Gist of my present piece would besiege the doghouse like scenario from a sedate documentary “The Promised Land”, with whom I stuck, gasped and eventually grimaced at the auditorium of India International Centre, New Delhi. Documentary revolves around the doleful ghetto of Dhaka…this islet like arrangement of garrets and hovels were imagined and still run by the discretion of United Nations.
Needless to say, despite forging a living hell, UN must be attributed some accolades for saving the lakhs of Bihari Muslims lives who through own besmirching thoroughly fall on the wrong side after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
Attainment of downward trajectory to Bihari Muslims could be traced back in the quantum leap of cultural composition shaped after the independence of India in 1947. Unfortunate circumstances following the Indian independence led to innumerable indecisions-odd decisions; among those many horrendous migrations in history, plights of Bihari Muslims migrant in Bangladesh is unique and complete loitering.
Their transition from habitant of scenic beauty to stark odiousness made their lives penurious, and in absence of any momentous decision from Bangladeshi government, there are little chances in near future too, to see any retooling in their humdrum existence.
The clots of rift are primarily cultural between original Bangla inhabitants and Bihari Muslim. Partition and alignment with Pakistan was a rude shock for Bangla speaking population as they were intricately longing with the composite culture of Bengal, and such shocking shifts were not ever dreamt by any sufferer. Foot holding of migrant Muslims was another cause of unease as their Islamic leaning and proximity with Pakistani authority easily placed them in qua opposite camp.
Hostility remained consistent and grew up to an unprecedented level till the nineteen-sixties, when cultural shock clouded over the infuriated Bangladeshi population against the Pakistan’s tyrannical rule upon them. Surprisingly, instead to act rationally, these Bihari Muslims migrants stood with Pakistani authority in that testing time. Moreover, a considerable chunk of them also laid atrocities against the dissident Bangladeshis.
Indeed, the fault was grave and emotionally hard to forget albeit humane spectacle doesn’t deter consideration for the succeeding generation of Bihari Muslims who are blameless and now equally deserve to be a part of modern Bangladesh. Their commitments to the nation are bewitching and they have lurking desire for modern and civilized life outside the shaky ghettos. Their senses of losses are understandable as they still face the statuary challenges on the front of citizenship.
In the last sixty-five years, they have been entwining with the ethos and threads of Bangla culture; their nostalgia of roots in Bihar is still intact but their Bangladeshi nationality, no doubt is foremost concern among young generation now.
Deplored and second grade citizen status of Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh pushing them to meet with numbers of fallouts, such as mass unemployment, illiteracy, wretchedness and above all relentless adversities of state. Only solace is the positive backing from the progressive elements in the country and little bit from the multilateral institutions, but their effects are mostly revolves in virtual spaces contrary to desired level of intervention.
The problem is very much internal now but Indian role can’t be denied entirely as being the stakeholder in that mess and prominent nation of the south Asian region.
Besides that, nationalism is a pertinent issue in entire perils and being factor behind the birth of Bangladesh, Indian government must come across to solve the chronic inhumanization of Bihari Muslim migrants who otherwise would turn as endangered species. What they needed the basic democratic rights within the constitutional framework of Bangladesh.
Redressal of these suffering communities should be the major concern of Indian government as any delay may be not less than catastrophic from the strategic/humane point of view.
The whole issues of Assamese impatience have lot to do with the same unresolve deal of migration. The migrants of both sides deserve humane and democratic treatment from the two major neighboring democracy-India and Bangladesh.
Assam’s long demographic suffering must be given proper attention in the bilateral dialogue between two countries instead playing political cards on the migrants who are bound to live grimmer existence.
Bangladesh government should act in purpose of maintaining human rights of its migrants to Assam and Indian government should essentially think to end the incessant nagging for making its north-east free from sensitive international dispute. Heavy tones of protagonist while singing”Lagta nahi dil yahaan…”reflects the natural agony in search of motherland. These utopian citizens must be given a real chance to dwell with their motherland!
Atul Kumar Thakur
August27th 2010, Friday, New Delhi