Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hindus in Assam have to wage relentless struggles for survival

End of constitutionalism invokes bloody conflict

Can the ongoing conflicts between Hindus (not Bodos only) and Islamists in Assam, hailing from Bangladesh, end anyhow? This is the burning question of the day with no solution close at hand. Both governments at Assam and Delhi are in a fix and the sole reason being – obstinacy of Islamists to shelve their nefarious designs in Assam and (more striking) defiance of Hindus (led by Bodos) in this regard.

Islamists thought, this time too, citing their predominance in the last seven centuries (acquired by brutality, deception and ingrained hatred against Hindus) in the Indian subcontinent, they would win the game of procuring vast parts of Assam in a jiffy. However, the violent defiance of Hindus – especially Bodos – has trounced the entire design. And what has come to the fore beyond doubt – thanks to inhuman negligence of both State and Central Governments (successively) as regards volatile situations in Assam (despite shipping myriad SOS) – the state is uncontrollable and with each day it passes the situation is moving out of the frying pan into the fire.

Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty to comprehend more. Bodos, in short, happen to be earliest settlers in Assam and do belong to Bodo-Kachari family. They are found in several districts of Assam including Chirang, Kamrup, Udalguri, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Baksa, Sonitpur, Darrang and Barpeta.

We must go through imperative facts regarding Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) as well.

Bodoland Territorial Council containing Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts was formed to restrain Bodos’ violent struggles, initiated in 1988, to form separate state and their slogan "Divide Assam 50-50" then is still remembered with awe. To have the goal, Bodos formed militant outfits like Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). And at last on February 10, 2003, owing to a series of talks between Union, Assam Governments and BLT led by Hagrama Mohilary, autonomy (under the concept of a-state-within-a-state) was declared paving the way towards Bodoland Territorial Council. 

Bodoland Territorial Council consists of lots of communities including Bengali Hindus and also Muslims, Assamese, Rajbongshis, Ravas, Nepalis and Adivasis of Chota Nagpur origin. Nonetheless, Bengali Muslims happen to be most dominant, owing to continuous influx from Bangladesh, in the area. At the moment, Bengali Muslims form 31.3% of the entire populace in Assam with a population of 3.1 crore. They virtually control districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Darrang, Nagaon, Karimganj and Hailakandi.

Islamists are hell-bent to wrest BTC to attain their higher goals; hence, they are found ever more to deal with lands of BTC illegally irking Bodos altogether. Hindus claim that Bengali Muslim infiltrators, backed by Bangladesh, are getting involved in all sorts of crimes in the vicinity putting Hindu existence at highest risk only.

What is the status of Assam Accord (signed between the Centre and Assam leaders in 1985) at the moment? It is to be noted that three of the main clause of the agreement were detection and deportation of illegal migrants, update of the National Register of Citizens and erection of a border fence between India and Bangladesh. But the saga of detection and deportation of infiltrators is not an easy task. The government has felt this owing to three factors at the same instant -  
Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act – 1983, tenacious refusal of Bangladesh to recognize presence of its citizens in the Indian state of Assam, fierce resistance of Islamists to upgrade National Register of Citizen (NRC).

Another factor is there as well. The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2005 and therefore, the obligation remains on the administration or plaintiff to prove whether one is outlander.

Even if current problems come to a halt or end (as a fiction of imagination), will the future be secured? Perhaps not, as the majority of borders with Bangladesh in north-east is yet to be fenced. That’s why, Islamic infiltrators from Assam enter the Indian mainland through Dhubri, having long riverine border with Bangladesh, Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Karimganj and Cachar in Bengali-dominated Barak Valley, Tripura and Bengal. Other states of north-east like Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya do suffer the same catastrophe of illegal infiltration of Islamists from Bangladesh.

These states are proceeding to a similar kind of bloody struggle gradually. So……………….. Hindus in Assam shall have to fight; it will go on………..till the complete victory is attained. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Changing Bangladesh – deep concern for India

Hindus must come forward to save Matribhumi

How will India’s relation with Bangladesh fare in the coming days? The issue is of exceeding great importance since the possible change of guard in that country will (definitely) affect Indian political scenario majorly. As reports are coming in, support for the reigning government under Sheikh Hasina is dwindling fast there and if it remains unhindered, Begum Khaleda Zia, known highly for her (also of her supporting parties) anti-India diatribes fro decades, will replace the existing Prime Minister, adding salt to the gaping wound of India.

Conscientious studies do reveal that a substantial populace in Bangladesh over the years, citing India’s alleged indifference and exploitation to the country, has become more Pakistan-friendly and anti-India in clear terms. The immense contribution and sacrifices made by India in 1971 to liberate the same mass of people from the clutches of barbarian Pakistan has already been forgotten; main cause of animosity against India being – a Hindu-dominated region. Even if Bangladesh had been showing acrimony while dealing with India (from initial years), it reached a new height with the exposure of anti-India terrorists using Bangladeshi soil and enjoying nefarious support of indigenous administration.

Begum Khaleda Zia, it’s too known fact, heads a political alliance comprising large numbers of Islamic fundamentalists, having strong links with Pakistan. And once it acquires the government a clear Islamic Jihad, though covertly still, will be waged against India from her eastern part. What will be India’s policy to inhibit such approaches and rate of success in it remains great questions. Without doubt, regardless of several disputes, relation between Sheikh Hasina and Indian governments has been friendly and hence, India got an unmatched help from Bangladesh through restraining anti-India terrorist movements from its soil and carrying out investigations of terrorism in India with Bangladeshi connections.        

Have Hindus there enjoyed similar kind of warmth? Well, as regards Hindu persecution, no Islamist draws back ever. Nonetheless, due to compulsions Awami League has been maintaining warmth with India.  

ISI of Pakistan has been using Bangladeshi soil for years to carry out and also prolong its anti-India scheme. While on one hand HUJI of Bangladesh enjoys unprecedented Pakistani support, ISI also maintains a close relation with an assortment of terrorist outfits in India viz. NSCN, ULFA, ATTF (All Tripura Tiger Force). Several Islamist terrorist groups like MULTA, MULFA along with Mujahideen are funded by Islamist masterminds both in Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is being discerned, change of guard in Bangladesh may stir up Assam issue once more. And if views of Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators in Assam are concerned, any support from home will stimulate them to issue a fresh series of attacks on Hindus to wrest the entire state from them (once and for all).

If India is to be saved, Hindus have to come forward in strength. India belongs to Hindus, their Sanatana Dharma from time immemorial. That’s why, Hindus must be inculcated the true Kshatriya spirit to save the motherland.  Gone are the days when Hindus in India used to enjoy complete security under a civil administration – they have got to fight now to retain the same.

Monday, August 27, 2012

'Be Ready For A Third Wave Of Radicalization Among Muslim Youth'

Sir, the July 20th incident cannot be looked in isolation. What happened on 6th July and 19th July should also be looked into seriously because the immediate conclusion of the July 20th incident is not right. I charge the state government for completely failing in protecting the lives and properties of the non-Bodos living in the BTC areas. 

As a result of that, about five lakh non-Bodos — a majority of them were Muslims — are living in 200 and odd relief camps where there is no clean drinking water; children are sick and there is no proper ration being given to them. I say this because I have visited those places. 

I am giving an example of Kamadunga High School relief camp in Kokrajhar where there are 7700 people living. This school houses 400 students. Out of these people, 2980 are children. You may please mark my words that in the coming days, you will have waves of children dying in relief camps. So, my request to the government is that it should immediately strengthen the NHRM, immediately strengthen the ICDS. The sum of rupees 300 crore which the hon. Prime Minister has promised is peanuts. It is like what we say in Urdu —uuNth ke muNh meN ziira. 

So, I would request the government to increase it to Rs.2000 crore. Let the state Chief Minister and the health minister sit together in one room and see the internal differences. Let the people of Assam do not pay the price of their internal power struggle. That is one of the reasons.

The third point is about rehabilitation. Rehabilitation cannot happen. Why? It is because in the BTC areas, the Bodos are saying that they will not allow those people who do not have relevant property documents. As a result of this, what will happen to the labourers and the land tenants? This is a violation of Section 4 of the BTC MoU.

It is a violation of that. I would say that the central government should immediately ensure that the state government provides relief to the children in those camps. There are many pregnant women over there; provide safe drinking water. What is the point of a government functioning if it cannot provide safe and clean drinking water; if it cannot provide medicines over there?

I would conclude by saying that the BTC should be dissolved immediately. They have failed in protecting people living there. Scrap Bodoland Agreement. If you cannot scrap the Bodoland Agreement, please take away those areas where 50 percent of population is not Bodos.

Militant organizations like DNDSC have semi-automatic weapons. Why can’t the Assam government take up these weapons from them?

Election Commissioner, Shri H.S. Brahma has written an article. I would like to know from the august House, whether it is right for a Constitutional head to write such a poisonous article? Shri Brahma has written an article but he has written an article as a Bodo. How can these elections be conducted in a free and fair manner if an Election Commissioner is biased and prejudiced? This the central government must look into.

Lastly, I warn the central government; I warn the hon. members over here. … (Interruptions) If proper rehabilitation does not take place, you be ready for a third wave of radicalization among Muslim youth. … (Interruptions) You are not bringing it to the notice. … (Interruptions) I am bringing it to your notice. … (Interruptions)

Mr Advani talked about IMDT judgement. He is right. The biggest flaw in that Act was, it should have been applied to the whole of India. This is what the Supreme Court said. Mr. Advani deliberately had read those paragraphs of the Supreme Court judgement which suited his ideology. The Supreme Court said that it should apply to all over India; it should not be applied to Assam.

Next, 30 Tribunals are looking into these cases — all are foreigners. Let Mr. Advani go and file a complaint. Who is the foreigner? Let him do that. Why can’t he do that?

Lastly, Mr. Advani is fighting his war — internal party war through UPA. He is isolated. … (Interruptions) In conclusion, I once again urge upon the central government, please look into this. Mr. Advani, I am sorry, I am using your name. Through you, I would say that the population of Bangladesh, when Bangladesh was created, Muslims were three crore; Hindus were three crore. As of now, Muslims in Bangladesh are 13 crore; and Hindus in Bangladesh are 1.5 crore. Sea cannot swallow so many Hindus of Bangladesh! Where have they gone? This is the question I leave it to the wisdom of Mr. Advani.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Delhi Court raps Govt over Bangla migrants

The Union Government was today severely pulled up by a Delhi Court for its failure to act against three crore illegal Bangladeshi migrants, staying here and enjoying the privileges meant for Indian citizens, reports PTI.

The court made the stinging remarks while awarding life sentence and 10 years in prison to two Bangladeshi nationals respectively in a case of dacoity-cum-murder bid.

“Our country has become a haven for all these criminal elements who are most ruthless and brutal with anybody who come in their way.

“While the genuine citizens of this country continue to suffer in abject poverty, what is it that prevents a firm, resolute, intense Government action against these three crores Bangladeshi nationals illegally staying in India, enjoying all benefits which are otherwise the entitlements of citizens,” said Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Kamini Lau.

“It is this lack of concerted governmental/administrative action which has compelled the courts of law to step in,” she added.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Violence in Lucknow and Allahabad during Assam protests

Muslims in some cities of Uttar Pradesh took to road protesting against the killings in Assam and Myanmar in Lucknow and several parts of the state. Violent scenes were witnessed in Lucknow and other cities. All the protests were held after the Namaz of Alvida Juma (last Friday of Juma).

In Lucknow, the Muslims took out a procession from Tile Wali Masjid after the Namaz. As they proceeded towards Vidhan Bhawan to lodge their protest, the procession turned violent. They damaged vehicles, bashed up people and broke the cameras of media persons.

The Budha Park which has a tall statue of Budha was the first target. They uprooted the gate of the park to force their entry. Attempts were made to deface the statue but they remained unsuccessful. Next was Hathi Park where also another failed attempt was made to deface the statue.

Later as the procession moved ahead it turned violent. Police used mild force to enforce order. However most of the time they remained mute spectators. Soon the mob turned its anger towards the media persons covering the event. Their camera was snatched while OB Van of Aaj Tak channel was also damaged. The media persons later themselves sat on a dharna at Vidhan Bhawan and the home secretary assured them that proper enquiry will be done.

Similar story was repeated in Allahabad. Stone pelting and damaging the vehicle was done by the processionist. Here police acted tough and used force. Later curfew was clamped for five hours in Kotwali police circle.

In Kanpur also minor violence was reported from Rizvi road and adjoining areas. However situation was brought under control.

Till late night police has registed cases at Allahabad, Kanpur and were in the process of registering in Lucknow. A senior police official stated that list is being prepared and the miscreants are being identified.

The protests were held under the aegis of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind whose state level functionary Maulana Jahangir Kasmi denied that his men were behind such protest. “We had left after our token protest and then it was only a mob,” he said.

Security forces were caught off guard as the planning for the protest was being held for quite some time. Posters had come up in Muslim dominated areas but still administration did not take security measures.

Muslim clerics however were quick to condemn the violence. Maulana Fazlur Rehman Waizi, the Imam of Tile Wali masjid who led the Juma Namaz stated that Islam has no place for violence and it cannot be justified. Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahli too stated that violence is not a means to raise the demands. Protest should be done peacefully.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This temple has shaped up Lucknow’s intellectual quotient

From being one of the prominent centres of the First War of Indian Independence dating back to 1857 to the strategic venue of Lucknow Pact in 1916, the 1920's Khilafat Movement and eventually the power centre of India's most populous state, Lucknow has evolved as an important destination on the nation's political landscape. While some of the monuments still exist to narrate their tales of glory, others have faded into oblivion.

One of these historical places, which has grown with the city since the First War of Indian Independence and has been witness to each and every development that the city underwent in its odyssey, is the Kali Bari. A temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, which is barely six years younger to the famous revolt, which shook the foundation of the British Empire. Located in the by-lanes of Ghasiyari Mandi, this temple not only commands the devotion and faith of thousands of devotees, who flock here frequently to seek solace to their woes, but has also played a major role in improving the social and educational atmosphere and infrastructure of the city.

 And as the nation today stands on the threshold of attaining 65 years of freedom, this temple enters into its 150th year of existence. Tuesday would indeed be a proud moment for the temple management as well as the devotees, as the 149th Praan Pratishthaa Diwas would be celebrated with full religious fervour. Special worship of Shri Shri Shavshiva Mata has been planned for this occasion. On Monday, the temple formally kicked off the 150th year celebrations with a programme of devotional songs, dedicated to the goddess.

Former deputy director of Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, PK Maithy, who is now the secretary, board of trustees, Kali Bari Temple Trust, says, "In the past, Kali Bari not only remained a centre of religious functions, but also was the epicentre of various ideations, which had a major impact on the educational and social set-up of the City of Nawabs. The Canning Collegiate Primary School was started here in the memory of Lord Canning, which in due course of time evolved into well known Canning College, the main constituent college of Lucknow University. The Hindu Girls' School initiated at Kali Bari temple is now known as Mahila Mahavidyalaya. Another educational institution, which owes its genesis to the temple, is the Mahakali Paathshala, which subsequently bifurcated into Boys' Anglo Bengali Inter College and Harimati Girls' School. AP Sen Memorial Post Graduate College is the current incarnation of the Harimati Girls' School. The foundation of Friends' Gaiety - the precursor to Bengali Club and Young Men's Association also took place here."

The temple land of KBTT was obtained from the then military municipal committee, Lucknow. At that time, the small Bengali community of Lucknow had acquired the land under KC Chatterjee working in military accounts commissariat.

"On August 18, 1864, the military municipal committee passed a resolution (number 104) and granted plot number 312, Ghasiyari Mandi to the Bengali community for the installation of a temple of goddess Kali and to carry out religious and other charitable activities. In the beginning, the idol of goddess Kali was installed in a small room with thatched roof. This idol was in the traditional standing posture," said the secretary, board of trustees, KBTT.

When asked to elaborate on the current idol of the goddess is sitting posture, Maithy said, "The idea of the present idol was conceived by Madhusudan Mukherji, who was employed as the first priest of the temple. It is said that Madhusudan drew this inspiration from a divine dream. The present configuration of the celestial idol has Lord Shiva in nishkriya (inactive) manifestation supporting Mahakal over whom the eternal mother is seated. The entire set-up rests on a 'Panch-Munda Asan' made up of five human skulls. The present temple structure was built in 1904-05 by donation from the maharani of Darbhanga. The construction of the temple was completed by Shaligram, a local contractor."

Assam riots protesters go on rampage, hold Mumbai hostage

Two persons died and 53 people, 45 of them policemen, were injured as south Mumbai witnessed unbridled mob vandalism for about an hour after a section of participants in a rally by Muslim organisations went berserk. The mob torched one police van and one television channel's vehicle besides damaging six other police vehicles, 49 BEST buses, a couple of other outdoor broadcasting vans and numerous privately owned vehicles.

The police opened fire after all other means to control the violence, including a lathi-charge and tear-gassing, failed. One of the casualties had suffered bullet injuries, and the other was crushed to death. Police commissioner Arup Patnaik said the cops had to fire five rounds to rein in the mob.

 Before that, however, two of the island city's arterial roads, D N Road and Mahapalika Marg, witnessed mob violence of a scale not seen in recent memory. Thousands from the rally, organised to focus attention on the violence against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar, spilled on to the streets, torching and damaging whatever they managed to lay their hands on. Several newspersons, including photographers Shriram Vernekar and Prashant Nakwe from The Times of India, were beaten up and Vernekar's camera was broken. Cops were singled out for specially violent treatment.

A senior officer said the probe, given to the Crime Branch later in the evening, was zeroing in on a group that came from Nehru Nagar. "This group could not enter Azad Maidan, and there were reports that it was the first flashpoint," the officer told TOI.

The violence and wanton destruction of buses and other vehicles went on for about an hour before the police decided they had had enough. A lathi charge and tear-gassing were followed by firing as cops chased back the crowd. A section fled towards Crawford Market, damaging more buses on the way, and some ran into CST. Train services had to be halted for some time as frightened commuters found themselves between the police and the mob.

Two persons, 22-year-old Mohammad Umar and 18-year-old Altaf Sheikh (one from Bandra and the other from Kurla), died while another person was admitted to St George's Hospital with serious bullet injuries. "Seven police personnel and one civilian have received grievous head injuries and are critical," said Dr T P Lahane, head of the JJ Group of Hospitals.

Traffic constable Shivram Salve was on bandobast duty and told TOI about how the force suddenly came under a hail of stones. "Most of my colleagues suffered head injuries. We were left shell-shocked," he added. Azad Maidan snacks stall owner Shantaram Bhanu saw one of the media vans being torched. "No one was inside. It all happened without any provocation," he said.

Private car owners said the mob forced them out of their cars before pulping them. Several of them, as well as BEST bus drivers and conductors, took shelter in buildings near Azad Maidan. "We were told we wouldn't be harmed and fled to a nearby building. But when we returned, every windshield and windowpane was broken," said T S Hindoyar. Many passersby ran to the State Institute for Administrative Careers campus beside Azad Maidan. "A huge mob was running into the lane and there was utter chaos in front of CST," said one of them. "We decided to wait and let two trains leave before boarding the next one," said Silas Liba, a tourist from Manipur.

The Crime Branch took up the probe into the violence late in the evening, and around 20 men were detained by the end of the day. The police have slapped sections relating to rioting, unlawful assembly and damaging public property on unnamed rioters. The administration sounded an alert in Mumbai as well as sensitive pockets in neighbouring regions like Thane and Bhiwandi. The police have been asked to stay on maximum alert on Sunday when the kin of the dead may be asked to take the two bodies.

 A look at the build-up to the rally reveals several failings that led to the conflagration. The organisers, Raza Academy, sought permission for a rally by 1,500 people but, according to some estimates, about 50,000 people ultimately turned up. Most of the protesters could not enter the venue and things worsened when the public address system failed. Officials later said the organisers of the rally had absolutely no control over the crowd and did not have any idea of the number of people who ultimately turned up.

But some former top cops also blamed the police for their intelligence failure in estimating the number of people and the intensity of the emotions on display. One of the injured policemen told TOI from his hospital bed that the mob was "uncontrollable" and that he and his colleagues were severely outnumbered. Officials later said that around 800 personnel were there to tackle the mob but "it was clearly not enough for a mob of that size and ferocity".

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Illegal Migration as a Threat to India’s Internal Security

Dr. N. Manoharan, Senior Fellow, VIF

Among other things, one of the major aspects that have come out of the recent communal violence in Bodo areas of Assam is illegal migration. According to the Group of Ministers Report on National Security, illegal migration

has generated a host of destabilizing political, social, economic, ethnic and communal tensions. Politically, the Bangladeshi migrants are in a position to influence the results of the elections in a large number of constituencies in the North East (about 32% of the constituencies in Assam). Economically, increased pressure on land, resulting in depletion of forest wealth, undercutting of wages of unskilled jobs, forcible occupation of Government land by the migrants and a host of other such issues, generate a ripple effect in the entire North East. 1

Illegal migration mainly takes place in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Bangladeshis have been moving out of their country due to economic, political and social reasons. There is a serious crisis of ‘lebensraum’ (living space) in Bangladesh due to alarming population growth rate without proportionate availability of land. This is going to worsen further in the future with the impact of climate change and natural disasters. As per 2011 estimates, the population density of Bangladesh is 964 per sq km, one of the highest in the world. Only Singapore and small city-states like Bahrain or the Vatican have higher figures.2 And, this is expected to increase further in the coming years.

As observed by the Group of Ministers Report, illegal immigration from Bangladesh has led to demographic upheaval and generated serious communal, political, social and economic tensions and conflicts in several areas of the northeast of India. The most affected states are West Bengal, Assam, Megalaya, Nagaland, Bihar, and Tripura, although migrants “have spread to far off states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi.” 3 Although the exact figure is not known, it is estimated that there are about 15-20 million Bangladeshis staying illegally in India. 4 The illegal migration of Bangladeshis in fact triggered the agitation in Assam by All Assam Students Union (AASU) in 1979-85. Despite the Assam Accord of 1985 5, the issue remains unresolved to this day and the “silent demographic invasion” persists. Due to vote-bank politics, the motivation to block illegal migrants from Bangladesh is absent. The gravity and scope of threats arising out of illegal migration was highlighted by the then Governor of Assam, Lt Gen S. K. Sinha in his report. Inter alia, he points out,

This silent and invidious demographic invasion of Assam may result in the loss of the geo-strategically vital districts of Lower Assam. The influx of these illegal migrants is turning these districts into a Muslim majority region. It will then only be a matter of time when a demand for their merger with Bangladesh may be made. The rapid growth of international Islamic fundamentalism may provide the driving force for this demand. In this context, it is pertinent that Bangladesh has long discarded secularism and has chosen to become an Islamic State. Loss of Lower Assam will sever the entire land mass of the North East, from the rest of India and the rich natural resources of that region will be lost to the Nation.6,

This applies to other states of the north-east, especially those that share borders with Bangladesh like Tripura and Meghalaya. In Tripura, the migrants have reduced the locals to a minority leading to rise of insurgent groups like All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). Bangladeshi migrants have even spread to far off states in the region like Arunachal Pradesh, and other parts of India and are seen as potential threat bearers. Some of these migrants give shelter to Bangladeshi militant groups like HuJI (B) and are very amenable to ISI activities. The Supreme Court, in its 114-page judgment, in July 2005 observed that “The presence of such a large number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, which runs into millions, is in fact an ‘aggression’ on the State of Assam and has also contributed significantly in causing serious ‘internal disturbances’ in the shape of insurgency of alarming proportion making the life of the people of Assam wholly insecure and the panic generated thereby has created a fear psychosis.”7

Despite the enormity of the issue, the response has been grossly inadequate. The entire stretch of 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border is heavily populated, making monitoring extremely difficult. Fencing has to a large extent been acting as an obstacle, but only 2,760.12 km have been fenced so far.8 The remaining stretch should be fenced at the earliest, complimented with floodlights and hi-tech surveillance devices. Most importantly, existing border has to be demarcated at the earliest to make them free of ‘enclaves’ and ‘adverse positions’; much of activities take place in these undemarcated areas. Although the Border Security Force (BSF), in charge of policing the border, has been doing its job creditably, the force levels are not sufficient to monitor the long and difficult border. Apart from raising new battalions, it is important not to divert the BSF for duties other than border management. They also have to be equipped legally to handle situations at borders that include not only illegal migration, but also smuggling, drug-trafficking, counterfeits, and militant movements.

Apart from creating physical hurdles, it is also important to discourage illegal migrants through suitable deterrent legislation. Till recently, illegal migrants in Assam were handled by Illegal Migration (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, that was held as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2005 as it was “coming to the advantage of such illegal migrants as any proceedings initiated against them almost entirely ends in their favour, enables them to have a document having official sanctity to the effect that they are not illegal migrants.”9 An exclusive refugee/migration law is long pending. It is also vital to issue multi-purpose identity cards, at least to curb further illegal migration. At some pockets of Indo-Bangladesh border, issue of temporary work permits can be considered so that Bangladeshis can come, work and go back. At the macro level, India should help in the overall economic development and prosperity of Bangladesh so that its citizens need not to go elsewhere for their livelihood.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Hindu Rate Of Wrath

When the Mahatma's cowards erupt in fury, it hurts. It isn't terror.

By Francois Gautier 

Is there such a thing as 'Hindu terrorism', as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents—a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I'll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents' ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro).

In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions.

You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like SIMI, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.

However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the 'vengeance' bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.

I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed.

So sometimes, enough is enough. At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.

There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?