Book Excerpts: The Communal Face Of Post-Poll Violence In West Bengal

by Shubham Tiwari And Shivam Raghuwanshi - Jul 21, 2022 04:47 PM +05:30 IST
Book Excerpts: The Communal Face Of Post-Poll Violence In West BengalThe cover of Shubham Tiwari And Shivam Raghuwanshi's book, Democracy Under Siege: Ballot, Bullet And Blood.
Snapshot
  • The phenomenon of silent persecution of Hindus in these areas has been hidden from the rest of the country.

Democracy Under Siege: Ballot, Bullet And Blood. Shubham Tiwari And Shivam Raghuwanshi. Garuda Prakashan. 2022. Pages 250. Rs 399.

What happened in Bengal in the aftermath of May 2nd is a clear signal as to where things are going in the state. There can be an argument over the scale at which this violence was executed, but the sheer Hindu hatred that we came across in the crimes committed on religious lines, especially rapes of Hindu women, indicates that the situation is more or less similar to pre-partition era.

For a society in line with our constitutional vision, it is for the Muslim community to introspect and preach to their men to respect women from other communities. This theological validation of considering non-Muslim women as maal-i-ganimat (free war booty) is not acceptable in modern Indian society.

This is incumbent upon the Muslim intellectuals, clergy and other luminaries to start a reform process for a change in the community itself. We are not the first ones who recognise this need. In fact, the architect of the Indian Constitution Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar realised this need several decades back.

We hope that as Dr Ambedkar is revered and accepted by all of us, we will ponder upon what he said, "But far from achieving the purpose, purdah has adversely affected the mortals of Muslim men. Owing to purdah, a Muslim man has no contact with any woman outside those who belong to his own household. Even with them, his contact extends only to occasional conversation."

"For a male, there is no company of, and no commingling with, the females, except those who are children or aged. This isolation of the males from females is sure to produce bad effects on the morals of men. It requires no psychoanalyst to say that a social system which cuts off all contacts between the two sexes produces an unhealthy tendency towards sexual excesses and unnatural and other morbid habits and ways."

From Parganas to Nadia and from there to Malda, Murshidabad and Dinajpur, we witnessed a different kind of 'Muslim minority'. If you get to travel in this area of West Bengal, you will find that what cabinet minister Firhad Hakim said about his Kolkata port constituency is not a local phenomenon, it's all over Bengal.

The phenomenon of silent persecution of Hindus in these areas has been hidden from the rest of the country. In fact, the strategy of occupying villages, compelling Hindus to move to district headquarters and Murshidabad, is a perfect example of this. The level of fear in the Hindus living in these areas is such that they could hardly gather the courage to make formal complaints and approach the institutions for action. Most of them have silently paid the 'settlement amounts' as a penalty for supporting and voting BJP to regularise their normal life. This is said but that's the truth!

District BJP President of Uttar Dinajpur told us something that is frightening. "Muslim voters are increasing in the ratio of 2:3 i.e. every three new Muslim voters get added in place of two Hindu voters. Infiltration is still there in Goalpokher, Karandighi and Chopra Block, and this is a cause for concern... In 95 per cent of the cases of violence, Muslims are directly and indirectly involved."

People might question this as this is from a BJP office-bearer. For such people, we bring this on record that this account has been corroborated by independent sources but since everyone else chose to remain anonymous, we have quoted a BJP office-bearer. After all, they have not come from Israel and they are also a part of this democracy as anyone else.

The manner in which Debabrata Maity was killed in Nandigram by a mob comprising of the son-in-law of Mamata Banerjee's election agent (Sheikh Sufian) speaks volumes about the kind of free hand Islamists enjoy in the state. Revelations about how the CM's loss was avenged by Muslims in Nandigram are indeed horrifying. It was heartrending to hear that in Uttar Dinajpur, cow slaughter on Eid has been permitted by the state government itself. And when Mithun Ghosh opposed the practice, he was killed post-election for being a 'staunch Hindu'.

When 21-year-old Balram Majhi was killed in Purba Bardhman, Islamist goons had warned the family, "Will end your Hindutva if you go to police." Similar mobs killed Haradhan Roy in Coochbehar and Haran Adhikari in South 24 Pargana because of their Hindu identity. There are hundreds of such stories when the Muslim mobs attacked Hindu villages and localities in the aftermath of May 2nd. They targeted Hindu women and girls and abused Hindus for standing with the BJP. Still there are people who say, "Violence is a part of Bengal politics, don't make it Hindu-Muslim." If it is actually Hindu-Muslim on ground then what should we do, lie?

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