Skip to main content

Attempt to whip up tension around Bangladeshis, Rohingiyas shows Govt of India's "insensitive" approach

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju recently said that the Rohingayas living in India don’t have the status of refugees but are illegal migrants, who would be deported once their details have been prepared. The statement shows how insensitive has Government of India become towards a community, bulk of whose population is of Indian origin.
Rohingiyas are descendants of the plantation workers, taken by the Britishers to Burma during the colonial rule. This can also be illustrated by a visit to some of the Khoja Muslim households, many of whom have returned from Burma and settled down in Karimabad, Bhendi Bazar, Mumbai. Some of these Burmese Khoja females even today wear typical Burmese lungees, and carry with them imprints of Burmese ethos and culture.
Rohingayas fled from Myanmar or Burma due to extreme persecution they were subjected to by the Myanmar army and the government. Violence against them was so brutal that the US Holocaust Museum, which had conferred award to the country's president, Aung Sui, withdrew it early this year. She silently reconciled to the brutal massacre of the Rohingayas, which drew the ire and condemnation across the world. It is unfortunate that those in the corridors of power in India have a different logic to apply on what essentially is a humanitarian crisis. It is treating them a threat to the security of the country.
The minister has found their involvement in “illegal activities”. Due to their economic deprivation, some of them may have been involved in such activities, but these are exceptional incidents, and cannot be cannot be thrust upon the entire community.
While nobody in the government is shedding tears on one set of people, there is a move to accommodate Hindus persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. While Hindus persecuted in these countries do deserve strongest sympathy, in a complex situation, in these countries, Muslims too are not spared. In Afghanistan every other day worst terror attacks take place on Muslims. In Pakistan the situation is not any different. Even children are not spared during terror attacks. In Bangladesh liberals are not safe, despite all tall talk by the Sheikh Hasina government.
Governments in these countries cannot escape their responsibility of providing safety to minorities from their hawkish attitudes. Why only government, even people in these counties are required to provide security to Hindu minorities.
It is strange, indeed, that while the Government of India is ready to accommodate Hindus persecuted in these countries, and is contemplating even a law for this, there is an attempt to exclude Muslims. Would that law not run contrary to the secular spirit of the Constitution? Would the approach of the present government not run contrary to Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth?
Amit Shah, Kiren Rijiju
Thousands of peopled from former East Pakistan thronged to Assam in search of shelter from barbaric brutality of the Pakistani army. We supported these refugees, who were subjected to unprecedented atrocities. How we welcomed them can be illustrated by the emotional outpouring of poet-intellectual Harindranath Chattopaday, who in the Ismail Yusuf College in Mumbai was seen waxing eloquence in fostering bond between us and the vulnerable people of East Pakistan. His poem “Hamar Sonar Bongla” embodied the extreme fraternity and love between the people of our Bengal and Bengalis from across the border.
However, with the passage of time, the scenario has changed and the same Bangladeshis, who were once our darling, are being hated. It is the same Bangladeshis who have become the bone of contention in Assam.
Assam has seen fierce move to oust Bangladeshis. The situation against the illegal migrants or even Indian non-Assamese aggravated to such an extent that one of the worst massacres of Muslim Bengalis took place in Nelly. The killing operation of Muslims, mainly women and children, continued unabated for six hours on February 18, 1983 under the very nose of the so-called secular administration, which left the world stunned. It was one of the worst cases of brutal massacres in human history. Police was informed of the impending tragedy, but it looked the other way. It goes to the credit of prominent journalist Arun Shouri to bare the truth about the horrific grotesque loss of life.
The fact is that anti-Bangladeshi agitation played a major role in whipping up hatred and deep sense of resentment, leading to the to the gruesome massacre. The hawks in Assam took the anti-migrants agitation to a feverish pitch, creating a violent turmoil. The hatred against Muslims was so intense that even the supply of water was blocked in protest against the chief ministership of Anwara Taimur. Ironically, decades later, Taimur’s name does not find itself in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC)!
The Congress, which earlier capitalised on the votes of these immigrants, felt no compunction in politically flirting with the violent agitationists against the “illegal immigrants or outsiders”. It was Rajiv Gandhi who signed an accord with the All-Assam Students’ Union. The Assam Accord gave all the required legitimacy to the violent AASU. Such was the diabolical approach of the government.
Mandated by the Supreme Court, the draft NRC, which was meant to find out genuine Indians and detect illegal immigrants, so as to weed them out, has excluded about 40 lakh people, or nearly 10% of the population, most of them Muslims, leading to new humanitarian crisis. The future of those who are proposed as illegal immigrants is uncertain. Those left out of NRC are facing a precarious situation with the likelihood that their rights could be jeopardised. Yet, AASU is jubilant; it even distributed sweets. What sort of sadistic pleasure is it to smile at some one’s tragedy? Meanwhile, BJP Present Amit Shah, blowing his own trumpet of implementing the Assam Accord, said that Bengali migrants are intruders and would be a strain on the rights of the natives.
No doubt, part of the problem lies in the fear of demographic changes. In the name of the lurking fear citizenship, the credential of Indian Bengalis and other nationals have also been put to question. Not less significant is the fact that there is widespread discontent over the NRC draft, as genuine citizens are also missing from the list. The possibilities of discrimination in today’s communal atmosphere can’t be ruled out.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has made it clear that the exercise being conducted under its aegis to identify the alleged aliens residing in Assam would not stop, but nipped the fear of any immediate fallout for those who have not made it to the NRC draft, saying that no coercive step would be taken against them. In the light of the direction of the apex court, the response of the implementing authorities should not be structured on the basis of discrimination and coercion. Notwithstanding apex court directions, fear psychosis and extreme vulnerability continues.
In the teeth of the simmering crisis, Bangladesh has refused to accept these alleged aliens. Any aggravating of the plight of illegal migrants, mainly Muslims, has the potential to generate widespread discontent and would destabilize the current political establishment in the neighbouring country.
The basics question is, is it fair to strip the people of their citizenship on the basis of the cut off date of 1971, as these people have remained for pretty long in India? The issue is onerous, leading to chaos and disruption in the life of ordinary people. It is a human rights issue, which cannot be brushed under the carpet in the name of interests of natives and painting alleged or real aliens as devil.
---
*Based in Kalyan, Maharashtra

Comments

TRENDING

RSS wanted Constitution 'replaced' by Manusmriti which abused Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam* The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 which is celebrated as the Constitution Day This Constitution promised new born Indian Republic a polity based on democracy, justice, egalitarianism and rule of law. However, RSS was greatly annoyed. Four days after the historic event of approval of it, the RSS English “Organiser” in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:

Nuclear energy 'can't solve' global warming, will 'strain' financial, natural resource

Counterview Desk  Taking strong exception to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who has favoured nuclear energy as a solution to global warning, well-known power and policy analyst Shankar Sharma has said that the IAEA chief's “unsubstantiated advocacy” of nuclear power is associated with “diversion of considerable amounts of scarce resources, both financial as well as natural, of many developing countries, such as India.”

Covid taught us: Exams are cruel process of 'eliminating' those seeking education

By Sandeep Pandey, Seema Muniz, Gopal Krishna Verma* Some people are disheartened with the disruption in children’s education due to the menace of Covid and the successive lockdowns. While a number of children are getting used to attending online classes, their counterparts from the weaker socio-economic backgrounds continue to struggle either because of unfamiliarity with technology or because of having to share a single device with their siblings and/or parents. More unfortunate ones have been completely pushed out of the system which has resulted in the virtual drop in the rate of enrolment.

Book on Bhil rebels offers other side of history, neglected by 'nationalist' historians

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  One of the major accusations against Indian historians is that of neglecting and ignoring the role of the marginalised in the freedom struggle. Most of the time, we are ‘informed’ that there were some ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ of the freedom movement, all of them belonging to the same stock of caste as well as ‘power’ positions as their opponents.

Mysterious death of Kishenji 'triggered' series of splits in Maoist camp in India

By Harsh Thakor* On November 24 fell the 10th death anniversary of Kishenji, a prominent Maoist leader, he was also a poet, a scientist, and a soldier. Since his school days he dreamt of planting the seed to create new man. Born in 1954 in Peddapally town (in Karimnagar district, north Telangana), Kishenji was raised by his father Venkataiah (a “freedom fighter”, he called him) and a progressive mother, Madhuramma.

Govt of India responsible for 71% delays in NREGA wage payments, say economists

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 70 economists have urged the Government of India to release “adequate funds” for implementing the rural jobs guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA immediately, pointing out that the pandemic continues to adversely affect the living condition of working families.

Learning to bridge 'huge chasm' between highly educated, illiterate, badly literate

By Shrey Ostwal, Sandeep Pandey*  The pivotal point of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s journey to become Mahatma Gandhi began when his “political guru” – Gopal Krishna Gokhale – advised young Mohandas to travel around India. This rigorous journey was essential for Mohandas to understand his country and countrypersons better if he were to fight the inhumane and unempathetic British regime which had been looting India of its glory for about two centuries then.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Dalits 'celebrate' Constitutional Power Era in 12,500 villages of 16 districts on Nov 26

By Pradip More*  It is a fact that the majority of the people do not have much knowledge about the law, and especially the Constitution. Yet, today's younger generation is becoming increasingly aware of its rights. One wished it would have been good if it was taught about the Constitution well in the schools.

Arrest of top J&K civil society leader shows contempt for international law: PUCL

Counterview Desk  Commenting on the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, India’s top human rights advocacy group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has said that the Government of India action is “one more attempt ... to silence peaceful, non-violent dissenters”, adding, it suggests how “a brutalizing state machinery" has been acting.