All Bengal Muslim Students’ Association

All Bengal Muslim Students' Association a forum of Muslim students of Bengal. The Association was formed in or around 1932 though uncertainty prevails regarding the date. Prior to 1932, Muslim students generally showed some kind of political pacifism in the overall students' politics in Bengal. An intensifying socio-political disunity between Hindu and Muslim communities over the question of power sharing under dyarchy, the general Muslim policy of cooperation with the government, the pressure of non-political parents on their wards to avoid trouble, and too much use of Hindu symbols and ideals in the Bengal student movement could have been in some way responsible for the political apathy of Muslim students in this period.

In the meetings of Bengal Muslim students at Dhaka on 12 July 1930 and All Bengal Muslim Students' Conference at Calcutta in early October 1931, students were advised to resist all external interference in the pursuit of their education and eschew politics that was detrimental to the national interest in general and that of the Muslim community in particular. During the civil disobedience movement and the involvement of the All Bengal Students' Association (ABSA) in it, Muslim parents and leaders felt the need to organise a Muslim Students' Association.

It is evident, however, that from its inception All Bengal Muslim Students' Association (ABMSA) worked under the direct patronage and supervision of the older Muslim leaders. For example, in 1933, teachers held all portfolios of Hooghly Muslim Students' Association, excepting that of Secretary. The list of office bearers of ABMSA for 1935-36 also showed the same pattern. In the second ABMSA conference in September 1935, the Additional DSP was invited, a feature which would have been unthinkable in an ABSA conference. Due to such intervention from elders, ABMSA was advised not to deal with contemporary political issues such as that of detainees, constitutional changes or Communal Awards.

With the provincial elections under the Government of India Act of 1935 drawing nearer, ABMSA, like ABSA, fell victim to personal rivalries of older Muslim leaders. Already in the 1935 conference, students had echoed the prompting of their elders. ABMSA became the battleground of leaders like MAH Ispahani and the Dhaka Nawabs as opposed to leaders like ak fazlul huq and huseyn shaheed suhrawardy. Very naturally, pressures of such leaders created divisions among students. The contemporary pages of the Star of India provide ample proof of such factionalism in Muslim student politics. In 1936, the Bogra Muslim Student Conference was used as a platform for electioneering on behalf of the United Muslim Party, of which the Nawab was the President, against the rival krishak praja party of which AK Fazlul Huq was the leader. Many resolutions passed there would find place in the election manifesto of the United Muslim Party. Thus, by 1936, ABMSA was dragged into politics by the leaders of their community.

In 1937, after the birth of the All India Muslim Student Federation, many ABMSA's members joined it for the growth of a separate anti-Congress student movement. The Congressite Muslim leaders formed a counter organisation, but it failed to gain grounds in Bengal. [Ranjit Roy]