Vultures feeding on corpses in an alleyway after bloody rioting between Hindus and Muslims - Calcutta, India 1946
The Calcutta Riots of 1946, also known as the “Great Calcutta Killing,” were four days of massive Hindu-Muslim riots in the capital of Bengal, India, resulting in 5,000 to 10,000 dead, and some 15,000 wounded, between August 16 and 19, 1946. These riots are probably the most notorious single massacre of the 1946-47 period, during which large-scale violence occurred in many parts of India. However, the “Great Calcutta Killing” stands out somewhat in the history of Calcutta, given that it was by far the most deadly episode in the recent history of the city. Although it received its name very soon after the events, it remains a very controversial episode, and different views or interpretations of it were put forward from Britain, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. While there is a certain degree of consensus on the magnitude of the killings (although no precise casualty figures are available), including their short-term consequences, controversy remains regarding the exact sequence of events, various actors’ responsibility, and the long-term political consequences.