Anti-CAB protests have reached West Bengal, as the state witnessed ugly scenes of violence on Friday. Multiple Muslim organisations gave a clarion call to stage protests, which turned nasty and violent. The anti CAB protesters attacked a police station in Murshidabad, and also vandalised Murshidabad’s Beldanga station. The violent protesters and hooligans did not even spare an ambulance and starting pelting stones at it. There have also been disturbing visuals of the anti CAB hooligans pelting stones at running trains full of passengers in Howrah. The violent elements are therefore not only damaging public property but also looking to attack innocent citizens.
Anti-CAB protest turns violent in #Bengal. In Murshidabad stones pelted on an ambulance. Beldanga station vandalised by protesters. Muslim organisations had given protest call across the state after Friday prayers today pic.twitter.com/bdDyAIwEAc
— Indrojit | ইন্দ্রজিৎ (@iindrojit) December 13, 2019
In West Bengal’s context, the Citizenship Amendment law assumes a lot of importance. This can be understood in the sharp change that the state’s demographics have undergone over the past several decades. The last census before Indian independence was held in 1941. At that time, in communal breakup in Bengal (West and East both) was 53.4% Muslim, 41.7% Hindu and around 4.8% tribal. During the partition, Muslim majority districts of Malda (slight Muslim majority) and Murshidabad (70% Muslim majority) went to India, while Hindu majority district of Khulna (51% Hindus) and Tribal dominated Chittagong Hill tracts went to Pakistan. Over the years, there was a steady trickle of Hindus from erstwhile East Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh, however alongside the migration of persecuted Hindus, there has also been a continuous infiltration of illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh.
In 1951, an estimated 22% of East Pakistani population was Hindu. This number reduced to 13.5% in 1974, following the 1971 war and the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in East Pakistan. As of 2011, an estimated 8.5% of Bangladeshi population is Hindu. As opposed to this, the Muslim population in West Bengal has gone up from 18.63 per cent in 1951 to 21.55 per cent in 1981 and further to 27 per cent in the year 2011. Infiltration of illegal Muslim immigrants has continued unabated, and this demographic shift would have only exacerbated further.
This demographic alterations has been at the core of the Greater Bangladesh strategy. In fact, in 1998, Lt. Gov, S K Sinha had written a report to President K R Narayanan wherein he claimed that massive illegal immigration from Bangladesh was directly linked with “the long-cherished design of Greater Bangladesh”. Although the theory points towards Bangladeshi desire for Assam (something that was at one time admitted even by Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman), it is safe to assume that demographic changes in West Bengal would have only aided and abetted the cause of Greater Bangladesh. Conspiracy theorists point towards the booming illegal immigration of Bangaldeshi Muslims in search of Food, shelter, better economic opportunities and the fact that immigrants are welcomed by Politicians who use these immigrants as pliable vote banks.
The CAB has of course brought the Greater Bangladesh project to a grinding halt. This is going to help in identification of the genuine Bengali Hindus who had to migrate to India fleeing persecution in Bangladesh, which will in turn lead to conferment of Indian citizenship upon these Bengali Hindus. This will ultimately lay down the groundwork for the NRC that will lead to identification of illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh.
The CAB excluded the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, whose influx has been responsible for the changing demographics of the state. The NRC will ultimately pave way for wiping them out of West Bengal. This also explains why the Mamata Banerjee led TMC has been opposed to both the CAB and the NRC. She has successfully found a voter base in the illegal immigrants. There have also been reports of such illegal immigrants acquiring voter ID cards in an illegitimate manner. She understands that once this section is wiped out, she stands to lose electorally. The CAB thus upsets those whose influx was at the core of the Greater Bangaldesh startegy and also creates an uncomfortable situation for those political elements who benefitted from the long cherished dream of Greater Bangladesh. This explains the real cause behind the violent protests and vanadalism that shook the state of West Bengal yesterday.