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Hindus, Learn to Protect Yourself

Tathagata Roy

Tathagata RoyOct 25, 2021, 03:39 PM IST

Hindus, Learn to Protect Yourself

The historical experience of atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan and then in Bangladesh suggests that The Hindus must learn to protect themselves, hit back, and not suffer in the hope of a good sense dawning upon the Muslims

 

There are currently no fewer than 1.3 crores of Hindus in Bangladesh, with a handful of Buddhists and Christians constituting about 8 per cent of the population. Before the Partition, they had constituted nearly 30 per cent, according to the 1941 census. The anti-Hindu pogrom, desecration of Maa Durga murtis and vandalism in pandals throughout Bangladesh during the Durga Puja celebrations in 2021 has brought the Hindus' problems in that country once again to the fore. People are wondering why this onslaught on the beleaguered, threatened Hindus? What did the Hindus do to deserve this?

Two answers to the question are obvious. First, because they are helpless, they are fair game. This had been done by the Nazis against the Jews, by Whites against Africans in apartheid-era South Africa or the people of African descent in segregation-era US South, by the Muslim Turks against Christian Armenians. Next, there is the jihadi craze. Bangladesh, the Islamist's reason, is an Islamic country, and kafirs, Hindus, idol-worshippers (the Bangladeshi pejorative term is malaun) will not be allowed to live here – let them go to Hindustan, or else we'll kill them! The tormentors also know that the political ethos of India is such that there will never be any retaliation of these against the Indian Muslims. So, once again, Hindus in Bangladesh are fair game, a safe game. Attacking, raping, looting, killing them is pure fun!

And there is a third reason. For that, we shall have to delve a little bit into history.

When the country was partitioned, two provinces, namely Bengal and Punjab, were also partitioned. All Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistani Punjab came over to Indian Punjab, and practically all Muslims in Indian Punjab migrated to Pakistani Punjab. The result was that our Punjab or Haryana have not seen any communal violence between Hindus and Muslims since then. The story in Bengal was, however, very different.

In fact, serious communal violence in Bengal started even before Independence, in a little-known corner of the province in the district of Noakhali. Here, in October 1946, Jihad-crazed Muslim League mobs, led by one Golam Sarwar, attacked 20 per cent Hindu minority and in a frenzy of bestial murder, rape, slaughter of cows, forcible feeding of beef to Hindus and forcible conversion, spread such a reign of terror that most Hindus migrated from the district. This district earned notoriety because Gandhiji camped here and spent a couple of months trying to spread the message of love in his way. The result of all these efforts was exactly zero. This very Noakhali has just seen and still seeing, during the Durga Puja of 2021, a horrible bout of desecration, vandalism and murder. 

Systematic, Government-engineered anti-Hindu pogroms started in late January 1950 when India was rejoicing the adoption of its Constitution and the formation of the Republic of India. Hindus were persecuted all over East Pakistan and fled the country. An example of just one incident should suffice. There is a railway bridge, then known as the Anderson Bridge, about a kilometre long across the Meghna river between the stations of Ashugonj and Bhairab Bazar in East Pakistan. On February 12, 1950 all trains which crossed the bridge were stopped in mid-river, and all Hindus in all the trains were knifed and in a dead or half-dead state thrown overboard into the river. This could not have happened without the whole incident being carefully planned and orchestrated by the Pakistani Government. During this time, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was a Cabinet Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's first cabinet of independent India. He pressed Nehru to bring about an exchange of population as had happened in Punjab or demand land from East Pakistan to rehabilitate those Hindus who had already left or were sure to leave East Pakistan in the near future. Nehru flatly refused to do either. Ultimately Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan, the Pakistani Prime Minister, signed a pact, known as the Delhi Pact, on April 8, 1950. According to this pact, each country would look after its minorities.  

This pact did not make any sense because it could not have been unknown to Nehru that the Pakistan Government itself engineered the pogroms that had taken place. So with whom was he signing a pact, and from whom was he seeking an assurance that Hindus in Pakistan would be looked after? But then, that was Nehru's mind. He liked to live in a make-believe world of his own and refused to see reality.  

The expulsion of Hindus from the land mass known at different times as East Bengal, East Pakistan and Bangladesh is such a carefully hidden story that most people know very little about it. Whenever the topic of post-Partition migration comes up, people instinctively think of Punjab

The result of all of it was that the Hindus were forced to either leave East Pakistan or to continue to live there at the mercy of the Islamist Government, while the Muslims lived in India with complete protection of the secular Government here. And that is the third reason why the pogroms take place. The pogrom of 1950 was followed by a toothpaste-like squeezing out of Hindus, with spurts of intense pogroms in 1964 and 1971. Even after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, in which thousands of Hindu soldiers had laid down their lives, both the squeezing and the pogroms of Hindus have continued, with spurts in 1988, 1992, 2001-2004. The Durga Puja atrocities of 2021 are merely the last in the line. 

The expulsion of Hindus from the land mass known at different times as East Bengal, East Pakistan and Bangladesh is such a carefully hidden story that most people know very little about it. Whenever the topic of post-Partition migration comes up, people instinctively think of Punjab. This author has described the migration in Bengal in his book titled “My People Uprooted: The Exodus Of Hindus From East Pakistan And Bangladesh” (Synergy Books India, New Delhi, 2021). 

Is there a solution to this? The exchange of population between the two Bengals is an obvious solution, but it is doubtful if this can be done peacefully. Failing that, intense but quiet diplomatic pressure by India upon Bangladesh will bear fruit. But above all, the Hindus of Bangladesh must learn to protect themselves, hit back, and not suffer in the hope of a good sense dawning upon the Muslims. Both men and women must train themselves to abjure fear, especially women because they are often the first targets in an anti-Hindu pogrom.  

 

 

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