 113, 144, 181–83, 196, 210, 213, 225, 323; Lucknow session 135; National Guards’ militant outfits 160; observances of ‘Pakistan Day’ 29; opposition of Momin Conference against

372

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Muslim Politics in Bihar

195–202; Pakistan Resolution 139, 196; Patna session 77; plea of cultural dissimilarity 196; propaganda against Congress party 124, 224; Rayeen and Mansoori assertion against 202–3; relief and rehabilitation works 155; reorganization of 30; resolution against cow slaughter 104; separatist politics of 179, 236; shareef politics of 203; territorial separatism, politics of 318; test of watan (homeland) 195; Volunteer Corps 323; Women’s Sub Committee 140; Working Committee 212 Muslim Massacre Committee see Congress Muslim Mass Contact Committee Muslim Mass Contact Programme (MMCP) 26–27, 86, 131, 139, 149, 228–29 Muslim National Guard 180 Muslim Personal Law 241, 260, 276, 299, 306, 311, 315 Muslim politics, in post-independence Bihar 235–43 Muslim Progressive Writers 35 Muslim Students Federation (MSF) 35, 134, 156, 323, 329 Muslim United Party (MUP) 131, 134 muttahidah qaumiyat see composite nationalism Muzaffarpur Central College 50–51 Muzakira-e-Ilmiya (Arrah) 49 Nadwat-ul-Ulema (Club of Clergy or Ulema) 63 Nagri Pracharini Sabha 95, 255 Nagri Resolution 256 Nagri script 9, 53, 95, 142, 253, 255–56 Naqeeb’s repudiation of ‘two-nation theory’ 182–95

Narayan, Jai Prakash 34, 230, 238, 265 Natesan, G. A. 79 Nationalist Muslim (Parliamentary) Board 34 Nationalist Muslim Conference 211 National Mohammedan Association in Bihar 53 National Sample Sur vey Office (NSSO) 284 Nazimuddin, Khwaja 29, 139, 150 Nehru, Jawaharlal 38, 80, 87, 131, 140, 146, 174, 231 Nikhil Praja Samiti (1929) 134 Noakhali riots (1946) 36–37, 40, 151–52, 154–55, 169, 171, 230, 232, 330–31 Nomani, Maulana Shibli 63 Non Cooperation Movement 18, 65–67, 75, 107, 133, 319, 321 official language 46, 275, 333, 335 ostracizing, power of 91 Other Backward Classes (OBCs) 249, 265 Ottoman Empire 319 Ottoman Khalifa 73 Pakistan: ‘Pakistan’ Movement 78, 132; Pakistan Plan 143; ‘Pakistan’ resolution of Lahore 139; Pakistan Scheme 30, 196, 198, 210–11, 216; referendum for 221 Panchayat elections of 2006 313–14 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) 310, 313–14, 341 Pandey, Kedar 57, 265 Pandey, Shreedhar Narayan 57 Pant, Govind Ballabh 121, 333 Parmanand, Bhai 27, 143 partition of Bengal 3, 4, 12, 61, 97 partition of India (1947) 1, 6, 179, 216 ‘Pasmanda Agenda 1999’ 276

Index Pasmanda Awaz 304–11, 338 Pasmanda Biradris 47 Pasmanda movement 304, 306–7 Patel, Hitendra 92, 109 Patel, Vallabhbhai 231–32, 236 Patna Women Association 68 ‘Patriotic Muslims’ conference 181 ‘People’s Manifesto’ 259 Perso-Arabic language 53, 93 Personal Law Boards 276, 305, 311 Personal Laws of Muslims 78 Pinch, William R. 292 Pirpur Report 127, 324, 327 Ploughmen’s Begging Movement 90 pluralist democracy 234 political education 53 political empowerment 274, 314, 338 political rights of the Muslims 180 Poona Pact (1932) 3, 21, 23, 215 post-World War II, economy situation 159–78 poverty, levels of 288, 292 Praja Socialist Party (PSP) 262 Prasad, Murli Manohar 37, 169, 171, 233, 320, 331 Prasad, Rajendra 34, 57, 81, 104, 106, 108–9, 112, 124–25, 129, 131, 136–38, 140, 146, 150, 153–54, 161, 198, 219, 224, 232, 252, 325 preferential treatment, issue of 47, 268, 276, 281–82 public employment 150, 282, 305, 337; for backward castes 270; Bengali hegemony in 279; budgetary allocation 267; caste-based reservations in 310; civil services recruitment examinations 249; Muslim representation in 250, 267; reservation and quota system 276, 305; through Urdu language 279; Urdu, reservations and the Muslim share in 248–50; for Urdu speaking population 243

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373

Punjab Hindu Conference 149 Purna Swaraj 70 Qaiser, Rizwan 319 Quddus, Abdul 169–70, 173, 217 Quit India Movement (1942) 33, 88, 162, 169, 217, 322 quota system 276 Quraishi, Md Ibrahim 305 qurbani, notion of 97, 99, 102–3, 118 Radcliffe Commission 331–32 Raghavan, T. C. A. 5 Raheem, Taqi 6, 14, 20, 23, 25, 33, 37, 40, 48, 80–81, 85, 136, 161, 171, 232, 257, 269 Rajendra–Haq Pact 256 Ranveer Sena 296, 299 Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) 301, 307 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) 30–32, 113, 139, 142–43, 161, 170, 224, 242, 261–62, 277; military training 161; organizational proliferation of 30–31 Rath Yatra procession 97, 126, 271, 324 Rayeen Conference 8, 28, 29, 202, 235 Rayeens 130, 202–3, 209, 258, 266, 277, 280–83, 285, 290 ‘regional patriotism’ 59; in Bihar 60; of educated middle class 279 Rehmani, Maulana Shah Minnatullah 324 religious-communal separatism 45 religious discrimination 276 religious freedom 34, 76–77, 79, 185, 194, 205, 320 religious liberty 101 religious nationalism 7, 45, 151, 322 religious penalties 91 religious pluralism, notion of 45, 331 religious procession 76, 185, 320, 324 religious tolerance 68, 182

374

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Muslim Politics in Bihar

reservations, in public employment: for backward castes 249; benefits of 250; demand of 215; Muslims, share of 248–50 revolt of 1857 48 Reyaz-e-Tirhut (1868) 9 Right to Information (RTI Act 2005) 308 Rizvi, Badshah Nawab 55 Robinson, Francis 7 Round Table Conferences 71, 118, 121, 184 Rowlatt Satyagraha 98, 102 Rural Development Department 128, 131, 228 Russell, Ralph 242 Rutherford, Thomas 40, 192–93, 235 Sachar Committee Report (2005) 250 Sadaqat Ashram 66–67, 137 Sahajanand Saraswati, Swami 22 Sahay, Baldev 25, 124, 147, 150, 165, 233, 237, 326 sajjada nashins 35, 53, 73, 218, 311, 321 Sajjad, Maulana 105, 123, 131, 182–86, 190, 227, 320, 325; letter to Jinnah 77; role in Muslim politics in Bihar 74–79 Salt Satyagraha in Bihar 81 Sampurna Kranti 265 Sanatan Dharma Sabha 14, 113, 142 Sangh Parivar 310 ‘Sanskritization’ among Hindus 289 Sanyukta Socialist Party (SSP) 261, 264 Sarda Act (Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929–30) 78 Sarkar, Sumit 222–23 Sarwar, Ghulam 246, 251–52, 255, 257, 264–67, 266, 267, 269–70, 284, 303, 310

Savarkar, V. D. 30, 136, 139–40, 142–43, 153 Scheduled Castes 246, 282–87, 292, 312 school education, anti-colonial nationalist 130 secular democracy 45, 279, 331–32, 334 secularism 44–45, 138, 275, 296, 305, 310, 315, 339 self-determination, right to 45, 238; Congress demand for 212 self-employment 285 Seohaarwi, Maulana Hifzur Rahman 190–91 separate electorate, principle of 13, 20, 23, 61–63, 114, 209 Sewa Samiti 18, 118 Shahabad riots (1917) 14–15, 64, 97, 120, 326, 329–30; Lucknow Pact (1916) and 100; political fallout of 98–101; severity of 100 Shaheed, Syed Ahmad 33 Shah Kabiruddin of Sasaram 8 Shaikh, Farzana 7 Shareef Report 26, 127, 151, 324 Sharfuddin, Syed 9–10, 57–58, 172 Shariat (Islamic Law) 24 shariat courts 76 Sheikhs of Bihar 293 Shershahabadi (criminal tribe) 289 Shia Conference 29, 187, 206–7 Shia Political Conference 8, 28, 29, 88, 204–12 Shudhi movement 16, 19, 25, 36, 104–6, 109, 118–19 Shudhi-Sangathan Movement 75 Sikh Mass Contact 228 Simon Commission 20, 69 Singh, Charan 268 Singh, Deep Narayan 13, 61 Singh, Kumar Ganganand 141 Singh, V. P. 271

Index Sinha, Anugraha Narayan 108, 118, 125, 138, 166 Sinha, Ganganand 152 Sinha, Mahamaya Prasad 262 Sinha, Shri Krishna 107, 222 Sir Syed Memorial Fund 49 Sitamarhi–Riga riots (1992) 271, 275, 280, 284, 312, 333, 335 Siyasat-e-Zalima 74 social groups, marginalized 46 social justice 280, 282, 297, 312; Pasmanda’s urge for 301 social security 310 Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 265 socio-economic justice 274, 338 socio-economic transformation 316 socio-religious reform movement 48 South Asian Islam 7 Srinivas, M. N. 289 State Disaster Relief Fund 341 sub-national nationalism 2 ‘subordinate patriotism’ 59 Sufi Khnaqahs 53, 321 Sunni schools of jurisprudence 49 Swadeshi movement 12, 61 Swami Shradhanand Memorial Fund Committee 108 Swami Shradhanand’s movement 109 Swaraj 39, 69–70, 107, 119, 121, 152, 195, 320–21, 326 Syeds 274, 285 Tamil movement 43 Tanweer-ul-Hasan Report 336–37 Tariqa-e-Muhammadiya 49 Teachers’ Training College 55 Tehreek-e-Niswani (1994) 274, 281, 294 territorial separatism, politics of 2, 44, 178, 192, 235, 279, 318, 320 Thakur, Karpuri 249, 262–63, 266–70, 287, 289–90

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Tirahutiya 53 Tirhut Urdu Conference of Muzaffarpur 256 Tribal Research Institute, Ranchi 289 Triveni Sangh 28 Tucker, Francis 166 ‘Two-nation theory’ 29, 35, 41, 136, 181, 213, 225, 320, 322; Jamhoor Muslim League and 213–20; Momin Conference, opposition of 195–202; Muslim opposition to 323; Muslim Pub-lic Opinion 191; Naqeeb’s repudiation of 182–95; and partition scheme 181, 210 ulema 8, 10, 33, 49, 57, 63, 69, 71–73, 76, 87, 104, 124, 241, 260–61, 320 Umair, Shah Mohammad 21, 27, 120, 179, 322, 327 ummah 7 Uniform Civil Code 295 United Bengal Plan (Sarat Chandra Bose) 4 United Provinces see Uttar Pradesh (UP) urban slums 305 Urdu Academies 246, 311; Bihar Urdu Academy 266 Urdu Defence Committee agitation (1900–1901) 256 Urdu language: decline or marginalization of 242; discrimination against 145, 240–41, 336; as election issue after 1947 256–63; incentives of public employment for 243; job opportunities, for Urdu translators 262; negligence in public employment 337; pol-itical movement of 242, 245, 337; as second official language 248, 262, 268–72, 275,

376

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Muslim Politics in Bihar

279–80, 333, 335; signature campaign in support of 240; Urdu Public Sphere 244 Urdu literature, promotion of 247, 251–52, 255–56, 338 Urdu movement 245–46, 257, 270, 272 Urdu politics 248, 250–53; Janata Party Government (1977–79) 266–68; in late-colonial Bihar 253–56 Uttar Pradesh (UP) 47, 243, 279, 295, 333 vote bank: caste-based 315; Muslim vote-bank (Nitish Era, 2005–10) 301–4; politics of 300 Wahab, Abdul 22, 48, 74, 81–82, 218 ‘Wahabi’ Movement 33, 48–49, 83, 101, 239, 322 Waqf Boards 305, 311

Wardha Scheme of education 130–31, 146 watani (territorial) azadi 194 Wavell, A. P. 38, 155, 160, 230–31, 327 Western education in Bihar 49–59; inter-community collaborations 52 Yadav, Lalu Prasad 271, 282–84, 342; Lalu–Rabri rule 280, 297–98, 302–4, 340, 342; Muslim–Yadav (M–Y ) electoral partnership 272, 309; vote politics 300 Yadav Mahasabha 28 zamindari system 3, 52, 111, 129, 167–68, 216; abolition of 159; private armies 162 Zamindar Sabha 128 Zubdat-ul-Madaris see Bihar Literary Society (1873)