Since West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is more mature than his Assam counterpart, there has been no unseemly controversy over Governor G.K. Gandhi's warning that the State is sitting on an “infiltration time bomb” (Pioneer 21 July 2005). Mr. Gandhi has informed President Kalam that unchecked infiltration is creating a demographic crisis, with the border districts of Murshidabad and Malda witnessing a steep rise in minority population.
BSF officials say the magnitude of the threat can be gauged from the fact that over eleven lakh Bangladeshis who entered the State legally since 1971 have simply disappeared. As for the illegal aliens, estimated at 1.5 crores by former Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, the entire north eastern sector is bursting with Bangladeshi migrants, mosques, and madrasas. These are festering cancer wards of an amnesiac nation, hurtling towards another potential Partition.
Bangladesh census chief Sharifa Begum has detected a ‘missing’ population of 1.4 crores, closely matching Indian estimates of persons who have intruded with the connivance of Bangladesh and Pakistan’s ISI, to destabilize India. Bangladesh is even training infiltrators to speak Assamese before pushing them into Assam.
Concerns over Bangladeshi infiltration are not new. Mr. Godbole’s unpublished Task Force on Border Management and Assam Governor Gen. S.K. Sinha’s 42-page report to the President in November 1998 warned of a conspiracy to carve out a Greater Bangladesh. Gen. Sinha cautioned against an ISI plot (Operation Pin Code) to cut off the north east by grabbing the narrow “chicken neck” Siliguri corridor. Former Intelligence Bureau chief T.V. Rajeshwar reported plans to create another Bengali-speaking Islamic country on India’s eastern border.
These reports have been picturized into an exceedingly powerful documentary, The Bangla Crescent, by dynamic film producer Mayank Jain, who is privately screening it in concerned circles. The film captures the connection between mushrooming madrasas and jihadi fundamentalism; the radicalization of Kashmir was preceded by the creation of a network of madrasas across the state.
Standing on the Indian side of
, Mayank Jain interviewed 6 – 8 year old boys at Madrasa Zulfikar Ali Siddiqiya, where all teaching is in Arabic, not Bengali. Asked to define a kafir, young Mohammad Sheikh Shahin parroted: “jo Allah ki baat nahin sunta, Nabi ke adesh ke mutabik nahin chalta…shaitan ki baat suntan hai” (One who does not listen to Allah, does not live according to the dictates of the Prophet, listens to Satan). Asked if he knew the meaning of jihad, the young talib (student) said, “it means war”(yudh), it is “Kafir ke saath Nabi ji ke Musalmanon ki ladai.” Quite explicit.
If there are any doubts about the uniformity of madrasa teaching, one has only to walk into the Madrasa Faizul Ulum Hathishala in Laxmi Nagar, near Delhi Police headquarters. Here Maulana Rehan Ahmad explains: “Khuda himself has determined the punishment (sazaa) of the Kafir. It is to reside forever in hell (jahannum), burn in fire… there are all kinds of horrors there.” He explains that jihad is waged on non-Muslims after “he is invited to join the faith (din ki dawat), asked to place his faith on Allah, when he does not do so, then at that moment the hukm for jihad is given.”
The Bangla Crescent documents the political corruption which helps infiltrators get ration and voter identity cards, an issue Ms. Mamata Banerjee was not allowed to expose in Parliament recently. A young woman in the film admits her family came from Bangladesh, but her father managed to get a ration card from Kolkata. They vote for a certain political party. That money changes hands is obvious: Chief Vigilance Commissioner N. Vittal recorded that RDX for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts sailed through customs after an officer received Rs. Twenty lakhs.
Political support has made the aliens quite aggressive. A young man in the capital’s Jamia area asserted that even if those who came from Bangladesh are called outsiders (is there a doubt?), the children born in India are not! Conceding this anomaly, Mr. Baljit Rai, ex-DGP, Tripura, said there is urgent need for a law to deny citizenship to the offspring of infiltrators.
Alex Perry of Time magazine gave the startling information that 150 persons entered Bangladesh from Afghanistan or Pakistan under escort, and simply disappeared, probably in Chittagong where there are well established insurgent bases. The whole point of Bangladesh, Perry said, is that “if you are on the run, it’s a safehouse. You go there to disappear.” American authorities have listed the Bangladeshi and Bosnian branches of a Saudi charity called Al Harmain as having gone “completely rouge;” they use their money essentially to fund al Qaeda.
The cameo interviews are forceful and neatly woven into the script, maintaining momentum. Pioneer editor Dr. Chandan Mitra points out that as madrasas are not functioning covertly, but openly, we need to know what the Government, the citizenry and the security forces are doing. He said he had personally seen border madrasas being used for ISI activity and Maoists are also using them.
Mr. R.K. Ohri, ex-IGP, Arunachal Pradesh, cautioned that an Islamic Caliphate is rising on India’s flanks, from Bangladesh to West Asia, and that the shadow of the Mughlistan corridor is now visibly manifesting in various districts along the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh border. The demand for a ‘Muslim Banghboomi’ has already been raised, warns ex-MP B.L. Sharma (Prem). Travelling in West Bengal to check out certain atrocities against Hindus some years ago, his convoy was attacked by Bangladeshis.
When demographer J.K. Bajaj and his colleagues prepared a mathematical model of the demographic challenge facing India, they found it exactly matched the map prepared by Bangladesh’s Mughalstan Research Institute. Experts feel the latter has been prepared by the ISI because the ‘Mughalstan’ spelling indicates a Punjabi mind!
Bangladesh’s reputed human rights activist Salam Azad laments that Bangladesh is the best place in the world for the return of the Taliban. Madrasas, he said, are teaching that “Muslims are the best in the world; non-Muslims will be converted, beaten, killed, married, raped, because non-Muslim women are regarded as maal-i-ganimat (free war booty)… Minorities will be oppressed, indigenous people will be attacked, in my country there is oppression everywhere… and this is being done by the so-called educated people of the madrasas.”
West Bengal BJP leader Tathagatha Roy said the extent of atrocities against Hindus in Bangladesh can be seen from the fact that in several districts there was not a single woman between the ages of seven to seventy years who had not been raped in that country. He apologized for the indifference of the BJP Government which did not grant refugee status to Hindus fleeing oppression in Bangladesh. North Eastern Students Organisation chairman Samujjal Bhattacharya said all 49 tribal belts and blocks in Assam have been occupied by Bangladeshis. The shadows have spread to Arunachal, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya…
Today, Hindus residing within a 50-km radius of the border are feeling the heat. They are being harassed on Indian soil and forced to move as the infiltrators establish themselves along this corridor, thus de facto extending the Bangladesh border into India – another PoK in the making. Yet the political attitude was best summed up by CPI leader A.B. Bardan: “why are you raising the issue of Bangladesh? Because it borders Tripura and West Bengal and Left gets elected from there?”