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Noakhali genocide & its relevance in the present times

Jun 20, 2015

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Weeks following the Kojagori Lakshmi Puja day on 10 October 1946, the Bengali Hindu population in the outlying districts of Noakhali and Tipperah were nearly annihilated by a devastating genocide. A series of organized massacres, gang rapes, abductions, forced conversions and economic boycott followed by starvation, malnutrition and diseases resulted in the forced outmigration of the surviving Bengali Hindu population, resulting is an ethnic cleansing. The perpetrators including the Muslim National Guard, the ex-servicemen and the private armies of Muslim League leaders celebrated Pakistan Day on 23 February 1947 and soon after the area was incorporated into Pakistan, as the Partition of India took place.

The Noakhali genocide, later became the standard template for the Islamists in East Pakistan and later Bangladesh to deal with the Bengali Hindu and other ethnic minorities. While the genocide and ethnic cleansing continued unabated, we developed a tradition of greeting them with a stony silence. However, this was not the case when the genocide took place in Noakhali and Tippera. Two weeks after the massacres had begun, Hindus from all over India had observed Noakhali Day as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the genocide. It was not only observed in Patna, Delhi and Mumbai, but also in faraway places like Lahore and Karachi, then a part of India. Hindus all over India observed 'black' Diwali in 1946 to express their solidarity.

In 2014, the Noakhali Day shall be observed again not only to express our solidarity for the victims of the Noakhali genocide, but also as an initiative to revive the tradition of expressing our solidarity for the Hindu victims of genocides anywhere in the world. A mere expression of solidarity may not bring any justice to the victims of the genocide or their kins, however, it may help us in getting started towards fulfilling our duty of bringing peace to the departed souls. Let us make a collective resolution for building a Noakhali genocide memorial on the occasion of Noakhali Day.

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