Humayun Khalid - Part 1
Cinematographer: Naeem Mohaiemen
Duration: 01:57:49; Aspect Ratio: 1.364:1; Hue: 25.966; Saturation: 0.049; Lightness: 0.337; Volume: 0.191; Cuts per Minute: 0.509; Words per Minute: 39.404
Summary: Humayun Khalid was a Rajshahi University professor who was accused of being a 'collaborator' after the war. The accusations were "soft" because there was no solid evidence, except allegations of being "sympathetic." Somehow, there was a perception that he was "Urdu-speaking" but this didn't seem the case during the interview (to the extent I can recall it from 20 years ago). In the interview Khalid talks much less of those accusations, more of why he thought 1947 partition was necessary for Muslims of East Pakistan to move ahead. But in the heated environment of 1972, even that sentiment could have been misread as sympathy for the just-departed Pakistan army.
He said, "What now?
Buisness is here. Your in-law's house is here.
My grandfather's place is in Jessore.
My home is in Shirajganj.
Home is here, family is here.
Why will you go?"
But then he stayed.
Maybe he would have been promoted if he visited both countries.
But that is a different issue.
But the situation I observed in 'opar' (Kolkata)
Though there are fewer people living, there
But the proportion at which educated people are getting facilities over here is more.
If you go to Kolkata for last three years, you see the Hindus are living there.
If you go to any school or college in Kolkata
And compare the facilities hindus and Muslims are getting here
Here the facilities are significantly better.
One can say that there are not many people there.
Not enough people to be given the facilities.
But then where did the people go?
They have shifted or fled, somehow.
Even though I looked, I did not manage to find them.
That day I had gone to Presidency College, no, not Presidency College
I went to Calcutta University.
I saw two Hindu gentlemen.
(correcting himself) Muslim.
Maybe two or three Muslims were there.
Some Arabis, Parsis - of whom some have become Hindus.
Some people are in Islam history.
There is a person called Usmanur Sahib.
I found some people there, in that University.
So if you compare the scenario with here
If you see the statistics, many Hindus and Muslims are working here in better position.
But my observation is that after independence
When they were in the administration, especially the Hindus
They have been inappropriately biased towards Hindus in terms of providing employment
This is the truth.
For example, there was Shibaprasanna Lahiri who was in Public Service Commission.
Then there was someone called Ibrahim
She was a Bengali professor at the Dhaka University.
She was married to a Muslim.
Such people, who were in the board at that time, gave priority to Hindu candidates regarding employments.
But in reality, they did not have the qualification for such government jobs, such as being a lecturer in a government college
But they got the job.
Such incidents have taken place.
Although there were many eligible Muslims, but they were excluded and jobs were given to Hindus.
And this took a long time to regularize.
At that time Abdullah Shabuddin was the Deputy Judge
During his time, there was an order
As those employments had happened in an ad-hoc manner and so much had already taken place
There was a need to regularize.
So in that situation, the people who were not even eligible for government posts, managed to get jobs like lecturers in government colleges etc.
They got the opportunity, so they utilized it.
This is not at all expected, isn't it?
That is why I am saying, it is not fair to blame the Muslims solely
They (the Hindus) have also erred in many situations.
They have offered jobs to non-deserving people.
(Interviewer) Is she a Hindu?
Yes, she was but after marriage she became a Muslim.
Then Shibaprasanna Lahiri, he too, a Hindu
There will be a photograph, you can see
He was in Rajshahi College for a certain period
Then he was Principle in Edward College, on deputation, during army period.
Later as he had the advantage of being on the board and some people were employed on his whim.
That was not fair!
Now the thing is that, due to Jinnah's Pakistan and the partition policy, there were some positives as well.
Because, talent, many people have talent.
But to nurture those talents, certain opportunities need to be provided.
Say in this area, there will be both ordinary and talented people.
But those talents need nurturing.
For example, there were no educational facilities in this country as such
But when the Muslims here got the opportunity, they showed their brilliance.
Even if you talk about the most ordinary things
Say, film actors
If you see, earlier the actors were Hindus
The Muslims were acting under Hindu names.
Before the partition.
Later as they got the opportunity
Many talented actors came in forefront
And at times they have proved themselves better than their Hindu counterparts.
Why was that?
As they got appropriate opportunities, they could flourish.
They could showcase their talent.
This too would have remained ignored, if extra attention were not given.
Alone, they would have never managed to come this far.
If Bengal remained undivided, or for that matter, India
They would have had to struggle a lot more to come up.
Maybe that rise would have been much stronger
To compete and rise, it would have probably been more...
But that would have taken much more time.
Say, you are a talented boy, she is a singer, she is an actress, and so on
The wise, the poet, the literati, and so on
But if all this remained unattended
Then maybe, you would have not risen to this post
Maybe you would have not flourished so much.
Because you would have had to compete with them.
They were advanced in many ways from before.
Maybe it would not have been easy to surpass them
So due to this divide, created by the partition
You got the opportunity to get nurtured.
This happened due to that reason
The fact the percentage of literacy has increased and people have got the opportunity of higher education
People have become educated, aware and sufficient.
Much advancement has taken place in the field of science too.
What is the reason?
This is the reason.
Maybe everyone didn't speak directly for the division of Bengal, but everybody wanted it.
Whether it was Bhasani or anybody else, all our Muslim leaders wished it happened.
They didn't get much cooperation from the Hindus.
Some Hindus had sympathy for the Muslims and vice versa, but in general there was a feeling of separateness.
My great grandfather was an educated man of his time, and so was his father.
He used to go to a place called Bagha for studies, go back to his village and teach people there.
For this reason, we have seen an atmosphere of education in our house since our childhood.
During my great great grandfather's time, they used to walk all the way to Bagha, study in a madrassa there, and go back. There were wild animals and bandits on the way.
The villagers gave him some land and asked him to spread Islamic education among them. Thus he became a respected gentleman.
My grandfather -- Abdul Jabbar Munshi-- was the only son of his parents.
He studied In our house.
Gradually, the house became a centre of learning. People used to come and receive free education.
He sometimes used to take his pupils to the field with him. As he supervised the cultivation, he also taught the children.
They studied and taught in a somewhat difficult situation.
After that my father also became educated. He wanted to go to town for further education. But it needed money.
They were five brothers. All were students.
My father used to give privte tution for a living.
Our neighbouring village was under the influence of Bhasani's party.
Bhasani grew up there. My father and he studied together.
Their condition was not well-off. None of the Muslim families around us was rich.
Even before Pakistan was created, the Muslims here were generally poor.
Maybe some of them have got a chance to have education.
Some people trace their family history from some Ghazi or Pir. But it is seldom true.
It's for their self-satisfaction.
I have seen ordinary peasants, when their sons became educated and uplifted their condition a little, claiming that their ancestors were such and such people. I don't believe it.
I our case I have seen my ancestors had a tin-roofed house, though spacious but very simple. Maybe they got some extra respect because they were educated.
My father set up a village school at our house.
There was a sub-inspector of schools named Aftabuddin Ahmed. He decided to visit the school.
It created a great consternation. A toilet was built for him overnight. The only bed in the house was cleaned and set up in the outer room. It was covered with a nice bedsheet.
One of Bhasani's uncles could cook well. He was called in to cook polau for him.
A function was held on the occasion. One of my uncles recited a poem written by my father.
The SI sanctioned a monthly grant of 1 taka for the school. But he said a separate land should be found out for it.
I'm telling this story to give you an idea of what how things were at that time. Even a proper cook was not availabe at the village. Maybe, later our wives have learned to cook many modern items. At that time, even a bedsheet or a chair had to be brought in from someone else's house.
All were in the same status. There isn't any basis for the tracing of one's ancestry from some Ghazi or Pir. Maybe, from someone's physical features we say he's a descendent of a Badshah's soldier or someone from Turkey or Iran. But there's no proof.
Maybe a few among the Muslims were enlightened, but not all.
My father has written about the development of knowledge, science and mathematics among the Arabs. But I think it was limited to some people. They didn't try to spread it.
Maybe it would have helped if they did something to spread it among the people.
My father passed his IA from Pabna Edward College and BA from Rajshahi College.
He stayed first in a mess and then a rented house. Many gentlemen offered to marry their daughters to him, but he declined.
He had honours in history.
But in 1921, he became involved in the Non-cooperation Movement.
The British tried to appease many prominent persons by awarding them titles like 'Khan Bahadur', 'Sir', etc.
Of course, some like Rabindranath Tagore rejected these honours.
There is a gentleman in Krishnanagar with whom I still keep in touch.
He told me, "What you've done hasn't been proper."
"I have gone to East Pakistan and seen that it has developed a lot," he said.
"Compared to West Bengal, you're much ahead in respect of the development of the Bengal language, for example."
"But we've suffered a loss."
"Here, the Marwaris or the Delhiwallahs dominate us. Some of our children should have gone to East Pakistan and take training of how to agitate on language, etc."
When I went there after Independence, I, too, noticed that the railway station names were written in English and Hindi, not Bengali.
"If our boys went to East Pakistan and after receiving training, came back to launch some militant action here, maybe the government at Delhi would heeded our demands," the gentleman said.
During the Liberation War I saw that the Indian officers, especially Punjabis, used to look down upon us. They didn't like Bengalis, particularly Bengali Muslims.
After Independence when I visited this gentleman, he asked me, "How are you now?"
The issue of Farakka barrage came up. Here, the fundamentalists always ask us, "What's your stand about Farakka?"
I toured many places in West Bengal -- Burdwan, Bankura, Murshidabad, Krishnanagar ... and the same issue came up.
During the Liberation War, some people were pro-Pakistan, like Abdul Ali Saifuddin. His father was Sheikh Saifuddin.
Maybe I had an attachment with Pakistan, but my son didn't have so much.
But because of my blessings he was spared.
But Abdul Ali Saifuddin and his group were opposed to the Bengali language.
Mybe many people wanted a solution to the problems of this land, but didn't want it to break away from Pakistan or merge with India.
There were other intellectuals who genuinely wanted an independent Bangladesh. Later I heard that the army had prepared a list, according to which many of them were murdered and many more were in the waiting.
In the 1940s I have seen in Chittagong and elsewhere that Hindu youths were more inclined towards the nationalist movement than Muslims.
The Muslims mostly minded their own business.
The Hindus were more eager to free the country.
I was in class IV when I first saw a boy's arm broken in police beatings. He was a Hindu.
Later, a mutual hatred also built up between the Hindus and Muslims.
It was around 1943-44.
Some people started committing nuissance like throwing a cow's bone amid a Hindu neighbourhood. It was done by low-class people, but we seemed to enjoy the fun.
There were some Hindus, too, who believed that even stepping on our shadow would pollute them.
These superstitions were prevalent among the uneducated or less-educated Hindus, especially women.
Maybe the same woman had asked me to pluck a bunch of 'sajnedanta' for her, but after bath, she would even avoid touch with my shadow!
In those days, the Hindus were setting up 'akhras' at various places where they practised martial arts. The anti-Muslim mood was present there, too.
Mainly the uneducated people of both communities used to do the mischief, but we, too, joined them for fun.
Gradually, Hindus began to be afraid to go through Muslim localities and vice versa.
Then there was the 1946 riot. There was crying and weiling all around. A Hindu man was killed. People thought it was a revenge for the killing of Muslims in Calcutta.
Many of us had relatives in Calcutta. Rumours and panic spread from there.
An incident happened near our house. A man was coming at night. He was killed by some Muslims.
Criminals found a new occupation. Instead of picking pockets, they were now looting, killing and setting fire to the houses belonging to people of the other community.
Some attacked the Hindus in the village.
Some boys here formed a 'National Guard'.
They raised slogns like, "larke lenge Pakistan" (We'll fight and take Pakistan).
The National Guards used to train schoolboys with fake rifles made of wood.
The anti-Hindu feeling started to grow from that time.
There was a division.
We were not so conscious. My father had doubts if all these would produce anything good.
Some of the elders agreed with him while others thought it was the answer to the discrimination against Muslims.
There were people among both the communities who wanted the division to become deeper.
Even Sheikh Mujib sometimes tried to stop riots and sometimes instigate them. Maybe later he'd become an Indian agent, but he was a Muslim at heart.
My father had a friend, Mir Jahan Saheb, who used to teach at Islamia College. He used to tell us that Mujib had come to sit for his exam with a dagger.
We also heard that he used to carry a revolver.
Once after Partition, Suhrawardy Saheb came to the madrassa where my sister used to read. They were taught an Arabic song and asked to garland him
Khan Bahadur Chowdhury lived just in front of the madrassa.
We were his tenants.
We saw that Suhrawardy couldn't speak Bengali properly!
My father wrote many articles against the practice of speaking in Urdu glorifying Islam. What's the use if no one understook them, he asked.
My father was against the imposition of Urdu, though he was an Urdu scholar.
He believed there was no need to impose Urdu on Bengalis.
Anyway, a feeling grew up that the Hindus were our 'others'. Maybe, it was cultivated.
We started using filthy language against them.
Many Muslim leaders abused their authority to recommend irregular postings and promotions, even though they otherwise did many things for the people.
I was privy to many of these intrigues as I overheard the conversation of my father's friends in our drawing room.
Meanwhile, many people who worked here went away on 'option'. Those who had come from the other side would obviously go, but some people who belonged to this side went, too.
Some of them came to my father for advice. Like one of his Bengali teachers, Atal Behari Bhattacharya.
He wanted to sell his house to my father, but my father didn't have money. Many like him had to live in the end even without getting a fair price for their property.
After Pakistan was created, these were forcibly occupied.
There was collusion of government officials. Some wanted bribes, some seemed to have genuine grudge against the Hindus. Maybe they got badly treated on that side.
I heard that P.A. Nazir, the SDO who came here from West Bengal had suffered mistreatment there. His hatred of the Hindus was very apparent.
I was working at Natore then.
He did some good work and punished some corrupt people. It was 1956-57.
He removed a red-light area from the locality.
But later, he harassed a Hindu college principal, Gurudas Majumdar, suspecting him of being an Indian spy!
I don't know whether the charges were true.
Many of the Hindus had some ties with India in the form of relatives or properties.
After his dismissal, the principal's post felt vacant.
My father was approached and he agreed to take the post-retirement assignment.
The SDO went along with my father to the rich weaver community to get donations for the college. They donated liberally.
After father's death, he helped me a lot to get his 13-volume tome on the influence of Persian on Bengali published.
The book was later published from Dhaka also. At that time, I went there to conduct a survey in some areas.
A Hindu boy named Biman from Natore was in our survey team.
Meanwhile, some ciriminals set fire to their house in Natore. One of his sisters went missing. Another took shelter in our house.
I didn't let Biman return home for his safety and kept him in our house.
Later we found that the rioters were those who were coming from India and wanted to settle in that area.
There was direct instigation of some leaders.
We saw may charred bodies and people who had been scalded in the fire.
I don't know why it was done. I don't know whether the same thing was done on the other side.
When I went to Murshidabad some time ago I asked Muslims whether they faced any torture.
They said, "No. Only once there was a conflict over offering namaz at Katra Masjid. A number of Muslims were killed at that time."
In Midnapore, I saw many Muslim houses lying vacant whose owners had gone to East Pakistan. But they said there was no torture on those who remained.
I went to the locality in Kolkata where I had spent my childhood. The families have got mixed. There are intermarriages between Hindus and Muslims.
They said they were fine. Only there was an attempt to attack the neighbourhood after the Bowbazar blasts, but it was prevented by the administration.
From this side, there was an exodus of completent teachers and doctors.
Strange things happened. Jadav Chakraborty's arithmetic book was very popular, but since he was a Hindu. it was rejected in Pakistan. One Karim Mondal just made a few changes here and there and got it publshed in his own name!
The properties left by Hindus were first given on lease to the highest bidder. But many underhand deals took place.
In the next phase, they were sold, saying that all the original deeds were lost!
If you investigate, you'll see that very few people have purchased property here in a legal way.
There were agents who could make fake exchange deals, complete with Indian seals and everything. Many top lawyers were involved in this.
Many properties of Hindus were grabbed in this manner.
Two of my friends were in this business. They could even erase the owner's name from an original deed and put your name there.
One day they said they had given me 10 bighas of land at a nearby area.
I went to see it with them and they showed me a water body. A man said he would make everything in order for 200 takas.
They used to make many such fake deals. Only, they had to keep a nexus with a few persons in the area where they operated.
I almost forgot about those 10 bighas when, after the creation of Bangladesh, a notice came that the plot would be acquired by the government and I would get a compensation of 86,000 takas for that!
I didn't get the money though, for I never gave that man 200 takas to make things "in order".
I told you this story just to give you an idea of the racket that operated. There was nobody to challenge them.
After Independence perhaps, some people came.
But they didn't get anything and backed out at last.
We heard that inquiries would be made on both sides and some justice would be done. But they didn't let it happen.
There was a gentleman here called Jatindralal De, who was a district inspector of schools. We tried very much to restore his house to him, but failed. After several transfers, the original owners couln't be traced.
In this way, all our neighbouring Hindu families were dispossessed of their properties.
Even that Hanuman Mandir was sold out with fake deeds. When I tried to object, some local toughs told me not to interfere.
Even the hakim seemed to be involved. I couldn't pursue the case alone.
The government officers were also involved.
All these happened more in this area because Rajshahi was a Hindu-majority district.
The Hindus owned most of the land and the local Muslims were very docile.
Some propertied Muslims were there, though negligible in number. And there were some toughs, who used to serve the landlords earlier.
Earlier, there were no leaders among Muslims. Those who became leaders later were incapable people. Like there was one Mewawala or fruitseller, who also had a house in Calcutta. He became a minister.
Another such person was Hamid Mia, MLA.
Here, there were few educated Muslims.
They mostly came from outside. Like we were brought up in Pabna.
Most of the fraudsters came from the other side. Including the lawyers.
They even sold a water body changing its area so many times that at last on paper it became larger than what it was.
After Independence, they became afraid. But nobody could do anything against them.
Even if the Awami League leaders wanted to do something, when they found that their own fathers and elder brothers were involved in this, they backed out.
In Rajshahi it happened more. I've given you my own example.
There was another method. If, say, a property was owned by five brothers and four of them had left, they would coerce this brother to sign a deed of sale, though it's illegal.
Once a man wrote a post-card to me from the other side saying, "I've heard that you've bought our house. Please keep my share. I'll go and collect it sometime."
Here we found that he had no brother. I was told to get a certificate to that effect from the local authorities.
They first declined to do so since there was a brother living on the other side, but later gave me the certificate because they knew me personally.
Sometimes sales were not allowed in order to prevent mass exodus from here. Sometimes it's checked whenther there's a genuine need for sale.
But in many cases the terms of sale were unfair.
(Q) Was the government embarrassed because the Hindus were leaving the country?
Of course, it would give a bad name to the Pakistan government. So it tried to give them some protection. There was a semblance of rule of law.
The government took a strict stand.
My father was such a person who wouldn't be in shady deals. He could've taken his teacher's offer to buy his house in instalments.
He could have not paid the rest of the money if he wished. The deed would be made anyway and he'd have a big house. But he didn't.
Maybe, sombody had later acquired that house by fraud.
Father may be an honest man, but he couldn't prevent the wrong altogether. Someone else took possession of the house with government backing.
My father had written a book on the life of Hazrat Muhammad. It was printed around 1965. On the back, I gave some quotations from his diary.
It created a controversy.
Even father's thesis created a controversy. He wrote that many of the Islamic concepts were present thousands of years before Islam came.
He did his Ph.D. thesis under Calcutta University.
As long as it was written in English no one said anything. When I got it translated into Bengali people started criticising it.
They said the Prophet had brought these concepts from Allah. How could they exist before that?
The uneducted moulavis made an issue of it.
Another of his books was titled, 'Islamic attitude towards non-Muslims'. That was also translated and published in Bengali in Awami League's time.
The original English book came out under Pakistani rule.
At that time, too, father was called to explain where he got those information from.
The first book came out in 1952. Father died in 1961.
Anyway, he said he had given all the references in the book.
But when I got these books published in Bengali after the creation of Bangladesh, some people started ctiticising me.
Some of the moulavis were annoyed. There were discussions in some mosques, too.
They started saying they used to know my father well. He was a very good person and couldn't have written all these things.
People warned me not to go out too much.
There was a Vice-chancellor called Bari Saheb at that time. He used to know father as well as me.
He tried to explain things to them and saved me to a great extent.
He was a conservative man, but no so much.
Adrab (????) Saheb was a scholar, too, but people like him were purchased.
He wanted to publish one of father's books from the Islamic Foundation.
After much delay, they produced an edition of very low standard.
And Adrab (????) Saheb wrote something against my father in his foreward.
He said father was wrong in certain matters, and again said it would help modern discourse.
He criticised father's contention that the Persians were superior to the Arabs in the the field of knowledge, saying that three religions had emanated from Arabia -- Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
He left out the portion where father says the practice of five-times namaz had been there before Islam, which was there is the original.
In the Pakistan era, he had been pulled up for his book, 'Islamic attitude towards non-Muslims'.
Parts of father's thesis were published in the Asiatic Society's journal.
Then, its Bengali translation was proposed to be published by Bangla Academy.
But some people objected.
That was still in the Pakistan era.
At last I got it published with the help of my brother-in-law.
Now Ahmad Sharif -- he was probably father's student -- is also saying many things. Whatever one says, one should say it with facts.
My father was neighther in the good books of British rulers, nor of Pakistani rulers. But he never bowed down to anybody.
Many Hindus who stayed back used to come to my father. Some of them were teachers, lawyers, or professors.
They loved his liberal nature.
It was not because he was an influential man.
(Q) Did a community grow up among those who were a little progressive minded in the Pakistan era?
My father's friends included all sorts of persons -- from common Hindus to Rai Bahadurs.
He also took initiative to set up the museum here, despite objections by fundamentalist Muslims who thought it would just be a gallery of Hindu idols.
It used to run with donations from the Rai Bahadurs and the Raja of Natore.
But they wanted Muslim guards at the door -- otherwise it could not be protected.
It was a strange time! After Kuthia's raja fled, his Kashmiri concubine took possession of the whole estate with administrative backing just because she was a Muslim.
From a nautch girl, she became a begum!
Didn't the Muslims object?
They were all after the crumbs of wealth, especially those who were coming from the other side.
She couldn't maintain the estate. Everything was taken away. Even her daughters couldn't live a decent life.
So, as I was saying, most of the Hindus left. Many of them didn't get any money for their property. Those were fradulently taken away. And many were killed.
It happened in towns too, let alone the suburbs.
Many traders from West Pakistan used to come and I had good relations with them.
Once I went to Dhaka on work. Some of the traders known to me were also staying there at a luxury hotel. They invited me. I spent some time with them.
But when I took them around the city, I noticed they supported the dispossession of the Hindus of their properties.
Like we visited a shop near Elephant Road. The original shopowner had fled. Someone else was occupying it illegally. They encouraged him saying that the shop would be allotted to him.
Here in Rajshahi too, there are people who are occupying other's properties.
Of course, the courtesy showed by the West Pakistani traders was entirely part of the tricks of trade. They were more sincere about hospitality than us.
Once I invited them to my house. One of them did'nt watch the height of the doorframe and banged his head against it. I was embarrassed, but they remained casual.
But the West Pakistani army treated us real bad.