The Eastern Taliban again
Balbir K. Punj
When Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wanted to visit the United States last March he was denied a visa. But no such bar was put on Bangla Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia who addressed the UN 2005 World Summit at New York recently. Nor was Angana Chatterjee'sCoalition Against Genocide which claimed its role behind denial of visa to Modi was found raising its little finger against Khaleda Zia whose government is presiding over the metamorphosis of Bangladesh into Talibani Afghanistan.
While secularists in India are feted by socialite socialists who control politics, academia and media, secularists of Bangladesh have either to live in fear of Islamist dagger like late Humayun Azad or flee their country like Taslima Nasrin. Indian ?secularists? who carry out signature campaign for release of S.A.R. Geelani are indifferent to ?secular? Indian government denying visa to humanist Taslima.
In Gujarat 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in post-Godhra riots of 2002 while 2548 people sustained injuries (according to ?secular? UPA government'sreport presented by Minister of State Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal in Rajya Sabha on May 10 last). But to champions of ?secularism? it becomes genocide of Muslim while there is not a whisper about Bangladesh that has constitutionally disavowed secularism and perpetrated systemic annihilation of its minorities viz. Hindus, Chakma Buddhists, and Christians.
The Bangladesh Population Census, 2001 shows that Hindu demographic share has come down to 9.2 per cent; it was 19.85 per cent in 1951. The Muslim population share has shot up from 78.45 per cent in 1951 to 89.7 per cent. According to fugitive Bangladeshi author Salam Azad three million Hindus left independent Bangladesh between 1974 and 1991 due to religious discrimination, persecution, atrocities against women, takeover of property, etc.
This should remind us that 17 US Congressmen had written to Khaleda Zia during her earlier premiership to ?rectify the mistreatment of minorities? in Bangladesh.
Jamaat-e-Islami is a pampered ally in Khaleda Zia'sBangladesh Nationalist Party government. The process of Talibanisation of Bangladesh under Begum Zia'sgovernment has not escaped the notice of western media. ?The Next Islamist Revolution?? by Elisa Griswold published in New York Times (January 23, 2005), ?Bangladesh: A Cocoon of Terror? in The Far Eastern Economic Review April 4, 2002, The Deadly Cargo by Alex Perry in Time Magazine October 14, 2002 were most prominent documentations of most frightening situation in Bangladesh. Syed Kamran Mirza, an apostate, (in his article on www.mukto-mona.com) relates how after the onset of hurricane Katrina Imams in Bangladesh celebrated ?Al-Kafiroon, al-Fasikoon, al-America? (These infidels, these criminals, these American) in their Friday prayers.
Sixteen U.S. Congressmen, including nine senators, had urged President Bush to raise the issue of ?political violence? in Bangladesh in UN Summit. This should remind us that 17 US Congressmen had written to Khaleda Zia during her earlier premiership to ?rectify the mistreatment of minorities? in Bangladesh. However, BNP cadres let loose a string of violence on Hindus after the Babri demolition.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) in July last released its first annual report on the status of human rights of Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir (2004). An executive summary of the report shows that over 400 documented attacks took place on Bangladesh'sHindus between January and November, 2004. These include murder, rape, kidnapping, temple destruction and physical intimidation. The Enemy Property Order II of 1965, formulated by the then Pakistani government to take over properties of Hindus who had fled to India during Indo-Pak war was never revoked in Bangladesh. Renamed as Abandoned/Vested Property Act, 1972 and is still exploited to divest Hindus of their property.
However, International Committee for Human Rights in Bangladesh (ICHRM), has taken the opportunity to serve an Attorney'slegal notice for ?Crimes Against Humanity (in Bangladesh) ? Demand for Independent Inquiry? through its lawyer Thomas T. Keating on Begum Zia. I quote excerpts from the legal notice dated September 12, 2005 that is self-explanatory.
?It is well documented in Bangladesh national press and international press that your government has executed more than 445 innocent people extra-judicially, as of August 31, 2005 by several government operations such as ?Operation Clean Heart?, ?Rapid Action Battalion? (RAB), ?Cobra? and ?Cheeta?.
?In ?Operation Clean Heart? you ordered armed forces to ?arrest and kill? individuals. During a period of 88 days, 57 persons were executed under government custody without any formal charges or judicial process. Over 45,200 citizens were arrested and over 3,000 individuals were maimed for the rest of their lives from tortures while in custody.
?It is also well documented that human rights of religious minorities and opposition political parties are being severely violated by your government. Your government has promulgated regulations providing indemnity to ?Operation Clean Heart? and ?Rapid Action Battalion? to protect them from any accountability for these extra-judicial executions. Moreover, your government has publicly defended such extra-judicial executions.
Bangladesh Population Census, 2001 shows that Hindu demographic share has come down to 9.2 per cent; it was 19.85 per cent in 1951. The Muslim population share has shot up from 78.45 per cent in 1951 to 89.7 per cent.
The legal notice against Begum Khaleda Zia has created a flutter in Bangladeshi press. It has been given wide publicity although it has been practically ignored by the Indian press. I was in receipt of a copy of the notice through Sitangshu Guha, International Coordinator of Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Unity Council. Mr. Guha as far as I know has been declared a persona non grata in Bangladesh by the Islamist regime. He thus can no longer enter Bangladesh.
There are more illustrious figures of Bangladesh who technically share the same fate. For instance septuagenarian Abdul Ghaffar Chaudhury who as a teenager wrote the famous anthem of Bengali Language Movement in 1952 stays in London for many years. He visits Kolkata but according to his admission ?dare not enter Bangladesh?. Taslima Nasrin lives in Europe after fleeing Bangladesh in 1993. Similarly, Salam Azad, a young Bangladeshi author of several books who lives in New Delhi on extended visa.
Now compare with our ?secular? thinkers who are celebrities in India and abroad. Amartya Sen, who no longer speaks about economics and apparently has no buyer in the West left, visits India twice a year to preach how antediluvian Hindutva is. Whether it'sArundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Mahasweta Devi, Rohinton Mistry, Shauna Singh Baldwin all have secularism a public behaviour.
Recently when one Giyasuddin, accused of engineering 400 blasts across Bangladesh was arrested by Bangladeshi authorities on August 29, he was discovered with an Indian voter ID Card (vide Bangladeshi bomber has an Indian voter ID card- The Pioneer September 9, 2005). We pamper our ?Secularists? and invite fundamentalists both of whom undermine the security of India.
(The writer a Rajya Sabha MP and Convener of BJP'sThink Tank can be contacted at [email protected])