Nalhati, West Bengal: In what appears to be a clear case of curtailment of religious freedom, Hindu members of Nalhati village of Birbhum district have been prevented from celebrating Durga Puja for the past four years.
The Hindus have been prohibited by the village administration from observing the festival since 2012 after facing pressure from the Muslim community of the hamlet, according to a report published in NewsX.
The administration had earlier denied permission for the slaughter of cows to the members of the Muslim community. Following this, the Muslim community had pressurized the administration to deny permission and hence prevent Hindus from observing Durga Puja.
The administration unofficially admitted that giving permission to Durga Puja may lead to communal clashes.
So far the issue has been met with stoic silence by local and state-level political leaders. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is otherwise vocal about her opposition to growing intolerance in the society, is yet to speak out on the issue.
The mainstream media, which are otherwise very active in covering issues related to communalism and religious intolerance, have turned a blind eye. Except a few news channels and dailies like Navbharat Times, NewsX and Zee News, none of the news channels, papers, or online portals have covered the issue.
This adds to the growing list of instances wherein media bias and selective coverage stands exposed. The Hindu community which is in the majority in West Bengal continuous to face religious discrimination and intolerance across the state, but finds no one who is willing to address their grievances.
In a globalized world where illegal Rohingya refugees are revered and garlanded, innocent Hindus of Bangladesh are given a horrific fate. International organizations like the United Nations have closed their eyes for these hate crimes
This is apparently a globalized world where illegal Rohingya refugees are revered and garlanded, the innocent Bangladeshi Hindus cruelly treated with inhumanity. International organizations and extremists group that condemn hate crimes and racism have turned a blind eye towards the plight of millions of Hindus which are subjected to brutality in Bangladesh every year.
Imagine a family living in a large beautiful ancestral home. The house, originally belonging to the family, was the seat of a magnificent civilisation where happiness, intellectualism and progressiveness were promulgated smoothly along with the traditionalism. Then came, as a consequence of series of disastrous misadventures, some vindictive, baleful and rancorous ‘invaders’ gunged with duplicitous ideals and deleterious dogmas. They – after initially nestling themselves in the adjacent house – gradually started expanding their reach, swallowing their vicinity, creating havoc and destruction throughout, succouring darkness; eventually dimming the light of culture. Rape, mass murder, destruction and forceful conversions converts the magnanimous aroma of the house into a tenebrous reflection of the dark realm.
This is the story of Bangladeshi Hindus. They’ve been subject to brutal atrocities and destruction committed by the majority of Bangladesh which mounts a condition of ethnic cleansing. The recent mass addition to the list was made in 2017. In the year 2017 alone, according to the Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mojahote, an umbrella organisation representing Hindus within Bangladesh, 107 Bangladeshi Hindu civilians were murdered, 31 Hindu victims disappeared, at least 25 Hindu women and girls were raped, 23 Hindus were forcefully converted and 235 Hindu temples and statues within Bangladesh were desecrated. The same report also claimed that 782 Bangladeshi Hindus were forced to flee to India due to persecution by the Bangladeshi government and radical Islamist groups. This means that 6,474 different atrocities were committed against the Hindu community in Bangladesh in 2017. Which was even higher at 11,335 in 2016. One example of that was seen in Sovandadi village of Patiya, Chittagong where houses of 20 to 22 Hindu families were burned to the ground.
And these are all just the ‘reported ones’. Shipan Kumar Basu, the head of the Hindu Struggle Committee, believes that many atrocities within Bangladesh are unreported: “A lot of Hindu homes were burned in Chittagong Moheshkhali and there were other crimes that occurred against the minorities but they were not published in any newspaper.” The problem does not end there. The powerful establishment of the state of Bangladesh functions, directly and indirectly, either in support of the culprits or in ignorance of the conflict. The atrocities, most of the time, is the subject of no value to the Bangladesh authorities. And the culprits in fact, sometimes, gets a helping hands from the establishment.
Post-Bangladesh’s War of Independence, around 10 million Hindus were displaced, making it difficult for the authorities to establish direct ownership of property within specified legal timeframes and this reality showed the real face of Bangladesh authorities. The establishment, specifically the Awami League government confiscated 1.05 million acres of the Hindu land through Vested Property Act, 1972 and benefitted from the turmoil, showing absolutely no care for the Hindus. The authorities have time and again proved they hold no sympathy and sense of responsibility towards the Hindus.
The Ugly Persecution of 1971
The ugliest turn in the time was, of course, the 1971 War of Liberation, when technical cleansing of Hindus was widely done. In 1971, throughout the 9 month long persecution carried out by Pakistan’s Army in the then East Pakistan, the primary target was the Hindu community. The Muslim Pakistani Army unleashed a series of ‘holocaust’ like deleterious vindictive persecution, abduction, destruction, mass killing and raping of, predominantly, Hindus with an evil objective of quashing Hindu culture and religion in their ‘territory’.
A Sunday Times journalist Anthony Mascarenhas reported on these horrors wrote, “I was getting my first glimpse at the stain of blood which has spread over the otherwise verdant land of East Bengal. First, it was the massacre of non-Bengalis in a savage outburst of Bengali hatred. Now, it is a massacre carried out by the West Pakistan Army. Hindus, hunted from village to village and door to door, were shot off-hand after a cursory short-arm inspection showed they were uncircumcised. I have seen truckloads of human targets and those who had the humanity to help them hauled off under the cover of darkness and curfews. I have witnessed the brutality of kill and burn missions after the army who cleared off the rebels pursued pogroms in the towns and villages. Women were raped or had their breasts torn out with specifically fashioned knives. Children did not escape the horror. The lucky ones were killed with their parents but many thousands of others go through what remains of them with eyes gouged out and limbs amputated.”
Extreme brutality and inhumanity have encapsulated Hindus for long. Hindus of East Pakistan suffered one of the worst of genocides in history. It was the darkest year in the already dark century for them as 2.5 million to 3 million Hindus were slaughtered including women and children. As the barbaric acts continued many, fled the blood field to protect themselves and their family. Hindus were the prime targets of the army, 80% of refugees fleeing East Pakistan were Hindus numbering around 8 – 10 million.
Sydney H. Schanberg, The New York Times correspondent to Dhaka in 1971, gave a hand account of the brutal massacre of Hindus in Bangladesh. He said “Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked ‘H’. All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad.” Women were subjected to horrors of a different kind. Schanberg wrote about the atrocities “The Pakistan army and the Razakars did not stop at simply massacring Hindus. They also took to raping Bengali women. During these horrific times over 200,000 Bengali women and girls were raped, many were taken as sex slaves and raped multiple times by the Pakistani army.
The so-called ‘secular’ media choose to not even consider this massacre worth reporting. The majority of the Indian populace was thus unaware of the planned destruction of their kith and kin. This genocide was a manifestation of the idea that led to a series of minor jihadi incidents affecting the Hindus ever since the 1947 partition. 1971 was one such event that does not even represent the entirety of the situation.
Demographics Changed Drastically
Degradation and destruction of the Hindu community their demography, culture and religion as a whole show a pattern. Right from 1951, a rapid and consistent decline in the Hindu population in Bangladesh is seen(East Pakistan 1947-1971).
Before partition, Hindus in the then East Bengal comprised 30-31% of the total population. Partition led to huge influx of Hindus in Bharat and out-flux of Muslims in East Pakistan. Migration reduced the number of Hindus in East Pakistan to about 22% of the total population as per the 1951 survey. Decades after partition, when the sands were settled, the religious demography of East Pakistan was supposed to be stable. The Hindus were consistently diminishing and reducing in numbers, this was clearly shown in an article on Indiafacts as well.
Such Socio-economic conditions, ethnicity, landscape, fertility and mortality rate, stable and continuous religious demography naturally lead to a diminished population. Despite similar conditions, the minorities in Bangladesh, unnaturally, kept on vanishing. “Due to unabated persecution, intimidation, and forcible conversion to Islam, the Hindu-Minority population kept on dwindling,” wrote Rahul Gupta for Hindu Jagruti Samiti.
Study of government data from 1941-2011 shows clear signs of diminishing Hindu population and unnatural change in demographics. In 1961, the Hindu population decreased to 18.50% of the total population. As a result of genocide, it further sliced to 13.50% in 1971. Eventually decreasing to 10.70% according to the latest census of 2011. But at the same time, the Muslim population kept on increasing and expanding from 78.90% in 1951 to 89.10% by 2011. The effects of forceful change in demographics touched the vicinal West Bengal also, where the Hindu population between 1951 and 1991 decreased by 4.1% while the Muslim population increased by 3.6%.
Crystalline and pellucid indications of a horrific ethnic cleansing of Bangladeshi Hindus is exposed by this pattern. However, the globalized world is still either unaware or intentionally silent on this systematic ethnic cleansing. Global media has betrayed the ethics of journalism and essential values of humanity by ignoring such a huge case of ongoing ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh. India, after years of tears and cry, has finally acknowledged their condition by formally enacting a law fast-tracking their naturalization in India. Culprit changes but the victim doesn’t. Years later the original inhabitants are mere walking dead.
But despite every assertion of Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) matching the global gold standards of humanitarianism, many – predominantly Muslims – in India are up in arms against it. The act is being despised solemnly on the elision of Muslims as refugees along with Hindu, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians. An opportunity to welcome the suffered ones has fallen afoul to the squinted, murky, and somewhat morbid interpretations of secularism. While majority of Indians have opened up their arms to refuge innocent minorities from 3 Islamic States; some have added salt to their wounds by protesting against the act.
Europeans have a horrifying record regarding human rights violations. Germany is well known for an unprecedented, systematic holocaust of Jews and gypsies right in the middle of Europe only 80 years ago. Yet Britain, France, Portugal and others were as brutal with equal or even higher number of humans killed in their colonies. Their victims count many millions and many of them were Indians.
The Arabs, Turks and Mongols, too, have a horrifying record regarding human rights. The number of victims killed also goes into many millions, and many of them were Indians.
The Muslims invaded India already over thousand years ago and were as brutal as ISIS in our times. Unspeakable torture and beheadings were done on massive scale. Even the supposedly benign “Akbar the Great” slaughtered Hindus in huge numbers. The collective sacred threads of the Brahmins massacred by him is said to have weighed 200 kilogram. Can one even imagine such incredible injustice and brutality to civilians and priests? Thousands of temples were destroyed. Hindu women were sold into sex slavery. Hindus even had to open their mouth and receive gratefully the spittle by Muslims sitting on horses, and slaughtering cows was seen as “noblest deed” because it was so painful for Hindus, is recounted in “Legacy of Jihad” by Andrew Bostom.
The brutality experienced by Hindus was so horrendous that, even in independent India, they hardly dare to complain when they are subjected to cruel discrimination. It is painful to read comments whenever Hindus are killed or raped by Muslims: “This won’t make news, as the victim is only a Hindu”. It is so sad, but understandable after what they have gone through for over thousand years. They had no way to get justice; had to bear their suffering silently.
Guru Nanak cried out to the Supreme, and it is part of the Grant Sahib, “Having lifted Islam to its head, You have engulfed Hindustan in dread… Such cruelties they have inflicted and yet Your mercy remains unmoved….Oh Lord, these dogs have destroyed the diamond-like Hindustan.”
The British colonial masters were not less brutal. Their disdain for the natives was incredible. Winston Churchill is on record saying that he “hated Indians” and considered them a “beastly people with a beastly religion”. Celebrities like Charles Dickens wanted the Indian race ‘exterminated’ and considered them vile savages and Max Mueller wanted them all converted to Christianity.
Britain looted and reduced the formerly wealthiest country of the world to painful poverty, where during their rule over 25 million people starved to death, 3 million as late as in 1943 in Bengal.
The crimes of the British colonialists are, like those of the Muslim invaders, too numerous to list. They tied Indians to the mouth of canons and blew them up, hanged scores of them on trees, and even just after over one million Indian soldiers had helped Britain to be victorious in the First World War with many thousands sacrificing their lives, General Dyer gave orders to shoot at a peaceful gathering in Amritsar in 1919 where thousands died. An old coffee planter in Kodagu told me that even in the early 1950s there was a board in front of the club house in Madikeri. It read: “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.
Can anyone imagine the pain those Indian generations went through, having arrogant, often uncouth ruffians looting their land and despising them as dogs?
How could Europeans and Arabs be so cruel to other human beings? The reason is that they saw themselves as superior and others not quite as human.
Religion played a big role in making them feel superior. Both Christianity and Islam teach their members that only their religion is true and that the Creator will reward them with eternal heaven, but will severely punish all those who do not follow their ‘true’ religion. If God himself will torture them eternally in hellfire, why should his followers be good to them? Wouldn’t it mean siding with God’s enemies and betraying Him?
But on what basis do they consider only their religion as true and themselves as superior? The reason is that the respective founder of their religion allegedly said so. No other reason exists and no proof. On this flimsy basis, Christians and Muslims treated other human beings most inhumanly, believing they are destined for hell while they themselves are God’s favorites and will go to heaven. This brainwashing in the name of religion happens even in our times and its effect is still not questioned and analysed.
Yet today, neither white Christians, nor Arab or Turkish Muslims are constantly reminded of those terrible crimes of their forefathers. “The present generation must not be held accountable for the sins of their fathers”, is however not applied to Hindus and especially not to Brahmins. Media keeps hitting out at them as if they had been the worst violators of human rights in the past. Hinduism is portrayed as the villain due to the “horrific and oppressive” caste system.
Anyone, who knows a little about history, knows that this is false and malicious. The structure of Hindu society into four varnas or categories is mentioned in the Vedas and depends on one’s aptitude and profession – Brahmins, who memorise and teach the Vedas, Kshatriyas, who administer and defend society, Vaishyas who supply the society with goods and Shudras, who are the service sector. The varnas are not fixed by birth in texts like Bhagavad Gita or Manusmriti. But the British themselves cemented ‘castes’ (a Portuguese word) in their census and then turned around and accused Hindus of their birth-based, fixed caste system.
There was however one more category which the whole world has been told about and which is used to the hilt to despise Hinduism. They were the untouchables who do unclean work, like handling dead animals, cleaning sewers, etc. The fact that other varnas avoided touching them is still made a huge issue of in the West. In fact it is portrayed, as if this practice made Hindus the greatest violators of human rights and makes the millions tortured and killed by Christians and Muslims pale in comparison.
Yet there is no proof that even one of those untouchables has been killed for doing unclean work. Higher castes may indeed have looked down or still look down on those whose job involves dirt, which is unfortunately a human trait in all societies. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. Most people are aware that such work also needs to be done.
There is in all likelihood another angle regarding “untouchability”, which the British did not realize: Ayurveda knew already 3000 years ago that invisible germs can cause serious illness and those dealing with cadavers and dirt are more likely to carry and spread those. However, the British didn’t know about this fact till only some 150 years ago, when Louis Pasteur claimed that germs cause sickness. (By the way, Google describes this discovery as “crowning achievement of the French scientist”, and avoids mentioning India’s ancient Ayurveda).
Now in today’s time of “social distancing” due to the Corona Virus, we know that not touching others is a precaution to prevent potential infection and has nothing to do with discrimination. The British could have given Hindus the benefit of doubt that they avoided physical contact with certain people due to caution. But since the British didn’t have the advanced knowledge about harmful germs they could not see the possible reason behind it.
Since Independence, the caste system is officially abolished and discrimination against lower castes is a non-bailable offense. Yet the West still makes a huge issue of the caste system and untouchables. Why? Was this the greatest crime the British could find against the “natives” and therefore exaggerated it tremendously?
This is not to say that people of higher castes didn’t or don’t look down on lower castes, but the demonization of Brahmins is most unwarranted, as Brahmins are least likely to harbour hatred for others due to their strict rules for sadhana which requires them to keep a very high standard of mental and physical purity. Yet evangelicals, NGOs, international media, Muslim organisations, they all are after them and Hindus in general. They attack them for “atrocities” which never even happened, while the unspeakable atrocities, which were perpetrated upon them, are ignored. It’s a classic case of noticing the speck in the brother’s eye, but not the beam of wood in one’s own eye.
They got away with it for too long, because Hindus didn’t react. The meekness of Hindus was legendary. They were even called cowards. Yet in recent time, Hindus are becoming more assertive. They realize that the constant attacks on them are malicious, and that they are being fooled in the name of secularism because neither Christians nor Muslims can be secular. They are by nature communal because they need to make their community spread all over the world.
It is time to call out this blatant insincerity. When a head of state, like Imran Khan, accuses the Modi government in a tweet of “moving towards Hindu Rashtra with its Hindutva Supremacist, fascist ideology”, he better looks at his own country and his own ideology. A Hindu Rashtra with its inclusiveness and freedom are any time better than the exclusive, supremacist ideologies of Islam and Christianity, which force human beings into a strait-jacket of blind belief and several Muslim states threaten even today those who want to get out with death sentence.
BY Varuni Trivedi Odisha and West Bengal were left in shambles as Cyclone Amphan left only doom and devastation behind. Torrential rains and winds gusting up to 185 kph on Wednesday, affected 4.5 million people across 1,500 villages in Odisha, and claimed the lives of 72 people in West Bengal leaving many homeless and devastated.
Both the states suffered widespread destruction of homes, crops, and infrastructure. Many people were crushed by falling trees and electrocuted by power lines. Horrific images of destruction came from both states showing uprooted trees and electricity poles catching fire. Amidst a global pandemic that had already taken a toll on people the ‘normal life’ in these states is paralyzed for millions. Both Orissa and West Bengal currently lay in the aftermath of a destructive cyclone for which they weren’t prepared.
The worst-hit in this scenario are the small scale industries and infrastructure which wiped out leaving lakhs of people homeless. It devastated coastal villages knocking down mud houses and temporary shelters and flooding many areas. In the WB capital Kolkata, the streets are still flooded while phone and internet services have still not been restored completely. Officials say that the extent of destruction caused is yet to be determined. The loss of dwellings and crops, which has struck people amid two months of a nationwide lockdown that has left millions of Indians without an income and in a terrible shock.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said she was “shocked” to see such a massive disaster. She further stated that she had never seen anything like this before and the cyclone is worse than the coronavirus. She stressed the cyclone’s “unexpected scale” and has urged great support from the center. Today PM Modi along with CM Banerjee took an aerial survey of the cyclone areas.
The Prime Minister has assured all sorts of assistance to West Bengal and will be ensuring that the relief money is credited directly to the account of the beneficiaries. PM Modi conducted an aerial survey of areas affected by Cyclone Amphan in Odisha as well, accompanied by CM Naveen Patnaik and Guv Ganeshi Lal. Financial assistance of Rs 500 Cr has been announced for the state. Ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to next of kin of deceased whereas Rs 50,000 to seriously injured has also been announced.
The eastern coastal States during the storm season every year face the wrath of nature as the unpreparedness of the states exposes the citizens to these calamities. The cyclone’s disastrous effects were anticipated, but even with reliable forecasts and preparatory moves by the National and State Disaster Response Force units, the impact was devastating and catastrophic. The loss of life and damage to livelihoods is still significantly irreparable in many parts.
This has become an even more challenging situation as the nation is amid a lockdown and faces serious issues battling the COVID-19 Pandemic. Whereas it can be said that the battle against the virus may yet be won sooner or later, India must strengthen its disaster management especially in areas like Orissa and West Bengal which experience the wrath of such natural calamities almost every year. For a never-ending cycle of storms along its coastline, India needs better preparedness so that livelihood of people may be protected if not saved completely.