Why Gandhi stayed away?

Posted on August 14, 2010

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Gandhi in Noakhali

It’s one of the ironies of history that even as India celebrated its independence, the man who had led its unique struggle stayed away from the festivities. On August 15, 1947, Mahatma Gandhi was in Calcutta, where he had gone to calm Hindu-Muslim communal violence. Through the day, he fasted and prayed.

The bitter communal riots of that time weighed heavily on Gandhi’s mind. But countering them also led to what many historians describe as his finest hour. In late October 1946, he travelled to Noahkhali district in Bengal (now in Bangladesh) where many Hindus had been killed, forcibly converted, abducted and their property destroyed.

Writes historian Judith Brown, “Despite his age and physical frailty, Gandhi plunged into a punishing regime of travels and speeches, trying to confront the terror and bitterness, absorbing it and calming and comforting those he met.”
Journalist Horace Alexander narrated an incident that occurred in that surcharged season. One day when Gandhi was praying in a village, a Muslim caught him by the throat.

Gandhi almost collapsed. But even as he fell down, he recited some lines from the Quran. On hearing them, the Muslim said, “I am sorry. I am prepared to protect you. Give me any work. Tell me what should I do?” Gandhi replied, “Do only one thing. When you go back home, do not tell anyone what you tried to do to me. Otherwise there will be Hindu-Muslim riots. Forget me and forgive yourself.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Why-Gandhi-stayed-away/articleshow/6308777.cms

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Posted in: History of India