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Aug 16: 75th Anniversary of Great Calcutta Killings Vs TMC’s Khela Hobe Divas

August 16, 1946 is mourned by millions as a day of catastrophe: Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s call for Direct Action Day in Kolkata – with the threat of ‘We shall have India divided or India destroyed’ – led to mind-numbing slaughters as bazars and homes were torched, thousands massacred. The carnage also broke the resolve of the secular leaders, who decided to buy peace by conceding to Jinnah’s demand. According to Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins: “Mountbatten was haunted by the spectre of Direct Action Day staged in Calcutta in 1946 by the Moslem League in which 26,000 Hindus were killed in 72 hours.” The consequence of the Great Calcutta Killings should have been the arrest and trial of the perpetrators, but it ended up rewarding them: talks accelerated for the creation of West and East Pakistan, which became a nightmarish reality a year later August 14, 1947. Against this traumatic background, West Bengal’s ruling party Trinamool Congress’ idea to celebrate Khela Hobe Divas on Aug 16 is being decried as not only insensitive but also an insult to the memory of those butchered in the savage killings. For BJP Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, “Khela Hobe’ was never a poll bugle: it was always a veiled call to the cadres for unleashing stone age barbarism.” TMC has dismissed the public opprobrium as an attempt to spread hatred.