Thursday October 19, 2017
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Hindu persecution in East and West Bengal: A Failure of Hindu Leadership

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Photo: indiafacts.org

By Dr. Richard L. Benkin

There appears to be no better way to describe it:  a complete failure of leadership.  Having traveled to Bengali villages and major power centers for the past ten years, as well as advocating for their interests in Washington and elsewhere, it is clear that the institutions charged with protecting and providing for Bengal’s Hindus have failed them utterly.

To be sure, groups like Tapan Ghosh’s Hindu Samhati maintain a presence among the people and advocate tirelessly for them.  There are also courageous individuals—both Hindu and otherwise—who do not shrink from this crucial human rights battle.  In the decades I have spent all over Bengal’s villages and cities, I have never once seen a member of the recognized leadership anywhere near the people.  Nor have they taken any action or even expressed justified outrage when people (including but not only me) presented evidence of the people’s victimization.

I wondered if that perception was my own failure until late February.  In an out of the way restaurant in Kolkata, I sat with a man I am proud, calls me a brother:  Rabindra Ghosh, the advocate who puts his life on the line every day to document the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh and to let the Bangladeshi government know that its complicity does not go unnoticed.  Both government and Islamists have attacked him; just as many of them have openly or cravenly tried to vilify me.  During our meeting, Advocate Ghosh mentioned that Hindu and Indian political leaders he addressed responded to his thick dossier of information with, ‘we will see what we can do,’ code words meaning that they will take no action.  He, too, noted that in his decades of on-site investigation of anti-Hindu atrocities and other actions, he has never seen a Hindu leader or heard from any of the people that those who claim to be leaders were there or provided any help whatsoever.

In February, I spent time in Bengali villages where Hindus were attacked, their homes destroyed, and Mandirs desecrated; while governments in East and West Bengal did nothing to stop or prosecute these crimes.  And not once did any of the victims tell me that help arrived from the government, their Hindu leadership, or those political parties that claim to be their protectors.

I am not a Hindu but love the Hindu community as much as anyone does.  My years-long commitment to stopping the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh and elsewhere is testimony to it.  Good friends, however, are supposed to be able to speak frankly to one another; and it is my sad task to tell my Hindu brothers and sisters that your leadership has failed you—utterly and completely.  While a Jew is Public Enemy Number One for Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina and her advisors because of his struggle to save Hindus in Bangladesh and refusal to stop fighting; Hindu MPs sit mutely in parliament, caring more for their own creature comforts than for justice for their people.  Those of us who continue the struggle have come to recognize that sadly, we cannot count on this leadership and have determined new strategies in the face of it.

As a child, I learned about the Nazi Holocaust that sent a third of my people to horrible deaths.  The more I learned, however, the more I realized that the Nazis were not the real drivers of these atrocities; there were too few of them to do so much evil.  It was those “good people” who remained silent in the face of evil that enabled the holocaust to happen.

I challenge Hindu leaders and Indian political leaders to ask themselves—honestly and seriously—if they are repeating history while Hindus in East and West Bengal are persecuted with impunity and face possible obliteration in the land of their ancestors.  What excuses will they make if the worst happens?

Dr. Richard Benkin is an American Jewish human rights activist who is currently working on a mission to stop atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh. Twitter: @drrbenkin

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Pakistan Hindu women continue to undergo forcible conversions to Islam and face persecution

Muslim men kidnap a large number of Hindu women and forcibly convert their religion.

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Pakistan Hindu Women
Pakistani Hindu women hold earthen oil lamps on the occasion of Diwali, in Lahore, on October 26, 2011. During Diwali, people honor Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. VOA

June 17, 2017: Conversion of Pakistan Hindu women to Islam has been creating torment amongst Hindus ever since the partition period of 1947 and emergence of Pakistan as a separate state for Muslims. Even though Islamic law condemns forcible conversion as per the Quranic principle which states – “no compulsion in religion”, but in the history of Islam, innumerable episodes of forced conversions were recorded.

Recently, a 16-year-old girl was forcibly converted to Islam following her abduction by the members of Syed community, which created upheaval among the minority community in Pakistan.

In a report by PTI, Ravita Meghwar was abducted from the Syed Community of Wanharo village near Nagarparkar in the southeast Sindh province on June 6. The girl was reported demanding protection for herself and husband Nawaz Ali Shah, claiming that she was not kidnapped but had absconded with Shah. However, her father called the marriage forceful saying the Syed community had kidnapped his daughter after giving sleeping pills to the family.

Her primary school certificate confirms that Ravita was only 16 years old. However, in a marriage certificate issued by the preacher Pir Mohammad Ayub Jan Farooqui, the girl is 18 years old and can marry the person of her choice, PTI reported.

Such dubiety of whether a person is forcibly converted or not is easily suppressed by an issuance of conversion certificate by the preacher which fiddles with the age of the girl.

Similar instances of forcible conversions were reported in the past. Last spring, Anila Dhawan was kidnapped from her home and was forcibly converted to Islam. Her abductor stated the girl had absconded from home, converted to Islam and married him. The girl was freed from the clutches of the man after her family mounted pressure on the court to probe into the matter.

Last year, a law against such conversions for those below 18 years was passed by the legislature in the southern province of Sindh, however, it was never implemented, calling back the law “anti-Islamic”.  Hard-line Islamic groups called the measure against Islam and part of the conspiracy of making Pakistan a secular country.

Every year, Muslim men kidnap more than 1000 girls – mostly Hindus and forcibly convert their religion. According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, about 5000 Pakistani Hindus leave every year for India to escape religious persecution.

One of the influencing factors causing persecution of religion is the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan.

Forced conversion and marriage propagates further violence as victims are subjected to sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking or sale, or domestic abuse, as indicated by a report published by Movement of Solidarity and Peace in 2014.

Not only this, the plight of Pakistan Hindu women is even graver. This year in March, Zania Kumari, a Hindu woman was axed to death in Pakistan.

Anything without the consent of a person’s will is immoral and is only getting bigger with such increasing malpractices. From the forced marriage to the recording of FIR by the Pakistan Hindu women to the courtroom, a conversion certificate is what overrides marriage laws.


prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

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Government plans to amend Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to persecuted refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan

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www.hinduhumanrights.info

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

india-bangladeshi-migrants1New Delhi: Narendra Modi government may soon pass an ordinance to amend the Citizenship Act making a provision to grant citizenship to persecuted refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Home Ministry has set up a task force to work on the modalities of granting citizenship to various Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Chakma refugees, according to a report in Times of India.

The ordinance is likely to bring great relief to the persecuted Hindu and other minority people from Bangladesh who have crossed over to West Bengal and Assam.

The legislation is likely to face stiff opposition in the parliament, but according to TOI report, government may attempt to introduce the bill during winter session to send a message to the persecuted refugees especially from Bangladesh that government intends to mainstream them.