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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Resttled and Rehabiliated Bengali Indigenous Aboriginal Refugees have No Land Right

Resttled and Rehabiliated Bengali Indigenous Aboriginal Refugees have No Land Right

Indian HOLOCAUST My Father`s Life and Time- Thirty Four

Palash Biswas

Resttled and Rehabiliated Bengali Indigenous Aboriginal Refugees from East Bengal have been STRIPPED off Land Rights Countrywide!While Punjabi Refugees were recognised as Indian Citizens as soon as they were REGISTERD as Refugees! NO question ever had been raised about their Citizenship. Thus, a SIKH Refugee DR Manmohan Singh Rules India now and the Challenger is also a Sindhi refugee from West pakistan! While we , the East bengal Dalit Refugees including the Noakhali Victims, do struggle to fix a SURVIVAL startegy as the India Incs government decalares the majority of US as ILLEGAL Migrants!

Even in UdhamSingh Nagar District,only the East bengal Refugees resettled in 36 coloniesin Dinesh pur area own the Land! Elsewhere in the district, Shaktifarm and Jailfarm, Bengali refugees have been leased to CULTIVATE land and they have no right to buy or sell the land! for eaxample, punjabies in and around RUDRAPUR , the latest Industrial centre of India, get RS TWO COROE for an ACRE, No BODY is ready to pay even TWO lacs per acre for the land leased to any Bengali Refugee!

I had been aback away HOME for a week and had meetings with important leaders and Activists amongst East Bengal refugees in Udhamsingh Nagar District of UTtarakhand, I came to Know that besides Citizenship Amendment Act and Unique Identity NUmber Project of Nandan Nilekani, this Deprivement of Land Right is GOING to be very Crucial whenevr any CORPORATE House, land mafia, Promoter or MNC decides to EVACUATE them!

It was a whirlwid Home coming as I could not inform my friends in the Himalays! The time was so short! it was raining in Kolkata since third sept. I joied my office and did the Night shift duty on 5th. It was raining heavily and I had to reach home virtually in a swimming car!On sixth morning Me and savita left Home for Sealdah amidst rain. tusu saw off us on sodepur RLY stn while we left Kolkat amid rain. It continued all along the route unless we left Mugalsari by Akal Takht!We detrained in Moradabad three hours late and got a Bus to Bijnore! As soon as the Bus crossed the Najibabad Railway line across Moradabad, it started to rain. We could not get nearer in najibabad as the Uttrakhand STOP has been cancelled recently. We reached Bijnore at 1 PM sharp and got a Rickshaw for Rs Forty. But the Rickshaw puller had lost his only duaghter as he could nopt afford her in ailment. He deviated and reached Hemraj Bengali Colony inspite of Dharmanagari. We had to return by delhi road to reach the Link road once agin. The Rickshaw Puller was so much so tired that we had to take refreshment in a road side Dhaba.We reached sabita`s Maternal village at 3 PM . Hemraj was the Venue where my Nephew shekhar was STRUCK in Accident on the same Highway and succumbed in AIMS. My mother In law is about eighty Five years olsd and ailing! She is in death bed, thus, we had to visit the village. In the evening our friend felud`s mother died. Sabita was moved and felt very bad for the Poor young unknown rickshawawala and paid him Rs Seventy against assured Rs forty!

Next day it was raining. in the Morning Sabita went to Hastinapur, the Pandav capital, to visit her married Niece whom she was seeing after no less than Twenty years. she was cught in rain. We could not visit nearest relatives and had been stranded in the village. We had the plan to visit Kotdwar or delhi meanwhile which we gave up. On 11th we left Bijnore by Bus and it started to rain again. When we landed in jafarpur, Six KM away from home, it was Thunderstorm very strong. It was raining heavily. The wind was so strong that my Youngest Brother was stranded in Rudrapur hospitol , where the wife of our brother Padmlochan, Namita had to undergo an Eye Operation. we got a TEMPO to get home! I went into the quilt with Pavel and NINNY, the children at home. it was so COLD. I could not call anyone until next Morning. As soon as Namita reached Home from Hospitol, we left Home for Swarg farm to visit Meeradi and my sister Bhanumati.We returned late in the Evening! We could not stay there! There were so many deaths in the Village and around but we could not attend Mourning! only we visited some of them!

Next morning, I had to Visit the Local MLA, Premanand Mahajan whose fther died recently. We have fond memories of childhood involving the DEceased! Premananda`s Elder brother , nrayan had been my bosome friend. We met the family and surrounded by acquintances! Meanwhile Sabita landed ain her Niece Pommy`s home in the same village Durgapur nuber Two!I had the Lunch with them and left for Dineshpur skippping near and ear ones as we had the Meeting with Dilip. In the Night, we had another meeting with another group at home in Basantipur, dined there and left for Rudrapur as we had to get Morning train Jammu Tavi express from Rampur. We could not even Dine with Sabita`s brother, sister in law and the children. All Frineds in Rudrapur was pressing to prolong the Visit but Tusu was waiting in Sodepur! We Left for Kolkata on forteenth Morning!

Forgive me that I could not go to Nainital or Hills! I could not meet most of the friends and relatives!

And it is happening! In Baharaich District of Uttara Paradesh, the Resettled East Bengal Refugees have not got the patta of the land since 1964. The Land belonged to Forest Department and the DR department did not pay for it, land rights were not TRANSFERRED even to the DR or Revenue department at all.But the refugees got the land! Now the land Mafia is using the Lapse to EJECT them out!

The baharaich refugees were also REHABLIATED in REVERINE Forest Areas. I may remeber my Childhood days while the Refugee leaders would RUSH to Basantipur as their land and harvest remained INUNDATED roun the year. My Father would accompany them to baharaich, lucknow or new delhi to resolve the Immediate Crisis as there had never been a Permanet solution!

East Bengal partition victim refugees had been RESTTLED in less than even FIVE Villages in kanpur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Meerut, Bijnore, Badayoon, Bareilly. We knew FOur Villages in Bijnore! but I know there are TWO more Villages at the Junction of Paudhi, Udham Singh Nagar and Bijnore district near AFJAL GARH!

Our People in UTTARAKHAND stood United in 2001 to defend their CITIZENSHIP while the then BJP government DERECOGNISED them as Indian Citizens! Just Because it is the NUMBER! How may some HUNDERD, or Some Thousand ISOLATED Unrecognised SC DALIT Bengali Refugees would DEFEND themselves against MONOPOLISTIC Aggression, this is the GREATEST Challenge for Us!

Prominent Journalist DILIP Mandal also landed from New Delhi and we SAT together! We could not resolve the Problem. Only ray of Hope lies in the Fact, the Local ETHNIC groups always DEFENDED us anywhere In India! Bengali Brahmins destroyed us but the Different People in Different States always Came Forward to SAVE us!

I Never knew that 2800 East Bengal Partition Victim bengali refugees have been REhabiliated in SADHANNAGR Project in Raichur District of KARNATALKA.I stumbled to the Information browising Net! I Never know whetehr my father had been there as he left no Refugee Colony untraced and I lsten the Experiences of the people while visiting such areas contrywide! Refugees from east bengal have been also settled in Kranataka. My father used to visit South India. Since I was not interested in Ethnic Refugee Problems as I was involved in Nationality Movements during my Father`s life time and Pulin Babu had always been on RUN and Rush to rescue his people without informing anyone at home! We Never could locate his location at any point of time!

Major Siddharth barves, being an Office bearere of Mulnivasi bamcef and responsible to involve the Black Untouchable Mulnivasi organisational network to Raise its voice aginst Persecution and deportation of East Bengal Resettled Refugees, have no IDEA about it. I shared the information with my most enlightened friend this morning as he is away from base Mumbai, right into the heart of South India, in Andhra.

After Assam, Dandakaranya, Andaman and Tripura, the largest Refugee settlement was known in Nainital and Pilibhit districts of Uttar Pradesh where the partition Victims were resettled right in 1952 onwards as the Kendrapara Noakhali Refugees have been. Originally, Dineshpur in Nainital had only 36 colonies while Shaktifarm had only Eleven! In Hazra Chandua of Pilibhit more than One thousand families had been rehabiliated! Neither Nainital (now Udhamasing Nagar of Uttarakhand) nor Pilibhit had 2800 east bengal families! Understanably enough, the West Bengal Brahaminical Hegemeny and its government have no data Bank about those People who had been DRIVEN out Of Bengali Geopolitics on Excuse of partition and Power Transfer just because they ELECTED Dr BR Ambedkar from bengal while Congress had DEFEATED him at his HOME in Maharashtra and ENSURED to CLOSE each and Every door of the Constituent assmebly for DR BR Ambedkar. Jogendra Nath Mandal and Mukunda bihari Mallick did the HISTORIC Work to gain Maximum Constitutional Safe Guards for SC, ST, OBC, Minorities, Women and Workers in India!

The WEst Pakistan Refugees got resettled in Concentarted Sikh Areas in and around Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Though more than Ten Thousand Punjabi refugees have been resettled in ASSAM, they had the OPTION and Compensation! The Refugee Problem in the Western part had been resolved in few years as the WHOLE SIKH and Punjabi Communities stood UNITED and obliged the Government of India to rehabiliate and compensate the Punjabi Refugees on war Footed level! But the Bengali Brahmin led Ruling Class in bengal did EVERYTHING to FINISH the Black untouchables from East Bengal and demographically Threw them FORCIBLY out of Bengal. BC Roy Police OPENED Fire and lathicharged in Transit Camps including BAGJOLA and DHUBULIA camps,to EJECT Out the SC people out of Bengal. Refugee camps were the HOME for Punjabi refugess but Bengali Refugees had been DUMPED in TRANSIT Camp as the Bengali Government and Leadership in allaiance with the Manusmriti Hegemony at the Centre did NEVER recognised Partition Victim status for the Bengali Refugees and had Decided to Push back these people into east Pakistan. Since the Political Circumstances and Humanitarian grounds did not Allow them to ACOMPLISH the Task, PRANAB, BUDDHA and SOMNSTH aligned with Adwani and Manmohan to DEPORT East bengal Refugees out of Bengal after full SIX Decades of INDIAN Holocaust Created by the Foreignoriginated ZIONIST Brahmins only!
May Eldest Cusin sister Meeradi was married to SWARG Farm in rampur district. it was known to be the only Refugee colony in the district. Swarg farm is hardly Ten or Twelev Mile away from anywhere in Dineshpur, our people coudld stand United in an Emergency! But there was another Bengali refugee village in the district near Milak, we came to know only recently. Even a Community Man and Committed refugee leader like my Father Never knew about the Area!

Fast flowing rivers and dense forests are the specialities of the district Bahraich!There are many Mythological facts about the great historical value of district Bahraich. It was famous as the Capital of God Brahma, the maker of universe. It was also known as part of Gandharva Forest. Even today North east area of several hundred square Kms of the district is covered by the forest. It is said that Brahma ji deveoloped this forest covered area as the place of worship for Rishis & Sadhus. Therefore this place come to known as " Brahmaich"

According to some other historians in the middle age this place was the capital of "Bhar" dynasty. Therefore it was called as "Bharraich". Which later come to be known as "Bahraich".

Famous Chinese visitors Hwaintsang & Feighyaan visted this place. The famous Arab visitor Ibne-ba-tuta visted Bahraich and wrote that Bahraich is a beautiful city situated at the bank of holy river Saryu.

According to Puraans King Luv, the son of God Ram & King Prasenjit ruled Bahraich. Also during the period of exile Pandavas & along with mother Kunti visited this place.

The guru of Maharaja Janak , Rishi Ashtwakra used to live here. Rishi Valmiki & Rishi Balark also used to live here .

Role of Bahraich during First Freedom Struggle of 1857

On February 7, 1856 Resident General Outrem declared the rule of Company on Awadh. Bahraich was made the centre of a divison & Mr. Wingfield was appointed as its commissioner.

Due to kingdom grabbing policy of Lord Dalhousie the hole nation was against the Britishers rule. Agents of leader of freedom struggle , Nana Saheb & Bahadur Shah Jafar were compaigning against British rule. During the compaign Peshwa Nana Saheb visited Bahraich to have a confidential meeting with local rulers. The meeting was held at a place presently know as "Gullabeer" on the exhortation of Nana Saheb king of Bhinga , Baundi , Chahlari , Rehua , Charda etc gathered at this place & promised Nana Sheb for freedom struggle till death.

King Vir Balbhadra Singh of Chahlari also actively participated in freedom struggle. In Bahraich also mutiny started as soon as it started in Awadh.

During that time Commissioner was posted is Karnailganj , Mr. C. W. Canlif , Dy Commissioner , Lt. Lag Bailey & Mr. Jorden were there in Bahraich along with two companies. The struggle of Bahraich was on a very large scale. All the Raikwar kings were against Britishers rule with all public support. When the struggle started all the three British officer moved towards Himalayas via Nanpara. But the soldiers of revolting kings blocked these way.

So they returned to Bahraich in order to go to Lucknow. But when they reached near Behram Ghat ( Ganeshpur ) all the boats were under the control of revolting soldiers. Which ensued serious struggle and all the three officers were killed. And whole district came under the control of freedom fighters.

Power of freedom fighters started decaying , after the loss of Lucknow. On 27 Nov. 1857 king of Chahlari Balbhadra Singh lost his life during the war with Britishers near Chinhat. Even Britishers praised his bravery. King of Bhitauni also faught & lost his life.

On 26 Dec. 1858 British Army captured Nanpara. The whole Nanpara was ruinned to rubbles. The soldiers of freedom fighters started to gather on the fort of Bargadia. A great struggle took place there. Approx. 4000 soldiers fled and took shelter in the better fort of Masjidia but Britisher again destroyed the Fort. And war took place at Dharmanpur. Lord Clive moved towards the other soliers who were residing on the banks of river Rapti. He thrashed them away to Nepal.

On 27 Dec. 1858 British army moved towards Charda. And after the war of 2 days British army captured it. On 29 Dec. 1858 British army returned to Nanpara.

Thus Britishers won the first freedom struggle on the basis of their superior armed forces.

Bahraich During Freedom Struggle

Second freedom struggle started in Bahraich with the establishment of congress party in 1920. Baba Yugal Bihari , Shyam Bihari Panday , Murari Lal Gaur & Durga Chand established Congress party in district in 1920. During those days Home Rule League party was also active. Baba Vindhyavasini Prasad, Raghupati Sahay Firak Gorakhpuri & Pd. Gauri Shanker visited Bahraich to increase the influence of congress. Under the president ship of Diwan Paragidas congress was recognized with the workers of home rule League. Smt. Sarojni Naidu visited Bahraich in 1926 & appealed all the workers for self rule & wear Khadi. In Feb. 1920 total strike was called in Nanpara , Jarwal & Bahraich Town to oppose Simon Commission.

In 1929 Gandhi ji visited Bahraich & held a public meeting in old Govt. High School ( Now known as Maharaj Singh Inter College). A sum of Rs 3500/= was presented to him for the welfare of Harijans. Like other parts of the Nation there was a sharp reaction in Bahraich also when Gandhiji started his salt movement. On 6th May 1930 there was total Strike. Salt Law was also broken. All the prominent leaders were arrested. Next day a great procession took place & an effigy of British rule was burnt. On 6th October 1931 Pd Jawaher Lal Nehru visited Bahraich & held public meeting at Rampurwa , Hardi, Gilaula & Ikauna.

For Satyagrah of Gandhi ji 762 people provided their names. Out of which 371 were arrested. When Gandhi ji was arrested during quit India Movement on 9th Aug. 1942 there was a sharp reaction in the distt. A huge procession took place. All the local leaders were arrested. In 1946 the lines were drawn for final freedom struggle. 15th Aug. 1947 the day of freedom was celebrated with great enthusiasm. Approx 1375 refugees from Pakistan come to Bahraich & they were rehabilitated in the district.

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BahraichLocation of Bahraich
in Uttar Pradesh and India
Country India
State Uttar Pradesh
District(s) Bahraich
Population 168,376 (2001[update])
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
• Elevation
• 126 m (413 ft)

Coordinates: 27°35'N 81°36'E? / ?27.58°N 81.6°E? / 27.58; 81.6 Bahraich(Hindi:??????) is a city and a municipal board in Bahraich district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Located on the Saryu River, a tributary of river Ghaghra, Bahraich is 125 km north-east of Lucknow, the state capital. The towns of Barabanki, Gonda, Balrampur, Lakheempur and Sitapur share local boundaries with Bahraich. A factor which makes this town important is the international border shared with the neighboring country, Nepal. According to Government of India, the district Bahraich is one of the Minority Concentrated District in India on the basis of the 2001 census data on population, socio-economic indicators and basic amenities indicators[1].

Contents [hide]
1 The Nanpara estate
2 Origins of its Name
3 Dargah of Ghazi Saiyyad Masud
4 Geography
5 Demographics
6 References
7 External links

[edit] The Nanpara estate
The district of Bahraich was part of the Great Nanpara Estate made up of lands belonging to the Raja of Nanpara. Read the Wikipedia article on Nanpara for a history of the ruling family up to the abolition of Zamindari in 1954. The Rajas of Nanpara owned more than three hundred villages in the District including all the forests. A large part of the education system in the district was the legacy of the late Raja Sadat Ali of Nanpara who built the major roads and hospitals.

[edit] Origins of its Name
Bhars were ancient tribe inhabiting parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The name Bahraich derives from them.

It is believed that there was an ancient Brahma Temple here ( not present now), thus giving the city the name - Brahmaich, thus, Bahraich.

It is also believed that Bahraich got its name from the Ashram of Mahirshi Bhar.bahraich was the land of Rishis, Munis(Hindu saints), Bhikhkhus(Bhudhhist Monks). A town near Bahraich is named as RISIYA which was named Rishi Bhumi in ancient times.

The main occupation of the residents of Bahraich is agriculture. In the British period, Bahraich was a famous market for grains and pulses. Even today, it is famous for agricultural products like pulses, wheat, rice, corn, sugar, and mustard. Also, there are dense forests in Nanpara and Bhinga region which account for herbs and timber.

[edit] Dargah of Ghazi Saiyyad Masud
Bahraich is very famous because of the mausoleum (Dargah) of Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud, a famous eleventh century Islamic invader. His Dargah is a place of reverence for Muslims. It was built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. It is believed that people taking bath in the water of the Suryakund nearby become free of all skin diseases. The annual festival (Urs) at the Dargah is attended by thousands of people coming from far-off places of the country.

Roughly 50 km from Bahraich, there are remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery. This place is known as Sravasti and it is one of the most popular destinations around Bahraich. Other places of interest are the Temple of Junglee Nath, Kailashpuri Barrage, Chittaura Jheel and Kartaniya Ghat Alligator Breeding center.

Bahraich hosts the biggest Wildlife reserve of the state of Uttar Pradesh - Kartarniya ghat wildlife reserve[citation needed]. Other Places of Interest include Shravasti which is also Holy Place for Buddhist and Jains, Lord Buddha spent twenty four years of his life preaching Buddhism. Shravasti is visited by tourists from Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka & China.

[edit] Geography
Bahraich is located at 27°35'N 81°36'E? / ?27.58°N 81.6°E? / 27.58; 81.6.[2] It has an average elevation of 126 metres (413 feet).

[edit] Demographics
As of 2001[update] India census,[3] Bahraich had a population of 168,376. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Bahraich has an average literacy rate of 59%, lower than the national average of 59.5%; with 57% of the males and 43% of females literate. 15% of the population is under 6 years of age.

[edit] References
2.^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Bahraich
3.^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
People's Democracy
(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

No. 36

September 09, 2007

Convention Demands SC Status For Namashudras And Others

THE convention of persons belonging to the Namashudra and related castes from Chattisgarh , Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi decided to conduct relentless struggle demanding granting of scheduled castes status to Namasudra, Pod (Pondra) Maji and other similar castes among Bengali regueues now rehabilitated in states other than West Bengal. The convention was organised by CPI(M) at Amabedker Bhavan in Delhi on August 21.

In his inaugural address K Varadarajan pointed out that even after 60 years of independence the dalit and the advasis rights have not even been recognised. They have not even been treated as human beings and live in sub-human conditions. They are seeding with anger against continued repression, oppression and not given their due rights. Looking at the northern states he said that the rights being given in the eastern states were been denied in the northern states.

Moving the resolution CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat described the plight of those who had suffered because of partition .While millions of those who came from East Pakistan settled in West Bengal and other bordering states, many of them were rehabilitated by the government of India in other states. Condition of majority of them continues to be dismal. They are deprived of education in their mother tongue and large number of them remain landless. Even those who should get schedule caste status have not been granted the same in these states. She said that it is only the CPI(M) who fights for the poor and weaker sections and it is we who are fighting for them inside and outside the parliament and will intensify the struggle. She said even though many parties are claiming that they are supporting the demands but the promises remains unfulfilled. She said the most condemnable action is of the present UP government .Recently in June 2007 the Mayawati-led BSP government in Uttar Pradesh in a letter to the central government has withdrawn the recommendations made by an earlier state government for inclusion of Namasudras, Pod and Maji castes in the schedule caste list of the state

Leader of the CPI(M) in Lok Sabha Basudev Acharia while greeting the delegates said that the issue has been raised several times by him and by other MPs of the CPI(M) in both houses of the parliament. Apart from Acharia, CPI(M) MPs Sunil Khan, Basudev Barman, Prasant Pradhan and Jyotirmayee Sikdar were also present.

Earlier, the convention began with rendering of inaugural songs by noted singer Kajal Ghosh. A presidium comprising of Kanti Biswas, Anil Sarkar, Bacchram Kanswal, Pramod Pradhan, M K Nandi and Aroop Sen presided. In all, 20 speakers from different states took part in the discussion

It was decided to have a massive campaigning in all these states in support of the demand, followed by area wise and state level dharanas, demonstrations followed by some national level programme. It was also decided that in these states units of the CPI(M) will take up the issue with the respective state governments.


This Convention of people belonging to the Namashudra and other related castes from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, etc. is being held when we are celebrating 60 years of our independence. Along with independence came Partition that led to millions of people being uprooted from their homes and their crossing over to India as refugees. Of the countless families uprooted some got rehabilitation, while others were left to fend for themselves. In Eastern India, lakhs of people continued to enter the country as refugees for years after 1947.

Millions of those who came from erstwhile East Pakistan settled in West Bengal and other bordering states. The government of India initially rehabilitated many such refugees in different states. But after that they were left in lurch. The condition of the majority of them continues to be dismal. They are deprived of education in their mother tongue, they have not been given land pattas and a large proportion of them remain landless and poverty stricken.

One of the main unsettled issue is that of recognition of people belonging to Namasudra, Pod, (Pondra), Maji and other similar castes as Scheduled Castes in various states. Namasudras are designated as Scheduled Castes in Assam, Manipur, Orissa, West Bengal, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura. But in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and UP. they are denied SC status and are hence unable to avail the benefits of reservations in government jobs and
education. Nor can they contest elections from reserved seats.

Coming Home To Banishment
Governments demonise Bengali refugees as illegal immigrants
Squatting on a patch of land outside his thatched hut in Vijaynagar village in the Terai region of Uttaranchal, Kiran Mandal is caught between the frustration and fear that has come to haunt him more than four decades after his parents moved from Chunkuri village in Khulna district of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Mandal and 45,000 others could lose their land and refugee status because of a new identification drive started by the BJP state governments of Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, ostensibly to weed out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. An estimated 5 lakh refugees are scattered across 36 villages in the Terai. The local administration maintains that there is an estimated 45,000 illegal-immigrant population here. This is hotly disputed by the locals. "This is not right. We are being confused with illegal migrants. We are refugees and no different from the Sikhs who came here from West Pakistan. Why should we leave?" asks Mandal, adding, "No one ever thought it would come to this."

Last fortnight, Mandal was part of a massive rally which terminated outside the office of the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) in Rudrapur town to protest against the identification campaign. Those attending the rally were severely critical of political parties, particularly the BJP, for failing to safeguard their interests. Says local leader Chittaranjan Raha: "We will have to take the battle right outside Parliament. If the government does not grant us citizenship, we are completely doomed. Many of us who came more than 30-40 years ago will have a lot of difficulty to produce proof of the date of our entry into India."

Raha blames everything squarely on the ruling parties in the two states. "The BJP sees all Bengalis as Bangladeshis. When the Congress ruled UP, the government launched a major initiative to fill up citizenship forms. But today, the same forms are heaped in a corner of the SDM's office and peons often use them to light comfortable bonfires."

Locals agree. Even the district administration record admits that though there is a sprinkling of illegal immmigrants in the region, the majority are Hindu refugees who crossed over to India in the late '40s, early '50s and after the 1971 war which led to the formation of Bangladesh. Many are second-generation migrants—more Indian than Bangladeshi.

But what prompted the two states to begin this drive against illegal immigrants? The official line is that it was initiated following a directive from the Union home ministry demanding a detailed list of illegal immigrants to facilitate preparation of the new electoral rolls. Another story doing the rounds is that the home ministry—piqued at the continued harassment of Hindus in neighbouring Bangladesh (especially after Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party swept the polls)— wanted immediate identification of all illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the country.

It was Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh who kicked off the campaign by issuing a notice in all Lucknow-based dailies, saying a detailed investigation had been ordered to ascertain the number of illegal immigrants in the state, especially those living on the Uttaranchal border. This was followed by a notice issued by the Uttaranchal government which stated that all Bangladeshi refugees who came to the state after 1971 would be declared illegal immigrants and deported.

Officials in the local administration admit that a large section of the refugees did submit all documents and papers asked for when the previous Congress government launched a citizenship drive. But that happened more than a decade ago. Since no citizenship cards were issued, the majority of the refugees hold cards issued by the former Uttar Pradesh government, identifying them as refugees who came from Bangladesh after the Partition and the 1971 war. Others have papers which show their original locations in Orissa (Malkangiri/Koraput) or Madhya Pradesh (Manha near Raipur, which is now in Chhattisgarh). All this only consolidates the evidence that they are refugees and not illegal immigrants.

But what are the criteria to determine the status of these refugees? The only document which most of the refugees have—after more than four decades in India—is a small scrap of paper that simply identifies the person and mentions the duration of stay (either three or four decades) in India. But surprisingly, despite acknowledging their extended stay which would qualify them for citizenship, the paper has this crucial line: "Yeh Bharat ke nagarik nahin hain (He/she is not a citizen of India)." All those with this identification paper are now being categorised as illegal immigrants.

But why is a predominantly Hindu refugee population being targeted by two BJP governments? One reason could be that those in the hills have been pressurising their governments to oust the refugees so that they could take control of the fertile Terai land. Another factor weighing against the refugees is that they have been traditional Congress supporters.

Says Dr Sunil Kumar Haldar, who has studied migration trends across the country: "This is a volatile situation in Terai, similar to Assam. Once a significant section of these people are uprooted, they will land in West Bengal because that seems to be the only alternative. The Left Front government may initially agree to accommodate them but later its own police would ensure a second dislodging—as was the case with Bengali refugees from Assam settled in the Sunderbans in the '80s."

Dr Haldar, the only Bengali to have fought an election from the region (his 55,759 votes making him the second highest loser in the state), confirms a larger political conspiracy against the Bengalis of the region. According to him, they, along with the Sikhs, developed the region as the most sought-after agricultural base in Uttaranchal. The Terai region has as many as 370 rice mills and contributes nearly 15 per cent to India's total rice production of 130.5 million metric tons. The region, populated mostly by descendants of immigrants from erstwhile West and East Pakistan, ranks as the most prosperous agricultural base in the state.

Says Dr Haldar: "We have no trouble with the Sikhs but there are constant tensions between us and those from the hills. The only answer to the current crisis is a collective response. We need many more rallies so that our voices are heard."

Despite the protests, state government officials in Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh remain unperturbed. They say they have been given a task and they will execute it. Says an official at the SDM's office in Rudrapur: "It is for the two state governments to decide whether they want to issue citizenship certificates to the refugees and grant them SC/ST status. If that does not happen, the process could be painful for many of them. But we can't help it."

By all reckoning, the refugee issue, if not resolved, could snowball into a crisis. West Bengal's Left Front government has already taken up the issue with the state governments of UP and Uttaranchal.It has also announced its decision to send a fact-finding mission to Rudrapur in mid-December. That apart, the refugees have also managed to rope in former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari to champion their cause in New Delhi. Tiwari, who has already raised the issue twice in the ongoing winter session of Parliament, is expected to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to apprise him of the situation.

But the main anxiety of the refugees of Rudrapur is that one lone voice may not be enough. As of now, the region has thrown up no leaders who can take up their cause. With elections in UP and Uttaranchal just three months away, many of the refugees who have voted Congress in the past fear they may find themselves rendered homeless.

'The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill 1967' had a provision to include the Dalits among Bengali refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan, living in states outside West Bengal, in the SC list of those states. However, it could not be passed as the Lok Sabha was dissolved shortly afterwards. Later the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Bill 1976 was introduced and passed in the Parliament. This however, did not have the provision of the 1967 Bill, mentioned above.

The Supreme Court in a judgment in February 2006 ruled that if a person belonging to a caste declared as a Scheduled Caste in one state goes to another state his/her caste status will not change. Despite this, Namashudras and other castes are deprived of SC status in many states.

This Convention appreciates the contribution of many individuals and organisations of these communities in various states for relentlessly taking up this genuine demand. The CPI(M) has been supporting the just demands of the Namashudras and other related castes for grant of SC status in states where they are deprived of it. It has raised the issue with various state governments and the central government. CPI(M) MPs have raised the issue in both houses of the Parliament and met various ministers, including the prime minister, home minister and social justice minister in this regard. Senior CPI(M) leaders have led
dharnas in Delhi and also in various state capitals. The West Bengal chief minister himself took up the issue with the Prime Minister recently.

Some state governments had at one time or the other recommended grant of SC status to these castes to the central government. But generally their attitude has been unhelpful. Recently, on June 6, 2007 the Mayawati led BSP government in U.P. in a letter to the central government has withdrawn the recommendation made by an earlier state government for inclusion of Namasudras, Pod and Maji castes in the SC lists of the state.

This Convention organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demands that the central government immediately bring a legislation to grant SC status to Namasudra, Pod, (pondra) Maji and other similar castes among Bengali refugees now rehabilitated in states of Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, etc. While assuring full support and solidarity to the struggle of these castes against this injustice meted out to them, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) calls upon all the democratic forces of the country to support their just struggle.

East Bengali Refugees
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East Bengali Refugees are people that left East Bengal following the partition of Bengal, which was part of the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Settlement
3 Scope
4 Further Migration
4.1 1950s
4.2 1960s
4.3 1970s
5 Notable Refugees and Migrants
6 References

[edit] History
In 1947, Bengal was partitioned into the Indian state of West Bengal and the Pakistani province of East Bengal. East Bengal was later renamed East Pakistan, which subsequently broke away from Pakistan to form the independent country of Bangladesh. Most of Sylhet district in Assam also joined East Pakistan and was subsequently considered to be East Bengal.

[edit] Settlement
The majority of East Bengali refugees settled in the new state of West Bengal, but a significant number[quantify] also moved to the Barak Valley of Assam and the princely state of Tripura which eventually joined India in 1949. Around 0.5 million were also settled in other parts of India, including the East Pakistan Displaced Persons' Colony (EPDP) in Delhi (subsequently renamed Chittaranjan Park) and Orissa. The estimated 0.5 million Bengalis in Delhi and 0.3 million in Mumbai are also largely East Bengali refugees and their descendants.[1]

[edit] Scope
The exact number of refugees has never been officially collected and estimates vary considerably.

In the immediate aftermath of partition, commonly attributed figures suggest around 3 million East Bengalis migrating to India and 864,000 migrants from India to East Pakistan. [2] Indian government estimates suggest around 2.6 million migrants leaving East Bengal for India and 0.7 million migrants coming to East Pakistan from India. [3]

[edit] Further Migration
[edit] 1950s
In 1950, it is estimated that a further one million refugees crossed into West Bengal. [4] The 1951 Census of India recorded that 27% of Kolkata's population was East Bengali refugees. [5]

[edit] 1960s
Migration continued, primarily from East Pakistan to India, right up to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, both on an on-going basis and with spikes during periods of particular communal unrest such as the 1964 riots and the 1965 India-Pakistan War, when it is estimated that 600,000 refugees left for India. [6] Estimates of the number of refugees up to 1970 are over 5 million to West Bengal alone. [7] This includes around 4.1 million coming between 1946-1958 and 1.2 million coming between 1959 and 1971. [8]

[edit] 1970s
Another major influx came in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It is estimated that around 10 million East Bengali refugees entered India during the early months of the war, of whom 1.5 million may have stayed back after Bangladesh became independent. [9]

The outflow of Hindus from East Bengal had a particularly negative effect on the Hindu community of East Pakistan and subsequently Bangladesh, as a significant portion of the region's educated middle class and political leadership left. The heights reached by many of the East Bengali migrants and their descendants, including Amartya Sen's Nobel Prize and Megh Nad Saha's pioneering work in Astrophysics are considerable.

[edit] Notable Refugees and Migrants
Achintyakumar Sengupta (Noakhali; literature)
Amartya Sen (Dhaka, economics/academia)
Bijon Bhattacharya (Faridpur, cinema)
Buddhadev Bose (Comilla; literature)
Chuni, better known than by his given name Manik, Goswami (Kishoreganj; sports)
Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed (Noakhali; politics, founder of Communist Party of India)
Debabrata Biswas (Maymensingh, Tagore song)
Jibananda Das (Barisal, poet)
Jogendra Nath Mandal (Barisal; politics, First Law Minister, Pakistan (1947-1950)
Jyoti Basu (Dhaka; politics, Chief Minister, West Bengal 1977-2000)
Bimal Roy (Dhaka; cinema)
Hemanga Biswas (Sylhet; music)
Hiralal Chakraborty (Noakhali; Publisher - Founder of Prakashani Limited and Nababidhan Press)
Humayun Kabir (Faridpur; literature and academics)
Ila Mitra (Khulna, human rights activist)
Kazi Abdul Wadud (Faridpur; literature)
Lokesh Chandra Chakraborty (Noakhali; Pricipal - David Hare Training College, Jadavpur)
Madhabi Mukherjee (Barisal; cinema)
Mahasweta Devi (Dhaka; literature, human rights)
Megh Nad Saha (Dhaka; science)
Mrinal Sen (Faridpur; cinema)
Narendranath Mitra (Faridpur; literature and journalism)
Nirad Chaudhuri (Mymensingh; author)
Nirmalendu Chowdhury (Sylhet; music)
Pankaj Roy (Dhaka; Cricketer)
Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi (Dinajpur, politics)
Ratan Kumar Guhathakurta (Barisal, Civil Engineer/Corporate - General Manager: Oil & Gas Division ~ IVRCL Infrastructure Ltd.)
Ritwik Ghatak (Dhaka; cinema)
Pannalal Ghosh (Barisal; music)
Sachin Dev Burman (Comilla; music)
Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (Dhaka - Bikrampur; writer)
Suchitra Sen (Pabna, cinema)
Sunil Gangopadhyay (Faridpur; writer)
Sunil Ganguly (Faridpur; musician)
Tulsi Lahiri (Rangpur; music and cinema)
Ustad Alauddin Khan (Brahmanbaria; music)
Ustad Bahadur Hossain Khan (Dhaka; music)
Vilayat Khan (Mymensingh; music)
Utpal Dutta (Barisal, theatre)
Suchitra Sen (Pabna, Cinema)
Bhanu Banerjee (Dhaka, Cinema)
[edit] References
1.^ "Dandakaranya"
2.^ "Commonly Attributed Figures"
3.^ "Indian Government Estimates"
4.^ "One Million Refugees in 1950"
5.^ "Kolkata's Refugee Population"
6.^ "600,000 refugees left for India"
7.^ "Refugees up to 1970"
8.^ "Refugee numbers from 1959 - 1971"
9.^ "1.5 Million Refugees remain"

If you're aspiring to obtain a plot of land in India, it's advisable that you go through Indiahousing Land Rights to get a clear picture of the rights, duties and privileges you're entitled to by the Government. The Livelihood Support Program resolved by the Constitution, was targeted towards reducing poverty and food insecurity.

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With the population upsurge, following the explosion a couple of years back, the state has come up with several curbs to stop arbitrary possession of landed property and related assets. Indiahousing offers information on Land Acquisition. The government is authorized by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, duly passed by the Union Legislature, to amend the laws relating to land acquisition for public purpose and determine the compensation required. The enactment expressly mentions that land includes benefits that arise of land and things attached to the earth or permanently attached to anything fastened to the earth.

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It has taken nearly six decades for Bihar to provide basic rights to thousands of impoverished Bengali refugees who settled in the state after fleeing the erstwhile East Pakistan at the time of India’s partition.
The government has finally decided to issue caste certificates and ryoti rights (allowing people to purchase land) to Bengali refugees in the four north Bihar districts of East and West Champaran, Sitamarhi and Purnea.

Official sources at the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s office said the government had considered the longtime demand of the Bihar Bengali Association.

“The association convinced Nitish Kumar of the problems being faced by Bengali refugees and directed the departments and district magistrates concerned to provide constitutional rights to them,” an official said.

The government’s decision is a big relief to over 300,000 Bengali refugees, most of whom belong to the backward castes.

“It will certainly help Bengali refugees living in the state. Nitish Kumar was shocked to know that thousands of Bengali refugee settlers had been denied basic rights for decades,” Dileep Sinha, president of the association, told IANS.

He along with other members held a high level meeting with Nitish Kumar Wednesday evening.

In the absence of caste certificates, the poor and the poorest among the Bengali refugees were not eligible for welfare schemes and state and central government jobs.

“Nitish Kumar had also asked the association to conduct a socio-economic survey of the Bengali refugee families in the state and submit a report,” Sinha said. “The survey will help the government know their real socio-economic condition and on the basis of that the government is likely to launch special schemes for their development.”

Thousands of Bengalis had fled their native villages as India’s partition resulted in the creation of East Pakistan - modern day Bangladesh - and came to Bihar. According to official records, Bengali refugees settled down in Bihar in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Jabir Hussain, former Bihar minorities commission chairman, had highlighted their plight in the 1990s and fought for their rights. It was he who drew attention towards the issue of granting Indian citizenship to these refugees in 1993 and succeeded.

The state minorities commission learnt that the issue of citizenship of Bengali refugees was treated as ‘doubtful’ and ‘undecided’ despite their living in the state for decades.

Over a million Bengalis used to live in the state at one time. The community dominated Bihar socially, politically and economically. But after independence, large numbers of the Bengali population migrated to other states.

According to the Indian Constitution, state legislatures are empowered to make laws and regulations regarding to a number of subject-matters, including water, land ( rights in or over land, land tenure, transfer and alienation of agricultural land), as well as the preservation, protection and improvement of stock and the prevention of animal disease. Referring to the laws and regulations adopted by the central government, get a bird's eye view of Land Law at Indiahousing.

The Registration Act, 1908 takes care of the gift of immovable property and non-testamentary instruments, annual leases of immovable property, sales, mortgages and exchanges of immovable property. The net effect has been that a large number of property transactions have been accomplished without proper registration. Further instruments such as Agreement to Sell, General Power of Attorney and Will have been indiscriminately used to effect change of ownership.

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For cultivators, the good news is, agricultural facilities are ample and they can even own a farm house with tractor, electricity and telephone connection. The long term crops that can be cultivated here are cashew, mango, coconut; the short term crops are rice and all types of vegetables.

Following the scams related to agriculture and food production in India, a setback to Mayawati's regime in UP, had been unraveled in December 2002 in which 300 bigha land in Kaushalya village, beside the national highway, worth Rs 300 crore, was allotted illegally to ineligible applicants. In a state where moral policing by the executive body is the watchword, the threat to farmland dealership is evident in the varied instances of corruption that's involved in different hierarchies of the administration.

A stark contrast can be drawn by the instance of the states of southern India: especially Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where 1-100 acres of farmland is available around Bangalore High Road, GST Road, Old Mahabalipuram Road and the East Coast Road. Hence the availability of farmland depends not merely upon the accessibility of earth, but on a host of other factors as well.

Indiahousing offers information on Farm Land for Sale in most locations of the country. You will also get information on reliable professional people who may bring you a listing of available farms for sale in India and assist you in buying the one you want to own.

In view of the acute need for housing and the frequent and forceful evictions of so many slum-dwellers, it is important to understand how our Constitution and courts have interpreted the enforceability of social rights, especially the right to adequate housing. Better comprehension of land rights India will help avoid any inconvenience during a property transaction process and make your possession perfectly lawful.

The Supreme Court has elaborated on the right to adequate housing, shelter and livelihood as part of the all-encompassing Right to Life under Article 21 in the landmark case of Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, 1985. However, in the Narmada judgment, 2000, the Court had failed to give due recognition to this right. In 1985, the petitioners had filed a Public Interest Litigation, arguing that they could not be evicted from their squalid shelters without being offered alternative accommodation.

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20.29 In all, an amount of Rs. 7.81 crores has been provided during the Seventh Five Year Plan for rehabilitation of new migrants from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), settled outside Dandakaranya and West Bengal.

Dandakaranya Project

20.30 Dandakaranya Project (DNK) was set up in September 1958 for the settlement of displaced persons from former East Pakistan and for integrated development of the area with particular regard to the promotion of the interests of the local tribal population. It is an agriculture-oriented project, and most of the displaced persons have been settled in agriculture. 25,156 families were settled (23,859 families in agriculture plus 1297 families in small trade-business) in the project (as of Augest 1984). During the Seventh Plan, a further 500 agriculturist families and 100 non-agriculturist families are proposed to be resettled.

20.31 The Potteru Irrigation Project under execution by the Government of Orissa is expected to be completed by 1985-86. In the field of industrial development in the DNK Project, the objective has been to give an agro-industrial bias to the rural economy, to train and develop skills among displaced persons and provide, to the extent possible, employment to the agriculturists and rural artisans. With this objective in view, it is proposed to provide infrastructural assistance to the KVIC, AIHB and such other institutions to start training and production programmes. It is also proposed to provide soft loans to settlers for meeting margin money for setting up indus- tries in tiny and small-scale sectors. Further, funds will be required for capital contribution towards setting up of an oilseed processing unit at Malkangiri and construction of rural Industrial Estates in three growth centres at Malkangiri.

20.32 Since the work in the three zones of the Dandakaranya Project, viz., Unerkote in Orissa and


Paralkote and Kondagaon in Madhya Pradesh, has been more or less completed, a decision was taken in May, 1982 to normalise these zones and transfer the assets and institutions to the respective State Governments free of cost. The modalities and date of transfer of the assets and institutions are to be decided in consultation with the State Governments. The process of transfer will commence in 1985-86. Some provision is, therefore, required to make payment to the State Governments.

20.33 Keeping in view the position stated above an outlay of Rs. 57.27 crores is provided in the Seventh Five Year Plan for the Dandakaranya Project.

Rehabilitation Industries Corporation Ltd., Calcutta

20.34 The Rehabilitation Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs runs an industrial concern known as the Rehabilitation Industries Corporation Ltd., at Calcutta. It is fully financed by the Government of India. It has been incurring losses since its inception. For its revitalisation, an amount of Rs. 153 lakhs was required, of which a sum of Rs. 117 lakhs has already been paid to the Corporation. The balance of Rs. 36 lakhs has to be paid to the Corporation in the first year of the Seventh Plan.

Repatriates from Sri Lanka

20.35 Under the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreements of 1964 and 1974, six lakh accountable persons together with their natural increase were to be repatriated to India. Of these, 3.34 lakh accountable persons, comprising 1.15 lakh families, have already been repatriated upto 31st March, 1985. During the Sixth Plan, resettlement of 25,000 families was targeted, for which an outlay of Rs. 35 crores was approved. However, at the end of the Sixth Plan, 34,214 families have been rehabilitated at a cost of Rs. 31.87 crores.

20.36 In the Seventh Plan, 40,000 families are expected to be settled. Housing assistance will be provided to 32,900 families. The outlay provided is Rs. 73.43 crores. The families are proposed to be settled with the help of the small trade/business loan schemes (27,400), self-employment schemes (3500), Repatriate's Cooperative Bank Schemes (6500), industrial schemes (2000), and plantation schemes (600).

Repatriates from Burma

20.37 The resettlement work pertaining to Burma repatriates is almost complete, but residuary work regarding payment of second and subsequent installments of small trade/business loans and loans for construction of houses etc., are required to be given to about 7,000 families. Rs. 2.10 crores have been provided for completion of this work during the first two years of the Seventh Plan

Repatriates from Uganda, Zaire and Vietnam

20.38 The work relating to the settlement of repatriates from Uganda, Zaire and Vietnam is almost complete. A token provision of Rs.1 lakh has been made in the Seventh Plan for any residuary liabilities.

Chhamb Displaced Persons

20.39 As a result of the Indo-Pak Conflict, 1971, about 18,700 persons displaced from Chhamb Niabat area in Jammu & Kashmir were accommodated in 3 camps at Kishanpur Manwal where they were given immediate relief. The work of rehabilitation of these displaced persons is almost complete. However, there are still about 30 families left who are yet too be allotted land; also, 779 families have been allotted land less than on the admissible scale. It is proposed to sanction a special scheme on the pattern of IRDP for these families. The details of these schemes are being worked out by the State Government after a family to family survey. For this purpose, a provision of Rs. 20 lakhs has been made in the Seventh Plan on an "ad hoc basis". For other residuary work, a provision of Rs. 20 lakhs is required in the Seventh Plan. Thus, a total provision of Rs. 40 lakhs has been made in the Seventh Plan for the outlays on Chhamb displaced persons.

Settlement of displaced persons from Pakistan (Sind) in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

20.40 As a result of the 1971 Indo-Pak Conflict about 8,600 families in Rajasthan and 1,600 families in Gujarat of Pakistani nationality, who crossed over to India, were maintained in 32 relief camps.

20.41 As it became clear that there were no prospects of these DPs returning to Pakistan, a decision was taken in March, 1978 to grant them Indian citizenship and rehabilitate them on a permanent basis. In pursuance of this decision, schemes for the resettlement of these DPs were formulated by the State Governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat and sanctioned by the Central Government. These displaced persons were settled in Rajasthan and Gujarat. They have to be given loans, and the State Governments have also to provide infrastructural facilities in the rehabilitation areas.

20.42 A total amount of Rs. 1.44 crores comprising Rs. 94 lakhs for Rajasthan and Rs. 50 lakhs for Gujarat during the Seventh Plan (1985-90) has been provided.

Permanent Settlement of Displaced Persons Occupying the Tenements in Kotla Ferozeshah Complex

20.43 A proposal is under consideration to shift the displaced persons occupying the tenements in Kotla Ferozeshah Complex to some alternative site. Since no decision has yet been taken, a token provision of Rs.1 lakh has been made in the Seventh Plan.


Stationery and Printing

20.44 In order to augment the printing capacity in the Central Sector, a provision of Rs. 6 crores has been included in the Seventh Plan. This will be utilised for the establishment of a Parliament Press, a new building for the Government of India Press at Santragachi, setting up of three Government of India Presses at Jaipur, Ranchi and Gauhati, besides on-going commitments.

20.45 In the States and UT Sector, an outlay of Rs. 56.08 crores has been included. The major part of this outlay is expected to be utilised on new machinery and equipment.

20.46 Annexures I and II indicate the Seventh Plan outlays for the various programmes outlined in this chapter.



Seventh Plan-Outlay on other Sectors

(Rs. crores)

Sl. Heads of Development Centre States UT's Total

1 2 3 4 5 6


1. Statistics 40.78 48.24 4.00 93.02

2. Rehabilitation of
Displaced persons 146.03 - 0.10 *1 146.13

3. Planning Machinery 8.16 64.54 2.80 75.50

4. District Planning - 622.31 4.75 627.06

5. Stationery and Printing 6.00 50.08 6.00 62.08

6. Public Works - 549.92 18.90 568.82

7. Training for Development 4.93 8.98 2.90 16.81

8. Public Distribution
System 2.50 41..21 2.80 46.51

9. Official Languages-
Hindi 2.00 - - 2.00

10. Others - 1.00 *2 0.12 *3 1.12

11. Unallocated 5.74 42.00 - 47.74

TOTAL 216.14 1428.28 42.37 1686.79


Notes: 1. For rehabilitating in A & N Islands.

2. Includes Rs.0.80 crores for National Small Saving and Rs. 0.20 crore for Parliamentary Affairs.

3. Includes Rs. 0.05 crores for Small Savings Schemes and Rs. 0.07 crore for strengthening of Accounts and Goa Gazetteers.



Seventh Plan-Outlays on Rehabilitation: Centre

(Rs. crores)


Sl. Schemes Plan
No. outlay

1 2 3

1. Old migrants in West Bengal (including Indian
enclaves in former East Pakistan) 3.20

2. Migrants outside West Bengal (in Dandakaranya.
& other places) in agricultural and non-
agricultural occupations.

(i) Dandakaranya Project 57.27

(ii) Agricultural occupations outside
Dandakaranya 7.41

(iii) Non-agricultural occupations 0.40

3. Repatriates from Sri Lanka 73.43

4. Repatriates from Burma 2.10

5. RIC Ltd., Calcutta 0.36

6. Repatriates from Uganda, Zaire and Vietnam 0.01

7. Western Border Areas:

(i) Chamb displace persons 0.40

(ii) Displaced persons from Pakistan (Sind)
of 1971 Conflict in States of
Rajasthan, Gujarat 1.44

(iii) Permanent settlement of displaced
persons occupying the tenements in
Kotla Ferozeshah Complex 0.01

TOTAL 146.03

Bangladesh Genocide Archive

An online archive of chronology of events, documentations, audio, video, images, media reports and eyewitness accounts of the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh in the hands of Pakistan army.

Escaping from the Genocide:

1971 witnessed worst human influx from Bangladesh to neighboring India. Indian government reports that around 8-9 million migrants took shelter in 829 refugee camps. According to National Geographic (Sept. 1972), the estimated number of Bangladeshi refugees was 10.0 million. Also, a large number of people were displaced within the country, estimated number was around 20 million (The UN in Bangladesh). To escape mass killing, rape and destruction, men, women and children defied many odds that took toll of untold sufferings and death. Then youth from all over the country crossed border to take arms training and join resistance as Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters).

Such a colossal influx had naturally been a huge burden on Indian economy and took India few months to give refugees logistic support in make shift refugee camps. In Eastern province of Tripura, refugees outnumbered local inhabitants. In initial period, some refugees had to take shelter in subhuman conditions in abandoned drainage pipes at Salt Lake, Calcutta.

Over crowded improvised living conditions in refugee camps lead to sickness and death. Beside government support, local people and some aid agencies helped to mitigate this sufferings.

Demography of the refugees: The US Department of State gave wrong information when it says that most of the refugees in India were mostly Hindus. The percentages of the religions there represented the percentages in the national population as per official records.

Letter from Indian Prime Minister Gandhi to President Nixon:

“Until the 12th May, 1971, the number of fugitives who were registered on their crossing the border into India was 2,328,507. We believe that there is a fair number who have avoided registration. Refugees still continue to pour in at the rate of about fifty thousand a day.”

By the end of May 1971 the number rose to 3 million.

Bengali refugees heading to India to flee persecution during the 1971 war of liberation

(Image credit: tovarish_udn from Flickr)

Letter from President Yahya to President Nixon on May 24:

“It is most unfortunate that due to disturbed conditions and for other reasons, a large number of people left their homes in East Pakistan and crossed into India. I have, therefore, in a public statement urged the law abiding citizens of East Pakistan who were compelled to migrate, to return to their homes and resume their normal duties. I am afraid, however, that I cannot extend a welcome to those persons who committed murders, indulged in rape and arson, destroyed private and public properties and looted Government treasuries and food stores. No Government can condone such crimes against the people and the State.”

However he conceals the cause of these mass exodus which is evident in this Guardian (London) report:

“The total picture of what has been happening in East Bengal is clear to us without any shadow of doubt. There are scores of survivors of firing-squad line-ups. Hundreds of wit­nesses to the machine-gunning of political leaders, prefessors, doctors, teachers and students. Villages have been surrounded, at any time of day or night, and the frigh­tened villagers have fled where they could, or been slaughtered where they have been found. or enticed out to the fields and mown down in heaps. Women have been raped, girls carried off to barracks, unarmed peasants battered or bayoneted by the thousands.

About 400 were killed at Chaudanga while on their way to India, surroun­ded and massacred. Why? Lest they take tales to India? Or because choosing a certain democratic system under Sheikh Mujib means forfeiting the right to live in any country?”

Telegram from the US embassy in India to the US Department of State on June 11, 1971:

“The number of refugees is now 5.4 million and that rate of flow is increasing. This should be evidence enough that no matter what noises President Yahya may make about restoration of normalcy, he has not yet done anything to effectively impede reign of terror and brutality of Pakistan army, the root cause of the refugee exodus.”

US embassy in Pakistan refuted Yahya’s claim that Indian’s are preventing refugees to go back to East Pakistan:

“Kellogg repeated that none of Indian officials with whom he had spoken had said they wanted refugees to remain; nor had any referred to desire to see independent East Pakistan; “Bangla Desh” was never once mentioned to him. Meanwhile, if persons were continuing to leave East Pakistan and not returning in any appreciable numbers, Kellogg said, it would appear that they continued to be motivated by fear which caused them to flee in first place.”

The US Consulate General in Dacca warned in July 1971 that unless steps were taken to prevent famine in East Pakistan anticipated deaths from mass starvation could approach the catastrophe of the Bengal famine of 1943 in which millions of people died.

A report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation on July 19 confirms that the number of refugees are from 6.4 million to 6.8 million. They stressed the humanitarian conditions of the refugees and suggested actions.

“Escape from terror”: a report of the International Rescue Committee’s Emergency Mission to India for Pakistan refugees.

“Preoccupied with the basic needs of refugees, i.e., food, shelter and first-aid, the (Indian) governmental assistance program, though substantial, cannot cope with the multi – faceted organizational and financial needs described in the foregoing pages. Nor can it be expected to take care of relief payments to the substantial number of artists, writers, journalists, scientists and similar categories of refugees who have found asylum in India. They have depended thus far on the help of their Indian colleagues. Some of them face starvation.”

New York Times, July 4, 1971.

State/District…. In Reception Ctrs | With friends/relatives

Assam…. 81,800 | 65,677
Tripura…. 381,373 | 363,464
Meghalaya…. 186,052 | 49,332

West Bengal.

Nadia .. .. .. .. 214,788 | 170,951
24-Parganas … .. 503,467 | 179,250
Maurshidabad .. .. 134,507 | 51,953
West Dinajpur … .. 783,664 | 511,555
Jalpaiguri .. .. .. . 140,402 | 165,000
Cooch-Behar .. .. ..189,755 | 210,875
Malda .. .. 92,139 | 254,513
————- | ————
2,707,947 | 2,022,570

By June 15, the number of refugees had gone up to 5.8 million, of whom 3.7 million were living in camps. With the outbreak of cholera in early June, news of which spread into East Pakistan, the border crossings did slow down. Yet once the cholera threat subsided, thousands again began to pour over every night, despite the desperate air of tension the Pakistani Army has tried to maintain along the border by mortar fire to which the Mission can bear personal witness. There is no indication that the exodus has been halted. If the present trend continues, the figure is likely to go to seven million before July is out. Seven million people is the total population of Cuba.

A report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation on July 19 confirms that the number of refugees are from 6.4 million to 6.8 million. They stressed the humanitarian conditions of the refugees and suggested actions.

A July 23 press report, quoting the West Bengal Health Services Di­rector, warned that 300,000 refugee children were on the verge of death from starvation. (Source)

On August 2 an US internal assessment of the situation states:

“Persecution of Hindus declining in direct proportion to decline in size Hindu population. Latest estimate puts six million East Pakistan Hindus in India. Hindu monuments being destroyed some areas. Such destruction observed in Dacca and Chittagong and Hindu sculpture now very easy to obtain. Some Dacca streets with Hindu and English names renamed with Muslim names.”

The refugee flow to India continues. This has increased to a rate of some 50,000 per day after a drop in late July. This could be a temporary aberration; it could result from a new increase in violence; or it could reflect hunger in some pockets. Just maintaining the present number of refugees is projected to cost (Indians) $600 million in a year, a figure larger than the net flow of foreign aid from consortium donors. (An August brief of Kissinger to Nixon)

The refugee flow has continued at a ratio of 15,000 to 40,000 a day over the past two months, according to Indian figures. Probably close to 7.5 million of the total of 8.76 million refugees are Hindus, meaning that roughly three-quarters of the Hindu population of East Pakistan has left. (Situation report in September: US Dept of State)

Extracts from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s address at the Moscow University:

“We were about to embark upon a new programme of econo­mic advance, when from across our frontiers we had a new kind of invasion: not of armed men, but of a vast influx of helpless terror-stricken men, women and children from East Bengal-some wounded, some ill and all hungry. More than 9 million people have come in the last six months, and they continue to pour in. Has there been a greater migration in history?

Statement by Shri G.S. Kahlon, Rehabilitation Secretary, Government of India In the 22nd session of the executive committee of UNHCR held in Geneva:

“Beginning from end of March, within a couple of months total influx of refugees into India had gone up to nearly four million, and today it has crossed 9 million already, without any signs of them returning to East Pakistan at all. Average inflow per day still continues to be between 30,000 to 50,000 persons, and if this rate continues at this scale we may well have not less than 12 million refugees on our hands by end of this year.

The Government of India has made provision of Rs. 260 crores (US dollars 360 million) for all this relief work up to end of December, 1971. This includes expected amount of Rs. 50 crores (US dollars 69 million) in foreign aid. However, now for 8 million refugees in camps (which, it is considered, will be the figure shortly because of increased inflow, as well as demand of those who had come to friends and relatives to be helped by Government now) it is estimated that for a period of six months we would require Rs. 419 crores or US dollars 558 million Grand total is Rs. 4,187.89 million or say Rs. 4,188 million. This is equivalent to 558 million US dollars.

For feeding refugees, Government of India have fixed scales of rations for adults and children according to advice of its nutritional experts. Thus, every adult gets 300 grams of rice, 100 grams of wheat flour, 100 grams of pulses, 25 grams of edible oil and 25 grams of sugar per head per day; and every child between the age of 1 year and 8 years gets 150 grams of rice, 50 grams of wheat flour, 50 grams of pulses, 12 grams of edible oil and 15 grams of sugar per head per day. Apart from this, a small amount is also provided for each refugee in cash per head per day for the purpose of buying vegetables, spices, fuel, washing soap, etc. Similarly, for clothes, deserving people in camps are being given these-cotton or woollen.“

(Image credit: tovarish_udn from Flickr)

Consequent on the liberation of BanglaDesh, the influx of refugees from East Bengal had ceased. After December 16, 1971, with the liberation of Dacca, the return of refugees gained momentum and a large number of refugees started returning at their own initiative. Shortly afterwards, planned movement of refugees, under Government arrangements, took place.

The last batch of 3,869 refugees in camps left for Bangla Desh on March 25, 1972, exactly after one year of the Pakistan army crack down on Bangla Desh people. With the return of these refugees, all the Central and State refugee camps have now been closed. About 60,000 refugees staying with their relatives will go back on their own.

Since March 25, 1971, 9,899,305 refugees had sought refuge in India. Click on this link for the tables which give an idea of the magnitude of the problem that India had to face.

Name of State Total Influx.
————– ———–
West Bengal … 7,493,474
Tripura … 1,416,491
Meghalaya … 667,986
Assam … 312,713
Bihar … 8,641
Total … 9,899,305

Return of Refugees

* Refugee Exodus Planned – St. Petersburg Times, Dec 24, 1971

* Millions return to Bangladesh – The Bryan Times, January 12, 1972

The Biharis in Bangladesh:

“Because east Bengal was expected to become Pakistan, many people from Bihar had fled to settle there after the Bihar massacre. The Biharis identified themselves more with the West Pakistanis than the Bengalis, and both spoke Urdu. They made little attempt to assimilate with the local populace. So a distance between the two communities developed which became gradually wider.”

Citizens of Nowhere: Who Are the Biharis and Why Are They Forgotten:

Originally from India’s Bihar State, the Urdu-speaking Biharis moved to then East Pakistan in 1947, at the time of India’s partition. When East Pakistan moved to secede and civil war broke out between East and West Pakistan in 1971, the Biharis, who considered themselves citizens of Pakistan, sided with West Pakistan. During the liberation war of Bangladesh there were many attacks on the Bihari community as they helped Pakistani Army and conspired against the Bengali population.

During the war several places in Dhaka city were strongholds of Biharis especially the Mirpur area which is known for a famous mass murder site known as the Jalladkhana (butchers’ den). A survivor tells:

The same Biharis who had been our neighbours for years brought the military to my house. They took my husband and his elder brother. A few hours later we heard the news that they were brutally killed with bayonets inside the Jalladkhana.

In January 1972, Bangladeshi troops were ordered to confiscate all weapons, but they met fierce resistance when they approached the Bihari enclave of Mirpur. Almost 100 people on either side of the conflict were killed and following the incident, several thousands of Biharis were arrested and imprisoned on allegations of collaboration. Mirpur was liberated on January 31, 1972, one and a half months after the victory on December 16, 1971. (The Daily Star)

After the defeat of the Pakistani forces, Bangladeshi nationalist forces, most notoriously the Kader Bahini militia led by Abdul Kader Siddique, exacted revenge on those who had been viewed as ‘collaborators’ of the Pakistani forces. In particular, Biharis, some of whom had formed Razakars and Al Shams Islamist militias in support of the Pakistani Army, were subjected to massive reprisal attacks. (Wikipedia)

Foreign newspaper reports of attacks of revenge by mobs

Pakistan feared a mass influx of Biharis would be costly and could potentially stir passions in an already fragmented population. Newly formed Bangladesh scorned the Biharis for having supported the enemy. Neither country offered citizenship or aid. While Bangladesh permitted Biharis to stay, and they received some assistance from international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross in the early days, they have now lived in refugee-like camps in Bangladesh for more than three decades with little attention from the global community. Their lack of political voice further prevents any movement toward improvement in the situation. Nevertheless, some Biharis have organized, forming organizations such as the Stranded Pakistani General Repatriation Committee, and began lobbying for relocation to Pakistan.

Although Biharis were among those accepted by Pakistan under the August 1973 repatriation accord, Pakistan was slow in giving clearances. At a meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries in New Delhi in April 1974, a new tripartite agreement on a second phase of repatriation was reached. More than 170,000 Biharis moved to Pakistan under the terms of these agreements. But Pakistan interpreted the categories of ‘non-Bengalis’ set out in the agreement restrictively and did not take back all Biharis. In addition to this earlier movement, nearly 9,900 Biharis repatriated to Pakistan between 1977 and 1979 and further, 4,800 more of them in 1982. In 1993, Pakistan accepted 53 more Bihari families but then the process stopped. (Banglapedia)

In 1999, over 200,000 Biharis were still living in 66 camps of Bangladesh with poor facilities. Two generations of Biharis now live in camps. For some members of the younger generation, Bangladesh is the only home they have ever known, and Bengali is the language they have learned.

In the spring of 2003, a high court ruling in Bangladesh allowed ten Biharis to assume Bangladeshi citizenship with voting rights. The judgment stated that Urdu-speaking people, who were resident at the time of independence, as well as those born following independence and living in camps, are citizens of Bangladesh in the application of the 1972 Bangladesh Citizenship Order.

In September 5, 2007 an inter-ministerial decision by the Bangladeshi government which, pending legal review, would grant those Biharis or Urdu-speaking people born after the time of independence in Bangladesh and who wish to become citizens, the right to be registered as voters and to receive national identity cards.

In May 2008 the Dhaka high court ruled that some 150,000 Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees have the right to be Bangladesh citizens. The ruling applies to those who were minors when Bangladesh won independence in 1971 or born after. (BBC)

In Bangladesh they have not lived in captivity and had the chance to assimilate and make a normal living (many have done that) like any Bangladeshi national but they have chosen this hard camp life because they have kept their hopes alive that they can get back to Paksitan some day. However they feel deprived by their nation (Pakistan) for whom they have kept their allegiance for all these days.

Photo Set: Nowhere People: The Bihari – Greg Constantine


In 1971, there were about 1.5 million non-Bangalis living in East Pakistan. The West Pakistanis and Biharis enjoyed special privileges and when Sheikh Mujib declared war in 1971 for a free Bangladesh, the Biharis were in a dilemma. They had suffered through terrible communal riots in 1947 for the idea of the state of Pakistan, and they had antipathy and deep suspicion towards the state of India. Believing the Pakistan army’s propaganda that Mujib was ‘plotting with the Indians to break up Pakistan’, their sympathies naturally went against the Bangali liberation war. The Pakistan army exploited this weakness to recruit Biharis to join the Rajakar death squads. Not all Biharis joined, but those that did not remained silent spectators of the conflict. They did not join the refugees crossing the borders, or take up arms against the Army.

- A Place to Call Home – The Daily Star


* The people that Paksitan forgot – Dr Ahmad Faruqui, Dansville, CA, USA

* Bangladesh’s refugees dream of Pakistan -Julhas Alam
Source: Liberation War Museum, Virtual Bangladesh, Refugees International.

Image Courtesy: UNHCR, Bangladesh 1971

Refugee Watch Online
(A Co-Publication of Refugee Watch)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Reports from Marraiguda Salwa Judum Camp
Section: News
JP Rao

I had an opportunity to visit Marraiguda Salwa Judum camp on the 25thFebruary 2008,exactly one year after I visited the camp earlier when it was setup. When the camp was set up in February 2007 there were around 3000 persons in the camp. Today there are around 250 families living in the camp. More then half of the people left the camp and migrated to the villages across the border. I was informed that the Chhattisgharh Government has decided to suspend supply of free rations (Rice, Dal, oil, potatoes and onions etc) to the inmates of Salwa Judum camps in both Dantewra and Bijapur districts and boards have been put up in Konta, Vinjaram and other camps stating that people will be provided rice at Rs.3 per kg and free rations would be suspended. The supply of free rations had become erratic in Konta, Vinjaram, Errabore and Marraiguda camps since the beginning of December 2007. Reports trickling in from Bijapur state that people are deserting the camps as the supply of rations have become erratic there also. When I asked the police personal 'how many people will stay in the camp if the Government asks them to return to their villages' they said 100% of people will go back to their villages. The Salwa Judum leaders present there were shock to hear this answer from the police. In the informal chat they also told us that because of the atrocities committed by the Salwa Judum peoples support to the Maoists has increased.

The Salwa Judum leader of Marraiguda camp in a tribal of Gollapalli village works as a village assistant whose salary is Rs.1000 per month. However, he owns a Bolero Jeep, which he bought after the camp was setup last year and visits Bhadrachalm daily along with his dozen cronies. I was also informed that most of the Salwa Judum leaders of all these camps in Konta division have bought properties in Jagdalpur and other towns besides purchasing gold and jewelry worth laks of rupees. This alone is proof of rampant corruption that is prevailing in Salwa Judum camps. The camp dwellers informed us that these Salwa Judum activists sleep in different houses daily out of fear. The Salwa Judum activists in Konta sleep in the police station out of fear of being killed by the people. If the government suspends free supply of rations to the camp inmates Salwa Judum will die its natural death and its activists would become sitting ducks for the Maoists and the people who suffered at their hands. I was also informed that some time back before the Naga police was withdrawn the Naga police killed every one present in a village in Bejji forest as retaliation to the killing of 12 policemen.

Posted by Refugee Watch Online at 12:56 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Goldhap Bhutanese Refugee Camp in Nepal Gutted
Section: News
Som Prasad Nirula

Out of 1300 huts over 1000 huts inhabited by Bhutanese refugees were gutted by a fire in the Goldhap refugee camp in eastern part of Nepal's Jhapa District on Saturday evening. As a result around 8000 refugees have been displaced from the camps.
The fire started at around 6:30 p.m. in the evening, and later engulfed the entire camp. As per the reports from the camps seven persons have been injured with minor burns and casualty were rushed to Mechi Zonal Hospital, Bhadrapur for treatment.
According to police, the fire had started from the godown of the UN World Food Program (WFP) inside the camp and spread out toward the residential site. As the fire engines from Bhadrapur, Mechi Municipality and Damak Municipality could not control the flames, fire engines from Biratnagar and Dharan had to be called.
Fire brigades and around 500 security personnel from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, Nepal Army and locals were mobilized to rescue the people and put the fire out till late at night. The exact extent of the damage is yet to be assessed
After the inferno, the victims are in the terrible situation and are forced to live under the open sky near by the refugee camps
Nepal Institute of Peace (NIP) call upon all the stakeholders for immediate assistance for the Bhutanese refugees

Posted by Refugee Watch Online at 12:51 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Third CRG Workshop on Internal Displacement in India: Causes, Linkages, Responses and Durable Solutions
Section: Review
Debdatta Chowdhury

The workshop opened on 3rd September, 2007 with the release of the report on ‘Development Induced Displacement and Deprivation in West Bengal 1947-2000: A Quantitative and Qualitative Database on its Extent and Impact’. The report prepared by Walter Fernandes, Shanti Chetry, Sherry Joseph and Satyen Lama dealt with the genesis and evolution of the development programme in West Bengal over a time frame of fifty years, from 1947 till 2000. Starting from the recent uproar in Nandigram and Singur, the 1st chapter goes back to explaining why the report came about in the first place. The glaring gap that was found to exist between the provision of Right to Live(Article 21) in the Constitution and the actual scenario, acted as the founding stone for this study and eventually the report. The finding that the development programmes undertaken in West Bengal hardly abide by this Constitutional provision in dealing with displacements and rehabilitation, prompted the researchers to go deep into the matter and eventually come up with a report that was also an eye-opener than just a mere collection of facts and figures.

Beginning with a brief introduction to the various types of displacements, as conflict-induced, natural-disaster induced and development-induced displacements, the chapter moves on to trace the beginning of development programmes and land acquisition system in the state right from colonial times. With its genesis in the Permanent Settlement (1793), the land acquisition programme moved through the draconian Land Acquisition Act(1894), the Welfare State Programme of the 1947 era and finally the Mixed Economy policy of the post independence profit-making economic set-up. Post independence saw the gradual rise of private and public sectors and human utility programmes as Dams.

The report clearly states that the absence of reliable database on the actual number of displaced people made the work difficult for the researchers. Government Gazettes, District land records, archives of various institutions and individual studies of researchers were the main sources of this report. Interviews with the displaced people also helped in the process, though there was dearth of proper representation among the interviewees.

The report gives an insight into the state of West Bengal in terms of its population, area, sex ratio,land holding and land acquisition over a period of 50 years. With details of figures, the report states that though West Bengal has seen prosperous days of land reforms and agricultural advancements during the early years of left rule, the present situation is clearly in a mess. The fact that WB does not have a proper rehabilitation policy makes the already awful condition of rehabilitation all the more painful.

Chapter 2 of the report deals with the ‘Extent and Type of Land Used 1947-2000’, whereby it attempts to specify the amount of land acquired for various purposes in WB within the given timeframe. Land acquiring started with the influx of refugees after the 1947 Partition of Bengal followed by more influx during the Sino-India War (1962) and Bangladesh War (1971). Land was fast acquired for resettling these refugees. Coupled with this was the call for liberalization of economy that included acquiring land for industries and foreign investments.

Water resources including Dams as the DVC, Maithan, Farakka saw a steady growth from 1970s. Agricultural advancements of the 1990s meant better irrigation facilities with more number of dams. In the process of building dams, the tribal areas of Bankura, Bardhaman, Purulia and Midnapore were the worst hit.

Public and private sectors as pharmaceuticals, engineering units, automobiles, chemical units, jute and textile mills, tea factories, printing presses, rice, paper and other large and medium units took up a considerable amount of land from 1950s till 1990s.

Underground coal mining and later open-cast mining together with dolomite, clay and sand mining also took up a fair share of lands, mostly in Bardhaman, Malda and Purulia.Thermal plants, transmission and distribution systems also contributes to the land use.

Land used for environment preservation in the form of Afforestation drives, flood prevention and embankments also take up a huge amount of land, mostly private lands. People are displaced without being properly resettled for the sake of conservation of nature.

West Bengal witnessed the interesting phenomenon of ‘displacement for resettlement’, whereby private lands were taken away by the Refugee Rehabilitation Act of 1948 to resettle the incoming refugees, thus displacing thousands of others. Government organized refugee camps and colonies were mostly built on private lands, displacing a huge number of people.

Human resource development as educational and research institutions, sports facilities also account for large shares of the acquired land.Health sector like hospitals, hygienic facilities, waste disposal facilities also displace a lot of people in order to create good facilities for a few others. The irony being that thousands are denied basic health facilities, like clean drinking water to make way for others.

Transport facilities like bus roads, highways, railway lines, airports, border roads are mostly built by acquiring private lands.’ Defense purpose’ is another easy way of acquiring land by the government. Apart from the land used for police and paramilitary use like training camps, outfits, cantonments and airbases, another huge lot of land is acquired under the very vague term of ‘defense purpose’, the meaning of which mostly remains ambiguous.

Increasing number of districts, expanding offices of the zilla parishads and new staff quarters are also built on private lands.
Social welfare projects like homes for the physically/mentally challenged or land distribution among the landless also use up mostly private lands.

Tourism forms an important factor as far as land acquisition is concerned. Huge plots of private lands are often acquired for building tourist destinations. But often the projects for which land is acquired remains unfinished. Other miscellaneous projects like building temples go unnoticed in land acquisition figures. Absence of a proper definition for the term ‘public purpose’ often makes land acquisition easy for the government and unclear for the displaced ones. Almost 10% of the total acquired land fall under the ‘public purpose’ scheme. People loose their land for ‘purposes’they do not know.official records show that the total land acquired in WB for the above mentioned purposes between 1947 and 1990 is about 36,56,326 hectares.

The 3rd chapter deals with the ‘type and extent of the deprivation’ that the development projects in WB have brought about. This chapter too points to the dearth of proper database. The chapter separately deals with the loss of livelihood that each of the projects bring about, as water resources, non-hydro projects, industry, mining, refugee rehabilitation, human resourse development, health, transport, government administration, farms, fisheries, urban development and social welfare.official records put the total number of displaced people over the given timeframe to 69,44,492. detailed figures of the amount of compensation received by these displaced families have also been provided, detailed analysis of which points to the variation in compensation from ‘advanced’ to ‘backward’ states. The partiality is glaring.

Chapter 4 mainly deals with the impact of the displacements. The researchers tried to get responses from a varied background from tribals, dalits to OBCs and women. Women had the least representation among the respondents due to various reasons. Interaction with the displaced people showed that only the medium-yield farmers could make a profit out of the compensation that they received. Otherwise, compensation in the form of cash hardly helped the displaced lot. Access to education was denied to those displaced, resulting in increasing illiteracy. The development projects naturally brought a change in the occupation of the people displaced. In most cases, they lost their main source of income, lost their land and assets, that led to complete impoverishment. The nature of work also changed, with a shift from agricultural work to that of a daily wage earner as a semi-skilled worker, for example as a bicycle mechanic or agricultural tools mechanic etc. most of these works were of a temporary nature. Loss of land also meant fewer livestock, though in some places, substituting land with livestock, in fact, increased the number of livestock.

The study of the process of land acquisition also brings forth the fact that most of the people who loose their land remain unaware of the acquisition policies and purposes of the government. This is because of lack of government initiative as well as due to illiteracy.

One of the major impacts of land acquisition is seen to be a last minute attempt on the part of the land loosers to grab as much asset as possible, often stealing each other’s assets. Finally, agony and fear results in a feeling of betrayal and complete disillusionment among the displaced lot.

Compensation could have been of use if it was properly and timely paid. Most compensation packages remain mere pen-and-paper contracts that never see the light of the day. Even if they are discharged, they often fail to reach the actual people and get lost somewhere in between. Those that finally reach the people are often so late in coming that by then the people are impoverished to the extent, never to be able to start life afresh. The ones displaced are often unskilled agriculturalists, who can hardly make use of the job prospects that the development projects create, since the industries mostly want skilled people.

Women are the worst victims, who bear the brunt of sexual assault. Lack of proper sanitation is a regular feature in the resettlement camps. Children’s education is hampered.
Chapter 5 ends with a question as to whether it is possible to have development with a humanitarian touch. This chapter suggests alternatives that can be taken into consideration while putting the development projects into force. It suggests that mere cash compensation is not enough. Rehabilitation is necessary. The socio-cultural identity of the displaced people, mostly tribals, should not be allowed to be hampered as that would mean a loss of national integrity. Not just creating jobs but building training centres for the jobs should also form an integral part of the rehabilitation package. Finally, it ends with a demand for new and better rehabilitation schemes and least-displacing projects.

Posted by Refugee Watch Online at 12:48 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Is there A Tendency to Associate Illegal Migrants with Terrorists? What are the Implications for Human Rights and Politics of Such Association?
Section: Perspective
Tarangini Sriraman

The UK government (Tony Blair’s government) has for the last few years been working on a project that will record the detailed identities of residents…the project involves storing such delicate information in a national database. This will be backed by the distribution of identity cards to all residents. The overwhelming concern of the UK government is to check the entry of illegal migrants and to keep a check on possible terrorist movement. Successive Indian governments have similarly been preoccupied with a national identity card that captures the identities of residents, both citizens and non-citizens: the preoccupation again being the need to weed out migrants and crack down on terrorists. The US government is planning through the Real ID Act to upgrade existing identity cards with biometric technology as a means to secure identities from terrorists and make it difficult for migrants to stay without these cards. Israel has issued identity cards marking out card-holders to be Arab, Jew or other. Those who do not possess these cards are either migrants or terrorists.

In all these cases, governments though they officially drive a wedge between the categories of migrant and terrorist, there is a tendency in bureaucratic thinking and policy-making above all to confuse these two, to associate migrant with terrorist and vice-versa. I intend to provide illustrations of this in this paper through select examples taken from countries like India, Israel and Russia.

Indian experience of equating migration with terrorism: The National Identification System Home Affairs Network (NISHAN) project in India can be traced to the successive governments’ need to check illegal migration which is described often in officialese as infiltration. The Congress government led by Narasimha Rao sought to do something about the unmanageable numbers of Bangladeshi migrants pouring into the states of Assam, Bengal, Delhi and Maharashtra. No less a site than Wikipedia reports that there has been a tendency to link the rise of terrorism with the presence of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Both intelligence sources and media reports (both print and web media) corroborate these claims. The strategy employed by these reports is like this…they carry out surveys and interview residents to establish the number of illegal migrants who have been able to procure voters ID cards and other identity cards. And every time a terrorist attack happens, they lose no time publicizing these statistics, thereby indirectly suggesting to the government that a crackdown on migrants is imperative for the fight against terrorism. Sometimes state governments carry out these studies by themselves: the Assam government spent Rs.1.7 billion between January 2001 and September 2006, which resulted in identification of 9,149 foreigners, most of whom were Bangladeshis. S.P.Sinha, a scholar on the North-East writes that most of the insurgencies taking place there were owing entirely to the influx of illegal migrants into India’s borders. The Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan and current-day Bangladesh account for nearly all the insurgent groups of India's northeast. In Tripura, the large influx of refugees from East Pakistan and the unlawful transfer of tribal lands incited anti-Bengali militancy, S.P.Sinha claims. Sinha concludes his many claims by suggesting that for India to breathe easier in the North-East, it must have efficient administrators and curb illegal migration. Other reports suggest that the increasing numbers of Bangladeshis in the North-East is to the effect of changing the demographic profile. Even if such claims about Bangladeshis being involved in terrorist activities may be true, there is little debate about how much of it is in response to ethnic nationalism, regional genocide resorted to by Bodo rebels, ULFA activists so on.

Examples from the Russian Federation: Russia has regarded Chechnya as a rogue state ever since the disintegration of the USSR. When the Chechen National Congress broke away from Soviet Russia, the new Russian Federation denounced the new Chechen government. Successive Russian governments have wanted Chechnya to be part of the Russian Federation, they have done everything to alienate Chechen IDPs. Russian authorities, namely the Kremlin, immigration authorities and Russian policemen have used the rhetoric of terrorism to deny human rights of housing, employment and the right to travel to Chechen IDPs. Where camps for IDPs were set up, Russian migration authorities compelled approximately 20,000 displaced people to leave the tent camps and return to Chechnya. Kate Desormeau who writes on Chechen IDPs records that Chechen IDPs were denied many rights by bureaucratic coercion, having officially prejudiced residents against these IDPs as potential terrorists. This is justified by the Russians’ policy of ‘securitization of migration’, where migrants are bureaucratically made out to be security risks.Human Rights Watch specifies that officials have constantly harassed displaced persons by threatening them with arrest on false charges and withdrawal of food allowances. They have predominantly threatened IDPs with cutting of gas and electricity supplies during winter months. What is more, Russian authorities have barred international agencies from distributing relief to Chechen IDPs who lacked documentation. Such threats are to effect of forcing Chechens to return to their homes: in all this Russia has blatantly violated obligations under international law. Constantly, it has taken refuge under the claim that its crackdown on Chechen IDPs contributes to the international campaign against terrorism.

Israeli treatment of migrants: Much of the politics surrounding Isreal’s terror campaign against Palestine in occupied territories like West Bank and Gaza is far too well-documented to be cited in detail here. However, less well-known is the drive to clean its own mainland of Palestinian workers. Though Israel used to rely excessively on Palestinian workers to work on farms and construction sites, after an uprising in West Bank in 2000, it brought in foreign workers to replace such migrants, regarding the Palestinians in Israel as a security risk. Owing to such drives, illegal migrants have lost whatever minimal housing and employment rights, seeking sanctuary in makeshift churches. Israel instead of being accountable to international law for all the deportations it is carrying out, is conducting voluntary repatriation programmes for Palestinians.

The fallouts of equating migrants with terrorists, laying down policies and releasing statistics that amounts to doing so has been largely in the nature of human rights violations. States have had a variety of agendas to fulfill by such association of migration with terrorism: be it protectionism, ethnic nationalism, security so on. Parties in countries like Israel and Russia are impelled by local prejudices to contest elections by promising tough action against such migration (not simply immigration). By fuelling the opinion that migrants apart from being a drain on states’ resources, a threat to the local labour forces and the cause of increased incidence of terrorism, such an association (of illegal migration with terrorism), vitiates politics and takes away human rights of migrants. What Kate Desormeau terms securitization of migration is something that turns the discourse of illegal migration into a discourse of security and terrorism and this is common across countries.

Hindu Genocide in East Pakistan
By Shrinandan Vyas

This article deals with slaughter of about 2.5 million Hindus in East Pakistan in 1971.

This article refers to information provided by Dept. of Planning of Government of Bangla Desh, Encyclopedia Britannica, Senator Edward Kennedy's report to the U.S.Senate Judiciary Committee, Newsweek, New York Times,etc. This information and elementary math are used to show that indeed millions of Hindus were killed in East Pakistan in 1971.


It is well known that the 1971 army repression in Bangla Desh (former East Pakistan) resulted in an influx of 10 million refugees into India. Most world renowned relief and news agencies put the number of dead at 3 million. However the fact that is glossed over in these statistics is that THE ENTIRE HINDU POPULATION OF EAST PAKISTAN WAS THE PRIMARY TARGET OF PAKISTANI ARMY DURING THE 9 MONTHS OF REPRESSION IN 1971. Using the population statistics from Bangla Desh Government and US Government publications this article PROVES that 80 percent of the refugees from Bangla Desh were Hindus and that 80 percent of the 3 million killed were Hindus. THUS IT WAS A HINDU REFUGEE PROBLEM and IT WAS A HINDU GENOCIDE THAT TOOK PLACE IN EAST PAKISTAN IN 1971.

10 References - Encyclopedia Britannica, Bangla Desh Government - Ministry of Planning (for statistics), Newsweek, New York Times, Senator Edward Kennedy's report to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.



In the December 1970 general election in Pakistan, Awami League won 167 of 169 seats and over 80 % of popular votes in East Pakistan. Numerically Awami League had an absolute majority of seats in the Pakistan National Assembly (167 of the total 313 seats)(1). Historically, East Pakistan was allocated only 36 % of the total resources and East Pakistanis occupied only 20 % of the positions in the federal government in the United Pakistan (2). The Pakistani government's apathy towards East Pakistan after a terrible cyclone in November 1970 in which over 250,000 people died, had alienated East Pakistani people. The solid outcome of the 1970 elections for Awami League created an alternative power center for an already alienated people. The differences between the East and West Pakistani politicians snowballed into a major international crisis. On March 25, 1971 Pakistani army on President Yahya Khan's orders initiated a campaign of terror which was to last till its final surrender to the Indian army on December 17, 1971. This terror campaign by Pak army resulted in 10 million Bangla Deshi refugees crossing over to India (per Senator Edward Kennedy's report to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (3)) and 3 million killed (4,5) based on reports from most relief agencies and official Bangla Desh government estimate. However the religious mix of both the refugees and the dead is nowhere emphasized anywhere. This significant information has particularly been absent in the reports from Indian News Media. This selective news dissemination has kept a more sinister truth of Hindu genocide in East Pakistan hidden from the world in general and Indians in particular.



In the summary of his report dated November 1, 1971 Senator Edward Kennedy writes (6):

'Field reports to the U.S. Government, countless eye-witness journalistic accounts, reports of International agencies such as World Bank and additional information available to the subcommittee document the reign of terror which grips East Bengal (East Pakistan). HARDEST HIT HAVE BEEN MEMBERS OF THE HINDU COMMUNITY WHO HAVE BEEN ROBBED OF THEIR LANDS AND SHOPS, SYSTEMATICALLY SLAUGHTERED, AND IN SOME PLACES, PAINTED WITH YELLOW PATCHES MARKED "H". All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad. ..' (emphasis added by author of this article).

Sydney Schanberg, pulitzer prize winning journalist (of 'Killing Fields') was New York Times correspondent in Dhaka in 1971 at the time of army repression and during the 1971 Bangla Desh war. In his syndicated column 'The Pakistani Slaughter That Nixon Ignored' Mr.Schanberg writes:

"I covered the war and witnessed first the population's joyous welcome of the Indian soldiers as liberators .. Later I toured the country by road to see the Pakistani legacy firsthand. In town after town there was an execution area where people had been killed by bayonet, bullet and bludgeon. In some towns, executions were held on a daily basis."

This was a month after the war's end (i.e. January 1972), ... human bones were still scattered along many roadsides. Blood stained clothing and tufts of human hair clung to the brush at these killing grounds. Children too young to understand were playing grotesque games with skulls. OTHER REMINDERS WERE THE YELLOW "H"s THE PAKISTANIS HAD PAINTED ON THE HOMES OF HINDUS, PARTICULAR TARGETS OF THE MUSLIM ARMY." (7) (emphasis added by the author of this article).

Thus two independent observations one dated prior to November 1, 1971 and other in January 1972 confirm that Hindu houses in East Pakistan were marked with yellow "H"s and that Hindus were particular targets of the Pakistani army. The situation thus bears an uncanny resemblance to the predicament of Jews targeted by Nazis from 1939 to 1944, with similar out come.



Senator Edward Kennedy in his report gives following details about the the refugees from Bangla Desh in 1971. As of October 25, 1971, 9.54 million refugees from East Pakistan had crossed over to India. The average influx as of October 1971 was 10,645 refugees a day (3). Hence the total refugee population at the start of Bangla Desh war on December 3, 1971 was about 10 million (5).

Sen. Kennedy further mentions that Government of India had set up separate refugee camps for Hindus and Muslims where possible, i.e. refugee camps of Hindus were located in Hindu majority areas and similarly Muslim camps were located in Muslim majority areas. THE COMMUNAL REPRESENTATION OF REFUGEES WAS 80 PERCENT HINDU, 15 PERCENT MUSLIM AND 5 PERCENT CHRISTIAN AND OTHER (8).

This means that 8 MILLION OF THE 10 MILLION REFUGEES WERE HINDUS (8). Other fact that corroborates this is that when Sen. Kennedy had asked several Chief Relief officers in charge of refugee camps what was needed most urgently, their reply was "crematoriums".



Several agencies indicate that the brutal Pakistani army repression killed 3 million Bengalis. This estimate is even given by the Government of Bangla Desh (5). However no religious mix of the dead is easily available.

Let us therefore look at the population demographics for Bangla Desh which is given in Table I.


Source : Based on Information from Bangladesh Ministry of planning, Bureau of Statistics (9)

Total Population in Millions
Hindu Population as % of Total
Hindu Population in Millions





* Encyclopedia Britannica (10) gives 13.5% figure for 1974, where as Government of Bangla Desh gives 13.5% for 1971 and total population of 71.48 million for 1974 (9).

Since Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh have similar socio- economic and educational backgrounds, the birth and death rates for these two groups must be very similar. This means that the Hindu population must grow at the same pace as the total population growth rate. Hence any unusual drop must be accounted for by influx of Hindu refugees and mortality rate from non natural causes. The expected Hindu population, the emigration to India from E. Pakistan and actual populations are listed in Table II.

Table II

Hindu Population of East Pak/BD Actual (9)
Expected Hindu Population in Absence of Strife
Refugees from E. Pakistan to India(8)
Hindus Missing




Thus if 1947 partition had not resulted, the Hindu population of East Pakistan area should by 1961 have increased proportionally from 11.76 millions in 1941, to 14.24 millions (11.76 * 50.84 / 42 = 14.24). The official Indian Government records indicate that between 1947 and 1958, 4.12 million (Hindu) refugees crossed into India from East Bengal(3). This means the Hindu population in East Pakistan in 1961 should have been 10.12 million (14.24 - 4.12) compared to the actual 9.41 million. The missing 0.7 million Hindu population can be accounted by several hundred thousands killed in the riots in 1947 on the Bengal border, plus the refugee influx from 1958 to 1961. 1961.

Let us now look at Hindu population in East pakistan from 1961 to 1974. With proportional increase the Hindu population of 9.41 million in 1961 should have increased to 13.23 million ( 9.41 * 71.48 / 50.84 = 13.23 ) by 1974. However the actual Hindu population as per Bangla Desh Census data for 1974 was 9.65 million. Of the 3.58 million shortfall only 1.11 million can be accounted for since Government of India's record indicate that 1.11 million (Hindu) refugees crossed into India between 1964 and 1970 (3) i.e.PRIOR to the 1971 crisis.




Since the 80 percent of the refugees in 1971 were Hindus,a similar proportion of the dead are likely to be Hindus also. The official Bangla Desh government estimate puts the number of Bengalis killed at 3 million. 80 percent of 3 million put THE NUMBER OF HINDUS KILLED AT 2.4 MILLION which is close to the number of Hindus missing calculated comes above.



Independent accounts indicate that Hindus from East Pakistan were special target during the 1971 army repression. HINDU HOUSES WERE PAINTED WITH YELLOW "H"s, THEY WERE ROBBED OF THEIR LANDS AND SHOPS, AND THEY WERE SYSTEMATICALLY SLAUGHTERED.

80 percent of the refugees to India in 1971 were Hindus, THUS IT WAS A HINDU REFUGEE PROBLEM.




In any internal political problem of an Islamic country, Hindus (or minorities of other religions) become the scapegoats and will be liquidated at the first chance the Islamic Government gets.




This is just the tip of the iceberg. The ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangla Desh did not end in 1971. Since 1974 to 1981 the Hindu population as a percent of total Bangla Deshi population decreased from 13.5 % to 12.2 %. This slide has continued over the last decade. Same is true about Hindus in Pakistan and in Kashmir valley.

There is a genuine need for systematic record keeping and documentation of the history of Hindu genocides & Hindu ethnic cleansing, so that we don't repeat it again (and again and again..) There is also a need to build a memorial of this Hindu holocaust similar to the Jewish Holocaust memorial in Washington DC.

This topic is extensively dealt in a book 'Genocide in East Pakistan/ Bangla Desh' by S.K.Bhattacharya. However the present author has verified the findings of S.K. Bhattacharya based on completely independent sources. For detailed descriptions and news reports of 1971, reader should refer to the original book.



Bangladesh: The Birth Of A Nation, A hand book of Background information and Documentary Sources Compiled by Univ. of Chicago Group of Scholars, by M.Nicholas, P.Oldensburg, Ed.W.Morehouse, M.Seshachalam & Co., India, 1972, p.7

Same as reference 1, p.73

Crisis in South Asia - A report by Senator Edward Kennedy to the Subcommittee investigating the Problem of Refugees and Their Settlement, Submitted to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, November 1, 1971, U.S. Govt. Press, pp.6-7.

Newsweek, August 1, 1994, p.37

Same as reference 1, pp.44-45

Same as reference 3, p.66

The Pakistani Slaughter That Nixon Ignored , Syndicated Column by Sydney Schanberg, New York Times, May 3, 1994.

Same as reference 3, p. 19

Bangladesh A Country Study, Ed. J.Heitzman & R.L.Worden, 2nd Ed, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, Publisher U.S. Army, 1989, pp.250,255

Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 th Ed, Micropedia, Vol.1, p.789 Desh.

The World: The Bengali Refugees: A Surfeit of Woe
Monday, Jun. 21, 1971

A CYCLONE that killed as many as 500,000 people. A civil war that claimed perhaps 200,000 more. An exodus that already totals 5,000,000 and is still growing. A cholera epidemic that has barely begun, yet has already taken some 5,000 lives. It is an almost biblical catalogue of woe, rivaling if not surpassing the plagues visited upon the Egyptians of Mosaic days. And yet it is virtually certain that the list will grow even longer for the bedeviled people of East Pakistan. Last week, as fresh waves of refugees poured across the Indian border at the rate of 100,000 a day, they brought tales of pogrom against Hindus by the predominantly Moslem Pakistanis. And over the stinking, teeming refugee camps that scar the border areas of five Indian states hovered the growing threat of famine and pestilence.

The first onrush of refugees followed the outburst of civil war in March, when West Pakistan decided to crush East Pakistan's drive for Bangla Desh (an independent Bengali State). Immediately after fighting broke out between the fierce Pathans and Punjabis of the Pakistani army and the Bengali liberation forces, 1,500,000 terrified East Pakistanis—Moslems and Hindus alike —crossed into the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and Bihar. Now the escapees are mostly Hindu, and they bring tales of torture, rape and massacre. According to the new arrivals, the Pakistani government is blaming the 10 million Hindus of East Pakistan (population 78 million) for being the principal supporters of the now-outlawed Awami League of Sheik Mujibur Rahman. The Hindus did in fact overwhelmingly support "Mujib," who at last word was under house arrest in Karachi, the principal city of West Pakistan. But so did the Moslems, for the Awami League won 167 of the 169 seats at stake in East Pakistan during last December's elections. But the Hindus, because they are a minority, are an easier target.

Battered to Death. A Hindu building contractor told of how Pakistani troops at a tea estate asked people whom they voted for in the election. "They shot 200 who admitted voting for the Awami League." In a hospital in Agartala, Indian doctors reported that a number of the refugees came in badly burned. The doctors explained that the refugees were shoved into huts by Pak army men, who then set the huts on fire. The hospital has also treated 370 men, women and children for bullet wounds, 27 of whom died.

In the refugee camp at Patrapole on the West Bengal-East Pakistan border, a 16-year-old Bengali girl recalled how she and her parents were in bed "when we heard the tread of feet outside. The door burst open and several soldiers entered. They pointed their bayonets at the three of us and before my eyes killed my mother and father—battering them to death with the butts of their rifles. They flung me on the floor, and three of them raped me." Another teen-age girl in a Tripura camp told how she was raped by 13 West Pakistani soldiers before escaping. Other girls have reportedly been taken from fleeing families to be sold as prostitutes to the soldiers, particularly if their fathers could not pay a ransom for them.,9171,905183,00.html

Fighting to learn in their language
For a miniscule community of East-Bengali origin living in in Maharashtra, it has been a long struggle for the right to learn in their mother tongue. The community has won some victories recently, and much more remains to be done. Aparna Pallavi reports.
8 April 2008 - It is now universally recognised by child psychologists and educationists alike that the best medium for imparting primary education is the mother tongue – the language that a small child is most comfortable with. But for a miniscule community of East-Bengali refugee origin living in the forest-rich Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts of Maharashtra, fulfilling this vital need of their children has translated into an intense struggle with an apathetic system spanning over several years. In recent years the community has won significant victories in this struggle, but it still remains to be seen if the state fulfils its obligation towards this community fully.

Between 1960 and 1985, these Bengali families, who originally arrived in India as refugees from the erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, were settled by the Government of India in 47 villages in the tribal dominated Dandakaranya region of Maharashtra, which falls mainly in the above-mentioned two districts. At this time, 47 Bengali medium schools - one for each village - were also started to meet the educational needs of the community.

School children and parents during a demonstration to win back their schools.
Pic: Shramik Elgar.

All went well till around the year 2000-01, when quite unexpectedly the state government, through a new GR, converted all schools to Marathi medium. The Bengali community, outraged, took up the issue with the administration, but to no avail. Says Parul Banerjee, a homemaker and a resident of Ramakrishnapur village in Gadchiroli district, “When we approached the zilla parishad (elected district body), we were told squarely that the government was no longer prepared to support the Bengali schools, and wanted to divert the employment generated by these schools to Marathi-speaking populaces.”

Nirbendranath Banerjee, a retired school teacher from the same village, remembers that the refugee camps set up for East-Bengali refugees in Chandrapur and Bhadravati had Bengali medium schools, and in 1964, when he moved to village Ramakrishnapur in Gadchiroli district, Bengali-medium schools were already functioning here. “Why should such a policy shift happen after so many years? It was clearly as a result of narrow and sectarian thinking that this move came about. The officials even hinted that it was high time we started to ‘merge’ with the host community.”

But the community asserted its right to education in the mother tongue as part of its cultural rights, and the tussle with the administration that followed resulted in all the Bengali medium schools being closed down in 2000-01. When the schools did open again in 2003 after a three-year closure, the primary school syllabus in Maharashtra had changed, and the new textbooks were not available in Bengali medium. A total of 4,000 Bengali children studying in 47 schools were stranded.

Complex identity and citizenship issues

This Bengali community, with its current population of roughly 10,000 to 12,000 (no official figures available), has made significant contributions to the social make-up of this area. They brought with them high levels of awareness and literacy, which they have passed on to the host tribal community. Farming is their primary source of livelihood. Most of these families were given five acres at the time of settlement and some of them, along with their own farm activities, also work as farm labourers elsewhere. They introduced better farm practices in the region, which have been emulated by the tribal people. Collectively, all these things have also effectively helped curb the Naxal infiltration problem in the area.

The community has a strong sense of cultural identity. Despite years of living away from the land of their origin, they have maintained their cultural identity in terms of language, accent, food habits and even clothing. Most of the women still sport Bengal handloom saris worn in the traditional East-Bengali way, and dialects of Bangla typical to parts of East Bengal are spoken fluently. Knick-knacks with a distinct Bengali feel – palm-leaf fans, Bengali calendars and so on - can be seen in virtually every house.

But these strengths are offset by equally serious weaknesses. The settlers come from different parts of East Bengal, and lack the long-standing cultural bonds usually found in villages. The fact that their settlements are located under different gram panchayats has not helped in forging fresh bonds. Their strong cultural self-assertion has also kept them from mingling with the host community. The community is riddled with too much infighting, and to both the locals and the administration, they are known as a temperamental and trouble-making people.

According to Paromita Goswami of Shramik Elgar, a local unorganised labour union that helped them organise for educational rights, the community is also facing serious land and identity problems. While the community has been living in this area since the 1960s, their land records date back only to the 80s, which results in frequent skirmishes with the administration as well as with other local communities. Since the community is administratively clubbed together under the generic ‘Bengali’ with no caste identity, the panchayat seats in their villages reserved under SC/ST categories remain vacant. Some of the families have not even been registered as voters. “The administration knows that these people are few in numbers and also isolated,” says Paromita, “And it is hardly surprising that they choose to ignore their demands, knowing that they can get away with it.”

The struggle

For three more years after the schools reopened, the government did not supply the free textbooks to the schools and the children were made to study using Marathi textbooks. “We could not even buy the books as they had not been printed at all,” says C P Mullik, also a teacher.

When the schools did open again in 2003 after a three-year closure, the primary school syllabus in Maharashtra had changed, and the new textbooks were not available in Bengali medium. A total of 4,000 Bengali children studying in 47 schools were stranded.

• Kok-Borok in tribal schools
• Goa wrestles with language

This period was one of great difficulty for the students and their parents. Children continued to study in Bengali medium, but they had to use Marathi textbooks, which naturally made studies very difficult for them. Thanks to the community’s high level of awareness regarding education, there were no dropouts, but the going was very tough indeed. “We just managed to pull through somehow,” says Parul.

In 2006, a casual remark at a meeting alerted Shramik Elgar activists to the problem. After detailed discussions, the community decided to organise an agitation with help from Elgar. In October 2006, a demonstration of parents and children was organised at the Gadchiroli district collector’s office, following which a few books were made available. But this did not meet the needs of the children, and on 11 October, a massive rally of angry parents and children entered the office of the zilla parishad in protest. “We were told that the education officer was not available, but he was actually attending a meeting in the same building,” recalls Paromita. The demonstrators, enraged at this evasiveness, barged into the meeting hall and demanded an audience with the education officer. When they learned that the printing of the requisite textbooks was held up for a paltry sum of Rs 1.5 lakhs, the crowd grew so angry that the frightened officials sanctioned the sum there and then, and textbooks reached every child in all 47 schools in just three days. “This was the first time our community had asserted itself,” says Mullik, “Before this we were a faceless people hiding in our own shells.”

Demand for de-reservation

But the community’s educational travails were not yet over. Some 121 posts of Bengali medium teachers were lying vacant in the 47 schools. After many representations failed, parents and students had to once again resort to agitation, and staged a demonstration in September 2007 on Teachers’ Day. Reacting to the rising pressure from the people, the administration filled some posts, but the problem arose with 31 posts in the reserved category.

As mentioned earlier, Bengalis in Dandakaranya do not fall under any caste category, and hence teachers with knowledge of Bengali as well as a caste certificate were not available. Under pressure from the people, the zilla parishad had written to the state government to de-reserve the said posts as teachers from the requisite categories were not available, but the government failed to respond.

In October 2007, two parents, along with Shramik Elgar, filed a petition before the Nagpur bench of the Mumbai High Court demanding de-reservation of the said posts and appointment of teachers. On 12 March, 2008, the High Court in its judgement, ordered the state government and the zilla parishad to fill all the posts from the open category before the commencement of the new academic session in June 2008.

Says Sudhanshu Ranjan, collector of Gadchiroli district, "The recruitment problem of teachers arose due to two reasons. The first is reservation. Now that the court has ordered that the said posts should be filled up from the open category, the zilla parishad will start recruitments as soon as a copy of the court order reaches it. We have three months till June, and I think that much time should be sufficient for filling up all the posts." Ranjan also pointed out that Bengali students who have cleared their 10th and 12th standard exams are unable to qualify as teachers as the Diploma in Education (D.Ed.) course is not available in Bengali medium.

“It is so unfair to have to struggle so much just to be able to study in one’s mother tongue,” says Dilip Das, one of the petitioners. “Be it books, be it teachers, we have had to fight tooth and nail for every inch of our space. Hopefully things will be better now, and at least some of the vacant posts will be filled following the court order.” ?

Aparna Pallavi
8 April 2008

Aparna Pallavi is a journalist based in Nagpur, and writes on development issues.

Unnatural Disasters: Pogroms have killed thousands of Bangladeshi minorities; millions more are refugees in India
16.1 (Spring 1992) After the Breakup: Roots of Soviet Dis-Union
Unnatural Disasters: Pogroms have killed thousands of Bangladeshi. minorities; millions more are refugees in India.

In the West, Bangladesh is a synonym for poverty, a basket-case nation with a soaring population, a pitiful economy, and a plague of natural disasters. Less well known is that the country's minorities have long waged one of the world's most difficult and serious struggles for survival. Successive military - and government-sponsored pogroms have killed thousands of minority Bangladeshis outright, while the fortunate ones have become refugees in India.

In perhaps the most dramatic instance, the Pakistan army killed three million people in nine months during the course of Bangladesh's 1971 war in independence. Ten million refugees took shelter in India. Most victims were members of the Hindu minority.

Today, attacks on minorities and their cultures in Bangladesh take many forms. Minorities are the victims of government-sponsored pogroms and riots as well as of a ban on the hiring of minorities. Moreover, they suffer police, military, and judicial inaction in the face of individual and Muslim-sponsored terror, discrimination, and repression.

A particularly glaring case is the Enemy Property Act, initially passed in 1949, then renamed in 1965 and 1972. Under this law the government can confiscate minority properties and businesses with no compensation or notice simply by declaring a person to be an enemy of the state. Between 1975 and 1989, the Bangladesh government confiscated 1.5 million acres of land from the nation's minorities, in addition to homes, fishing ponds, shops, and businesses. A November 1991 report indicates that 60 percent of minority property may have already been confiscated.


Though born as a country only 20 years ago, Bangladesh is an ancient land with a long history. Together with the present-day Indian state of West Bengal, ancient Indian scriptures refer to it as Banga desh (land). Banga, which the English called Bengal, covers the world's largest delta, that of the rivers of Ganga and Brahmaputra.

For millennia, the Bengali area of the Indian subcontinent has had a mixture of religious, linguistic, and ethnic groups. In Bangladesh, today's minorities are Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians, as well as plains and hill tribal and Urdu languages. The fate of all these groups has come to be linked to that of Hindu Bengalis, who constitute more than 95 percent of the minorities.

The Muslim presence dates at least from the fourteenth century, when non-native Muslim kings - Pathans and Mughals - became ruler of Bengal. However, Bengalis had started embracing Islam even before then, and Muslim rule expedited that process. In the seventeenth century, Muslim power declined throughout India as British power rose, but relations among Hindu, Muslims, and Buddhists remained relatively peaceful.

Two hundred years of British rule dramatically changed the relations between Bengal's Hindus and Muslims. An early British action that may mark the first distancing of Hindus from Muslims was the Permanent Settlement Act. This 1792 law vested Bengal's tax collection in the hands of the overwhelmingly Hindu gentry at a time when most peasants were Muslim. (Muslim rulers also depended on this Hindu gentry for governing Bengal.)

More concretely, religion-based politics in Bangladesh - known in the region as "communalism" originated in Britain's partitioning of Bengal in 1905 on the basis of religion. Western Bengal, with a Hindu majority, formed one province, and Muslim East Bengal another. The British claimed the area was too large to administer as one unit, but mostly Hindu nationalists accused the British of a divide-and-rule policy that injected religion into Indian politics. The English exacerbated the tensions by granting several benefits to Muslim elites at the cost of the Hindu middle-class. After much agitation, in particular from the nationalists, Britain reunited Bengal in 1912, but communal politics remained a permanent feature there, as in all India.

Still, a precarious balance existed in Bengal until the late 1940s. In 1946, on the eve of Indian independence and the partition of India into India and Pakistan, a ghastly pogrom, supported by the ruling Muslim League administration in Bengal, occurred against poor, rural Hindus in the eastern Noakhali district. Estimates of the number of Hindus murdered varies, from a government figure of 1,000 to unofficial figures of tens of thousands. This killing created the term "Noakhalir danga" (Noakhali Riot), and it set the stage for the future of minorities in Bangladesh.

Mahatma Gandhi intervened to stop the Noakhali carnage, but after Pakistan came into being there was no Mahatma to stop the killing of Hindu and other minorities. Anti-Hindu pogroms in East Pakistan took place in 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1954 1956 1564, and 1971. Pakistan's military-bureaucratic rulers routinely used anti-Hindu riots and anti-India slogans to slow the growth of Bengali nationalism.

In 1964, at the height of the Bengali nationalist movement, Pakistan unleashed a reign of terror. Estimates of number of Hindus murdered varies from 10,000 to several times that. Newspapers in India reported this event extensively, but those in Pakistan only noted that even Muslims were killed trying to save Hindu neighbors. The New York Times failed to cover the tragedy, although the Washington Post and London Times reported that over 1,000 were killed in the first days of the killing, including a U.S. priest.

Then came the 1971 independence war during which Pakistan targeted Hindu and other minorities, affecting the homes and businesses of almost all Hindus families. Over 70 percent of those killed and those who became refugees were Hindu and other minorities. Bengali police and the Pakistani army frequently stopped men stripped them naked to check whether they were circumcised or not, and asked them to recite from the Koran. Non-Muslim women were practically barred from wearing anything that would identify them as such, since their identification as anything but Muslim could mean instant death. Many books cover this subject, almost all in Bengali; Bhayabaha Aviggata (Terrifying Experience) covers over 50 instances in which the Pakistan army and its collaborators murdered Hindus and Muslims. In one case, soldiers shot to death 338 Hindus at Syedpur in North Bengal after loading them in railway box cars.


In Bangladesh, I have often asked people, "How are minorities doing?" For many years, the same answers came over and over - villages and cities, from rich and poor, from Muslims and Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists: "Barely surviving." "Back against the wall." "On our way to destruction." "We will not be able to maintain our identity." Until a few years ago, I also heard, "A lot better than before Pakistani rule." Recently, however, people say, "Even Pakistani days were better than now."

This is saddening and sobering. For a new years after independence, large-scale killing of minorities disappeared. It even seemed that the majority-minority, Muslim-non-Muslim communalism might end. After all, minorities had paid a heavy price for Bangladesh's independence.

However, minorities soon started to feel pressure for several reasons, including the decision of Bangladesh's first Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman to issue a blanket pardon of murderers after independence. In addition, Rahman, who was considered tolerant and secular, retained the Enemy Property Act, and he refused to allow the repair of the Ramna Kali temple in Dhaka city after its desecration and burning by the Pakistan army. Rahman also gave a famous speech in the Chittagong Hills in which he asked the hill tribal peoples to give up their identity and become Bengalis.

Attacks on minorities and their festivities started to become routine, and after Rahman's assassination, official anti-Hindu acts intesified. Minorities could no longer get government or semi-government jobs - such as with the police, the military, or the bureaucracy - even though Bangladesh's minorities are relatively well educated (see table below). Minorities complain that after passing civil-service tests they are dropped from consideration once their identity becomes known. They are also barred from overseas assignments at Bangladeshi embassies or the United Nations.

Of this situation, Matiur Rahman and Syed AzizulHaq, two well-known Muslim intellectuals of Bangladesh, have written:

Even though there's no legal restriction on hiring [Hindu] minorities at higher levels, in reality we find there's neither a Hindu Secretary nor an Additional Secretary. There's only one at the [next lower] level of Joint Secretary and only a few Deputy Secretaries. They don't expect any promotion.

At this moment there are only six Hindu District Commissioners [out of sixty-four]. Although Hindus may be appointed in the police at the lower level, it will be hard to find [them] at the Police Super level. There are none at the foreign service. Judiciary has a similar picture. There's only one judge at the High Court level. In the Bangladesh Army, there are only six Hindu commissioned officers. The highest ranking officer is a colonel, and rest are majors.

Organized attacks on minorities and their temples, viharas, ashrams, and churches also increased manyfold in the last half of 1980s, with large-scale attacks in 1987, 1989, and 1990. In 1989, over 400 temples were destroyed or damaged. This wave reached its height with the destruction of desecration of perhaps 80 percent of Bangladesh's Hindu-Buddhist temples and the devastation of thousands of Hindu homes and businesses between October 30 and November 1, 1990. The Disgrace, edited by Debashis Nandi in Bangladesh, lists 150 temples totally or partially destroyed or desecrated in the city of Chittagong alone. In February 1991, the Bangladeshi journal Parishad Barta listed thousands of temples, churches, homes, and businesses destroyed between October 30 and November 1, 1991. It also listed Christian churches, schools, hospitals, and homes attacked in January and February 1991 at the beginning of the Gulf War. Anjali, a book published in Dhaka in 1991, lists another several hundred temples destroyed, damaged, or desecrated.

(Barbara Crosette, a New York Times reporter, wrote a glowing report on minority security soon after the November 1989 events. Again, in March 1991, she visited Bangladesh and wrote a similar story in essence supporting the pogroms while temples, homes, and businesses were still smoldering.)


Bangladeshi minorities have begun organizing themselves under various banners to protect their human rights and document many of these atrocities. There are committees organized to push for the repeal of the Enemy Property Act, to organize Puja festivals, to protect against settling Muslims in tribal lands, and to protect Christian and Buddhist institutions.

The most important among these groups is a non-party organization, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council. Headquartered in Dhaka, with branches all over the country, the council has high-lighted the destruction of churches and temples and the forced eviction of minorities to India. It has also brought attention to the abduction, rape, and forced conversion to Islam of women. In parts of Bangladesh, fear of this has made many minority families reluctant to send their daughters to college unmarried. The Unity Council documents such offenses in its journal, Parishad Barta, but more important than the absolute number of incidents is the fear that has griped the minority community. As a result, fewer girls may be going to college, despite a long tradition of higher education among Hindu and Christian girls in Bangladesh.

Besides the Unity Council, a Bangladesh Women's Organization and a Bangladesh Human Rights and Legal Institute have been formed in Dhaka. Other important organizations include the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peoples Action Committee and several local Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and tribal organizations that protect the rights of each group on a local level.

The task of these organizations is immense. The plight of Bangladesh's minorities can be summarized in a news report that appeared in September 1989 about a dirt-poor Hindu of the Nadirabad village in eastern Bangladesh. In 1987, Mrs. Birajbala Debnath's husband was kidnapped and cut to pieces when he refused to give up his tiny homestead free of charge to a Muslim and migrate to India. A Muslim boatman, Abdus Shahid, described what happened next to Mrs. Debnath and her five children:

I had my boat docked at the Nadirabad village. It was in the middle of the night, around 1 a.m. All of a sudden, I saw a group of 15 to 20 people force Mrs. Birajbala and her five children [into my boat]. They were scared to death. They couldn't even cry. Some had their clothes on, others didn't. The kidnappers asked me to row the boat. I got scared, too. The boat arrived at the Dhopajhhuri Bill [river bank]. [The kidnappers] had already brought drums [empty oil barrels], salt, and lime. The killers unloaded [the family] at the edge of the bank. I remained at my boat. All of a sudden, I saw that they were about to slaughter Mrs. Birajbala. She cried at the top of her voice. She was begging again and again by clutching the legs of the killers. The killers then cut her into pieces and stuffed her into a drum. After that, they cut into pieces the elder daughter. From a distance, I watched the younger children begging for their lives over and over again. [They were also murdered.] I can't express that in words. Tears came out of my eyes. I called for God. Oh Allah, why did you bring me here? I was feeling dizzy. There was nothing that could be done. The killers buried both the drums in the river bed and asked me to row the boat.

While several organizations expressed their outrage at these gruesome murders, protests have done nothing to stem nationwide attacks on minorities. And one of the first things that the newly elected government of Khaleda Zia discussed in April 1991 was whether minorities should be allowed to vote for the Muslim majority or not, potentially creating a separate electorate. In the summer of 1991, two low-caste Hindu villages in the Kotalipara area were burned to the ground on the basis of a false rumor. Mo one has been prosecuted. Unless the world takes note of their plight, Bangladesh's minorities and their cultures will follow either the path of Mrs. Birajbala or that of millions of refugees in India.


Bangladesh's minority population has declined drastically since the 1947 partition of India (see table). Where have these people gone? All have headed to India. The 1946 Noakhali riot made it clear that Pakistan wouldn't protect minority life and property. Thus, the riot marks the start of Hindu migration to West Bengal and Tripura in India, which remained secular after partition, as well as a general diaspora of Bangladeshi Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and tribal groups. Tripura is now 70 percent Bengali refugee, including the state's chief minister, a member of the Congress Party, and his Communist predecessor. A third of West Bengal's 67 million people are of Bangladeshi origin, including the chief minister, a member of the Communist Party, and his Congress predecessor.

Estimates of the total number of Bangladeshi-origin Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and tribals in India vary between 26 million and 38 million. Bangladeshi Buddhist refugees make up the second largest ethnic group in Arunachal and Mizoram states. Refugees make up the largest group in the Andaman Islands, the central Indian Dandakaranya Forest area, and parts of the Indian states of Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya, Orissa.

Over 50,000 Chakma refugees - Bangladeshi Buddhist tribals from the Chittagong Hills - have been camped in the Tripura State of India for several years. Despite their decade-long armed autonomy movement, these tribal peoples continue to be displaced from their homeland. In 1947, at the time of partition, the Chittagong Hill Tracts were almost 100 percent non-Muslim, but by 1981 Muslims were over 40 percent of the population in its Bandarban district and over onethird in the rest of the area.

In the wake of 1964's reign of terror alone, over 1.1 million refugees went to India. According to government statistics, the number of Bangladeshi refugees going to India each year varied from about 4,000 to a high of over 660,000 in 1964. However, not all refugees register with the Indian government to be counted in statistics.

Not surprisingly, this vast wave of refugees has led to a backlash, and anti-Bengali, anti-refugee incidents have occurred in Assam and Tripura.

Minorities in Bangladesh

Year Total Population Minorities

1941 41,997,297 29.3%

1951 44,165,750 23.1%

1961 55,222,663 19.6%

1974 76,389,000 14.3%

1981 89,921,000 13.3%

Minority Hiring in Bangladesh

Administration (officers) 5%

Administration (lower rank) 3-5%

Administration (secretaries) 0%

Customs and excise 0%

Income-tax officials 1.5%

Military officers 1.5%

Military soldiers 0%

Border security 0%

Police, officers 6%

Police rank and file 2.5%

Major bank managers 0%

Embassy & Consulate staff 0%

Foreign assignments 0%

Home Ministry 0%

Judiciary 0%

Ministry of Defense 0%

Industry managers 1%

Industry laborers 3-4%

Recent bank loans 1%

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

Refugee Problem Unresolved

The migrant has almost always arrived in India, ravaged and terror-stricken, in waves, most often the result of political upheaval in his country. Initially unwelcome and persecuted and then tolerated and allowed to integrate into society, the refugee here has always been an interesting study in contrasts - the subject of numerous novels and films. Over the years, how has he fared and adapted to his new surroundings? What have been his hopes and aspirations? ADITI KAPOOR, SUBHORANJAN DASGUPTA and GOUTAM GHOSH focus on the Tibetan, East Bengali and Sri Lankan Tamil communities.

More Indian than Tibetan


FOR Yang Chen, a teenager, India is the only home she has known. Yet, her heart is in Tibet, the land of her ancestors and her parents who fled Tibet to settle in India with the Dalai Lama 41 years ago.

"I have never seen my homeland, so I am not too sure how I will adjust there if Tibet gains azadi from China and we do return," she confesses. "But I am sure I will adjust."

Her father, Gyurmey, who is also the pradhan of Delhi's largest Tibetan settlement with about 300 families at Majnu-ka-tila, nods vigorously. "Oh! She will adjust alright. That is our home."

For Gyurmey, returning home is a desire that burns brightly in his heart. "I accompanied the Dalai Lama when he fled from Tibet and came to India," he says. "The Indian Government has given us a great deal, but this is still our temporary home."

* Indian influences

Tenpa C. Samkhar, cabinet secretary (political) of the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile, estimates that as many as 60 per cent of the Tibetans now in India were born here. "These youngsters are more Indian than Tibetans," he says. "They are very fond of Indian food, especially the South Indian thali system and Hindi is their second mother tongue. Tibetan girls often wear salwar kameez because they find it more comfortable than their own native dress. The young are more fond of Hindi films and film songs than Tibetan songs. Even elderly Tibetans enjoy Hindi films and music."

A Fulbright scholar, Samkhar says many of the Tibetan Fulbright scholars who grew up in India could have settled down in the United States, but a strong attachment to India brings them back to this country. "We feel this to be our second home," he says. A sentiment echoed by Samkhar who recalls the many cultural and religious links that India has had with Tibet. In 629 A.D., for instance, Songtsen Sampo ascended the throne of Tibet and made Tibet the mightiest military power in Central Asia. His most well-known minister, Thonmi Sambhota, was sent to India to learn the Devanagri script which was later used as a base to invent the Tibetan script. "Our script today is very similar to the Devanagri script," says Samkhar. "We too have to learn ka, kha, ga ..."

Again, in 755 A.D., King Trisong Detsen invited the Indian tantric master Padmasambhava, and Indian scholars, Santarakshita and Kamalashila, to spread Buddhism in Tibet. Later, in 1042 A.D., the Bengali Buddhist sage-scholar, Atisha Dipankar, visited Tibet and revived Buddhism, which had barely survived the persecution under King Lang Tharma.

Even today, Tibetans confess that they are very satisfied with what modern India has to offer. Says Pradhan Gyurmey, "If we were back in Tibet, our children would not have received as much education or exposure as here in India." Indeed, the literacy rate of Tibetans in their own country is an abysmal 25 per cent, whereas in India, almost 90 per cent of the children in the school-going age have enrolled in schools.

Gyurmey is also clear that Tibetans have a greater freedom to practise their religion and in a manner in which they want to. Back home, he says, under the domination of the Chinese, this freedom would have been curtailed.

"There are, of course, some differences," says Yang Chen who, though being born here, knows a lot about Tibetan culture. "Back home I am told that Diwali is at least a 10-day affair. Here it is just a two-day affair."

* Safeguarding Tibetan culture

Interestingly, there is a conscious effort on the part of the Tibetan community to protect and nurture its own culture, language, dress, diet, religion and way of life. Most of the youngsters who have grown up in India have gone to Tibetan schools, being run by the Central Tibetan School Administration, or the Tibetan Children's Village schools. Most of these are residential schools and children are sent here while they are still in their pre-teens. At a younger age they go to day schools run by these organisations in the Tibetan settlements.

Talk to any Tibetan, senior or junior, and there is a passionate outburst on the need to preserve all that is Tibetan. "Even many of the India-born Tibetans who send their young ones to Indian public schools later prefer to transfer them to one of the four major Tibetan boarding schools at Mussoorie, Shimla, Dalhousie and Darjeeling," says Sonam Choephel, Tibetan Welfare Officer of the Dharamshala-based government, who came to India when he was just five years of age. "This is true of even Tibetans who live abroad, as in Switzerland and the U.S.."

Tashi, who sends his toddler to a private school, says the child will go to one of the Tibetan hostels when she turns seven. "The public schools give good English-medium education, but in our Tibetan schools our children learn not only good English and Hindi but also the Tibetan language, something about our scriptures and culture. What good are our children if their face looks Tibetan and their blood is Tibetan but they cannot speak the Tibetan language?" he asks.

* Caught between cultures

Many Tibetan youngsters are defining their own culture. Even as they speak their language and worship Lord Buddha, their clothes, habits, behaviour, norms and attitudes have undergone a sea- change that the elder Tibetans are finding difficult to digest.

For instance, studying and growing up together in co-educational residential schools have broken the barriers between boys and girls, leading to more open relationships and pre-marital affairs. Choephel makes a distinction between "pre-1959" and "post-1959". "Before 1959, our society was not so open and pre- marital affairs were nipped in the bud through community pressure. Today, the social pressure has definitely decreased. Even though there are very few unwed mothers, more youngsters believe in staying together before marriage."

Interestingly, Choephel also points to the breaking down of a certain caste-like system in Tibetan society that prevailed "before 1959". The social divisions acted as a barrier to a more "open" society. The post-1959 community has been more homogeneous.

With the "openness" has come western music, jeans and related western mores. Choephel does not blame the Indian social fabric for these influences. "If we cannot safeguard our own culture, it is our own fault," he says. For instance, though most of the Tibetans are an industrious lot, stories of drug peddling and trade in wildlife products like tiger skins have made news headlines in the past. Choephel acknowledges that "very few" Tibetan youths have taken to drugs and criminal activities - happenings that have the Tibetan community worried. This is also a reflection of the larger world where the young belonging to other communities too have taken to these activities.

* Carving a niche for themselves

Even at Majnu-ka-tila, there is a Bohemain spirit in the narrow streets. Men, women, boys and girls walk about with a casual air, dressed informally, busy with various errands. Young and older boys play carroms on the road, while older women just sit and stare at passers-by.

Prayer flags flutter atop many of the houses and a recently built majestic gateway announces the existence of this Tibetan settlement. The sprawling 11-12 acre complex by the roadside close to the Delhi University is a labyrinth of narrow, mostly unpaved, kutcha roads, full of puddles of small streams following a shower. Mounds of construction material and rubble indicate that housing activity is in full swing even as one wonders whether there is any space for additional cover. The only breathing space is provided by the open temple square in the middle of the settlement where the residents worship Lord Buddha. And the architecture of the "Gumba", or the temple, transports one immediately to the land of the worshippers.

From the outside, the settlement has a facade of a commercial complex. Small, dingy restaurants and petty shops line the main road. Step through a gateway, or into one of the few tiny lanes off the main road, and one is amiamid a cluster of houses dotted with shops selling everything from photographs to travel itineraries. Many of the restaurants sell chang, a barley beer usually made by the women and sold to Indians. As one moves to take a photograph of customers drinking chang, one is stopped by Gyurmey. "Most of the families have been forced to take this up as a means of earning income," he says. "Traditionally, making of chang is not a respected profession."

The popularity of chang is, however, visible in the number of customers who throng the small restaurants in the hot summer sun. "A day's income from chang buys us food for that day," says one woman manufacturer-owner. At Majnu-ka-tila, almost one in every four families makes and sells chang.

"It looks like a middle class slum," grins Wilson, an Indian who has been frequenting the settlement since 1976. "But these Tibetans are prosperous even if they do not show it." Samkhar agrees: "Tibetans are, by nature, entrepreneurial and very hardworking. So they are doing very well here."

Some residents of Majnu-ka-tila also own shops - actually a little bigger than kiosks - at "Tib-tabs", a Tibetan refugee market about three kilometres south of the settlement. Residents of Buddha Vihar, another Tibetan settlement of about 40 families in the vicinity, own other shops. The Government of India gave the land for this market, situated under a flyover next to a Tibetan monastery, as part of the rehabilitation package. The market does brisk business in products ranging from smart casuals to mountaineering and camping gear. The prices are reasonable and the young, especially university students, find it a good shopping stop. Families too come to buy clothing, footwear and a range of electronic goods, including imported watches, calculators and hair-dyers.

* Seasonal migration

Of the officially estimated one lakh Tibetans in India, at least half are traders. Nearly 70 per cent do seasonal trading, particularly in woollen clothing. The Tibetans call this "petty trading" and for many a family, children lend a helping hand in this form of business during their holidays. Other means of livelihood include agro-industries, carpet weaving, export and the service sector.

At Majnu-ka-tila, it is difficult to get an exact answer on the number of families living here because there is a lot of seasonal migration. "At least one out of five families goes off to the hills in summer to sell different wares, including woollen clothes," says Norbu, secretary, Tibetan Welfare Office, an arm of the Dalai Lama government. "Where the parents are old, the younger men and women go off." For a race from the world's highest plateau, it is natural to escape to the cooler climes of Shimla, Mussoorie, Nainital, Dalhousie and Darjeeling.

"The Tibetans here make good money but footpath selling is very difficult," says Samkhar. "The sweater selling sites are not hygienic and often the police chase the traders away. In some cities, however, like Agra, Ranchi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Udhagamandalam (Ooty), the Tibetans have been given good sites by the municipalities."

In Mussoorie, for instance, the municipality has recently given a long, narrow, steep road, just off the main Mall to the Tibetan market association, which does brisk business. Interestingly, the local Garhwali traders, who face keen competition from the Tibetans, are up in arms over this decision because they wanted the prime location.

"These are rare cases of minor friction between the Indians and the Tibetans," says Tsering Tashi, secretary of the Delhi-based Bureau of the Dalai Lama. "Business rivalry is natural and sometimes rears its ugly face. Otherwise, however, we Tibetans feel very much at home in India. Many of us have grown up with Indian friends and are very close to them."

The writer, a freelancer based in New Delhi, writes on environmental and social issues.

* * *

Unwelcome now


THEY were first called "migrants" - an innocuous term - when they left Noakhali in small groups and crossed over in the last three months of 1946. But when Gandhiji's fearless "One-man Army" failed in riot-scarred Noakhali as well as in other districts of East Bengal and Partition struck with full force, "migrant" was found to be too weak and inapposite an expression to label the sufferers. They arrived, ravaged and terror-struck, in waves and were called "refugees" or, in Bengali, udbastu.

The massive exodus began in 1947 and continued right into the 1960s. How many came? Without indulging in statistical jugglery, it may be safely assumed that before the 1970s, five million refugees had left East Bengal for West Bengal. In Punjab it was one mighty slash which saw a comparable exchange of population between East and West in the course of three years (1947-1950). But in Bengal it was a series of gashes which led to the kafilas moving, primarily, from east to west for almost 20 long years.

The comparison with Punjab appears unavoidable. While the Nehru Government left no stone unturned to provide relief and rehabilitation to the refugees of the West with almost clockwork precision, it was - to the say the least - niggardly towards the victims languishing in Tripura, Assam and, above all West Bengal, where most of them had congregated. The then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Bidhanchandra Roy, had to beg, plead and then threaten in order to secure more funds. In fact, Nehru and his ministers were tempted to believe that the Nehru-Liaquat pact of 1950 would prompt the uprooted Hindu refugees to return to their villages in East Bengal. Nothing of that sort happened and the Government had to concede as late as 1954 that the refugees had come to stay. Unwelcome and unwanted, persecuted and humiliated, these lakhs of "Bengals" (a derogatory term used for Bengalis living on the other side of Padma river) soon became the stuff of remarkable novels, plays and films like Ba-dwip (Delta" - a novel by Sabitri Roy), "Natun Yehudi (The New Jew" - a play by Salil Sen), and of course the unforgettable "Meghe Dhaka Tara (Star hidden in Clouds" - a film by Ritwik Ghatak).

But even these creative records could hardly conceal the naked disparity. While the Centre had spent Rs. 9.80 every month on every single refugee on an average who came from West Pakistan, it had allotted a meagre Rs. 1.20 on a single refugee who crossed over from East Pakistan till the cut-off year of 1960. One shudders to think what would have happened if someone less influential and less persistent than Dr. Roy had been at the helm - West Bengal would have surely received less. Dr. Roy tried to make the best of an atrocious situation by appealing to all, especially social service organisations like the All Bengal Women's Union, the Nari Seva Sangha and others to help in every way possible. When one reads eye-witness accounts of dedicated social workers like Ashoka Gupta who made tabular comparisons of assistance received by refugee camps in the west and the east and goes through the annual reports of the All Bengal Women's Union covering the period 1947 to 1954, one is struck by the simple query, "How did the refugees survive?"

The answer is simple - by fighting heroically against stifling odds. Indeed, this determined battle for survival turned the "victim" looking vacantly at Sealdah station into an agent and protagonist. The refugees spread out in refugee camps, then moved out of the camps to build colonies in snake-infested, marshy lands, established small businesses and acquired skills, made the optimum use of the scanty help they received, and within the course of two decades, set up 171 habitable colonies. These new settlements which are now decidedly middle class in character and an integral part of the State's landscape bear witness to the days and nights of relentless struggle. Even their names are revealing - "Bijoygarh" which means "Fortress of Victory", "Saktigarh" or "Fortress of strength", "Pratapgarh" which meaneans "Fortress of Might".

The Left Front in West Bengal, led by the undivided Communist Party of India (Marxist) was the partner of the refugees in this battle. Party workers organised the refugees in their colonies, voiced their demands and encouraged them to take part in rallies and demonstrations. In the process, these thousands turned into the Left's reliable "vote bank" and helped it capture power in 1977. Those were the days of Red activism when party cadres stood hand in hand with refugees to thwart the armed aggression of landowners. Recalling that period, Pranab Sen Sharma of Rabindrapalli Colony of Jadavpur said, "For each and every inch of land we had to fight the police and goondas. Moreover, development, in the true sense, came with the Left Front which built roads and provided water and electricity." Finally, the once-uprooted received land rights in 1986. That acquisition marked the official end of the heroic saga.

"Refugee", the word of sympathy was also used during the Bangladesh War in 1971 when eight million people - Hindus and Muslims - entered West Bengal. They just poured in - 1,700 every hour - in five months. This time, however, Indira Gandhi's Government worked together with the State Government to put up an exemplary show. Dr. S. Komar, Yugoslavia's Ambassador, wondered, "How was it possible (for India) to have taken care of such an unprecedented influx in such a short time?" But the crucial question is - how many preferred to stay back? According to an unofficial estimate, while 9.27 million refugees returned by the end of March 1972, another 1.5 million refugees continued to stay in India. Many of them were Hindus who merged with post-Partition refugees to join the swelling ranks in settlements like the Promodnagore Colony in Dum Dum.

The Bangladesh war formed the watershed because those who came, and are still coming unabated after 1972, are no longer called "refugees". Labelled "infiltrators", these late migrants are streaming in to survive. Poverty-enmeshed Bangladesh has driven them to such desperation that Muslim Bangladeshis do not even mind travelling to Shiv Sena-infested Mumbai to eke out a living. Evidently, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents, smugglers, Islamic fundamentalists, dreaming of creating an Islamic homeland in the eastern region, and luckless Hindus form a part of this daily movement from east to west. Since 1972, most of these immigrants have settled in North and South 24 Parganas, Nadia, North and South Dinajpur, Siliguri, Murshidabad, Malda and Calcutta, and already 12 million seem to have made West Bengal their home. The annual inflow is three lakhs.

Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) hardcore leader L. K. Advani and CPI(M)'s Jyoti Basu agree on one point - this infiltration has to be checked. The immigrants are not only imposing a terrible burden on a small State bursting at its seams but are also making the vast border region unstable and insecure as a result of severe demographic alterations. Fences are being built along the border which would cover 1,200 km; detention centres will detain infiltrators on the spot and the Border Security Force (BSF) has been advised to push them back. But still they come, these marginal men - as infiltrators and not as refugees.

The writer is Senior Fellow, School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University, Calcutta.

* * *

Seeking refuge hurts


ONE of life's worst blows would be if you became a refugee overnight. The tragedy, of man hounding out man, goes beyond pacts and facts. The instability that crystallises within a social framework - either because of internal discord or external aggression - sparks a dynamic process of crisis. The unstable equilibrium (peace) that is reached rests on a keg to be blown apart at any time. The victims are human beings, who are displaced internally or seek shelter in countries far away.

Refugees have few options, so their effective loss is greater. The trauma of leaving all behind for the unknown, expecting sympathy and support, but often finding hostility, has its impact only leaving a subtle scar or a festering wound. Refugees are more than mere numbers you read in a news report or watch on TV. They are individuals who have the right to live and the right to dignity. Like Sophie in William Styron's "Sophie's Choice", the refugees must, at times, choose between impossible options which tear them apart.

The 68,629 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees (till April 24 this year) housed in over 130 camps around Tamil Nadu, do not have worthwhile options, even when some are blessed with foreign remittances. The camp at Mandapam near Rameswaram, where fresh arrivals are housed before being sent to other locations, is under round-the-clock vigil and no non-refugee, other than authorised officials and security personnel, is allowed in.

Refugee children, like Senthilraja (14), wearing symbolic neck- ties under their crumpled collars, troop together to Government schools nearby at Mandapam. Most were born to refugee parents here and have never seen their land of origin. Many, like Parthiban (17) of Velvettithurai, a mechanic who adds Rs. 100 a day to his family income, dropped out of school. Some of them are bright, such as Selvi (19) from Vanni who completed her A-Levels but could not study further in India.

The asylum seekers paid between Sri Lankan Rs. 3,500 and SL Rs. 9,000 per head to be ferried to India. Annalakshmi (53) came with 11 members of her family in 1997. She is not sure if her house still stands in Yalppanachavadi (Jaffnachavadi). Helped by her son, who worked in a school before they left Sri Lanka, she now sells vegetables to refugee families. These vendor-refugees maintain credit accounts which are settled once the Government disburses the dole payments.

Refugees tend to be housed in specific zonal camps. Those from Vavuniya are in at least three camps - Adiannamalai, Kondam and Thenpallipettai - near Thiruvannamalai, and those from Vanni are in Gummidipoondi near Chennai.

What stood out at these camps was the quality of housing and the life the refugees led. At Adiannamalai, the free power supply has been cut because the colony has exhausted the consumption quota set by the Government. Allowed to use only one bulb at night, the families are expected to survive the scalding heat that radiates from the hill less than half a kilometre away. It was hotter inside the huts than outside. Fans were a necessity but disallowed. "Our climate is better than it is here," said Panneerselvam, refugee camp leader and a volunteer with the refugee-run Organisation for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR). Many children had skin eruptions from heat. Worse, there was only one hand-operated borewell for the 242 people in the camp.

None can deny that the lot of refugees is better than our rural poor. With rice at 58 paise a kilogramme, the carbohydrate source is assured. But for all else, including kerosene, the fuel in great demand, the refugees have to pay. So the women go around gathering firewood. For healthcare, they reach out for the local hospitals unless OfERR provides medical facilities. One wonders why no other non-government organisation is allowed to work for refugee welfare.

The refugees' status is poor because as S. C. Chandrahasan of OfERR put it, "There is no law here specifically aimed at refugees." We have neither ratified the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, nor have we signed the 1967 Protocol. But as Dr. Najma Heptullah, deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, put it at the SAARCLAW seminar on May 2, 1997, "We believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - the ideal of global brotherhood. We deal with human sufferings with human compassion ..." India has allowed 25 million refugees to pour in from all the neighbouring nations since 1947 ("Beyond Fear and Hope", V. Suryanarayan and V. Sudarsen, 1999).

The Tamil Nadu Government spends nearly Rs. 15 crores a year on refugee welfare. It has opened the doors of higher educational institutions for Tamil refugee youth, and many have enrolled. Though the Government flaunts the Rs. 6 crore Collectorate in Thiruvannamalai as an achievement, no attempt is made to allow for a system that would permit the refugees to pay for power they use in excess of the set limit.

The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, and the Foreigners Act, 1946, require that refugees, including those who prefer to stay with their relations outside the camps, must enrol their names at local police stations. Their movement is restricted. The local tahsildar must issue written approvals, which involves a payment of upto Rs. 100 that does not enter the State's coffers.

The restrictions are severe at Mandapam where refugees must report by 6 p.m. for a head count. At other camps far from the local administration, the freedom is greater. The enterprising lot also get work as labourers.

Jayanthini, a teacher at the camp school in Gummidipoondi, is a vocal young woman who does not wish to work in any firm because she enjoys teaching. The school, headed by Mr. Dasarathan on deputation, is a three-room pucca structure built by the refugees. But it cannot handle all children. So two different grades have to sit together and try to listen to two teachers outshouting each other to teach two different subjects.

Despite the United Nations Executive Committee Conclusions on Refugee Protection and Sexual Violence proclamation strongly condemning "... persecution through sexual violence, which not only constitutes a gross violation of human rights ... but is also a particularly serious offence to human dignity ..." some refugee women suffer before and after they step into India. This correspondent met two women who had lost their minds after being sexually abused. There are others too who had suffered at the hands of people they had trusted.

The evidence of refugee mentality was everywhere. As Dr. V. Sudarsen and Dr. S. Sumathy, anthropologists, put it, "Refugees find it hard to trust others and the burden on the women is heavy." Many have moved to West Asia to work as domestic help. That foreign remittances elevated the standard of living was obvious at Thenpallipettai. The camp was clean, each house wearing a fresh coat of paint. Each had a small garden in front and almost every family owned a two-wheeler. The children dressed well and looked healthy. There was a reading room where dailies were kept. The average quality of housing is bad at best. A set of houses built for the most recent tide of refugees is one room each, typically 100 sq.ft. with a tin door and no common toilet or bathroom.

Even though The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) states that "We do know the anxiety of Tamil parents who await the return of their children from school fearing that they may be accosted and importuned to join the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) .... We also know the helplessness of parents, who if they happen to trace a child removed by the LTTE, are told not to become traitors to the cause and are sent away". The support for Eelam is explicit.Every refugee wants Eelam and is determined to return once peace prevails in the north.

The Sri Lankan refugees look forward to peace and to return to their homeland, particularly those like Vazharmathi and her children who have had to seek refuge in India more than once. But does peace reign in Somalia, Eritrea or Fiji? The instability exists to this day.

Crisis of Hindu Bengalis
Author: Abhijit Bhattacharyya
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 15, 2001
The ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party's call for imposition of Jaziya on the Hindu Bengalis (as reported in the Bangla daily, Sangbad) typifies the phrase: "History repeats itself." What was a hypothesis yesterday, however, is a reality today as Hindu Bengalis in Bangladesh are facing the grim prospect of forced conversion, inevitable death or inevitable (and ignominious) migration to India. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that even the normally indifferent regional language press of India's West Bengal - which is not known to be supportive of or sympathetic to the plight of the minorities in Bangladesh - is narrating the graphic details of the plight of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh at the various rural points and the suburbs of Calcutta.

Narrating his transformation from garment exporter to pauper, Harishchandra Das of Dhaka says he has "lost a bank balance of Rs 30 lakh" and suffers "a forced occupation by Bangladeshi Muslims of his 30 bigha land". The only silver lining for Mr Das is that his "wife and children are intact (sic)" and their penury is compensated by the open society of India.

The new victim of Begum Zia's anti-Hindu actions appears to be the prosperous urban Hindu Bengali of Bangladesh. Mr Das is a living example of this. In fact, the other two characteristics of the Bangladeshi Muslims were evident even during Partition and post-partition days, when Hindu women and Hindu land (property) were targeted. The tradition continues, notwithstanding a few incident-free interregnums.

How and why does a small Islamic country like Bangladesh resort to such cruel Hindu bashing despite the presence of 84 per cent Hindu population in the neighbouring India? Is it by design, in order to provoke the neighbour to retaliate? Or is it the Bangladeshi perception of India being a cold, supine and indolent elephant involved in its eternal trance of pacifism! Whatever be the Bangladesh Begum's perception, the past folly of the Indians in general and Hindu Bengalis in particular cannot be ignored.

Let us go back to the post-partition days. The Hindu Bengalis of West Bengal were rarely sympathetic or helpful towards their East Pakistani counterparts as they considered their migration to India a threat to their property, business interests and employment. Reading the West Bengali Hindu mind well, the local Muslims too joined hands to form a "united front" against Hindu Bengali refugees, which resulted in their delayed rehabilitation and vitiated the political, economic and social fabric of West Bengal. Instead of uniting with and supporting their uprooted and distraught Hindu brethren from East Pakistan, the West Bengali Hindus exposed their own myopia and stupidity. The Muslims of both India and the then East Pakistan discovered an opportunist and pacifist Hindu Bengali sacrificing the Hindu refugees and embracing the religious fanatics for short, tactical gain. That tactical gain of the 1940s and 1950 has resulted in a great strategic loss today.

What has made the Hindu Bengalis behave in the way they do? One may like to peep into their mind in order to understand the psychology.

The asset and liability of the Hindu Bengali is his natural flair for education, love for the English language, literatures, culture (or anything connected with England and London); and the cocktail of the land, water, air and philosophy, makes him a born "secular" in outlook and "socialist" in nature. Consequently, armed with English education and drunk on the coffee of the salons and restaurants of urbane Calcutta, a Hindu Bengali dreams of becoming a universal citizen, universal poet, universal speaker with a universal mind wherein religion ostensibly has no place for his actions, thoughts and beliefs. Understandably, the Hindu Bengali gets attracted to Marxism and Islam, both of which apparently transcend national barriers, thereby attaining the universal status matching everything universal of the Hindu Bengali mind.

However, there does come into play a slight variation in the Hindu Bengali's mind while dealing with his understanding of socialism of Marx and Mao, and secularism of Mohammad. Thus whereas Das Kapital and the Red Book can be theoretically applicable on real life, secularism and Mohammad do not find support in the minds of the followers of Islam. What then is the way out? How does one adore Islam and endear oneself without being its follower or without incurring the displeasure of its followers? By castigating one's own religion, of course. If one could read and write poems, stories and socialism in English, one could also eat beef to prove one's secular credentials. With or without Marx, Mao and Mohammad?

It would, however, be unfair to pick up the Hindu Bengali alone from the great Indian cauldron. This "secular" and "socialist" characteristics have percolated down from the Preamble of the Constitution to all and sundry. And that is what the fundamentalist elements of Bangladesh have judged well. Since neither their characteristics nor constitution nor even their official state religion gives them any scope to follow either secularism or socialism, it gives them an opportunity to do what they are universally acknowledged as being good at - minority bashing.

Hindu Bengalis, therefore, are in the midst of a gigantic pincer movement operating between the Ganges, the Doab and the Ganges Delta. In Bangladesh their existence is threatened by the Islamic state. In India their culture and language are not tolerated by the Hindi belt. In Bangladesh they require to be Bengali with an Islamic stamp. In India they need to show more of "Hindi" characteristics and less of Bengali traits. Clearly, therefore, the crisis of Hindu Bengalis in Bangladesh is a non-issue for the struggling but "socialist", "secular" and "universal" Hindu Bengalis of India.

The moot point is that if sections of Muslims all over the world can support the terrorist activities of their brethren in Afghanistan and beyond, what prevents the "secular" and "socialist" Hindu Bengalis of India to lodge their protest against the inhuman atrocities committed against their blood relations in Bangladesh by the Islamic fanatics? If the "universal" Hindu Bengali intellectuals do not protest to begin with, how does one expect the Hindi speaking Hindu population of India to do the same?

In this connection an innocuous press report may clarify the position: "Two notorious dons - Dulal Chand Pandey and Subhash Singh - in Malda in West Bengal (one of the main entry points for Bangladeshis into India), were trapped on November 3, 2001, when they offered Rs 50,000 as bribe to the Commandant of the BSF's 63rd Battalion, SS Chatrath, for permitting them to smuggle people from Bangladesh into Bengal... And with the ugly backlash on Hindus in Bangladesh being reported, the two criminals had started taking money from the hapless Hindus in return for helping them cross over to India through the porous Indo-Bangladesh border."

Clearly, therefore, the Islamic Bangladeshis understand the psychology of Hindu Indians rather too well. They know that their perpetration of loot, rape and murder on the Hindu Bengalis are unlikely to go unpunished owing to the "secular" and "socialist" credentials of Hindu Bengalis of India, and the Hindi speaking Hindus of the great Indian heartland. Perhaps, time is not far for Indians of all types in the East to convert from "Jai Hind" to "Joy Bangla". And that would be an unprecedented disaster for India.

(The author is an alumnus of the National Defence College of India and the views are his personal).

Pakistani refugees press for rehabilitation in Rajasthan
March 16th, 2008 - 9:56 pm ICT by admin
Bikaner, Mar 16 (ANI): Pakistani refugees’ delegation on Sunday met the Government officials in Bikaner to press for their rehabilitation in Rajasthan.
A large delegation of the refugees explained their plight to the officials at the circuit house of the town while demanding immediate action from the Government.
They demanded that the time limit for becoming an Indian national should be reduced from the present seven years of stay in India.
“I have this request to the Government of India that the time limit is reduced by three years,” said, Bhavar Lal, a refugee.
They demanded educational facilities for their children and provision of cultivable land, identity cards, ration cards and employment.
The Government officials while assuring them of their rehabilitation said that it is one of their major concerns.
“We are trying to rehabilitate those people who have got the Indian nationality and I think it is their major concern. We are trying to help them so that they can get ration cards and can make accounts in BPL (below poverty level). We will also try to provide them education and make them eligible enough so that they can take up jobs. For this purpose we will conduct special camps and special cells will be made to help them in the process,” said A. K. Pandey, Additional Chief Secretary, Rajasthan. (ANI)

The East Bengal Refugeees

In the course of three centuries of its existence, Calcutta has been phenomenal in accepting and assimilating people from all over the world. This colourful tradition of an integrated mosaic of people living together, sharing views, outlooks and opinions and above all, enjoying life to the brim, is an exclusive hallmark of Calcutta.

According to the 1951 Census, a meagre 33.2% of Calcutta's population was city-born. The rest were a heterogeneous group of migrants from various places, especially from East Pakistan. An odd 26.9% of the city's inhabitants hailed from what had become East Pakistan in 1947. These 'displaced persons' – a whopping 6,85672, were primarily Hindu refugees rendered helpless on account of the partition of India and birth of Pakistan.

Calcutta almost turned into a city of refugees and the immigration which started in 1946 continued unabated for the following four decades – even to this day. The history of the metropolis will be grossly incomplete without the chronicle of relentless struggle of the refugees for survival. They built sporadic colonies and pavement shanties while mingling with the city of joy. The films of Ritwik Ghatak recall the memories of partition, the post-partition inflation, black-marketing, rationing and the dreadful Sealdah Station, the wonderful dialects, the sumptuous fish-curry and the ever-inscrutable, legendary river Padma.


The suffering minorities who became victims of inhuman violence and discrimination have been differentiated on several criterions videlicet, cause for flight, period of migration, place of origin, caste, class and occupation. The acceptance and acknowledgement of the Government of their status, was also an important issue.

The refugees were categorized as 'old' or 'new' migrants. The 41.17 lakh odd people who migrated to India from 1946-1958 were the 'old' refugees, whereas, 11.14 lakh people, who came here from 1964-1971 have been termed as 'new' migrants. Finally, during the Bangladesh war of 1971, approximately 2/3 lakh refugees fled from their homeland and came to Calcutta only to get dissolved with the city's mainstream population.

Sadly, East Bengal refugees have often been labelled as obstructive, contumacious, uncompromising trouble-shooters, who migrated in the city only to disturb its peace and stability. This is a negative and utterly false assessment of a class who have always been known for their self-reliance, dauntless courage, intrepid optimism and tremendous will to survive against heavy odds. They took refuge in West Bengal – in many cases, ignoring the Government policies. They have resisted, manipulated and fought like hell in the struggle for existence.

People migrating to India had a firm conviction that they had every right to stay here for the excruciating price they were compelled to pay for Partition.


2,58,000 migrants sought refuge in West Bengal, after Partition in 1947. This figure was catapulted to 5,90,000 in 1948. Again 1,82,000 refugees came in 1949. There were diabolic communal riots in East Pakistan during those years. The story of brutal persecution, extortion, ostracism etc. continued much later which broke the hearts of the migrants and paralysed them with the panic of physical extinction and loss of identity.

The government of India, then, adopted several relief measures which were supplemented by an immense public relief effort. The government of India had catered to the emergency needs of the people purely on humanitarian grounds. But it never desired a colossal infiltration by offering attractive relief measures. The Indian Government was also apprehensive of straining Hindu-Muslim relations in India which would inevitably follow too great an exodus.

A considerable number of these early refugees had pre-partition ties with West Bengal and specifically Calcutta. Some had kith and kin here whereas some had occupational links. Again, some civil servants preferred to work in India. So, most of the early migrants had some resources in West Bengal or some place to turn to. This is evident when only 1.06 lakhs of the 13.78 lakh refugees sought admission in relief camps. The vast majority who avoided the relief camps, were the 'upper' and 'middle' class people who got domiciled in the urban areas of Calcutta. The 'lower' class people and scheduled castes tended to resettle in villages.

The migrants in the congested city of Calcutta, created an acute shortage of dwelling places. The affluent refugees bought properties of the Muslims who were evacuating. A very big chunk of them started living in rented houses in the middle-class localities or slums. But, several refugees of East Bengal have been accused as 'squatters' or unauthorized possessors of unoccupied premises. The squatters occupied the barracks in the Dhakuria Lake area and New Alipur. They established colonies at Bijoygarh, Jadavpur, Kasba, Santoshpur, Garia, Dum Dum and Panihati.

A salient feature of the squatter movement was 'jabardakhal' (which meant seizure and settlement.) The land to be seized would usually be occupied at night, shanties erected at a lightning speed and thatched with hogla leaves. The squatting refugees got appreciation from government rehabilitation authorities like N.B. Maiti and Rameshwari Nehru. The refugees were gingerly identified with the left, particularly the Communists. Soon, the leftist opposition politics took up the issue of the sufferings and agonies of the refugees and fought for them.

In December 1949, severe communal conflicts erupted in Khulna and by 1950, a new wave of migration came to Calcutta. The violence on the other side of the border, triggered off violence in Calcutta, which consequently led to thousands of Muslims migrate from West Bengal to East Pakistan.

With pressure mounting alarmingly on the government of India, Prime Minister Nehru, in April 1950, signed a pact with Liaquat Ali Khan, his Pakistani counterpart. This agreement guaranteed freedom of movement (including the right to move personal property across the frontier) and also guaranteed equality of citizenship to minorities irrespective of religion. The repercussion was immediately felt as rate of migration came down sharply and even return to the native lands began.

A Branch Secretariat of the Ministry of Rehabilitation was set up at Calcutta in 1950. 75,000 assistance-seekers were admitted to refugee camps. Empty warehouses, tent colonies, steamers and all possible places under the sun, however deplorable, were used as temporary shelters. Some were taken to special reception centers like Sealdah Station where they underwent excruciating agonies. Thousands were even fixed in the jute godowns of Babu Ghat, Kashipur, Ghusuri and Ultadanga. Families to be rehabilitated, were sent to the regular camps like Dhubulia. This was the largest camp in West Bengal with a capacity of 60,000 refugees. There was also the Cooper's Camp which was to help resettle the refugees outside West Bengal.

A meagre 23% of the odd 11.82 lakh refugees, supposed to have migrated to West Bengal in 1950, went to the camps. However, the unofficial figure was much more alarming to fit in the camps and soon many deficiencies like sub-standard sanitary conditions, overcrowding, insufficient ration and water supply, fatal diseases, catapulting death rates and above all, corrupted camp personnel exacerbated the situation. By the end of 1950, approximately 150 squatter colonies, housed about 30,000 families on 2400 acres of land.

Rehabilitation measures crystallized in the 1950s. Comprehensive regional development programmes started around 1955.

The Government reported in 1959 that it had utilized its resources (48.5 crores) on the non-camp refugees whereas only 18 crores was mobilized for those in its own camps. Since the 1960s, resettlement commenced in Calcutta which was virtually synonymous with self-settlement. However, shrinking resources tended to marginalize a persistent condition for the 'new' migrants.

Old, New & Untraced Migrants (1960s – 2000)

The last 4 decades have seen considerable changes in the Central Government's rehabilitation policy anent to West Bengal. The Govt. shifted its focus from the rehabilitation programme within West Bengal on similar planning in other states e.g. the Dandak Aranya Project. To worsen the situation, fresh migration started in the 1960s and continued in the seventies.

The state, particularly Calcutta, was declining irretrievably under the pressure of the refugee-crisis, growing alarmingly every year by leaps and bounds. The socio-economic deterioration and political tension was catapulted by the increasing rift between the Union and State Governments over the ratio and control of funds needed for rehabilitation.

The Left Front Govt. came to power in 1977 and the 'new' migrants in Dandak Aranya abandoned their camps to settle down in the Sundarbans. Unfortunately, they were soon frustrated and the refugees in general, realized that they had yet to struggle a lot because the Bengal Government had a terrible paucity of resources. In 1980-81, the Left Front Govt.'s Refugee Rehabilitation Committee proposed a comprehensive development plan of Rs. 750 crore. They planned for financial assistance for self-reliance schemes and other facilities like water, electricity etc. Such plans were later implemented to a great extent.

Calcutta's refugee problem has been a chronic one showing little signs of a permanent solution. This congested city with an explosive population has in its strides, assimilated people of all races, religion, castes, creed, community and has rightly been labelled by many as the city of migrants and refugees. The problem still continues unabated with greater intensity. But, it is an undeniable fact that these refugees from East Bengal constitute the heart and soul of Calcutta. The host population of Calcutta also deserve special praise for their receptivity and power to adapt. Indeed, no city other than Calcutta reveals such a stunning unity among diversity. It is this mosaic of colourful people that literally makes Calcutta a vibrant 'city of joy'.

Why Dont Government of India make 1947 Partition Agreement Public?
Why Dont Government of India make contents 1947 Partition Agreement based on Religion, signed by Nehru & Liyakat Ali, Public?
3 months ago
Additional Details
This shall make sense for those Hindus who lost their Nears and Dears
for those Hindus who not only lost their lands and Roots but also lost heir tradityional Businesses. For those Hindus who are still waiting for Juastice from insensitive Congress government
This may not make sense for those senseless hindus like u who are unable to forsee their future
3 months ago

3 months ago

U R 100 percent correct
Humanity Demands Justice
Above all Gandhi's and Jinnahs Nations Must apologise for the biggest genocide on earth
3 months ago

Dont try to fool Hindus by Brahman bashing and directing peoples anger towards Brahmins like what your elders did after Gandhi,s murder
During partition muslims killed all hindus irrespective of Cast
Hindus must unite
3 months ago

Your statement that Congress did not do any thing wrong proves that you muslims never lost any thing
Fact is you people multiplied after partition in Hindustan while Hindus reduced to less then 1 percent from 30 percent in pakistan
Rather muslim army killed them
while Gandhi and nehrus army protected u people
3 months ago

3 months ago

Poorna Kumar
I state 'Hindus must unite'!
After partition Nehru and Gandhi created common platform for sikhs ie SGPC to unite
They created WAKAF Board for Muslims to unite while Christians had a common platform in the shape of Church
But Nehru and Gandhi divided hindus to SC,ST,OBC and so on
What i mean is we must understand the evil designs of a political party and unite
3 months ago

"U said Blaming government is very easy because every citizen is born to criticize the government and the national leaders"
3 months ago

After math id
Hindus are peace ful people thatr is why your population in Hindu majority areas have increased to 40 percent
I am aware Congress Nehru an Gandhi can only harm my intrests and these fuckers includingpeople like u had done this
Take this writing on Walls
Hindus have woken up and make the Congress Government to be judicious and honor our rights
Else U muslims be prepared to shift to Muslimistans created by you
3 months ago

The link you provided is not the Greement of Partition Signed between Nehru and Liyakat Ali during 1947 an 1948 as Prime Ministers of Free India
This is only declaration of British Government which was signed by the Governor General much before partition took place
Dont confuse people on Partion based on Religion Agreement between Nehru and Liyakat Ali
3 months ago

cxxx agressi id
whether u r hindu or not i damn care
Give me ur residential address
"i shall give u simulation of losses of ur nears and dears on the name of religion"
After that make gr8 statements on secularism
3 months ago

ha ha ha
u started abusing
and now u r requesting me to not to answer u
Gr8 Show Agress;;;;

Land Act

To obtain a comprehensive appraisal of Land Act, log on to Indiahousing for the various types of land tenure in existence. While there is an increasing movement to classify land tenures as 'legal' or 'illegal', the pressure on land creates a multiplicity of tenure systems, which further causes create regulations for control of land use. The growing pace of urbanization needs to be accounted for in terms of the ever expanding metropolis.

Authors define tenure as 'a diverse facility empowering a person/people/community to state a claim over land or its attachments'. Rights are often a complex set of rules with different users, each tenure form having varying degrees of acceptability within the legal framework. In the urban context, most tenure is either individual based tenure systems or community based tenure systems. Approaches that are used to map tenure systems are: land sub-system, actor based and location based.

The settlement 'cycle' of a pavement dweller is used as an example to show how they are recognized by the system as those with claims in an area. Through payment and patronage, pavement dwellers are able to stay in an area despite not possessing valid legal documents. Subsequently, squatters are formed where some set up provision shops, eateries and commercial ventures. Increasing migration creates pressure on land and increases commercial activities in a slum. In the ultimate analysis the displaced are, accommodated within the loopholes of the legal system. Browse Indiahousing Land Act for further details.

Land Policy

In terms of land strategies, the World Bank requires a perception of the legal issues involved in relocation to propose a realistic sketch. The nature of the official framework for the resettlement envisaged should be determined, including:
1.Legal and administrative procedures, both in terms of the valuation methodology and the timing of payment;

2.Land titling and registration procedures;

3.Laws and regulations relating to the agencies responsible for resettlement and land compensation, consolidation, land use, environment, water use, and social welfare.
So far, India has no national resettlement and rehabilitation policy. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, have state- wide resettlement and rehabilitation policies. The Maharashtra Project Affected People's Rehabilitation Act of 1976, amended in 1986, is the most comprehensive.

Other States have issued Government Orders or Resolutions, sometimes sector-wide but more often for specific projects. The National Thermal Power Corporation and Coal India Limited have completed and issued resettlement and rehabilitation policies that are consistent with the World Bank's clauses.

Land Reform
The Centre has asked the States to rescind the Urban Land Ceiling Act and the State Rent Control Laws within a definite period.

The housing finance disbursements have registered a major growth from 1995-96 to 2003-04 due to housing finance institutions, the banking sector and the co-operative sector. But access to finance for the weaker sections and the low-income groups is an area of concern as major endowments under the housing finance sector have gone to the middle and higher income groups.

Social housing for the weaker sections and the low income groups is required and India has a major market for rental housing as more than 50 per cent of the formal housing is through the rental route. There is a need to launch a major rental-housing program through the private sector; similar to that in Europe.

Realtors should be summoned to use appropriate, cost-effective building materials and technology. The housing sector has tremendous probability to contribute towards employment generation and growth and state governments should take advantage of Central schemes.

Real Estate In India, Indian Real Estate

Real estate in India is a bubble that seems to be blown in to maximum each time we hear of a price rise in the Indian realty sector. But then the myth is broken and a fact is established stating there's room for more. The real estate news shows a never ceasing expansion in the real estate developments everywhere.More real estate companies and group have been established in the recent few years. The real estate discussion forum and Blog discussions have become a trend amongst enthusiastic property and realty investors. The Indian real estate market has developed from the local 'thekedaars' to real estate agents and realtors. Real estate sector has proven to be the best returns opportunity for investment of the long saved funds.

The for sale real estate listings include everything from residential houses, apartments, townships, buildings to commercial ad retail shops, complexes, mega malls, entertainment centres, office spaces and industrial set ups. Real estate construction companies have ventured into mass development projects that sometimes include development of integrated townships that are small self-sufficient cities among themselves.

Indian Real estates are a good fund-attracting site for the NRI's and other foreign investment seekers. The real estate trends that were more orthodox have undergone a paradigm shift to a more contemporary and modern outlook with a bloom in the realty situated in far away and more serene surroundings. This shift has given the Indian real estate industry a newer opportunity of developing land that was otherwise considered useless and provide the tranquility of the mountainside holiday destinations right in your home.

A most recent real estate report of the year 2007 shows Bangalore and Chennai as the cities most affected by the bloom in the real estate market in India. The realty prices have risen sky high.

The realtors and real estate agents in these cities are the happiest of the lot getting plum commissions because of the excess demand of the property in these areas. The real estate laws have also changed with emphasis on the customer demands rather than the builder choices.

Real estate development jobs are not mere acquiring land and constructing on it. The whole realty development procedure involves careful planning about the location of the project and the desired customer base targeted then comes the land acquisition and then accordingly a topmost architect is consulted, the layout designed, raw materials customized, state-of-the-art infrastructure and techniques employed and perfect finishes are provided to give the made-to-order finish to each unit. A strategic following of this trend can ensure the best real estate product and hands down sale opportunity for the realtors as well.

Many sites provide an online real estate directory that provides all Indian real estate listings and Real Estate Builders, Agents and developers. Many websites also function as real estate portals and deal in property buy, sell, rent or lease. You can also research on the real estate business in India, the trends of the Indian realty market and get the latest report and news on the Indian real estate property. On this website find all you would like to enquire about the real estate market in India, the real estate listings, a comprehensive listing of the Top Builders and finance schemes providing institutions as well.

India Real Estate Investment

India Real Estate Investment has proven to be the highest yielding investment opportunity in the recent few years. The realty industry in India is at its zenith and is thereby attracting the maximum investment not just locally but overseas too. NRI Investments have taken a new turn and have entered the Indian real estate market.

The various Real Estate Developments in India include construction of residential units, townships, commercial complexes, office buildings and retail stores and shopping malls. The newest entrant is development of IT spaces that includes IT Parks and integrated townships for the employees of the IT industry in that IT Park.

Many Banks and Financial Institutions like HDFC Property Fund, Dewan Housing Finance Limited-DHFL Venture Capital Fund, Kotak Mahindra Realty Fund, Kshitij Venture Capital Fund (A group venture of Pantaloon Retail India Ltd) and India Advantage Fund (ICICI), provide the funds for real estate development to the Builders and Developers for construction of these structures. These are the major institutional investors in real estate in India.

The various factors responsible for the upswing in the India real estate investments are:
?The increasing demand in residential, commercial and industrial properties
?Growth in hospitality or hotel industry
?Development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ)
?Increased living standards of people with higher disposable incomes
?Development of IT and ITES industry.

The Government of India is also liberalizing by providing more funds for real estate developments all across the country and relaxing the economic policies. The various acts by the GOI in this regard are:
?Indian Transfer Of Property Act
?Indian Registration Act, 1908.
?Indian Urban Land (Ceiling And Regulation) Act, 1976
?Stamp Duty
?Rent Control Acts
?Property Tax
?Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973
Besides the GOI interest in the realty sector other investments demanding mention are NRI Investments. NRI investment in real estate segment in India have increased manifold. Special NRI cities are being constructed by the leading Real Estate Builders in and around, major cities in India like Noida, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata etc.

A major chunk of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI's) presently goes into the Indian realty sector. Steps have been taken to manage and further promote real estate investment in India. An Indian Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is being formed that will facilitate fast and easy liquidation of investments in the real estate market in India. The Indian realty market is flooded with Initial Public Offer (IPO) by various real estate and infrastructure development groups. This is opening further avenues for investments in real estate in India.

Pages from the history of the Indian sub-continent


The 2-Nation Theory and Partition, a Historical Overview
(2009 revision)

An oft repeated claim by many British and other Western analysts and reporters has been that the Hindus and Muslims of the sub-continent have always been at war and there has been centuries of hatred between them. Therefore, partition was inevitable, (perhaps even a historical necessity), and Pakistan can be seen as a logical outcome of that "ancient" animosity between the two peoples.

That some of India's rulers during the medieval period were Islamic invaders is an indisputable fact - that some of these invaders engaged in acts of terror and vandalism is also undeniable. But if the contradictions between Hindus and Muslims resulted from the destructive force of Islamic invaders and conquerors, shouldn't the advocates of partition have been the victims of Islamic excess - i.e. the Hindus? But in 1947, the demand for partition was articulated by the Muslim League, not by the Hindu Mahasabha. How do we unravel this apparent contradiction?

Those who argue that Hindus and Muslims are two irreconcilable nations simply based on the fact that India had to deal with Islamic invaders must also quantify how many of the sub-continent's Muslims identified, or collaborated with such barbaric excesses of conquest. Did ordinary Muslims see Islamic invaders as their champions or liberators, as some argue? Could one conclude that all Muslims were in some way responsible for the acts of violent desecration that took place? If this were true, how is it that a majority of these Islamic invaders had to fight local Islamic rulers to gain control of India? And how is it that ordinary Muslims were as much victims of pillage and plunder as were Hindus?

And even if the invasions had caused a deep divide in Indian society couldn't a modern democratic society overcome this legacy and create a secular polity in which Hindus and Muslims and people of other religions could live in harmony and unity? (Especially since most Hindus were willing to make very serious compromises for the sake of unity).

Would the 2-nation theory apply if it turned out that the vast majority of converts to Islam practised Sufism as opposed to Quranic Islam and that the essence of Sufic theory and practice went against zealotry or fundamentalist identification with sectarian religio-political theories? If ordinary Hindus and Muslims could relate to each other in a peaceful and friendly way, was partition at all necessary?

Religious Commonality and Nationhood
First, let us examine the proposition that religious commonality is the primary motive force behind modern nationhood. If religious commonality were the essential engine for nation-building, it is odd that Europe's Christian followers are divided into so many different nations. Even if we accept that it was denominational differences that divided them, we might still ask - why aren't all the followers of the Roman Catholic faith in Europe nationally unified? Why aren't they united in Central and South America? Why didn't all Protestants get together in one nation?

If religion alone could serve as the basis for national unity - how is it that in spite of several attempts at unity, Islam failed to unify the Arabic-speaking people of North Africa and the Middle East?

If Islam could not be developed as the primary basis of national identity in the Arab world where Islam originated and had virtually universal following - isn't it peculiar that Islam should be viewed as the pre-eminent basis for defining national identity in the sub-continent?

If we were to go by the experiences of the European or other Asian nations, we would find that cultural and linguistic factors, and shared historical experiences have often been more decisive in forging the idea of nationhood.

The claim that the sub-continent comprises two nations - Hindus and Muslims, is a stark exception to the general pattern of nation-building elsewhere in the world. Yet, many Western intellectuals have promoted this claim as if it were within the ambit of a generally accepted or universally valid model.

Perhaps the legitimacy of the 2-nation claim arises from within the unique and specific experiences of the sub-continent as some Western analysts have attempted to suggest. They have argued that religion has played such a pre-eminent and overpowering role in the sub-continent, that unlike anywhere else in the world, religion is the only reasonable basis for defining nationhood in the sub-continent.

But even if these analysts could prove that the secular life of the Indian people were entirely subsumed by religious affiliation, or prove that religion played a substantially greater role in the life of the Indian people than anywhere else, that alone would not be sufficient to prove their two-nation claim. In theory, two people could be devoutly religious, practice different religions, but remain completely tolerant and respectful of each other's religions and wish to stay together in one nation.

To prove their claim, these intellectuals would also have to demonstrate that of all contradictions between the people - the religious contradiction was most germane. That not only did religion divide the Indian people in a manner that could not be easily reconciled, that it also bound people in a way that nothing else did. They would have to show that socio-economic relations, cultural activities and political actions were propelled by specific allegiance to either Hinduism or Islam. That cultural, linguistic, economic and political antagonisms within Hinduism and Islam were minimal, but conflicts between practitioners of the two distinct faiths were of such magnitude that no democratic framework could possibly resolve them. As evidence of "irreconcilable difference" they would need to show that there were none or few (and exceptional) instances of peaceful co-existence or mutual tolerance between the two communities.

But even a cursory examination of the historical record disproves such a hypothesis. Not only did most Hindus and Muslims live in relative peace with each other, at several junctures, there are important instances of extended collaboration and unity between the two sects.

Hindu-Muslim collaboration during the Mughal period

In the 16th century, when Akbar was the emperor of the northern 2/3rds of India his closest political allies were the Hindu Rajputs of Bikaner and Jaipur. These Mughal-Rajput alliances outlived his death, and continued for over 200 years. The Hindu kingdoms of Datia, Orchha and Jhansi were also generally allied with the Mughals. Akbar's chief advisor and Prime Minister was Birbal - a Hindu. His most successful general was Raja Man Singh of Jaipur. The Jaipur Rajputs were the most powerful fighters in the country. During Akbar's reign, they had one of Asia's best canon factories, and their canons were crucial in extending Mughal power from Afghanistan in the West to Assam in the East. In battle after battle, Rajput generals led the Mughal armies to victory. If contradictions between Hindus and Muslims were so sharp - could this close military collaboration have lasted for over 200 years?

Although these alliances were often coerced and may have been opportunistic, their lasting existence amply demonstrates Hindu willingness to compromise and adapt to Islamic rulers.

The record also shows a pattern of marital ties that bound the Mughals and the Rajputs. Of Akbar's several wives, more than a few were Hindu princesses. And his most important wife was his Rajput wife from the Jaipur house. The largest palace built for any wife was Rani Jodh Bai's Mahal in Fatehpur Sikri, and after marriage, Jodh Bai continued to practise Hindu customs. It was her son, Jehangir, who succeeded to the throne after Akbar's death and continued the practice of taking Hindu wives. His son Shah Jehan, who succeeded him was also reportedly borne of a Rajput wife.

During the battles for succession to the Mughal throne, battle lines were never drawn on the basis of religious affiliation. For instance, Aurangzeb had to fight three of his brothers for the throne. In each of these battles, Aurangzeb got crucial help from his Hindu allies. And each of his brothers counted Hindu kings and generals amongst their allies.

The Muslim rulers of Gujarat and the Deccan followed very similiar practices. Later, when the Marathas of Central India led a revolt against the Mughals, both Hindus and Muslims joined the Maratha army. Although the Maratha armies were led by Shivaji - a Hindu - some of their military campaigns were led by Muslim generals.

In the 18th century, when the Mughal empire began disintegrating after the death of Aurangzeb, kingdoms broke away from the authority of Delhi not on the basis of religious differences, but as an assertion of regional independence, with political boundaries beginning to match linguistic and cultural boundaries more closely. Local contradictions, the struggle against high taxation and the centralizing tendencies of the Mughal empire became paramount.

If there were two distinct nations (based on religion) in the sub-continent, it is quite evident that the rulers of the 16th, 17th or 18th centuries did not think that to be the case. It is one thing that Islamic rulers may have generally favored more Muslims with employment at their courts, and Hindu rulers may have had more Hindus in their top administrative councils. But there is almost no evidence to suggest that any of India's medieval kingdoms were run exclusively on the basis of religious affinity, let alone strict religious dogma.

Peaceful Co-existence and Unity of the Masses
There is also little in the Indian historical record to indicate that Hindus and Muslims in the numerous craft guilds and peasantry were constantly at war with one another. Here we find a pattern of mostly peaceful co-existence. Hindu and Muslim artisans and craftspeople often worked side-by-side in the manufacturing towns, at construction sites, and in royal factories. Even when they followed different religions, the idealogical underpinnings of their faiths were similiar: that all were equal before god. This was the common message of Sikhism, Sufism and the Hindu Bhakti traditions. It was, therefore, not uncommon for a popular Bhakti saint to have Muslim followers, or a popular Sufi saint to have Hindu followers. Festivals that commemorated such popular saints drew entire communities, cutting across religious lines.

Unlike Europe, who fell prey to the cruel excesses of religious inquisitions during the medieval period, comparable bouts of sustained religious terror are simply not to be found in the Indian historical record. That is precisely why, (in spite of several centuries of rule by Islamic Kings), the percentage of Muslims in the Indian sub-continent never reached a majority. Although conversions to Islam did involve force and coercion, by and large Indian converts did not adopt the militant fundamentalism or Jehadism that is advocated in the Medina verses of Quranic Islam. Conversion was facilitated and encouraged by the preachings of Sufi saints whose teachings were found more compatible with earlier Indic practices. In many instances, peasants and artisans who converted to Islam did not abandon previous religious practices and continued to celebrate popular Hindu festivals. Most Indian converts to Islam had maintained a certain continuity with their earlier tradition that enabled a level of mutual tolerance amongst ordinary Hindus and Muslims.

Ibn Batuta, the 14th century Tunisian chronicler who travelled throughout the Indian sub-continent attests to the relative tolerance and peaceful co-existence amongst the two communities. When he does refer to conflicts between an Islamic and Hindu ruler, it is over rights of taxation, applicability of trade concessions, authority of commercial contracts and so on. These are clearly secular conflicts and could occur just as well between rulers practising the same religion, as in fact happened between the Ottoman Turks and the Persian rulers, or Shah Jehan and the monarchs of Central Asia.

The charge that religion had played a dominant and overpoweringly divisive role at all levels of Indian society is either an ahistorical charge stemming from faulty information and analysis, or else deliberate fabrication. Certainly before the advent of Islam, India was a land where religion was neither fixed nor absolute. There had always been multiple and competitive philosophical streams that had co-existed in India and sufic peace-loving Islam was easily absorbed.

In fact,the Indian masses had most potently demonstrated how united they were during the first war of independence in 1857. 1857 was a revolt that shook the very foundations of British rule in India. For almost a year, the entire plains of Northern India were free from colonial rule. Hindus and Muslim soldiers mutinied together and fought the British soldiers as one. When people in towns like Patna, Lucknow and Meeirut revolted, broke open the jails and stormed the British armories - they did it together - they did not then see themselves as Hindus or Muslims, but as one people fighting a common and hated enemy - the British.

When a rebel administration was formed - all its public manifestos were issued in the name of both Hindus and Muslims. Hindus and Muslims were equally represented in the main governing bodies and proclamations were issued in popular languages. Hindi and Urdu texts were provided simultaneously.

In the first battle for independence - there was absolutely no talk of there being two separate nations in the sub-continent. The shared experience of an alien and brutal colonial rule was shaping into an armed nationalism that transcended religious bounds. Rather than religious particularism drowning the consciousness of the Indian - the idea of an India ruled by Indians transfused the mind of the 1857 revolutionaries. The first expressions of conscious nationhood had subsumed religious distinctions. It took one more century of colonial rule to seriously damage the secular spirit that had emerged repeatedly in Indian political practice.

British Communal Policy - Motivations and Practice
Although India's Islamic invaders initially saw themselves as very different and distinct from the people they had conquered and colonized in the subcontinet, over time, this sectarian aloofness eroded. Some of the later Islamic rulers began to identify with the land of their birth They had risen from Indian soil and would die in Indian soil. Later generations of conquering clans had no choice but to make India their home and identify with it to a greater degree than first or second generation conquerors. But unlike the descendants of India's Islamic invaders, the British colonial masters had no intention of making India their permanent home. Whereas India's later Islamic rulers (especially those who were Muslim converts) saw their own destinies inextricably linked with the Indian sub-continent, the British saw India more as a distant outpost - to be exploited and pillaged, but not to be nourished or developed.

Even as Islamic rulers taxed the peasantry they were also propelled to invest in irrigation schemes and technological improvements that increased productivity. Or else, they recycled that surplus in the towns through the patronage of monumental building projects or manufacturing ventures. But the British promarily drained India to enrich Britain.

Unlike British administrators who knew their terms were limited, and could therefore get away with all manner of lies and cruelty - later generation Islamic administrators knew that they had to live amongst the Indian people, and therefore, could become victims of their wrath. This meant that Islamic rulers could not as easily get away with the same excesses the British could.

These were some important and essential differences between India's later Indian-born Islamic rulers and the British Colonists. To the extent that India's Islamic rulers planned to make India their home, and spend their acquired wealth in India - wisdom eventually propelled the more sophisticated amongst them towards some measure of secular practice - towards fostering some degree of peaceful co-existence between Hindus and Muslims. But the beneficiaries of British rule had no intentions of spending the Indian surplus in India. The tenure of individual administrators was temporary, and the capital extracted from India was primarily for use in Britain, or elsewhere in Europe and America. A genuine secular policy was neither essential to their survival, nor helpful to their goal of using India's wealth to enrich Britain. In fact, 1857 had shown how dangerous the unity of the Indian masses could be to their political authority.

It is therefore not surprising that they had been trying to foment communal unrest between the two communities all through the early part of the 19th century. For instance, as early as 1821, a British officer under the assumed name of "Carnaticus" wrote in the Asiatic Review that : "Divide et impera should be the motto of our Indian administration, whether political, civil or military." The fright of 1857 made the British even more purposeful in how they used communal propaganda.

One of the insidious practices initiated by the British was to encourage Quranic fundamentalism in the guise of "Islamic Reform" which in practise meant erasing the sufi ethos and forcing Muslim ocnverts to give up their long held affection for earlier tribal or Hindu or other Indic beliefs and practises. In "purifying" the Indian Muslim, British-sponsored clerics (such as Wahhabis) from the Arabian peninsula and other Quranic fanatics helped lay the foundation of sectarian organizations such as the Muslim League in East Bengal who sought to destroy the camraderie that had previously existed between Hindus and Sufi (or moderate) Muslims.

At the same time, they encouraged rumor-mongering, incited riots and deliberately favored one community over another.
"We have maintained our power in India by playing-off one part against the other," the Secretary of State for India reminded Viceroy, Lord Elgin (1862-63), "and we must continue to do so. Do all you can, therefore, to prevent all having a common feeling."

Thus, even as they actively aided and abetted the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, they also instigated Sikh separatism by patronizing sectarian Gurudwara Prabandh Samitis in the Golden Temple and at other Gurudwaras. Until the early 20th century, it was routine for Sikhs and Hindus to share the Golden Temple. Religious rites at the temple were peformed by both Sikh religious leaders and Brahmins. But British intervention led to a sharp split between Sikhs and Hindus who had historically seen themselves as close kin.

Furthermore, they exploited cleavages amongst Hindus - whether they were based on caste or attitude towards the Islamic invaders. At the same time they developed the false theory that India had never really been a nation - that it had always been a land of interlopers and invaders and that Hindus were essentially incapable of self-rule.

Hindus were thus caught in a bind. If they pointed to the many acts of resistance to alien Islamic rule, or successful victories over Islamic rulers such as those by the Marathas, the Sikhs or the Vijaynagar kingdome of the South, it had the potential of alienating the Islamic elite. On the other hand, if they kept silent for fear of alenating Muslim opinion, they woud come across as a weak people who were only fit to be conquered.

Both the truth and the suppression of the truth could be used against Hindu aspirations.

At the same time, as British historians began documenting the history of the Islamic invasions, they found ways of using the historical record to divert attention from their own plunder. As they stripped numerous palaces of their marble and jewelled facades, they could justify it by arguing that the damage done by Islamic invaders had been worse.

British historian Sir Henry Elliot, produced his own eight-volume History of India from his own historians in1867. His history showed that Hindus were slain for disputing with 'Muhammedans', their idols were mutilated, their temples destroyed, they were forced into conversions and marriages, and were killed and massacred by drunk Muslim tyrants. Such histories enraged the Islamic elite who were not prepared to brook any criticism of their record in India. Hindus wanting unity were thus forced to either ignore the truth. To embrace it meant disunity.

This led to an inevitable dispute amongst Hindus as to how to deal with the history of the earlier Islamic conquests and weakened Hindu unity. It also made the taks of Hindu-Muslim unity doubly difficult.

The policy of divide and rule required a considerable degree of manipulation. Lord Dufferin, Viceroy,(1884-88), was advised by the Secretary of State in London that 'the division of religious feelings is greatly to our advantage', and that he expected 'some good as a result of your committee of inquiry on Indian education and on teaching material'.

Lord Curzon (Governor General of India 1895-99 and Viceroy 1899-1904, d.1925) was told by the Secretary of State for India, George Francis Hamilton, that they 'should so plan the educational text books that the differences between community and community are further strengthened'.

While it was true that most Islamic rulers oppressed the poor peasantry, British economic exploitation was worse. This was naturally covered up. The many secular activities of rulers who were Muslm-coverts (but not invaders) were omitted. Such Muslim rulers (and even later-generation progeny of invading Muslim clans) had built palaces, inns, courts and hospitals, sponsored irrigation schemes and patronized manufacturing towns. This had provided income and employment to both Hindus and Muslims. When they helped to expand production, it helped both Hindus and Muslims. This was not acknowledged. That the majority of Muslims were not rulers and had little to do with the war campaigns of the rulers was knowingly obscured.

British propaganda was thus consciously and deliberately designed to provoke animosity and hatred between the communities. It is significant to note that the communal problem was a special feature only of British India (those territories of the Indian sub-continent directly ruled by Britain), whereas the Indian states (territories ruled by local Maharajas that owed allegiance to the British crown) were comparatively free from communal strife. The Simon Report (p.29) was compelled to admit "..the comparative absence of communal strife in the Indian states today ..."

The idea that Hindus and Muslims were two irreconcilable nations was greatly nourished by the British. And the first time, this idea (that Hindus and Muslims of the sub-continent were two distinct people) was expressed in any concrete and modern political form was when the All India Muslim League was founded in 1906 under the active patronage of the British rulers. This was almost 50 years after the British had defeated the 1857 uprising, and reconquered the Gangetic plain.

The Muslim League
Maulana Azad (President of the Indian National Congress during colonial rule) writing in "India Wins Freedom" describes the emergence of the Muslim League in these words:

"It was said that one of the objects of the League would be to strengthen and develop a feeling of loyalty to the British Govt. amongst the Muslims of India. The second object was to advance the claims of the Muslims against Hindus and other communities in respect of service under the crown and thus safeguard Muslim interests and rights. The leaders of the League were therefore naturally opposed to the demand for political independence raised by the Congress. They felt that if the Muslims joined in any such demand the British would not support their claims for special treatment in education and service. In fact, they described the Congress as a disloyal organization of rebels and regarded even moderate leaders like Gokhale and Ferozeshah Mehta as extremists. During this phase the British Govt. always used the Muslim League as a counter to the demands of the Congress."

"The Muslim League entered into the second phase of its activites when it found that the Government was compelled to introduce some reforms as a result of Congress pressure. It was somewhat disturbed when it saw the Congress achieving it's objective step by step. The League still remained aloof from the political struggle but as soon as any advance was made, it put in a claim on behalf of the Muslim community. This program of the Muslim League suited the (colonial) govt. well. In fact, there are reasons to think that the League was acting according to the wishes of the British."

Around this time, the British did something else to hamper the unity of the Indian people. They had already introduced job quotas based on religious affiliations. Now they introduced voting for local bodies based on a divided electorate. There were separate Hindu seats and Muslim seats. And voting was first restricted to property holders and later to those who were literate. Since literacy was very low - just 8% after the first world war and 11% in 1947 - a very small percentage of people could vote. But even those that had the vote were divided along religious lines.

In spite of all this rigging, the Muslim League initially won little support even amongst the Muslim elites of the sub-continent. Even in provinces where Muslims were in overwhelming majority, there was no League ministry before 1945.

The majority of the Indian people were with the secular program of the Indian National Congress (or with forces more radical). There was a Congress ministry in The Frontier Province. In Punjab there was a Unionist Ministry. The Unionists were a party of the Punjab landed elite but included Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus. In Sindh, the ministry led by Ghulam Hussein depended on Congress support.

Yet, when the British Colonial govt. invited representatives of the Indian people for political negotiations in 1945, the Muslim League was given as much representation as the Congress. The Congress, that represented all sections of Indian society and had support all over the country, was allowed to nominate only 5 members out of 14! The Muslim League with a fraction of the Congress's mass base was also allocated 5 nominees, and the colonial government picked 4 of it's own to represent Sikhs, Dalits and Muslims.

Still, out of its 5 members, the Congress chose to nominate only 2 Hindus, and nominated a Muslim, a Christian and a Parsi to reflect it's secular composition. The Muslim League of course, only nominated Muslims, but it complained when the Congress nominated a Muslim - claiming that only it had the right to nominate Muslims. The Congress maintained that because it represented all communities it would also nominate a Muslim representative. India was thus represented by 7 Muslims in a group of 14, even though the Muslim population at that time was only about 25% of the country. No one could have argued that Muslims were being crowded out or dominated by Hindus in the independence discussions and negotiations. (In fact, it is more relevant to point out that the Indians picked to negotiate with the British were not true representatives of the Indian people.)

Between 1942 and 1945 when the Congress had launched the Quit India movement, all the senior Congress leaders were jailed. This gave the Muslim League a free hand to incite communal passions amongst the educated Muslims of the sub-continent. The British authorities gave overt support to the League in this period. The League told the Muslim elites in the Muslim majority states that they would be denied all rights in a Hindu dominated India and that only they - the Muslim League, could guarantee their rights as Muslims. The fear-mongering worked to the extent that in the 1945 provincial elections, the League ended up with almost half the seats in Bengal; it increased it's seats in Punjab, winning as many as the Unionist party and more than the Congress. It also increased it's strength in Sind (but fell short of a majority). Still, the League could not extend it's influence in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan. In the Frontier Province, the Congress was once again able to form the ministry.

But these gains were enough for the British colonial government to claim that the Muslim League deserved to be given as much importance as the Congress in discussing the terms of independence. They discounted the Congress with it's much broader appeal - an appeal that went far beyond the narrow elites who were allowed to vote in those limited elections. It was forgotten that the Muslim League had only been able to garner some support when the Congress was at a serious disadvantage with most of it's leaders in jail.

But this was precisely the British plan. They wanted to leave power to the most undemocratic forces in the country - forces that had been most loyal to their rule, and hence traitors to the aspirations of most people of the sub-continent. They conspired to chart India's independence in a manner that would inhibit and constrain India's future development. If they were going to lose their direct hold on India, they wanted to ensure that India remain vulnerable to external manipulation and be as subservient to the dictates and demands of policy-makers in the West.

Partition - Colonial Chicanery?

As late as 1946, the Muslim League was prepared to accept autonomy. But their price for unity was based on undemocratic and unacceptable demands. They had wanted reserved seats for Muslims in excess of their population - on the basis that they had been former rulers of the country. They insisted that several aspects of the future administration be run on communal lines, a divisive and again, undemocratic demand. Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League had to become the first Prime Minister even though his popular following was nowhere near comparable to any leader of the Congress.

These were the League's real demands - but they couched the failure of their negotiation with the Congress in the rhetoric of "Muslim self-determination". The right of self-determination is usually invoked by the historically oppressed - not those who had once been emperors and members of the ruling elite. That Muslims in India were a minority was hardly relevant since India's unity had not been forged on the basis of religion, or by any single dominant grouping. India's Hindus were not a homogenous group. They were divided by caste, region, culture and language. What united Hindus is also what united Muslims - the collectively shared experience of being ravaged by colonial rule and a broad cultural affinity that transcended differences of religion and language.

The choice before India was not between two nations - Hindu and Muslim. It was between several small nations (that would inevitably fall prey to neo-colonial machinations) or one large federal nation that could mediate differences in a democratic way - but create a nation unified enough to develop and progress independently of external interference.

The Congress had promised several constitutional protections for Muslims to practice their religion and Muslims to have their own legislation in matters of personal law and personal property. But the Muslim League rejected all compromises and insisted on partition as the only solution, and the British ordered a mock plebiscite to decide the issue. Without universal voting, no vote could have been seen as decisive or representative. Although the Muslim League narrowly succeeded in it's aims by getting the educated elite of Punjab and E. Bengal - (the two largest states in original Pakistan) to vote for partition, the parties in the NWFP who were opposed to partition boycotted the plebiscite. And no plebiscite took place in the states where Muslims were not in a majority. Surely a decision as important as political vivisection should have required a nation-wide referendum with ample time for opponents to make their case? That the wishes of the millions of Muslims who lived in Hindu-majority states were not taken into account at all shows how false and weak was the Muslim League's claim to be the sole or leading representative for India's Muslims.

It is also noteworthy that all important Islamic theologians were against partition. Maulana Madani undertook a whirlwind tour to campaign against the League. Representatives of the Muslim working class were also sharply against partition. The Ansari Muslims (weaver caste) who were very politically conscious and well-organized in the Gangetic states publicly demonstrated against the Leagues partition resolution.

The Muslim League had connived with the British to present partition as a fait-accompli. With great regret, many accepted it as a temporary setback, but hoped that once the British left, the future would be different. But the Muslim League and the British were taking no chances. To ensure that Hindus and Muslims did not get together to reverse this precipitous course, the Muslim League (with British backing and cover) resorted to several acts of blackmail and terror. All Muslim civil servants and army officers were exhorted to leave for Pakistan. First, they were warned that they would be mistreated in India. When Maulana Azad combated the vicious rumor-mongering by the League and assured Muslims that their rights would be protected in secular India, many Muslims sought to stay on. At that point, the League threatened to harm their property interests and their relatives in Pakistan. Under the pressure of such blackmail, most caved in and migrated to Pakistan.

Simultaneously, armed gangs with the complicity of the League and British officers engineered a campaign of terror against Pakistan's Hindu and Sikh minorities. Arson, rape, and mass murder resulted in an unprecedented exodus of millions of refugees, with it's inevitable anti-Muslim backlash in India.

Few of Pakistan's Hindus and Sikhs had wanted to leave. With strong ties to their neighbours and communities - they had never imagined that the situation would deteriorate as rapidly as it did. They had accepted partition, but hoped that they would be allowed to live in peace as they had for centuries earlier. They had assumed that generations of shared ties would enable free travel and trade between the two nations. The gruesome nature of partition destroyed all illusions. Not only did partition divide the sub-continent on an ahistoric and unpopular premise - the manner in which it took place guaranteed that the two new nations would be borne through bloody anguish and nurse long-lasting wounds.

Writing in 1957, Maulana Azad elaborated on how partition was turning out to be a disaster for the Muslims of the sub-continent. He pointed out how the leaders of Pakistan were migrants from different places in India, and that these leaders did not even speak the local language. Moreover, they feared the masses and evaded popular elections as much as possible. He added that the only result of the creation of Pakistan was to weaken the position of the Muslims of the sub-continent. He emphasized that it was one of the greatest frauds on the people that religious affinity can unite area which are geographically, economically, linguistically and culturally different. 14 years before Bangladesh broke off from Pakistan - he was worried that a common religion may not be enough to unite East and West Pakistan. He pointed out how Pakistan's enormous military budget would crowd out development and harm the interests of most Pakistanis. He worried that antagonisms between Hindus and Muslims would only increase after partition.

In hindsight, it is clear that partition was an attempt by India's colonizers to keep the people of the subcontinent divided and weak. The Muslim League had never proved it's strength in any truly democratic vote. The British knew that the Congress was under great pressure to gain independence quickly. They exploited the mood of impatience and weariness in the Congress to accept partition even when it wasn't what the masses of the Indian sub-continent had really wished for.

The manner in which the British promoted the Muslim League, the manner in which senior officials in the colonial administration allowed Hindus and Sikhs to be forced out from Pakistan makes it apparent that it was a continuation of it's long premeditated policy of divide and conquer. It is more than a little ironic that the British who for over a hundred years had taught the Hindus that no one had oppressed them more than the Muslims should have then turned around and argued that the self-determination of India's Muslims required partition.

It is equally ironic that the Muslim League in the name of "defending Muslims" precipitated a vivisection of the sub-continent in a manner that has left the region's Muslims divided into three nations. What could be more perfidious than for the Muslim League to have collaborated with the British when they were the ones that conducted a 200 year campaign of vilification of Muslims as violent invaders and conquerors that had destroyed Indian civilization? In the end, it is the people of Pakistan who have least enjoyed the fruits of freedom. It is their tragedy that their new nation was founded by a sectarian and undemocratic organization that had collaborated in the worst way with the greatest enemies of the people of the sub-continent - i.e the British colonial rulers and exploiters.

Pakistan is a living reminder of how our freedom was only partially won, and a much more difficult phase lies ahead.

Notes and References

1) " Eminent Mussalmans (Neeraj Publishing House, Delhi, 1981 reprint, first edition - 1926) for autobiographies of pro-British Muslims who called for the founding of the Muslim League such as the Aga Khan who once stated: "If they will only give me the opportunity, I will shed my last drop of blood for the British Empire".

2) Maulana Azad's autobiographical account of the freedom years: India Wins Freedom

3) Allah Baksh, Premier of Sind (prior to his dismissal by Colonial Governor, Hugh Dow, on October 10, 1942) was a vigorous opponent of partition and campaigned against the the idea of Pakistan through out India. Allah Baksh who was committed to the cause of a united secular India paid heavily for his views when he was murdered on May 14, 1943 by professional killers hired by the Muslim League.

(Prior to his death, Allah Baksh as head of the Ittehad Party had successfully prevented the Muslim League from gaining a foothold in the province of Sind. Although his Party were not part of the Indian National Congress, he supported the Quit India movement, and renounced in protest all titles conferred by the British Government when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a derogatory reference to the Indian freedom struggle and the Quit India movement.)

4) In his article, Creation of Pakistan - Safeguarding British Strategic Interests, Narendra Singh Sarela, former Indian Ambassador to France wrote to suggest that recently unsealed British top secret documents indicated how Mohammed Ali Jinnah (leader of the Muslim League) articulated his demand for partition in 1940 only after getting the approval of Lord Zetland, then secretary of state for India. The British encouraged the partition proposal in order to safeguard their interests in a post-colonial world. Earlier in 1939, Jinnah had pledged the loyalty of Indian Muslim troops (who comprised over 40% of the British Army in India) and the British expected that this loyal fighting force would come in handy in controlling the oil-wealth of the Middle East, and provide the Western powers with a "reliable ally" that could serve as a foil to the former Soviet Union. (The commentary appeared in the Times of India, March 17, 2000)

5) See the 'Transfer of Power Documents' 1942-1947, India Office, London; (also available at the Jawaharlal Nehru Library, New Delhi); The documents describe in quite shocking detail how the British authorities engineered riots between Hindus and Muslims; bribed armed terrorists associated with the Muslim League; deliberately broke up meetings held by pro-unity Muslim leaders of the Congress; and ordered their police forces not to intervene in the wave of terror that led to the expulsion of Hindus and Muslims from what is now Pakistan.

6) See 'Reassessing Pakistan: the role of two-nation theory' by Anand K. Verma, under the auspices of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi ( A Book Review is available online)

7) Also see articles by Asghar Ali Engineer on the subject of partition: Perspectives on Partition and Secularism

Related Articles:

Sufi Currents and Civilization in the Islamic Courts

Loyalist Agents in the Indian Aristocracy and the Early Congress

Key Landmarks in the Indian Freedom Struggle

A Contemporary Note:

Since this article was first written, the events of the last decade have further reinforced the folly of partition. Pakistan has been steadily hurtling towards greater Quranic absolutism and has become a hotbed of Jehadi terror. The Sufi ethos that mitigated Islamic excesses has been virtually obliterated and the Taalibaan is steadily expanding its hold.The Islamic feudal elite that endorsed partition has ruled a nation that has survived largely on Chinese/American aid and receipts from the Gulf. Widespread poverty, illiteracy and gross human rights violations mar its record. If the creation of Pakistan was a victory for India's Islamists, it has turned out to be a very pyrrhic one. If Islamic states like Iran and Saudi Arabia appear somewhat developed, it is (in large part) due to their super-profits from oil. But without oil, Pakistan has shown what an Islamic sectarian ideology can result in. Long before the birth of Islam, Pakistan was home to the Indus Valley Civilization - one of the most advanced of its time. Today, Islamic obduracy is threatening to turn Pakistan into a "failed state". In contrast, in spite of its many difficulties, India has been surprising the world with its well-trained scientific,technologcial and managerial workforce. As an Indian spacecraft gathers new scientific data from the moon, Pakistanis might reflect on whether their obsession with the religion of their medieval conquerors has really been worth it. Likewise, Western intellectuals and opinion-makers might wish to rethink the colonial paradigms that led to an endorsement of Pakistan. Is their really a place for Quranic Jehad in the modern world?

The (Com)Promised Land
All partition-based peace pacts in the recent past have led to bloodshed. J&K's partition sans its liberation will only formalise the problem, in the guise of a solution.

From the day Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced his decision to invite Gen Pervez Musharraf to Delhi, the impending summit has become the number one story for the Indian media. Almost all the foreign affairs specialists, peace activists and Pakistan-watchers have praised Vajpayee's foreign policy initiative. The Pakistani general has also received a lot of kudos for his prompt and positive reciprocation. The most noteworthy feature of this media hype is the carnivalesque atmosphere that has been created. Peace between India and Pakistan is the main focus of the media, which is playing the role of the pragmatist who believes that 'politics is the art of the possible'.

But the 'peace' that is achievable within 'the possible' isn't based on principles of democracy and justice. For, this approach argues that since the ground realities in j&k couldn't be changed over the past five decades, they should 'accept' what exists on the ground as the permanent solution. In other words, convert the LoC into an international border and then move ahead to do business together. This is precisely why the Kashmiris, who are raising the uncomfortable issues of democratic rights and justice for the victims (of state oppression), are being asked to keep quiet and join the mainstream.

This is evident in the suggestions of several intellectuals that initially Vajpayee and Musharraf should avoid the 'hard issue' of j&k and take up some of the less controversial 'softer issues' like easing of restrictions on transborder travel, border trade and exchange of newspapers, journals, books and other cultural material. Some have also suggested finalisation of the Iran-India gas pipeline. Public uneasiness about the derailment of the summit by the Kashmir dispute has been strengthened by the recent statements emanating from India and Pakistan.

It's true that the dispute over j&k can't be resolved readily and that taking up of less controversial and somewhat 'softer' issues might smoothen the dialogue process. However, any attempt to avoid the j&k issue will send negative signals to its victimised people. Being far less powerful than India and Pakistan, the people of j&k might play along for a while. But like in Palestine, this peace too won't last long.

Over the past 50 years, both India and Pakistan have treated the denizens of j&k as a subjugated people while playing out their territorial ambitions. Despite every attempt to make the 12-year-long struggle for right to self-determination in j&k look like a totally Pakistan-sponsored proxy war, the Indian government is aware of the fact that an overwhelming majority of the people of j&k have become deeply alienated from India. Similarly, the Pakistan government is aware that the majority of the people of j&k no longer accept its claims on them on grounds of religion.

The virtual split in the Hurriyat on the role of religion is a powerful indication of the emergence of an indigenous Kashmiri political perspective, which is democratic and secular. Rejecting the position taken by the Jamaat-e-Islami and the jehadi groups in Kashmir, the majority of the aphc constituents have clearly said that their struggle for right to self-determination is a political struggle and that it has nothing to do with religion. During his visit to Pakistan last year, aphc leader Abdul Ghani Lone told a gathering of Kashmiris in Muzaffarabad that slavery was slavery, it did not matter whether the masters were Muslims or Hindus.

The Vajpayee government's failure to take cognisance of the emerging political trends in j&k is apparent. Similarly, Musharraf's soft approach towards the jehadi forces, the suppression of popular struggles for political reforms in Gilgit and Baltistan and Islamabad's rejection of the 'independence option' exposed the hollowness of that country's commitment to the Kashmiris' right for self-determination.

The growing involvement of the forces of globalisation in the subcontinent is evident from the willingness of the regimes and the ruling elite of India and Pakistan to accept the diktats of the western powers. The US government is known to be exerting enormous pressure on the governments of India and Pakistan to 'settle' the Kashmir dispute soon so that the region becomes safe for global business interests. It's believed the US state department has been pushing different versions of a partition-based solution. The bjp's willingness to settle the Kashmir dispute on the basis of the LoC, after suitable realignment to protect vital 'national security installations', is a known fact.

The failure of all partition-based peace agreements in the recent past—Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Palestine—stares us in the face. These peace agreements have generated greater violence and bloodshed. The much-hyped Camp David agreement has been shred to bits. The signals emanating from j&k is that its people won't accept any partition of their homeland. Under these circumstances, any attempt by the two governments to settle the future political status of j&k without consulting its people will achieve no purpose.

States are powerful and the dominant wisdom dictates the acceptance of the division of j&k as irreversible. The military, and religious and right-wing groups in India and Pakistan will have no problems with that. But that shouldn't be any reason to accept injustice. I'm for a peace that would promote values of coexistence, respect the right to self-determination of all peoples based on principles of equality between all nationalities and the peoples of India and Pakistan. Violence and hatred are bred out of injustice, poverty and a failed sense of political fulfilment. Without the liberation of j&k from the subjugation of India and Pakistan, there can be no durable peace in the subcontinent.

(The author is a filmmaker and founder-member of the Pakistan-India Forum.)

on partition By Iqbal Jafar
Wednesday, 09 Sep, 2009

Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah: India, Partition-Independence has the distinction of having reopened the old debate on the partition of India even before it reached the bookstalls. The controversy reignited by it will surely keep smouldering until the cows, sacred or not, come home. A safe bet is that they never would.

The partition of India was debated extensively and vigorously by the people of the subcontinent in about 400 different languages and dialects for seven long years (1940-47) in public and in private, at home and abroad, peacefully and violently. Yet, 62 years later, the debate has not ceased, tempers have not cooled, nor have the doubts and suspicions been laid to rest. The reason is that in South Asia a debate, once initiated, hardly ever concludes.

The book is the story of the partition of India as seen through the lives of three men of destiny — Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru — and their interaction with each other and with the British. The title, a bit misleading, doesn’t convey this. The author’s assessment of these three pre-eminent leaders, around whom the story of partition revolves, is given very early in the book. According to the author, ‘Jinnah and Nehru became principal promoters of ‘special status for Muslims’; Jinnah directly, Nehru indirectly’.

Both of them, according to the author, were so deeply imbued with ‘European thought’ that they ‘became far removed from the core of Indian cultural consciousness’. Then, who remained, the author asks, to speak for united India? His answer: ‘Sadly, only Mahatma Gandhi.’

This is how the story begins, and once begun covers familiar ground at a leisurely pace in about 500 pages. Towards the end of his labours the author is ready to round up the usual suspects.

Having concluded earlier that partition became inevitable ‘because of Jinnah’s continued rigidity, his fixed stand on an ever-increasing charter of demands for the Muslims’, he delivers his final verdict in these words: ‘In the process Jinnah did not win Pakistan, as the Congress leaders — Nehru and Patel — finally conceded Pakistan to Jinnah, with the British acting as an ever helpful midwife.’

These observations should be enough to disabuse the minds of gleeful Pakistanis of the notion that the book is a hagiography of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

These conclusions, however, are not new. Many historians have reached such conclusions before, except that Mr Jaswant Singh should not have avoided accepting that Gandhi too was not averse to partition. He has himself quoted Gandhi saying as early as April 1940, that: ‘Muslims must have the same right of self-determination that the rest of India has. We are at present a joint family. Any member may claim division.’

Moreover as pointed out by R.C. Majumdar, ‘before denouncing Nehru and Patel as mere dupes of the wily Mountbatten’s clever manoeuvring, it is fair to remember that the Congress had unanimously passed resolutions, directly or indirectly conceding Pakistan, in 1934, 1942, 1945 and March 1947’.

In fact the partition of India was so clearly imminent that Lord Wavell had given his plan for the exact demarcation of the breakaway state, both in the east and the west, as early as Feb 7, 1946, to the British cabinet. As an aside, one might add that the plan (Transfer of Power, Volume VI) happens to be identical to the Radcliffe award! There is, however, one difference: Wavell had given the whole of the Gurdaspur district to India, but Radcliffe gave one tehsil of it, Shakargarh, to Pakistan.

It is time for us South Asians to accept the fact that the partition of India came about with the agreement of all the major leaders of that time — Jinnah, Gandhi, Nehru, Patel — and there was no surprise or deception about it.

All the parties to that fateful decision were reconciled to the idea of partition much before the event. The lingering rancour on both sides of the border is, perhaps, not so much because of the partition itself, as the large-scale massacres and ruthless transfer of population that came as a shock for which no one was prepared, least of all the victims themselves.

The colossal carnage that suddenly swept through the land in the aftermath of partition was due to a surprise move for which only one person was responsible: Mountbatten. That surprise move was linked to the date of the transfer of power which was changed from June 1948 to August 1947.

Since the partition plan was announced on June 3, 1947, the transfer of power was force-fed within a matter of 72 days! It remains a mystery on what authority and for what reason Mountbatten, on his own, advanced the date to Aug 15, 1947. Had the partition plan been implemented in an orderly manner in 12 months (June 1947 to June 1948) rather than in 72 days, massacres, the sudden displacement of millions of people from their homes, and even the dispute over Kashmir would have been avoided.

When asked why he chose Aug 15, Mountbatten gave this astonishing reply: ‘The date I chose came out of the blue — I was determined to show I was master of the whole event.’

Patrick Spens, who was the chief justice of the Federal Court of India at that time, is one of those who have strongly criticised this irresponsible impulse. When asked about the causes for the widespread bloodshed following the transfer of power, he said: ‘The main cause was the haste with which we parted with India. The connections of centuries were severed within days without any proper thought. There was terrible haste.’

Now, how do we judge these men? There is a simple way to do it. Great leaders are judged not only on basis of their personal accomplishments and character alone, but also on the more enduring basis of the legacy that they bequeath to the generations that come after them.

While sharing some of his disenchantment let me add that Mr Jaswant Singh writes with so much raw passion that one is moved even if one doesn’t agree with him. For the students of South Asian history who are, by now, sick and tired of the argumentative history of the partition of India, this is a welcome change.

Partisan argumentation can never conclude, satisfy the curiosity or soften feelings. In a situation like this where rational intelligence is divisive, ‘emotional intelligence’ can open our minds to a holistic view of this vast and complex subcontinent.

A psychological study of India’s Partition, and some surprising results

A sketch of Ashis Nandy’s recent lecture at UC Berkeley. March 13, 2009

It was not hatred, but a strong undercurrent of humanity, that was the surprising finding of research on the traumatic bloodbath of the Partition, iconoclastic Indian researcher Ashis Nandy told an audience March 3 at the University of California.

Nandy made some unconventional points: Even in the terrible bloodbath that claimed the lives of millions, as many as one in four people among survivors said they were saved by the other community, and their fondest memories were still of the days when they lived with the ostensibly enemy community. He added that while those who engaged in the killings virtually got off scot-free, they paid a price in terms of mental and physical health and some even accepted culpability in their later age.

Nandy, a political psychologist and social theorist whose path-breaking work has revitalized scholarship on political psychology, the Indian encounter with colonialism, mass violence, nationalism and culture, was the featured speaker at the Sarah Kailath lecture here.

In 2008, Nandy was listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals of the world by the magazine Foreign Policy. UC Berkeley sociology Prof. Raka Ray, chair of the Center for South Asia Studies, introduced him as an “intellectual extraordinaire” who was India’s first postcolonial theorist, calling him a “prototypical public intellectual” and India’s most famous dissenter.

“I am a little perturbed by my steady decline into respectability, and I do not know what to do about it,” quipped Nandy, who brought an avuncular bonhomie to his lecture.

Nandy highlighted his presentation with gripping stories of individuals caught in the maelstrom of murder, hatred and exile in 1946-48.

According to conservative estimates, roughly one million people died, but Nandy puts the figure to over two million.

Nandy and associates carried out a study that included about 1,300 interviews with survivors of the Partition violence of 1946-48, including 100 in-depth interviews.

“When we started the study, we depended heavily on available data on other genocides, and I must say some of the things did not fit,” Nandy said.

“The first finding that surprised us that nearly one-fourth of all survivors said that they owed their survival to somebody from the opposition,” he said. “This figure was astonishing because nowhere we have come anywhere near it — in any other genocide.”

Another surprising finding was the lack of rancor among direct victims, he said.

“The second finding is … that those who actually faced the violence, those who are direct victims, the first generation of victims, those who have been subject to the violence, those who have seen it first-hand, mostly were those who had lesser prejudice and lesser bitterness about their experience than their own children and their grandchildren because they had lived in communities where the other side was the majority,” Nandy said. “They have lived with them and they had very warm memories of that experience. Many of them have said that those were the best days of their lives, whereas the children have a packaged view mostly of those violent days and how the family survived . . . So they carry more bitterness, more hostility.”

Nandy focused on an individual to underscore some of his points. During the research on the Partition, an associate had interviewed Madan Lal Pahwa, who was raised in what is now Pakistan.

Raised in a “kattar” (orthodox) Hindu family, Pahwa grew up to become a Hindu militant. He participated in vigilante groups that killed Muslims, said Nandy, and even threw a bomb at a prayer meeting of Mahatma Gandhi five days before Gandhi’s assassination.

Many years later, during an interview for the research, Pahwa appeared to have mellowed considerably.

What was Pahwa’s most treasured memory? “It is Pak Pattan (his ancestral village in Pakistan),” Nandy said. “And what he remembers in Pak Pattan the most, not only what he called the pure air and the pure milk and the green vegetables . . . above all (Muslim Sufi spiritual leader) Baba Farid’s mazar (tomb). He used to sneak out at night from his home . . . and with his friends go to the mazar.

“That Sufi music and the singing he remembers as the most valuable moments of his life. The memory of the shared shrine, the Sufi music, the ambiance of the mazar had left a deep impression on him.”

Pahwa also subsequently revised his earlier blanket condemnation of Muslims. “Muslims were otherwise friendly people,” Pahwa reportedly said. “A small minority of Muslims were bad, the politicians.”

“In South Asia, living with multiple selves is not an exception, we don’t diagnose it as schizophrenia,” Nandy quipped.

“I don’t think you should be surprised that even Madan Lal Pahwa showed at least some awareness somewhere that he was culpable,” he said.

“Fanaticism drives a person but insaniyat — humanity — is also there,” Nandy said.

Nandy also mentioned a “third striking feature of this genocide.”

“I have yet to meet, or any of our team has yet to meet, a killer who is happy in his old age,” he said. “I am yet to meet a happy killer. Even the ones that claim to be at perfect peace with themselves either have psychosomatic ailments or other instances of mental ill health directly traceable to the experience during the violence of ’46-48. So escaping prosecution is not the last word in this matter.”

India’s pre-partition history of various communities living together was the result of a pre-Western tradition of tolerance, Nandy said. This became clear after he researched the 600-year history of communal peace in the Kerala port city of Kochi.

The initial response of people, when asked about their history of peace, was predictable.

“They gave all the responses people like us would love,” Nandy said. People said that the absence of violence was because people were secular, progressive and educated.

However, said Nandy, deeper examination revealed something else.

“Nobody liked anybody else. Tolerance, alas, was based on mutual dislike,” he said. “Every community thought they were the best. Yet in Cochin there was no instance of serious violence in 600 years of recorded history.

“And then gradually I deciphered that in a community-based society, a society where individuation has not gone beyond a point, there is bound to be this dislike and this sense of superiority. . .

“But whereas you think your community is the best you also learn the (other) community’s right to believe they are the best. That mutuality is there. Secondly, the other is not only the other, but they are a part of you, you internalize. . . . The other is crucial to your self-definition. . . There are no annihilatory fantasies. . .

“This is not the enlightenment vision of cosmopolitanism, it is the alternative form of cosmopolitanism, and I am now convinced that this is the cosmopolitanism with which societies based on communities survive.”

He said that the most bitter opponents of Gandhi, including his killers, didn’t dislike him mainly because of his perceived appeasement of Muslims. Gandhi’s critics in India hated him because they thought he was too mired in tradition to allow India to develop as a modern state, Nandy said.

However, that may have been Gandhi’s strong suit, Nandy suggested.

“Somewhere Gandhi’s strength lay not in conforming to the ideas of proper politics of modern India and middle classes, that in any case found him a liability and a problem, people like you and me, perhaps his strength lay partly in the folk traditions of India, in the realities of India that is outside the reach of modern India,” Nandy said.

Book review: Partition of 1947 and its reproduction - Histories
Monday 23 February 2009, by Siddhartha Deb

Partition and Bengal: A book review of Joya Chatterji’s ’The Spoils of Partition’
Wednesday 25 February 2009, by A G Noorani

Frontline, February 28, 2009

[Book review:]

[The Spoils of Partition: Bengal and India, 1947-67 by Joya Chatterji (Cambridge University Press, 342pp. ]

Bengal’s sorrow
In Bengal, Partition frustrated the plans and purposes of the very groups that had demanded it.

One can count on Dr Asok Mitra to say things that very few dare to say and most do not even notice or perceive. Curzon’s partition of Bengal in 1905 is one of the legends of the freedom movement. Legends and myths arouse protective emotions that shield them from scrutiny. Bengal’s partition was annulled in 1912 after a furious campaign led by some leading figures. In an article published in The Telegraph of June 27, 2005, entitled “Maro oned in their Myths”, Mitra posed the question, “If the partition of 1905 were allowed to stand”.

The crisp answer was that Eastern Bengal might not have followed Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s line. He pointed out that “the myopic Hindu Bengali has consistently refused to take into account the impact of the anti-partition agitation on the mind of the Bengali Muslim community. The latter would have gained substantially were the partition not interfered with. Curzon’s original decision, whatever its motive, had offered hope of rapid economic and social progress to Muslim masses in Bengal. They had been left way behind since the commencement of the raj. They bore the brunt of underdevelopment of agriculture – and the economy in general – under colonial rule, besides suffering the oppression and repression let loose by the Hindu zamindars.… Had the decision to partition Bengal been allowed to stand, the spread of education amongst the Muslims would have led to the quick emergence of a sensitive Muslim intelligentsia with a heightened social consciousness. Perhaps, from within this category, there would have sprung an exciting crop of thinkers and ideologues who would be inclined to define objective reality in terms of class and not on the basis of the religious divide.… Had all these things happened, the Muslim league would have come a cropper even as the bigoted Hindu oligarchies were stopped in their track. To sum up, if the partition of 1905 was allowed to stand, there would have been no partition of either Bengal or India in 1947.” For that matter, Calcutta might well have continued as the country’s capital. Certainly “no Prime Minister would have even dared to describe it as a dying city”.

Two Bengals

Sukharanjan Sengupta’s book Curzon’s Partition of Bengal and Aftermath (Naya Udyog, Kolkata, 2006) bears the subtitle “History of the elite Hindu-Muslim conflicts over political domination leading to the second Partition, 1947”. Its very last paragraph reads: “Now what a contrast the history had witnessed on 16th October, 1905 and on 19th August, 1947. On the first occasion the Bengalis in Calcutta congregated at the feet of the Monument and declared that they would ‘unsettle the settled fact’ by opposing the formation of the ‘new province of Eastern Bengal’. But the same Bengalis in Calcutta on August 19, 1947 had accepted with no regret what Sir Cyril Radcliffe had done to them. Ten years after the second partition the leading Muslim intellectual of 20th century Bengal Syed Badruddoza in a conversation with the author lamented that ‘perhaps it has fallen to the lot of Bengal that its existence shall remain in division’. It is one belief, but to my mind the ‘Two Bengals’ existed even before Bakhtiar Khilji struck the Sen Kingdom of Gour at the end of the 12th century.”

The distinguished scholar Joya Chatterji, Lecturer in History of Modern South Asia at Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College, established in her widely acclaimed work Bengal Divided the communal divide that afflicted the province. Its subtitle was “Hindu Communalism and Partition, 1932-1947” (Cambridge University Press, 1995). The present work is, in a sense, a follow-up to the earlier one and reflects the same qualities of stupendous research and rigorous analysis. She belongs to a very small band of scholars in South Asia whose commitment to the truth is not overcome by false notions of “patriotism” or by communal bias. She explains the rationale behind the partition of India, and in particular of Bengal, and its consequences. Concentration on the partition of Punjab led to the neglect of the fate of Bengal. As with the partition of India, the advocates of Bengal’s partition lived to face the consequences of their miscalculations. She writes with wit and verve.

Earlier, in an article on the boundary award by Cyril Radcliffe, Joya Chatterji exposed the follies and worse of the two commissions over which he presided to demarcate the boundaries of the divided provinces of Bengal and Punjab (“The Fashioning of a Frontier”; Modern Asian Studies; 33(1) 1999; pages 185-242).

To this day, not a single Pakistani writer has dared or cared to question Jinnah’s preference of Radcliffe, a British conservative lawyer, to an impartial three-member commission comprising judges from other countries. By June 1947, Jinnah’s relations with Mountbatten had deteriorated steeply. The Radcliffe Report accepted many of the Congress’ claims in Bengal and was unfair to Pakistan, as Professor R.J. Noore has documented (Making the New Common wealth; Clarendon Press, Oxford; 1987; pages 27 and 37). Suhrawardy-Sarat Bose Plan

The Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha opposed the Suhrawardy-Sarat Bose Plan for a United Bengal, which Jinnah accepted in a talk with Mountbatten on April 26, 1947. Gandhi prescribed impossible curbs which he would have rejected for the Central government. On May 27, 1947, Mountbatten’s Principal Secretary Eric Mieville “asked him [Nehru] how he viewed the discussions now going on about an independent Bengal. He reacted strongly and said there was no chance of the Hindus there agreeing to put themselves under permanent Muslim domination which was what the proposed agreement really amounted to. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of the whole of Bengal joining up with Hindustan [sic.]” (Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru; Second Series, Volume 2; page 182).

This writer has attempted an essay on the move for United Bengal (“United Bengal Plan: Pipe Dream or Missed Opportunity” in The Partition in Retrospect edited by Amrik Singh, Anamika Publishers & Distributors, 2000). The subject awaits scholarly attention which only scholars like Joya Chatterji can bestow.

Her present work traces the chain of events until 1967, when the Congress suffered decline in the State, and beyond. The Congress returned to power after the 1971 elections, whose fairness Jayaprakash Narayan questioned. The Left Front has governed the State since 1977. The book explains the rise of the communist movement, the state of the Muslims and the impact of the movement of refugees. “In the past, Hindus and Muslims had lived cheek by jowl in Bengal, in the main quite amicably. Now they were forced to go their separate ways, with deeply destabilising consequences. Between 1947 and 1967, at least 6 million Hindu refugees from East Bengal crossed into West Bengal.” The impact of Partition on the State’s economy was overlooked as it was on the entire operation – India and Punjab.

On one point this writer disagrees with the author. She holds that the “flaws in the Cabinet Mission plan of 16 May 1946 drove the Congress leadership to look to partition as the solution”. There was more to it than that as K.M. Munshi noted (Pilgrimage to Freedom; Volume 1; page 103). He reproduced Vallabhbhai’s letter written the next day extolling the Plan, which ruled out Pakistan in any shape or form, and remarked: “It was evident that Sardar was prepared to pay a price for averting the partition of the country, and was willing to share power with the Muslim League”. That very day, May 17, Gandhi voiced his reservations and set the line that the Congress disastrously followed.

Nor can it be said that the Centre, as envisaged by the Plan – confined to defence, foreign affairs and communications – was “feeble, indeed, virtually impotent”. Every centre acquires more power with time. The Supreme Courts apply the doctrine of “implied powers”. Remember the provinces of Punjab and Bengal would have remained undivided with the educationally advanced and economically powerful minorities in place. Provinces could secede from the Group; not from the Union. Group A, the India of today, could have set up the Centre we have today; and at the All-India Centre, the same party would have been in a majority. It would have been a united India, unaffected by the rivalry of Pakistan, able to push through its economic and social programme, while enjoying a certain ascendancy over the Pakistan Groups, B and C. Once they began functioning, not the Congress, but the League would have faced crises. After independence, the Muslim politicians there would have to bid for the minority vote. The plan was wrecked by lawyer-politicians who had little imagination and less statesmanship.

Shifts in balance

Bengal’s was a worse case. “Partitioning India was a decision taken by the Congress at the Centre playing from strength. By contrast, the Bengal Congress achieved the partition of their province from a position of fundamental weakness. For their part, the Bengal Hindu leaders demanded partition because they hoped that in a new and smaller province they would win back power and control which they had lost and at the same time gain a measure of influence on the all-India stage.

“During the next two and a half years, in hammering out India’s new Constitution, the Constituent Assembly had to settle how to share power between the Centre and the provinces. After 3 June, the outcome was not in doubt, the Centre intended to arrogate to itself all the powers it needed. Yet the precise ways in which the rules were framed reflected subtle, but nonetheless significant, shifts in the balance between one province and another and between the provinces and New Delhi. The story of how West Bengal tried to steer a way through the transactions of the Constituent Assembly is a revealing commentary on the strategy of its leaders.”

They became centralists to earn kudos from the leaders at the Centre but at the cost of their own State. The author describes their attitude in detail from the Constituent Assembly debates. Undivided Bengal had 60 seats in the Constituent Assembly. The Hindus had 27. After Partition, it was reduced to 16, the Hindus having 12. It was only the members from the South such as K. Santhanam and Sir Arcot Ramaswami Mudaliar who fought for federalism. The author’s analysis of the fiscal provinces is of current relevance. The States became supplicants of the Centre.

West Bengal woke up when the language question came up for debate towards the end of the Constituent Assembly’s proceedings. “If the quarrel over language had exploded earlier in the life of the Constituent Assembly, perhaps the Constitution of India would have been very different from what, at the end of the day, found its way on to the statute book. If the maritime provinces had earlier seen the dangers to their particularist interests of a strong Centre and if they had put up a concerted fight to win a greater measure of autonomy, perhaps Bengal would have followed a different path in the Assembly and would have relied less heavily on the Centre. And if Bengal had seen the sense of forging tactical alliances with other provinces with similar concerns to its own, the constitutional outcome might have been significantly different.”

Joya Chatterji adds: “Dr Ambedkar smuggled in a new article (Article 365, on President’s Rule) which put yet sharper teeth into the President’s emergency powers. West Bengal’s representatives kept quiet about this sleight of hand, although men from other provinces angrily denounced it. Disregarding the high command’s whip, H.N. Kunzru, Thakur Das Bhargava from the East Punjab and Biswanath Das from Orissa fought tooth and nail against this unwelcome addition to the Centre’s powers, but not a single Bengali spoke up.”

Muslims of West Bengal

Muslims of West Bengal were demoralised by Partition. Thanks to India’s democracy, they were able to assert themselves. If initially they voted for the Congress, it was because it was the national hegemon headed by the secular Nehru. “This does not, however, mean that Muslims voted en bloc for the Congress in the 1952 elections or that they had become a single and solid ‘vote bank’ in West Bengal. The many Muslims who stood as independents or as candidates of other parties show that such an assumption would be wrong. The shift towards the Congress was by no means a universal trend among Muslims. Nor were those in the Congress camp all of a like mind in their attitudes towards Muslims. Wooing Muslims where they were numerous was often a matter of cynical calculation rather than genuine commitment to minority rights, and Muslims, for their part, did not always fall for the wiles of their new-found friends.”

On its part, the Congress did not encourage an independent Muslim voice. The author records: “Significantly, Muslims who had been given a place at the Congress high table were not well situated to voice such concerns. For one thing, these politicians by definition had not suffered the personal hardships humbler Muslims had had to endure since Partition. The very fact that they had survived and prospered in partitioned India set them apart from their less fortunate co-religionists. In order to make their mark in Congress circles in the 1950s, ambitious Muslim politicians had ostentatiously to display their ‘secular’ credentials. This did not sit comfortably with portraying themselves as champions of specifically Muslim grievances or having to speak up about matters which the Congress would rather have swept under the carpet. As Theodore Wright perceptively observed in 1966, Congress culture did not encourage its Muslim fellow travellers to represent popular Muslim opinion. In the unique circumstances of divided Bengal, the fact that a few dozen Muslim grandees were able to take advantage of Congress fights and factions to get back into the swing of politics did not mean that Muslim concerns had thereby found effective spokesmen in the Congress camp.” Not one Muslim member of P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government – Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jaffer Sharif or Salman Khurshid – resigned over the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Conspicuous failures

The author holds that the powerful Chief Minister Dr B.C. Roy, besides being communal minded, “presided over West Bengal’s economic decline”. The chickens reared by West Bengal’s members in the Constituent Assembly came home to roost. “Ironically, the very same rules which West Bengal’s spokesmen in the Constituent Assembly had helped the Centre put in place now resulted in the province being left without the wherewithal to pay for its economic reconstruction. With Bengal’s support, the Assembly had taken away the province’s largest sources of revenue, the taxes on income and corporations, and excise and jute duties. West Bengal had gambled that it would do better by receiving handouts from a central Finance Commission, which would give it back these revenues and more, and that gamble failed. The algorithms by which the Finance Commissions calculated each State’s ‘need’ whittled down what West Bengal received from the Centre. In 1967, when the Congress in West Bengal was finally cast into the political wilderness, this was as much a consequence of the conspicuous failures of Bengal’s provincial government as a rejection of the Congress centre which had comprehensively let the State down.”

The Hindu Mahasabha had clamoured for the State’s partition but did not profit by it. The Congress did, but only to meet its deserts at the hands of the Left. “The revenge of the periphery” is the title of the chapter which describes its rise to power. “In a word, the Left succeeded in becoming the voice of an increasingly militant and discontented middle class in a Bengal which had discovered, to its chagrin, that independent India was not going to pull any rabbits out of the hat and make its dreams come true.”

As for the Muslims of West Bengal, “terrorised and displaced after the partition, the new rulers treated their problems with a callous indifference and blank disregard. Muslims, just as their Hindu counterparts, had only their own resources on which to fall back, and such support and security as they could find within their own communities. This caused the Muslims of West Bengal to huddle together in discrete and densely populated ‘Muslim pockets’, which pushed them out of the mainstream of Bengal’s political and social life, an increasingly embattled, isolated, alienated and angry minority in the new state. In another of Partition’s stranger twists, these developments paradoxically gave Muslims a more effective say at the polls. In turn, this meant that all political parties that sought office in West Bengal could no longer ignore this aggrieved and not easily controlled minority, an outcome the partitioners had not foreseen and would have much preferred to avoid.” This is no less true of Muslims in some other parts of the country.

The hopes of the Hindu middle classes turned to despair. The writer’s conclusion justly damns the opportunists. It is so comprehensive as to bear quotation in extenso: “In these ways, Bengal’s partition frustrated the plans and purposes of the very groups who had demanded it. Why their strategy failed so disastrously is a question which will no doubt be debated by bhadralok Bengal long after the last vestiges of its influence have been swept away. Many excuses have already been made; and different scapegoats remain to be identified and excoriated. But perhaps part of the explanation is this: for all their self-belief in their cultural superiority and their supposed talent for politics, the leaders of bhadralok Bengal misjudged matters so profoundly because, in point of fact, they were deeply inexperienced as a political class. Admittedly, they were highly educated and in some ways sophisticated, but they had never captured the commanding heights of Bengal’s polity or its economy. They had been called upon to execute policy but not to make it. They had lived off the proceeds of the land, but had never organised the business of agriculture. Whether as theorists or practitioners, they understood little of the mechanics of production and exchange, whether on the shop floor or in the fields. Above all, they had little or no experience in the delicate arts of ruling and taxing people. Far from being in the vanguard as they liked to believe, by 1947 Bengal’s bhadralok had become a backward-looking group, living in the past, trapped in the aspic of outdated assumptions, and so single-mindedly focussed upon their own narrow purposes that they were blind to the larger picture and the big changes that were taking place around them.”

London Review of Books, 1 January 2009

Enemy Citizens
•The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan by Yasmin Khan Buy this book
•The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories by Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar
’Toba Tek Singh’ is one of a number of stories about Partition by Saadat Hasan Manto, a brilliant, alcoholic Urdu writer who himself moved from Bombay to Lahore in 1948. It is set in a Lahore asylum whose inmates are about to be split up according to their religion. When they are taken to the border for the exchange, the story’s Sikh protagonist – known as Toba Tek Singh after the town he comes from – refuses to co-operate. He lies down between the new boundary posts ’on a piece of land that had no name’, resisting to the end a displacement he had expressed no wish to be part of. The story is about the breakdown of language, and its most memorable line is a piece of nonsense repeated by Toba Tek Singh: ’Upri gur gur di annexe di be-dhiyan di mung o daal of di laalteen.’

Manto’s story, which was published in 1955, comes at the very beginning of a long attempt in the subcontinent to understand the meaning of Partition. In Britain, Partition has usually been seen as a footnote to decolonisation, and when it is discussed at all, it is in a matter-of-fact way, focusing on the contentious decisions made by Louis Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, and Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of the Indian National Congress. In contrast, the South Asian response has taken the form of fiction, memoir and film as well as historiography: something the British wanted to see as final is constantly being reinvestigated. But there has also been a more reductive approach in India and Pakistan, one that emphasises Partition’s inevitability. Since the moment of division was also the coming into being of India and Pakistan as modern nations, Partition is often treated as a subplot in the grand narrative of independence. In this nationalist version, Partition was unfortunate but unavoidable, and served a useful function in so far as it distinguishes India and Pakistan from each other. This insistence on difference was manifest in the recent attacks on Mumbai, both in the rhetoric of the young men who saw themselves as carrying out a sacred mission on enemy territory and in the Indian government’s speculation that the assault had its origin in Pakistan.

These two recent histories make clear that the nationalist view is false. Not only were Indian and Pakistani nationalism shaped by Partition, both books argue, but Partition itself wasn’t the clean break claimed by national histories. The one thing that was clear in 1946, Yasmin Khan writes in The Great Partition, is that ’two parties, the Congress and the League, would be at the forefront of leading and designing the new state, or states.’ Everything else was uncertain, and if the British had not been in such a hurry to disengage, decolonisation might not have involved partition at all.

By 1945, it had become clear to all concerned that the British no longer had the stamina to remain in the subcontinent. More than two million Indians had served in the British forces, with 24,000 killed, but subcontinental opinion had been greatly divided as to whether blood should be shed on behalf of the colonial masters. In 1942, the Quit India movement had been launched by the Congress, and thousands of activists and leaders, including Mohandas Gandhi, sent to jail; the British assiduously courted the League as a counterforce. The following year, a famine had struck Bengal, one of many agricultural crises stemming from British faith in the free market, and at least three million people had died. By the time Japanese forces invaded north-eastern India in 1944, there were Indian soldiers fighting on both sides.

The Labour government that came to power in 1945 had no desire to continue administering this restive population, and in 1946 negotiations began with leaders from the League and the Congress. The League’s leaders, especially Jinnah, worried about what sort of future a Muslim minority would have in an independent India. Their fears were ably exploited by the British and fanned by the attitude of the Congress, which had begun to move away from Gandhian ideas of inclusiveness (although these had been at best imperfectly held) towards a more explicitly Hindu identity. The League did well in the elections of 1945-46 by channelling Muslim uneasiness into a demand for a homeland called ’Pakistan’, but Khan points out that at this stage it was not a clearly articulated territory.

Jinnah himself seems to have prevaricated in his understanding of Pakistan as a separate, sovereign nation-state distinct from India. It seems more likely, in the early days of the constitutional negotiations, at least, that he was rallying his supporters in order to extract the best possible deal from the British for the League, and would have settled for a federal solution if it guaranteed a firm element of decentralised power in the hands of Muslims.

The jostling for power between the Congress and the League was made far worse when the British decided to cut their losses. ’By mid-1946,’ Khan says, ’the British government was reluctant to invest a penny more in India’s administrative infrastructure. Intelligence units were run down and reports reaching district officers, magistrates, policemen and Criminal Investigation Departments suffered in quality.’ She adds that as the colonial apparatus began to withdraw, armed militias proliferated, especially in North India, where the worst of the violence would take place in 1947.

All this will sound familiar: the British playing off one group against another for decades before suddenly abandoning them once it seems no longer feasible to hold onto the territory. The British adopted the same method in Cyprus (as Perry Anderson recently made clear in these pages]) and in Palestine, and present-day imperialists often propose a similar solution for Iraq. In India, the British had had a long time to perfect its system of divide and rule. After the uprising of 1857, in which Hindu and Muslim soldiers fought together to restore the Mughal emperor, the British went to great lengths to create an intricate taxonomy of caste, class and religion, a patchwork of conflicting interests which apparently could be held together only by the higher logic of imperialism. The British insisted almost hysterically on the hostility between Hindus and Muslims, and by the time decolonisation came, this had been internalised by the most influential members of both communities.

It is therefore not surprising that when the British came up with a fairly reasonable settlement plan in 1946, proposing a federal system in which both provinces and Muslims would be given a degree of autonomy, no one was willing to consider it. Both the Congress and the League rejected the plan, with the Congress especially unwilling to accept a federal system. There was an immediate ratcheting up of violence, with killings in Bengal, Bihar, North India and Punjab. It was against this backdrop that partition began to be considered: because it involved a territorial separation, most leaders hoped it would put an end to the killings.

Neither of the conflicting parties had previously given the idea much thought. But Mountbatten emphasised the urgency of the matter, and both Nehru and Vallavbhai Patel, a hardline Congress leader and future deputy prime minister, were in a hurry to start ruling an independent India. After a series of discussions between Mountbatten, the cabinet in London, and the leaders of the Congress and the League, it was decided on 2 June 1947 that the provinces of Punjab and Bengal would be partitioned. The result, in the words of a contemporary, was an India in the shape of an elephant with its two ears forming Pakistan. Most details were yet to be worked out, from where the boundaries would be drawn to the fate of those who might find themselves part of a minority in their new nations. Despite this, Mountbatten pushed for a hand-over date to be settled, and decided that instead of taking place in 1948, as originally proposed, the transfer of power would happen on 15 August 1947, barely two and a half months after the decision to partition had been taken.

Most people were bewildered when they first heard about the plan, and didn’t know what to do when the escalating violence began to force them out of their homes. The boundary commissions finished preparing their maps by 12 August, but they were not made public until 17 August, two days after independence and the day on which the first regiment of British troops set sail for home. By this time, ethnic cleansing had already started: women especially were targeted. As people began fleeing, more anxious to find safety among their own community than to become citizens of as yet abstract nations, trains full of refugees criss-crossed the country. Stopped along the way by marauding bands, the trains were often filled with corpses when they arrived at their destinations, with only the driver and his crew left alive by the mob. Many fled on foot, in columns of people up to 45 miles long, according to Khan. When they reached the other side of the border, some received help from government and social agencies, but most were forced to fend for themselves. Once again, women and children were especially vulnerable: pimps and criminals were lying in wait for them. Many who left their homes did so with the expectation that they would return once the turmoil subsided. But by the end of 1947, there were three million refugees living in camps in the two countries. By 1948, Punjab had been more or less ethnically cleansed, but the process still continued in Bengal, where 12,000 refugees were arriving every day from East Pakistan. Rehabilitation schemes favoured the middle classes and the literate, and the arrival of refugees, especially in Delhi and Karachi, set off other displacements, as they occupied the houses of members of minority religions in revenge for their own expulsion.

Both Khan and Vazira Zamindar attempt to untangle the causes and effects of the exceptional violence, and do so rigorously and even-handedly, but there is no escaping the melancholy tone that pervades their books. Khan writes of the way that earlier accounts of Partition ’have had a tendency to segregate two sub-genres artificially: the histories of Partition victims . . . and the histories of bureaucratic and political intrigue acted out in the marble-floored rooms of Lutyens’s New Delhi’. The task she sets herself is to bring together the experiences of the masses and of the decision-making elite, and what this reveals forcefully is that the people who suffered most were not those who had taken the decisions. Khan shows that hostility between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims was to a great extent the result of modernisation, and that religious identities were particularly pronounced among the ’educated, middle-class urban milieux of the burgeoning cities’. These people, not the peasantry, were the most vocal proponents of Pakistan or of a unified, Hindu-dominated India, and it was their ideas that would flow back to the villages.

’Women’s bodies were marked and branded, with the slogans of freedom, "Pakistan Zindabad" and "Jai Hind", inscribed on their faces and breasts,’ Khan writes, adding that at least a third of the brutalised bodies recovered later were those of girls under the age of 12. ’The rest of the women tended to be under 35 and from villages. They were not then, most tellingly, members of the political classes who had fought for, or who had rejected, Partition.’

More than earlier historians, Khan is interested in the alternative possibilities that existed during that tumultuous time. Until the Partition plan stipulated that Pakistan would consist of parts of Punjab and Bengal, other shapes had been suggested, ranging from the non-territorial to those demarcating islands and corridors with a Muslim majority in India. Nor were alternative forms of territory and sovereignty suggested only for Pakistan. One idea was that independent city-states should be created in Calcutta, Delhi, Karachi and Lahore, each ruled by an elected governor. Many of the rulers of the princely states imagined separate futures for themselves, and occasionally carried out ethnic cleansing: the Muslim Meos were massacred in the princely states of Alwar and Bharatpur in present-day Rajasthan, for example. In the rural areas of the princely state of Hyderabad, a peasant uprising lasted from 1946 to 1951, beginning as a rebellion against the feudal Nizam of Hyderabad but continuing as an insurrection against the Indian state, which seized the Nizam’s lands in 1948. Kashmir’s Hindu king, who ruled over a largely Muslim population, tried at first to keep his options open before caving in to pressure from the Congress. Soon after, Indian soldiers were flown into the Valley to face off against Muslim irregulars supported by the Pakistani army, so beginning a cycle of occupation, insurgency and proxy wars that still continues.

In The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia, Vazira Zamindar unravels the aftermath of Partition rather than the processes leading up to it. She focuses on the urban middle class, conducting ethnographic interviews and contextualising them with archival research. She shows that even members of the middle classes, if they happened to belong to minorities in the new nations, were subject to bureaucratic ill-treatment. In fact, Zamindar argues, the very nature of India and Pakistan as postcolonial nations should be attributed to the way they ’comprehended, intervened in and shaped’ Partition as its effects rippled through the early years of independence. ’The highly surveillanced western Indo-Pak border, one of the most difficult for citizens of the region to cross to this day,’ she writes, ’was not a consequence of the Kashmir conflict . . . but rather was formed through a series of attempts to resolve the fundamental uncertainty of the political Partition itself.’

Zamindar looks in detail at what happened in the cities of Delhi and Karachi, and what emerges is not the story told in nationalist accounts, which portray Pakistan as a sanctuary for Muslims and India as a secular homeland providing shelter to expelled Sikhs and Hindus. None of those responsible for making the decision had foreseen the mass exodus and savagery that would be sparked off by Partition. Neither had most of those affected. In the province of Sindh, Zamindar writes, local leaders were perplexed and unhappy about the exodus of local Hindus, which they attributed to Muslim refugees from North India, ’who have brought heat and passion into the placid life of this province’.

Jinnah had said that after the founding of Pakistan, the categories of Hindu and Muslim would matter little, but the movement of refugees created a different kind of citizenship, in which belonging to a state was folded in with an individual’s religious allegiance. Zamindar shows that Sindhi Muslims in Karachi eventually had to accept their commonality, in terms of citizenship and faith, with Muslims who had come from North India. A similar process took place in Delhi, where the demands of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Punjab took precedence over the rights of Delhi Muslims. It was a continuation of what had happened before Partition, when news of the violence, carried across the subcontinent in pamphlets and newspapers, began the stitching together of imagined communities based on a common religion – communities that overrode those formed by a common language and culture.

Once citizenship defined by religion began taking hold of the government, too, people found themselves being dispossessed by official fiat rather than armed mobs. Muslims who returned to India from Pakistan, either because they had not intended to move permanently or because they had changed their minds, and even Muslims who had never left, found themselves stripped of jobs and property and declared to be ’enemy’ citizens. Alongside the categories of citizen and refugee, both governments constructed another category, the evacuee, which allowed them to seize properties which belonged to members of minorities.

Zamindar’s analysis of the way this was done is remarkable for what it has to say about India and Pakistan, but valuable too because it brings Partition back into the mainstream of 20th-century history. She notes, for instance, that the institution of a Custodian of Evacuee Property in India and Pakistan not only looked back to the British Custodian of Enemy Property created during World War Two, but came at almost the same time as the Absentee Property Act passed in Israel in 1949. There were many other indications, from the introduction in 1948 of a mandatory permit system for people wishing to cross the new borders, to its supersession in 1952 by an even more repressive passport and visa system, that India and Pakistan were becoming modern states in their response to the anxieties of Partition. That this was not merely a side-effect is clear from the extracts Zamindar gives from government files, which show an obsession with fifth columns, borders, passports, dispossession and surveillance. It turns out that the lunatic Toba Tek Singh was right all along.

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Partition and The Fantasy of A Masculine State
Sunday 30 August 2009, by Ashis Nandy

The Times of India

Human beings have lived with states for millennia. There were even republican states in ancient times. Nation states are new; they came into their own in 17th-century Europe. Today, all states are not nation states, but most states are. European ideas take strange forms outside Europe. In Asia and Africa, colonialism conflated the ideas of the state and the nation state. Thus, when the western-educated, middle-class leaders of India’s freedom movement fought for independence, they did not want only a state, but a European-style, centralised, modern nation state. Such a state, they thought, would be a magical cure for India’s backwardness. When the Muslim League demanded a separate homeland for Indian Muslims, its leaders too thought of a standard nation state.

However, a nation state requires a nation and an ideology of nationalism. Simple, old-fashioned, non-ideological patriotism is not enough for it. More so if it is a republican state, led by new, insecure, nervous political leaders worried about its diverse, ’ungovernable’ citizens and psychologically not yet closely linked to the state.

That is why V D Savarkar, despite being an avowed atheist and dismissive towards Hinduism as a religion, had moved towards the idea of Hindutva, which redefined the Hindus as a nation and Hindutva as their national ideology. This was years before Muhammad Ali Jinnah spoke of Hindus and Muslims as separate nations. And Savarkar was honest enough to admit it: "I have no quarrel with Mr Jinnah’s two-nation theory. We Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations."

It is absurd to believe that Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel were immune to the seductive charms of a nation state. Both were modern, knowledgeable, western-educated persons, in awe of Europe’s muscular states. Both looked at the future Indian state as a means of pushing the obstinate, ill-educated, fractious Indians towards a better future and ’proper’ citizenship. They had their own ways of defining nationality, but they certainly did not look kindly upon a decentralised state, which Gandhi would have approved.

Indeed, Jinnah demanded a looser, federal polity built around powerful provinces as a way out of partitioning the country. The Indian National Congress first accepted the idea and then ditched it. Paradoxically, the power that Jinnah demanded for the provinces was in many ways less than the power the chief ministers of some Indian states have exercised in recent years.

This background explains why, 60 years after the event, partition and the roles in it of individual leaders haunt our political culture. We are still debating in our hearts our birth trauma. We cannot accept that our midwives, too, were children of their times and spoke from within the colonial world in which they lived. We use them as archetypes to battle our fears, anxieties and self-doubts. We are what we are, we suspect, because of their choices, not ours.

We also deny the invisible obstetrician at our birth the colonial regime. Not in the popular sense that it divided and ruled, which all rulers do, but because it framed the theory of state within which the first generation of our rulers from Jinnah to Nehru and Patel thought and moved, for they believed that the theory was universally valid. Gandhi dissented and paid with his life for that. Even now, he has not been forgiven by India’s educated, urban, middle class. He arouses hostility not only in the Hindutva brigade, but also in modern, statist admirers of Nehru and Patel, who consider their heroes more progressive, secular, realistic and tough-minded. Savarkar was direct in this respect, too. He despised Gandhi’s criticism of modern science, western political thought and the standard idea of the nation state.

The British loved to partition. They partitioned four hapless countries and all have been disasters. Cyprus is too small to be permanently in the news and sheer tiredness probably has blunted the bitterness there. But in Ireland, Palestine and India, partition has remained an open wound. In each case, mutual fear, suspicion and hatred verge on paranoia and, sometimes, necrophilia.

India has avoided the excesses of such a sickness of the soul because of its size; much of it did not see the violence of partition. However, things are changing. India is getting globalised and the urban, modernising, middle class is expanding. A pan-Indian, media-based political consciousness is crystallising and it includes a packaged theory of history. A large middle class bent on avenging historical wrongs could be a dangerous vector. It may opt for a nationalism that will not see the partitioning of British India as a tragedy because millions Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs suffered from it. Nor will it care that partition devastated myriad communities, cultures and inter-religious bonds. It will remember partition, as some already do, as a humiliation of the Hindus and as a loss of real estate. I look at the future with apprehension and fear that we may have already lost a part of our selfhood.

The writer is a political psychologist.

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