At the outset, the famous lines of Lord Tennyson are apt to be produced here:- “O me ! for why is all around us here — As if some lesser god had made the world –But had not force it to shape as he would …..” Though the poet described very mildly the feelings about the people who are in a situation where “they” are not treated well like “others” but still it carries lot of meaning and denotes injustice and inequality . Had Tennyson not left this world in the year 1892 and unfortunately seen , heard or read about how Hindus in the three neighbouring Islamic countries were treated and persecuted over years in a row under a well sinister design and in pursuance of the state policy of such countries to this extent that they got decimated and became virtually extinct in their own birth places, he and other poets would have written only epitaphs and elegies with bemoaning analogies.
How, pursuing a faith other than the official one, becomes an unpardonable sin to be treated as ‘persona non grata’ in such countries, needs proper recording and compilation of the relevant data. Should these countries feel beholden to these hapless unwept and unsung victims that they produced no historians to write about the ordeals they had to undergo since right to education and free speech and expression were denied to them . Nor have those of their compatriots in this country having absolute monopoly in writing history, ever cared to go beyond repeatedly eulogizing “Akbar the Great” and “Tipu the tolerant Great” and thus not recording the levels of persecution these “children of the lesser god” had to go through and therefore also having rendered as penuries and extremely poor . Many fled from these countries of their birth places to India thinking and rightly so, that if not here , nowhere else in any part of the world would they be even allowed to enter let alone find readymade arrangements well before their actual arrival as for example in the case of Myanmar Rohingya Muslim illegal entrants in Jammu, West Bengal etc.
However, since the proverbial but now established beyond the shores of India “Modi hai tou mumkin hai” and “Chanikya hai tou safal niti hai” (translation not required), their ordeal seems to be short lived and destined to live a peaceful and honourable life in India . In deference to the thousands of years old traditions of this country to shower empathy on the persecuted and troubled human beings and provide shelter , both the Houses of the Parliament passed Citizenship (Amendment ) Bill within two days but only after marathon debates , discussions , suggestions, accusations, tearing of the copy of the Bill, advocating to seek courts’ intervention, walk outs , demonstrations outside the august House and the like , all within the “ambit” of democracy. This will enable Government of India granting Indian citizenship to non- Muslim migrants from three Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. These are Hindus, Sikhs, Budhists, Christians, Parsis etc. These unfortunate and condemned people of these countries are refugees and not illegal migrants and for many years, are living in tents and shanties in various parts of the country including in Delhi. Their condition even in this country is pitiable but otherwise safe and secured but in the absence of citizenship rights, they are denied the basic facilities , no education, no medical facilities , no bank facilities, no jobs , some shelter etc and invite our attention and sympathy. This Bill, passed by the Parliament now destined to get President’s assent to become a law would take care of these troubled human beings.
If most of us have an inkling about and can recall the levels of inhuman persecution unleashed upon Chakma Hindus in Bangladesh , once the largest ethnic group in the Chittagong Hills areas simply because they were pursuing a faith other than the official one and thus declared unfaithful , had two choices either to convert or leave the country. We probably would find no Human Rights Organisation in this country ever having cared to document the untold atrocities heaped on them or having raised any voice for protection of their basic rights as human beings . Both the options were pursued by this community who in large numbers, kept intermittently leaving their motherland to get some refuge in this country while thousands living back there converted but those who opted for neither , all hell was let loose against them . In the zeal of fast and ‘real’ Islamisation policy of Bangladesh, tribal indigenous Chakma people were subjected to ‘genocidal’ actions on large scale. On being chased and driven out , if they would have been refused refuge in this country, where else would they have gone and what would have been their fate?
In short, in February 1972 government of India decided to confer citizenship rights on Chakma Hindus and Budhists under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1955 . Large groups of Chakmas from neighbouring Bangladesh, therefore, were not only rehabilitated in this country but guidelines were framed to enable them to have the right to vote by enrolling them in the electoral rolls of the constituency wherever they were settled. Why at that time , voices were not raised and refuge taken under Article 14 of the constitution of India and the ready to be always referred to the term of “Secularism”? Again, in the year 1972-73 under the mischievous misnomer of “Giving Uganda back to ethnic Ugandans” but in extreme loyalty and love for his country , Ugandan President Idi Amin expelled country’s South Asian minority from his country giving them 90 days ultimatum and most of them were Gujaratis numbering more than 23000 even holding valid Ugandan citizenship had but to leave that country where they had contributed to its development for generations with the sweat of their brow , even blood . They were given citizenship in India but at that time too, no voices were raised.
In 1989-90 original inhabitants , the entire indigenous Kashmiri Pandit community was hounded out lock stock and barrel from their hearths and homes numbering over 5 lakh preceded by hundreds in 1986 but neither Owasi tore any papers nor the likes of Chitranjan Chouwdhry, Chidambaram or Ghulam Nabi Ji raised pitched voices in the Parliament nor any protests and dharnas outside it under the showbiz of squatting near the statue of Gandhi Ji , nor the well known legal luminaries like Prashant Bhushan, Kapil Sibal , Salman Khurshid, Dhawan and the like take up their case with the courts and the government on humanitarian grounds for meting out justice to them . Rafale and Babri structure cases and deportation of some foreign Rohingya Muslims related matters can get priority which could well be understood but neglecting an issue of changing the entire demography and social structure of Kashmir valley by ousting ethnic minority of Kashmiri Pandits purely on religious grounds , perhaps is on no one’s priority list even at the last number.
If in Karachi, in 1947 Hindus were 51 percent of the total population which now are barely less than 2% , it is no one’s concern . If as per the Human Rights Organisations in Pakistan more than 1000 Hindu girls (the reported ones ) are picked up like carrots and ordinary things , abducted and forcibly converted , it is bothering no one in this secular country. If after subjecting to demolishing , encroachments and utter alternate (mis)use, a total of 428 Hindu temples were spared in Pakistan , why only in 20 of them pooja is “permitted”- again concerns none of innumerable secularists in this country just on humanitarian grounds.
Let us talk about some statistics of startling nature. In Islamic Republic of Afghanistan there were 7.7 lakh Hindus and Sikhs in 1970 and as on date, there are barely 7000. In Islamic Republic of Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan), in 1951 , there were 22 percent Hindus as against just 9.5% as on date. In Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in 1948 there were 17.5 percent Hindus living over there which has come down to less than 1.5 percent as on date. Where have all these religious minorities gone ? None from those ” secular” political parties and leaders who opposed the Bill in the Parliament can answer. On the other hand, Muslims in India in 1951 at 9% have risen to 16% as on date being indicative of how much secure, free and equal before law and governance were Muslim citizens in India just like other citizens. Unfortunately, Muslims in India are being misled and attempted to feel scared , so are those who are up in protests in some parts of the North East . The passed Bill (likely to be an Act) was against none and how long shall not only the CAB but even the NCR as such be looked at with religious prism yet claiming to be secular? As many as 50 Muslim countries can welcome and accommodate Muslim refugees, if any, but which country other than India can welcome and safely accommodate persecuted Hindu refugees and migrants ?