Industry of ‘humanitarianism’ in Bengal

Those Bangladeshi immigrants who remain in India gain eligibility for ration and 100-day-jobs under MGNREGA scheme using their job cards, eating into the rights of the sons of the soil


The recent streak of post-poll violence in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal, has been portrayed in the mainstream media as political vengeance being wreaked on each other by opposing political camps in a state already infamous for its violent political culture. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg and it is necessary that we look deeper to gain a better understanding of the issue.

A closer look immediately tells us there is much more than mere violent political retaliation involved here, as a chilling agenda is revealed when the larger picture is considered. A sinister vested interest is involved here, one that involves the ‘industry of humanitarianism’.

About a year ago we became acquainted with the news of Rohingya refugees from across the Bangladesh border settling in the Basirhat region of West Bengal. These refugees had been settled in temporary camps, the chief organiser of which was a certain Shaikh Shahjahan. This is the same Shaikh Shahjahan who has now led the brutal attack on Hindus of Sandeshkhali by goons of the Trinamool Congress.

The sheer brutality involved in the murder of the two victims, Pradeep Mondal and Sukanta Mondal ― Pradeep was shot in the eye from point-blank range and Sukanta clobbered with iron rods and then shot, before the two were hacked ― reveals that the intent of the criminals was not merely murder, but to plant terror among Hindus of the locality.

That the actual motive was terrorising the masses is further corroborated by the fact that this horrific incident was preceded by a so-called booth committee meeting for which 1,500 people had been gathered and which was the prelude to the attack on villagers and the subsequent slaughter, the chief purpose of which is the proliferation of the ‘humanitarian business’ mentioned earlier.

Let’s now try to decode this ‘humanitarianism’. This may help us understand how it was possible for Shaikh Shahjahan to actually accompany three State ministers on their visit to the area, even after an abominable incident like this. As initially broadcast on media, the man was even carrying firearms tucked to his waist during that visit; a breach for which he was not arrested, rather, the footage of the incident was later stopped from being broadcast.

In a nutshell, the ‘humanitarian business’ in question is the concerted effort of rendering vast swathes of West Bengal free of Hindu population. It is a full-fledged industry. Let us have a closer look. We have already talked about the Rohingya refugee camps, referred to as an epitome of humanitarianism by urban intellectuals. In truth, this ‘humanitarianism’ is nothing more than a front for an elaborate business involving billions in currency. If you take a train from Howrah and head north towards Burdwan and Asansol on one side and Rampurhat on the other, scores of encroachments in the form of slums are to be found straddling the railway tracks on both sides and situated adjacent to the villages. The settlers of these slums are heard speaking in dialects that belong to different districts of Bangladesh like Chittagong, Barishal, Noakhali, etc. and 90% of these settlers belong to a particular religious community. A similar experience awaits those heading south from Kolkata, towards Canning or Diamond Harbour.

These people did not leave their country due to any form of persecution. They have come due to economic reasons. Their lot did not improve despite the Partition of 1947, done on a religious basis, with an entire country carved out for a particular religious community. How could such an idea, with religious corruption and division at its very root, see economic success! This is why economic refugees are now coming to India in waves, with entire areas witnessing irreversible demographic change.

With the demographic balance under threat and local economy under siege by the newcomers, there is an identical ongoing crisis in multiple districts like Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur, Cooch Behar and areas like Basirhat and Diamond Harbour in North and South 24 Parganas respectively. In some of these areas, farmlands are being taken over. In others, fishing farms are being seized and reallocated. From high-yield agricultural lands on both sides of the Ganga in Malda to fallow lands adjacent to highways and stone quarries in Uluberia, Birbhum, Burdwan, Purulia and Jhargram, everything is being taken over.

Along with this, the Bengali Hindus in each locality are losing their lifestyles, professions, traditions and also their lives. This is the reason the likes of Shaikh Shahjahan are propped up as ‘faces of humanity’.

The business is diverse with numerous sources and cogs in the wheel. All newcomers are illegal immigrants. Changing their status from illegal to legal involves millions of rupees, to generate the individual ration card, voter’s card, pass certificate of 8th standard in school (no train pass, as that, requires a school board certificate). Those with some money next go for a passport, while others petition the panchayat for a job card. The former actually leave India for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or some European country. The India passport helps them as many countries have now imposed several sanctions on holders of Bangladeshi passports due to the very reason for illegal immigration.

Those Bangladeshi immigrants who remain in India gain eligibility for ration and 100-day-jobs under MGNREGA scheme using their job cards, eating into the rights of the sons of the soil. The leaders of the ruling dispensation turn a blind eye, often even encouraging this, as a commission amount is involved for them. These leaders often send these workers to states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and UP, where cheap is required in the industry. A large part of their income is generated from this cheap supply of labourers.

At present, this also involves the Aadhaar card. A few years earlier a Bengali news medium had remarked: “No more fathers available on hire near the border” in a direct jibe at the corrupt business of providing the Aadhaar to illegal immigrants. The Aadhaar ID is now a necessity to apply for the job or ration card or any other government benefits. This is now an additional source of revenue for those running this illegal industry. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that a BDO had been attacked for protesting against wide-scale corruption in Aavaas Yojana in this same Basirhat.

The entire industry based on illegal immigrants involves hundreds of crores. At the uppermost level, even the minister for food supply who is responsible for the allocation of ration cards has been allegedly involved in it. In places, the rail department is also controlled by this mafia, owing to the vast tracts of land owned by the railways; the Ho Chi Minh Colony in Malda from where the Kaliachak riots emerged is a typical case. Just as the Rohingya camp in Basirhat led to the Sandeshkhali killings. These incidents keep occurring while we stick to lectures on humanity, while the illegal industry of humanitarianism continues unabated. As a result, the sons of the soil lose their lands and their rights steadily and marginal groups like the Namoshudra and Matua get undermined consistently.

Somewhere a Bhattacharjee, a Banerjee or a Mishra lectures to us on harmony, while the remote control remains in the hands of a rich Bangladeshi industrialist, whose strings are in turn held by a puppet master in the Arabian peninsula.

This industry requires diverse faces at different times to thrive; masks of ‘Bengali unity’ and ‘Hindu sympathy’ also become a necessity depending on the weather in order to continue business as usual.

In such a desperate situation the only remedy is the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register for Citizens. The NRC alone can provide respite by returning the lost rights to the rightful citizen. Only the NRC can succeed in awarding the right of land to the son of the soil and the true refugee while snatching away encroachments from the illegal immigrant. We must bear in mind the words we heard recently, “You can’t act like feudal zamindars, taking entitlements for granted. You can’t rule us in our own land.”

India is a democracy and it is our solemn pledge to defend the sovereignty of our country. The defence of its peace and order, too, is our responsibility. Therefore, it is our duty to invest more power in the hands of those political leaders who will free our nation from the clutches of illegal immigrants and return to us our right to land. We need leaders who would fulfil the aspirations of the rightful refugee who has suffered persecution as a religious minority in their country of origin and sought refuge at our doorstep. We refuse to yield power to those who run a business in the name of humanitarianism and deprive us of our bread and butter while trampling upon our traditions, culture and religion.

The immense sacrifices of the Bengali Hindu cannot be allowed to go in vain. The turnaround is presently palpable, in the form of the second war of independence. After decades of neglect and self-flagellation, the Bengali Hindu has now decided to side with those who will look at their interests and no longer with vested interests of commercialised humanity. A silent, resolute pledge is palpable in the air, a pledge in the name of Mother India and Ma Kali, a pledge to return peace and order to West Bengal, a pledge to return to the sons of the soil as well as genuine refugees their natural rights through democratic means.

 Translated from Bangla by Sagnik Chakraborty

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