The Newsletter 50 Spring 2009

Kazi Nazrul Islam: Bengal's prophet of tolerance

Peter Custers

In November 1922, British colonial authorities issued an arrest warrant for the poet Nazrul Islam, a rising star of Bengali literature, charging him with sedition for his poem ‘The Coming of Anandamoyee’. Published two months earlier in the newspaper Dhumketu, of which Nazrul himself was editor, the poem vividly depicts the subjugation of India’s population. He called the British colony a ‘butchery’ where ‘God’s children’ were whipped and hanged. The authorities reacted with vindictiveness and in January 1923 he was sentenced to one year of rigorous imprisonment.

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