An Interview with Tapan Ghosh, President of Hindu Samhati in America.
1. Please tell us something about you and your organization.
I have been associated with organizing Hindu relief and resistance in many parts of India over the last three decades, including spending some time in Kashmir where Hindus have suffered the worst onslaught of Islamic extremism in recent years. My past experience in Jammu and Kashmir taught me that it was not only the Kalashnikov wielding militants that drove Hindus out of their homes; it was also their nondescript Muslim neighbors who largely turned a blind eye and refused to provide any support to their Hindu brethren. When I moved back to West Bengal several years back, I realized that the demographic changes in Assam and W. Bengal bordering Bangladesh are alarming and that Hindus are migrating out of their villages in large numbers. The events of Direct Action Day (Kolkata, 1946), massacre in Noakhali (Oct.1946), communal riots in 1947 and genocide of Hindus in 1971 might be [for detailed reports of Indian Panorama Pl Click here] forgotten events in modern Bengal. But, if Islamic religious extremism cannot be countered today, nothing can stop another holocaust against the Hindus in the near future. It is with this vision that Hindu Samhati was founded in 2008. Today, we are a fast growing, grass-roots organization with completely non-political agenda and strength of over 15,000 volunteers.
2. What type of atrocities are Hindus facing in West Bengal? (Please write in details)
The atrocities that Hindus are facing in villages bordering Bangladesh are multifarious. The case of massive illegal infiltration is well known today. What the people of India and USA don’t know is their activities. This includes crime targeted against Hindu women; from relatively small cases of eve-teasing and harassment, to sexual assault, rape, kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam. Incidences of illegal migrants encroaching upon Hindu lands as well as organized land grabbing by Islamic criminal network by the likes of Majid Master & Arabul Islam in N. 24 Parganas, is also very common. There is also a sharp increase in cases of rioting during Hindu festivals, destruction of Temples and desecration of Deities; large scale provocative cow slaughter during Hindu festivals in Hindu majority localities is also on the rise. Construction of large, illegal mosques, often upon encroached land, is happening in all border areas and has changed the landscape of rural Bengal. While establishment of massive Saudi funded Madrasas across rural Bengal is only contributing to the growing religious extremism among Muslims, implementation of Sharia laws by Chalasi (Islamic) courts is quite prevalent in villages in Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur districts. Finally, the Indo-Bangla border acts as a major conduit for smuggling by the terrorist network and have grave consequences for national security. As a result of growing Islamization of rural Bengal, Hindus are leaving the border area villages. This change in demography is well established in Assam, and I fear that the upcoming census will paint a grimmer scenario in W. Bengal too. Calls for a greater Muslim Bangla are not unheard of in Muslim majority districts and my greatest fear is the day when Muslim zealots will give a call for Nara-e-taqbir and tell Hindus to either convert or leave Bengal. Where will we go then?
2a. What kind of threats are you receiving and from whom?
Hindu Samhati workers face opposition from local political parties, who resent our rising influence in the community. Law enforcement agencies threaten our workers in areas where they face tremendous pressure from political bigwigs.
Personally, I am a prime target of Jihadi elements in areas where our work disrupts their activities.
3. India being a secular country and Bengal being a Marxist-ruled state, how all these are happening?
While India is constitutionally secular, it is also an electoral democracy which means that politicians care about winning elections and cannot ignore 31% of the Bengali Muslim population that are believed to vote en-masse. So, while Kerala CM and a Marxist Mr. Achyutanandan is forced to admit that there is a greater conspiracy to convert Kerala into a Muslim majority state by overt and covert means in 20 years, Bengal CM Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has to remain silent eyeing state elections in May, 2011. But it is not that the politicians are asleep, it is the middle class Bengalis that are in deep slumber. The entire Bengali intelligentsia and culturally enriched Bengali society could not provide protection to one Muslim lady, Ms. Taslima Nasreen, a poet and an intellectual who dared to raise her voice against Islamic fundamentalism. Do you really think anyone in modern Bengal is concerned about upholding secularism or free speech? We may be too proud to admit this, but a large section of the Bengali Hindu society has confused tolerance with cowardice and inaction.
4. What is the role of Congress and Trinamool, Mamta Banerjee in particular? Are they silent for losing the minority vote bank?
The Congress, Trinamool, CPI(M) and all other political parties are either willfully ignorant or outright pro-Muslim in their attitude when it comes to communal situations. With an exploding Islamic population in West Bengal and their pattern to vote en-masse, the Muslim vote can no longer be ignored by any political party. It is now well known that the recent surge in the popularity of Ms. Mamata Banerjee, especially after Nandigram, is largely due to the shifting support of the Muslim community. So, while the Trinamool is going all out to win their support, the CPI(M) too is leaving no stone unturned to win them back. This includes the recent overtures to start Muslim reservations in jobs and educational institutions, which of course, we have been vehemently opposing. Under the current situation and with a divided voting pattern, the Hindus have no one to approach.
5. What role is the media playing?
The role of media, generally speaking, varies from being a passive onlooker, to being outright anti-Hindu. Let me give a fairly recent example regarding the meek surrender of the Bengali media to this extremism. When Islamic zealots ransacked the office of renowned newspaper, ‘The Statesman’ in Kolkata, in retaliation to a mere reproduction of an article originally written by Johann Hari for The Independent (UK), the silence in Bengali press, and for that matter national media, was deafening. Any reader of the article would know that there was nothing, even remotely, derogatory against Islam and the article simply denounced religious extremism. In the end, while editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha were arrested for offending Muslim sentiments, no action was taken against the rioters. Where was the freedom of press then? Now, we all know what happens when Hindu organizations protest against the Press, the news channels repeat the same footage for days at a time. While violence against the press cannot be condoned, then why the double standards? As a general rule, while many Muslims resort to rioting at the slightest provocation, no one in the media wants to report these incidents to preserve the so-called “communal harmony” and for fear of being labeled “communal”.
In fact, I have a strong suspicion, that a section of the media receives money from the Islamic Mafia, through overflow budgets for thousands of Mosques and Madrassas that are funded by Middle Eastern countries.
6. What initiative are you taking?
Our stand is quite clear and it is to openly and if necessary forcibly, defend the Hindus reeling under Muslim aggression in the districts bordering Bangladesh. Even though the police is usually a meek observer under political directive, we always involve the law enforcement agencies, including regularly petitioning them with our grievances. One of our main goals is to resist attack on women, especially minor girls, because the inability to protect the honor of womenfolk is the most important reason why Hindus are forced to migrate out of their village. We are also actively engaged in repatriating and rehabilitating victims of rape, sex trafficking and forced conversion by marriage and making them more acceptable to the Hindu society at large. In addition to this, we provide financial and legal assistance to victims of communal riots, arson, land grabbing, and property and temple destruction. However, being village oriented grass-roots organization, our funds are very limited and we look forward to people’s help in this regard. And since the Bengali media is not very helpful, we are doing our best to spread awareness on how the Hindus are suffering everyday. The Hindu Samhati blog and website has all these details in English and Bengali.
7. What is the purpose of your USA trip?
The purpose of my visit is in sync with the aspirations of Hindu Samhati, that spreading awareness and raising concerted opposition to the advances of Islamic expansionism, is critical to the survival of secular, liberal democracies like India and much of the western civilization, including United States. People from India and the United States must realize that the war on Islamic terrorism cannot be won without curbing religious extremism among Muslims, be it in the suburbs of Chicago or Delhi or villages in rural Bengal. And this will require the active support and cooperation with each other ranging from cooperation at the highest level to those who work at the grassroots level. In this time of need, we must help and support each other with all possible resources at our disposal.
8. Are you sharing your stories here? with whom?
The purpose of my trip here is primarily to spread awareness about the current, ongoing religious tensions in rural Bengal among the Indian diaspora and seek their help and suggestion on how to best serve the population of Bengal. I will greatly treasure the opportunity that I had to meet a wide background of people, from non-resident Bengalis to US politicians, policy makers and other well wishing Indians and Americans. We have had a phenomenal response to the work done by our volunteers in the villages. Most agree that the situation is alarming and responded very positively to help in any way they can.
9. What kind of reaction are you getting here?
I am overwhelmed by the support and concern showed by the local community. I regret that I could not visit Hindu Samhati supporters in Altanta, Dallas and the Bay Area.
10. Tell us something about your experience in Chicago.
Chicago is a very beautiful place, and I always dreamt of being here one day. As you may know, this is the place where Swami Vivekananda attended the Parliament of Religions in 1893, and started a long lasting relation between the Hindu ethos and Western civilization, that continues to grow to this day. We had a meeting at the Manav Seva Mandir with the local Hindu American community. I also met the Press with whom I could share my concerns and initiatives. I am with the response I got in Chicago. [Ref Link]
Vedio Footage of another Interview of Tapan Ghosh with iTV.
Part – I
Part – II
Compilation : Upananda Brahmachari