Bengal Bleeding Amidst “Secular” Silence is not an easy book to read. It is not about the current genocide of Hindus after 2021 state assembly. It is another reminder that those who forget history are bound to repeat it.
The book is small; it has avoided gory details of violence against Hindus as far as possible. It could have been bigger with more graphic details to shake up the conscience of the Hindu society, if not the intellectuals and the secular politicians and governments. Here I mean politicians of every hue from Green, to White, to Blue, to Red and also Saffron with a few honourable exceptions. The question that comes upper most after reading this cruel history is, does being secular mean keeping silent, sounding helpless on wanton killings of Hindus, and in the case of Bengal history mostly Scheduled Castes and Tribes?
The book begins from the 1940 attack on Hindus, 1946 Direct Action, Noakhali violence, primarily against Hindus, to bleeding slowly from 1951 to 1963, now in East Bengal that became East Pakistan. Next round of genocide perpetrated in 1964 before worst ever violence, rapes, loot, arson and killings of Hindus in 1971 during Bangladesh freedom struggle. It didn’t stop with rise of Bangladesh, it just paused a bit because Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was also not averse to the language of Jihad. Next worse round came after he was killed in violent take over by Gen Zia Ur Rehman and Islam became the state religion of Bangladesh in 1988. Major violent events apart from routine persecution were seen in 1990 and 1992. A few incidents that author quotes are enough to shake up any civilised society. The only crime of these Hindus was that they were Hindus.
While, on one side, Hindus from East Pakistan, later Bangladesh, were being pushed out violently into Bharat; another outflow of illegal immigrants was being managed by the Bangladeshi Muslims, ably supported by the Left in the name of “lebensraum’ – “Muslim” spaces as the author of the book calls it for easy understanding. There were clearly two streams of immigrants – those who escaped persecution and violence and the other that was supported by Muslim rulers of Bangladesh for better economic opportunities or simply increase numbers to ultimately use democracy to destroy democracy.
While the number of illegal Muslims swelled with connivance of politicians of Communist parties and Congress groups, poor Hindus who were pushed out were given a raw deal. Marichjhapi is the worst cruellest example of killing and eviction of poorest of poor schedule caste Hindus.
As the Muslim numbers increased, they became more assertive and began dictating politics of West Bengal too. Author cites many examples of goon behaviour of these groups. 2013 Canning carnge, 2015 football fatwa against women playing football with the blessings of top ruling party leaders, Nadia petro riots, riots and looting in Dulagarh-Diwangarh, riots of Kaliachak in 2016 and so on. 2021 post-poll naked dance of violence is a logical extension of the incidents that kept on occurring at regular intervals, not covered by the ‘secular’ media, nor raised by ‘secular’ polity.
Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was embedded with a convoy of Afghan forces, was killed by Taliban militants last week. India’s far-left ecosystem, predictably, exonerated Taliban by pinning the blame on the bullet. Taliban corroborated their apologists’ stand by saying “we do not know whose bullet killed” the journalist.
Siddiqui, who was part of the Reuters photography team that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, shot to fame with his morbid images of burning funeral pyres in India.
His death sharply divided netizens. Those who celebrated the death of famous TV Anchor Rohit Sardana barely couple of months back were mourning the death of Danish Siddiqui and preaching civility and grace to those sharing Siddiqui’s innately negative stories about India.
Many argue that Danish Siddiqui’s camera suffered from monocular impairment. A glance at his Twitter timeline and political commentaries do suggest that for him journalism was a tool to further his Islamic pollical ideology.
Intent and leaning of his journalism can be better grasped by omissions he committed.
Hindu Covid deaths:
He covered the Covid-19 crisis in India extensively. His pictures of burning pyres of Hindu victims of Covid-19 made international headlines.
An enraged Twitter user wrote:
TED Talk and Kashmir:
In his TED talk, Danish Siddiqui equated Kashmir with deadly war-torn regions like Iraq and Afghanistan. He offered a lop-sided view of Kashmir and painted the Indian Armed Forces as an oppressive force. He came across as an apologist for Islamic terrorist and stone pelters. He shared a picture an X-ray of a boy’s skull who suffered pellet injuries but not a word on ghastly attacks on Indian armed forces.
Tweet suggest Danish Siddiqui had soft corner for terrorist Afzal Guru, who masterminded the Parliament attack which killed nine security personnel.
He raised alarms over Kumbh gathering but expressed solidarity with large crowd gathered to protest against Farm Bill.
Thousands of mourners filed past the coffin of slain journalist, who was laid to rest in Jamia Millia Islamia, the university that shaped his political outlook. This graveyard is meant only for University employees, their spouses and minor children.
This raises a moot question, should a premiere institute, funded by taxpayers money, allow its campus to glorify someone who shot India with coloured lenses?
Muslim religious groups like Raza Academy and Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat Board and Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) have reportedly pressurised the Maharashtra state government to introduce ‘Prophet Muhammad Bill’. The aim is to bring an act to stop blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad and religious figures of all religions.
As per a report in the Times of India, though the bill is promoted as the ‘Prophet Muhammad Bill’, the draft bill prepared and submitted to the government has been titled ‘Prophet Muhammad and Other Religious Heads Prohibition of Slander Act, 2021’ or ‘Hate Speech (Prevention) Act, 2021’.
A group of Muslims in Mumbai has decided to fight provocative and blasphemous posts videos and cartoons through the legal route. Instead of hitting the streets and adopting a confrontational approach, they will counsel youths not to get violent and find remedies within the constitutional framework. Floating a legal cell under Tahaffuz Namoos-e Risalat Board Protection of the Honour of the Prophet Board, the group held its first meeting at Islam Gymkhana on 13 Feb and decided to counter blasphemous and provocative posts and videos in a peaceful and democratic manner.
It has often been seen that Muslim youths get agitated over blasphemous and provocative posts and hi the streets and clash with the police. This results in arson, rioting and then arrests and harassment.
In the recent past, there has been no instance of anyone making derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed, why this demand is being made? Could it be due to the rise of ex-Muslims in social media?
RISE OF EX-MUSLIMS:
Till recently, critical analysis of Islam in Youtube/ Social Media was done mostly by Western scholars and ex-Muslims from Syria like Wafa Sultan who is now living in USA. Later on couple of Pakistani expatriates living in countries like USA/Canada/Europe started their own Youtube channels and started expressing their views / life experiences. Few of the popular channels are: 1) Haris Sultan 2) Dr. Fouzia Rauf ( Saraswathi Dasi) 3) Amina Sardar ( No Love for Islam) 4) Mahleej Sarkari.
In India, one of the earliest ex-Muslim YouTube channel was that of Pandit Mahendra Pal Arya, a Muslim cleric who converted to Arya Samaj. Youtube Channels like Jaipur Dialogues, Neeraj Atri conducted discussions on various aspects of Islam. Neeraj Atri has produced around 50 videos in a series labelled Islam for Dummies. In addition to discussions based on Quran/ Hadees with Sri Shankar Sharan evoked lot of interest and following. Simultaneously these channels started hosting Indian ex-Muslims. This paved the way for Indian ex-Muslims to open their own Youtube Channels. Few of them are:
1) Dystopia to Reason 2) Ex-Muslim Zafar Heretic 3) Azad ground ex-Muslim 4) Indian Ex-Muslim Sahil 5) Kali Dasi (Sarah Khan)
These channels started sharing their experiences of ex-Muslims – their life as Muslims, how they became ex-Muslims, reaction of family/society and life after leaving Islam. One of the channels started a series labelled ‘Islam se Insaniyat tak- story of ex-Muslim’ where ex-Muslims share their life experiences.
ARRIVAL OF ‘SACHWALA’:
The quality of discourse in these channels underwent big change with the arrival of an ex-Muslim who calls himself ‘Sachwala’. According to him, from age of 10, he has undergone education in Madrassa and passed many examinations on Islam. He also had a passion for calligraphy. Later on, he went and worked in Saudi Arabia for around 18 years and there he acquired further in-depth knowledge of the Quran, Arabic and its various variants like classical Arabic. As he delved deeper into Islamic literature, the more he was convinced of various fabrications and interpolations. An article in Hindi on him Equipped with in-depth knowledge of Arabic and Islamic literature, he appears in various ex-Muslim YouTube channels with a specific question where people are invited to prove the same through Quranic verses alone. Some of the topics shook the basic foundation of Islam itself. A few of the topics are:
1) Prove that Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed 2) Is not taking of slaves, sex with slaves and sale/purchase of slaves by Prophet Mohammed against humanity? 3) Are declarations of Quran (Bayanat) against communal harmony? 4) Why should I be punished if Allah guides and misguides? 5) Is the present day Mecca the same as the one described in Quran?
These live debates which question the very basic structure of Islam last 3-5 hours and several Muslims come forward to put forth their point of view on above topics. It is worth noting that most of the callers are ordinary Muslims or those who are presently studying in Madrassas. None of the callers are well known figures of Islamic theology or scholars of Islam. Undoubtedly Sachwala has made a deep impact in the online ex-Muslim and Muslim community.
In channels run by women like Kali Dasi or Amina Sardar, women discuss how they became ex-Muslims, torture at hands of family members/ husband. While some have become Hindus after leaving Islam, many remain atheist. In the course of various debates/ shows, many ex-Muslims join the discourse and they express their desire to discuss their own experiences with Islam. The hosts then include them in their ‘Islam to Insaniat’ series. Quite a few ex-Muslim women from India/ Pakistan who are now living elsewhere are also coming together and are on the verge of starting a separate ex-Muslim women’s channel. With Urdu being understood both in Pakistan and in India, these channels are having an impact in both countries.
EX-MUSLIM WOMEN DISCUSSING IN YOUTUBE LIVE:
In addition, the free and easy availability of the Quran in several languages, Hadees in English, books written by Ali Sina ( Understanding Mohammed ) etc. have spurred a big debate on Islam, its founder Prophet Mohammed, various wars fought in the course of the expansion of Islam, enormous suffering of humanity at the hands of Islam. Massacre of innocents in wars led by Prophet Mohammed, the capture of women and children as slaves particularly the battle with Banu Quraiza and capture of one of the wives of Safiya as a slave are being heard for the first time by Muslims. The marriage of 6-year-old Aisha with 54-year-old Prophet Mohammed is cited by women ex-Muslims as a prime motivator for leaving Islam.
It can be safely concluded that as critical analysis of Islam or open criticism of Prophet Mohammed in cyberspace has spurred Islamic clerics to put forth the demand for a Prophet Mohammed blasphemy law. Unable to counter threadbare discussion of Islam and Prophet Mohammed, through traditional methods like street protests, threats to life, Islamic clerics want to silence these channels through legislation. Such a demand was made in Pakistan and the Pakistan- Punjab assembly passed a resolution in May 2020 to this effect. A similar demand is being in India now.
(Author is Research Associate at ‘Center for South Indian Studies’, Hyderabad)
The Government of Andhra Pradesh has issued orders vide GENERAL ADMINISTRATION (SC.I) DEPARTMENT G.O.MS.No. 52 Dated: 14-05-2021, enhancing financial support to the religious workers in places of worship of two important religious communities of the State viz., Hindus, Muslims. In the case of Christians, it is a new scheme. It leaves out three other minorities- Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
The present G.O cites “ensuring religious harmony” in the state as the main objective of payment of monthly honorarium to religious workers of different religions. The G.O. further mentions extension of payment to functionaries working in churches is similar to the support being given to the Archakas working in temples and Imams/Muezzins working in mosques. However, this is a false comparison as the G.O. very clear states that quantum of payment to Archakas is based on grade of the temple, which in turn depends upon income generated by the temple. It clearly means that Hindu temple archakas are NOT paid out of public exchequer.
The Scheme for Payment of Honorarium to Imams and Muezzins of Mosques in Andhra Pradesh commenced in June 2016. The G.O. mentions that:
“The scheme for payment of Honorarium to the selected Imams and Muezzins of the non-income earning Masjids in the State of Andhra Pradesh is intended to support the Andhra Pradesh State Waqf Board since the Board is not in a position to meet the expenditure. The Andhra Pradesh State Waqf Board shall take steps to strengthen the respective Waqf institutions to attain self-sufficiency to meet the expenditure.”
The latest order marks the beginning of state funding of religious workers in Andhra Pradesh. Promoting communal harmony was not the objective stated at in 2016. The new G.O. not only increased the quantum of payment for Muslim religious workers but also introduced payment of monthly honorarium for Christian religious workers. But by including the enhancement of honorarium for Hindu archakas in this G.O., an impression is sought to be given out that even they are being paid out of state exchequer, which is factually incorrect. State is yet to show any concern towards Hindu archakas rendering their services in temples without any income. On the contrary, state is meddling with Hindu religious institutions through legislation and administrative actions by arbitrarily fixing the remuneration of Archakas, grading of temples, appointing Executive Officers, interfering in dharmic rituals of temples, disposing off temple assets etc.
CAN PUBLIC FUNDS BE USED FOR PAYMENT TO RELIGIOUS WORKERS?
This raises the larger question whether the public money can be used to pay individuals of a particular religion with the purported objective of ensuring communal harmony?
In 2012, the Government of West Bengal issued instructions for payment of monthly honorarium to Imams in mosques. The decision was challenged in Calcutta High court (W.P. No. 358 of 2012) and the decision of the government was quashed. The highlight of the judgement are:
1) The State Government cannot spend any money for the benefit of few individuals of a particular religious community ignoring the identically placed individuals of the other religious communities since the State cannot discriminate on the ground of religion in view of the Article 15 (1) of the Constitution of India.
2) The State Government by providing funds for making payment of honorarium to the Imams and Muezzins has acted in clear violation of the provisions enshrined under Article 14 and 15 (1) of the Constitution of India.
3) No exercise has been made by the Competent Authority of the State Government to ascertain the financial condition of various other members of the Muslim community as well as members of other religious communities before taking the decision for issuing the impugned memorandum.
4) The public purpose mentioned in Article 282 cannot be a purpose which offends the provisions of Article 14 and 15 (1) of the Constitution of India.
5) Imams and/or Muezzins are few individuals of the Muslim community and attached with the mosques. Decision to provide honorarium to the said individuals cannot serve the general interest of the community as a whole.
6) We hold that the impugned memo issued by the State Government is not only discriminatory in nature being violate of Article 14 of the Constitution of India but the same also discriminates on the ground of religion which offends Article 15 (1) of the Constitution of India.
7) We are constrained to hold that the grants made by the State Government for providing honorarium to the Imams and Muezzins were not for the public purpose as mentioned in Article 282 of the Constitution of India
8) Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Sri Divi Kodandarama Saram & Ors. Vs. State of A. P. & Ors., reported in 1997 (6) SCC 189 considered the payment of salary to ‘Archaka’ of Hindu Temple. In the aforesaid decision, Hon’ble Supreme Court made it clear that public fund cannot be utilised for the purpose of making payment of Archakas and trust looking after the temple was advised to collect donation from the public to defray the expenses.
9) No provision has however, been made in the Constitution authorising the State Government to make payment of the honorarium to few individuals of a particular religious community. As a matter of fact, Government cannot spend any money for the benefit of few individuals of a particular religious community to the exclusion of the members of the other religious communities in view of a specific provision of Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.
10) The concerned Executives of the State Government have squandered public money by releasing funds to the Wakf Board for the purpose of making payment of monthly honorarium to the Muezzins even in absence of any government order under Article 166 of the Constitution of India. We take strong exception for spending money even in absence of appropriate government order under Article 166 of the Constitution of India.
Thus it is very clear that payment to religious workers from public funds has been held to be “squandering of public money”. The objective cited in the Govt. of AP G.O. i.e., “communal harmony” also fails to stand judicial scrutiny in view of observation (5) cited in the above judgement. The judges have clearly held that payment to few individuals of a particular community does not serve the interests of all members of that community, leave alone serving promotion of inter-faith communal harmony.
The judgement also referred to a judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a matter of payment of honorarium to Imams. The hon’ble court clarified that the scheme formulated by the SC was for payment of a uniform scale of salary to Imams from the income of the respective state Wakf Boards and not public funds.
“The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid decision never directed the State Government or the Govt. of India to take the responsibility for making payment to the Imams who are admittedly performing the duty of leading the community prayer in the mosques.
KERALA HC JUNE 2021:
June 2021, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the state government, why they were financing a religious activity while considering a petition against the former’s decision to provide pension to madrasa teachers in the state. The order was issued on a petition filed seeking to quash the Kerala Madrasa Teachers’ Welfare Fund Act, 2019, which is passed for disbursing pension and other benefits to madrasa teachers.
This is an ongoing case but it is pertinent to note that courts have consistently upheld the view that governments cannot finance any religious activity and such actions are unconstitutional. Article 46 of the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution of India call upon the state to “promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people”.
Anomalies observed in recent payment of honorarium to religious workers in Andhra Pradesh:
In May, 2020, the Government of Andhra Pradesh made a one-time payment to religious workers who are facing hardship and distress of various religious institutions, as a measure of relief arising out of break out of COVID-19 Pandemic. A sum of Rs.33.92 crores was sanctioned out of Disaster Relief funds. The ratio of religious workers to population of that religion as per 2011 was highly irrational. While Christians constituted 1.39 % of the population of AP, Christian religious workers received 43.99 % of total amount paid out. Every 24th Christian in the state is a religious worker, if we go by 2011 census figures for the state of AP.
ANDHRA PRADESH – ONE TIME PAYMENT FROM DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS TO RELIGIOUS SERVICE RENDERERS – RELIGION-WISE FIGURES OF BENEFICIARIES VIS-À-VIS STATE POPULATION
POPULATION OF AP as per Census 2011
% OF POPULATON
% OF BENEFICIARES: TOTAL BENEFICIARIES
This lead to a peculiar situation wherein, in some areas, the number of Christian religious workers was more than the actual number of Christians in the area. Sample figures from Prakasam district:
NO. OF PASTORS
In addition, data obtained through RTI queries on the details of Christian religious workers who were paid honorarium showed that 60 % of Christian pastors in the sample were holding Hindu community certificates. This raised many questions and exposed a lack of strict scrutiny in the processing of applications for sanction of honorarium to religious workers.
RELIGIOUS COMPOSITION OF CHRISTIAN PASTORS WHO RECEIVED ONE TIME HONORARIUM FROM GOVT. OF AP
(Sample size 347)
The present G.O. has laid out 3 eligibility criteria that have to be fulfilled by the applicants to be considered under the scheme.
(a) Church should be registered under the Societies Act;
(b) Land should be registered in the name of Church;
(c) The institution should not have any other source of income.
This is in addition to the existing conditions of the Christian religious worker holding a Christian community certificate and being a qualified Christian religious worker. However, the additional eligibility criteria have not gone down well with the Christian religious worker community. In videos and social media posts, they have been pointing out that most of the churches are not registered as societies and they have been functioning from premises owned/taken on rent by the religious worker on an individual basis. In some cases, the churches are functioning from structures raised on public land. Christian community elders expressed the opinion that not more than 1,000 Christian religious workers will meet the criteria and thus eligible to receive a monthly honorarium. Well established churches, popularly known as mainline churches pay monthly salaries, have regular postings/transfers and promotions. Religious workers from such churches will be out of the purview of the present scheme.
Thus it will be interesting to see whether the present scheme, as outlined above, will stand judicial scrutiny if and when challenged in a court of law. Also, it will be keenly observed whether the government will heed the concerns raised by the Christian community and relax existing eligibility criteria.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has failed to force Tibetans from following the Dalai Lama, even as Beijing deprives the Tibetans of their legitimate civil and religious rights, according to human rights activists.
Communist China’s claim over Tibet is also based on historical lies, even though military power and authority have been used to clamp down on facts about occupied Tibet, even as Beijing continues to demonise the Dalai Lama through fake narratives, the activists said. They were speaking at a webinar on “Communist China and its Failure to Destroy the Institution of the Dalai Lama: Lessons for the Future” organised by New Delhi-based think-tank Law and Society Alliance and geopolitical magazine Defence Capital.
Joining the event from Geneva in Switzerland, Ms Thinlay Chukki, a Special Appointee for Human Rights at the Tibet Bureau, said Tibet was militarily occupied by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 as part of its expansionist agenda.
“Since then, China has constantly tried to destroy the institution of the Dalai Lama,” Chukki said.
The Dalai Lama has been the political ruler of Tibet at least since 1642, with nearly 500 years of a Tibetan government under the institution of the spiritual leader, she said.
“For China, usurping the powers of the Dalai Lama marks the first step towards the consolidation of the CCP’s power. When His Holiness was forced into exile from Tibet, Mao Zedong lamented saying that China had lost the entirety of Tibet. Only if the Dalai Lama were in control of the Chinese, would their military conquest of Tibet gain some sort of legitimacy,” she said.
Chukki blamed present Chinese President Xi Jinping for projecting CCP’s ideological battle in Tibet as a national security concern for the PRC due to Tibetans’ unique culture, language, and identity. She pointed out that in 1994, the United Nations compiled a special report after the visit of the special rapporteur on religion to China in which it was noted a consistent attack and persecution of Buddhists was in progress in Tibet.
“The Tibetan Buddhists are persecuted for even possessing a photograph of the Dalai Lama because the CCP feels that the spiritual leader, who embodies compassion, posed a greater threat to Beijing’s rule over Tibet, as the religious figure symbolizes a legitimate government of the Tibetans, even though in exile.”
She said the international community needs to keep an eye on Communist China’s actions. Because, this oppression was not just confined to Tibet, under CCP rule, as a recent report by Freedom House stated.
“By taking control of the institution of the Dalai Lama, CCP is also trying to exert influence Tibetan Buddhists settled in all parts of the world. This includes those in states such as Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, apart from nations such as Nepal, Bhutan and Mongolia.”
Washington DC-based International Campaign for Tibet’s Interim Vice President and International Director for Outreach Ms Tencho Gyatso said the present Dalai Lama’s actions and sacrifices over these 70-odd years have only deepened the Tibetan people’s connection with the spiritual leader. “The Dalai Lama now represents the whole of Tibetan culture, religion and nationhood.”
She said Communist China has attempted to rewrite all of Tibet’s historical narratives. “The Chinese government calls the Dalai Lama ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’. The CCP has indulged in mass cover-ups of the atrocities it perpetrates in Tibet and on the Tibetans, just as it has tried to erase the Tiananmen Square massacre, as though it never happened.”
Gyatso said despite the CCP’s best efforts, the bond between the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama has only grown stronger.
“Young Tibetan monks that have been forced to grow up under the oppressive Chinese regime and have never even seen the Dalai Lama. Yet, their allegiance and spiritual connection to him are unbelievably strong. Over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated and called for the freedom of Tibet.”
Gyatso noted that while Tibetans enjoyed full freedom in India, a democratic nation, this freedom was impossible to imagine for those Tibetans currently under the CCP’s rule.
“Tibetans in Tibet today have to deal with a strictly regulated society. There are cameras everywhere and any display of Tibetan culture, language or loyalty to the Dalai Lama is dealt with very harshly.”
She said the final straw was the atheist CCP trying to control the process of selection of the next Dalai Lama by introducing laws that Tibetan Buddhists are forced to follow.
“Besides, the CCP leaders these days are talking about the idea of Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism – that is, Buddhism with Chinese characteristics,” she added.
Gyatso noted that several democratic nations globally, including the United States, are now supporting the idea of a successor to the Dalai Lama, as chosen by the present spiritual leader and that CCP would have no say in it. “This position has been supported in the US administration’s Tibetan Policy and Support Act that threatens to penalise any Chinese authority that interferes with the institution of the Dalai Lama.”