Partition of Bengal Team    Do you know    Total Views: 223    Posted: Oct 16, 2020   Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Partition of Bengal

The Partition of Bengal of 1905 was based on language as well as religious ground in India.

Facts of Partition of Bengal 1905:

  • The Partition of Bengal 1905 was carried out by the British viceroy in India, Lord Curzon, despite strong Indian nationalist opposition.
  • The partition took place on 16 October 1905 and separated the largely Muslim eastern areas from the largely Hindu western areas.
  • During that time the provincial state of Bengal, comprised West Bengal with a Hindu majority and East Bengal and Assam with a Muslim majority, the Hindi-speaking regions of Bihar, the Odia-speaking regions of Odisha as well as the Assamese-speaking region of Assam, making it a huge administrative entity.
  • With the growing efforts of the Indian freedom fighters to secure the independence of India, Lord Curzon decided to address both these problems by partitioning Bengal into two entities, which would result in a Muslim-majority in the eastern half, and a Hindu-majority in the western half.
  • The Hindus of West Bengal who dominated Bengal’s business and rural life complained that the division would make them a minority in a province that would incorporate the province of Bihar and Orissa.
  • Hindus were outraged at what they recognised as a “divide and rule” policy, where the colonisers turned the native population against itself to rule.
  • The partition animated the Muslims to form their own national organization on communal lines.
  • In order to appease Bengali sentiment, Bengal was reunited by Lord Hardinge in 1911, in response to the Swadeshi movement’s riots in protest against the policy and the growing belief among Hindus that east Bengal would have its own courts and policies.
  • The partition left a significant impact on the people of Bengal as well as the political scene of the Indian subcontinent. This event also created a sense of political awareness among the Muslims of East Bengal. 
  • In 1947, Bengal was partitioned for the second time, solely on religious grounds, as part of the Partition of India following the formation of the nation’s India and Pakistan.
  • In 1947, East Bengal became East Pakistan, and in 1971 became the independent state of Bangladesh after a successful war of independence with West Pakistan.

Who was Lord Curzon?

  • Lord Curzon born in 1859, Curzon became the youngest Viceroy of India in 1899 at age 39 and remained in office until his resignation in 1905.
  • Deeply racist: Curzon was deeply racist, and convinced of Britain’s “civilizing mission” in India. In 1901, he described Indians as having “extraordinary inferiority in character, honesty, and capacity”.
  • Curzon was intolerant of Indian political aspirations. 
  • In a letter to the British Secretary of State in 1900, Curzon wrote, “(The Indian National) Congress is tottering to its fall, and one of my greatest ambitions while in India is to assist it to a peaceful demise.”


Aftermath of Partition announcement: 

  • The partition provoked great resentment and hostility in Bengal.
  • A campaign to boycott British goods, especially textiles, and promote swadeshi began. 
  • There were marches and demonstrations with the protesters singing Bande Mataram to underline their patriotism and challenge the colonialists. 
  • Samitis emerged throughout Bengal, with several thousand volunteers.
  • Rabindranath Tagore led the marches and composed many patriotic songs, most famously ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ (My Golden Bengal), which is now the national anthem of Bangladesh. 
  • The message of patriotism and Bengali nationalism was showcased in Jatras or popular theatre.


Impact of protests: 

  • Curzon left for Britain in 1905.
  • Partition was finally reversed in 1911 by Lord Hardinge in the face of unrelenting opposition.
  • The Swadeshi movement, which had grown significantly during the agitation, later reached nationwide proportions.
  • The partition of Bengal and the highhanded behavior of Curzon fired the national movement and the Congress.
  • In ‘Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600-1947’, Denis Judd wrote: “Curzon had hoped… to bind India permanently to the Raj. Ironically, his partition of Bengal, and the bitter controversy that followed, did much to revitalize Congress. Curzon, typically, had dismissed the Congress in 1900 as ‘tottering to its fall’. But he left India with Congress more active and effective than at any time in its history.”

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