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Bengal Depressed Classes Association


Bengal Depressed Classes Association Bengal branch of the All India Depressed Classes Association, was formed in 1926 in a conference held at Kanchrapara at north 24 Parganah district in west Bengal. The Namashudra leader Mukunda Behari Mullick was its first President. Through this association, the agitation of the Bengali Depressed Classes gradually merged with the nation wide movement of the lower castes.

In 1930, in the Executive Committee of the All India Depressed Classes Association, Birat Chandra Mondal represented Bengal. In a meeting held at Simla in July 1930, the All India Depressed Classes Association condemned the civil disobedience movement. At the same time both the All India Depressed Classes Association as well as the Bengal Depressed Classes Association sent memorandums to the colonial government requesting for adequate representation of the depressed classes in the Round Table Conference.

The Bengal Depressed Classes Association also condemned the indian statutory commission Report recommending reservation of seats for the depressed classes under the scheme of joint electorates. The association felt that separate electorates would be the safest method for returning an adequate number of true representatives from these classes. At the same time, the association opposed the immediate granting of dominion status to India, as demanded by the Congress, at least not until the blot of untouchability was completely eliminated.

The Bengal Depressed Classes Association and the all bengal namasudra association jointly opposed the poona pact concluded between Gandhi and Ambedkar in September 1932. The leaders belonging to these associations expressed the opinion that separate electorates were necessary from the political point of view of the depressed classes and that the Poona Pact was a blunder. However, they did realise that the Pact was a fait accompli and acceptance of the settlement would be the next best thing to them. [Raj Sekhar Basu]

Bibliography Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Caste, Politics and the Raj: Bengal 1872-1937, Calcutta, 1990; Masayuki Usuda, ‘Pushed towards the Partition: Jogendranath Mondal and the Constrained Namasudra Movement’ in H Kotani (ed), Caste system, Untouchability and the Depressed, Japanese Studies on south Asia, 1, Delhi, 1997.