Muslim National Guard

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Muslim National Guard (Bengali: মুসলিম ন্যাশনাল গার্ড) also known as the Muslim League National Guard was a quasi-military associated to the All-India Muslim League that actively took part in the Pakistan movement. In East Bengal, the Muslim National Guard was popularly known as the Azrail Bahini.

Foundation[edit]

A Muslim National Guard Identity Card issued in Karachi in 1950.

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.

Revival[edit]

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 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 1946, Abdul Monem Khan organized the Muslim National Guard in Mymensingh district with 100,000 volunteers and became the Salar-i-Zilla or the commander-in-chief of the district.[1]

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[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] During the violence in the Punjab, the Muslim National Guards worked closely with the Khaksars and the Ahrars.[4]

Fascist nature[edit]

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.[5] Historian Rakesh Batabyal draws parallels between fascist methods and the creation of paramilitary forces such as the Muslim National Guard. He observes that Juan José Linz's analysis of fascist organizations applies: elected political parties using violence against opponents instead of political campaigning was a tragic innovation.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Salam, Muhammad Abdus (2012). "Khan, Abdul Monem". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ Talib, S. Gurbachan Singh, ed. (1991) [1950]. Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. New Delhi: Voice of India. p. 50. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Talib, S. Gurbachan Singh, ed. (1991) [1950]. Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. New Delhi: Voice of India. p. 141. 
  5. ^ Biswas, Bipad Bhanjan (2003). Bharat Bibhajan: Jogendranath O Dr. Ambedkar (in Bengali). p. 44. 
  6. ^ Batabyal, Rakesh (2005). Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47. New Delhi: Sage Publications. pp. 385–386. ISBN 81-7829-471-0. Communalism strongly resemble[s] Fascist ideology and methods. These included the creation of paramilitary forces, such as the Muslim National Guards and the Hindustan National Guard ... What Linz writes about Fascist organizations to an extent was true of these organizations. He says: 'The discovery of the parliamentary political organisation ready to use violence against its opponents, rather than electioneering or conspiring, was a tragic innovation ...' (Juan J. Linz, 'Comparative Study of Fascism', in Walter Laqueur ed., Fascism, p.15.)