Spontaneous Protests against Partition Proposals In December 1903, the
Bengal partition proposals became publicly known. An immediate and
spontaneous protest followed. The strength of this protest can be gauged from
the fact that in the first two months following the announcement, 500 protest
meetings were held in East Bengal alone, especially in Dhaka, Mymensingh
and Chittagong. Nearly fifty thousand copies of pamphlets giving a detailed
critique of the partition proposals, were distributed all over Bengal.
Press Campaign against Partition Proposals Surendranath Banerjea,
Krishna Kumar Mitra, Prithwishchandra Ray and other leaders launched a
powerful press campaign against the partition proposals through journals and
newspapers like the Bengalee, Hitabadi and Sanjibani. Vast protest meetings
were held in the town hall of Calcutta in March 1904 and January 1905, and
numerous petitions (sixty nine memoranda from the Dhaka division alone),
some of them signed by as many as 70,000 people—a very large number
keeping in view the level of politicisation in those days – were sent to the
Government of India and the Secretary of State. Even, the big zamindars who
had hitherto been loyal to the Raj, joined forces with the Congress leaders
who were mostly intellectuals and political workers drawn from journalism,
law and other liberal professions.
Government’s Decision to go ahead with Partition The Government of
India, however, remained unmoved. Despite the widespread protest voiced
against the partition proposals, the decision to partition Bengal was
announced on 19th July 1905. It was obvious to the nationalists that their
moderate methods were not working and that a different kind of strategy was
needed. Within days of the government announcement, numerous
spontaneous protest meetings were held in mofussil towns such as Dinajpur,
Pabna, Faridpur, Tangail, Jessore, Dhaka, Birbhum and Barisal. It was in
these meetings that the pledge to boycott foreign goods was first taken. In
Calcutta, students organised a number of meetings against the Partition and
for Swadeshi.