History of the Partition of Bengal and Demographic Changes

Ancient times


In Vedic literature, the word ‘Banga’ was first used as a name for ‘a nation and a country’ (Bangamgadhascherpada).  The kings took part in the battle of Mahabharata which took place about five thousand one hundred and fifty eight years ago (Suryasiddhanta).
       Ancient books like Baudhayana Sutra, Satpatha Brahman, Abhidan Chintamani and Manjushrimulkalpa etc. mention ‘Banga’ and various groups living here.
        There is ample evidence in history that this geographical region was very prosperous during the Magadha Empire, the Maurya period and beyond. The ‘Gangaride’ or lower Gangetic and adjoining region that Greek historians wrote about was now the vast Bengal.  Tamralipta was a well-known seaport.
The story of a dutiful father fainting after seeing off his beloved son to a sea boat for the purpose of religious propagation to Tamraparni(Srilanka) still breaks even the  strongest heart..  No, his father never met his son Mahendra again. Emperor Ashoka said goodbye to his son at the Tamralipta  port.
       The ‘Bhavishya Purana’ mentions seven kingdoms of this geographical region. These are 1. Gaur, 2.  Barindra, 3. Suhmah or Radh, 4. Nibiti (eastern and southeastern part of present day Bangladesh), 5. Jharkhand (undivided Santal Parganas) 6. Varahbhumi (undivided Manbhum) and 7. Bardhaman.  From this it is understood that almost all of the drainage system in the southern part of the Gangetic basin belonged to ancient Bengal.  Very naturally a cultural unity developed in this region.  The Muslim rule in Bengal was the first to tear apart this cultural unity.
          After the Gupta rule and the Gaur-king Shashanka, the Pala and Sena kings were able to unite ancient Bengal fairly.  Although there was sometimes political disunity, cultural divisions were not created.

Middle Ages


When Bakhtiyar Khilji occupied a large area of Bengal in 1204 AD, a horrible era began.   Madhu  Sen was the last king of the Sen dynasty. In 1269 AD after Sen’s death, darkness descended on Bengal.  Desecration of Hindu shrines, destruction of temples and forcible conversion,  conversion for fear or sometimes for greed had become a daily occurrence.  Associated with this are ‘Jat Mara’ and ‘Jat jaoya’.  The Muslim society continued to grow in Bengal. Gradually their division with the Hindus continued to grow.  It did not change much during the reign of Ilyas Shahi or Husain Shahi dynasty. The situation was the same even though King Ganesh ruled for a few days.
             “Kamrup-Kamta-Jajnagar-Orissa bijoyi” Hussain Shah was born in the village of Devnagar in Rangpur (Bangladesh).  Husain Shah, the son of a Hindu mother, was the first Bengali Muslim ruler (‘Babarnama’).  Under the strong pressure of Qazis and Maulvis, this weak-minded ruler lost the opportunity of good governance.  But at this time Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was able to save Hinduism in Bengal through his devotional movement.
             After the fall of Daud Khan in 1576 AD, Bengal came under Mughal rule.  The ‘Suba Bangla’ of the Mughal period was bigger than the British period.  Because that suba had Bhagalpur, Purnia, Srihatta and Chittagong.  During the Nawabi period, Coochbehar, Tripura and Jayantia were subordinate kingdoms.  The Nawabs got the right to collect revenue from Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
        “Lutia Bhubaneswar Yavan Pataki.
           sei pape tin suba hoilo naraki. “

(Bharatchandra
  -About Alivardi Khan)

British era


According to the royal decree of 12th August 1765 AD, the responsibility of Suba Bengal came under the control of the British.
During the British rule, Suba Bangla was first divided in 1874 AD.  The Bengalee dominated  Goalpara, Kachar and Shrihatta  became the part of newly created Assam.  But the biggest blow came on October 16, 1905.  To create a Muslim-majority state  Muslims had called for jihad to turn East Bengal into Dar-ul-Islam.  The Hindus were terribly persecuted. Nawab Salimullah was in the lead. This time the Hindu Bengalis were divided into two halves.  In Bengal there were Bihar, Orissa, Presidency and Bardhaman divisions. The population was 54 million, of which Hindus were a little over 40 million. On the other hand, Assam and East Bengal had a population of 31 million, of which 13 million were Hindus and Buddhists.
             Although the partition of Bengal was abolished in 1911, Bihar, Orissa and Assam became separate. In Bengal, Hindus became a minority forever.  Even then no one realized that the last nail in the coffin of Hindu-Bengalis was left to destroy the dream of a united India.
              With the partition of India on 14th and 15th August 1947, Bengal was also divided.  The east side of the Radcliffe Line began to turn red with the blood of the Hindus.  There is no pause yet.
        West Bengal got 36% of the land and 35% of the people. Of these, 80% are Hindus and 20% are Muslims and non-Muslims.  On the other hand, East Pakistan (Bangladesh) got 64% land and 65% people.  Muslims make up 70% and Hindus 28% and Buddhists 2%.
         The chapter of deportation started. Bangladesh now has 92% Muslims and only 8% Hindus-Buddhists.  Needless to say, about 22% (on the basis of 1947) people took refuge from East Pakistan and later from Bangladesh in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and the rest of India.
         Pan-Islamic aggression has not stopped yet. The number of Hindus in present day West Bengal has decreased   to 66-68%.  But the number of Muslims has increased to 32-34%.  This increase continues for various reasons. Illegal penetration is certainly a big reason.
            History has it that whenever Hindus became a minority, Muslims drove them away or converted them.  If Bengali-speaking Hindus do not want to be refugees again, they must remember that S. N. Usman was the mayor of Calcutta during the 1946 riots.