No matter how much Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is hailed as a ‘Hindu-Hriday Samrat’, what he does is for the welfare of India or for the politics of his party BJP. The Hindus of Bangladesh have nothing to be excited about in that brand of politics. What has India done to protect the Hindu minority in Bangladesh? Nothing. All that India did for the independence of Bangladesh in 1971 was to weaken its enemy state Pakistan. The situation of the Hindus of Bangladesh in independent Bangladesh has not been better than before. But India couldn’t care less.
Whether the Hindus of Bangladesh live or die, temples and deities are destroyed, they are imprisoned on false charges, forced to flee the country or they are raped or looted, it does not matter to India. Maybe that’s what India wants. Because citing such instances of atrocities helps as a pressure tool to keep the Bangladesh government on the defensive.
We, the so-called guardians of the Hindus, have not uttered a word about this bloody autumn. New Delhi did not pressure Dhaka for protection of Hindus or compensation to its eastern neighbour’s minority community. After the Ramu violence, the top leaders of Bangladesh rushed there and rebuilt all the Buddhist temples and houses, as there was pressure from the Buddhist-majority countries. But in spite of so much violence in Hindu pockets of Bangladesh one after the other, no one at the ministerial level even goes there to see in what state the Hindus live. Even MPs avoid the constituency. It’s left to the SP or the DC to handle the situation. Hindus are of no political or economic consequence to anyone in Bangladesh.
The BJP has passed a law to grant citizenship to Hindus in Bangladesh who have taken refuge in India. That does not necessarily mean the BJP thinks about the Hindus of this country. For the real welfare of Hindus in Bangladesh, India should impose more restrictions on the border. So that no Hindu can leave the country. If there is no opportunity to leave the country, Hindus will at least learn to fight. You learn to survive by struggling or adapting to difficult situations. The real welfare of Hindus does not lie in the escapist hope that, thanks to the CAA, a Bangladeshi Hindu may turn Indian any day.
However, India has an interest in this law. Because, if a Hindu from Bangladesh goes to India, surely he will first sell all his movable and immovable property and go to India with a lot of money. If two Hindu families move to India with Rs 5 million each, it adds Rs 1 crore to the Indian economy. Muslims in Bangladesh will be happy too, as these formerly Hindu properties can be bought at dirt cheap prices. In the midst of the dual benefits to the Indian economy and Bangladeshi Muslims, the Hindus native to Bangladesh will have lost their millennial homeland, left their motherland and innumerable relatives, neighbours and kinsmen with great anguish and migrated to a new country in a new environment for unknown security. All the pain is reserved only for the Hindus of Bangladesh. They are the only party that loses in the bargain.
It is to be noted that Hindus do not count in the politics of Bangladesh. We have become a vote bank and yet do not have the capacity to get our demands met by negotiating with political parties. They are sitting with their eyes wide shut, surrendering everything to one of the two major parties that appears to be the lesser evil. Even in the 50 years of independence, not a single demand of the Hindus of this country has been met. Because even the party that gets Hindu votes thinks Hindus don’t vote for them, there is no benefit for them in taking care of the community. The rival party thinks even if Hindus are killed, they have no choice in the elections.
No matter what happens in Bangladesh’s politics or economy, India will always look after its own interests. It will not lose sleep worrying about the Hindus of Bangladesh.
If the Hindus of Bangladesh think that India will save them, they are living in a fool’s paradise. Modi’s visit to Jessoreshwari temple or Orakandi Dham in Bangladesh was a show — a part of his political agenda. It has nothing to do with the welfare of Hindus in Bangladesh. To date, neither Modi nor any other responsible top leader of the BJP government has uttered a single word about the Hindus of Bangladesh. Because good diplomatic relations with Dhaka matters. But why should the government be damned when even your kin abandon you?
Many relatives of Bangladeshi Hindus live in India. But when Hindus are persecuted in this country, even those relatives never utter a word. Demonstrations in India to express solidarity is far from uttering words of sympathy even by writing a sentence or two on social media platforms. Yes, they are so impotent and selfish. However, they secretly encourage the Hindus of Bangladesh to move to India. Because they have a vested interest in it. Unselfishly, they wouldn’t come to the aid of a relative. This is the personal experience of the writer, even if it sounds rude. So Bangladeshi Hindus must quit pinning their hopes on India.
Hindus and Muslims fought the war of liberation shoulder to shoulder for the independence of Bangladesh. At that point, planned massacres were carried out in select Hindu villages. Hindus of East Pakistan contributed the lion’s share of the three million martyrs. Bangladesh is a country built on our blood. Happiness at home is never found abroad. Hindus have to live in their beloved homeland.
So what should the Hindus of Bangladesh do? They are the only ones who control the fate of Bangladeshi Hindus. No foreign power or divine power has come to save them, nor will it in the future. Hindus have to be strong in self-reliance. Emigration is not a solution. They have to stay in their homeland. We have to live with our heads held high in the motherland.
It is true that anti-Hindu communal forces are on the rise in this country. At the same time, the number of liberal Muslims is not insignificant. Without the cooperation and sympathy of the majority community of a country, it is not possible for the minorities of that country to survive. Hindus must co-exist with liberal Muslims and be partners in the struggle. Keep in mind, friendship is equal.
But there is no friendship between the strong and the weak. What happens presently is that liberal Muslims pity minority Hindus. This is no friendship. Hindus must take a politically strong position. We have to give uncompromising leadership in realising fair demands. Indian Muslims could be role models for Bangladeshi Hindus insofar as being assertive is concerned. The Muslims of Palestine are a good example too. As are the Jews who have made tremendous progress in science and economy, even though they are few in number. Their story is exemplary for the minority Hindus in Bangladesh.
Hindus in Bangladesh are now rather weak economically. They must be more focused on socio-economic development. We need to reduce waste and invest in construction. Must have at least three children. We need to create more employment. We have to take care that no one is unemployed, no one is bankrupt. When the life of one is imperilled, everyone else from the community must come forward. We have to be more respectful towards our religion. But the Hindutva extremist consciousness must be abandoned. And of course we have no option but to be in harmony with liberal Muslim friends.
It is not possible for Hindus to survive in Bangladesh without the cooperation of Muslims. However, that cooperation should not be for the sake of mercy but for the sake of building a non-communal state in the spirit of liberation war and for the protection of the shared Bengali culture of Bangladeshis.
Sirf News does not agree with several portions of the article above written originally in Bangla by Bangladeshi journalist Manik Rakshit. However, we published this translation to give a legitimate vent to the pent-up angst of a persecuted and neglected community that does not have many options.