Gandhi in Calcutta - Part I

“I spent India’s day of independence with Mahatma Gandhi in Calcutta – and watched him broker a miraculous peace between the city’s warring Hindus and Muslims”, wrote Horace Alexander, one of a group of English Quakers closely associated with the Mahatma. “On that day Gandhi brought peace to the city of Calcutta, and to the whole of Bengal, where Hindus and Muslims had been killing one another almost daily for over a year.”

Horace knew that the day of Indian freedom was to be 15th August 1947. A few weeks earlier, Gandhi had written asking him when he was coming to India. Horace replied that he should like to be with him on the Independence Day, wherever he was. He said he expected to be in Bihar until a few days before the 15th, after when he was planning to go to East Bengal. Gandhi hoped that Horace would join him in Bihar.

Gandhi wanted to be in those places during independence because of the severe communal strife that had overtaken those areas in recent months. East Bengal - later Bangladesh was home to more Muslims than Hindus, and was to be partitioned as the eastern wing of Pakistan.