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This is not Mr Advani speaking

Arun Shourie

Posted: Jul 21, 2004 at 1200 hrs IST

As early as in 1996, the present Governor of Uttar Pradesh, T V Rajeswar had forecast the rise of a ‘‘third Islamic State’’ in the sub-continent. Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants into parts of Assam and North Bengal, he wrote, pose a grave danger to national as well as regional security

What if I had forecast ‘the third Islamic State in the sub-continent’? What if I had drawn attention of the rulers to the long-standing design to create a Greater, Islamic Bangladesh — by annexing Assam, the bordering districts of West Bengal, and parts of Bihar, and to the fact that through illegal infiltration the design was well on the way to being realised? What if I had gone on to stress that the way this influx had already converted vast, contiguous tracts into Muslim, specifically Bangladeshi Muslim dominated areas, the prospect had already arisen that a third Islamic State may be carved in the sub-continent out of India?

What if I had recalled what the then Muslim League Premier of Bengal, Nazimuddin had told the Governor of the province, R G Casey — Casey had set it out for the Viceroy, Lord Wavell:

‘‘Nazimuddin tells me that they calculated that the combined area would give them a majority of 58% of Muslims in place of 51% if only all Bengal and all Assam were to be included. He tells me that the Muslims bred faster than the Hindus and that 58% would reach 60% and more within a relatively few years. He went on to say that they believed that once this North Eastern Pakistan was established, there would be no one more keen about it than the Hindus within its borders and that he believed it possible that the Burdwan Division might come into North Eastern Pakistan in due course.’’

What if I had gone on to cite Kissinger’s dire warning — should that be ‘‘wish’’?

‘‘The inevitable emergence of Bangladesh — which we postulated — presented India with fierce long-term problems. For Bangladesh was in effect East Bengal, separated only by religion from India’s most fractious and most separatist state, West Bengal. They share language, tradition, culture, and, above all, a volatile national character. Whether it turned nationalist or radical, Bangladesh would over time accentuate India’s centrifugal tendencies. It might set a precedent for the creation of other Moslem States, carved this time out of India. Once it was independent, its Moslem heritage might eventually lead to a rapprochement with Pakistan.’’

What if I had recalled this, and then in the following words urged the people and the Government to wake up to what had already come to pass:

‘‘Muslims in India accounted for 9.9 per cent (of India’s population) in 1951, 10.8 per cent in 1971 and 11.3 per cent in 1981, and presumably about 12.1 per cent in 1991. The present population ratio of Muslims is calculated to be 28 per cent in Assam and 25 per cent in West Bengal. In 1991 the Muslim population in the border districts of West Bengal accounted for 56 per cent in South and North Parganas, 48 per cent in Nadia, 52 per cent in Murshidabad, 54 per cent in Malda and about 60 per cent in Islampur sub-division of West Dinajpur. A study of the border belt of West Bengal yields some telling statistics: 20-40 per cent villages in the border districts are said to be predominantly Muslim. There are indications that the concentration of the minority community, including the Bangladesh immigrants, in the villages has resulted in the majority community moving to urban centres. Several towns in the border districts are now predominantly inhabited by the majority community but surrounded by villages mostly dominated by the minority community. Lin Piao’s theory of occupying the villages before overwhelming the cities comes to mind, though the context is different. However, the basic factor of security threat in both the cases is the same.

‘‘...Figures have been given showing the concentration of Muslim population in the districts of West Bengal bordering Bangladesh starting from 24 Parganas and going up to Islampur of West Dinajpur district and their population being well over 50 per cent of the population. The Kishanganj district (of Bihar) which was part of Purnea district earlier, which is contiguous to the West Bengal area, also has a majority of Muslim population. The total population of the districts of South and North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda and West Dinajpur adds up to 27,337,362. If we add the population of Kishanganj district of Bihar of 986,672, the total comes to 28,324,034. (All figures are based on the 1991 Census.) This mass of land with a population of nearly 2.8 crores has a Muslim majority. The total population of West Bengal in 1991 was 67.9 million and of these, 28.32 million are concentrated in the border districts, with about 16-17 million population of minority community being concentrated in this area. This crucial tract of land in West Bengal and Bihar, lying along the Ganges/Hughly and west Bangladesh with a population of over 28 million, with Muslims constituting a majority, should give cause for anxiety for any thinking Indian.’’

And what if, from these figures, I had advanced two warnings. First,

‘‘There is a distinct danger of another Muslim country, speaking predominantly Bengali, emerging in the eastern part of India in the future, at a time when India might find itself weakened politically and militarily.’’

And second that the danger is as grave even if that third Islamic State does not get carved out in the sub-continent into a full-fledged country? What if I had put that danger as follows?

‘‘Let us look at the map of Eastern India — starting from the North 24 Parganas district, proceeding through Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and West Dinajpur before entering the narrow neck of land lying through Raiganj and Dalkola of Islampur sub-division before passing through the Kishanganj district of East Bihar to enter Siliguri. Proceed further and take a look at the north Bengal districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar before entering Assam, and its districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar and Barpeta. A more sensitive region in Asia is difficult to locate...’’

If I had written all this, what would that have made these dire forecasts? Communal? Fascist?

But all this is what the former head of the Intelligence Bureau, the new Governor of Uttar Pradesh, T V Rajeswar wrote in a series of articles in The Hindustan Times in early 1996.

Does the fact that you now know that he, and not I, to say nothing of Mr Advani, wrote all that make the warnings ring true? Or do you conclude that because he wrote in this refrain, T V Rajeswar is a closet communalist and should not be allowed to continue as Governor of Uttar Pradesh?

Should he too be dismissed from his post of Governor because, as will be clear from the expressions he used in these articles, his ‘‘ideology’’ is not compatible with the ‘‘ideology’’ that the new Government and its props profess?

In fact, Rajeswar had gone public with these warnings for good reason. For three of them, actually. First, the entire Northeast, much of Bengal and Bihar are indeed being inundated by this demographic aggression. Second, as Rajeswar documented, apart from everything else this swamping constitutes a grave threat to national security. Third, he had been trying in vain to awaken successive Prime Ministers and Home Ministers to the menace. To no avail.

He told me that after he had assumed office as Governor of West Bengal in March 1989, he had gone into the continuing demographic invasion from Bangladesh in great detail and found that the problem was far more serious than he had perceived earlier. He had written to the President, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister regularly during his stay in Kolkata on this danger. In his very first monthly report for March, 1989 sent to the President on April 6, with copies to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, he had referred to the problem of Bangladesh immigrants. In his report for the month of May 1989 he had referred to this matter in greater detail — as by now he had visited the North Bengal districts of Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and West Dinajpur. He also wrote a detailed letter to Chief Minister Jyoti Basu on June 5, 1989 suggesting that a census should be held in all the districts of West Bengal to assess and identify Bangladeshi immigrants. He had urged that once the census had been conducted identity cards should be issued to those residing in the border districts of West Bengal.

After the Janata Dal Government assumed office at the Centre, he wrote in January 1990 to Shri I K Gujral, Minister for External Affairs, with copies to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. He suggested that a detailed study be carried out by a committee consisting of senior officers from the ministries of External Affairs and Home, as well as from the State Governments of West Bengal and Bihar. He said that this should be followed by a thorough census, that this should be conducted along with the national census of 1991. There was no response from any of them till he left Kolkata on February 6, 1990.

All these reports of T V Rajeswar will be available to the new Home Minister, Shivraj Patil — and presumably they will carry credibility with him. After all, they embody study and reflection, they embody the dire warnings of one whom Patil himself must have a hand in picking up for ‘‘ideological compatibility’’.

Another question also springs forth. Intelligence agencies have documented in diligent detail what is happening in the state over which Rajeswar now presides — Uttar Pradesh. They have documented how Islamic extremists have established a series of modules in West UP. They have documented the mushrooming of madrasas along the border of UP with Nepal, and they have elaborated at length the threat this spells for the country. Will T V Rajeswar, ever alert to the security needs of the country, and now Governor of the very state in which this peril is swelling by the month, will he now study this menace also, and awaken the new Government to it?

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