Sunday, May 01, 2005

Bangladesh — a victim of hate-campaign

Mohammad Zainal Abedin
The New Nation 30.04.05

Jaideep Saikia, an outward analyst, but virtually an Indian intelligence operative, hailing from Assam, abruptly tunes to India's anti-Bangladesh campaign that the demography of Assam is being rapidly changed due to the alleged infiltration of the Bangladeshi Muslims into Northeast India, particularly in Assam in his recent book, "Terror sans frontiers: Islamist militancy in Northeast India".

Educated, better to say trained, in school at the Rashtriya Indian Military College in Dehra Dun, Saikia recently researched on so-called Islamic Militancy in North East India under the aegis of a Ford Foundation fellowship, which was awarded for the year 2003. The research was conducted at the Program in 'Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security'(ACDIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is an astonishing and utter folly how 'Ford Foundation' could sponsor and allow Saikia to use his fellowship on such an issue, which is not only controversial, but also baseless and false and a part of India's anti-Bangladesh media campaign.

Saikia's effort cannot be termed as research work, as this type of stories is written almost daily in India. India's electronic and print media,including websites, are poured with such fabricated anti-Bangladesh items.It is assumed that Indian intelligence outfit RAW(Research & Analysis Wing) managed and possibly financed 'Ford Foundation' to award fellowship to Saikia, which he used not only to defame Bangladesh, but also to prepare a ground for India to invade Bangladesh.

Without deep and careful study it can easily be questioned, how Saikia, being a researcher could write, like his all other fellow-Indians, an essay having minimal statistics and historical facts, which he on the other hand,distorted in every possible ways. He tuning to his mentors in New Delhi chorused that Bangladeshis deliberately infiltrate into Assam to change the demography of the state either to form a new Muslim state out of Assam or merge the Muslim majority areas of the state with Bangladesh. To justify his claim, Saikia says, "The Muslims now constitute more than 70 per cent of the population of Dhubri district of Assam. But Saikia did not mention from which source he collected this religion-based demographic information, as the Indian census of 2001, did not enumerate its citizens on the basis of religion.

Secondly, he should know that at least five districts of Assam adjoining Sylhet had Muslim majority in 1947, when the subcontinent was partitioned. These districts were Goalpara, Hilakandi, Cacher, Dhubri and Karimganj subdivision of Sylhet. For this reason, the Muslims constitute about 30 per cent of the population of Assam. So whatever might be the percentage of the Muslims in any district of Assam it cannot be termed as a threat to Assam or India.

Thirdly, Assam or any other state is not richer than Bangladesh, rather many states of India, not to speak of Assam lag far behind Bangladesh to a great extent. So why should the Bangladeshis leave for a poorer region to lead a poorest life.

It is to be mentioned that Assam Gano Parishad, (AGP) is the prophet of anti-immigration crusade in Assam. But during its 2-term rules, AGPgovernment under Prafulla Kumar Mahanto could identify few Muslims as illegal infiltrators in Assam. Even the current Congress Chief Minister Tarun Gagoi and Former Chief Minister late Hiteshar Saikia officially acknowledged that there is no illegal infiltration of the Muslims in Assam.

Meanwhile, the Ahoms, including the mainstream secessionist outfit ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam), comprehended the design of RAW to divide the people of Assam into several antagonistic groups and crush them using one against the other mainly to frustrate the freedom struggle of Assam.

Realising the duplicity of Indian government, ULFA in July 1992 publicly declared the Bengali speaking migrants, which also include the Muslims, as friends. In a publication addressed to the'East Bengal migrants' ULFA stated: "East Bengal migrants are considered Assamese.Without these exploited lot, ULFA cannot be successful. These are people who are educationally, economically backward. They cannot be our enemies.""These hardworking people are ULFA's protection shield. Their contribution to the national income is immense. They can produce essential things from a small piece of land, sell without any profit, work hard for the betterment of Assam, sacrificing them for the future of the state. They are our real well wishers, our friends, better than the Indians." ('The Revolution Comes Full Circle: Bibhu Prasad Routray.)

In the same publication, ULFA went on to define the term 'Bidekhi'(foreigner). "Those who do not regard this state as their own, accept it as their motherland, are not ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of this country, are aliens, 'Bidekhis for us." Saikia should have read this statement of ULFA. He should also know that the Bengali Muslims accepted Assamese as their mother tongue and identify them as Ahoms not as Bengalis. The new generations of the Muslim Ahoms even do not know Bengali. They are not antagonistic to the interest of Assam. All these factors prompted ULFA not to brand the Muslims as foreigners.

Being failed to brand the Muslims as infiltrators or outsiders, very recently India floated another allegations that Bangladesh designs to secede the Muslim majority districts of Assam either to merge with her territory or create an independent Muslim state in Assam. Virtually, the campaign is made to create anti-Muslim sentiment among the Ahoms so that the unity among communities becomes far a cry.

Saikia and other Indians not only floated the allegation of infiltration of the Bangladeshi Muslims to Assam, but also allege that Bangladesh in one of the mentors of the decades old secessionist militancy in Northeast.

According to the allegation, which Saikia also did not forget to forefront in his book, Bangladesh provides shelter, training and even arms to different militant groups of the region, particularly ULFA, ATTF (All Tripura Tiger Forces), etc.

But being an Ahom and above all a researcher, Saikia should know that secessionist insurgency in Northeast when India got its independence from Britain in 1947, well before the birth of Bangladesh. People of this region do not feel them as Indians. They are fighting to end what they call, "Indian occupation." Previously India blamed China, Burma (Now Myanmar), Pakistan and even America. But they shortened their list over the years and ascribe the allegation on Bangladesh and Pakistan. Some of the Indians now consider Bangladesh more dangerous for northeast than Pakistan. This allegation against Bangladesh was brought to the forefront, because it will be easier to squeeze weaker Bangladesh than any other country that India blames.

But India could never prove any of her allegations against Bangladesh.India officially challenged that there are 195 camps or training centres of the Northeast insurgents in Bangladesh and supplied a list mentioning their whereabouts. According to the list, training centres and camps are situated in hospitals, police stations, residential colonies, government offices, playgrounds, etc. Bangladesh repeatedly requested India to come and show on-spot the existence of these camps and centres. But India never accepted the offer, as Indian policymakers know that there is not even single such centre or camp of the northeast militants, not to speak of 195.

Still the propagandists in New Delhi deliberately continue their fabricated allegations against Bangladesh, whose brief ulterior reasons I have mentioned earlier. I really feel pity for Saikia as well as Ford Foundation for being used as the tools of RAW. How Ford Foundation could accept such a baseless research work which goes against a country, which is a main target of Indian expansionist design. I would request Ford Foundation to send a 'fact finding mission' to Assam and Bangladesh as well to inspect the ground realities. Such mission will surely find that all the allegations that Saikia mentioned against Bangladesh in his so-called research work are the products of exaggeration and misinformation. Ford Foundation, to uphold its neutrality and worldwide reputation and acceptability, should consider my suggestion and act accordingly.


Blogger Diganta said...

The author arrived in conclusion that people od North-East does not think themselves as Indians - how many times did he talk to them before reaching thisconclusion? There are no significant presence of North-East immigrants in Bangladesh so that he can get those information sitting in Bangladesh. He reaches his own conclusion which he should himself read.

7:37 AM  

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