Hindu population in Bangladesh is on an alarming decline, and if this continues, within the next twenty years, there will be no Hindu in the country. This was revealed by Hindu leaders during a program held in Dhaka on February 4, 2023, which was organized by the Hindu Grand Alliance. Vice President of All India Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Dilip Ghosh joined the program through Zoom. More than five thousand Hindus from around the country attended this event.
BJP vice president Dilip Ghosh said, “India cannot remain silent when the Hindu community in Bangladesh is persecuted. The number of Hindus in Bangladesh is decreasing day by day, which is a matter of great concern”.
He said, members of Muslim community have become president, vice president and there are few Muslim ministers in India. There is a Minority Commission in the country. Indian government has always been emphasizing on protecting the rights of religious minorities in the country. That is why, Muslim population in India has been increasing day-by-day. Not a single Muslim was forced to leave India to another country. We want a similar atmosphere in Bangladesh, where members of Hindu community can live with due respect and rights.
Secretary General of Hindu Grand Alliance, Gobinda Chandra Pramanik said, “Bangladesh is a country of religious harmony. Hindus in this country have fought the war of independence in 1971 against Pakistani occupation forces and sacrificed lives. During the war, thousands of Hindu girls and females were violated by cruel Pakistanis and their agents and collaborators in this country”.
He said, “When Pakistan was created in 1947, Hindus in this country became religious minorities. There were 72 reserved seats for the religious minorities in the parliament. But the Pakistani regime had tactfully cancelled it. This has resulted in the absence of Hindu voice in the parliament. Now Hindus are facing numerous adversities and cruelties which has resulted in an alarming decline in the size of Hindu population in Bangladesh. According to official statistics, the size of Hindu population in Bangladesh in 1947 was 33 percent, which came to 22 percent in 1972 and now the size of Hindu population has come to only 7.9 percent. This was 10.7 percent even in 2015. If this dangerous trend of decline in Hindu population, Bangladesh will have no Hindu within the next twenty years. We cannot let it happen. We need to remember, one of the key pillars of Bangladesh’s constitution is secularism, where people of all faiths can live in harmony. Hindus have sacrificed blood during the war of independence of this country and fought against Pakistani occupation forces. For the sake of protecting the rights of Hindus, we want 60 reserve seats in Bangladesh’s Jatiya Sangshad (national parliament) for Hindus. As Bangladesh is heading towards another general election in January 2024, we hope our demand for reserve seats in the parliament shall be implemented before this election”.
Bidhan Bihari Goswami, President of Hindu Grand Alliance said, “The spirit of our war of independence was a secularist Bangladesh. We do not want Bangladesh to be hijacked by any particular religion”.
Advocate Pradip Paul, Senior Vice President of the organization said, “As per constitutional provisions, Muslims, Hindus and people of all other faiths have equal rights in Bangladesh. This must be upheld at any cost”.
Sushanta Chakraborty, Organizing Secretary of Hindu Grand Alliance said, “Secularism is the essence for maintaining peace and stability of any country. We won’t let Bangladesh walk out of it”.
Advocate Prativa Bakchi, Secretary Women Affairs of the organization said, “Hindus in Bangladesh are witnessing repeated attacks from the religious bigots, which is extremely unfortunate. Government needs to ensure stern punishment to perpetrators of such heinous crimes”.
Lucky Bachhar, President of Hindu Mohila Mohajote (Hindu Women’s Grand Alliance) said, “Some fanatics are constantly conspiring to turn a secularist Bangladesh into an Islamist state. Such tendencies are against the spirit of our war of independence”.
A British plot implemented by Jinnah
This August shall mark the 76 years since the partition of India. British withdrawal from the region prompted the creation of two new states – India and Pakistan. But no one utters a word stating, this was actually a British plot to divide India and Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the culprit who had implemented this British agenda.
On the upcoming occasion of 76th anniversary of partition of India, Navtej K Purewal, Professor of Political Sociology and Development Studies, SOAS University of London, SOAS, University of London said: “Anniversaries can be a critical moment to pause and reflect on the passage of time, and reexamine history. Partition is widely seen as the outcome of seemingly irreconcilable differences and inherent religious tension in south Asia. Three-quarters of a century later it’s time to reassess some of the established historical accounts. Myths have been established around this history based on false assumptions.
“Popular accounts of partition reproduce the British colonial state’s simplistic view of south Asian society just in terms of religious categories – with Hindu and Muslim identities as the biggest groups. Over the decades scholarship has shown that religious difference doesn’t explain partition.
“Simplistic religious categories in most analyses of partition fail to sufficiently understand complex social and political issues that shape south Asian societies. Partition pushed people to identify as a particular religion, and even to migrate, based on that identity.
“Greater focus on oral histories and personal experiences of partition have highlighted how this action did less to provide a political solution than to impose new divides around national and religious lines.
“It ignores huge variation of practices and identities within and across different groups in British India by assuming there was conflict based on religion. Shared cultures based on common language, literature, music and regional and local traditions challenge this”.
Eleanor Newbigin, Senior lecturer in the history of modern South Asia, SOAS, University of London said, “British officials and nationalist leaders saw the violence of this period as the response of an irrational, religious society to complex political negotiations. But there is substantial evidence to show that the violence of partition was not spontaneous. The violence of 1947 was deeply shaped by earlier colonial policies emphasizing separate religious communities and cultivating some groups over others.
“One example of this was the idea of “martial races” who were recruited for the police and army and given land allocations in return for their loyalty to the British Raj. The idea of the martial races was developed after the uprising of 1857 to identify certain communities who were considered ideal for military recruitment based on their ethnicity and hypermasculinity and, above all, loyalty to the British state. Sikhs, Jats, Punjabi Muslims and Gurkhas were all celebrated “martial races”.
“The violence of 1947 saw men attack one another and also women. Women of other communities were raped and killed and some men killed their own female relatives in the name of “purity” and “honor”, especially in Punjab which was home to many “martial races”. Described by scholars as “genocidal”, the violence in Punjab was shaped by similar notions of racial purity and aggressive masculinity that had underpinned imperial recruiting policies for years.
“Calls for the creation of separate states, which came to the fore in 1947, had mixed and uneven support, including within the Muslim political leadership. But these ideas did not set out how, or when, such states would be created or where their borders would be drawn. Up until late 1946 the British government was very reluctant to support division of the subcontinent.
“The British had planned to transfer power in 1948 but in February 1947 it was announced that Louis Mountbatten would replace Lord Archibald Wavell as viceroy, the British government’s representative in India, and would transfer power by August 1947. On June 3 1947 Mountbatten, with Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru (the respective leaders of the two main pre-independence political parties, the Muslim League and Indian National Congress), announced that the subcontinent would be divided just nine weeks later.
“Between June and August political leaders and their lawyers jockeyed to establish borders that ran through the provinces of Punjab and Bengal. These discussions were overseen by Cyril Radcliffe, a British lawyer who had never visited India. He was given only five weeks to decide the border. While calls for the creation of a new Muslim state had been framed around religious representation, the legal negotiations of the Boundary Commission focused heavily on securing natural resources and ensuring state security.
“The final borders of the new states of India and Pakistan were announced on August 17 1947 – two days after independence. Much of the violence is attributed to the haphazard communication of the high politics of partition to wider society, and the unnecessary speed with which the process was carried out”.
According to some scholars, opposition to the partition of India was widespread in British India in the 20th century and it continues to remain a talking point in South Asian politics. Those who opposed it often adhered to the doctrine of composite nationalism. The Hindu, Muslims (these were represented by the All India Azad Muslim Conference), Christian, Anglo-Indian, Parsi and Sikh communities were largely opposed to the partition of India (and its underlying two-nation theory).
Pashtun politician and Indian independence activist Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of the Khudai Khidmatgar viewed the proposal to partition India as un-Islamic and contradicting a common history in which Muslims considered India as their homeland for over a millennium. Mahatma Gandhi opined that “Hindus and Muslims were sons of the same soil of India; they were brothers who therefore must strive to keep India free and united”.
Sunni Muslims of the Deobandi school of thought “criticized the idea of Pakistan as being the conspiracy of the colonial government to prevent the emergence of a strong united India” and helped to organize the Azad Muslim Conference to condemn the partition of India. They also argued that the economic development of Muslims would be hurt if India was partitioned, seeing the idea of partition as one that was designed to keep Muslims backward. They also expected “Muslim-majority provinces in united India to be more effective than the rulers of independent Pakistan in helping the Muslim minorities living in Hindu-majority areas”.
Deobandis pointed to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which was made between the Muslims and Qureysh of Mecca, that “promoted mutual interaction between the two communities thus allowing more opportunities for Muslims to preach their religion to Qureysh through peaceful tabligh”. Deobandi Sunni scholar Sayyid Husain Ahmad Madani argued for a united India in his book Muttahida Qaumiyat Aur Islam (Composite Nationalism and Islam), promulgating the idea that different religions do not constitute different nationalities and that the proposition for a partition of India was not justifiable, religiously.
Khaksar Movement leader Allama Mashriqi opposed the partition of India because he felt that if Muslims and Hindus had largely lived peacefully together in India for centuries, they could also do so in a free and united India. Mashriqi saw the two-nation theory as a plot of the British to maintain control of the region more easily, if India was divided into two countries that were pitted against one another. He reasoned that a division of India along religious lines would breed fundamentalism and extremism on both sides of the border. Mashriqi thought that “Muslim majority areas were already under Muslim rule, so if any Muslims wanted to move to these areas, they were free to do so without having to divide the country”. To him, separatist leaders “were power hungry and misleading Muslims in order to bolster their own power by serving the British agenda”.
In 1941, a CID report states that thousands of Muslim weavers under the banner of Momin Conference and coming from Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh descended in Delhi demonstrating against the proposed two-nation theory. A gathering of more than fifty thousand people from an unorganized sector was not usual at that time, so its importance should be duly recognized. The non-ashraf Muslims constituting a majority of Indian Muslims were opposed to partition but sadly they were not heard. They were firm believers of Islam yet they were opposed to Pakistan.
In the 1946 Indian provincial elections, only 16 percent of Indian Muslims, mainly those from upper class, were able to vote. Many lower-class Indian Muslims opposed the partition of India, believing that “a Muslim state would benefit only upper-class Muslims”.
The All India Conference of Indian Christians, representing the Christians of colonial India, along with Sikh political parties such as the Chief Khalsa Diwan and Shiromani Akali Dal led by Master Tara Singh condemned the call by separatists to create Pakistan, viewing it as a movement that would possibly persecute them.
Western agenda of dividing India
After the end of the World War II, the west was keen to restrict the influence of their war time allay Stalin. Both Britain and America wanted to restrict Russian approach to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. They were keen to create a corridor by partitioning India to restrict the Russian advance. Lord Archibald Wavell at Churchill’s behest drew a secret plan to divide India. The war-time prime minister, who otherwise fiercely opposed the concession of freedom to India, analyzed Jawaharlal Nehru as being pro-Soviet Union and therefore likely to give the Communist power access to the warm water port of Karachi and consequently an easy passage to the Middle East. In contrast, he assessed the Muslim leadership demanding Pakistan as being pro-West and therefore likely to be resistant to Moscow.
The partition plan was discussed and prepared in the War Cabinet Meeting held on May 19, 1945. In the movie Wavell gives a file to Cyril Radcliffe containing the secret note circulated after the cabinet meeting. The movie has some shots showing the actual file which is now declassified by the Home Office. Radcliffe had been sent to demarcate the border between the two new countries. He had never visited India before. He was given just few weeks to do the job. When he mentions to Lord Ismay that it is impossible to undertake such an assignment in such a short time, Lord Ismay shows him a map in the file where in the entire border is already marked in red! He tells Radcliffe that he has only to demarcate the border on the ground as already decided by the Cabinet Mission! Incidentally, the partition plan was given the name of Mount Batten Plan and ironically Mount Batten knew nothing about it. He was called to England just to give the impression that it was his plan! It was a plan already prepared by Lord Archibald Wavellat Churchill’s behest and handed over to him for implementation!
Ashish Ray in London Tribune writes, “In the “great game” of carving out spheres of influence between Britain and the Soviet Union, Churchill was attempting to checkmate what he perceived to be the United Kingdom’s post-war, Cold War rival; but at a heavy cost to the people of India. The fact is access to the waters of the Arabian Sea through Pakistan has been denied to Russia to date. But if Churchill’s objective was to thwart communist enlargement and hegemony, he has failed, for China is comfortably ensconced not merely in Karachi, but in Gwadar, which is even closer to the Gulf”.
The British had been horrified, during the Revolt of 1857, to see Hindus and Muslims fighting side by side and under each other’s command against the foreign oppressor. They vowed this would not happen again. “Divide et impera was an old Roman maxim, and it shall be ours”, wrote Lord Elphinstone. A systematic policy of fomenting separate consciousness among the two communities was launched, with overt British sponsorship. When restricted franchise was grudgingly granted to Indians, the British created separate communal electorates, so that Muslim voters could vote for Muslim candidates for Muslim seats. The seeds of division were sown, to prevent a unified nationalist movement that could overthrow the British.
British rulers plotted to draw a line of division within Hindus and Muslims. That was the agenda that finally led to the partition of India in 1947. Nehru and Jinnah were collaborators in implementing this notorious blueprint. When today we witness, religious bigots in the streets of Pakistan or members of radical Islamic groups and jihadists, including Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islami chanting slogans of enforcing sharia rule in Pakistan and Bangladesh, we possibly may not realize – these are the consequences of the 1947 partition – a British agenda of divide and rule.
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