Deganga Intifada?

by Dr. Richard L. Benkin (October 2010)



For three days in September, anti-Hindu violence wracked the Deganga area in North 24 Parganas, only 40 kilometers from the West Bengal capital of Kolkata. Though the violence has subsided, Hindu residents fear renewed attacks, which could have been the attackers' intention all along. West Bengal BJP member Tathagata Roy visited the area twice since the violence began and noted, "What struck me about the pogrom (not riot, because no Hindu hit a Muslim) is that no Hindu was physically hurt, and no Hindu woman was molested, a regular feature in all Muslim attacks. But destruction of property and threats were both rampant." From that Roy concludes that "this was a well-thought-out, well-executed pogrom whose objective was to terrorize the Hindus no end without committing any major crime beyond arson. The ultimate intention can only be to cleanse the area of Hindus with a view to totally Islamize the area." That the matter is now fodder for political bickering instead of effective counter action only furthers the attackers' objectives.

Bimal Pramanik, Director of the Kolkata-based Centre for Research in Indo-Bangladesh Relations, has noted a steady and deliberate effort to change Hindu-Muslim demographics in West Bengal. Since the emergence of Bangladesh (East Bengal) as an independent nation in 1971, Hindus in that country have fallen from a little less than one in five to between seven and eight percent today. At the same time, the Muslim proportion of West Bengal's population has risen by 25 percent compared to an almost nine percent decline in the proportion of its Hindu population. Between 1981 and 1991, moreover, Muslim population growth in West Bengal was nearly 35 percent compared to only 25 percent in Bangladesh. "How can there be such a wide difference in growth rates between the two countries?" Pramanik asked South Asia Forum's Amitabh Tripathi and me in his Kolkata office. His conclusion: "Illegal immigration from across the border."
 
The current political infighting is reminiscent of similar wrangling in the United States. America reacted to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks by radical Muslims with a wave of patriotism and unity, bringing with it a collective will to defeat those who attacked America. Over time, however, the initial fervor died down and the same sort of political bickering now taking place in India replaced it. Democrats blamed the attacks on Republican President George Bush; Republicans blamed his Democrat predecessor, President Bill Clinton. That the widely praised "9/11 Commission" found largely equal fault with both did not stop the charges and counter charges. As a result, support for resolutely fighting the Islamists has been plagued by disunity and political jockeying; which also muddies the signal Americans get about their enemies and their intention. Is this happening in India?
 
Almost 2000 years ago, ancient Israel was at war with its Roman occupiers. With most of the country in enemy hands and Roman legions approaching the gates of the Hebrew capital, Jerusalem; defenders holed up in the Jewish Temple, located on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. But instead of forming a united front against the enemy, they fell into three factions and spent more time attacking one another than the Romans. When they eventually united, it was too late and Jerusalem fell. The Jewish state was destroyed, not to be re-established until 1948. Is this happening in India?
 
While the victims of yesterday and today expend their resources fighting one another, their Islamist enemies proceed in a united, strategic, and resolute manner. The Deganga pogrom makes sense when viewed in parallel with another planned, jihadist event with similar goals: the 2000 Palestinian intifada. It also helps to note that Muslims today are given a free pass to express their individual or collective anger however they wish. If Hindus do it, they are Hindu fanatics; Jews, Zionist oppressors; Christians, Islamaphobic. If any of these groups attack Muslims, it is their fault. If Muslims attack them, it is still their fault. Arab terror attacks on Israel murdered over 1000 Israelis in the first few years of this century but were justified as anger over the so-called occupation. The September 11th attacks on the United States were deemed expressions of Muslim anger for which Americans must atone. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad recently accused the United States of being the real 9/11 killers, many at the UN applauded enthusiastically. Finally, virtually every international body and media outlet has determined that the 26/11 terror in Mumbai is insufficient cause to bring anyone to justice. As American author and analyst Michelle Malkin wrote, "The eternal flame of Muslim outrage was lit a long, long time ago." Woe to any people it burns because the world's elites will blame them for it. The pattern is tediously familiar.
 
                                    Deganga Pogrom                                Arab Intifada
 
The Pretext     Hindus stopped Muslim activists       Then private citizen Ariel Sharon
                      from tunneling between the             visited Jerusalem's Temple Mount
                      Deganga Mosque and a nearby
                                    Hindu Temple.
 
Background  As the area's Muslim population        Although it is the site of Judaism's
                 has grown, they have tried to stop    Ancient Temple, Muslims claim that
                 Durga Puja there and claim the         the Temple did not exist and that
                 land for their mosque.                     the Mount is a holy site for Muslims
                                                                                                only.
 
What happened  Angry Muslims gathered at the   Angry Muslims gathered on the
                     Mosque after Iftar (giving it          Temple Mount by al Aqsa mosque
                     religious significance) and began   (giving it religious significance) and
                     attacking Hindus, their temples,    began attacking Jewish worshippers
                    homes and shops. When troops      below. When troops responded to
                    arrived to restore calm, they          restore calm, they launched a terror
                   moved against defenseless Hindu    war against Israel that included
                    villages in the interior.                  suicide bombings and other terror.
 
Government While it stopped the immediate      While it defeated the uprising, it
                   violence, it has not made any       allowed the enemy's claims to be
                   arrests, defended Hindu religious   given legitimacy. It has not pressed                       sentiments, or defined the            the case for Jewish rights and even                     actions or claims as illegitimate.     released arrested terrorists as
                                                                   
"goodwill gestures."
 
Media     Events have been under reported         Media took the case of the Muslim
             domestically and blacked out             attackers as a cause c?l?bre and                 internationally. No media has             did not mention the rights of the                discussed the rights of the Hindu                 Jewish victims.
                    victims.
 
The Result  The Muslim attackers and their      Arab claims to Jewish land are seen
                instigators see that they can         as more legitimate than before the   
                attack Hindus in India without        terror; i.e., terror works. Their
                consequences. Their claim to         false claim that the ancient Jewish
                Hindu lands remains active and       Temples did not exist and that Jews
                stronger, and they can press it       have no title to the Temple Mount
                           further.                            remains; and both are ongoing
                                                                 Arab demands for a cessation of
                                                                              violence.
 
The attackers and their backers frequently object that identifying the pogromists as Muslim and the victims as Hindu violates principles of secularism and unfairly smears an entire faith. To the extent that religion should not be an important issue, they are correct. But to the extent that the attackers have made religion important, it needs to be identified. As noted above, there was a deliberate effort to give the Deganga and Palestinian violence a religious overtone. It was also on full view in 2004 when Yassir Arafat personally apologized to the father of a 20 year old murdered in a terror attack as a case of "mistaken identity." The terrorists were gunning for Jews, and the victim was Christian. In 2006, there were deadly riots worldwide over cartoons that depicted the prophet Mohammed. The rioters were not Hindus, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, or anyone else-but Muslims who called the cartoons blasphemous; that is, Muslims, not Jews or Hindus, have made this a religious fight. More frightening, the rioters were not Al Qaeda; neither were the Deganga pogromists. They were just Muslims. Draw what conclusions you may, but the religious component injected by Muslims is a fact.
 
The Deganga riots might appear to be a blip on the radar screen of life in India; but they are far more than that. The violence and the decades-long demographic change speak of a deliberate effort to reduce India piece by piece, no less so than Islamist effort to do the same to Israel. If India does not awaken soon, they might find that the international elites have defined Bengal in the same way they have Kashmir.



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