• Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:58 pm

OP-ED: Amit Shah: Ignorance, dogma, and prejudice

  • Published at 05:50 am April 21st, 2021
Amit Shah
AFP

Spreading lies about Bangladesh has become Amit Shah’s signature

Disrespectfully spreading false propaganda against Bangladesh has become an indecent style of some Indian politicians, especially Amit Shah -- unfortunately, he is India’s home minister and former president of the ruling Hindu fundamentalist political organization called Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While he was talking to Calcutta’s Anandabazar newspaper, he lied again: “The poor people of Bangladesh still do not get food, so they come to India. If BJP comes to power in West Bengal, infiltration from Bangladesh will be stopped.” 

Bangladesh has not formally protested his statement, but in reply to Amit Shah’s latest statement, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh AK Abdul Momen, said: “His knowledge about Bangladesh is limited. On the contrary, in some areas, Bangladesh is far ahead of India.”

Amit Shah has a long history of making hateful, insulting remarks about Bangladesh. Almost every year, he speaks nastily about Bangladeshis. Earlier, at a public meeting in West Bengal on February 11, Amit Shah once again made provocative remarks on alleged infiltration from Bangladesh to India. He said that if the BJP came to power in West Bengal, “not just people, even a bird will not be able to enter the country through the border.”

In 2019, Shah said, Bangladeshis would be found and expelled from West Bengal. In a meeting with the BSF in November 2020, he said that people from Bangladesh visit India to vote. The border will be sealed so that even “mosquitoes and flies” cannot enter. Among his offensive remarks, the issue of Bangladeshis being called “termites” in 2018 was also criticized in India.

It is now clear that the BJP has intensified these anti-Bangladesh campaigns as the West Bengal Assembly elections have started. Their target is to defeat Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and seize West Bengal’s power. Due to hatred and persecution towards the Muslim community, the Muslim vote in West Bengal is less likely to go to the BJP, counting for 30% of the total vote. The most active “Pakistan card” in Indian elections is obsolete in West Bengal for the geographical distance. 

The BJP is keen to run the “Bangladesh card” because the two parts of Bengal have a bitter history of partition and reciprocal migration, and a sad history of Hindu-Muslim communal riots. Even then, language, literature, and common culture have made a historical bond between the two parts of Bengal. 

Dhaka has repeatedly said that Bangladesh would accept its citizens wherever they are, if India provides a list with appropriate evidence. Amit Shah could not give it, even after becoming the home minister, because Amit Shah knows very well that there is no Bangladeshi Muslim infiltration in India, which is their headache. 

Why will Muslims in Bangladesh go to India to live as third-class citizens? In India, Muslims cannot rent houses in Hindu-dominated areas, do not get high-ranking government jobs, and many have to hide their faith even if they have to take lower-class private jobs. In India, Muslims are forbidden from marrying and engaging in relationships with Hindus; Muslims are murdered for eating beef. 

These atrocities are not unknown to the world. In such a case, who will go to an intolerant country where hatred between religions and caste differences is cogent, and laws are enacted to make 200 million Muslims stateless? 

Yes, there are some Hindus who have left Bangladesh at different times. Most of those who went to India in the Pakistan period are prosperous and advanced in education and culture. Those who were not well off did not go to India from East Pakistan during the partition. Just as poor Muslims did not come to East Pakistan from India, like well-off Muslims of border areas did, on the other hand, after independence, some Hindus are taking the opportunity to consider India as the pilgrimage land of the Hindu religion. 

And some are going to embezzle large sums of money from here -- fugitives in various cases. Instead, Bangladesh may allege that India is helping them with money laundering, and is encouraging emigration with the Citizenship Amendment Bill or CAB’s greed, which will grant citizenship to all except Muslims.

If there were anti-India politics, the political parties’ field speeches would now be attacking Indian citizens working in garments, textiles, the IT sector, and various NGOs in Bangladesh. According to media reports, most of them are sending money to India through hundi. The Refugee and Migration Movements Research Unit, in its 2019 report, showed that remittances from Indian nationals from Bangladesh amounted to $4 billion. There is no available official data on how many Indians are working legally or illegally in Bangladesh, but it is not less than half a million.

On the other hand, the official statistics showed that 2.25 million tourists (one in five foreign tourists) went to India from Bangladesh in 2018. The US is in second place. Although Amit Shah did not know the role of this massive number of tourists in the Indian economy, what happened to the business of Kolkata in the absence of Bangladeshi tourists after the Covid-19 situation -- the businessmen of Kolkata understood it well. 

The same has happened to Indian hospitals due to the lack of Bangladeshi patients last year due to restrictions for Covid-19. Just as Bangladeshis ranked first in India as foreign tourists, Bangladeshis ranked first in India as foreigners for medical treatment and spent nearly Tk2,000 crore per year. Millions of Bangladeshis seek treatment in Delhi, Vellore, Madras, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Kolkata. That is why India has repeatedly requested Bangladesh to resume suspended air services temporarily shut due to the corona pandemic.

Amit Shah is practically illiterate, a bald-headed bull with no horns, attacking Bangladesh with his ignorance, dogma, and prejudice.

Anis Alamgir is a journalist and columnist, noted for collecting Iraq and Afghan war news. Contact: [email protected]

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