Stoking of religious sentiment to gain political mileage is nothing new in our nation, and the Bashirhat riots is just another thorn in the bush of inflicting communal sentiments among the people. It all began with a petty blasphemous post by a commoner, which exploded into mass riots. Before the riots Bashirhat was actually a quaint town, free from any communal outrage or regional dispute. So what exactly went wrong in this otherwise peace loving corner in the state of West Bengal, that a trivial social media post tainted the secular fabric of West Bengal into a blood soaked hell? Before the riots hit the region, Bashirhat was an abode of peace where Hindus and Muslims exchanged friendly chit-chats over a tea and bidi.
But on 6th of July, this sleepy town in Bengal was spelled by doom and all hell broke loose, as anarchy and apathy cast its evil eyes on it. The entire town was ripped off its dignity as a mob of 3000 angry Muslims headed toward the southern edge of the Padma river, crashing into another mammoth crowd of Hindus hurtling towards them, which catapulted into a ghastly siege. This carnage lasted a few hours but left the whole place shattered and battered. A tragedy which will leave its scars forever.
Today almost two months down the line since the riots struck, the place is shrouded with an eerie calm and faint shrieks of mayhem still ringing in the air. A strong undercurrent of the riots that passed can still be felt amongst our Muslims and Hindu brethren, most of whom have penetrated the borders through Bangladesh and made it their home almost a decade back. Some of the Hindu Bangladeshis in the Chhatra village of North Machhlandpur district have begun to breed hatred against the Muslims, for the solicitous treatment they are receiving from the ruling Trinamool Congress government.
According to Babu Boral an immigrant from the Barisal district of Bangladesh, “It was only a matter of time before this communal fissure broke out. Chatra is ringed by villages such as Rosui, Sholua, Pratap-para and Ghoshpur, which has a sizeable presence of Muslims who seem to be getting all the attention of the state government while we Hindu refugees from Bangladesh just about manage to make ends meet.”
Boral set his foot on this soil 12 years back leaving his family back in Jhalukathi district of Bangladesh, whom he visits quite often shuttling between his busy schedule of working odd jobs to make a living. He even holds an Aadhar card, PAN card, and voter ID to prove his citizenship. In spite of the outburst which shook the entire hamlet, Boral finds a streak of light even in the face of the storm. He says unlike the Congress, CPI(M) and the TMC, the BJP has lent them the horizon to look forward to.
Most of the Bangladeshi Hindus residing here bear political allegiance to BJP and are constantly in search of secure jobs for livelihood.
Some of them like Nimai Mondal also known as “Nimai Dalal” act as brokers in helping Bangladeshi Hindus to cross the borders. As a matter of fact, when Dalali thrived the Bangladeshi Muslims were not welcome aboard at any cost.
The Bangladeshi Hindus have been constantly marginalized and living on the edge of suburban railway tracks as they still couldn’t find a foothold in “their land”. Interestingly the immigrants who once under the flagship of CPI(M) have filtered into the BJP bandwagon. Some Bangladeshi Hindus sought refugee status under the Udbastu Kalyan Parishad ( Refugee Welfare Council) but to no avail. They are now finding faith in the Citizenship act amendment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to gain permanent citizenship.
Some of the Muslim crowd stand shocked and ashamed of the Bashirhat incident. They feel this entire rampage has been instigated by the RSS. Muslims, who so far got sympathies, now stand accused,” said Mohammad Kamruzzaman, secretary of the West Bengal Minority Youth Federation. Eventually both the Muslim and the Hindu community share one feeling which is disheartening-they have fallen trap to the citizenship bait. They were used in the past, they will be used now and in the future as well! After so much of bloodshed, will there be light at the end of the tunnel? Let’s wait and hope for it!