This is the story of the partition of Bengal 1905.
The East India Company infamously used the policy of ‘divide and rule’ to control India. The East India Company, as its name suggests had its base in the eastern port city of India, Calcutta. Calcutta was a part of Bengal province. Bengal was also the first province to come under the control of the East India company. Since their arrival in 1698, the EIC had been planting the seeds of divisive policies in the province
With time, the East India Company’s planted seed of division had now grown into a tree.
The Hindus and Muslims of Bengal were concentrated on two different sides of the province. Eastern Bengal was a Muslim majority and western Bengal had a Hindu majority.
Lord Curzon, who was the governor of Bengal Province decided that this province was too big to properly govern. The Bengal province included the modern-day states of Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, and Bangladesh. It had a population of almost eighty million which was the population of France back then.
Though the reason given was purely based on governing issues, when the division happened it was on a religious basis. In 1905, Bengal was divided into eastern Bengal and Western Bengal. The people of Bengal were not happy with the decision.
Indian National Congress understood the people’s opinion and started working towards it. Indian National Congress called for the Swadeshi movement. Under this movement, people were supposed to boycott British goods and promote Indian or Swadeshi goods. The movement spread like a fire. The effectiveness of the movement was in its simplicity. The public was not asked to fight or even come out of their house.
The Muslim population under the leadership of the All India Muslim League, did not participate in it. They already wanted a separate nation, and hence were happy with the decision. Despite this, the outcome of such a big population not buying their goods was major enough for the British to notice.
In the year 1911, the decision was overruled by the British government. A new division was made based on languages. This time Bihar and Odisha were made independent states while the Bengali-speaking part of Bengal remained whole. Also, the capital of India was shifted to Delhi from Calcutta. This was done as a punishment to the general public for going against the government.
Lots of positive came out of this event. For the first time, a British decision was overruled and that too without a drop of blood being shed. In the future, this non-violence approach against the British will pave the way to Indian independence.
Another important victory was the acceptance of the Indian National Congress by the general public. INC will go on to become a major player in the events leading up to independence. It will also produce some of the most influential leaders in the nation.
But the damage that the partition did was going to be long-term damage. The religious groups remained separated. After the independence, eastern Bengal became eastern Pakistan and in the year 1971, it became Bangladesh. Lots of lives were lost in the process.