Combating the de-Hinduisation of West Bengal
by Tapan Ghosh on 30 Apr 2017 37 Comments

Namaste and a very good evening to you!

Today I will tell you two sides of the story of contemporary Bengal; on one side I’ll narrate how the Hindus face existential crisis and I will tell you heart wrenching stories of the suffering and persecution at the hands of an ever aggressive Muslim population. On the other side, I’ll tell you how almost a decade back, me and my young compatriots decided to take direct action on the ground about this threat while forming the Hindu Samhati.


Let me begin by describing the nature of the current crisis in Bengal. Hindus in Bengal and many parts of eastern India today are facing a looming disaster. Slowly but steadily, they face complete extinction and there is no other way to say this more directly and honestly than this. There is relentless Islamic aggression and assault that is very well-funded and organized.


On a daily basis, Hindu religious practices are being attacked in many corners of Bengal, be it by destruction of our temples or illegal, forceful occupation of religious lands, encroachment of funeral ghats, cow stealing and illegal slaughter or sometimes direct murder of priests and temple personnel.


Even worse is the condition of Hindu women and minor girls. I can speak for hours narrating horror stories of their suffering day in and out in rural or even suburban towns, including kidnapping and forced marriage by Muslim men or by deceitful love jihad, sexual assault during communal carnages and rape in many cases. In addition to the agony of this social aggression, there is an economic impact of growing Islamisation of Bengal. This includes targetted destruction of home and property, vandalisation of shops and vehicles that are the means of livelihood for poor Hindu families during communal riots or Islamic religious processions.


Then there are many cases of land grabbing by organized mafia that are often led by Muslim criminals and smugglers who enjoy political patronage. Many times, government lands marked for public works, banks of rivers or lakes, are encroached upon and mosques are built by illegal immigrants with the connivance of Islamic criminal mafia with the goal of displacing nearby Hindus. All these factors have caused a huge change in demography, forcing hapless Hindus to flee their ancestral lands after being completely surrounded by Muslims. Many villages that didn’t have significant Muslim population during partition have become completely Hindu-less in the last seven decades of Islamic aggression.


However, political indifference is a critical factor as none of this could happen without the implicit and often explicit support of politicians and the administration. As is true for large parts of India, Hindus do not form vote banks, but Muslims do so under strict religious diktat. And their effort to form a vote bank and influence politics is very well organized and systematic, via local mosques and religious leadership.


A large part of the current political scenario, wherein politicians and administration are indifferent to the plight of Hindus, is the communist history of Bengal that is directly responsible for suppression of legitimate Hindu grievances while appeasing the Muslim population. The communists in Bengal, as in whichever part of India where they hold power [Kerala–Ed], have systematically ignored, tolerated and often promoted Islamic fundamentalism in order to stay in power.


The current TMC government is merely following such policy very effectively. So while the communists have generously promoted the spread of fundamentalism by establishing madrassas and mosques mushrooming all over rural Bengal, the current government is only continuing the course by providing economic assistance to imams and muezzin or by providing huge economic assistance to only Muslim students.


Unfortunately for the Hindus of Bengal, this patronage is not limited to the ordinary Muslims, but also to Muslim criminals as they too enjoy political patronage and protection from prosecution, arrest and police investigation under political pressure. It is important to mention the role of police and administration in worsening the situation since they work under direct instructions from the political leadership. In addition to being extremely corrupt, the police often form an intermediary of a criminal nexus between Islamic gangs engaged in nefarious activities from smuggling to terrorism, and the political leadership that need support of such criminals to garner Muslim votes. In many places, the police acts in direct synergy with Muslim criminals to lodge false cases against Hindu activists. Here, our only respite is the relatively enlightened judiciary that often provides some relief.


To fully understand how the situation has come to such a low pass in Bengal, I want to say a few words on the effect of partition and the current history of Bengal. While undivided Bengal was Muslim majority, the Bengali intelligentsia was Hindu-centric but secular and hence totally ignorant, sometime tolerant, of Muslim fundamentalism. On the other hand, ordinary Muslims from pre-partition days were poor, illiterate and largely under the grip of Islamic leadership, which continues to this day.


It is undeniable that the combination of ignorant Hindu intelligentsia and fanatic Islamist leadership led to horrific events of Bengal, including Direct Action Day on 16 August 1946, and subsequent rioting in places like Noakhali. Even more unfortunate was that Bengali Hindu society in those days was deeply fragmented with upper castes exploiting and undermining the lower castes with terrible consequences for all Hindus. This was cunningly exploited by the Islamic leadership in the early days of Pakistan, when a majority of lower castes aligned with the Muslims and stayed back in East Pakistan.


Although much effort was visible from the Hindu Mahasabha and the astute leadership of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, because of whom West Bengal exists today, clearly this was insufficient to make a mark. Subsequently, as atrocities on lower castes grew, the Bengali Hindu upper castes deserted them without providing a leadership role and consolidation of Hindus against Muslim aggression. Unlike India’s western frontier, there was no exchange of population in the east, leaving a large Muslim population in rural Bengal. Subsequently, while Hindu-populated areas of East Pakistan were de-Hinduised, the Muslim population continued to grow in West Bengal.


However, this did not immediately lead to the current crisis, but a series of monumental blunders by the post-partition leadership in controlling the Islamisation in West Bengal led us to our current mess. As you very well know, partly due to Jinnah’s two-nation theory and more due to Nehru’s policies of appeasement and promotion of Muslim fundamentalism in the garb of minority rights, Muslims all over India, but especially in Bengal, did no effort to integrate into mainstream secular society.

Subsequently, Nehru’s strong apathy towards Bengal followed by the rise of communist ideology in Bengal ensured the gradual but complete demise of residual Hindu activism in the State. Consequently, Islamic fundamentalism grew unchecked in Bengal and the situation worsened with the influx of both Hindus persecuted in Bangladesh as well as Muslim infiltration into Bengal. The situation was further inflamed with foreign intervention, be it via influx of Saudi funds to promote Salafist forms of Islam or intervention by Pakistani and Chinese interest groups to incite Islamic terrorism through the eastern frontier.


The genesis of Hindu Samhati can be traced to the aforementioned events as well as the eventual failure and near-complete eradication of grassroots organisations affiliated to either the Sangh Parivar or other Hindu organisations in Bengal. By the early 2000s, most Hindu activists had disintegrated into various political platforms in the absence of a strong Hindu resistance organisation, seeking whatever protection they could get from them, which was minimal or absent in most cases.


It reached a do-or-die situation for Hindus in many parts of Bengal. That no political platform could save the eternally divided Hindu society became even clearer with the rise of the Trinamool Congress, by which time Bengali Hindus had already experienced the Congress and CPI(M) with utter disgust. It became an absolute necessity to first recognise that Muslim aggression is an existential problem for Hindus that could not have a purely political solution, and second, to provide a non-political platform to persecuted Hindus of Bengal to rise against an ever-aggressive Islamism.


This was, and remains to date, the cornerstone of the Hindu Samhati movement. The rise of Hindu Samhati was further necessitated by two additional factors. First was the partisan role of the media, which in collusion with the politicians, suppresses incidents of atrocities by Muslims, thereby creating a facade of peace and harmony that is virtually non-existent in rural Bengal. Second was the passive to outright harmful role of the intellectual Bengali elite that had hijacked the public discourse and worked in tandem with media to completely suppress Islamist aggression from public view.


In spite of the tremendous disadvantage, I am very happy to say that Hindu Samhati today is a success story. Our motto, “Courage, Strength & Action,” defines our movement to build a direct grassroots non-political Hindu defence solidarity movement in Bengal and Eastern India. Thanks to our team of dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic support of ordinary Hindus, we made significant achievements that even the mainstream media is forced to admit.


Hindu Samhati today deploys an immediate, rapid action team of volunteers after verifying the authenticity of a crisis call and follows it up with a fact-finding team to document the incident and spread it across Bengal, India and worldwide. After overseeing an immediate crisis like riots and carnages, we follow it up with more measured response in a two-fold strategy.


On one hand, we need to engage the administration, petition the police for prompt action against Muslim criminals or in many cases, appeal to women’s rights groups or SC/ST Commission, wherever appropriate. In many cases, we have to approach the judiciary for intervention and relief. On the other hand, we must also attend to the needs of poor, persecuted Hindus, help rebuild their lives, provide medical assistance to our activists injured by Islamist attacks and organise legal assistance in procuring bail, representation by lawyers when false cases are slapped by the police under pressure from Muslim groups. In almost all cases, our success depends on how fast and wide can we spread the information whenever Hindus are under attack since media censorship of Hindu persecution hurts more than the Islamist attack itself.


To that end, we typically receive enormous support from our supporters who call the administration to do their duty and offer protection towards the Hindus and Hindu activists. I’m happy to share with you that due to our continuous activism, in many cases the police have turned from oppressor to our supporters. Due to our continued solidarity with persecuted Hindus, many Hindus have refused to flee and are fighting in their ancestral lands in a do-or-die battle. Many Hindus have successfully resisted encroachment of their land and properties by Muslim goons.


In border areas, Hindus can today perform Hindu religious festivals like Durga puja and Ram Navami rallies with honour and pride that would not be possible otherwise. All this is possible due to the enormous love and support that our volunteers enjoy from the distressed Hindus as well as their well-wishers here and worldwide. Hence, I request you all, to actively follow our Website, Facebook and Twitter postings and help us bypass the mainstream media and reach out to all our supporters in every corner of the world.


A core area of our activism is the protection of Hindu women and girl child’s honour from love jihad. For this we employ a two-fold strategy. On one hand, we take help of the distressed victim’s parents to rescue the girl either directly by our activists or via the judiciary and police via social activism and the case of Tuktuki Mandal that received worldwide publicity attests to our efforts. On the other hand, we empower Muslim women who are under severe oppression and seek Hindu households to escape Islamic persecution by facilitating their marriage with a suitable partner. In many cases, we have to bear all the expenses, perform legal paperwork and help them resettle and start a new life. These women are my daughters and as of now I can proudly say that I have hundreds of daughters.


Before I end, I would like to take a few more minutes to inform you of our future plans. Today, the Hindu Samhati has reached all 22 districts of Bengal and made an enormous contribution to the condition of Hindus, especially in Muslim-dominated areas of Bengal. We have many victories, our success is resounding and even our enemies acknowledge us as the first line of defence of Hindus in Bengal.


The concept of Hindu defence groups, started in rural Bengal, is gradually spreading to suburban towns too. But we must ask ourselves, how much have we succeeded? Have we stopped the persecution of Hindus by an ever aggressive Muslim force? Are Hindus returning to the ancestral lands they left when driven out by encroaching Muslims? Is the honour of Hindu women secure? The answer, sadly, is a big NO! Yes, we have been able to reduce the atrocities but not stop them completely. In fact, we are far from it. But our goal is to stop it. Completely! And then reverse it! Yes, Hindus must regain all the lost ground in the past 70 years so that our future generation does not face what we are facing today.


No one needs to be told that this is an uphill task. The demand for Hindu activism far-far exceeds what Hindu Samhati can supply today. Believe me when I say that the sheer number of atrocities being committed today is so enormous that we do not have sufficient resources to even document it. I receive frantic and desperate calls from remote areas to send activists, but I’m unable to do anything with very limited manpower and financial resources. And the first step to overcome persecution is to document it and spread awareness, which we try to do by Facebook and Twitter but we must also explore avenues through audio-visual media as well.


While our opponent is extremely well funded internationally, our resources are rather limited, which we must increase if we have to fulfil our goals. In spite of all the constraints, Hindu Samhati has never compromised on its core principles of creating a non-political platform for all Hindus to resist Islamic aggression and we welcome Hindus from all parties to participate and help us. 


I have to regretfully state that some opportunistic politicians reap benefits of Hindu Samhati’s work without due acknowledgement in the media, which is too happy to report us as an offshoot of some political groups, which we are not. And it is this unique distinction of being a non-political organisation that helps Hindu Samhati reach out to Hindus and unite them across all sections of society.


Bengal has a strong undercurrent of Hindu religiosity from the time of Rishi Bankim Chandra, author of Vande Mataram, and has produced prominent leaders like Swami Vivekananda and organisations like Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON and Bharat Sevashram Sangha, to name a few.


Sadly, due to decades of communist rule and the ensuing decadence, most of these organisations have deviated from their core philosophy of fearlessness and truthfulness in their actions. In spite of full knowledge of the situation with their counterparts in neighbouring Bangladesh, our religious organisations refuse to acknowledge the existential crisis looming in Bengal. Perhaps they are afraid of losing followers, I do not know.


But Hindu Samhati strongly believes in the unity of Hindu and Hindu religious organisations and we strive to bring all Hindu spiritual movements into the path of resistance. And this includes bringing together many traditional, folklore-based but disorganised Hindu spiritual groups. Without this, we can only delay our demise but not reverse our historical loss and completely secure our future.


Thank you all.


The author is founder-president of Hindu Samhati, an organisation that tirelessly fights for justice and dignity for beleaguered Hindus of West Bengal. Speech delivered at the Ninth Shri P.A. Ramakrishnan Memorial Lecture, on 29 April 2017, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai 

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