From Sanjaya Jena in Kendrapara with Deepak Kumar Rath
Till he lived, Kartik Manna, an unlettered Bengali fisherman in Ramnagar village of Kendrapara’s Mahakalpada Gram Panchayat, never merited a mention by the state administration.
Now dead since the last ten years, Manna must leave for Bangladesh shores. Or, so believe the mandarins in the Orissa police who on instruction from UPA centre have zeroed in on 1,551 people in Mahakalpada block for deportation to their ‘illegal immigrant status’.
There is a growing anger among the Hindus in Kendrapara district of Orissa, as the UPA government has served notice to 1,551 Hindus to leave India before January 30, 2005, although they are not infiltrators from Bangladesh. All the persons who have been served notices are from Midnapur district of West Bengal and had been residing in the coastal Kendrapara district long before 1971. The state government is hesitating to take any decision over the issue and is of the opinion that the matter should be thoroughly inquired. Hindu Jagran Sammukhya, an organisation affiliated to RSS, has taken up the issue and gheraoed the Collector’s office at Kendrapara. The organisation also submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate demanding that Hindus should not be displaced from their homes and the matter should be properly inquired into. The BJP president of Orissa, Shri Jual Oram has discussed the issue with senior leaders of RSS and with the state government. Talking to Organiser, Shri Oram pointed out that he would also discuss the matter with RSS Sarkaryavah, Shri Mohan Bhagwat, who is now in Orissa, to decide on the future course of action on this issue. He described the UPA government move as communal.
On January 16, a local police team knocked on the doors of Manna’s hut and slapped a small piece of paper in his son Bhanu Manna’s grimy hands that asked him to quit India within 30 days or face police arrest and subsequent handing over to the Border Security Force.
Like several of his neighbours, Bhanu was not among the tens of thousands of Hindu refugees who escaped the liberation war of Bangladesh and arrived in India before December 16, 1971. The people who came in after this date were branded illegal immigrants. There were others who crossed into India before December 16 but hung around other relief camps and trickled into the settlement camps only after the cut-off date. It is these people who have been targeted by the government from time to time. The initial survey, conducted in 2001, had revealed that more than 3,500 Bangladeshi nationals have settled in different coastal and interior districts of Orissa. Kendrapara alone accounted for 2,300 of such illegal settlers.
But what remains inexplicable is the government’s reluctance to deport the Muslims in Muslim-dominated areas of Kendrapara even as it cracks the whip against the Hindus. What’s conspicuous is the selection of victims. Such deportations have not been effected since 2002—almost 125 unauthorised Bangladeshi settlers were deported between 1973 and 2002 in the state. And though nearly 3,000 illegal Bangladeshis, a majority of them Muslims, have been identified across the state, never has the Hindu community residing in the coastal region been targeted in such a concerted manner. “The campaign speaks of inhumanity as also double standards,” alleges Bhuban Mohan Jena and Gyandeb Beuria, the local Sangh Parivar activists.
‘The government must distinguish between refugees and infiltrators,” said RSS state general secretary, Bipin Bihari Nanda. “The Hindus have come over to India as a result of terror unleashed on them by Muslims of Islamic Bangladesh with government patronage. Those Hindus who came over here after the cut-off date during Banglaseh war of independence or during anti-Hindu riots after the Babri mosque demolition in 1992, they have to be given shelter as they are being driven out,” Sri Nanda pointed out.
On the other hand, he termed Bangladeshi Muslims as infiltrators and part of a long-term clandestine Islamic international conspiracy. “They need to be identified and deported,” the senior RSS leader pointed out.