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Upsetting faint balance of social harmony

Upsetting faint balance of social harmony

Author: Abhijit Bhattacharyya
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 1, 2002

Undoubtedly, at the vanguard of India's Independence movement in the late 19th and 20th century, a sizeable chunk of today's "secular" Hindu Bengalis are passionate about clinging on to the "glorious past" and a good numbers are oblivious of the lurking (future) security threat to India.

Collectively, some of these Indian Bengalis tend to get into the rut and unwittingly fall prey to their image of "socialism" and the "classical Marxism" of unity of labour and division of the bourgeoisie, to exert their rights and abhor their duties. It is this monumental mistake of some of the Hindu Indian Bengalis, which is being exploited by the homogenous religious fanatics of India's neighbours.

To understand the present turmoil and the future danger, one per force recapitulates an inglorious chapter of Bengal's past. It happened in 1201 AD with the adventure of an enterprising Afghan, Muhammad Bakhtyar, with only 18 cavalrymen. "When the sun was at the meridian, these men, only 19 in number, slackened the momentum of their ride before the city gate (of Navadvip in Nadia district), and assumed the placid demeanour of merchants." These strangers slowly "proceeded unchallenged" through the city to the palace of King Lakshmana Sena, where suddenly they drew their swords, and as the Muslim historian puts in, began the "holy war".

The "unchallenged" Muslim conquest of Bengal took place 801 years ago and their domination continued for 556 years, till the Battle of Plassey in 1757 when the Christian Englishmen replaced the Muslim ruler over the Hindu majority land of Bengal. It was another chapter of a 190-year rule of the foreigner over Bengal and India till 1947. However, in between, the Muslims regrouped and reorganised themselves beginning of 1906, at Dacca, with the foundation of Muslim League which (eventually), openly and violently expressed its inability to coexist with the Hindus of India. Hence, Pakistan was carved out of a geographical India.

In fact, the history of freedom movement of India showed two parallel Muslim movements. One was Congress dominated and Gandhi-led action for freedom against the British consisting mostly of Hindus, Sikhs and some Muslims; the second was of the Muslim League led by Jinnah for the "liberation" of Muslims from the "clutches" of the majority Hindus in India, resulting in the birth of the Muslim homeland of Pakistan.

Ironically, while the Hindus sporadically resorted to violence against the British, the Muslims were more keen to use force against the Hindus (with tacit collusion with the British at times) resulting in Great Calcutta Killings of August 16, 1946. In fact, even after Partition, the signs of Muslim aggression from Pakistan's two wings ensured frequent anti-Hindu riots in the then East Pakistan till 1971 and the present Bangladesh to this day.

To make matters worse, the rulers of Indian Bengal, never fully grasped the gravity of Muslim "fundamentalism", taking it to be the "fundamental rights of minorities" in free, democratic and secular India. It is in this background, that the growth of unregistered madarsas across the country, especially in border areas, assumes strategic significance. According to a Bengali daily, there are 541 unregistered madarsas in a single district of North Dinajpur, and that there has been an increase of 389 madarsas and 553 mosques during last six years. Reportedly, at least five per cent of these madarsa-mosques are involved in anti- national activity."

The question is, why has there been this spurt in unregistered growth of madarsa in West Bengal and the border areas? Unfortunately, some of the most brilliant Indians are born "universal citizens" wherein nation- state virtually has no place in front of the term "secularism". Hence the bonafide statement of the present Chief Minister of West Bengal has been challenged and castigated by one of the political parties which is credited to have brought both, the tragedy of Partition and the comedy of Independence.

Another gentleman of the West Bengal Minorities Commission "found no sign of any anti-national activity" in any of the mosques and madarsas in Maldah during his tour in February, 2002. To cap it all, the Imams of West Bengal on Friday, February 8, 2002, thundered: "We were better off during Basu's time", and that the present CM has "upset harmony".

On January 20, 2002, a three-day regional conference in Riyadh resolved to promote cooperation between law enforcement and financial authorities against money laundering and financial crime, and to check charity organisations. On March 6, 2002, US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill at Jeddah discussed, with Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf, "ways to prevent Islamic charity money from reaching terrorists". Is this for real? Will Islamic countries fight against their own brethren and cooperate with the West? Who will save the people of the border State of West Bengal? Only time will tell.

(The writer is an alumnus of the National Defence College of India, and the views expressed here are personal. The article is concluded.)

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