Last Tuesday I said that in today’s column I will discuss who or who opposed the establishment of Dhaka University and why. We will first know the BBC’s commentary on this. The statement said that the purpose of establishing this university was to bring forward the backward people of East Bengal, especially the majority Muslims. The life span of the Partition of Bengal was only six years. In these six years, the leaders of West Bengal made a strong movement to cancel the partition of Bengal. With the repeal of the Partition of Bengal, the anger and deprivation of the Muslims accumulated more and more. They are convinced that they are being deprived of education as well as economic deprivation. Writer Abul Maqsood writes that Muslims were angry with Calcutta University even before the partition of Bengal. Because, not only Hindus were predominant in that university, Hinduism was also predominant in the university curriculum.
The Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, has been the most opposed among Hindus to the establishment of Dhaka University. His son Shyamaprasad Mukherjee was a staunch Hindu. It may be mentioned that the predecessor of the BJP that is ruling India today was the Hindu Mahasabha founded by Shyamaprasad Mukherjee.
Considering the political context of the time, Touhidul Haque, a teacher and researcher at Dhaka University, said, “We want to put Rabindranath in the third row among the three classes of people who opposed the establishment of Dhaka University.” Because, they were some of the upper caste Hindus of West Bengal. Rabindranath had several meetings and discussions with them, especially with Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, and with Surendranath Banerjee, a politician, before he left for Sealdah.
Opponents include Ashutosh Mukherjee and Surendranath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal, Surendranath Samajpati, Barrister Bomkesh Chakraborty, Peyari Mohan Mukhopadhyay, Ambikacharan Majumder and others. All of them were residents of Calcutta. But among the Hindus of Dhaka were influential lawyers of Dhaka and former municipality chairman Anand Chandra Roy, Babu Trailokyanath Bose and others. They thought that if DU was established, the interests of the Hindu elite would be harmed and Calcutta University would be harmed and its importance diminished.
The social and political importance of DU will be diminished if the establishment of Dhaka University is said to be only a compensation for the abolition of Partition. Even before the partition of Bengal, the Muslim leaders of East Bengal had been making efforts. On 30 October 1906, three months before the formation of the All India Muslim in Dhaka, a 35-member Muslim delegation met Lord Minto at Shimla on 1 October and presented a five-point demand. One of its main demands was to establish a university in Dhaka. The delegation was led by Sir Aga Khan. Among the members were Nawab Mohsin ul Mulk, Syed Nawab Ali Chowdhury, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and others. In history it is known as Shimla Deputation. The Indian National Congress says, ‘This is the biggest show on the communal stage.’ So it is clear that the Congress has also opposed the establishment of Dhaka University.
In 1911 another proposal was made to establish Dhaka University. On 19 August of that year, Nawab Salimullah and Nawab Ali Chowdhury reiterated this demand on the occasion of the assumption of office by Lord Charles Braille. On 31 January 1912, a delegation led by Nawab Salimullah again demanded the re-establishment of DU to Governor Lord Hardinge. These demands were part of a series of demands raised since 1908. The British government finally agreed to this demand and two days later on 2 February the official announcement of the establishment of DU came. Although writers of such genres as Abul Maqsood and Muntasir Mamun wanted to show lightly as a compensation for the abolition of the partition of Bengal, it was the result of the continuous efforts of Nawab Salimullah, Nawab Ali Chowdhury, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and others.
The official announcement of the establishment of Dhaka University seemed to have eroded the wheel of the Hindu community. Hindu leaders held protest rallies in Dhaka on 5 February 1912, Dhaka, Narayanganj and Faridpur on 10 February and Mymensingh on 11 February. It was said in these meetings, ‘This will divide the Bengali nation and increase the intensity of conflict between them. Most of the Muslims of East Bengal are farmers. So they will not be able to get any benefit from the higher education center like the university. ‘In a meeting chaired by Babu Trilokya Nath Basu, the president said,’ Education will deteriorate if Dhaka University is established. So there is no need for the proposed university. ‘Bipin Chandra Pal of Sylhet said,’ Dhaka University should be engaged in imparting education to the uneducated and peasant East Bengal. There will be no harmony between the education policy and merit of the people of East Bengal and West Bengal. ‘
Dr. 18 February 1912. A delegation led by Rashibari Ghosh presented the following memorandum to Lord Hardinge. The memorandum said, “The establishment of Dhaka University will be internally equivalent to the partition of Bengal.” Moreover, the Muslims of East Bengal are mainly farmers. So they will not benefit in any way from the establishment of Dhaka University. ‘
A point may attract the attention of the conscious reader. That is, despite the official announcement of the establishment of DU on February 2, 1912, the university officially started its journey. Why nine years late? Although a well-known faction blamed the First World War for this, the real incident was the administrative red tape of the Government of India and the Government of Bengal and the obstruction of Calcutta University.
The statement of opposition of the Hindu community to the establishment of Dhaka University cannot be concluded in one or two columns. Not to mention the story of this opposition as well as those who have contributed to the establishment of this university. Because those are hundreds of years ago. To the next three or four generations they are lost in the darkness of oblivion. The 1st of this month was the centenary day of DU. This day should be celebrated with pomp and ceremony. Now that is not possible because of the Corona epidemic. But it should be done when the corona is under control. That is why we can wait for one or two years if necessary.
However, it is a matter of deep regret that 98 per cent of the articles published in the media on the occasion of the centenary of this July or the talk shows aired did not mention the scholars who would have established DU in those hostile times without great efforts and great contribution. Rather, the names that have been highlighted are in the light of contemporary or recent past politics. The founders are lost there.
In his address to the Imperial Legislative Council on 7 March 1918, Syed Nawab Ali Chowdhury, the zamindar of Dhanbari, called upon the government to pass the Dhaka University Bill immediately. Then on March 20, he again submitted a proposal to the government to pass the DU bill. Addressing the session of the Muslim League held in Lucknow on 30-31 December 1918, Nawab Ali Chowdhury said, “Five years have passed. The university is still not established on the pretext of war and financial crisis. However, in the midst of this crisis, the High Court and the University were established in Patna. ‘AK Fazlul Haque (later Sher-e-Bangla) said in the Bengal Legislative Assembly on April 3, 1918, But the project is no longer implemented. That is why it should not take years. If there is a desire to implement.
Nawab Salimullah died on 16 January 1915. Before his death, he donated several hundred bighas of land to establish DU. Finally, on 1 July 1921, the journey of Dhaka University started on a few hundred bighas of land donated by Nawab Salimullah. The names of three people will be written in gold letters in the establishment of this university. They are Nawab Salimullah, Zamindar Nawab Ali Chowdhury and Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque.