Gandhi in Calcutta - Part II

Horace Alexander joined Gandhi in Bihar, and they travelled together to Calcutta, where he was staying for a couple of nights in the ashram of one of his fellow workers. Horace went to his Indian home, promising to meet Gandhi and his “family” on the 14th, in time to go on to East Bengal. But a few hours later, news came that the plans were changed. 

Leading Calcutta Muslims had begged Gandhi to stay in the city to help bring peace. They argued that peace in Calcutta would mean peace throughout Bengal, both in the west which was still part of India, and in the east, now to be part of Pakistan.

”Gandhi was not easily convinced”, writes Horace. “He had pledged to stand by the Hindus of East Bengal on the day of partition. He could not go back on that promise unless he had full assurance that the Muslim leaders in East Bengal would protect the Hindus. But Gandhi knew the names of the men who could give this assurance, and with time very short they did so, meaning we could stay in Calcutta.

In an attempt to reconcile Calcutta’s Hindus and Muslims, Gandhi invited Shaheed Suhrawardy, a Calcutta Muslim leader, to join him. Suhrawardy had been chief minister of Bengal, and a sharp critic of Gandhi, whom he had described as “that old fraud.”