[lg policy] Why Bangladeshis hate Jinnah

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu May 10 10:34:46 EDT 2018

 Why Bangladeshis hate Jinnah
THE ASIAN AGE. | VIVEK SHUKLA <http://www.asianage.com/byline/vivek-shukla>
*Published : * May 10, 2018, 5:26 am IST
*Updated : * May 10, 2018, 5:27 am IST

Jinnah’s attitude completely shocked all those who supported his two-nation
theory on the basis of religion.
[image: Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948)]
 Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948)

As Mohammad Ali Jinnah is in news currently, it is time to discuss his
pivotal role in the making of Bangladesh. The seed of division of Pakistan
was sown by none other than Jinnah himself on March 21, 1948 in the then
Dacca (now Dhaka). Less than one year after he managed to carve out a
separate nation for Muslims of India, he consciously or unconsciously
divided Pakistan in the name of his flawed language policy. It took around
25 years for actual division of Pakistan though.

In the height of civic unrest in East Pakistan against the imposition of
Urdu on Bengali-speaking people, Jinnah arrived in Dhaka on March 19, 1948.
On March 21, at a civic reception at city’s Race Course ground, he declared
that “Urdu, and only Urdu” embodied the spirit of Muslim nation and would
remain as the state language, labelling those who disagreed with his views
as “enemies of Pakistan”. Jinnah delivered a similar speech at Curzon Hall
of the University of Dhaka on March 24.

As it was not enough, before Jinnah left Dhaka on March 28, he delivered a
speech on radio reasserting his “Urdu-only” policy. Jinnah’s attitude
completely shocked all those who supported his two-nation theory on the
basis of religion.

It is no secret that entire East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was very annoyed
after Jinnah declared that Urdu would be the mother tongue of newly-created
Pakistan. This was absolutely unacceptable to people of East Pakistan.
While they supported the cause of Jinnah and his All-India Muslim League
for separate nation, they were not ready to compromise on their culture and

Widespread protests started after Jinnah made this announcement.
Importantly, supporters of Bengali opposed Urdu even before the creation of
Pakistan, when delegates from Bengal rejected the idea of making Urdu the
lingua franca of Muslim India in the 1937 Lucknow session of the Muslim
League, they were assured by both Jinnah and his deputy in the All-India
Muslim League Liaquat Ali Khan that there interests would be protected as
and when they attain separate nation for Muslims.

And after Jinnah’s announcement, unending protests against imposition of
Urdu became part of East Pakistan life. Dhaka University campus was the
bastion of pro-Bangla protestors. Like any other day, they were protesting
peacefully on February 21, 1952. And then suddenly, Pakistani rangers
started firing on those young guys, killing many students and political
activists. They were demanding equal status to their native tongue, Bangla.
The massacre occurred near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park. Despite
very tense moments, a makeshift monument was erected on February 23, 1952
by Dhaka university students and other educational institutions.

To commemorate the die-hard lovers of Bangla, the Shaheed Minar was
designed and built. The monument stood until the Bangladesh Liberation war
in 1971, when it was demolished completely by Pakistani forces during
Operation Searchlight.

The columns were destroyed during the fighting. The Pakistani Army crushed
the minar and placed over the rubble a signboard reading “Mosque”. After
Bangladesh came into existence, Shaheed Minar was rebuilt.

One must remember that the overwhelming number of Muslim population in
Bengal had supported the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan, the central
leadership of All-India Muslim League was disproportionately skewed in
favour of non-Bengali leaders of different provinces. Jinnah had
effectively used most of the popular leaders of Bengal for the purpose of
mobilising support in favour of his “two-nation theory” and the demand for
separate homeland for Muslims of India. Yet, Jinnah had preferred to
promote and project the non-Bengali loyalists in his party. In East
Pakistan, A.K. Fazlul Huq was the most charismatic leader, even more than
Jinnah himself. Although his support for Pakistan movement was genuine, he
did not tolerate Jinnah’s unfair interference in Bengal politics. While he
was one of the key movers of the 1940 Lahore Resolution for Muslim
homeland, he was expelled from the All-India Muslim League in 1941. This
came as a big blow to Bengalis. Instead of taking dictates from Jinnah or
Liaquat Ali Khan, Fazlul Huq had resigned from the Muslim League for which
he had to be in political exile for more than 10 years.

While it is not denying the fact that the language movement epitomises the
spirit of Bangladeshi nationalism, it is a fact that Jinnah’s whimsical
views on the issue of Urdu as well as step-motherly treatment with Bengali
leaders and people created deep sense of alienation among them, which later
sowed seeds of disintegration of Pakistan.

The writer is former editor, Somaiya Publications/Dainik Bhaskar


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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