A false narrative that has become a part of the political mainstream is that Bengal, unlike other parts of the country, had always been secular and that even after partition, both West Bengal and Bangladesh have continued to uphold the greatest traditions of secularism. As per this narrative, it was the British who forced a partition of Bengal, even in face of opposition by leaders such as Suhrawardy and Sarat Bose. Nothing can be further from the truth. A cursory glance through history will throw up terms such as Great Calcutta Killings of 1946, riots at Noakhali and the like.
The Muslim population of erstwhile Bengal was hell bent upon partition, preferably along with the annihilation of Hindu Bengalis. It took leaders like Syama Prasad Mookerjee to stand up for the rights of Hindu Bengalis and demand a homeland for Hindu Bengalis. Little did he know that within 7 decades or so of the birth of a Hindu Bengal, it would be completely wrecked by its political leaders. First the Communists and then the goons of Trinamool Congress have so thoroughly ruined Bengal that the plight of Hindus in Bengal is now being compared to that of Kashmiri Pandits. Illegal immigration encouraged by successive state governments, ostensibly for vote bank politics has completely altered the demography of the state. This, along with blatant minortyism practised by state administrations, in the name of Secularism is now showing its real impact. Communal disturbance and riots are occuring at an alarming frequency, law and order has broken down and the average Bengali is today insecure of his future. This is a far cry from the ‘what Bengal thinks today, India will think tomorrow’, halcyon days of Bengal.
The 1941 census reported Hindus as making up nearly 42% of undivided Bengal’s population. The Muslims made up another 54%. As per results of 2011 census, undivided Bengal would count 33% Hindus and 65% Muslims as its citizens. The Hindu population of Bangladesh has been decimated. Its proportion has fallen from 22% in 1951 to 9% in 2011. In West Bengal too, the Hindu population has plummeted from 78% in 1951 to 70% in 2011. Districts such as Murshidabad, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur etc. are Muslim majority, while many others have substantial Muslim populations.
The Muslim population of West Bengal has risen from 20% in 1951 to 27% in 2011. Any unbiased observer would see that a massive demographic shift is underway in Bengal. Some would call it the creeping Islamization of Bengal. Unfortunately, on the Indian side, there has been no effort to maintain the Hindu character of West Bengal. Bengali politicians of all hues and colours call for secularism, while deliberately choosing to be blind about the crisis at hand. Given India’s first past the post system, any political party/alliance that can count on the support of the Muslim votebank can easily form the government, given the fragmentation of Hindu vote. It is because of this reason that politicians such as Mamata Banerjee and the Communists before her have succeeded in holding on to power in West Bengal.
To keep their stranglehold on power, these politicians encourage migration of Bangladeshi Muslims, have them added to voter lists and then have them vote for their parties. In fact, one major reason why the Communists lost in 2011 was because the Muslim vote shifted to Mamata Banerjee, who it is claimed, received massive sums of money from Islamist parties in Bangladesh.
A cursory glance at the riots that have rocked West Bengal in recent years will be sufficient to understand that Bengal is sliding back into violent pre-partition days. In 2010, riots broke out in Deganga over a Durga Pooja pandal. Rioters were led by Muslim leaders who wanted to silence the minority Hindu community. In 2013, Naliakhali, in Canning subdivison was set upon by Muslim arsonists, after a Muslim Imam was killed by robbers. In 2015, Muslim rioters attacked a Hindu procession, passing in front of a Mosque, leading to death and destruction. In January 2016, riots broke out in Malda over objectionable statements made by one Kamlesh Tiwari in Uttar Pradesh. Hindus were targeted and their properties and places of worship were looted. In December 2016, riots broke out in Dhulagarh, in Kolkata’s backyard, as Muslims attacked Hindus, observing Margashirsha Pooja. Over the years, multitudes of Hindu families have been rendered destitute and have been forced to seek shelter outside the state. The State government, on its part has refused even to recognize the existence of riots and blames opposition parties of inflaming sentiments.
The current generation of leaders in Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and others, including leaders from Congress and the BJP are petty men and women who fail to see beyond electoral victories. They are unable to see that they are reducing West Bengal into a graveyard for its Hindu population. Millennia of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, basically Dharmic culture in West Bengal is now threatened, all because of the narrow, self-serving policies of these leaders. Unfortunately, Bengali electorate has also been unable to dictate terms to its leaders. Divided for long by political ideologies, Bengalis have become like the frog in boling water that continues to tolerate the ever-increasing temperature and is soon boiled to death.
What West Bengal needs today is a leader who can stand up for Bengal and its unique Hindu identity. A leader like Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who can command the masses and get Bengal out of the rut it is in.
Sadly, politicization of education has ensured that no such leader can ever emerge in Bengal. For now, it seems, Bengal and its Hindu population are doomed.
One can only pray that one can once again, with pride say, Aamar Sonar Bangla, Aami tomaae bhalobashi