Muslim League National Guard

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The Muslim League National Guard,[1] also called Muslim National Guard, was a quasi-military organization, associated All-India Muslim League that took part in the Pakistan Movement. It actively took part in the violence that ensued during the Partition of India.

In East Bengal, the Muslim National Guard was popularly known as the Azrail Bahini.[citation needed]

The organization was banned in 1948 by the Indian government.[2][3]



A Muslim National Guard Identity Card issued in Karachi in 1950.

The Muslim National Guard was founded in the United Provinces in 1931. The stated goal of the organization was to organize the Muslim youths in order to cultivate among them a spirit of tolerance, sacrifice and discipline.[citation needed]


The Muslim National Guard was revived at a meeting of the Committee of Action of the Muslim League held at Lahore in 1944.[citation needed] The goals were to strengthen the social and physical development of Muslims and to create a spirit of self-sacrifice and service. A uniform for the guards was created, turning it into a quasi-military organisation.[1] The organization was revamped in all the provinces of British India.[citation needed]

By the end of 1946, the MLNG had 22,000 members. But lagged behind its Hindu counterpart, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which had twice as many. In Punjab, it had to also reckon with the Sikh force, Akal Fauj.[4]

Presence throughout the Regions[edit]


Bengal and Bihar[edit]

In Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, at the inauguration of a training center in Faridpur, stated that those who were getting training at the center would act as the soldiers for the achievement of Pakistan and would save the Muslims from enemy attacks. In 1946, Abdul Monem Khan organized the Muslim National Guard in Mymensingh with 100,000 volunteers and became the Salar-i-Zilla or the commander-in-chief of the district.[5]

The members of the National Guard wore distinctive green uniforms with green hats and carried green flags.[6]

Role in Partition violence[edit]

On 24 January 1946, the Coalition Government declared both the Muslim National Guard and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh illegal organizations.[citation needed] The private armies were considered a menace to the State and hence won't be tolerated. Ghazarfar Ali opposed the Government decision contending that a ban on the Muslim National Guard was a ban on the most important activities of the Muslim League.[7] On 14 August 1946, two days before the Direct Action Day started in Kolkata, the members of the Muslim National Guards were called upon to assemble at the Muslim Institute at 8:30 a.m.[8] During the violence in the Punjab, the Muslim National Guards worked closely with the Khaksars and the Ahrars.[9]


The organization was banned after the Indian government launched a crackdown against organizations dedicated to promoting communal hatred or preaching violence in the aftermath of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.[2][3]


Evan Meredith Jenkins, the last British Governor of the Punjab compared the Muslim National Guard to Nazi storm troopers.[10] Historian Rakesh Batabyal draws parallels between fascist methods and the creation of paramilitary forces such as the Muslim National Guard. He observes that Juan José Linz's analysis of fascist organizations applies: elected political parties using violence against opponents instead of political campaigning was a tragic innovation.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hansen, The Punjab 1937-47 – A Case of Genocide? (2003), p. 95.
  2. ^ a b Khan, Yasmin (2011). "Performing Peace: Gandhi's assassination as a critical moment in the consolidation of the Nehruvian state". Modern Asian Studies. 45 (1): 57–80. doi:10.1017/S0026749X10000223. S2CID 144894540.
  3. ^ a b Best, A. (2003). British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print. From 1946 through 1950. Asia 1949. Burma, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Indonesia, The Philippines and South-East Asia and the Far East (general), January 1949- December 1949. Asia / ed. Anthony Best. Univ. Publ. of America. p. 127. ISBN 978-1-55655-768-2. Retrieved 23 November 2022. The government also declared the Muslim League National Guard, and Khaksars to be unlawful organisations. In Madras and Bombay the action taken was considerably more comprehensive: Communist volunteer corps were covered by the ban and in the latter Province the Schedule Castes Volunteer Organisation was also forbidden.
  4. ^ Ahmed, The Punjab Bloodied (2012), Chapter 4.
  5. ^ Salam, Muhammad Abdus (2012). "Khan, Abdul Monem". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  6. ^ Chakrabarty, Bidyut (2004). The Partition of Bengal and Assam, 1932-1947: Contour of Freedom. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-134-33275-5.
  7. ^ Talib, S. Gurbachan Singh, ed. (1991) [1950]. Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. New Delhi: Voice of India. p. 50.
  8. ^ Sanyal, Sunanda; Basu, Soumya (2011). The Sickle & the Crescent: Communists, Muslim League and India's Partition. London: Frontpage Publications. p. 4. ISBN 978-81-908841-6-7.
  9. ^ Talib, S. Gurbachan Singh, ed. (1991) [1950]. Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. New Delhi: Voice of India. p. 141.
  10. ^ Biswas, Bipad Bhanjan (2003). Bharat Bibhajan: Jogendranath O Dr. Ambedkar (in Bengali). p. 44.
  11. ^ Batabyal, Rakesh (2005). Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47. New Delhi: Sage Publications. pp. 385–386. ISBN 81-7829-471-0. Communalism strongly resemble[s] Fascist ideology and methods. These included the creation of paramilitary forces, such as the Muslim National Guards and the Hindustan National Guard ... What Linz writes about Fascist organizations to an extent was true of these organizations. He says: 'The discovery of the parliamentary political organisation ready to use violence against its opponents, rather than electioneering or conspiring, was a tragic innovation ...' (Juan J. Linz, 'Comparative Study of Fascism', in Walter Laqueur ed., Fascism, p.15.)


  • Ahmed, Ishtiaq (2012), The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First-Person Accounts, OUP Pakistan, ISBN 978-0-19-906470-0
  • Hansen, Anders Bjørn (2003), "The Punjab 1937-47 – A Case of Genocide?" (PDF), in Steven L. B. Jensen (ed.), Genocide: Cases, Comparisons and Contemporary Debates, Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, pp. 83–122, ISBN 978-87-989305-0-1