By Jamal Ansari
As a fallout of the Jaipur bombings, the Government of Rajasthan has launched a crackdown on the so-called Bangladeshi immigrants. It has become a pattern that soon after any terrorist attack, both media and political leadership embark upon fixing the responsibility on religious and ideological considerations. The Jaipur bombings are no exception.
While discussing the issue, we should remember that Rajasthan is presently under the 'saffron flag' where trishuls are being openly distributed with provocative slogans -- where Hindu refugees from Pakistan are being given Indian citizenship. The BJP and other saffron organisations allow immigration of Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh but cry foul in the case of Muslims. Such double-standards on religious consideration point to a dangerous situation of social implications. It is also a pointer that we are becoming a fascist state.
We must see the issue in totality. There is marked difference between a 'migrant', the displaced 'homeless', and 'refugees'. In the post-World War II era, more people have migrated across the world. Migration takes place due to a variety of reasons, with employment and financial aspect being more important. In a civilised society or a democratic country like India, migrants need protection from discrimination; some affirmative Government action should be there to save their lives.
India's policies on immigrants and refugees remain a paradox. Tibetans have been allowed to stay in the country. The Government has provided shelter to Sri Lankan Tamils; similarly, protection has been given to Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh. The situation becomes more complicated when one analyses two trends. Afghans have been allowed to reside in India and are treated well, despite the fact that the political situation in Afghanistan has never been favourable towards Indians. Likewise, Bangladeshis were welcomed into India when it was engaged in Bangladesh's liberation from erstwhile West Pakistan. The uncomfortable conclusion is that Muslim immigration was allowed whenever that suited the Government of India. This is not a healthy trend.
The Rajasthan Government's crackdown on the so-called illegal Bangladeshi immigrants is partial and chauvinistic. Hegemony of a section of people over the other is the primary motive of religious and ideological considerations. The action has nothing to do with India's security; otherwise, trishuls may not have been allowed to be distributed and divisive organisations should not have been allowed to translate their theoretical agenda into concrete realities.
There is another aspect. The Rajasthan Government is targeting Bengali Muslims in the name of illegal Bangladeshis. They have valid ration cards and even voter ID cards. The Home Minister says that Bangladeshis have procured these documents. If India's system of governance is so corrupt that anybody can procure these documents, then before deporting Bangladeshis, corrupt public servants should be deported; they pose a bigger threat to the country than Bangladeshis.
The fact is that Bengali Muslims are being targeted and nobody is listening their cry. Mass exodus is taking place. The Bengali and Bihari Muslims act like a besieged community; they wish to conserve their language and culture but are persecuted for the same. This is not democracy, it's fascism.
The paradox is more baffling when we consider the abject refusal of the Government of India to formalise its legal responsibilities towards immigrants due to economic constraints. Ironically the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, and the Foreigner Act, 1946, contain no special category of such immigrants. Theoretically, the rights of such people have to be protected by the country as it is a signatory of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, 1966, and the Conventions on Racism (1965), Torture (1984), Children (1989) and Women (1979). Despite these international protections, legal protection evades these people.
A final blow to our claim to be civilised is the support to Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen by those who are busy persecuting Bengali Muslims in the name of fighting illegal immigration. The BJP-ruled Government of Rajasthan will continue to tread this divisive path. It is for the Centre to control the damage.
Jamal Ansari is a political commentator and academic and, AMU
Source: The Pioneer