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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2059

Looking at Yesterdays to Explain Tomorrow

By *Rabindranath Trivedi

November 19, 2017 is the hundredth birth anniversary of a remarkable Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ( 19 Nov 1917- 31 Octoner 1994) who left her mark on the history of India. A freedom Fighter and Organizer of Bangladesh Government Mujibnagar paid his Tribute.

Shrimati Indira Gandhi was a remarkable woman, the like of whom this country has not since seen. But she was much more than that. She was an institutional leader with the courage of her convictions and nerves of steel, unflinching in the face of duty, resolute against all that was unjust. She led her nation through the tumultuous battles of the 60s and 70s, never faltering in her dedication to the masses who gave her their complete trust.''

The story of the 1971 refugees – their exodus, reception, and eventual return – forms part of a wider narrative that brings to life the disintegration of one nation – Pakistan – and the birth of another – Bangladesh; the revival of historic grudges between two bitter neighbors – India and Pakistan; the international indifference manifested against a backdrop of Cold War politicking; and the miserable conditions that greeted the 10 million souls who sought refuge in India.

Creation of an independent State of Bangladesh in 1971 is regarded as the high point in her career.Her record as a war leader, however, is mixed in the sense that what the soldiers won on the battlefield giving their blood, was squandered by her on the negotiating table in Simla in 1972.

In the last seventy years (1947-2017), more than ten million of the country's Hindu's have fled to India in the face of sustained persecution and periodic riots with its poverty and frequent cyclones. The decline of Hindus numbers in this country tells the story.

In 1872, 53% of the people in what is now Bangladesh were Hindus. In 1900, it was 32.7%, and by 1947, (28%.) , 1952 (22%), 1970 ( 20%) and after war of Bangladesh liberation 1974( 14.5%) .

The population of religious minorities, particularly Hindus, have declined over last six decades from 28 percent in 1947 to 9 percent in 2011. It's an evidential fact that Hindus in Bangladesh unfortunately have been facing the music of great declination in respect of politico-economic and social status today.

Today Hindu population in Bangladesh has dropped from 15% (1974) to 9% (2011). Conceivably, by 2050 Bangladesh will have achieved the status of Pakistan: no significant Hindu population. Be advised, this is a gut-wrenching story of a people, systematically hounded out of their ancestral land because of their religion, a story largely ignored by the world.

In 1971-75 , Prime Minister Madam Indiraji never consider the Bangalee minorities issues in post independence of Bangladesh particularly for their security, rights, rehabilitation and developments in the socio-politico-eco arena rather ignored by her image as savior.

In 1972 , she raised the security and right issue with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, while the later was on state visit to India at Calcutta in February , and the word security and rights of Bangladeshi Hindus had been articulated in the joint statement bear the testimony.

As the minority leaders are expecting Indian government to take up the cause of the minorities, a senior Bangladesh minister feels these attacks are actually aimed at creating hurdles in the functioning of the secular and liberal Awami League government.

“We have taken several steps to ensure the safety and security of minorities and strict action will be taken against the culprits,” Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told PTI over phone from Dhaka.

When asked what Dhaka would do if India wants to take up the cause of security of Hindus, Inu said, “India and Bangladesh share very good relations. India is our friend. If India wants to take up a matter with us, we will talk. There is no harm in it.”(NDTV)

But Prime Minister Madam Indiraji could realize the issues after the Dacca Coup in August 1975.
In the post -August 1975 the changes in the attitude towards minority and Jamaat as well right-wing religious forces became partner of the power game and the army became the arbitrator in Bangladesh politics.

In a reply to BBC’s question Mrs. Indira Gandhi said, "Of course, had the Government of Bangladesh adopted the Islamic principles, the question of the Hindu minority would have arisen. The Hindu minority might also leave Bangladesh for India creating new economic and political problems for India. (BBC, 20 August 1975).

Yes, problems have been created over the years both for India and Bangladesh. It has been observed that the fate of the minority was often determined by Indo- Pakistan/ and now Bangladesh relations. If the relations between the two countries deteriorated, the Hindu minority would almost certainly suffer. (See events of those years in post independence of Bangladesh1977.1988, 1990,1992,2001.2012 &2014).

Mrs. Gandhi’s apprehension came true. The state turned authoritarian for fifteen years (1975-1990), military dictators ruled the country the initial constitutional commitment was gradually diluted by successive amendments through a martial law ordinance. Changes made to the constitution in around four years after the August 15, 1975 changeover altered the fundamental principles of state policy, destroyed the secular character of the constitution and allowed politics based on religion.

In Bangladesh, being a Hindu means being a victim of oppression, torture and discrimination. This is our fate in Bangladesh.

If you take a closer look, people and religion are now being used with so much expediency, that one has lost track of the conventional or methodical classification, and the role of both. The lust for power and privilege, the politics of vengeance, and fear of defeat have virtually destroyed the democratic prospects of this land.

The year 1971 was a different one; India took active role saved millions of East Bengal Bengali and took arms along with Muktibahini to cut to size Pakistan in December 1971. That was our glorious history.

Aftermath India had never come forward to save religious minorities in Bangladesh rather India had to swallow stateless Bangladeshis as Vote Bank in neighboring states of Bangladesh.

Both the Governments of Bangladesh and India knew well that Bangladeshi Hindus were leaving their ancestral home silently and becoming ‘stateless citizens’ in the surrounding Indian States the Indian press and the Government circle at times have been highlighting the issue of the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh living in India. Bangladesh Government has always maintained that there have been no so-called illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to India. As a result the silent migration of Hindus from this country could not be stopped.

It is documented , over the last four decades in Bangladesh ,the religious minorities particularly the Hindus have been subjected to every conceivable form of indignity, socio-political discrimination, denial of equity and justice, dispossession of ancestral households under Vested Property Act, unequal application law, violation of Human Rights and Constitutional provisions, terrorizing and humiliation by using rape, vandalizing temples & worship places including forced convert to Islam and forced marriage to under aged girls and finally grabbing lands and compelled them for quit Bangladesh to take shelter in India as a “stateless citizens”.
Rabindranath Trivedi - A Freedom Fighter, a retired civil servant of Bangladesh

- Asian Tribune -

Looking at Yesterdays to Explain Tomorrow
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