Posted by : SHOUMIK DAS Saturday, August 10, 2013


Far from what Tagore imagined it to be, the state shows anti-democratic symptoms. All parties are complicit in this 


by Sandipan Deb
Talk about irony. The opening ceremony of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 6 last Tuesday began with Shah Rukh Khan, filmstar, co-owner of the current champions Kolkata Knight Riders, and brand ambassador for the state of West Bengal, reciting Tagore’s immortal poem: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high/Where knowledge is free/Where the world has not been broken up into fragments/By narrow domestic walls/ Where words come out from the depth of truth/Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection/Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way/Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit/Where the mind is led forward by thee/Into ever-widening thought and action/Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

But this is an IPL where the 13 Sri Lankan players (of whom two are captains of their teams) participating will not be allowed to play in Chennai, according to a fiat issued by Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. In a letter to the Prime Minister she claimed that with Tamil emotions running high over the “genocide” of Sri Lankan Tamils by the island state’s army in its final war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), she apprehended “that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people.” She then declared that her government would allow matches in Chennai only if the organizer, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), gave an undertaking that no Sri Lankan will be involved in them. (Which gives Chennai Super Kings a big advantage in its home games, but that’s beside the point).

All that it actually meant was that Jayalaithaa did not want arch-rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to gain an upper hand on the Sri Lanka issue: DMK had just walked out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, alleging that the government was party to watering down a UN resolution on the “genocide”. It was politics as usual. But the mind is hardly without fear. Jayalalithaa fears political consequences of DMK’s move and, in turn, spreads fear among the IPL organizers and Sri Lankan players. As for the UPA government, it has been living in fear for the past few years, so nothing new there.

Tagore’s lines were read out in Kolkata, which has been in a state of fear for four decades now. First the Naxal movement, then its brutal suppression—the mass graves, the bodies floating in the Hooghly, and then 34 years of the Left Front, whose cadres used fear of harassment and violence expertly to keep the people supine. And now, Mamata Banerjee, who jails people for posting jokes on Facebook (so knowledge is not free), and thinks outrage over rape cases is a Left conspiracy (should Bengalis be holding their heads high about this?). A day before the IPL opening ceremony, a leader of the leftist student organization, the Students’ Federation of India, died in police custody in mysterious circumstances.

On 30 March, the members and cohorts of several Muslim organizations held a rally in Kolkata to protest against the death sentence handed down to Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, head of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami, by the country’s war crimes tribunal for his actions during the 1971 war. Sayeedi, it was established in court, was a leader of the Razakar Bahini, a band of ruffians who collaborated with the Pakistani army as it went on the rampage between March and December 1971 in Bangladesh. It is estimated that in those nine months, about three million people were killed, nearly a quarter million women raped, and over 10 million people were forced to flee to India as refugees. Sayeedi participated in torture, rape and murder of hundreds of people who the Razakars suspected to be supporters of Bangladesh’s independence movement, especially Hindus. Sayeedi, originally a small-town grocer, also became extremely wealthy, through plain loot, and seizing land and properties belonging to Hindu families, even in cities such as Dhaka and Khulna. By any definition of “crimes against humanity”, Sayeedi is guilty. (Not that it matters much, but he is also a fraud: he calls himself Allama, but the court found that he has not passed any examinations in Muslim law or theology, so he has no right to that title.)

But when several thousand agitators demanded freedom for Sayeedi at Kolkata, not a single political party uttered a squeak. Not Trinamool, not the Left Front. Everyone loves a Muslim vote bank, and that vote bank in West Bengal has shifted from the Left Front to Trinamool in the last some years. Much of the agitation at Nandigram against land acquisition, which Banerjee spearheaded, was actually about getting the Muslim vote; Nandigram is a Muslim-majority area, and no one really knows how many of them are indigenous and how many are Bangladeshi migrants who became Indian citizens through voter cards doled out by the Left Front. Banerjee wants to keep that bank with her, and the Left wants to get it back. So, silence is the best policy in the matter of a convicted Islamist fundamentalist war criminal. Meanwhile, in the month following Sayeedi’s sentencing, Jamaat supporters in Bangladesh have attacked more than 300 Hindu temples, homes and shops. Silence is the best policy there too.

So Tagore’s beautiful and inspirational lines were recited right when (and even where) the world has been broken up into fragments/By narrow domestic walls/ Where words do not come out from the depth of truth/Where the clear stream of reason has lost its way/Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit. And, quite certainly, the country is not awaking into that heaven of freedom that the poet imagined.
Hindu Samhati regularly monitors and reports violations against Hindus in West Bengal. We also work with both governmental and NGO agencies for proper education on protection and ensure remedies to the Hindu populace as per prevailing law of the land

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