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Henry Judd

Communal Riots a Tragic Injury
to India’s Independence Cause

(26 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 34, 26 August 1946, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the eve of probable assumption of political power by the All-India Congress Party (Gandhi and Nehru), the most violent and deadly Hindu- Moslem rioting in many years has shaken India. Hundreds of dead lie in the streets of Calcutta, India’s second largest city, after days of bloody rioting between Hindus and Moslems, led by fanatics on both sides. This tragic situation marks a great increase in tension and bitterness between the two largest communities of the Indian nation.

At the same time, there is every indication that the conservative Congress Party, dominated by the largely Hindu capitalist class of India, is about to take political responsibility for the government, thus forming an alliance with British imperialism. After months of endless negotiations, the Congress is on the verge of forming an Executive Council, with the British Viceroy’s approval. The outburst of Hindu-Moslem communal discord may prevent, or delay, this action. But it is clear that Nehru, the president and official spokesman of the Congress Party, is willing and anxious to make the deal with imperialism and assume office. His lifelong ambition to become Prime Minister of India seems on the point of fulfillment, regardless of the fact that it will take place with British support.

The Moslem League will not be in the provisional government’s cabinet, unless its leader, Jinnah, withdraws his previous declination. It will be a purely Congress Party cabinet, with little minority representation. This provisional government is supposed to last until the convocation of the British-called-and-dominated Constituent Assembly which is, in turn, supposed to create a new constitution and government for the country. It is highly doubtful that things will work out this way and that the Congress Party of native capitalists will achieve its goal – namely, a peaceful transition to partnership rule, shared by Indian capitalists and British imperialists. The situation is far too tense, complicated and explosive to expect such a solution.

The Calcutta communal riots represent the greatest tragedy imaginable for India’s freedom cause, and the future of its revolutionary movement. Hindu and Moslem mobs, led by religious fanatics, instead of uniting against the common enemy, are wasting their lives and blood in futile attacks upon one another. Whose is the responsibility for this tragic situation?

First and foremost, the British rulers who have consistently played off one community against the other, in line with traditional “divide-and- rule” strategy. Instigation of one group against the other is an old story in India. Rarely, certainly not for years, has it been so extreme. So long as the British troops and masters remain, the problem will become worse and never approach a solution.

For the immediate situation, heavy responsibility falls upon the reactionary Moslem League and its treacherous leader, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Dissatisfied in his negotiations with the British and Congress Party, Jinnah broke off his previously accepted deal and called upon his followers to “prepare civil war,” and organize demonstrations against the Congress Party. In Calcutta, the rioting began with attacks on Congress Party newspapers and headquarters – NOT demonstrations against British rule.

This was Jinnah’s way of attempting to force the Congress to yield further to his demands for Moslem separationism in the new India. Jinnah is guilty of the greatest crime of all – dividing the Indian people and thus aiding the perpetuation of British rule. His League, headed by religious fanatics, students and big landlords of the Moslem comnmunity, has dealt a heavy blow at India’s struggle for national independence.

But the Congress Party of Gandhi and Nehru is far from blameless in the situation. Its present goal is to take power, along with the British, over the Indian nation, without seriously attempting to solve the basic questions of the country – famine, unemployment, food, freedom. The people of India are very suspicious of the Congress plans, particularly the Moslem masses who have already tasted Congress rule during a prior experience. And, most of all, by refusing to guarantee the Moslem population its democratic rights – including the right to organize a separate “Pakistan” country if they so desire – the Congress leaders have given Jinnah every opportunity to carry on his vicious, demagogic work. Thus all alike – British imperialist, Moslem League landlord and Hindu feudal capitalist – are guilty of the confused atmosphere in which Hindu and Moslem engage in senseless self-slaughter.

The Indian Trotskyists propose the summoning of a nationwide Constituent Assembly, elected by the people on the basis of universal suffrage, which shall have power to create a democratic government and solve the minority problem according to popular will.

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