Matuas – most of whose members hail from the scheduled caste Namashudra community – have an influence in about 30 assembly seats in West Bengal.
A small hamlet in Bangladesh’s Gopalganj district is an unlikely destination for a sitting Indian Prime Minister. But the town of Orakandi is not just the birthplace of 19th century anti-caste reformist Harichand Thakur; it is the nerve centre of the nearly 10 million Matuas in the Muslim-majority nation, and roughly 35 million in India.
The Orakandi thakurbari is maintained by the Bangladesh Matua Mahasangha. Its counterpart in India is housed in Thakurnagar in the North 24 parganas district of West Bengal – the twin bodies mirroring the pangs of Partition that devastated the anti-caste sect and forced millions of followers to flee to India over two decades.
“After Partition, we faced many ignominies. Our ashrams were taken our and hostels closed. For almost 20 years, the movement went underground because of fundamentalists, and could revive itself only by 1970s,” said Sagar Sadhu Thakur, the secretary general of the Mahasangha.
News Source : Hindustan Times