Bikash Kusum Roy
The beginning of the 20th century was not merely an end of the previous one, but it started to give the output of the efforts of the last two decades of the 19th century in a different way. It was the blooming point of a downtrodden and oppressed class of the society. It was an era of reformation of the Namasudra clan guided by the prophecy of His Holiness Guruchand Thakur. He was the man who inspired this Namasudra clan to become a developed class by all means.
“Let your stomach be empty, but your son must not remain uneducated; whosoever contributes for education, a wizard shall be born in his family; We want education, we want to cross the ocean, want to explore the world, our heads should always be high with self-esteem.”
This slogan worked like magic and many noble persons dedicated their life to this cause to reform the Namasudra clan. Remote villages of East Bengal (The then Undivided India) e.g. Mashiahati of Jessore, Bajua of Khulna, Bhegai Haldar Academy in Barishal started to give education to rural boys and girls. Obviously it was owing to the inspiration of His Holiness Guruchand Thakur who established a school at Orakandi village of Faridpur District with the help of the Pastor Mead Shaheb who was a close ally of His Holiness Guruchand Thakur. The remarkable names among all the nobles who contributed to this cause are Raicharan Majumdar, Bhegai Haldar and Suren Roy. This effort did not end with these schools only, it was only the beginning followed by the Victoria College at Narail, Brajamohan College of Barishal, Brajalal College at Daulatpur of Khulna District. Brave hearts like Rasiklal Biswas, Jogendranath Mandal and Mukunda Bihari Mallik were having the beacon of this new age of enlightenment. Obviously his Holiness Guruchand Thakur was the prophet all the way saying, ‘thereby you must gather people to obtain strength’.
Eventually, in the year 1946, another benchmark was set when Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar participated in the Ganaparishad, but we must not forget the effort made by the Braveheart Jogendranath Mandal and other successors of His Holiness Guruchand Thakur.
Thereafter, India faced Partition and the world witnessed the biggest human migration, human crisis and genocide which was the price paid for the Independence in 1947 by the common Indian People. The Eastern part of India was an equal sufferer because of this crisis but many historians are astonishingly silent about it. Hindus and Muslims were uprooted, specially the Namasudra clan who were settled in the Eastern part of Bengal. It is pertinent to mention that neither they had any part in the partition nor they had the scope to protest against the same. Despite the similarity in profession, life style and food habit with the Muslims, they had to leave their ancestral place. They might be the oppressed section of Hindus, still they were Hindus, hence they had to face the same fate. Being the peasant class it was in their favour that they were to be rehabilitated in Andaman Nikobar, Nainital, where they could be able to start afresh and have a better and affluent life. But here also they had to face obstacles because of several upper caste members of Hindu Society who were holding significant posts and affluence in newly independent India.
If we see the actions of the leaders of West Bengal in newly formed India, the picture was not hopeful either. In the year 1977, Left Front came to power. The history of Marichjhanpi in the year 1978 is not unknown to anyone. As a result, the uprooted people again being uprooted, were compelled to make their shelter beside the railway track, and road. The Namasudra clan never claimed to be Landlords in Undivided India but they were never labelled as slum dwellers.
Meanwhile, due to the Constitutional Provisions and of course the efforts put in by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Namasudra clan got another scope to re-establish their uprooted lives. The compensatory discrimination generally known as reservation in education and government service sector was a new ray of hope for this clan. Yet again, it was not taken nicely by the other section of Hindus. As a result, in the year 1960, the Lokur Commission strongly recommended of striking out several communities from the Union List of the Reservation. One community among those was Namasudra Community.
But this recommendation was strongly opposed by bravehearts like Mukunda Bihari Mallik and Jogendra Nath Manda in a meeting at Asiatic Society. It was a surprise that this opposition did not come from the MLAs and MPs belonging to the Scheduled Caste. But it was Mahapran Jogendranath Mandal who convinced the Central Government that the Namasudra clan was still in need of Reservation. Without holding any Post or Portfolio in State Government or Central Government, Mahapran Jogendranath Mandal convinced the then President Rajendra Prasad not to approve the respective bill.
Till date, the attitude of certain section of Hindus is more or less the same. Otherwise how it is possible that one part of the society is going to English medium schools whereas another part is getting Bengali medium education. The sentiment of mother tongue is being used as a drug so that every possible competitor remains Eklavya and they (oppressors) always remain the Victor Arjuna. How it is possible that till date Dronacharya still remains the ideal mentor where awards are being given in his name.
This conspiracy is not confined within the state, but spread all over the nation, this double standard is a common practice till date. But against all odds, there are several people of this Namasudra clan who are obtaining success in Higher Education and Government Services, some of them even holding Legislative Posts.
It is high time that these affluent people, obviously due to the reservation policy come forward and fulfill their accountability towards their clan which will lead to a different society, a developed one, and the day will not be a dream when the Namasudra clan shall not remain dependent on the reservation.
While concluding my submission before this historical gathering, by the Namasudras, for the Namasudras and of the Namasudras which reminds the Historical Khulna Conference presided over by His Holiness Guruchand Thakur in the beginning decade of the 20th century, hope this will be a workshop which will produce a flock of dedicated, determined and devoted intellectuals among Namasudras in the of age group 25-50 years comprising of both Ladies and Gents at every district inhabited by Namasudras, which will be a consolation to the crying souls of our greatest Saviours Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, His Holiness Guruchand Thakur, Mahapran Jogendranath Mandal, Jananayak Mukunda Bihari Mallik, Santhosh Kumar Mallik and others.