Biswajit is a journalist and associated with democratic movements.
Part I: The Social-political Backdrop To The Communal Violence
Part II : The Dynamics Of Communal Polarization In Bengal: A Probe Into Baduria-Basirhat Flare Up
Part III : Facebook Generation: New Pawns Of The Old Game
Part IV : How Divisive Forces Are Gaining Ground In Rural Bengal: Magurkhali, A Micro Example
Part V : The Anatomy Of Muslim Youth Rage
Part VI : The Role Of Feuding Maulanas And Pirjadas In Basirhat Violence
Part VII : Hindu ‘Resistance’ And The Sangh Penetration
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee blamed Narendra Modi-led Centre for facilitating the entry of hardcore Jamat-e-Islami vandals from Bangladesh during the flare up in order to defame TMC government and implement the BJP-RSS game-plan for communal polarization. According to her, BSF had opened the border gates to the miscreants from the other side at some points while allowing them to sneak in through other parts of porous border. The state intelligence department has already leaked a report to local media on the routes used for smuggling men and weapons.
In the wake of Khagragarh explosion in Burdwan two years back that exposed Jamat-e-Mujahedin Bangladesh network earlier, BJP had blamed Mamata for harboring Islamic fundamentalist and terrorist forces from the neighboring country for electoral gains.
However all of our minority community interlocutors denied involvement of Bangladeshi Jamatis even if they insist on the role of ‘outsiders’. “When we say outsiders we mean people who are from outlying villages who were not known in the troubled localities. But for Kolkata leaders and mediamen, it means Bangladeshis. If miscreants from across the borders have been smuggled in with firearms, many people would have died. The weapons we had seen at the blockades were mainly timber logs and tree branches freshly tore off,” Kamarazzuman said. Elder Amin too dismissed it. “I don’t want to be part of the centre-state political spat. Why BSF will allow Jamatis when national prestige and security is at stake,” he said.
The blame game apart, locals told us that both Hindutva zealots and their Islamic counterparts are now more active in bordering areas. The signposts of competitive communalism based on demographic politics have mushroomed in the form of new mosques and temples as well as regular religious congregations to preach exclusionary and militant consolidation. The arrival of fresh batches of Hindus following intermittent religious persecutions by Islamist fundamentalists in Bangladesh sustains Sangh Parivar outfits and other groups like Hindu Sanhati inspired by it.
Campaigning in Basirhat during 2014 LS campaign, Modi harped on the Sangh’s pet issue of Infiltration from Bangladesh. He welcomed persecuted Hindus as ‘sharanarthi refugee’ with their right to return to their homeland ’while cautioning against land and jobs taken over by the infiltrators, a euphemism for Muslims. Shamik Bhattacharya, the BJP candidate had called Basirhat a ‘mini Afganishtan’ and promised to free it from cattle-runners if not beef-eaters which is now the party’s national mission.
On other hand, increasingly systematic hounding of Muslims in India has provided certain rationale to a section of Muslims at our side for becoming sympathetic to Bangladeshi Jamati groups. It was evident from a large mobilization in Kolkata in protest against the hanging of senior Bangladeshi Jamat stalwarts who had opposed India-backed Bangladesh liberation war in 1971 and collaborated with Pakistani army in genocides as Rajakar leaders.
Their apologists in West Bengal echoed denials of war crime charges and complaints about persecution of Islamist politicians by secularist Awami league government of Shiekh Hasina today. Accusing Hasina of murdering democracy and human rights, they denounced anti-Jamat Shahbag campaign as anti-Islam atheist propaganda. Kamarazzuman was one of the organizers of pro-Jamat city rally that included both Bengali and Urdu-speaking Muslims.
Recently his organization demanded removal of a bust of Liberation war leader and Hasina’s father Mujibur Rahman from a central Kolkata hostel, where ‘Banga Bandhu’ had spent years as student in undivided Bengal, on the ground of existence of a mosque at the same premises. However, in a nuanced move to make them different from Bangladeshi Jamat, apologists like Kamarazzuman and some other co-travelers have also hit the street opposing attacks on Hindus on the other side of the border.
Hindu Sanghati, a decade-old but resourceful Muslim-bashing outfit which offers certain Bengali flavor in contrast to Hindi heartland-dominated RSS recently had plastered downtown Kolkata with posters lionizing Bengali ‘protectors’ of Hindus during great Calcutta Killing in 1946. Not only that, it held a massive rally in support of Israel army’s genocide of civilians in Hamas-controlled Gaza strip of residual Palestine territory in 2013-14. The rallyists hailed it as a befitting reply to Islamic terrorism and suggested the same in Kashmir long before Modi decided to visit the land of Zion and found a soul mate in ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu this year. The Hindu rally was organized almost back to back to a Muslim assembly in the city opposing Israeli aggression with participants mainly from bordering areas of north 24-parganas.