Direct Action Day

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Direct Action Day (16 August 1946), also known as the Great Calcutta Killings, was a day of widespread riot and manslaughter between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) in the Bengal province of British India.


  • The Great Calcutta Killing of 1946 was again the consequence of a call for jihad, which in this case was pronounced by Mohammed Usman, the Mayor of Calcutta at that time. He put the call in black and white and addressed the mujãhids as follows: “It was in this month of Ramzan that open war between Mussalmans and Kafirs started in full swing. It was in this month that we entered victorious into Mecca and wiped out the idolaters. By Allah’s will, the All India Muslim League has selected the selfsame month of Ramzan to start its jihãd for realising Pakistan.”
    • Translated from the Bengali original cited in R.C. Majumdar, Bangladesher Itihasa, Volume IV. Quoted in Majumadāra, S. (2001). Jihad: The Islamic doctrine of permanent war. ch. 10
  • The 16 August, 1946 communal riots broke out in Calcutta after a few days. I would have been killed by a Muslim mob in the early hours of that day as I walked back towards my home from the coffee house which I had found closed. My fluent Urdu and my Western dress saved me. My wife and two year old son had joined me a few days earlier in a small room in a big house bordering on a large Muslim locality. On the evening of the 17th we had to vacate that house and scale a wall at the back to escape murderous Muslim mobs advancing with firearms. Had not the army moved in immediately after, I would not have lived to write what I am writing today.
    • Sita Ram Goel, How I became a Hindu, ch. 4
  • This scenario is not a hypothetical construction. It has been staged on a very large scale in 1946, when the Muslim League felt that it was not yet sufficiently supported by the common Muslims, and that the Hindus had not yet unambiguously conceded Pakistan. To convince the former that only the Muslim League and Pakistan could protect them, and to terrorize the latter into the big concession, the Muslim League government in Bengal organized a mass killing of Hindus (the Direct Action Day). They knew fully well that the Hindus would end up retaliating by killing innocent Muslims. Upon which more Muslims would kill Hindus, etc. The important effect was that Muslims suffered at the hands of the Hindus , lost all faith in co-existence with them, and joined hands with the communalist leaders. The pogroms against the Hindus caused a lot of deaths among the Muslim population, but for the Muslim League this brought resounding success. ... What makes creating riots even more attractive, is the sympathy you get for them from secularist politicians and intellectuals. When the Muslim League killed thousands of Hindus in Calcutta, Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru looked the other way. But when Hindu workers staying in Calcutta fled to their villages in Bihar and started killing Muslims there, the same Nehru proposed to bomb those villages from the air. When Hindus got killed, he didn't move a finger, but the killing of Muslims was enough to blow off his Gandhian facade and make him demand indiscriminate killing.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Ayodhya and after: issues before Hindu society. 1991.
  • Bengal Chief Minister H.S. Suhrawardy was not only politically responsible for the remarkable police inaction, but as a Muslim League leader, he had also organized the agitation.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.

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