Saturday, April 24, 2010
Direct Action Day,1946
India suffered the biggest Hindu-Moslem in its history. Moslem League Boss M.A.Jinnah had picked the 18th day of Ramadan for "Direct Action Day" against Britain's plan for Indian Independence (which does not satisfy the Moslems old demand for a separate Pakistan). Though dirct , the ction was supposed to be peaceful. But before the disastrous day was over, blood soaked the melting asphalt of sweltering Calcutta's street.
Rioting Moslems went after Hindus with guns, knives, and clubs, looted shops, stoned news papers offices, set fire to Calcutta's British Business districts. Hindus retaliated by firing moslem mosques, and miles of Moslem slums. Thousands of homeless families roamed the city in search of safety and food (most markets had been ppilfered or closed). Police blotters were filled with stories of women raped , mutilated and burned alive. Indian police , backed by British Spitfire scouting planes and armoured cars, battled mobs of both factions. Cried Hindu Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (who is trying to form an interim Govt. despite the Musalmans refusal to enter), " Either direct action knocks the govt over , or the Govt knocks direct a tion over.'
By the 21st day of Ramadin, direct action had killed some 3,000 people or wounded thousands more. Said one weary police officer "All we can do is move the bodies to one side of the street."Vultures tore into the rapid putrefying corpses ( among them bodies of many women and children.).
Like other India Leaders , Jinnah denounced the "fratricidal war".ut most observers wondered how Jinnah could fail to know what would happen when he called for "direct action ." Shortly before the riots broke out, his own News Agency (Orient Press) reported that Jinnah, anticipating violence , was sleeping on the floor these nights - to toughen up for a possible sojourn in jail.