Author: Abhijit Dasgupta, et al
Very few communities have suffered so much in their own homeland as Hindus of Bengal, and that too at the hands of their Arabised/Islamised compatriots. While Hindus in West Bengal are declining both in number and the politico-administrative system, in Islamic Bangladesh they are victims of a systematic ethno-religious cleansing. Post-partition, while Sikhs and Hindus in West Pakistan were subjected to jhatka, in East Pakistan they became items for halal. The Nehru-Liaquat Pact (1950) actually went against Hindus of East Pakistan while ensuring greater consolidation of Muslims in India.
Bengal was partitioned in 1947, with the Muslim-majority areas, including the Buddhist majority Chittagong Hill Tracts (97 per cent) and Khulna (Hindu-majority), forming East Pakistan (29 per cent Hindus). In Bangladesh, they have now been reduced to eight per cent; in Khulna they are 22 per cent; and, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts the Buddhists are less than 50 per cent.
In Bangladesh Parliament, out of 330 members, Hindus and Buddhists account for just five seats. Compare it with Muslim representation in the West Bengal Assembly: They have 59 seats out of 294. Not just that, Hindus of West Bengal, particularly their women, are often victimised by their Muslim neighbours, as in the Deganga riots led by a Muslim Trinamool Congress MP. This patent unevenness between Hindus in Bangladesh and Muslims in West Bengal is pushed below the carpet by our pseudo-secular scholars, including Abhijit Dasgupta who, along with a few other intellectuals, has edited the book under review.
One of the best articles in this collection is by Abul Barkat, an well-known scholar for his work on the sufferings of Bangladeshi Hindus inflicted by the Vested (Enemy) Property Act, which has deprived Hindus of 45 per cent of the land owned by them.
Japanese scholar Masahiko Togawa recounts the grim condition of Hindus in Bangladesh, their insignificant representation in the services (based on a 20-year-old document, but the situation is no better currently), dispossession of property, abduction/rape/ forced conversion/forced marriages of Hindu women, non-building of the Ramna Kali Bari, etc. However, Togawa blunders in comparing them with Muslim minorities in India, evidently caused by the misrepresentation of facts by many Indian pseudo-seculars like Abhijit Dasgupta and Sekhar Bandopadhaya who mischievously compare the condition of the assertive and fast-growing Muslims of West Bengal with the persecuted Hindus in Bangladesh, and even concocting a “parallel story” of marginalisation of Muslims in West Bengal. Bandopadhaya, mentions Jogendranath Mandal, a Labour Minister in Pakistan without mentioning this Cabinet Minister’s flight to India.
Similarly, Dasgupta’s outlandish denial of illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh is absurd. Former West Bengal Governor TV Rajeshwar, senior police officials like Bibhuti Bhushan Nandy and several scholars, basing themselves on Census figures, have confirmed this demographic invasion of West Bengal.
Tetsuya Nakatani, a Japanese scholar, writes on Hindu (mostly Dalit) refugees in Nadia district, not “getting rid of the trauma of exile and refugee-ness”. This proves that Dalit Hindus did not escape the wrath of their Muslim masters/neighbours.
Rangalal Sen, a Bangladeshi scholar, examines the role of the civil society in Bangladesh in combating violence against Hindus, their forced conversion, the trauma of their women, etc, but misses out the theological sanction for the ill-treatment of polytheists as the root cause of their sufferings. “Riots” in East Pakistan/Bangladesh are actually pogroms — one-sided attacks on the hapless Hindu minority.
Sadeka Halim portrays the utter tragedy of Hindu women of Bangladesh — the land of Preeti Wadeddar and venerable Anandomayee Maa. Abu Dayen provides an exhaustive account of the tragedy of Hindus as portrayed by Bangladeshi writers like Shaukat Osman, Humayun Azad, Taslima Nasreen, Nirmalendu Gun, Syed Waliullah, Prashnata Mridha — a theme unknown to — or even deliberately ignored by — India’s ‘progressive’ intellectuals.
While denial of the Jewish Holocaust is a crime in Europe, the suppression of the sufferings of Hindus in India at the hands of their Islamic conquerors/masters/neighbours, both in the past and present, is the standard practice. Negationism is the hallmark of India’s jihad-friendly ‘liberal’ intelligentsia and their pseudo-secular political patrons.
The book is a mixed bag of good and bad article — some exposes the plight of Hindus, and some deny it outrightly.
The reviewer, an expert on Bangladesh, teaches history in University of Delhi.
About the Title:
Minorities and the State discusses the plight of two numerically significant religious minority groups: Hindus in Bangladesh and Muslims in West Bengal, India.
The political vicissitudes in India and Bangladesh have stirred up questions relating to citizenship, nationality, and identity. In this volume, academics from India, Bangladesh, and Japan examine the formation of minority identity at the time of partition of India in 1947 and in subsequent decades. The articles emphasize the crises and coping strategies, migration, and state- and local-level politics affecting minorities.
By utilizing data from varied sources like field work, archival research, and secondary sources, this volume explores deprivation and different dimensions of minority life from political, economic, civil society, gender, and literary perspectives.
Table of Contents:
|The Minorities in Post-Partition West Bengal|
|The Riots of 1950||Sekhar Bandyopadhyay|
|On the Margins: Muslims in West Bengal||Abhijit Dasgupta|
|‘Wrestling with My Shadow’: The State and the Immigrant Muslims in Contemporary West Bengal||Samir Kumar Das|
|Partition Refugees on Borders: Assimilation in West Bengal||Tetsuya Nakatani|
|Political Economy of Deprivation of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh|
|Living with the Vested Property Act||Abul Barkat|
|Role of Civil Society in Combating Violence against Religious Minorities during the Post-2001 General Elections of Bangladesh||Rangalal Sen|
|Hindu Minority in Bangladesh: Migration, Marginalization, and Minority Politics in Bengal||Masahiko Togawa|
|Status of Hindu Women: Spheres of Human Rights Violation in Bangladesh||Sadeka Halim|
|The Crises of Hindu Minority as Depicted in the Fictions of Contemporary Bangladesh||Abu Dayen|