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The post-poll violence in Bengal: Where is our Gopal Patha

The state, historically, has incentivised street veto and it is also our history that the Muslim community has wielded that power effectively

Just as I finished interviewing Ritu (name changed), who was gang-raped in front of her father by TMC barbarians looking for ‘Hindu girls’, I felt numb and nauseous. I messaged a friend telling him as much. That perhaps I can’t keep doing this for long. How long does one keep interviewing victims, being murdered, raped and butchered because the echelons of power don’t see merit in breaking off the cycle of violence unleashed in Bengal? This was the impact of the interview, of course. The realisation that democracy has been reduced to a mere double entendre – one, signifying the right of every citizen to exercise their agency, the other, a cruel joke where you get butchered for it. 

Since the 2nd of May, ever since it became clear that Mamata Banerjee was all set to retain power in the state of West Bengal, heinous, animalistic violence was unleashed upon the people of Bengal, specifically, those who dared to either work for BJP or those who dared to vote for them in the state elections. Ritu was gang-raped on the 2nd of May. She says it must have been about 6 or 7 PM. It was at about 5 PM when Mamata Banerjee announced her victory and told her workers that she would address the media post 6 PM.

Ritu told us during the interview that according to her knowledge, there are several other women who were gang-raped in the vicinity of her residence in Burdwan. But as is expected, none of them really want to talk about it.. none of them wants to go to the police because they believe going to the police is as good as walking into the TMC office where the goons who gang-raped them are sitting. None of them trusts the local BJP leaders, who have all but sold out to the TMC, according to her. Hands in gloves with the very people who are brutalising and disrobing women who dared to exercise their agency in the state elections.

While the media looked away, the judiciary brushed aside the urgency of a state-sanctioned carnage of political opponents and the echelons of power twiddled their thumbs, the Hindus of Bengal, the Bhadralok, sat at their chai-tapris, glad that the election micchils (processions) were done with. They could finally enjoy their heated political debates while having chai-biskoot, without the constant blaring of the loudspeaker or the police shooing people away because a political rally was about the start. And as they did, the women of Bengal who were being brutalised wept.

As the women wept and the men’s blood soaked parts of Bengal, to celebrate the menacingly famed slogan that Mamata believes clinched the victory for her in the state, ‘Khela Hobe’, she chose a fitting day. 16th August, the day when the call to massacre Hindus of Bengal was given by Muslim League founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Bengal, the only province in India under Muslim League rule at that time, was apparently chosen by the Muslim League leadership as the suitable place to unleash terror on Hindus in the name of “Direct Action”.

In 1946, the massacre of Hindus in Bengal was rather intricately planned. Jinnah is recalled having said that he will either have India divided or India burnt and that he had given up on Constitutional methods to demand the creation of Pakistan. Jinnah had chosen the 16th of August as Direction Action Day because it was the 18th day of Ramzan, the day when the Battle of Badr was fought and won – a war fought by Prophet Muhammad himself, against the Kaffirs, and is considered to be won by Allah’s divine intervention by Muslims. The battle led to the violent occupation of Mecca.

On the 16th of August, Calcutta was littered with posters lionising Jinnah and reminding Muslims that they had to follow the footsteps of the Prophet. It is reported that Syed Muhammad Usman, mayor of Calcutta, had issued a widely circulated leaflet that said: Kafer! Toder dhongsher aar deri nei! Sarbik hotyakando ghotbei! (Infidels! Your end is not far away! You will be massacred!). The aim was to make Bengal ‘land of the pure’ and rid it of the Kaffirs (Hindus). The aim was to wage another Battle of Badr, in which the Muslims would conquer the heathens.

What followed on the 16th right after the Jumma Namaz is Muslims going on a rampage, beheading Hindus, chopping their limbs off and raping Hindu women. Several women were taken as sex slaves by those who were fighting with the religious fervour of the Battle of Badr. In the Kesoram Cotton Mills at Lichubagan in the Muslim-dominated Metiabruz area, Muslim mobs entered and beheaded over 600 labourers. The Hindus, neutered and asked by Gandhi to die with a smile on their face hardly fought back. There was a mass exodus from Bengal that marked millions fleeing, because the massacre seemed too brutal to fight against.

The parallels, as frightful as they may be, are hard to miss. There is a reason why Mamata Banerjee has selected the 16th of August as the day to celebrate the “Khala Hobe Diwas”. Just like in the run-up to the Direct Action Day, Mamata too had announced, rather openly, that violence would be the norm if she came back to power and also, that she was not above using violence as a tool to teach those people a lesson who would dare to go against her. Mamata Banerjee had warned the people of Bengal that the BJP would lose and when they do, they would only have her to turn to – her menacing tone not missed by anyone. She had given a call to gherao the forces deployed in the state, a call that paved the way for unbridled violence against them. Her leaders had warned of killing those who dared to vote for BJP. In fact, TMC leader Firhad Hakim had openly asked for BJP workers to be thrashed, calling them the progeny of pigs.

What followed, just like during the Direct Action Day, is the carnage of Hindus. In Ritu’s case, her rapists were looking for “Hindu women” to rape. She says there are several like her who will never speak up. Just like during the Direct Action Day, men were found hanging from trees, women were disrobed and gang-raped, villages were burnt to ashes and carnage was unleashed against the political Kaffirs. Just like during the Direct Action Day, thousands fled Bengal to take refuge in neighbouring Assam, wailing because they had no place to go. Wailing because the political system and the double entendre of democracy had failed them.

During the Direct Action Day, on the 17th of August after 2 days of Hindus being massacred, Gopal Chandra Mukhopadhyay rose like a phoenix. Gopal Patha (Patha means ‘lamb’. He was called so because he ran a mutton shop) had already founded the Bharat Jatiya Bahini, an organisation of young men to help fellow citizens during a natural calamity. On the 17th, Gopal Patha turned from a philanthropist to a warrior, ready to defend his people. Throughout the night, Gopal Patha, along with his young men from the Bharat Jayati Bahini worked on a plan on how they could defend Hindus from the Muslim barbarians. The marwaris offered finances, others spent the night making weapons for them.

Muslim League chief minister of Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and the Muslim League goons had decided on the 17th that they were going to take two more days to complete the annihilation of Hindus. But they had not taken into consideration their greatest roadblock. Gopal Patha.

From the 18th to 20th, Gopal Patha and his men put up a brave fight, paying the Muslim League goons back in equal measure, if not more. Historian Sandip Bandopadhyay wrote, “They faced resistance everywhere. Hindu youths counter-attacked with such ferocity that the Muslim League men had to flee. Many were killed. Emboldened by their success in taking on and defeating their Islamist attackers, Hindu youths took the fight to Muslim-majority areas and started killing Islamist men. They did not, however, touch Muslim women and children or the aged and the infirm”.

By the 19th of August, suddenly, the Muslims started feeling unsafe. Only two days of retribution, of self-defence, and the Muslim League started running with tail between their legs. It was only on the 21st of August when the Muslims had started feeling unsafe because the Hindus dared to defend themselves, did Viceroy’s rule come into action in Bengal.

Where is our Gopal Patha

What happened during Direct Action Day has significant lessons for Hindus of Bengal. Today, when their self-confidence lies six feet under the ground and their own are being disrobed, the rest of the country has often wondered why the central government has not bothered to do much. While that question in itself has merit and the ire is justified, we must not forget history or we would certainly be doomed to repeat it.

When countless Hindus were being raped and massacred in Bengal, it took the Muslims to feel “threatened” for the Viceroy’s rule to be imposed. It was the Muslims feeling “threatened” that got the deracinated Indian leadership of Gandhi and Nehru to take note of the massacre foisted on the people because of their neutered secular politics.

During the Noakhali riots, countless Hindus were raped and murdered. The converted Hindus were made to write declarations that they had accepted Islam out of their free will and Hindus in the 2000 square mile area were made to pay the Jaziya. When MK Gandhi had visited Naokhali, he was rebuked by the Muslim League and after that, he had travelled to Bihar to stop the retaliatory violence by the Hindus. There, he is famed to have said that Hindus must leave Noakhali or die – this, because the Muslim League had asked him to quell the violence, the same Muslim League that was raping Hindu women, beheading Hindu women and waging a war against Kaffirs.

It is indeed our history that the state, historically, has incentivised street veto and it is also our history that the Muslim community has wielded that power effectively. When Hindus were massacred in Bengal in 2021, we made the mistake that the Gopal Patha knew not to. We are waiting for a deracinated state, running a democracy that is inherently rigged against Hindus, to save us. It is not really the fault of any single party – every government historically has responded to those who scream the loudest. In fact, it is not only a problem endemic to India.

NN Taleb, in his book Skin in The Game (Chapter: The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dominance of the Stubborn Minority’), talks about how a small community of Jews/Muslims in the USA is able to influence the availability (Kosher/Halal meat) in entire America. He talks of a ‘one-way street of religions’ and explains how the Muslim majority was achieved in a largely Christian West Asia and Egypt.

He writes:

“Yes, an intolerant minority can control and destroy democracy. Actually, it will destroy our world. So, we need to be more intolerant with some intolerant minorities. Simply they violate the silver rule (Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you). It is not permissible to use ‘American values’ or ‘Western values’ in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other people’s right to have their own religion). The west is currently in the process of committing suicide.”

The most important lesson in his book, however, is the following:

“Beware of the person who gives advice, telling you that a certain action on your part is “good for you” while it is also good for him, while the harm to you doesn’t directly affect him.”

And that really is the principle that ensures that every democracy is rigged against the real victims. The real victims hardly scream or kick or run riots. The real victims are mostly like the Hindus of Bengal, who silently go into the night because they have been told over the ages that the very foundation of their religion requires them to be non-violent. Political parties and the state, as such, step in when the loudest minority starts fearing the retaliation of the silent majority because that means the minority, that is feeling threatened, will also scream the loudest after they fail to meet their violent goals. It is the political mess that the state responds to, not pleas for help.

Governments are not always evil, the wisdom of the masses is not always sound. It becomes quite evident in the case of how India treats its Muslim minority. There can be little doubt that the Indian state is scared of its Muslim population. Due to the power structures that form the basis of Muslim society, our country is held hostage by radical elements from the community whose ideology is almost exactly the same as the Taliban’s or the Al Qaeda’s.

The lesson that the governments of the world, the Indian government included, wants Hindus to learn is remarkably simple: We will listen to you when you respect yourself enough to defend yourself.

The State is, plainly, telling Hindus, and rightly so, that civilisational battles can’t be fought by moaning to a state that has its hands tied behind its back historically, because breaking those shackles takes decades. The State responded and stepped in to restore peace only after Gopal Patha saved Hindus. The State and the leadership (Gandhi and Nehru) stepped in only when Hindus started paying the barbarians back in their own coin – a Bihar for a Naokhali.

The state is telling Hindus, in no uncertain terms, that fighting the civilisational fight, the battle to survive, rests on the shoulders of those who wish to survive. It is upon us if we choose to document our end or defend what we have. The state is telling Hindus to find their Gopal Patha.

 

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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