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April 23, 1998


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Varsha Bhosle

Is nationalism the burden of Hindus alone?

On April 3, the Deccan Chronicle reported that the Delhi police have arrested four Bangladeshi nationals from Bihar, West Bengal and Delhi who were involved in bomb explosions and were planning to carry out disruptive activities. The report was short and went largely ignored by the rest of the English-language press.

I'm wondering that, considering the usual hullabaloo about Pakistan's ISI and its now-proven connection with Muslim terrorists in India, why isn't anybody paying heed to the deeds of our other Islamic neighbour? Isn't this reason enough to start combing the country for illegal immigrants -- most of whom infiltrate from the North-East? What else is needed to demonstrate that the activities of Islamic groups -- whether Pakistani, Afghan, Bangladeshi or desi -- should be monitored?

Lekin nahi. Instead, we have the venerable Sonia Congress opposing "any move to scrap the Illegal Migrants (Determination through Tribunals) Act as this may result into harassment of bonafide Indian citizens in the name of detecting foreigners." Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Tarun Gogoi says the Congress is opposed to the harassing of genuine Indian citizens in the name of scrapping the IMDT Act, and that "the detection of foreigners should not be left to the whims of police officers."

Quite right. It should be left to the machinations of vote-bank politicians...

In April 1995, even before Manohar Joshi could warm Maharashtra's chief ministerial chair, the skies over Nariman Point swirled with the flapping of secular vulturine wings. (The comparison is likely to be taken as an offence by our avian friends -- they at least wait for some signs of death before swooping down to prey.) No sooner had the BJP-SS combine wrested power that Bal Thackeray reiterated the call to evict illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan, and hey presto! the secularists went hammer, sickle and tongs at him.

Balasaheb's call caused an uproar in the assembly of a state far away from Maharashtra, too: Not only is West Bengal on the other coast of India, but is ideologically even further away from our progressive aspirations. Congress MLA Subrata Mukherjee, CPI-M MLA Rabin Mondal and RSO member Tapan Hore condemned Thackeray's move as being "anti-nationalist and anti-constitutional and against the minority community." Leader of the Opposition, Zainal Abedin, went so far as to demand that Chief Minister Jyoti Basu gather forces to bring a halt to the "communal provocations" by Balasaheb.

I don't yet comprehend the issues at work here... One, what is the meaning of "illegal"? I'd thought it was something not sanctioned by the laws of a sovereign State. On that basis, how can action against illegals be anti-Constitutional? Do the fundamental principles of our Constitution include open borders and the negligence of State security?

Two, how does action against any illegal immigrant qualify as being anti-Indian and against the secular character of our Constitution? Was our Constitution laid down to guarantee rights to Bangladeshi citizens and other aliens? Are immigration authorities of all countries bands of criminals? More to the point, are Hindutvawadis questioning the rights of Bharatiya Muslims?

Three, it's reasonable to assume that the dissenting politicos must have had their ear to the ground: It could be that they caught the rumble of their Muslim constituents. If so, doesn't it follow that Indian Muslims were upset over a justified course against illegals from hostile countries? Would they be agitated at all if such an action was directed against Nepalis...? OTOH, it may be that Indian Muslims are unperturbed by the weeding out. Then, isn't this another ruse by Congressmen and Leftists to divide and rule? If this is the likely scenario, then why aren't educated Muslims taking a stand against such manipulation...?

Four, is India supposed to condone the infiltration of spies and terrorists from Pakistan and Bangladesh just because they share the same religion with 12 % of its population? There was not a murmur when Rajiv Gandhi sent forces to quell the LTTE: Is nationalistic morality the burden of Hindus alone?

Five, are we supposed to sit back and twiddle our thumbs while foreign illegals from Bangladesh sponge up jobs that belong to Indians -- of whichever community? As it is, Bombay is coming apart at the seams. If vast and underpopulated countries like the US and Australia can have strict immigration laws to safeguard their natural resources, what do we have to render us so generous?

Six, would the problem of illegal immigrants have fallen in Hindutva's lap if the governments of West Bengal and Assam had tightly secured their borders in the first place?

Still, all this wouldn't have caught my eye if it hadn't been for Congressman Abedin who exhorted Basu to "contact other state governments to find a way out..." It was a direct call for conspiracy against the elected government of Maharashtra. Perhaps, capitalist Bombay should've adopted a similar strategy to oust the Communist government of West Bengal -- only because it doesn't suit our beliefs and lifestyle...

It's the so-called secular parties who've brought this country to separatist ruin. Take the Partition-time tale of Cachar, theBengali-speaking region of Assam bordering Bangladesh: The Hindu majority border region of Sylhet went to East Pakistan because the Assam Congress leadership didn't want a Bengali dominated region in Assam. Naturally, riots and persecution across the border led to a mass exodus of Bengali Hindus into Cachar (which already had a sizable Bengali population), turning it into a Bengali-majority region.

Then, another great migration took place during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 when Pakistani forces were massacring Bengali Hindus by the lakhs: Men would be asked to display their genitalia and the non-circumcised ones would be made to run in the open fields and then cut down with machine gun fire -- along with their women and children.

The Ahomiya-dominated Assam Congress had an easy solution to the scare of a rising Bengali Hindu population: Encourage migration of Bangladeshi Muslims. These illegal immigrants, who came by lakhs, almost instantly learnt Assamese, merged with the local Muslim population and, of course, voted for the Congress. But, in an area of that scale, it's difficult to contain migration once the gates are opened. The net result was migration to Meghalaya, inner Assam and Manipur which all are now teeming with an illegal Bangladeshi population.

In the meantime, Bengali Hindus were increasingly becoming apprehensive of the large scale Bangladeshi Muslim influx. With memories of 1971 vivid, they did the unthinkable, they started voting for that damned Hindu party, the BJP. So what better way to contain this new threat to the Congress? More Muslim migration till the Bengali Hindus become a minority in Cachar...

The ISI backs and funds most of the North-East's separatist movements; it trains insurgents in neighbouring Bangladesh and sends them across the border. Illegal immigration is taking place in such a way that a Muslim belt is being created between mainland India and the NE. The ISI hopes that once the population crosses the magical figure of 50%, as in other areas of the world, non- Muslims will be purged and separatism will rise. It will be a fitting reply to the dismemberment of Pakistan...

Since there is infiltration into India, how can the administration avoid making inquiries from local Muslims during investigation? Isn't it the responsibility and duty of Indian Muslims to inform the police about infiltrators residing in their midst? Did the Muslim community itself take the initiative to ferret out such infiltrators? NEVER. Then why should it be considered communal if valid proofs of nationality are demanded from those under suspicion? I ask you again: Is nationalistic morality the burden of Hindus alone?

The Maharashtra Times of November 16, 1994 wrote, "The flood of refugees which flowed into India also turned towards Bombay... In these circumstances arose the question of alien nationals. The attitude was then adopted that it would be impossible to identify and pick out the thousands of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who had mingled inseparably with the millions of natives. The Congress leaders and their followers exploited this opportunity to the hilt by trying to include these aliens in their vote bank by taking frivolous objections to the attitude of the EC of asking for proof of Indian nationality in the matter of identity cards. Their sole intention was to win back the large Muslim population into their vote-banks."

The Election Commission doesn't have its own machinery to effect its orders, and hence has to make use of the state administrative personnel. Can those who scream about the use of police machinery suggest what other mechanism can be used in areas like Behrampada, which has a very high percentage of illegal migrants from Bangladesh?

Pakistan's Dawn of April 8 states that "More than 27,000 Bangladeshi women and children have been forced into a life of prostitution in Indian brothels... Demand for trafficked children has increased in recent years as they are likely to be virgins and free from HIV/AIDS... Most of the children were hidden from police in underground cells in Calcutta before being sold into brothels." What are they if not illegal immigrants? Bangladesh is also a transit point for drug traffickers and illegal Burmese migrants intending to go to India; there are 18 such points along the border.

And how do Bangladeshis feel about India? Pakistan's Jang of September 1997 reveals, "Leaders of the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party said a strong Pakistan was needed to counter the 'eternal enemy' India... BNP senior leader Abdul Hai Shikder said that although Bangladesh separated from Pakistan after the 1971 war of independence, 'our heritage did not divide' the widely- circulated (Bengali) Janakantha newspaper reported." Shikder, in a speech before the Bangladesh-Pakistan Friendship Association which marked the 10th barsi of Jinnah also said, "A strong Pakistan and Afghanistan are needed for Bangladesh, as India is our eternal enemy." Ehsanul Kabir, BNP's information and research secretary, said "we have no objections if anybody calls us Razakars (Pakistan collaborators)."

The Asian Age of April 15 reports that captured ULFA vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi has revealed the existence of three big training camps in Bangladesh and Bhutan. Thus, BSF personnel along the Jakiganj-Karimganj border, Meghalaya-Cachar border, North Cachar Hills and the Jirighat-Lakhipur area have been asked to step up vigil after specific information that ULFA cadres are entering India at these points after receiving training in rebel camps in East Bhutan and Bangladesh...

Wunderbar! These are our other neighbours. So why shouldn't Mr L K Advani plan to issue multi-purpose identity cards to citizens at the earliest -- and especially quickly in the border regions? With the Congress and Leftist governments indiscriminately issuing ration cards and even voter identity cards to Bangladeshis, the demography of the NE has become a serious problem and the government MUST tackle it asap.

Infiltration is a global phenomenon: The poor seek to prosper by moving first from the countryside to cities, then beyond the borders of states and countries. But nowhere is the issue as communalised as in India, in that foreign Muslims are treated as refugees -- without any due cause. As a developing nation, India cannot afford added burdens on its economy. And it isn't fit to tackle the problem with a "humanitarian" approach -- facts have proven that the Jihad mentality of infiltrators and native Muslims is alive and exploding all over our land. And yet, we sit hand on hand, waiting for miracles to happen. For we are nothing but spineless wimps.

Tailpiece: One typical SCI moron had some serious problem with my article on cow-slaughter: Bapa Rao writes, "And dharma-samsthaapana (what exactly is a dharma-samstha and where does it appear in the Gita? Does it have something to do with confining dharma to an institutionm [sic] as in mental?)". The illiterate, US-based Macaulite wouldn't know enough Sanskrit to decipher that the sandhi-shabda (in Chapter 4, Text 8) is "dharma- sansthapana-arthaya," meaning re-establishment of the state of dharma. "Sanstha" needn't necessarily mean the institution Rao obviously belongs in. Perhaps, he's studied his wife's Bible more closely and come to conclude that Hinduism is as strait-jacketed as all Semitic religions are.

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