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

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”