Skip to main content

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam* 

The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.
Amit Shah, the RSS-BJP Chanakya or the main strategist for West Bengal polls minced no words in exposing the anti-Hindu Mamata Banerjee. According to him, “School teachers in Bengal were beaten up for organising ‘saraswati puja'. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) dispensation does not allow Saraswati puja celebration in schools.”
Amit Shah kept on harping upon the theme that the Mamata-led government was behind the infiltration of the Bangladeshis [meaning Muslims] in Bengal “who are loved dearly by Didi”. Thus Mamata Bannerjee was indulging in appeasement of Muslims. He added another crime of Mamata against Hindus when he alleged that the latter did not get permission for doing visarjan [immersion] after Durga Puja under Mamata government's rule."
How the star ‘Hindu’ campaigner from Bengal Suvendu Adhikari targetted Mamata Bannerjee for chanting ‘Inshallah’ and ‘Khuda Hafiz’ used by Muslims and not ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was made clear by Monideepa Banerjie, a Bengal based renowned journalist, in the following words:
“A campaign that has seen Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP repeatedly addressing Mamata Banerjee as ‘Begum’ [Muslim lady], repeatedly referring to the threat of Nandigram turning into a mini-Pakistan if she is voted to power, repeatedly warning people that if the Trinamool wins this time, the Hindus will not be able to wear the traditional dhoti and the traditional tilaks (the smear of red on the forehead.)”
RSS-BJP also fielded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a hard-core Muslim basher and anti-secularist as a prominent campaigner after Modi and Amit Shah. In a series of meetings he declared TMC led by Mamata Bannerjee as a party which was opposed to the chant of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Yogi was confident that that the public would definitely punish the 'Ramdrohis' [disloyal to Lord Ram].
Yogi Adityanath in an election meeting held in the first week of March (2021) went to the extent of describing the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC as an organization which was opposed to God (‘bhagwaan’) in the state. Since festival of colours, Holi was few days away, he reminded the audiences, "Holi will be celebrated after few days. Holika is lit on the day of Holi. Holika also opposed God." He was seeking votes for RSS-BJP so that anti-god party like TMC meets the fate of Holika. It was not difficult to miss the connection between female demon Holika and a female leader Mamata. Mamata needs to be destroyed.
Adityanath while attacking Mamata Bannerjee, kept on referring to other anti-Hindu crimes of her borrowing from the RSS hateful propaganda literature. Cow slaughter, smuggling and ‘love jihad’ were happening due to the ‘appeasement politics’. Without naming Muslims, he kept on stating that "appeasement politics for the sake of vote bank has endangered the security of not only West Bengal but also of the country.”
He also kept on telling the audiences that the raising of ‘Jai Shri Ram' slogan was not allowed in West Bengal, Durga Puja was banned so the TMC government should be punished for "playing with their religious sentiments". What did he mean by ‘their’ was not difficult to surmise.
Those of us who are familiar with the RSS-BJP propaganda mechanism would know that mere allegations of anti-Hindu crimes of Mamata Bannerjee were presented as truth without offering any proof. Interestingly, the Left and to some extent Congress competing with TMC in these elections criticized her for appeasing the Hindutva forces in Bengal.
Economist, social justice thinker and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen expressed his indignation at “the fanning of the dangerous flames of communal divisions [that] has not occurred as strongly in Bengal since 1946”.
According to him, the saddest part has been that “one of the major political contenders in the electoral battles portrays a part of the ‘insider’ population of Bengal -- in particular, Bengali Muslims -- as less deserving of support, while deriving their strength from the support of Hindu activists coming originally from outside Bengal, the dividing lines are hard to be kept pure”.
UP chief minister Adityanath has been reminding the electorate in Bengal that "the national leadership of the BJP and every worker of the party has come here to connect to the Bengali brothers and sisters to re-establish the identity of Bengal and carry forward a new change through this".
In the light of the totality of the content of his speeches during the current Bengal elections or otherwise, it is too obvious to know that Adityanath’s reference to Bengali brothers and sisters meant Hindus of Bengal only.
When the Marathas invaded Bengal during the reign of Alivardi Khan, they terribly oppressed the Hindus and Muslims alike
Interestingly, it is not for the first time in the history that Hindus of Bengal are being promised liberation from the anti-Hindu rulers by the outsider Hindus. RC Majumdar (1880-1980) was a doyen among Indian historians whose works on ancient India and freedom struggle are rated highly. He is even described by the Hindutva scholars as a true ‘Bhartiya’ historian. He narrated how once Marathas promised to establish ‘Hindu Raj’ [Hindu rule] and what the consequences were.
According to Majumdar:
“There are good grounds to believe that some such idea was present in the mind of the great Peshwa Baji Rao 1 (1700-1740), and he openly preached the ideal of Hindu Pad Padshahi (Hindu empire). This ideal evidently helped him in great deal, as the Hindu Zemindars and ruling chiefs showed active sympathy with the Maratha cause. But, unfortunately, this ideal was not systematically pursued, and seems to have been altogether given up by his successors. As an evidence of this, we may cite two positive facts.
“In the first place, when the Marathas invaded Bengal during the reign of Alivardi Khan, they terribly oppressed the Hindus and Muslims alike. Contemporary Bengali records seem to indicate that the Hindus of Bengal at first regarded the Marathas as deliverers from the yoke of the Muslims, but the incredible atrocities perpetrated by the Marathas completely alienated the Hindus from them. Secondly, it is a well-known fact that far from enlisting the sympathy and support of the great Rajput chiefs, the Marathas terribly oppressed them and made them their enemies.”
[Majumdar, RC, “History of the Freedom Movement in India”, vol. i (Calcutta: Firma KL Mukhopadhyay, 1971), pp 2-3]
Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958), again a renowned historian, held no brief for Islam or Muslim rulers in India. In fact, he is regarded as a narrator of the Hindu history during the Mughal rule. However, his description of the Maratha invasion of Bengal in 1742, too, makes it clear that this army of ‘Hindu nation’ cared least about honour and property of Hindus of Bengal. According to Sarkar, “the roving Maratha bands committed wanton destruction and unspeakable outrage”. [Sarkar, Jadunath (ed), “The History of Bengal- Muslim Period 1200 A.D.–1757 AD”, volume ii, (Delhi: BR Publishing, 2003), (first edition 1948), p 457]
Sarkar, in his monumental work on the history of Bengal, quoted eyewitnesses to relate the stories of sufferings of Bengali Hindus at the hands of Marathas. According to one of the eyewitnesses, Gangaram, whose testimony was reproduced by Sarkar, the Marathas snatched away gold and silver, rejecting everything else. Of some people they cut off the hands, of some the nose and ear; some they killed outright. They dragged away the beautiful women and freed them only after raping them. [Ibid, p 457]
Another eyewitness, Vaneshwar Vidyalankar, the court Pandit of the Maharaja of Bardwan, thus narrated the horrifying tales of atrocities committed by the Marathas:
“Shahu Raja’s troops are niggard of pity, slayers of pregnant women and infants, of Brahmans and the poor, fierce of spirit, expert in robbing the property of every one and committing every kind of sinful act.” [Ibid, p 458]
What RSS-BJP is attempting to accomplish as champions of Hindus of Bengal is not a new strategy of the ruling classes when faced with challenge to its dehumanized exploitative rule from its own people. Karl Marx, in his monumental work, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (1852), brilliantly, highlighted this character of the rulers who when faced with periods of revolutionary crisis:
“Anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle-cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language.” [Marx, Karl, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, in Karl Marx–Frederick Engels Collected Works, Vol 11, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979), p 130]
---
*Formerly with Delhi University, click here for Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates. Facebook: https://facebook.com/shamsul.islam.332; twitter: @shamsforjustice; blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/

Comments

Anonymous said…
What happened now, Idiots? Why are you quiet now and not exposing the post-election atrocities and violence against Hindus.

TRENDING

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.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen