By Ashoke Dasgupta
It is not that Indian people-legislators, political leaders, journalists, writers or other groups of professionals or individual intellectuals have not known, more or less, about the endlessly raging State-sponsored campaign of religious and ethnic cleansing or genocide against Bangladesh'sminorities. While repression of the people in Palestine, Kurdistan or Bosnia or Eastern Timorese do raise sensitive protests and condemnation from all shades of secularists in India, a mysterious silence is maintained in respect of religious minority persecution (Hindu-Buddhist-Christians) and ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh.
Under the patronage of ?Islamic hardliners? (as per The Guardian, October 2001) led by the BNP, the government of Bangladesh has slided down to become a ?stronghold of militant Islam? (as per the New York Post, October 22, 2002). Islamic terrorists, working in league with the Taliban and A1-Qaeda warriors (The Time Magazine, October 14, 2002) are systematically cleansing the religious and ethnic minorities in Bangladesh. And then, they do export trained Jehadis abroad to assist militant Islamic groups engaged in Talibanising other democratic societies (as per the A1 Ahram, September 11-17, 2003).
?Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist and Christian Unity Council, USA?, has stated in ?Bangladesh: A Portrait of convert Genocide?-a very well documented and authentic review-that ?the campaign of atrocities against the minorities, particularly against the Hindus, that had been seer with the Noakhali massacre of 1946 has really never ceased. The Islamic extremist political parties have continually conducted programmes against them. Successive governments have blatantly discriminated against them and even employed the law enforcement agencies to conduct atrocities against them. Using an anti-minority or racist law called the Enemy Property Act, (enemy is the Hindu who sought refuge in India), they have seized 2.5 million acres of prime land belonging to Hindus; and, by sending Muslim settlers supported by the armed forces, they have evicted tens of thousands of Indo-Mongoloid tribal people from their centuries-old autonomous habitat, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, thus Islamising the region. On April 10, 1992, the armed forces themselves murdered several hundred tribals in the village of Lonang in Chittagong Hill Tracts and razed the entire village to the ground. The stated facts are very discreetly told; the detailed report must be more gruesome. Only one factual statement will show the truth-the Muslim population in Chittagong Hill Tracts was only 3 per cent in 1947; it rose to 50 per cent in 1997.
Better if she had acted two decades ago and reversed the ominous course the country has taken. But India decided to stand by as the once secular Bangladesh was gradually turned into a ?breeding ground? for Islamic militants.
In 1988, Islam was declared as the State religion in Bangladesh. The ?Islamic hardliners? assumed in the government power in 2001 and the anti-religious minority campaign swiftly turned into genocide.
The massive evidences, file photographs, documented narrations contained in the ?Bangladesh?: A Portrait of Covert Genocide? prepared by the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist and Christian Unity Council, USA, distinctly show that the atrocities are in the nature of: 1. desecration, razing of temples and churches; 2. looting, burning, capturing of dwelling houses minorities; 3. robbing rifle businesses belonging to the minorities; 4. extortion of infidel tax; 5. atrocious persecution and torture, and gang rape and murder (as a brutal means of ethnic cleansing). Innumerable instances are available on both gang and mass rape of women: 200 Hindu women in one night at a single spot in Chor Fashion, Bhola (The Daily Star, November 16, 2001); rape of a mother and daughter together with the father/husband forced to watch (the Daily Janakantha, January 28 & 29, 2002, February 17, 2002) the gruesome murders, including the burning of entire families alive, the Sil family of Banskhali (The Economist, November 29, December 5, 2003; The Bangladesh Observer November 20, 2003). These are just samples to show what the reality is like.
Millions of minorities have had to seek refuge in India being unable to bear any longer the unabated rape, murder, torture and persecution. The reports of Salam Azad 2003; US Committee for Refugees, Country Report 2002; Refugees International, August, 2003; BBC News, November 20, 2002 News from Bangladesh (NFB), May 29, 2002-all exhibit how this exodus relentlessly continues due to such ghastly persecution. Had there been no such relentless expulsion or conversion of minorities to Islam, the population of minority religious communities in Bangladesh would have been 62 million, whereas now it is only 15 million and this 15 million will certainly be cleansed within a few years if the BNP-terrorist Al Qaeda-ISI combine continues their progrom at the present pace.
On April 10, 1992, the Khaleda Zia government employed the Bangladesh Army to conduct the Logang massacre. Records reveal that US Law Makers, the European Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the European ambassadors to Bangladesh had, on various occasions, urged Khaleda Zia to stop atrocities on religious minorities. Khaleda Zia not only remained unresponsive, but she adopted the process of denial and deception.
In the said documented report ?Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Unity Council, USA? has raised a very pertinent question: ?India would have done much better if she had acted two decades ago and reversed the ominous course the country has taken. But India decided to stand by as the once secular Bangladesh was gradually turned into a ?breeding ground? for Islamic militants. Even after October 2001, when the campaign of atrocities against the minorities skyrocketed and minorities began to stream into India we failed to act.