Realpolitik with Balbir K. punj
Europe cared to commemorate the 60th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz, which made front page news item in Indian media. But the same ?secular? media dare not look eye to eye to the protracted extermination of Hindu, Buddhist and Christian minorities next door, in Islamic Bangladesh. So while two-day international seminar organised by CAAMB (Campaign Against Atrocities on Minorities in Bangladesh) in Kolkata with support of Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist, Christian Council (BHBCUC) made a definite mark on Bangladeshi press, the Indian media chose to ignore it. It made a non-event out of international conference attended by likes of Taslima Nasrin, Salam Azad, Francois Gautier, Prof. Shib Narayan Roy, Prof. Amalendu Dey (Ex-President, Asiatic Society) and host of delegates from Bangladesh, India and abroad cutting across religious lines.
While the news of this international conference, organisers informed, has been published in one English national newspaper, two English magazines, three Hindi newspapers, three Bangladeshi newspapers and one Assamese Newspaper Kolkata'sown English and Bengali dailies have ignored this major international conference. Could this be handiwork of powerful Islamic lobby, as the organisers suspect, or our own ?secular? lethargy to focus on this unpleasant ?communal? issue? For example when Tathagata Ray, West Bengal BJP President, wrote his highly authentic book ?My People Uprooted? on East Bengali Hindu exodus since Partition, every standard publisher declined it on basis of ?editorial policy?. The book, though later reviewed in India Today, was ultimately published by a non-descript English publisher of Kolkata. But look at the barrage of ?Black books? on Gujarat published by foremost publishers of India. Take another instance. The famous doc
The ?progressives? and ?seculars? who still cry hoarse over Gujarat riots think they can conveniently overlook the plight of Bangladeshi minorities. Unfortunately, they are misinformed. Bangladesh is no longer just a problem for its Hindu, Buddhist and Christian minorities. It'sgoing to be a problem for Hindus of West Bengal and Assam, Christians of Meghalaya and Nagaland, if not for Buddhists of Burma.
Even in normal process, minorities will have to leave that country within another twenty year or be swallowed by Islam. But the rise of Talibani fundamentalism in Bangladesh, which is precipitating this decimation, will have disastrous geo-political consequence for India. Since secular voices are being banished from Bangladesh, liberal minded Muslims have to perforce take refuge in India. The continuous infiltration from Bangladesh, legitimized by the ?secularists?, will encroach upon their very drawing rooms from where they practice ?secularism?. The demographic portents in Assam and North East will plunge the region into chaos robbing the ?secularists? of their luxury. The UPA government'sdoctoring the Census 2001 will not change the ground reality. It is like a wishful thinking to prolong one'slife but under representing one'sage.
Tathagata Ray, present West Bengal BJP President, wrote his highly authentic book ?My People Uprooted? on East Bengali Hindu exodus since Partition, every standard publisher declined it on basis of ?editorial policy?.
Government of India by pulling out of SAARC summit at Dhaka some time back had shown its concern over deteriorating ?security situation? in Bangladesh. SAMS Kibria, Finance Minister in previous government, and five other Awami League Activists were killed in a grenade attack on League rally in Habibgang recently. In a more grisly attack on Awami League Rally in Dhaka on August 21, 2004 last, 24 people were killed and hundreds seriously injured. Sheikh Hasina Wajed herself barely escaped death. Awami League stands as flag bearer of Mujibur Rehman'ssecular Bangla nationalism and enjoys support of Hindus. Such events are pointers towards dangerous Talibani plot brewing in Bangladesh, which not only abhors minority but moderate voices amongst Muslims. Tens of thousands of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians fled Bangladesh in wake of pre and post poll violence during November, 2001 general elections in that country.
It might sound coincidental that when CAAMB conference in progress in Kolkata under media indifference, an article by Eliza Griswold titled ?The Next Islamist Revolution? appeared in New York Times. Griswold'sarticle, on lines of Bertil Lintner'sA Cocoon of Terror (Far Eastern Economic Review, April 4, 2002) and Alex Perry'sDeadly Cargo (Times magazine, October 21, 2002) to extremist Islam assuming dangerous proportions in Bangladesh. Like always the Bangladeshi government promptly issued a denial in public, which was reported in Indian media. Thus the ?secular? blackout of information from Bangladesh in India is not proving effective any more.
What explains this ?deafening silence? in media, academia and politics? ?secularism? seems embedded in ?Kolkata chromosome? whose strands are ?Red? in colour. The most ironic thing is that the most Bengali top shots in intellectual world have their roots in Bangladesh. The Hindus were a minority in the eastern two-third of Bengal, lost due to Partition, but thanks to higher literacy rate produced great scientists, litterateurs, revolutionaries and spiritualists.
Unlike in Pakistan (West) where Hindus and Sikhs were completely decimated in the Partition, half the Hindu community could stay back on the soil of East Pakistan against odds. The Buddhist Chakmas held on to their native land in Chittagong Hill tracts under the long shadow of Islamization. The Punjabi-dominated Pakistani authority was earnest to see Hindus and Buddhists ousted. The reason was not only theological that Kafirs should have no place in Islamic Pakistan (?Land of Pure?) but also political since Hindus and Buddhists demography was lending Eastern wing an edge over Western wing in Pakistan'sPeople'sAssembly. Thus democracy in undivided Pakistan was no more tolerant to its non-Islamic population The Hindus and Buddhists were labeled as Indian agents overstaying on Pakistani soil. The great pogroms of 1950s and 1964 were engineered by the Pakistan establishment with a view to purge the excess infidel population in East Pakistan.
Like always the Bangladeshi government promptly issued a denial in public, which was reported in Indian media. Thus the ?secular? blackout of information from Bangladesh in India is not proving effective any more.
Dr. Triguna Sen, Education Minister of India in Indira Gandhi'scabinet, deplored??It is extraordinary how passively the uprooting and the near extermination of an entire people who participated almost to a man in the Indian struggle for freedom. True, the uprooting did not occur in East Pakistan in one swift swipe. It was like a wasting disease. But it was this slow and surer process which ensured the steady expulsion of a completely denuded Hindu population through riots sponsored by an Islamic state and social, economic and religious persecution of the Hindus by Muslims in collusive partnership with the bureaucracy, which caused anger in West Bengal but did not provoke the Hindus to retaliatory reprisal.? (Foreword to Marginal Men by Prafulla K. Chakrabarti).
One of the best kept secrets of Bangladesh Liberation War that terminated through Indo-Pak War is that it was genocide of Hindus. The popular version of Bangladesh Mukti-Juddho (Liberation War) says it was a struggle between all Bengalis of East Pakistani on one side and West Pakistani establishment on the other. But how come 85 per cent of the ten million refugees, who took shelter in India between fateful months of March to November, 1971 were Hindus when they comprised fourteen per cent of population in East Pakistan. If Hindus comprised 85 per cent of refugees in 1971, it'sany body'sguess that the same percentage more or less was true for casualty figures. Though no government ever disclosed religion-wise breakup of victims, it can be deducted that 25 million out of 30 million who perished in 1971 genocide were Hindus. All refugees of Bangladesh War were scrupulously returned to newly born Bangladesh. But the first official Census of independent Bangladesh has failed to account for three million Hindus still. Where did this ?missing Hindus? go. Evidently, to Koranic Hell where all non-Muslims go by default after death.
Sitangshu Guha, international coordinator of BHBCUC, declared a persona non grata in Bangladesh by BNP government stays in New York. He says, ?our loss is your gain, a gain you perhaps don'twant. The people of India have graciously absorbed them, and we are profoundly grateful to you for that act of generosity. You would probably also kindly absorb the remaining 20 million who are bound to enter your country in the next three decades. But this cannot be an acceptable solution in 21st century, when the community of civilized nations is resolving such problems one after another. Bangladesh'sminorities have suffered enough to deserve a permanent solution to their problem so they can continue to stay in their ancestral homeland with safety of their lives, dignity of women, if not equality.?
It seems a tunnel dream especially with antecedents like Nehru-Liaquat Pact, 1950. Nehru'spolicy subsequently wiped out his own community from Kashmir. With comprises such in foundation of our foreign policy and media riddled with ?double standards? we will probably not be able to save ourselves what to speak of extending protection to others.
(The writer a Rajya Sabha MP and Convener of BJP'sThink Tank could be contacted at [email protected])