History of 20th July-1st Partition of Bengal

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20th July

Explore the events from the history of  20th July including the ascension of Henry I as King of the Franks, the capture of Starling Castle by King Edward I of England, and others. Shift focus to the feature story, highlighting the First Partition of Bengal in 1905 and its impact on India’s history, the reasons behind the partition, popular resistance, and its eventual annulment.

As I turn the pages from the history of 20th July, I find that on this day Henry I succeeded his father Robert II as King of the Franks in the year 1031. I also see that on this day King Edward I of England takes the last rebel stronghold of the war of the Scottish Independence with the fall of Starling Castle in the year 1304.

Furthermore, the history of 20th July takes us to the year 1402 when the Army of Timur (Tamerlane) with its armor-plated elephants defeats the forces of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, capturing Bayezid in the process leading to an Ottoman power vacuum in the battle of Ankara. Additionally, on this day Adolf Hitler survives an assassination attempt led by German Army Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in the year 1944.

Many such events unfolded in the history of 20th July, but let us now shift our focus to the feature story from today.

The First Partition of Bengal

The history of 20 July 1905. It was this day when the first partition of Bengal was approved in London by the Secretary of State of India. The partition of Bengal, also known as ‘Bongo-Bhongo,’ occurred under the leadership of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of British India at that time. The primary objective was to separate the Hindu-majority and Muslim-majority areas.

While Lord Curzon cited administrative reasons for the partition, many Indians believed it was part of the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy employed by the British Government to maintain control.

The partition of Bengal was a complex undertaking for the British Government, as it involved a vast province with a population of over 80 million people, covering an area comparable to France. Bengal encompassed present-day Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Orissa, with Calcutta serving as its capital and also the capital of British India.

The British Government cited several reasons for the partition. They argued that Bengal’s size made it difficult to administer efficiently, and the eastern part was less prosperous than the western region. Additionally, Lord Curzon, who initiated the concept, sought to separate Bengalis from other Indians. However, the Indian populace, opposed the partition, viewing it as a British policy aimed at dividing Hindus and Muslims to maintain control through a “Divide and Rule” strategy.

Despite popular resistance, the partition proposal was signed and verified on the 20th of July 1905. Ultimately on the 16th of October 1905, Bengal was divided into two provinces: the first included West Bengal, Orissa, and Bihar, while the second comprised East Bengal and Assam. East Bengal, with its capital in Dhaka, had a Muslim majority, while West Bengal had a Hindu majority.

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The partition sparked widespread unrest, with various leaders and poets like Rabindranath Tagore leading the protests against the communal division of the people. The movement gave rise to the “Swadeshi Movement” and “Boycott Movement,” with people avoiding British goods. It was during this time Rabindranath Tagore, penned “Amar Sonar Bangla” to inspire Indians to resist the unjust partition and also encouraged Rakhi to be tied by each community to each other.

As public agitation intensified, the British Government eventually decided to annul the partition. On 12th December 1911, a meeting in Delhi declared the reunification of West Bengal and East Bengal, creating new provinces based on linguistic rather than communal differences. Assam was separated to form a distinct province. Furthermore, in 1911, the capital of British India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

Although the 1905 partition was eventually repealed due to widespread opposition, it served as a crucial tool for the British Government’s “Divide and Rule” policy to maintain its rule over India. Despite the short-lived nature of the 1905 partition, its impact on India’s people was profound. It exacerbated communal differences between Hindus and Muslims, ultimately fueling the demand for separate nations.

That’s all from the history of 20th July.

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