This book is a forceful exposure of atrocious human rights violations in the erstwhile East Bengal, later known as East Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947 and till later as Bangladesh since its independence in 1971. The author, Tathagata Roy, an engineer by profession with a legal background, thoroughly researched books and written documents supplemented by oral history based on interviews of witnesses. Though based in India he has family roots in East Bengal. However, he has tried to get over the personal factor and present an objective outlook.

Hindu-Muslim relationship in India has always been a controversial topic. Anyone speaking on behalf of a particular community is likely to be doubled as communal. Yet, truth demands outspokenness. Knowledge advances on controversies. Anyone who does not like the author’s point of view must come forward with contradiction based on contrary evidence so that truth may ultimately come out in the open. Secularism does not call for the suppression of truth, however unpalatable that may be.

With such an attitude of mind one should go through this book. It may be said that the book presents only one side of the picture. But nothing prevents one from presenting the other side.

This book gives us the details of Hindu-Muslim relations in East Bengal during the British Rule, followed by the Pakistani Government and finally the Independent Bangladesh. The Hindus being a minority there were always at the receiving end. The nadir was reached during the Noakhali carnage which prompted Mahatma Gandhi to lead a peace mission there. Sir Stafford Cripps had to concede about Gandhiji, “Almost alone he quelled the disturbances in Bengal which but for the force of his character and teaching would undoubtedly have led to disasters as serious as those in Punjab.” (quoted in Dr. Rafiq Zakaria’s Gandhi and the Break-up of India, pp. 26 1-262). Gandhiji’s Noakhali Diary gives us many pathetic details. Gaitdhiji was specially moved by the atrocities committed on women in Noakhali. The present book supplements the existing information with graphic details. Yet Gandhiji’s peace mission did not totally succeed, for there was an exodus of millions of Hindus from that part upon and after partition of India. This book establishes that the process has not yet stopped. In spite of changes in the Governments the gruesome tale still continues. Now fundamentalist forces muffle the saner elements of that country. New exodus of Hindus follows. Strangely enough, there has been a large scale infiltration of Muslims from Bangladesh in adjoining States in India largely on economic compulsions creating imbalance in India.

The author strongly argues that silence in this behalf is not golden. Secularism, he contends, does not demand suppression of facts.

In my view, the author’s marshalling of facts is stimulating and persuasive, Whether one agrees with him or not, one will be impressed by the author’s approach towards truth of this painful situation with penetrating zeal. The book may be controversial but cannot be called communal,

This book is a truthful record of the continued human rights violation in our neighbouring country. Without meaning any disrespect the author presses for the remedy of an unbearable situation. This book is recommended for all discerning readers for careful critical study.

Pratap Chandra Chunder
Formerly Union Minister of Education,
Social Welfare and Culture