Muslim National Guard
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Muslim National Guard (Bengali: মুসলিম ন্যাশনাল গার্ড) was a quasi-military, fascist organization associated to the Muslim League that actively took part in the Pakistan movement. In East Bengal, the Muslim National Guard was popularly known as the Azrail Bahini.
The Muslim National Guard was founded in the United Provinces in 1931, apparently in reaction to the foundation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The stated goal of the organization was to organize the Muslim youths in order to cultivate among them a spirit of tolerance, sacrifice and discipline. The Muslim National Guard was revived at a meeting of the Committee of Action of the Muslim League held at Lahore in 1944. The organization was revamped in all the provinces of British India.
In Assam, the recruitment and training commenced immediately. On 1 October 1944, Arsad Ali was made the Commander-in-Chief of Assam at a meeting of the Assam Provincial Muslim League at Sheikhghat in Sylhet. He was vested with the powers to recruit volunteers throughout the province. In 1946, Badrul Hussain of Kulaura was made the Salar-i-Subah. He recruited ex-INA soldiers into the ranks of the Muslim National Guard. In Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, at the inauguration of a training centre in Faridpur, stated that those who were getting training at the centre would act as the soldiers for the achievement of Pakistan and would save the Muslims from enemy attacks. In the Punjab, the Muslim National Guard had the strongest base in Amritsar, having a strength of 8,000 at the time of the Partition. In March, 1947, the provincial headquarters were shifted from Lahore to Amritsar.
Role in Partition violences
On 24 January 1946, the Coalition Government declared both the Muslim National Guard and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh illegal organizations. The private armies were considered a menace to the State and hence won't be tolerated. Ghazarfar Ali opposed the Government decision contending that a ban on the Muslim National Guard was a ban on the most important activities of the Muslim League. On 14 August 1946, two days before the Direct Action Day started in Kolkata, the members of the Muslim National Guards were called upon to assemble at the Muslim Institute at 8-30 A.M. in the morning. During the violence in the Punjab, the Muslim National Guards worked closely with the Khaksars and the Ahrars.
Evan Meredith Jenkins, the last British Governor of the Punjab considered the Muslim National Guard in the same category as the stormtroopers of Mussolini and Hitler. Historian Rakesh Batabyal has observed that Juan José Linz's analysis of fascist organization held true for the Muslim National Guard.
- Talib, S. Gurbachan Singh, ed. (1991) . Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. New Delhi: Voice of India. p. 50.
- Sanyal, Sunanda; Basu, Soumya (2011). The Sickle & the Crescent: Communists, Muslim League and India's Partition. London: Frontpage Publications. p. 4. ISBN 978-81-908841-6-7.
- Talib, S. Gurbachan Singh, ed. (1991) . Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. New Delhi: Voice of India. p. 141.
- Biswas, Bipad Bhanjan (2003). Bharat Bibhajan: Jogendranath O Dr. Ambedkar (in Bengali). p. 44.
- Batabyal, Rakesh (2005). Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47. New Delhi: Sage Publications. pp. 385–386. ISBN 81-7829-471-0.