Posts Tagged 'west bengal'

Muslims Attack Hindus in India: A Warning For the West?

a web debate
Muslims Attack Hindus in India: A Warning For the West?
http://pajamasmedia.com/phyllischesler/2010/09/13/muslims-attack-hindus-in-india-part-i/
A European colleague of mine lives and works in India. Recently, he came to visit. His story was unbelievable. For the last few years, every day, day after day, he, his wife, and his wife’s family have been harassed and attacked by Muslim marauders. Both his property and his medical clinic have been attacked; his Hindu wife and relatives have had their cows stolen and slaughtered, their outbuildings destroyed, their farm property taken over. The police would not help. He had to hire private security to guard his free clinic. Finally, Muslims attacked the clinic when it was filled with patients (including, of course, Muslim patients). At the last moment, before the clinic was entirely overrun, the police reluctantly came to his aid. He had to pay many bribes, pull many strings—and still, the matter is far from over.
He did not want me to write about this. “It is simply too dangerous for a Hindu to describe, accurately, what Muslims are doing to us in our own country.” He assured me that neither the government nor the media could be counted on to “do the right thing here. The media will not say that Muslims are criminally aggressive. They are too afraid to say so. They know there will be rioting. It’s already happened.”
Sound familiar?
And then, Mr. Tapan Ghosh found me. Ghosh is an incredibly brave and determined Hindu human rights activist who is taking on these Muslim immigrants, criminals, rioters, kidnappers, rapists, and traffickers of Hindu girls and women.

Tapan Ghosh
In 2008, Tapan Ghosh founded Hindu Samhati (Hindu Solidarity Movement), dedicated to strengthening Hindu identity and serving persecuted Hindu communities in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. A Physics graduate of City College in Calcutta, he first got involved with the Hindu Revivalist Movement in India in 1966 and led a mass civil disobedience campaign against the policies of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975-77. His work grows out of a long history of persecution, including genocidal persecution, of Hindus by Muslims in the region, beginning with the partition of India into Pakistan and India in the 1940s and furthermore into Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1971. I had the privilege of interviewing him when he was in New York during a recent tour.
Chesler: How long has the Muslim violence against Hindus been going on? I know it has existed for 800 years or more. I am asking about the more recent series of events in West Bengal.
Ghosh: Though Hindus in Bengal faced massive attacks and massacres during the Partition of 1947 (when India was divided into India and Pakistan and 3/4th of Bengal went to Pakistan), the violence never ceased. In West Bengal, violence against Hindus took place again in the 1950s and from 1964-65; violence continued until 1971, when it eased off for some time. That was during the time when across the border, nearly 3 million Hindus in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were killed by the Pakistani Army, as part of their genocide to stop the creation of Bangladesh.
In recent times, the violence has been increasing (both in its spread and intensity) every day since the early eighties.
Chesler: What kind of violence did Muslims commit against Hindus in West Bengal and East Pakistan? Please be more specific.
Ghosh: Anti-Hindu violence started on the morning of August 16, 1946, when Muslim League volunteers forced Hindu shopkeepers in North Calcutta (in present day West Bengal) to close their shops and Hindus retaliated by obstructing the passage of League’s processions. With the tacit support of the police, the Muslim mobs went on a rampage, looting Hindu-owned shops, attacking Hindus with clubs and knives, and raping Hindu women. After a week of violence, an official estimate put the casualties at 4,000 dead and 100,000 injured. Other sources put the death toll at 6,000. Most of the victims were Hindus. The riots in Calcutta spread to other regions, reaching Noakhali, a remote district in present day Bangladesh, where a massive pogrom was organized against the Hindu minority. The death toll is estimated to be in the thousands, with 51,000 to 75,000 Hindus cleansed from this region.
General Yahya Khan, the military dictator of Pakistan, while speaking to his top military brass once said, “Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” The liberation movement for Bangladesh was characterized by an escalation of atrocities against the Hindus and pro-liberation Muslims. Hindus were specifically singled out because of their perceived proclivity to the Bengali language. Bengali, which has strong roots in the Sanskrit language and Hindu culture, was considered as a hindrance to the Islamisation of East Pakistan. In March 1971, the Government of Pakistan and its supporters in Bangladesh, the Jama’at- e-Islami (The Party of Islam) launched a violent operation, codenamed “Operation Searchlight,” to crush all pro-liberation activities. A large section of the Hindu intellectual community of Bangladesh was murdered, mostly by the Al-Shams and Al-Badr militia, (both were military wings of the Jama’at-e-Islami). Bangladesh government figures (officially accepted by the US State Department, which at that time of the Cold War, was openly supporting Pakistan) put the death toll at 300,000 even though nearly 3 million of them were never accounted for and are presumed dead. According to declassified documents from the George Washington University’s National Security Archives, consisting of communications between US officials working in embassies and USIS centers in Dhaka and in India, and officials in Washington, DC, the terms ‘selective genocide’ and ‘genocide’ were used to describe events.
The primary reason why Hindus have been forced to leave East Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) is a draconian law known as the Vested Property Act. According to this law, the government has the power to seize ownership of properties from individuals it deems enemies the state. It was formerly known as the Enemy Property Act (when Bangladesh was part of Pakistan) and is still referred to as such in common parlance. Abul Barkat, a professor of economics at Dhaka University who has conducted seminal research on this act, says that some 1.2 million or 44 per cent of the 2.7 million Hindu households in the country were affected by the Enemy Property Act and its post-independence version, the Vested Property Act, passed in 1974. Successive governments of Bangladesh have promised to repeal the act, but to date, some 35 years after independence, none have done so. According to one estimate, “Nearly two hundred thousand Hindu families have lost 2.2 million acres of land, including their houses, since 2001 alone. At the current market price, the value of the 2.2 million acres of land that the Hindu families were displaced from is about 3.6 billion dollars, which is more than half of the country’s gross domestic product.
Chesler: Please summarize the threats and crimes that have been perpetrated.
Ghosh: The atrocities that Hindus are facing in villages bordering Bangladesh are multifarious. The case of massive illegal infiltration is well known today. What the people of India and the United States don’t know is their activities. This includes crimes which target Hindu women; from relatively small cases of street harassment, to sexual assault, rape, kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam. Incidences of illegal migrants encroaching upon Hindu lands as well as organized land grabbing by Islamic criminal networks are also very common. There is also a sharp increase in the cases of rioting during Hindu festivals, destruction of Temples, desecration of Deities, and large-scale, provocative cow slaughter during Hindu festivals, even in Hindu-majority localities. Construction of large, illegal mosques, often upon encroached land, is happening in all border areas and has changed the landscape of rural Bengal. The establishment of massive Saudi- funded Madrasas across rural Bengal is only contributing to the growing religious extremism among Muslims, implementation of Sharia laws by Chalasi (Islamic) courts is quite prevalent in villages in the Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur districts.
Finally, the Indo-Bangla border acts as a major conduit for smuggling by the terrorist networks and has grave consequences for national security. As a result of the growing Islamization of rural Bengal, Hindus are leaving the border area villages. This change in demography is well established in Assam, and I fear that the upcoming census will paint a grimmer scenario in W. Bengal too. Calls for a greater Muslim Bangla are not unheard of in Muslim-majority districts and my greatest fear is the day when Muslim zealots will give a call for Nara-e-takbir (cries of “Allahu Akbar”) and tell Hindus to either convert or leave Bengal. Where will we go then?
Chesler: Why have the Hindu police and Indian government failed to do anything to stop these crimes against their own citizens?
Ghosh: While India is constitutionally secular, it is also an electoral democracy which means that politicians care about winning elections and cannot ignore the 31% of the Bengali Muslim population that is believed to vote en-masse. The government, both at the State and Central level understand the problem, but do not want to show the political courage that is needed to talk about these issues and address them. Instead they just ignore them.
The Police response is also mixed. Though sometimes they take positive measures to stop these crimes, most often there is severe corruption, and a fear of tackling the Islamic mafia. The fact that governmental higher-ups will not be supportive of a pro-active response also demoralizes police officials at the grassroots level.
But it is not that the politicians and the government agencies are asleep, it is the middle class Bengalis that are in deep slumber. The entire Hindu Bengali intelligentsia and culturally enriched Bengali society could not provide protection to one Muslim lady, Ms. Taslima Nasreen, a poet and an intellectual who dared to raise her voice against Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh and had to escape to West Bengal. But the West Bengal government was so afraid, that it refused to give protection to her.
Coming soon in Part II: The role of the Media.

Muslims run rampage in Deganga, WB during Ramadan

Muslims run rampage in Deganga, WB during Ramadan

http://www.drishtikone.com/blog/muslims-run-rampage-deganga-wb-during-ramadan
Deganga in North 24 Paraganas is in a mess with looting, killing and destruction of many temples. Information from that area is being sent out in emails to people looking for help. While the national press completely blacks it out and then shows it in a way that no one can figure out the gravity of the situation.

On September 6th, in the evening after Iftar, a mob of Muslim fanatics assembled in the Deganga Mosque (Basirhat SD, North 24 Parganas) and marched to several Hindu areas. There they started widecsale looting and ransacking of Hindu shops and Hindu temples. They targeted Hindus and severely beat up many residents in the area as well as torched 4 public buses. Shani Temple of Kartickpur and Kali Temple of Deganga Biplabi Colony have been desecrated and ransacked by the rioting Muslims.

The life from Berachapa to Kadamgachi has been frozen.

The issue started because Muslims, in an attempt to stop the Durga Puja during the Ramadan period, started digging up the passage of Durba bari temple, right besides Deganga Police Station in Chattal Pally village. Chattal Pally and Deganga P.S. come under the district of North 24 Parganas, and its Parliamentary constituency is Basirhat. Hazi Nurul Islam of T.M.C. is the MP.

When Hindus objected to the digging of the passage to Durga Bari temple, Muslim mob gathered and started rioting. In the evening, after Iftaar, the Muslim mob targeted the Hindus in the markets of markets of Beliaghata, Deganga and Kartickpur.

The Rapid Action force and Army has been called in, but so far they have been ineffective in doing much. The Muslim fanatic mobs had guns and swords openly being used.

A Bhadralok Communist

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=A+Bhadralok+Communist&artid=ao92j8QENic=&SectionID=d16Fdk4iJhE=&MainSectionID=HuSUEmcGnyc=&SectionName=aVlZZy44Xq0bJKAA84nwcg==&SEO=

A Bhadralok Communist
[ ]

S Gurumurthy

‘Gana’ as Jyoti Basu who ruled West Bengal as chief minister for 23 long years from 1977 to 2000, was affectionately known at home, is no more. Undoubtedly a versatile politician whose public life lasted six decades, different people will recall Basu in different ways. His adversaries and friends alike will recall him as a practical communist who even undertook a visit to the US, the arch enemy of his party and its ideology, seeking its investment in his state. The official website of the Left Front government brings out his greatest achievement. It eulogises him as the one who perpetuated Communist control over the state apparatus of West Bengal — an indisputable fact. Understanding how he achieved this feat is critical to know Jyoti Basu as a politician as also his mission.
The State website http://www.jyotibasu.net says that Jyoti Basu “is known primarily” for “establishing a seemingly indestructible Communist control over some of the levers of the state-level political power in West Bengal”. The official website says that he achieved this by combining “communist extra parliamentary” political tactic with the parliamentary tactic “aimed at establishing indestructible Communist control”. But could ‘indestructible communist’ control be consistent with parliamentary democratic process? No. It could not be. But a re-reading of the official website makes it evident that what it talks of is not democratic, but “Communist”, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary political tactics.
Here is a telling illustration of how ‘the Communist extra parliamentary political tactic’ is different from democratic parliamentary process. In its editorial dated August 6, 2003 written in the context of the unprecedented violence that marked the panchayat polls in the state which the CPI(M) had won, The Statesman newspaper said it was not “the popularity of the Marxists” that was the reason for the marginalisation of the opposition parties in the elections, but, it was the Marxists’ “expertise in fixing elections by violence, intimidation, and by simple expedient of preventing opposition candidates from filing nominations”. The edit concluded: “it is the prescriptive right of the communists to use any method they choose and if it is a wrong or illegal method, the stigma is instantly washed away when they touch it.” The implication is clear. The Marxists never considered it a sin to fix elections by fraud and violence, and if they did it, no stigma would attach to them! The use of this extra parliamentary tactic along with the parliamentary — read electoral — process is the secret of Jyoti Basu’s success in perpetuating communist control over the State apparatus in West Bengal. But more than this achievement, that he did so without being faulted for it speaks volumes about how an acceptable face can make unacceptable things acceptable to the people who count.
Jyoti Basu was the face of Bengali Communism most acceptable to the Bengali Bhadralok. For the British, Bhadralok meant the ‘well-mannered’ Bengali. But, in the dictionary of Indian politics, it would simply mean the upper castes in Bengal. While in rest of India, with the democratic process deepening with each election, the lower castes’ share of power increased, the Marxist controlled West Bengal had virtually kept out the lower castes and denied their due share in power. Surprised? Here is the evidence. In the governments led by Jyoti Basu between 1977 and 1982, “there were even more Brahmins than in the Congress governments, over 35 per cent; the number of Kayasthas (31 per cent) and Vaishyas (23 per cent) was almost the same as in Congress governments”. What was the share of the Scheduled Castes in Jyoti Basu ministry? Believe it — just “1.5 per cent”. If the “inferior ministers — ministers of state and deputy ministers — were left out”, it would be even “lower”. Stunningly, in Basu’s ministry in 1977 and 1982 “there was not a single Scheduled Caste member of the Council of Ministers”. Yes, not a single one despite West Bengal having the highest concentration of Scheduled Caste population in the whole country — almost 24 per cent (Census 1991). These shocking facts have been brought out in a scholarly work that appears in http://www.ambedkar.org/books/tu2.htm.
The message is evident. The transfer of power from Congress to Marxists had actually made it worse for the lower castes. The reason. Jyoti Basu largely represented the traditional Bengal, contrary to the popular notion that he and the likes of him were products of Marxian modernity. His dress and circle of friends readily identified him with the Bengali Bhadralok and endeared him to the media in Bengal dominated by the Bhadralok, which in turn made him inevitable for the party within. Result, Bhadralok actually dominated Bengali politics more under the Marxists than even under the Congress. The website http://www.jyotibasu.net says that Jyoti Basu was “initially distrustful of parliamentary politics as the politics of the ‘bourgeois talking-shops’”. But that is precisely what his politics substantially ended with. The Bhadralok-led media in Bengal, save exceptions like The Statesman, were understandably comfortable with the tactics of Jyoti Basu government since that preserved the political primacy of the Bhadralok. The national media was content to certify the CPI(M) as secular, which was sufficient to wash off all sins of its extra parliamentary tactics.
The extra parliamentary tactic that Jyoti Basu had bequeathed to the Marxists has sustained them for almost a decade after Basu quit in the year 2000. But things seem to be changing now. Thanks to the aggressive politics of Mamata Bannerjee, the Bengali lower caste political assertion is on the rise. The southern states witnessed such assertion in 1950s and the northern states, much later, in 1990s. But, thanks to Marxist — read Bhadralok — control over West Bengal politics, lower caste assertion has been delayed for almost half a century and has not taken off even today in the State. With the Marxists beginning to falter, the national media too has begun pointing to the Bhadralok character of Marxism in West Bengal which it would not do a day earlier. Analysing the Nandigram issue in Indian Express (March 20, 2007) Yogendra Yadav, a well-known political analyst wrote: “Nandigram did not surprise me…….. In West Bengal, the proportion of upper castes increased in the state assembly after the Left Front came to power. A coincidence? Not if you calculate the caste composition of successive Left Front ministries: About two-thirds of the ministers come from the top three jatis (Brahman, Boddis, Kayasthas)”. Yet, thanks to the very media’s indulgence, Jyoti Basu was not perceived as a traditional Bhadralok politician who did not share power with the lower castes, but, as a Marxian modernist.
But the one area where Jyoti Basu combined the parliamentary and extra parliamentary tactics to keep the lower sections of society satisfied was land reform. Thus, even as Jyoti Basu reserved state power for the Bhadralok, he also ensured that legislative land reforms were supported by extra legislative abrogation of land by the communists for distribution. Thus, Basu secured land for the lower castes but reserved power for the upper castes — a trade-off that retained the Bhadralok primacy in power politics, and also won rural Bengal for the CPI(M). But ironically, this is precisely where the Trinamool Congress is challenging the Marxists. How? The very land, distributing which the CPI(M) became the ideological darling of the people, has now become its nemesis as the CPI(M) forcibly took it back from the people in Singur and Nandigram to give it to the ideological enemies of the party.
But undoubtedly Jyoti Basu knew the art of building and wielding power within, and without altering, the existing social architecture. He was a practical politician, not an idealist nor a statesman. But despite ruling the state of West Bengal for 23 long years Jyoti Basu himself died as an unhappy man because when other parties wanted him as the prime minister of the country in 1996, it was his party which prevented him. Expressing his frustration, not once but twice, Jyoti Basu said that his party’s decision to veto his elevation to the highest political office was a “Himalayan Blunder”. Yet, till now there is no explanation from his party as to why it denied him the high office when the dream of any political party would be to see one of its leaders as the prime minister. The mystique veto of the CPI(M) against its own most popular leader makes Jyoti Basu unique. Thus ends the political saga of Jyoti Basu who made his party acceptable to Bengal but found himself unacceptable to his own party, to lead India!
(S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues. E-mail: comment@gurumurthy.net)

Destroyer of West Bengal

http://kanchangupta.blogspot.com/2010/01/destroyer-of-west-bengal.html

Saturday, January 09, 2010
Destroyer of West Bengal

Had it been Jyoti Banerjee lying unattended in a filthy general ward of SSKM Hospital in Kolkata and not Jyoti Basu in the state-of-the-art ICCU of AMRI Hospital, among the swankiest and most expensive super-speciality healthcare facilities in West Bengal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would not have bothered to arrange for a video-conference for top doctors at AIIMS to compare notes with those attending on the former Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Jyoti Banerjee, like most of us, spent his working life paying taxes to the Government. Jyoti Basu spent the better part of his life living off tax-payers’ money — the conscience of the veteran Marxist was never pricked by the fact that he appropriated for himself a lifestyle shunned by his comrades and denied to the people of a State whose fate he presided over for a quarter century. Kalachand Roy laid what we know today as Odisha to waste in the 16th century; Jyoti Basu was the 20th century’s Kala Pahad who led West Bengal from despair to darkness, literally and metaphorically.

Uncharitable as it may sound, but there really is no reason to nurse fond memories of Jyoti Basu. In fact, there are no fond memories to recall of those days when hopelessness permeated the present and the future appeared bleak. Entire generations of educated middle-class Bengalis were forced to seek refuge in other States or migrate to America as Jyoti Basu worked overtime to first destroy West Bengal’s economy, chase out Bengali talent and then hand over a disinherited State to Burrabazar traders and wholesale merchants who overnight became ‘industrialists’ with a passion for asset-stripping and investing their ‘profits’ elsewhere. A State that was earlier referred to as ‘Sheffield of the East’ was rendered by Jyoti Basu into a vast stretch of wasteland; the Oxford English Dictionary would have been poorer by a word had he not made ‘gherao’ into an officially-sanctioned instrument of coercion; ‘load-shedding’ would have never entered into our popular lexicon had he not made it a part of daily life in West Bengal though he ensured Hindustan Park, where he stayed, was spared power cuts. It would have been churlish to grudge him the good life had he not exerted to deny it to others, except of course his son Chandan Basu who was last in the news for cheating on taxes that should have been paid on his imported fancy car.

Let it be said, and said bluntly, that Jyoti Basu’s record in office, first as Deputy Chief Minister in two successive United Front Governments beginning 1967 (for all practical purposes he was the de facto Chief Minister with a hapless Ajoy Mukherjee reduced to indulging in Gandhigiri to make his presence felt) and later as Chief Minister for nearly 25 years at the head of the Left Front Government which has been in power for 32 years now, the “longest elected Communist Government” as party commissars untiringly point out to the naïve and the novitiate, is a terrible tale of calculated destruction of West Bengal in the name of ideology. It’s easy to criticise the CPI(M) for politicising the police force and converting it into a goons brigade, but it was Jyoti Basu who initiated the process. It was he who instructed them, as Deputy Chief Minister during the disastrous UF regime, to play the role of foot soldiers of the CPI(M), first by not acting against party cadre on the rampage, and then by playing an unabashedly partisan role in industrial and agrarian disputes.

The fulsome praise that is heaped on Jyoti Basu today — he is variously described by party loyalists and those enamoured of bhadralok Marxists as a ‘humane administrator’ and ‘farsighted leader’ — is entirely misleading if not undeserving. Within the first seven months of the United Front coming to power, 43,947 workers were laid off and thousands more rendered jobless as factories were shut down following gheraos and strikes instigated and endorsed by him. The flight of capital in those initial days of emergent Marxist power amounted to Rs 2,500 million. In 1967, there were 438 ‘industrial disputes’ involving 165,000 workers and resulting in the loss of five million man hours. By 1969, there were 710 ‘industrial disputes’ involving 645,000 workers and a loss of 8.5 million man hours. That was a taste of things to come in the following decades. By the time Jyoti Basu demitted office, West Bengal had nothing to boast of except closed mills and shuttered factories; every institution and agency of the State had been subverted under his tutelage; and, the civil administration had been converted into an extension counter of the CPI(M) with babus happy to be used as doormats.

After every outrage, every criminal misdeed committed by Marxist goons or the police while he was Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu would crudely respond with a brusque “Emon to hoyei thaakey” (or, as Donald Rumsfeld would famously say, “Stuff happens!”). He did not brook any criticism of the Marich Jhapi massacre by his police in 1979 when refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan were shot dead in cold blood. Till date, nobody knows for sure how many died in that slaughter for Jyoti Basu never allowed an independent inquiry. Neither did the man whose heart bled so profusely for the lost souls of Nandigram hesitate to justify the butchery of April 30, 1982 when 16 monks and a nun of the Ananda Marg order were set ablaze in south Kolkata by a mob of Marxist thugs. The man who led that murderous lot was known for his proximity to Jyoti Basu, a fact that the CPI(M) would now hasten to deny. Nor did Jyoti Basu wince when the police shot dead 13 Congress activists a short distance from Writers’ Building on July 21, 1993; he later justified the police action, saying it was necessary to enforce the writ of the state. Yet, he wouldn’t allow the police to act every time Muslims ran riot, most infamously after Mohammedan Sporting Club lost a football match.

Did Jyoti Basu, who never smiled in public lest he was accused of displaying human emotions, ever spare a thought for those who suffered terribly during his rule? Was he sensitive to the plight of those who were robbed of their lives, limbs and dignity by the lumpen proletariat which kept him in power? Did his heart cry out when women health workers were gang-raped and then two of them murdered by his party cadre on May 17, 1990 at Bantala on the eastern margins of Kolkata? Or when office-bearers of the Kolkata Police Association, set up under his patronage, raped Nehar Banu, a poor pavement dweller, at Phulbagan police station in 1992? “Emon to hoyei thaakey,” the revered Marxist would say, and then go on to slyly insinuate that the victims deserved what they got.

As a Bengali, I grieve for the wasted decades but for which West Bengal, with its huge pool of talent, could have led India from the front. I feel nothing for Jyoti Basu.

Hindu Festival Attacked in West Bengal

Friday, June 12, 2009
ALERT—–Hindu Festival Attacked in West Bengal:; Hindus Killed and Multiple Hindu Women Raped !
A major Hindu festival in Burdhawan District of West Bengal has been attacked by Muslim fundamentalists which occurred on and after June 6th. We are investigating the incidents in details:

The festival occurs over a large area and in several places (Festival is known as BuroRajer Mela under Purbastali Police Station in Burdhawan District.)

In several locales of the Festival, Muslims attacked and tortured the Hindu pilgrims.

Multiple Hindu women were gang-raped in the jute fields.

Blood stains are found in the jute fields. It is suspected that many deadbodies are burried under soil.

In nearby Patuli rail station, Muslims attacked Hindu pilgrims. Many compartments containing the Hindu pilgrims were broken.

The whole incident is well planned and executed by a local political leader named Mohammed Khalilur Rahaman, a known Islamic fundamentalist and a leader of the Muslim community

The final target of the whole series of events is to break the morale of the Bengali Yadav (Goala) community.

Hindu Samhati Teams will be investigating the incidents on the ground and will submit detailed reports on the atrocities. Please help us with publicity and morale.

Why no outrage over persecuted Hindus?

Why no outrage over persecuted Hindus?
By Richard L. Benkin

Hindu women celebrate a religious festival inside a tent set up for the occasion in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The number of Hindus has radically decreased in the predominantly Muslim country, with many fleeing to India to escape persecution. (Photo/Kamrul Hasan)

Chicago, IL, United States, — There have been several attempts at genocide since the middle of the last century. European Nazis murdered 6 million Jews in the 1940s. In the1960s Fulani-led Nigerians slaughtered around 1 million ethnic Ibos who formed the Republic of Biafra. Three decades later, majority Hutus murdered almost 1 million Tutsis in Rwanda, and Serbs did the same to about 10,000 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Ethnic Arabs are still killing non-Arab Sudanese; so far over half a million.
These crimes grabbed the world’s attention – albeit too late and only after the bodies were piled too high to ignore. The United Nations issued proclamations and sent aid through its human rights and refugee organizations. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others loudly condemned the perpetrators, documenting the atrocities and raising money for their aid programs. Several international celebrities took on highly visible roles and massive protests worldwide gave vent to peoples’ outrage.
Yet there is another case of ethnic cleansing in numbers that dwarf these crimes, a-genocide-in-the-making, that has been proceeding for decades with little more than the occasional whimper. When Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan in 1971, Hindus made up almost one in five of its citizens. Today, they are less than one in ten. Demographers and others estimate that approximately 20 million Bangladeshi Hindus have disappeared.
Twenty million people are missing, and many more are at risk – but no George Clooney or Angelina Jolie has stood up; no declaration has come from the United Nations, despite its mandate to stop such atrocities. Even the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has done nothing to help the victims, though several organizations have documented their suffering.
The international human rights industry, too, has been silent. Amnesty International has devoted pages upon Web pages to the United States and Guantanamo and spends a high percentage of its resources criticizing Israeli democracy. Its current cover story is about Shia Muslims being “treated like second class citizens.” But to date it has shown no stomach to oppose what could be the worst case of ethnic cleansing in our time. The last time AI or Human Rights Watch gave the Bangladeshi Hindus even passing mention was in 2006.
This is not the first time the world has ignored mass murder in South Asia. Toward the end of the Bangladeshi war of independence, Pakistani troops and their Islamist allies slaughtered between 2 and 3 million mostly Hindu Bangladeshis – noncombatants, women, children and the elderly. All manner of brutality from mutilation to ritualized gang rape accompanied the carnage, but the world still remains silent even when the victims’ descendants cry out for justice.
NATO sent troops into Kosovo when thousands were at risk but did nothing to save millions in East Bengal. Hindu refugees flood West Bengal, India, and live in semi-legal squalor, but the UNHCR refuses to recognize them as refugees. Earlier this year I visited almost two dozen extra-legal camps in West Bengal and saw these people’s need for help.
Several refugees and others attribute this disparity to religious bias. Fear of terrorist reprisals, the lure of petrodollars, and a rigid political correctness prevent many from taking a stand against Islamists, according to one Indian activist. But he and others blame “our own nature” that mitigates against activism and tolerates corruption.
As I told Indian journalists, “Everyone in India seems to know about the Bangladeshi Hindus, but no one is doing anything about it.” The actions of Bangladeshi Islamists, while atrocious, are not unexpected. However, their treatment by Indian Hindus is surprising.
Imagine refugees barely escaping with their lives, leaving murdered loved ones behind. They described crossing into the largest Hindu nation in the world, but found no welcome in the arms of their co-religionists. Instead, they were “treated like trespassers,” and given no aid or shelter. They reported being forced into camps, where their captors took advantage of then no less than did their Islamist tormentors.
In West Bengal, refugees testified that locals let them squat on the land, but in exchange they were forced to attend communist rallies. They received voter’s cards only to be told that officials of the Communist Party of India/Marxist would fill them in for them. But if anyone else desired the land, the refugees would be ejected; something I observed firsthand.
Today an economic and military powerhouse, India has yet to advocate for the thousands of victims streaming across its borders. It has never pressed the case of the Bangladeshi Hindus before any international body. If it has protested the ethnic cleansing to Bangladesh, it has done so meekly.
Moreover, this great nation seems content to cede the integrity of its borders. Several refugees testified that even now Islamists from surrounding villages and from Bangladesh attack them with the knowledge of West Bengal officials.
Once the CPIM got wind of my visits to the camps, we would alter our itinerary to arrive before the local commissar intimidated refugees into silence about anything that might embarrass the communist government. In one camp their tactic appeared to work. We were about to leave when one elderly woman stood up, with a commissar looking on, and said, “I’m not afraid of anybody,” and began to talk about the ongoing attacks.
Is the Indian government’s silence little more than a ploy to keep votes, a reflection of its pseudo-secularist policy? If it is, that does not explain the silence of those parties that have no chance of gaining significant numbers of Muslim or communist votes, such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and other rightwing parties. Why are they not championing the Bangladeshi Hindus, and using this as a rallying point for all Indians who recognize the immorality of remaining silent while others are oppressed?
In my travels in West Bengal, when I offered to act with others to protest what is happening there, the response was almost always, “People are afraid.” That made sense when we were speaking with refugees who have known nothing in the way of protection or the law. But this was the answer of Indian citizens, often people whose organizations claim to be working for the refugees.
In my advocacy for the refugees in the West, I encounter skepticism from those who question India’s silence if things are so dire; who question why there are few public protests; who ask, after hearing about attacks inside India, why none of the 800 million Indian Hindus have traveled to these camps to defend the victims against Islamist aggression.

(Dr. Richard L. Benkin is vice president of Gallagher Bassett Services in Chicago, Illinois. He is also U.S. correspondent for the “Weekly Blitz,” published in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and special advisor on Bangladeshi affairs to the Washington D.C.-based Intelligence Summit. He has written numerous essays and commentaries on the Middle East, Bangladesh and South Asia. He can be contacted at drrbenkin@comcast.net. ©Copyright Richard L. Benkin)

Mangalore Vs Kolkata

http://www.chowk.com/articles/mangalore-vs-kolkata-sankrant-sanu.htm

Mangalore vs Kolkata
Sankrant Sanu March 5, 2009
Tags: freedom of speech , Kolkata , Mangalore , The Statesman , CPI(M) , India
Standing up against Muslim and Hindu zealots
Is government, media and even civil society in India intimidated by Islamic religious zealots?

Religious zealots abused women sitting in a pub in Mangalore in Karnataka, India. Zealots from another religion violently protested against the publication of an article in the Statesman in West Bengal.

While the government in Karnataka proceeded to arrest the religious extremists in Mangalore, the government in West Bengal succumbed to their variants in Kolkata, arresting the editor instead. The first incident received widespread media-coverage and editorial condemnation and while the second, in comparison, was largely papered over. What lies at the heart of this difference in approach?

‘The Statesman’ in Kolkata reproduced an article titled ‘Why should I respect these oppressive religions’ written by Johann Hari that was first published in the Independent London. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-why-sh ould-i-respect-these-oppressive-religions-1517789.html . The article recommended that the right of free expression should not be curtailed by religious zealotry. It ended with promoting membership of the National Secular Society in UK for fighting for secularism and freedom of speech.

As a result of the article, a Muslim group of 4,000 people protested outside The Statesman’s office and demanded arrest of the Editor and Publisher. Some violence broke out. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) led government of West Bengal could not resist the pressure. The Editor and Publisher of The Statesman were arrested for publishing the article.

There are some interesting parallels and contrasts between this incident and what happened in Mangalore. A few weeks ago, a Hindu group beat-up some women in Mangalore who were visiting a pub. Civil society was outraged and the Karnataka government took swift action, arresting the perpetrators and standing up for civil liberty.

Both these cases are fundamentally about free expression and speech. In Mangalore the issue was of the freedom for women to visit pubs without intimidation by religious zealots. In Kolkata the issue was the right of a newspaper editor to publish a reasoned academic critique of religious fundamentalism (and a defense of free speech) without intimidation by a different set of religious zealots.

The issue is not about the relative merits of defending visits to pubs versus the right to a reasoned academic discussion and debate in a free democratic society. Far more interesting is the response of the Indian establishment, media and civil society.

1. While in both cases, a private group of religious zealots wanted to curtail free expression, in Karnataka the BJP-led government sided with free expression by arresting the Hindu religious zealots. In West Bengal, the communist-led government sided with the Muslim religious zealots by arresting Ravindra Kumar and Anand Sinha, the editor and publisher of the Kolkata-based English daily The Statesman.

2. While the violence by the religious zealots of the self-styled “Shri Ram Sena” received huge media coverage and condemnation by the national and coverage by international media the larger violence by a bigger mob of religious zealots in Kolkata received hardly any coverage in relative terms. A preliminary analysis shows that the Mangalore incident received about hundred times the media coverage of the incident in Kolkata.

3. While it was heartening to see civil society rally around in large numbers against the acts of a small group of private Hindu vigilantes in Mangalore—including starting a Facebook group which garnered over 50,000 members , the state did take quick action against the vigilantes; on the other hand, the draconian actions of the state itself against free expression in Kolkata—a case which really requires civil society to be more vigilant—hardly evoked a response. Even more surprising is the apathy of the Indian media to rally to the defense of the editor of the Statesman–one of their kind. The Indian media downplayed the incidence, and with the notable exception of Vir Sanghvi of the Hindustan Times, there were few editorial condemnations.

The Mangalore pub violence and that of the mob in Kolkata are both outrageous strikes against civil liberty. However if our goal is primarily civil liberty rather than the advocacy of particular political or religious agendas, it behooves us to understand the mechanics of this differential response by the state, media and civil society. In order to do so, here are some preliminary questions.

1. Is an attack of freedom of expression of a newspaper editor less significant than that of a woman going to a pub?

2. How much of the frenzy about the Mangalore pub incident media-orchestrated? Why would the media choose to orchestrate it?

3. Does the Indian media, on the average, have a political or religious bias? Is this bias institutionalized or decentralized? Where does this stem from?

4. Vir Sanghvi, in his article on this topic writes: “It is now clear that the liberal society has been suckered into relaxing its standards for free speech by militant Islamists.” Is this true? What are the consequences of this?

5. Is the response by the state in Kolkata due to “political compulsions”? Why is the communist government of West Bengal under political compulsion from Islamic zealots while the BJP-ruled state of Karnataka not under similar political compulsion from Hindu zealots?

6. It is interesting to note that Johann Hari, who wrote the original article in The Independent, is known for his advocacy of secularism. Yet few Indian secularists stood up for him. Has Indian secularism essentially turned into apologia for Islamic religious zealotry? What will this mean in terms of long-term consequences for Indian civil society?