Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pakistan's First Law & Labour Minister, Jogendra Nath Mandal's Resignation Letter, October 1950

Mr. J.N. Mandal,
Minister for Law and Labour,
Government of Pakistan
On 8th October, 1950



My Dear Prime Minister,
It is with a heavy heart and a sense of utter frustration at the failure of my life-long mission to uplift the backward Hindu masses of East Bengal that I feel compelled to tender resignation of my membership of your Cabinet. It is proper that I should set forth in detail the reasons, which have prompted me to take this decision in this important juncture of the history of Indo-Pakistan Sub-continent.

(1) Before I narrate the remote and immediate causes of my resignation, it may be useful to give a short background of important events that have taken place during the period of my co-operation with the League, Having been approached by a few prominent League leaders of Bengal in February 1943, I agreed to work with them in the Bengal Legislative Assembly. After the fall of the Fazlul Haque Ministry in March 1943, with a party of 21 Scheduled Caste M.L.As, I agreed to co-operate with Khwaja Nazimuddin, the then leader of the Muslim League Parliamentary party who formed the Cabinet in April 1943. Our co-operation was conditional on some specific terms in the such as the inclusion of three Scheduled Caste Ministers in the Cabinet, sanctioning of a sum of Rupees five lakhs (Rs. 500,000) as annual recurring grant for the education of the Scheduled Castes, and unqualified implementation of the communal ratio rules in the matter of appointment to Government services.

(2) Apart from those terms, the principal objectives that prompted me to work in co-operation with Muslim League was, first that the economic interests of the Muslim in Bengal generally were identical with those of the Scheduled Castes. Muslims were mostly cultivators and labourers, so were members of the Scheduled Castes. One section of Muslims was fishermen, so was a section of Scheduled Castes as well and, secondly, that the Scheduled Castes and Muslims were both educationally backward. I was persuaded that my co-operation with the League and its Ministry would lead to the undertaking on a wide scale of legislative and administrative measures which, while promoting the mutual welfare of the vast bulk of Bengal's population and undermining the foundations of vested interest and privilege, would further the cause of communal peace and harmony. It may be mentioned here that Khwaja Nazimuddin took three Scheduled Caste Ministers in this Cabinet and appointed three Parliamentary Secretaries from amongst the members of my community.

(3) After the general election held in March 1946, Mr. H.S. Suhrawardy became the leader of the League Parliamentary Party and formed the League Ministry in April 1946. I was the only Scheduled Caste member returned to the Federation ticket. I was included in Mr. Suhrawardy's cabinet. The 16th day of August of that year was observed as "The Direct Action Day" by the Muslim League. It resulted, in a holocaust.. Hindus demanded my resignation from the League ministry. My life was in peril. I began to receive threatening letters almost every day. But I remained steadfast to my policy. Moreover, I issued an appeal through our journal "Jagaran" to the Scheduled Caste people to keep themselves aloof from the bloody feud between the Congress and the Muslim League even at the risk of my life. I cannot but gratefully acknowledge the fact that I was saved from the wrath of infuriated Hindu mobs by my Caste Hindu neighbours. The "Noakhali Riot" followed the Calcutta carnage in October 1946. There, Hindus including Scheduled Castes were killed and hundreds were converted to Islam. Hindu women were raped and abducted. Members of my community also suffered loss of life and property. Immediately after these happenings, I visited Tipperah and Feni and saw some riot-affected areas. The terrible sufferings of Hindus overwhelmed me with grief, but still I continued the policy of co-operation with the Muslim League. Immediately after the massive Calcutta Killing, a no-confidence motion was moved against the Suhrawardy Ministry. It was only due to my efforts that the support of four Anglo-Indian Members and four Scheduled Caste members of the Assembly who had hitherto been with the Congress could be secured, but for which the Ministry would have been defeated.


(4) In October 1946, most unexpectedly came to me through Mr. Suhrawardy the offer of a seat in the Interim Government of India. After a good deal of hesitation and being given only one hour's time to take my final decision, I consented to accept the offer subject to the condition only that I should be permitted to resign if my leader, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar disapproved of my action. Fortunately, however, I received his approval in a telegram sent from London. Before I left for Delhi to take over as Law Member, I persuaded Mr. Suhrawardy, the then Chief Minister of Bengal, to agree to take two Ministers in his Cabinet in my place and to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries from the Scheduled Caste Federation Group.

(5) I joined the Interim Government on November 1, 1946. After about a month when I paid a visit to Calcutta, Mr. Suhrawardy apprised me of the communal tension in some parts of East Bengal, especially in Gopalganj Sub-division, where the Namasudras were in majority, being very high. He requested me to visit those areas and address meetings of Muslims and Namasudras. The fact was that Namasudras in those areas had made preparations for retaliation. I addressed about a dozen of largely attended meetings. The result was that Namasudras gave up the idea of retaliation. Thus an inevitable dangerous communal disturbance was averted. Read the full text:
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Resignation_letter_of_Jogendra_Nath_Mandal
Following the partition of India on August 15, 1947 J N Mandal became a member and temporary chairman of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, and agreed to serve as the new state's first Minister for Law and Labour - becoming the highest-ranking Hindu member of the government. From 1947 to 1950 he would live in the port city of Karachi, which became Pakistan's capital. Mandal strongly supported Jinnah's ideal of a secular state in Pakistan. However, Mandal grew increasingly disillusioned with Pakistan following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and a communal crisis in East Pakistan, where his origins lay, and where close to 4 million Hindus were forced to flee into India within the space of a few years. When Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan publicly supported a proposal to make Islam the official state religion, Mandal denounced it as a rejection of Jinnah's secular vision for Pakistan. Mandal continued to attack the proposed Objectives Resolution, which outlined an Islamic state as completely disregarding the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. He grew increasingly isolated, and came increasingly under verbal and physical attack; fleeing to Kolkata, he sent his letter of resignation in October 1950(dated 8 October 1950).

In his resignation letter, he openly assailed Pakistani politicians for disregarding the rights and future of minorities, as well as the vision of Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. But his efforts to re enter political arena as late as 1967 failed owing to his past reputation as one of the founders of Pakistan. His last attempt to contest Barasat constituency in 1967 resulted in defeat. He died next year on 5 October 1968 at Bongaon. He was the last amongst members of Pakistan's first cabinet to die but first to leave the cabinet and country. That is his tragedy and tragedy of over five million Hindus who had to leave east Pakistan from 1947-50...  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jogendra_Nath_Mandal

See also: 
Sris Chandra Chattopadhya on the Objectives Resolution, Constituent Assembly of Pakistan March 12, 1949