When Bangladesh was in the making

There was a time when the word “Bangladesh” used to sound pleasant to the ears of a large section in this country. This section consisted of central leaders, ruling Congress, opposition Jan Sangh leaders, and editors and reporters of English and Hindi newspapers. Though Bangladesh was not formed by then; the preparation to form it was on; the most restless party was Jan Sangh. Its leaders were demanding day and night: “Recognise Bangladesh; recognise it today and now.” Although Congress and its governments were also restless, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was awaiting the “opportune time”. It was the year of 1971. The separation movement in East Pakistan was at its peak; Pakistan’s army was resisting it; there was topsy-turvy everywhere; people numbering thousands and thousands were taking refuge in Indian regions; they were not only not being prevented but also fervently welcomed. All the ways were being paved for them. In refugee camps they were being provided with every kind of facility and comfort. Besides border areas, they were spreading in the interior towns and cities as well; they were being welcomed everywhere; during those days they were being termed as “our Bangladeshi brethren”.

And a time is this

The situation was that crores of rupees were being collected in the name of refugee tax; documentary films of refugees were being shown the world over to win foreign aid. At last the will of Jan Sangh was fulfilled; it was also in fact the heartfelt desire of Indira Gandhi. In December 1971 Bangladesh was recognised; hearing the announcement to this effect, Jan Sangh leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee jumped up and gave Indira Gandhi the title “Durga Devi”. This love for “Bangladeshi brethren” continued for some years after the creation of Bangladesh. But thereafter destructive politics started thereon. Therefore, the party that was foremost in embracing the refugees started treating their presence as the biggest threat and demanded with utmost seriousness their deportation. BJP included this issue in their agenda formally and launched a campaign of hatred against them. And thus a time came when the word “Bangladeshi” has become a hateful word.
This is not our issue

In short, the issue of presence of Bangladeshis in the country is not of Muslims; it is the creation of the government and RSS. But the Assamese and Bangla-speaking Indian Muslims are being harassed. Let the Muslim leadership make this fact clear to the government. Muslim leaders in Karnataka should also meet the leaders of RSS, BJP and Vidyarthi Parishad who spewed venom against Muslims during a rally in Bangalore on 27th August, and tell them what the real issue is. Those leaders were of the opinion that “four crore Bangladeshis are living in India”. And that “Indian Muslims are increasing their population with different methods” (The Indian Express, 28th August). The government and Muslim leadership should take notice of it before this fresh mischief might take ground. 

04/ 09/12 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf

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