The following has been excerpted from Mohammad Sajjad’s Contesting Colonialism and Separatism: Muslims of Muzaffarpur since 1857 published by Primus (Ratnasagar): Delhi 2014, pp. xviii+265.
This monographic account on the Muslim communities of Muzaffarpur in north Bihar explores its history (1857-2012), the socio-political behaviour, economic conditions and negotiation for share in power-structure, in three segments: (a) political evolution of the locality during the colonial era explaining the sub-regional socio-political setting; (b) their participation in the Congress-led movements till the 1930s, (and tells largely untold story of Muslim resistance to League’s communal politics of territorial separatism despite their grievances against and alienation from the Congress during 1937–47); and (c) the post-independence experiences and political behaviour (their anxieties, problems and prospects) in continuity with the one in colonial era characterized more by inclusive politics of communitarian collaborations and less by conflicts and exclusivism.
This is a mix of history from a local standpoint and also a local history, describing the broader events of the Indian politics in the context of the local political system as it evolved, and the participation as well as location of the Muslim communities in those events and processes. Inter-community cooperation and harmony prevailed over the divisive politics even during the most vitiated atmosphere of 1946–7.
It analyzes Muslim adjustment in the post-partition days, their engagement with the evolving secular democracy, seeking educational upliftment, and political empowerment through language politics (rather than insisting on the politics of religious identity) while not confining their politics only to sectional issues or groups. It also looks at the growing assertion of subordinated Muslim communities, and delineates fault-lines within the leaderships of the Muslim communities.