Edit/Op-Ed

Bangladeshi Intruders: Myth vs Reality

Dr. Mumtaz Naiyer

I hail from a place in India, where Bengal reaches out to Bihar and Bihar reaches out to the Bengal. You must be mapping your mind to find my place of birth and my place of belonging? Let me help you and throw a light to this place. This place, where I belong and where my soul resides is Kishanganj. It is a border area surrounded by Nepal at one side and Bangladesh at the other side. Although surrounded by two different countries it is a peaceful, quiet place.

Since my growing up years or from the time I have gained my consciousness I have witnessed many Bangladeshi refugees settle in Kishanganj and its adjoining districts namely North Dinajpur of West Bengal. I have been told that they migrated from Bangladesh during the Indo-Pak war when Bangladesh was born. Even after the creation of Bangladesh the influx of these Bangladeshis to Indian borders continued till late 1990s.

There was a mass influx of Bangladeshis to the Indian territory after the Babri Mosque demolition because of the disturbances over there. You must be assuming that they all must be Muslims as projected by Indian media. No they are not Muslims, 99% of them are Hindus, living in Indian territory as refugees, intruders or self acclaimed Indian nationals. They are not few in numbers but might be several hundred thousand. We have shared everything with them and are living together with them peacefully from the time they arrived. They have flourished here and are leading a more healthy life than the actual inhabitants. Even my Hindu friends and brethren from Kishanganj and Uttar Dinajpur can’t deny this fact.

If somebody doubts me then I can show them their settlements. These districts where they dwell has never witnessed any riots or violence. In fact these places are the best example of inter-community tolerance and brotherhood. Nevertheless, these districts are minority dominated. The other districts in this region where Hindu Bangladeshi migrants have been settled for years are Dakhsheen Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri , Koch Bihar, Darjeeling, Maldah, Murshidabad, Katihar and Purnea. Their actual number might be in millions. You can now ponder over who is victimizing the brotherhood and peaceful coexistence of two different communities. It is our political leaders who treat us as a vote bank.

Often BJP, Shiv Sena, RSS and Narendra Modi use the rhetoric that Bangladeshis must prepare to leave the country after 16th May. My question to them and all the readers reading this  is will the BJP/RSS/Shiv Sena  chase away these settlements/colonies to Bangladesh? Or they will be spared because they suit their interest? Is religious identity more important or the problem of   intruders, refugees, migrants or the peaceful coexistence is more important? Whatever may be the selfish interest of these leaders I feel proud to belong to my place.

The recent massacre in Assam where many Muslims were killed, and told to flee, are often deemed as ‘illegal Bangladeshi migrants’ even though most of these migrants (as well as the Santhals) settled in these regions before India or Bangladesh were formed. Two days before dozens of Muslims including women, children and toddlers were killed mercilessly for not apparently voting for the local dominant party, in Bodoland in Assam in north eastern India. This massacres like many, was not spontaneous but rather organized.

Indian media which has always veiled the fact or forced to do by their handlers (political parties). The two major parties of India Congress and BJP are doing cheap politics over this incident and playing the blame game.

Some of the BJP and RSS cadres are celebrating these killings and writing about it as an achievement openly in social media. For these groups, a Muslims has always been a foreigner. No wonder none of the culprits responsible for the carnage has been arrested.

All we can hope is for the situation to calm down and violence to subside. Justice in India is mostly elusive so far we are concerned. Have people of my country lost their moral consciousness? Only a social revolution can bring us together in spirit and bring peace to our nation. – Courtesy Muslim Mirror

(Dr. Mumtaz Naiyer is postdoctoral fellow at University of Southampton, UK)

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