Accepted Paper:

Youth, violence and Pakistan: a study of Muslim national guards in Calcutta, 1942-47  


Sugata Nandi (West Bengal State University, Kolkata, India)

Paper short abstract:

The Muslim National Guards, quasi military youth wing of Muslim League, played a violent and vital role in Pakistan movement in Calcutta during 1942-47. This paper studies how it mobilized a large section of educated Muslim youth of the city to attain Pakistan using violence .

Paper long abstract:

This paper studies the Muslim National Guards (MNG) and its role in the politics of Partition as witnessed in Calcutta. The MNG was founded by Jinnah in 1942 as a youth organization of the Muslim League (ML). The Bengal Provincial MNG was headquartered in Calcutta and it was headed by Hussein Shahid Suhrawardy, the unrivalled mass leader among ML politicians in Bengal. He popularized the organization with the help of Abul Hashim, a socialist among Leaguers. The MNG indoctrinated Muslim students and youths for attainment of Pakistan and provided them with rudimentary military training. By 1943 it emerged as an association of young Pakistan movement activists in Calcutta. Two institutions, Calcutta Islamia College and Becker hostel, became nerve centres of its political activity. From the time of Direct Action Day which became occasion for outbreak of the first Partition riot in Calcutta on August 16, 1946 the MNG played a pivotal role in the violent campaign for Pakistan in the city. First as an arm of the ML to bring about the riot of August 1946 and then as a quasi-military instrument of routine intimidation and coercion till mid 1947 the MNG enjoyed decisive importance in city politics during the last year of the Raj. Examining its brief history I enquire how Pakistan turned into the sole rallying point for a large section of the educated Muslim youth of Calcutta and how they were mobilized to use violence to accomplish a political objective.

Panel P07
Mobilizing youth in colonial and post-colonial South Asia