Taslima Nasreen: The Daughter of Eternal Bangladesh on the run in India -4
Rajen Thakur for Asian Tribune
Why India is concerned about so called Islam
Dhaka , 29 November, (Asiantribune.com): Islam's conquest of India was incomplete. The South in India never fully fell under Islam. Majority of the Indians continued being Hindu and maintained their culture even though they labored under Islamic weight. Contrast the situation in India with Islamic conquest of Byzantium, Constantinople, Persia, Egypt, North Africa and Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc).
Here, the local cultures and indigenous religious groups (Pagans, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians) could not and did not withstand Islamic pressure and they succumbed. The Berbers of North Africa (the dominant ethnic strain in Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, etc) have been Arabized. Africans in northern Sudan identify themselves as Arabs.
The Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul (in Beyond Belief) observed that the Arabs were the most successful colonizers in the world. Arabic becomes a sacred language for over a billion people. They pray while facing towards Mecca.
The failure of Islam in India was lamented by Altaf Hussein Hali (1834-1914), who otherwise sang the praises of Islam. In his famous poem called Mussadas, which now is a required reading in many Pakistani schools, Hali lamented as follows.
I give the lines in both Urdu and English translation.
Voh Din e Hijazi ka bebaak bera
Nishan jis ka aksay alam me pahuncha
Mazhaam hua koi khatra no jis ka
Na Oman me thithka Na Qulzum (Red Sea) me jijhka
Kiye paar jis ne saton sumundar
Voh duba dahane me Ganga ke akar
That fearless fleet of Hijaz (Bagdad), Whose mark reached the extreme limits of the world Which no hesitation could obstruct Which did not falter in the Gulf of Oman or in the Red Sea
That Hijazi fleet which spanned the seven seas Lies shattered in the mouth of the Ganges
Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal (1873-1938) also lamented that Hindus (Kafirs) prospered while the Muslims were backward and poor. In his long poem Shikwa (Complaint), Iqbal penned the following famous lines:
Tujh ko maloom hai leta thaa koi naam tera>br>
Qavat e buzoo e Muslim ne kiya kaam tera
. . .
Qahar to yeh hai ke kafir ko mile Hur-o-qusur
Aur bichaare Muslmaan ko faqt vada i Hur
Allah, do you know that none sang your story It is the strength of the Muslim that spread your glory . . .
The shameful thing is that Kafirs enjoy Houries in this life
But Poor Muslims have only a promise of Houries in after life
When temples and shrines were being destroyed, Hindus turned within and produced the most lyrical devotional poetry. Mirabai, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Surdas, Ravidas, Tulsidas, these and many more composed their poems during Muslim ascendancy in India. It is easier to bring down temple walls. How do you bring down the shakti encased in shlokas and bhajans? Who survives after 500 years? Mighty Babar or Guru Nanak?
Hindus should give up the false notion that they succumbed miserably before the Muslim or British colonization. Shivaji defeated a Mughal army in 1660; Europe followed in defeating the Turks in 1683 (on 9/11/1683, mark the date) at Vienna. India was the first country in all of Asia and Africa to throw off the British colonial yoke in 1947. Independence in Afro-Asia followed only after India succeeded.
Today the headlines dominate the threat from monotheistic, closed ideologies, especially radical Islam. Quietly without firing a shot, however, Indian ideas are resurgent in the globe. From 10 to 20 percent of the American populace subscribe to New Thought spiritual philosophies derived largely from Vedanta. The 21st century may well be an Indian century, not because of India's growing economic might, but because of its perennial philosophy.
Concern Over Discrimination and Attacks on Minorities
Political discrimination and “attacks” on religious and ethnic minorities continue to be a problem in Bangladesh, a US report has said.
“Hindu, Christian and Buddhist minorities experienced discrimination and sometimes violence..” the report said.
The report, released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour on Saturday September 14,2007, said protests demanding that Ahmadiyyas be declared non-Muslim and instances of harassment continued sporadically.
While there is the traditional inter-community amity and citizens were generally free to practise the religion of their choice, “government officials, including the police, were often ineffective in upholding law and order and were sometimes slow to assist religious minority victims of harassment and violence”.
However, the government generally acted in an effective manner to protect the Ahmadiyyas and their property, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency said yesterday quoting the report. The period dealt with is that of the government of Khaleda Zia-led coalition that included a four-party Islamist conglomerate.
“Religion exerted a significant influence on politics, and the government was sensitive to the Islamic consciousness of its political allies and the majority of its citizens,” said the International Religious Freedom Report 2007 in its Bangladesh chapter.
The report noted that “the government and many civil-society leaders stated that violence against religious minorities normally had political or economic motivations and could not be attributed only to religion”.It cited reports of what is dubbed as societal abuses and discrimination based on religious belief or practice during the period covered by this report.
Taslima depicted this story in her novel: Lajja”. Is there any mother’s child in Bangladesh can ignore these? The parliament’s proceedings bear its testimony. The ugly victims of those atrocities bear the scars and humiliation. Taslima is the flame of eternal Bangladesh; she is the mother of downtrodden humanity, and facing the crisis of secular Indian polity and politics. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has turned its face to its pre-1947 honey moon-era with rightist Muslim League and presently Islamist vote-bank by changing Marxism into Muslim,’M’ is common to bluff the boneless middle class intellectuals and ‘stateless Bangladeshi’ Hindus in West Bengal to continue its ‘M’afia regime.
Now, informants from West Bengal are reporting that the Communist government of that Indian state is supporting the ongoing persecution of Bangladeshi Hindus forced out of their country by Bangladesh’s Vested Property Act (VPA).(Communists Thugs Attack Anti-Islamist Activist in West Bengal By Dr. Richard L. Benkin, writes in Asian tribune on 17 October)
As a policy of the discriminatory policies, combined with land grabbing; looting, arson, rape, murder and attack on religious institutions of the Hindus with the collusion of the certain political parties, if not instigation, of the government agencies, there have been a continuous migration of minorities from Bangladesh, decline of Hindu population in terms of natural growth does not justify that there is no exodus.
During the last 50 years since 1951, the comparatively lower growth rate of Hindus indicates a steady migration of Hindus. During the last five decades (1951-2001), the growth rate of Muslim population is 244.68% as against 23.16% of Hindu population. Side by side , the growth rate of Muslim population in West Bengal during the same period is 310.93%,i.e. much higher than in Bangladesh. On the other hand the share of Hindu population has come down to 9.2% in 2001 from 23% in 1951.
It may be recalled : U S Congressman Mr. Joseph F Crowley, co-chair of congressional Bangladeshi Caucus, who visited Dhaka in February2006,held talks with the leaders of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad (BHBCOP). They(BHBCOP) submitted a memorandum to the US congressman, demanding repeal of the fifth and eighth amendments to the Bangladesh Constitution to establish a secular and democratic state diminishing all disparities.
It demanded proper inclusion of the country’s voters as well as 5.5 million voters staying in India in the voter list and assurance of free and fair elections under neutral caretaker government and an independent Election Commission. The memorandum also demanded equal rights and proportional representation in government and public offices, including parliament, cabinet, defense and civil administration and assurance of safe return of 10 million minorities who have left country at different times.
The memorandum urged the government to fulfill the legitimate demands of the Adibashi and ingenuous communities, including preservation of their culture and heritage, and implement the CHT Treaty.” The BHBCOP demanded quota (at a representatives meeting of 50 districts in Dhaka in November 2005)Parliament, government services including army, police, foreign service, local government and in the Public offices of the Republic on the basis of 15% minority population (Bangladesh Census Report-1974).
As Hindu American Federation, a human right organization, noted in its first report in July 2007, “attacks against Hindus in Bangladesh constitute the most serious threat to the Hindu community anywhere in the world. This reality is confirmed in the current report as well. Bangladesh was created after the India-Pakistan War of 1971, that was preceded by the massacre of an estimated two million East Pakistani citizens and the ethnic cleansing of nearly 10 million (mostly Hindus) who fled to India.
The Hindu population in Bangladesh has been reduced from about 31% in 1947 to about 9% now. The assumption of power in 2001 by a coalition government led by the BNP and headed by Begum Khaleda Zia, has led to an increased assault on religious and ethnic minorities in Bangladesh, and fears that Bangladesh is becoming the new center for Islamic radicalism and terrorism have been expressed by human rights observers and media worldwide.
The plight of Hindus in Bangladesh is an unending tale of humiliation. Bangladesh is under attack; she is struggling for existence as a democratic secular country.
Late S M Ali, a thinker journalist, wrote following the greatest tragedy in August 1975: “In Bangladesh, the end of one dream marks the beginning of another. The Army crackdown in March 1971 ended the Bengali’s dream for a fully autonomous East Pakistan, but it immediately created a new vision, the hope for an independent republic of Bangladesh. Perhaps, so it is now, although the traumatic collapse of the Mujib regime--and the death of the founder of the state--would leave the Bengalis in a state of shock for a long, long time. …. Yet sooner or later, the young republic, long used to a succession of tragedies, will again start looking at its future ready to make a new beginning. Again, there will be new dreams, new dreams and new hopes.
”The vision that mobilized the nation during the Liberation War in 1971, of a society economically prosperous, exploitation free, democratically governed, tolerant of pluralism, and respectful of peoples' rights, is still alive in the minds of average citizens.
Since then silent migration of the Hindus continued with certain degree of accelerations. Domestic milieu of a country is closely linked with the formulation, processing and implementation of its, policy including foreign policy. Bangladesh is no exception to it.
It was thought that the Liberation of Bangladesh marked the end of a chapter of communal politics, opening up newer possibilities for the Hindus and other ethnic minorities and they would be able to play a more effective role in the political process. Minorities had also thought that Bangladesh would put an end to discrimination against them, and their loyalty to the country would no longer be questioned. But in the present-day Bangladeshi the Hindu's loyalty to the state is very much questioned.
So the question arises: whither Bangladeshi Hindus?
“I have no place to go. India is my home”
Ms. Nasrin told The Hindu over telephone from Jaipur. The author said she had been put up in “a private place.” “I have no place to go. India is my home, and I would like to keep living in this country till I die,” Ms. Nasrin said. “Here, in this country, I have got the love and sympathy of the people for which I am grateful.”Ms. Nasrin’s visa, which was renewed by the government of India in August, expires on February 17, 2008.
Dr Nasreen is correct. She has every right to stay in India with people’s love and sympathy. In the past thousand years,. India has given shelter the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. Swami Vivekananda in his historic address at the World’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago in September 1893 categorically mentioned hundred- year back that ,”I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation” And the present day India has sheltered Rev Dalai Lama and more than 10 million Bengali Hindus from Bangladesh after 1972 to date living in India as stateless citizens.
Why India could be cruel to Ms Nasreen who revealed the inner world of Bangladesh mind in her writings? The War Criminals in Bangladesh take their stand afresh. Former Ambassador Mohammad Zamir opined:”The word audacity does not fully translate the emotional connotations contained in the Bengali word 'ashpordhya'.
It has been amazing watching the unfolding drama initiated recently by comments made by Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami political party. His claim that 'anti-liberation forces never even existed' was not only a classical example of distortion of truth and denial of history but also a slap on our national conscience and the glorious struggle that eventually led to our liberation and independence. This demeaning assertion also reflected total disrespect for the countless martyrs who lost their lives, the tens of thousands of women who were dishonoured and the eleven million people who were displaced and became refugees during 1971.”
This is the latest political environment in Bangladesh. It may be mentioned here that After Tagore’s death in 1941, India was partitioned and Bengal was divided in 1947 and its accompanying bloodshed, Bengal has indeed gradually lost her leadership of India in every field--political, commercial, intellectual and artistic. The crux of the political problem was the Hindu-Muslim divide in Bengal. It is even today a congenital defect that crippled both the community, particularly the Hindus in East Bengal-turned-Bangladesh.
The Communist spoiled East Bengal, now those leaders assembled and exploring its death pursuit in West Bengal “Over the past months, there has been growing evidence of an alliance between communists and Islamist in South Asia. In 2006, Nepalese Maoists helped shelter Al Qaeda forces on the run from United States and Pakistani troops loyal to strongman Pervez Musharraf that dislodged them from their sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Indian intelligence reported that the Pakistani embassy in Katmandu arranged (and probably funded) the action writes Dr Benkin, Communists Thugs Attack Anti-Islamist Activist in West Bengal , Asian tribune on 17 October). Islamist perpetrators are working in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Nepal , Assam and Bangladesh.
We appeal to the people of Great Indian Civilization to rise up, and oust the pseudo-communist and secularist from power and establish rule of law, and dignity of Indian values.
Rajen Thakur, an author, researcher and columnist.
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Asian Tribune –