The Partition Of Bengal (History)

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The first major political crisis which the British government faced after winning control of the sub-continent was over plans to partition the province of Bengal.

Title Description
Event
Type: Pre-partition history
In English: Partition of Bengal
In Urdu: تقسیم بنگال
Location: Bengal
Proposed By: Lord Curzon
Drafted By: British Government
Appreciated By: Muslims and Hindus
Partitioned into: Chittagong, Mymensingh, Dhaka
Importance: The Muslims were delighted as they now formed the majority in the new province of East Bengal, while the Hindus viewed it as a cynical exercise in the old British policy of “ divide and rule”
Partition reversed in: 1911,12 December
Proposed by: Sir John Jenkins
Announced at: Dehli Durbar
Announced by: King of England, George V,


Bengal

Lord Curzon

Lord Curzon

Bengal was the most densely populated province in the British Indian empire. In the western half of Bengal, there were 54 million people, of which 42 million were Hindu and 12 million were Muslim. In eastern Bengal and Assam, there were another 31 million people of which 18 million were Muslim and 12 million were Hindus. 

Formation of Eastern Bengal

In trying to control such a large province , there were obviously huge administrative problems. However, when the viceroy at the time, Lord Curzon, decided to partition the province, it was instantly seen by the Hindus as a deliberate plot to divide up their most educated and politicized province. Three dimensions in the old province, namely Dhaka, Chittagong and Mymensingh, were separated and were merged with Assam to create a new province called East Bengal. [1] bengal

Effects of Partition

Dehli Durbar

Dehli Durbar

Whether the British took this action for political or administrative reasons is still unclear. The immediate reaction, however, divided the Muslims and Hindus clearly along communal lines. The Muslims were delighted as they now formed the majority in the new province of East Bengal, while the Hindus viewed it as a cynical exercise in the old British policy of “ divide and rule”. The outcry by the Hindus was so great that the British seriously began to reconsider the wisdom of their decision, despite the administrative and practical expediency of the move. 

Swadeshi Movement riots

There was even a assassination attempt on a later viceroy, Lord Minto. Although the assassination attempt was unsuccessful, the Hindu protest movement continued, spreading into a boycott of British goods under “Swadeshi Movement” riots. The Hindu demonstrations and protests became larger and, while the Muslim community was pleased with the partition, they were not organized enough to counter Hindu agitation.

Proposal for the shifting of British capital

Lord Minto

Lord Minto

In June 1910, Sir John Jenkins, a member of the viceroy’s Executive Council, made a proposal for the capital of British Indian empire to be shifted to Delhi from Calcutta and suggested that the partition of Bengal should be reversed. It was thought by Jenkins that the king of England’s visit to the Indian Empire would be a good time to announce these changes. Lord Minto had departed as viceroy at this time and his successor, Lord Hardinge, agreed to the ideas. The detailed proposals included: 
  • The transfer of the British capital to Delhi.
  • The creation of United Bengal as a presidency with e governor-general.
  • The creation of a province of Bihar and Orissa with a lieutenant-governor.
  • The restoration of the post of chief commissioner of Asam.

Partition of Bengal was reversed

Kin of England- George V

Kin of England- George V

The viceroy’s council agreed to all of these proposals and the viceroy had no difficulty in trying to persuade London to agree as well. These measures were, therefore, announced at the Delhi Durbar on 12 December 1911 by King George V. The partition of Bengal was now reversed. Although the king made it appear as a generous concession, there was no doubt that it was a victory for the Hindu nationalists.