Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rabindranath Trivedi Lies again distorting facts

While browsing the Asian Tribune this morning, where my weekly Letter from America appears every Sunday, I was shocked to see an article by Rabindranath Trivedi, who is long known as a Hindu fanatic that is in the business of spreading false information and making mountains out of moles in his treatment of Bangladesh and anything Islamic. He is a retired government official who rose to the second most important position in his ministry, and yet has no problem to always claim that religious minorities are not treated fairly in Bangladesh.

As I have noted many times Bangladesh is definitely not the best country around the globe for a minority. But it is surely not the worst either. As a matter of fact a comparable analysis of minority status in Bangladesh vis-a-vis any of the South Asian countries, including the next door Burma, would show that the minorities are much better off in Bangladesh than any of those countries. Muslims in India represent over 15% of the population, and yet their share in government jobs is less than 2%. There is hardly a month in which people of minority faiths are not victims of riots and violence in India, Sri Lanka and Burma. During election period, there is more incidents of such crimes by groups that would use fear tactics to win election. It is despicable and inexcusable.

But Mr. Trivedi, who is part of a rabid, anti-Muslim group - HRCBM, which, by the way, in the post-9/11 era has been accused of having ties with fanatic Hindu organizations like the RSS, BJP, Sangha Parivar, and Hindu Mahasabha seems to have a clear agenda to tarnish Bangladesh's image.

In his latest salvo, Trivedi claims that Bangladeshis are using rape to grab Hindu land. While violence against anyone is unacceptable making such a sweeping remark does show the writer's ulterior motives against Bangladesh. It is absolutely false claim. 

He deliberately gives the impression that all the refugees that moved to India in 1971 during the war of liberation of Bangladesh against Pakistani forces were Hindus. He says: "The policy of Hindu-hunting helped Pakistan since 1950 to take advantage also of practically one-way traffic exchange of population. They were 100% successful in 1971. The number of refugee started increasing rapidly, i.e., from the 10th April to 30th April it was 57,000 per day; 102,000 per day in May; 68,000 per day in June; 26,000 per day in July; 34,000 per day in August; 27,000 per day in September; 14,000 per day in October and 8,000 per day in November 1971." If you do the math, you will notice that it adds up to 9.743 million (or close to 10 million people, see below).
1971           days
Total
April21570001197000
May311020003162000
June30680002040000
July3126000806000
August31340001054000
September3027000810000
October3114000434000
November308000240000
December


Total

9,743,000

While there is no denying that many Hindus were part of that exodus to India in 1971, it would be wrong to assume that all of them were Hindus. But that is the impression Trivedi tries to create in the mind of his readers. A vast majority of the refugees from which freedom fighters emerged to fight against the Pakistani forces and their collaborators were in fact Muslims. That is understandable since Bangladesh is a country with nearly 90% Muslim population.  
He goes on to claim that "After August 1975, subsequent military regimes in Bangladesh changed the course of the nation by adopting Fifth Amendment in 1977 and become a theocratic state by declaring ‘Islam as a state religion’ in 1988."
He is obviously referring to the 8th amendment of the constitution which was passed on 7 June 1988 when Bangladesh was ruled by a military dictator. It amended Articles 2, 3, 5, 30, and 100 of the Constitution. This Amendment:
  • declared Islam as the state religion;
  • decentralised the judiciary by setting up six permanent benches of the High Court Division outside Dhaka;
  • substituted the spelling 'Bengali' with 'Bangla', and 'Dacca' with 'Dhaka', in Article 5 of the Constitution;
  • amended Article 30 of the Constitution by prohibiting the acceptance of any title, honours, award, or decoration from any foreign state by any citizen of Bangladesh without the prior approval of the president.

Bangladesh has a parliamentary form of democracy and  is ruled since 1991 by democratically elected members since the fall of General H.M. Ershad. The religious provision in that amendment has long been declared unconstitutional and replaced putting the country back to its secular characteristics of the pre-1975 constitution.
 
Also lost in his statement is the fact that while Islam was declared a state religion, the Constitution declared clearly that other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic.  What is his definition of a theocratic state?
 
To my understanding, for a state to be a theocratic state, it must be governed by people that believe that they are divinely guided. On the other hand, there are many states in our world that have a declared official religion, often of the majority, as the state religion.
 
Israel is a good example. Roman Catholicism in Costa Rica is accepted as the state religion in the 1949 Constitution. Outside Vatican, which is a purely theocratic state, some of the countries where Christian religion is declared as the state religion in the constitution include: Finland, Greece, Georgia, Malta, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Argentina (amongst others). All the Nordic countries have also Christianity as the state religion.
As I have demonstrated above, if, per Trivedi's formula, having a constitutional clause on religion makes a country theocratic, there are surely quite a few European and North and South American Christian majority countries, which are all "theocratic".
 
Even the USA can be argued to be a Christian country, using Tribedi's formula! After all, the Declaration of Independence in the USA, e.g., contains four allusions to the God of the Bible. The U.S. Constitution contains allusions to the freedom to practice the Christian religion unimpeded, the significance and priority of Sunday worship, as well as the place of Jesus Christ in history. Note also that the U.S. Supreme Court in 1892, with Justice David Brewer in the case: Holy Trinity v. United States - declared that America is "a Christian nation." Note also the “Section 4. No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.” That is, an elected person must be a believing person (Christian - in the old context) with faith in resurrection after death. Surely atheists and agnostics don't qualify for holding offices in the government. The U.S. paper currency - the dollar bills - says "In God We Trust". When the elected members are sworn in, they put their hand on the Bible (or so is the practice amongst the Christian and Jewish reps).
 
In spite of such mentions in the US Constitution, and practices and symbols, no one in the right mind would say that the USA is a theocratic state.
In Spain, under Francisco Franco (1939-1975), Catholicism was the state religion and the only religion with any legal rights. After Franco’s death in 1975, religious freedom and the separation of church and state have been constitutionally guaranteed, though the Church still holds special privileges. Article 16 also charges the government with taking the religious beliefs of Spanish society into account by maintaining cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church and other religious associations.
In Italy, Catholicism was disestablished as the state religion ONLY in 1984 but remains a hallmark of Italian society, and the Church is influential in most political parties. While the constitution guarantees religious freedom, the Church receives nearly all the taxes collected under a law in which taxpayers choose what organization will receive 0.8% of their annual income.
While the minority communities around the globe have objected to the inclusion of religion in constitution, including the objections made by Orthodox Coptic Church against the draft Constitution drafted by the elected lawmakers of the Muslim Brotherhood (now unlawfully banned by the all too powerful Pharaonic military) in Egypt, let's not forget that Pope John Paul II had lobbied heavily the European leaders for "a clear reference to God and the Christian faith to be formulated in the European constitution." The same Pope would shed tears with any mention of Islam in any constitution in a Muslim majority country. What a hypocrisy!
The readers may like the read the links here and here to explore this subject further. 
 
It goes without saying that Trivedi is simply wrong. Like a manipulative, disingenuous person with ulterior motives against Muslims, sadly, he goes on to propagating lies and distorts facts.

In recent days, Hindus in Bangladesh have demanded 60 reserve seats in the parliament. Such demands are absurd since demanding reserve seats challenges the very identity of a secular state. One simply can't  have it both ways.

Since the current Bangladesh government is perceived to follow her bigger and more powerful neighbor to the west, i.e., India, it is highly probable that if our Indian dadas make that concession a reality for their minorities Bangladeshi elected leaders definitely would be tempted to incorporate such measures inside Bangladesh. Let India where Muslims are threatened everyday take the lead and show the light to Bangladesh where already Hindus have been holding critical positions in almost all sectors of the government. Lest we forget Trivedi himself was a high ranking government official before retiring. And there are many highly ranked officers of the Hindu faith everywhere. Their percentage is several fold their representative proportion in the country. How is it possible for them to reach such heights in their respective professional areas if there was any truth to their being unfairly treated?

Still all those factors, which gave them ascendancy much beyond their proportional share in Bangladesh, are apparently of no consequence to fanatic Hindus of Trivedi's kind and what matters to them are some sporadic incidents. I am told that many of the die-hard RSS sympathizers like Trivedi  won't be satisfied until probably Bangladesh becomes a part of India!

As British India was divided into Pakistan and India in August 14 and 15 of 1947, there was exodus of minorities on all sides. Hindus liked to live in Hindu-majority India and Muslims in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Millions of people made the cross border journey.  It was the largest such migration in the 20th century. While the fleeing Muslims in India could not sell off their properties, Hindus had no problem selling theirs to willing Muslim buyers in what then had become Pakistan. This they did not only before leaving the country, but also after arriving in India. What is so unethical is that most of them sold the same parcel of land to  multiple buyers who had no clue about such unethical schemes. Even to this very date many of those former Hindu land-owners (though they no longer own their sold properties inside Bangladesh) continue to provide power of attorney-ship to any willing and greedy party that is willing to pay them a hefty sum of money. It is note worthy to mention that many of the Bangladeshis buying such illegal power of attorney-ship from equally greedy former Hindu land-owners (now residents of India) are tied up with criminal land-grabbing syndicates harassing law abiding citizens in Bangladesh. In a corruption prone country like Bangladesh where almost anything can be bought for the right price, it has now become an uphill battle for most Muslim landowners to fight the land-grabbing syndicates who often enjoy support from politicians of the ruling party.
 
As a result of such dishonest practices of former Hindu land-owners, a study of court cases would reveal that most of the land-related litigation in Bangladeshi courts have their origin with Hindus selling off their same parcel of land properties to multiple Muslims, and giving power of attorney to anyone (sometimes multiple parties) that is (are) willing to pay large sums of money.
 
The plundering Marathas (Borgis) have left Bangladesh hundreds of years ago, but their brainchildren continue to haunt the vulnerable Bangladeshis to this very day!
 
This somber observation should not be interpreted as endorsing the criminal activities against anyone. The religious minorities should not be harmed and must be protected. Fortunately, the Government in Bangladesh is on the top of such crime fighting crusades. Thus, soon after any such occurrence inside Bangladesh, it has become routine for the High and Supreme Court judges to demand that government agencies find the culprits immediately and produce them before the court.

These are all good signs for a country like Bangladesh, which has her share of political problems in an illiberal democracy. But unlike India, where parties like BJP with known anti-Muslim bias and agenda continue to govern several states, and may even govern the central government once again, Bangladesh is no oasis for such bigots, and has always sternly fought to wipe out their curse. There is no soft corner anywhere within the government for such criminals who toy with the lives of others. The huge majority of Muslims are peace loving people that abhor such crimes and condemn them wholeheartedly.
 
Having said that, let's not lose sight of the intent of guys like Trivedi and Ajoy Roy who are working for Indian and anti-Muslim interest groups to smear Bangladesh's image globally. With their false information they only divide our world into poisonous camps. And it is shameful, deceitful and unethical!
 

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