I have lived away from Bengal for quite awhile now but not long enough to erase the memories I have safely locked in my head and heart. That is the reason I could not believe that the recent headlines relate to a place I have such fond memories of.
Not so long ago I used to visit my mamarbari (maternal grandparents) during my holidays - an idyllic and humane place. I say so because to a young school kid used to the hand-pulled rickshaws in Calcutta the mere existence of cycle rickshaws in this peaceful district some 70 kilometers away from the city made it seem humane. Even until a few years ago people would go for picnics to these places to spend some time in the peaceful natural surroundings.
Cut to the present 40 years later, and the scenario has transformed drastically. Bashirhat and Baduria are now home to one of the worst riots in Bengal's History. Initially hard to believe that the serene place could turn into such a cataclysmal hell. As the news poured in and TV channels showed horrific pictures of loot, anti-Hindu sloganeering, burning police vehicles and houses, I began to fill in the gaps of the jigsaw puzzle. This communal tension was apparently sparked off from some offensive comments posted by a 17-year old boy on his Facebook. It is essential to understand the ominous progression of events in this place for the last few decades including infiltration, smuggling, human trafficking, among others that forebode such a situation.
More than thirty years of Communist rule in West Bengal followed by the present government under Mamata Banerjee have done great damage to the social fabric, to say the least. To potentiate their vote banks they ensured and even subtly encouraged mobs of radicalized Muslim to enter and settle in India from the neighboring country. These foreign nationals were provided ration card to establish their "Indian nationality." Furthermore, they were also offered positions in the communist apparatus so that they could wield considerable influence over other peace loving citizens both Hindus and Muslims. This nocuous activity continued for over three decades and was efficiently adopted and perpetuated by the present political disposition of Mamata Banerjee. Basirhat always had a Muslim population for decades. These Muslims were a small number of converts who stayed for generation and did not jump the fence to come to India. Thus there was a homogenous multi-religious demographic fabric that coexisted with perfect amity.
Thanks to the Communist grand scheme of creating a porous border that perpetuated illegal settlers from Bangladesh the demography of the area changed considerably. A nexus of radicalized Muslim and criminals ensured smuggling of cattle, child trafficking including girls. In the recent past, there has been a spurt in crimes against women in these areas including molestation and rape. The lumpen proletariat who meanwhile garnered considerable power in CPIM's style of communist dictatorship continued to the present regime by just donning new colors that of the Trinamool Congress.
This decade of unrestrained infiltration had caused a huge spike in the Bangladeshi Muslim population in West Bengal. According to a report in First Post “Census data indicates that the Muslim population in the state is approaching pre-partition levels, with Muslims constituting 27 percent of the total population in 2011, it is at the peak of 29 percent in 1941. The figures raise concern when compared with the share in 1951, which stood at 19.5 percent after mass migration during the 1947 partition. The numbers and the issue become alarming when the decadal accretion rate is factored into the story. The growth rate among Muslims for the period 2001-11 in West Bengal stood at 1.77 percent, which was abnormally high when compared to the national accretion rate among Muslims at 0.8 percent for the same period.” This is because of a sustained surge of foreign nationals. This has created islands of majority Bangladeshi native population in Bengal, from where Hindus have been hounded out or left in fear leaving these foreign citizens to rule the roost and even engage in the institution of Sharia laws at their convenience. Both the communists and the present Mamata Banerjee government were more than happy to turn a blind eye as it suited their vote bank politics.
Although Bashirhat cannot be compared to Kashmir, India’s fabled Paradise, the situation here is alarming enough and would not be an exaggeration to call this a Kashmir-like situation that may soon get completely out of hands. With rampant global terrorism, the border areas and Bengal, in general, have become a haven for terrorists. With incidences of recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh and killing of secular bloggers in Bangladesh, India cannot remain insulated for long. With accidental discovery of Bangladesh militants hiding in Burdwan district of Bengal after the blast in 2014 and occasional arrests of Bangladeshi nationals (read militants) it is time to wake up and act. Giving in to Islamic hardliners for mere votes is a threat to the national security.
Moreover, the tragedy is that while Bangladesh is trying hard to counter radicalized Muslim groups in their own country, we have a scenario where petty political consideration and minority appeasement politics is creating a growing mob of radicalized aliens in our country who go around rioting, raping, burning police stations and buildings. Despite adequate constitutional measures taken to book the minor who had created the Facebook post that so-called spurred these violent riots, the radicalized Islamist harp on initiating Sharia law and killing the "culprit."
It is thus important to understand that this is not a religious problem but one created by political rulers from Bengal resulting in a massive surge of radical Islamist aliens from Bangladesh. Thus it is important to take the initiative in the national interest to appropriately remedy the situation. Primarily by better law and order and hunting out the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Ordinary Hindus and Muslims must be left in peace and at the same time instilling the confidence in them that we are a law-abiding state rather than a banana republic held hostage by goons under a religious pretext.