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What Did Gandhi Do During Communal Riots In India?

As Delhi burns and bleeds due to silence & also due to hatred incited by top leaders, we learn what Gandhi did during communal riots to curb the situation.

New Delhi| Since Sunday evening, NE Delhi has witnessed riots and targeted violence which was triggered by BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s ‘ultimatum’ to the Delhi Police that the anti-CAA protesters at Jaffrabad and Chandbagh should be removed within three days.

At least 20 people have died in the violence, including a head constable.

In many areas, police have been accused of siding with violent groups in attacking Muslims. On Tuesday, several journalists were also attacked, with mobs snatching phones and forcefully deleting videos or photos that recorded instances of arson and vandalism.

Even with the intense violence in the national capital, the central and the state governments have not put any real efforts to curb or control the situation. The BJP leaders have boasted about the revolutionary PM Narendra Modi and the ruling party–AAP which is re-elected the grounds of their ‘work’, has conveniently kept away from acting on the communal riots.

Amidst the cowardice shown by all the top leaders of our country today, we recall the courage of Mahatma Gandhi during difficult times.

Gandhi in Noakhali (1946-1947)

The Noakhali riots were a series of semi-organized massacres, rapes, abductions and forced conversions of Hindus to Islam and looting and arson of Hindu properties perpetuated by the Muslim community in the districts of Noakhali.

In Muslim League-ruled Bengal, Gandhi encountered a frightened Hindu population. He had to actually talk his way into people’s hearts, counsel courage and dignity.

Gandhi was in Noakhali and Tipperah districts from 6th November 1946, and he stayed there till the end of February 1947.

November 7, 1946: While talking to relief workers in Chandpur he said, “Use your arms well if you must. Do not ill-use them. Bihar has not used its arms well. If the Biharis wanted to retaliate, they could have gone to Noakhali and died to a man. But for a thousand Hindus to fall upon a handful of Mussalmans – men, women and children – living in their midst is no retaliation but just brutality.”

“It is the privilege of arms to protect the weak and helpless. The best succour that Bihar could have given to the Hindus of East Bengal would have been to guarantee with their own lives the absolute safety of the Muslim population living in their midst. Their example would have told. And I have faith that they will still do so with due repentance when the present madness has passed away. Anyway, that is the price I have put upon my life if they want me to live. Here ends the first lesson.”

Also read: AIMIM is not against the Hindus, but against Hindutva: Asaduddin Owaisi

Gandhi In Bihar (1947)

Communal riots happened in Bihar from 24 October to 11 November 1946, in which Hindu mobs targeted Muslim families. The riots were triggered by the Great Calcutta Killings, as well as the Noakhali riots earlier that year.

March 5, 1947: In a speech at Prayer Meeting in Patna Gandhi said, “If Muslims believe that they would annihilate the Hindus or if Hindus believe that they would annihilate the Muslims, I should like to ask them what they would gain thereby? Muslims will not serve Islam if they annihilate the Hindus; rather they would thereby destroy Islam. And if the Hindus believe that they would be able to annihilate Islam it means that they would be annihilating Hindu dharma…”

“The Hindus in Bihar…should do their duty by contributing to a fund for the relief of Muslims by way of repentance. No one should think that he need not lift his little finger since there is already a Congress ministry with a Congress majority here, which will do everything that needs to be done…I did not beg for money in Noakhali because I received unsought about three lakh rupees. Today I thought I should hold out the begging bowl here and awaken the conscience of the people…I can only remind you of your duty. I cannot perform your duty. Hence you must contribute generously to the Bihar fund.”

Gandhi boldly states that it is not Hinduism but ‘Satanism’.

Gandhi not only delivered speeches but also encouraged and raised fund for victims of the violence and responded to letters regarding the issues and addressed meetings personally, all to curb the series of riots.

Even then, the Hindu and Muslim extremists had spread the communal hatred in the name of religion and Gandhi went places to normalize the situation. While he failed in a lot of places due to vulnerable time as British were leaving India and the uncertainty of partition, Indian leaders can still use his ways to bring peace because India is in a much better place today.

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