After seven decades of accommodating infiltrators that wrecked the nation, the Indian state has begun the much-needed exercise of identifying real Indians
The nation was a house divided in the wake up to an inevitable Partition. Today’s political correctness apart, the Muslims of India had more or less decided they would separate from Hindus, with an overwhelming majority of them voting for the Muslim League (ML) rather than the Indian National Congress (INC) in the Constituent Assembly elections of 1946. The ML “won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan” [Quora].
The British tolerated an extensive use of Islamic symbolism in the campaign for the 1946 election, which Indians are lectured to tolerate even now. The 1946 Punjab Elections by IA Talbot describes the use of Friday prayers for political purposes. The book also says the Qur’an was used in election meetings in undivided Punjab. Two-hundred-fifty students from Aligarh ganged up with 1,550 members of the Punjab Muslim Student’s Federation to campaign in the province during Christmas holidays that year. Muslim students by and large stayed away from the Unionists who did not want a division of the nation. Even Jats and Gurjars who had converted generations ago forfeited their clan loyalty to join the Islamic ‘cause’. If that was not enough, Pirs and Sufis joined the rallies to see ML win.
Ironically, the political leaders hurt most by the experience, members of the INC, pursued policies, post-Independence, that were a recipe for another Partition. Unlike the popular perception, the culprit is not the stealthy introduction of the term “secular” in the Preamble of the Constitution during Emergency by Indira Gandhi through the 42nd Amendment [in fact, France’s laïcité does not mean humouring minority Muslims at the expense of majority Christians (including Christians-turned-atheists)]. Much before Indira Gandhi’s era, the attitude the Indian state would have towards religion had remained an unsettled debate in the Constituent Assembly. Neither in the period 1947-50 when the Constitution was framed nor after 1976 could India state clearly, if its version wasn’t “separation of the state from religion”, what its own, peculiar definition of secularism was.
If Prof KT Shah’s speech demanding the term’s inclusion in the Constitution was challenged by Ambedkar, it takes nothing away from the fact that the Dalit icon was also severely anti-Islam. Yet, he couldn’t prevail on others to abrogate the Muslim personal code that disturbs Hindus the most: Muslim marriage laws. It beats reason why the makers of the Constitution, mostly educated in the West, continued with the 1937 Act recognising Indian Muslim Personal Law (Shari’ah) and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939. These laws are still in vogue.
Within years of adoption of the Constitution, Jawaharlal Nehru clubbed religions other than Muslims and Christians together as “Hindus” legally, as these laws applied to the whole of the rest of the population: 1955’s Hindu Marriage Act and three laws enacted the following year, namely the Hindu Succession Act, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. The year 1956 also saw the death of the visionary and frank Ambedkar, arguably paving the way for Nehru to bolster his minority politics.
The appeased community had already been ruing the fall of Bahadur Shah Zafar II as the conclusive collapse of Muslim rule in India in 1857, and their dream was dealt a final blow when Vallabhbhai Patel forced the Nizam to surrender and let the princely state of Hyderabad merge with the Union. The Congress policy firstly after Patel’s death and then after Ambedkar’s — furthered in different States subsequently by communist and socialist parties — made them renew their dream of a Muslim rule in India once again, now by turning a majority in the population.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) had been conceived in 1951, following the alarm raised by the Census that year, which revealed the magnitude of influx of refugees and malevolent intruders alike: 25.23 lakh in a nation that had a population of a mere 33 crore in 1947. With an aim of enhancing the Muslim voting strength, Bangladeshi infiltrators were issued ration cards and PAN cards to establish their ‘Indian’ identity. The Aadhaar cards of this era have not been free of such deliberate discrepancies either.
Today, Barpeta, Dhubri, Karimganj, Goalpara, Hailakandi, Nagaon, Bongaigaon, Morigaon and Darrang of Assam are Muslim-majority districts. Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur of West Bengal had more Muslims than Hindus even at the time of Partition. That does not mean Hindus have a say in the remaining districts. Muslims give a decisive turn to elections in the whole State with their population share moving up from 20% in 1961 to 27% in 2011, as a 30-35% of vote share in the first-past-the-post system of multi-party democracy in India often proves enough to win an election.
The INC, its offshoots Trinamool Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, the constituents of the Left Front, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, etc are so brazen in their act of accommodating illegal Bangladeshi settlers that they refuse to accept both the figure of 2 crore presented in the Rajya Sabha by the current government in 2016 and the conservative estimate of academics. Hans Günter Brauch, John Grin and Úrsula Oswald’s Facing Global Environmental Change: Environmental, Human, Energy, Food, Health and Water Security Concepts, published in 2009, quotes Samir Guha Roy of the Indian Statistical Institute to state that even if the figure of 20 million is “motivatedly (sic) exaggerated”, about 91,000 Bangladeshis on an average crossed over to India illegally every year in the period 1981-91. In fact, researchers with a penchant for nitpicking should be asked to shut up on such occasions.
If more than 9 lakh had infiltrated into the country in the span of a mere 10 years, how can the figure of 2 crore be dismissed, considering the years of intrusion before ’81 and after ’91 — more so when the figure for Assam alone was 20 lakh? [Perspective of Security and Development in North East India edited by Shailendra Kumar Agnihotri, B Datta-Ray, p 104] An estimate suggests Bangladeshis in Assam alone may number as many as 2 crore. In the recent past, although the 2012 communal violence in Assam created enough urgency for the NRC, the Tarun Gogoi dispensation did precious little about it. The State’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s act of expediting the process must, therefore, be welcomed.
West Bengal, however, isn’t that fortunate. The decadal growth rates of Muslims in the State since 1951 have been 36.48%, 29.76%, 29.55%, 36.89%, 25.91% and 21.80%. Even with a Hindu majority, there are restrictions imposed on everything from Durga Puja to Saraswati Puja. Having tasted blood, the local Muslims have no qualms about turning even idolaters to challenge Hindu festivities: They recently demanded a celebration of Nabi Dibas (birthday of Prophet Mohammed) simultaneously with Saraswati Puja, failing which the school had to remain shut so that the Hindu festival could not be observed either. But Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, far from finding it a problem, hobnobs with imams as part of her political agenda.
Both Indian politics and economics are subjected to a tremendous strain due to the additional population at present and in the immediate future, even if a dreaded Muslim-majority India is decades away. This demography forces political parties and socialist governments to adopt nonsensically communal policies — including some that even Islamic states have discarded — like allocating funds for madrassah education, maintaining Waqf boards, subsidising Haj, promoting Urdu, maintaining Arabic and Persian departments in universities, withdrawal of pulse polio campaign from Muslim pockets, hesitation to urge Muslims for family planning, etc.
Worse, the illegal immigrants threaten national security as they don’t share a cultural bond with genuine Indians. As the सिर्फ़ News editorial of 2 January has remarked, illegal Bangladeshi settlers are noticed in substantial numbers in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and a host of other metropolitan cities of the country. They have been found involved in the rape of a nun in West Bengal, rioting in Noida, collaborating with Uttar Pradesh’s Muslims to engineer riots in Basirhat, and they are infamous also for their dalliance with terrorist outfits. They have been detected and arrested not only in Bengal but also in Uttar Pradesh. Even the Sheikh Hasina Wazed government says terrorists of their country cross over to India.
In the changed world order, since China views India as a rival, it enjoys the Islamisation of the Siliguri Corridor located in northern West Bengal, which connects the Northeast to the rest of India, and which is surrounded by Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Referred to as the “Chicken’s Neck”, this thin strip of land in India’s possession tempts China for misadventures, as Nepal’s communist government and Bangladesh’s Islamic culture could be exploited to corner and contain India effectively [more on China’s role in a subsequent article].
Northwards from New Jalpaiguri and eastward into Assam, there are pockets where Bangladeshi infiltrators have turned so brazen that they have replaced the Indian rupee with the Bangladeshi taka for transactions in the local markets. Off and on, the Border Security Force manages to apprehend a few. Remember, before Muslim invaders arrived in India in the early mediaeval era, Sindh, the route of the would-be Sultans, was Islamised.
Where the Muslim force appears inadequate to alter the shape of politics, they look for chinks in the Hindu armour. Given an extent of alienation among the Dalits, the vote-banking parties exploited caste divisions in Gujarat, as the Muslim percentage (9.064% of the State population) was too low to make a difference in the electoral outcome. Right thereafter, they collaborated in an event that had nothing to do with Muslims or Islam — the commemoration of the British-Mahar force’s victory over Peshwas in Bhima-Koregaon in 1818. There is otherwise no reason for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s infamous anti-India student Umar Khalid to reach Pune for the event. Isn’t this akin to clubbing Bangladeshis with Indian Muslims? No. The dream of realising a Muslim-majority India has already been delineated.
While the renaissance of nationalism in India, of late, has challenged this constant scheme of “Breaking India” — a term in currency since the release of Rajiv Malhotra’s book by that name — the NRC is an institutional approach of the state that threatens the Muslim numbers in demography as the Islamists have turned apprehensive of the infiltrators’ fate of deportation. It is to deflect the public attention from this need of the times that the INC and its cohorts are taking recourse to obfuscations such as pointing at “conspiracies” in the first draft of NRC released last week and constantly asking a dumb question as to why Hindu and Muslim immigrants should not be treated alike.
To answer the second question first, Hindus are persecuted in Islamic Bangladesh and Pakistan whereas Muslims from those countries sneak in for economic or mischievous reasons. Then, explaining that the anomalies are expected in a massive administrative exercise such as this one, which would be sorted out, the government must snub the detractors and tell them that the NRC would be extended to the whole country. After all, not only Assam but also cities across the country must be cleansed of Bangladeshis as they have turned worse than a menace to law and order.
Whether Bangladesh accepts its renegades back will be a question for the next chapter of this battle; let’s ensure first that all Indians are genuinely Indian. While the Bharatiya Janata Party government is hardly known for candour, if Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deportation of the illegal settlers in his mind — to be executed once the NRC is comprehensive — that is good enough for the nation.