Monday, 30 May 2011

Centre not serious in guarding Bangla border

GUWAHATI, May 29 – The Government of India’s attitude towards guarding the international borders in the eastern sector is not as serious as guarding the borders in the western sector, observed former Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF), Prakash Singh.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Singh, who was in Guwahati to attend a seminar organized by the Assam Police Accountability Commission, said that the Government of India is much more serious in guarding the border with Pakistan. He pointed out that the border is guarded in a much aggressive manner in the western sector and any kind of intrusion is dealt with strongly and very often intruders are gunned down. No question is asked if any intruder is gunned down along the border with Pakistan, but that is not the case while guarding the border with Bangladesh, he added.
Singh said that India is much softer in matters of guarding the international border with Bangladesh and an aggressive posture like the one adopted while guarding the border with Pakistan is not adopted along the Indo-Bangla border. If an intruder gets killed along the border with Bangladesh, there are protests in the neighbouring country and India, on its part, also adopts a soft attitude. Such attitude of the Government percolate down to the men involved in guarding the border and they also try to avoid any casualties, he pointed out.
The former BSF DG said that India's attitude towards the border with Bangladesh is that the intruders should be pushed back but that is not an easy proposition and the task becomes more difficult as the fencing along the border is yet to come up in most parts of the border with Bangladesh. He said that the border fencing should be completed as soon as possible and there is lot of room for improvement of the infrastructure.
Singh said that though the new Prime Minister of Bangladesh is cooperative towards India, the issue of illegal migration is yet to be dealt with seriously. He pointed out that the new Government in Bangladesh cooperated with India on the issue of dealing with insurgents , but on the issue of illegal migration, the Government of the neighbouring country is yet to take any step. On its part, the Government of India has also not been able to take up the issue seriously with the Government of Bangladesh. He wondered whether the Government of India is serious on the issue of presence of large number of Bangladeshi migrants in the country. "I feel very sad about the state of affairs being a former head of the BSF," he admitted.
The former BSF DG , who is well versed with the situation in the North East, expressed the view that a comprehensive policy for dealing with the problems of the region should be adopted by the Government of India. At present, the Government of India is only adopting ad hoc measures to deal with the problems of the region, he added.

Smuggling Everything From Cough Syrup to Sex

MURSHIDABAD, West Bengal, India, May 8, 2011 (IPS) - Sakina Bibi is a sex worker in the red light area of Kalabagan in Murshidabad, a border district in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal where everything from cattle to electronic goods, from rice and sugar to cough syrup, and women, are being smuggled.

Sakina Bibi (not her real name) is a Bangladeshi citizen who managed to cross over with the help of a "lineman", one of many who run a lucrative business smuggling people into India.

"I used to smuggle saris from India," said Sakina, who was abandoned by her husband and had to care for two children. She lost her earnings to sentries of the Border Security Force (BSF) who harassed her often, she said. To pay her debts, she turned to selling sexual favours.

Livelihood is a constant struggle in Murshidabad, a district that borders Bangladesh. The Indo- Bangladesh border runs over 4,000 kilometres, more than half of which lies with West Bengal.

In 1994, the Indian government started building the border fence - a decision reached in 1986 - to curb smuggling and human trafficking. But over many stretches, the river gets in the way, and only some concrete posts serve as border markers.

In reality, the fence is a mere geographical line that tries but fails to divide people who are culturally and socially alike, though politically separated after 1947 when the Indian sub-continent split into two, India and Pakistan. Bangladesh was later carved out of East Pakistan.

The matter gets more complex: some Indian farmers own land beyond the fence, practically creating an Indian enclave within Bangladesh; the same is true of Bangladeshi enclaves within India. According to a recent report in the Times of India, the two countries have broadly agreed to exchange each other’s enclaves by the end of this year. There are 92 Bangladeshi enclaves in India and 106 Indian enclaves on the other side.

A porous border, a common language (Bengali) and easy access to both sides make smuggling rampant and keeping tabs on such activities a daunting task for Indian forces. Some allege that unscrupulous sections of the border force are sometimes hand-in-glove with smugglers.

"For example, cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh. How can it be possible to move such huge numbers of animals without the knowledge of soldiers at the border?" asked an activist who declined to be named.

Abdul Sheikh (not his real name), a 27-year-old Bangladeshi, confided to IPS, "I used to be a cattle smuggler, taking herds of cows to Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh) from the Indian side."

Sheikh said he knows of others still smuggling cattle. "People on both sides of the border helped us. Many people in the border villages have corrals to keep the cows till a herd is formed. Now I’ve left this work as I was double-crossed by some people and live here in Bengal."

Cattle smuggling is big-time. Lower on the rung are commodities like rice, sugar, electronic goods, urea fertiliser, and a cough syrup called Phensedyl, very much in demand for its sedative properties. Women and children are widely used as carriers.

An officer at BSF told IPS on condition of anonymity that a "card" system is being introduced to identify people who live in Indian enclaves. The card will bear an approximate amount of rice that could be needed weekly so that extra rice does not go beyond the enclave.

The officer also said rice smuggling in places like Jalangi border at Murshidabad has drastically gone down. Still, women and children carrying rice continue to flock to the Taltali ferry port, riding bicycles or trudging over the sandbank created in the dry winter. Whether that rice is legitimate ration for people living in an Indian enclave or going to be sold illegally is anybody’s guess.

Local NGOs who work on child rights like Suprava Panchashila Mahila Uddyog Samity in Berhampore, its district headquarters, say smugglers often use women and children as conduits. Suprava director Shoma Bhowmick says, "While it’s a year-long activity, during monsoon it’s easier for smugglers. Hence you’ll see children being absent from class more during the monsoon months.

"A common excuse is, of course, inability to come to school due to the weather. The fact is that as the river water rises, the boatmen find it easier to come up to the banks and help women and children to take along the smuggled goods," she added.

Women are unlikely to be searched at the BSF gates because of the absence of women soldiers. Only in 2009 were women allowed into the force and deployed in Punjab along the border with Pakistan, and West Bengal. Still, few battalions in the border areas have women soldiers at the moment.

A woman hiding Phensedyl in the folds of a sari can pass off as pregnant. Children, when caught, are often let off. As a BSF officer told IPS, "If I throw this kid into a jail, even a shelter home, his life will be spoiled forever and his education stopped. So we let go."

Smuggling rackets often take advantage of such lenient views. An eyewitness told IPS, "When evening sets in they simply throw the bottles (of Phensedyl) across the fence which is not very high, around 2.5 metres. The contact person on the other side just has to collect them." 

An officer of a battalion manning the border said, "There’s huge pressure on us to stop smuggling. We wonder why something can’t be done at the source. For example, Phensedyl is supplied from Kolkata, nearby Karimpur, Nadia district, etc. which is well known. We are short staffed and this border is not like any other. Here a human element is involved." (END)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A historical short note on plight of Bengali Hindu

Bengali Hindus are an ethno-linguistic group, belonging to the Indo-Aryan family and are native to the Bengal region of the Indian Subcontinent. The Bengali Hindus along with other related ethno-linguistic groups constitute the Hindu ethnicity. Bengali Hindus speak Bengali, which is classified as a part of the Indo-Aryan language family and adhere to the Shakta and Vaishnava traditions of their native religion Hinduism.
The Bengali Hindu people belong to the broader Hindu people. In Bengali, the Bengali Hindus are described as jati meaning an ethnic group or a nation, that form an inseparable part of the Hindu mahajati or great nation. The Bengali Hindus constitute of the constituent ethnic groups of the Hindu nation.
In India, they tend to identify themselves as Bengalis while in Bangladesh they tend to identify themselves as Hindus. In the global context, the terms Indian Bengali and Bangladeshi Hindu are respectively used. In IndiaBengali generally refers to Bengali Hindus, a notion widely accepted by the other ethnic groups.

In the middle of the 8th century, the Bengali Hindu nobility democratically elected Gopala as the ruler of Gauda, a historic event that ushered an era of peace and prosperity in Bengal, ending almost a century of chaos and confusion. The Pala rulers unified Bengal into a single political entity and expanded it into an empire, conquering a major portion of North India. During this time, the Bengali Hindus excelled in art, literature, philosophy, mathematics, sciences and statecraft. The first scripture in Bengali Charyapada was composed during the Pala rule. The Pala were followed by the Senas who made far reaching changes in the social structure of Bengali Hindus, introducing 36 new castesand orthodox institutions like kulinism.

Islamic Conquest
The literary progress of the Pala and Sena period came to a halt after the Turkish conquest in the early 13th century. Except for Haridas Datta's Manasar Bhasan no significant literary work was composed for an about a century after the conquest. Even though the ruling classes resisted the invaders, Gauda, the centre of Bengal polity, fell to the Mohammedans. During this period hundreds of temples and monasteries were desecrated. The next attack on the society came from the Islamic missionaries. Local chieftains like Akananda, Dakshin Ray and Mukut Ray, resisted the missionary activities.
The Pathan occupation of Bengal was limited to the region of Gauda, the rest of which was held in sway by different Bengali Hindu rulers. In the early 15th century, the Pathan rule was overthrown by the Bengali Hindu nobility under the leadership of Ganesha. When the Mughalsinvaded Bengal, the Bengali Hindu chiefs consolidated themselves into confederacies and resisted the Mughals. After the fall of the confederacies, the Mughals a major part of Bengal and constituted a subah. Independent Bengali Hindu kingdoms like Tripura and Koch Bihar continued to maintain their sovereignty. In the middle of the 17th century, Pran Narayan the ruler of Koch Bihar invaded Mughal occupied Bengal and temporarily captured Ghoraghat and Dhaka.

Early Modern Period

After the fall of the Mughal Empire, during the reign of Alivardi Khan the inhuman taxation and frequent Maratha Empire raids made the life miserable for the ordinary Bengali Hindu people. When the oppression reached its climax under Siraj ud-Daulah, a section of the Bengali Hindu nobility actively helped the British East India Company in overthrowing the Siraj ud-Daulah regime. After obtaining the revenue rights, the East India Company imposed more oppressive taxation that led to the famine of 1770, in which approximately one third of the Bengali Hindu population died of starvation.
However, the British began to face stiff resistance in conquering the semi-independent Bengali Hindu kingdoms outside the pale of Muslim occupied Bengal. Even when their rulers have been captured or killed, the ordinary people began to carry on the fight. These resistances took the form of Bhumij (Chuar is a deragatory term used by the English to denote the Bhumij) and Paik rebellion. These warring people were later listed as criminal tribes and barred from recruitment in the Indian army. In 1766, the British troops were completely routed by the sanyasis or the warrior monks at Dinhata, where the latter resorted guerilla warfare. Bankimchandra Chatterjee's Anandamath is based on the Famine and consequential Sanyasi Revolt.

Renaissance Period

In the 19th century, the Bengali Hindu people underwent radical social reforms and rapid modernization; the phenomenon came to be known as the Bengal Renaissance. By the turn of half a century, the Bengali Hindus turned from one of the most orthodox to one of the most progressive communities in India. It was during this time that their identity came to be established with the help of modern virtues like press and railway.
Riding on the renaissance, they began to take early lessons of patriotism in the late sixties and by the turn of the 20th century, they were envisioning a modern nation state. Public media like press and theatres had become vents of nationalist sentiments, apolitical organizations had given way to political platforms, secret revolutionary societies had emerged and the society at large had become restive.
In order to keep the rising Bengali Hindu aspirations at bay, the British rulers conspired to strike at the root of their strength, their preeminent position in the Bengal, the most prosperous province of British India, where in spite of being in marginal minority in Bengal, they dominated each and every sphere of public life. The Britishers partitioned the province in 1905 and along with some additional restructuring came up with two provinces – Eastern Bengal & Assam and Bengal itself, in each of which the Bengali Hindus were reduced to minorities. The incident triggered the Bengali Hindus into swift action and within a span of six years they coerced the Britishers to undo the Partition.

Inter-partition Period

The Bengal Renaissance gave birth to a new generation of highly educated, spiritually enlightened and politically restive Bengali Hindus. The Britishers sensed imminent danger at the rise of nationalist aspirations among the Bengali Hindus, which they considered a threat to their imperialist hegemony. In order to keep the rising Bengali Hindus at bay, Curzon divided the Bengal Presidency into two - a western part called Bengal and an eastern part called Eastern Bengal and Assam, with the net effect that the Bengali Hindus being reduced to minorities in both the provinces. The Bengali Hindus, however, opposed to the Partition tooth and nail, embarked on a political movement of Swadeshi, boycott and revolutionary nationalism. On 28 September 1905, the day of Mahalaya, 50,000 Bengali Hindus resolved before the Mother at Kalighat to boycott foreign goods and stop employing foreigners. The power of Bengali Hindu resistance forced the British imperialists to finally annul the Partition on 1911. The imperialists however, carved out Bengali Hindu majority districts like Manbhum, Singbhum, Santal Pargana and Purnia awarding them to Bihar and others like Cachar that were awarded to Assam, which effectively made the Bengali Hindus a minority in the united province of Bengal. The Britishers also transferred the capital from Kolkata to New Delhi.
The revolutionary movement gained momentum after the Partition. After the first phase had ended with the martyrdom of Kshudiram, the Bengali Hindu revolutionaries collaborated with the Germans during the War to liberate British India. Later the revolutionaries defeated the British army in the Battle of Jalalabad and liberated Chittagong. During the Quit India Movement, the Bengali Hindus liberated the Tamluk and Contai subdivision of Midnapore district from British rule and established the Tamralipta National Government.

Bengali Hindus, who constituted 44% of the province, were awarded less than a third of the representation in the legislature.

The Britishers, unable to control the revolutionary activities, decided to strangulate the Bengali Hindu people through administrative reforms. The Government of India Act 1919 introduced in the 144 member Bengal Legislative Assembly, 46 seats for the Muslims, 59 for the institutions, Europeans & others and left the rest 39 as General, where the Bengali Hindus were to scramble for a representation. The situation worsened with the Communal Award of 1932, where in the 250 member Bengal Legislative Assembly a disproportionate 119 seats were reserved for the Muslims, 17 for EuropeansAnglo-Indians & Indian Christians, 34 for the institutions, and the rest 80 were left as General. The Communal Award further divided the Hindus into Scheduled Caste Hindus and Caste Hindus. Out of the 80 General seats, 10 were reserved for the Scheduled Castes. In response the leading Bengali Hindu landholderslawyers and professionals signed the Bengal Hindu Manifesto on 23 April 1932 rejecting the justification of reservation of separate electorates for Muslims in the Bengal Legislative Assembly.
In 1946, the Muslim League government resorted to large scale massacre of the Hindu population of Kolkata in the name of Direct Action Day, which escalated into the bloodiest ethnic conflict of modern India. After two days of suffering, the Bengali Hindus resorted to a violent reprisal that resulted in heavy casualties on the other side, finally forcing the government to stop the mayhem. Later in the year, the Muslim League government orchestrated the infamous Noakhali genocide, where the modesty and honour of the Bengali Hindu women were violated at the point of the sword.
The Direct Action Day and the Noakhali genocide prompted the Bengali Hindu leadership to move for the creation of a Bengali Hindu majority province by partitioning Bengal. At that time, the movement for creation of Pakistan was in full swing and Bengal was supposed to form one of its constituent provinces. After the failure of United Bengal plan when it became evident that Bengal would as a whole go to Pakistan, the Bengali Hindus voted for the Partition of Bengal. On 23 April 1947, the Amrita Bazar Patrika published the results of an opinion poll, in which 98.3% of the Bengali Hindus favored the creation of a separate homeland. The proposal for the Partition of Bengal was moved in the Legislative Assembly on 20 June 1947, where the Hindu members voted 58-21 in favor of the Partition with two members abstaining.
The Boundary Commission awarded the Bengali Hindus a territory far less in proportion to their population which was no less than 46% of the population of the province, awarding the Bengali Hindu majority district of Khulna to Pakistan.




Post-partition Period

After the Partition, the majority of the urban middle class Bengali Hindu population of East Bengal immigrated to West Bengal. The ones who stayed back belonged to two categories - ones who had significant landed property and believed that they would be able to lead a normal life in an Islamic State and others who were illiterate and backward and therefore had no other option left. However after the genocide of 1950, Bengali Hindus fled East Bengal in thousands and settled in West Bengal. In 1964, tens of thousands of Bengali Hindus were massacred in East Pakistan and most of the Bengali Hindu owned businesses were permanently destroyed. During the liberation war of Bangladesh, an estimated 24 million Bengali Hindus were massacred in Bangladesh. The Bengali Hindu people have been subject to routine persecution after Islam became the state religion of Bangladesh, most notably in 1989, 1992 and 2001. The Enemy Property Act of the Pakistan regime which is still in force in the new incarnation of Vested Property Act, has been utilized by successive governments to seize the properties of the Hindu minorities. According to Professor Abul Barkat of Dhaka University, the Act has been used to misappropriate 1.64 million acres of land from the Bengali Hindus, roughly equivalent to the 53% of the total landed area owned by them.
The refugee rehabilitation became an acute crisis and hundreds of refugees were rehabilitated in the inhabitable terrains of Orissa, ChattisgarhUttar Pradesh and the Andamans. Apart from that thousands of Bengali Hindus had also immigrated to AssamTripura and other regions of the North East. In the Barak Valley region of Assam, where the Bengali Hindus were in a majority because of the inclusion of Sylhet into Pakistan, and subsequent immigration of Bengali Hindus from Sylhet into Cachar, an impasse was arrived at on the question of language. The government of Assam had unilaterally imposed Assamese as the sole medium of education. In response, the Bengali Hindus began peaceful demonstrations demanding Bengali as the optional medium of primary education in the Barak Valley region. The situation took an ugly turn on 19 May 1961, when eleven Bengali Hindu protesters including a minor girl were gunned down by the police at the Silchar railway station. Subsequently, the Assam government allowed Bengali as the medium of education in Barak Valley. However, the rise of ethnic militancy in the eighties and nineties once again made the Bengali Hindus vulnerable in the North East.

The United Liberation Front of AsomNational Democratic Front of BodolandMuslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam and National Liberation Front of Tripura militants have selectively targeted the Bengali Hindu people. On the other hand massive infiltration from Bangladesh has substantially altered the demography in West Bengal so much so that Bengal Hindus have been reduced to minorities in the border regions. In the recent years, these marginal Bengali Hindu populations are increasingly becoming victims of Islamist fundamentalism.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Evaluating Jyoti Basu

"If men could see the epitaphs their friends write they would believe they had gotten into the wrong grave"

Famous English playwright and political activist George Bernard Shaw once observed, "Birth equals all men, death reveals the eminent". As to prove his dictum true, scores of paeans from across political sections, including BJP, have been sung in praise of Comrade Jyoti Basu who passed away recently. These, perhaps, have been done keeping in tune with the traditional Indian culture that nothing critical should be spoken or expressed for the person who is no more so that he can have the quantum of solace in haven. Agreed. But then, Comrade Basu was no ordinary man. He had been in active politics since independence and had served as CM of Bengal for a record making 23 years. Therefore, his track record should be thoroughly assessed before we, as patriotic citizens of India kneeled down to worship him. Nobody is perfect and so was Com. Basu. But there is certainly a good amount of difference between committing inadvertent mistakes and deliberately resorting to committing Himalayan blunders. As a leading light of the Communist movement in India and as CM of Bengal, he committed several blunders which are not only antediluvian but also anti-Indian. So, we all must assess his life and actions before resorting to ritualistic bravados of adjectives laden golden epitaphs.
Born in a wealthy zamindar family in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Basu's life was full of contradictions and unsavoury attitude towards India and basic foundation of its polity i.e. Indian Constitution.Everybody knows that before Bengal was besieged by the Communists, it was one of the leading industrial and prosperous states of India. But with the advent of the so-called "pro-poor" Communists, Bengal has been reduced to the one of the most industrially and economically backward states of India. And Com Basu and his hordes of cohorts were behind this tragic nemesis of Bengal in their more than 30 years of misrule. In fact, the most famous trade union jargon "gherao" has been the contribution of these bunches of Communists who in the 60's and early 70's resorted to this tactic in the name of Communism (labour rights) that led to the shutting down of various flourishing industries of Bengal. The result was for all to see.  
The Communists of India were nothing but the paid stooges of their holy fatherland of the erstwhile Soviet Russia (RIP) as exposed by the Mitrochin archive. They are also known as good drafter of pedantic and catchy phrases, albeit, for themselves only and not for the poor, illiterate masses who could not make out whether "praxis" is some food or name of a new brand of vodka!! The moment their fatherland was attacked by the Nazi Germany in 1941 the hitherto "Imperialist War" was overnight turned into "People's War" for which Communists like P C Joshi et al turned into British Government's trusted spies that led to the sabotaging of the Quit India movement launched to oust the reigning Britishers once for all. That is not all. After independence these very same Communists resorted to "armed revolution" against the Nehru led Govt screaming aloud "yeh azadi jhuthi hai". Our hard earned "azadi" was "jhutha" because they could not replicate a bloody October Revolution like coup in India to wrest power and let loose a totalitarian, anti-democratic regime, making India another "satellite" country for the benefit of their fatherland. Since then, they have been resorting to inciting anti-India/anti Indian State sentiments and armed upsurges against a democratically elected Indian Government. Time and again, they have shown where their allegiance lie. Come 1962, the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) was divided into CPI and CPI (Marxist) in 1964. One was pro-Russia and the other CPI-M was pro-China. Sadly, none of them were pro-India!! Likes of Ranadive, A K Gopalan et al of CPM even held press conferences across India with maps supplied by compatriot China to "prove" that it was not their holy Communist China but unholy Democratic India that was responsible for the 1962 war. China waged armed aggression but these Marxists resorted to cartographic aggression against India much to the delight of the Communist China, Comrades of whom have been staunchly nationalistic, unlike Comrades of India who proved themselves at the worst as the Chinese Patriotic Musketeers. They even organized hartals, ghearos etc of the Defence Ordnance factories to sabotage India's wartime efforts. It was the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh(RSS) which came to the rescue of Govt led war efforts against the Communist trade unions. Therefore, Govt banned it andCom Basu was one of those who were sent to jail for treason against the nation. The turn of the events even surprised PM Nehru who used to have a soft corner for them and came to appreciate the selfless services rendered by the staunchly nationalistic and disciplined swayemsevaks of the hitherto "fascist" RSS. He welcomed RSS uniformed volunteers to participate in the Republic day march-past in 1963 much to the chagrin of the anti-Indian communists like Basu, who till death called it as an "uncivilized barbarian". But then, "civilized traitors" like Basu like all of Comrades and their fellow travelers, could not erase this stigma of being resident non-Indian quislers even by donning the mukhota of a Bhadralok!!  

Now, being in power uninterruptedly since 1977 via their muscled powered "scientific rigging", Basu et al even shaken the "anti-incumbency" dynamics of a democratic polity, and thus confusing not just the Aam Admis but also the students of Political Science!! Yet another astounding "feat" of Com Basu!! Jai Ho!! Operation Barga- the famous and the sole trumpeted "achievement" of land re-distribution/land reform in India by the CPM led Left Front Govt in their more than three decades old regime has been exposed as the land siphoning and cadre breeding infamousscheme as the events of Singur, Nandigram, Haripur etc. clearly showed. It does not even have a comprehensive Land Acquisition Policy (LAP) till date, then how come they "successfully" "re-distributed" lands in vast swathes of rural Bengal?? The real truth is that acres and acres of such "re-distributed" lands are at the hands of its leading cadres and their goondas who become the "benevolent" Zamindars for the poverty stricken voiceless rural proletariats of a Bengal besieged by these Stalinist hoodlums. And don't forget, Com. Basu was their much revered leader. A real sarvahara indeed!!
Now, come to their oft repeated slogan of being "pro-people" and "pro-poor". Really? A scientific and thorough work by the economists Bibek Debroy and Lavesh Bhandari entitled "A Story of Falling Behind" (2009) has revealed among others for the first time that out of the 18 districts of Bengal, 14 of these among India's 100 poorest. Uttar Dinajpur, which is Bengal's poorest district, has a per-capita SDP that is only 33.6 percent that of Kolkata, the richest district. It said-"for all its talk about equality and removal of inequalities, the Bengal Govt. hasn't been able improve the lot of the people in the worst-off and backward districts." Not only that, Bengal stands far behind in implementing MG-NREGA which they "claimed" as their own brain child and one of the many "revolutionary achievements" of their supported UPA-I Govt whose spoils of powers had been thoroughly relished by the Communists, including Com.Basu and his industrialist son Chandan Basu, without even the iota of responsibility. Now, that's called "achievement", isn't it? It is certainly an achievement for Com. Basu Sons & Co. but not for the hapless hungry people of Bengal whose development, freedom and free democratic space for dissent has been ruthlessly strangulated by the CPM led Left Front Govt which by now has lost its self-proclaimed title of being "people's party", being under the combined sway of the opposition parties and losing successive panchayat and bye-elections. They are going to lose the 2011 State election, for sure even without enjoining the customary refrain of ceteris paribusIn order to blowing a storm of sympathy wave as their last resort to save their last lal bastion, they are now, via their "eminent" fellow travelers in media, are resorting to create a demi-God like reverential halo around Godless Com. Basu. But people of Bengal are no fools; some of the elderly ones even wish to checkmate death to see the fall of the Red Brigade in their own life times. It will surely be a celebration of democracy and vibrant civil society which it wanted to give a silent burial. Lo! they are queuing up for their own burial and take it for sure that not a single drop of tear will be shed for it by the real sarvaharas of Bengal- the poor and the destitute.
Real achievements are measured by real deeds with tangible results on ground and not by cheap politicking of propaganda politics of "revolutionary feats" that what Comrades like Basu and others resorted to in all these years. His death only helps to hasten the benign fall of it and nothing else. He would scream"cholbe na" against the then Bengal Governor Dharma Vira in the day and would come to toast expensive scotch whisky with him in the evening!! Devoid of any love for his karmabhoomi India, he would occasionally went to London (thepunyabhu of his ideological indoctrination) citing the excuse of health treatment which he was so sure of not being available even in a superspeciality like AIIMS in India, his "wretched" land. He even defended the indefensible and inhuman Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy Chinese students by the PLA of China saying "if you keep the doors open, flies will come in"!! He was certainly the Vanguard of Stalinism in Bengal which his regime had singlehandedly brought down from the pinnacle of glory as India's leading state to the nadir of being one of the worst backward states of India.
Neither as citizen of India nor as a Communist patriarch, Com. Basu never deserves our rich tributes, for he certainly reserves a Lal Salam from his fellow Comrades and Communism for which he lived and for which he died. Sorry, Com. Basu, there will be no Vande Mataram for you.

Hindu Samhati: An Movement Dedicated to Hindu Rehabilitation in West Bengal

Many small organizations are also playing role of empowering the Hindu masses at the ground level daily engaging themselves in the issues which have the potential to have larger impact in the longer run. Hindu Samhati or Hindu Solidarity is one such organisation which is creating its impact among the people mainly in West Bengal. Formed on 14th February 2008 by renowned Hindu activist and leader Shri Tapan Ghosh, Hindu Samhati has been growing fast strengthening grass root level activism through organizing the masses to resist and protest against any onslaught on Hindus. Earlier seen as a small intiative, Hindu Samhati is now increasing its support base through continuous activism and struggle and drawing people in large numbers towards its programmes.

Hindu Samhati is a non-political organization to address human rights, political rights and social rehabilitation of minorities in Bangladesh and oppressed Hindus in West Bengal. The eastern part of India is facing Islamist onslaught from Bangladesh from where ISI has been sending operatives through its well nurtured network. As the persecution of Hindus continues in Bangladesh, West Bengal is also facing aggressive form of Islamist agenda which is seeking to dominate the State politically and socially. As the vote bank politics results in increasing political clout of the Islamists the challenges before Hindu masses in West Bengal are immense and needs to be met with determination and strong will. The immigration of persecuted Hindus from Bangladesh further requires the Hindu masses of West Bengal to take their responsibilities by helping to rehabilitate them and to seek justice for them.

The founder of Hindu Samhati, Tapan Ghosh, is known for his commitment towards Hindu cause. Born in May 11, 1953, in West Bengal, he is a distinguished alumunus of City College and Maulana Azad College of Kolkata earning top honours in Physics in 1974. A life of 25 years of relentless service has further strengthened the resolve of Tapan Ghosh to unite Hindu masses to fight against injustice and oppressive attitude of the authorities in the face of ever increasing Islamist aggression. He says, "As someone who has suffered enormously from the Islamist onslaught in eastern India, both after the partition of India as well as the partition of erstwhile Pakistan to form Bangladesh, Islamic terrorism has deeply affected my life and the life of millions in the Indian subcontinent. The horrific events of 1971 where nearly 3 million Bengalis, mostly Hindus were exterminated by the Pakistani military regime left an everlasting impression on me. Since then, I have worked relentlessly for the service and upliftment of people reeling under the scourge of radical Islamic". His personal experience has helped him in understanding the plight of the Hindus who are forced to face severe repressions at the hands of Islamist fundamentalists aided by a supportive administration and government who mostly act in collusion with these subversive elements.

Hindu Samhati has been successfully engaging itself in the repatriation of young girls, kidnapped by pan-Islamic crime syndicates involved in human trafficking in South East Asia and the Middle East, by creating a grassroots information network in six border districts between India and Bangladesh, which acts as a major transit points. Apart from these activities, Hindu Samhati is organizing youths against planned atrocities targeted at Hindus, forced conversions, abduction, forcible marriage and rape by extremist elements and physical torture of Hindus. The organization has also been resisting grabbing of temple lands, attacks and demolition of temples by organising protests at the ground level. The organization also makes efforts to carry out relief and rehabilitation works wherever possible to provide succour to the persecuted Hindus in Bangladesh and west Bengal.

While Hindus are facing the brunt of Islamists and Christian missionaries, there are little efforts at the national level to understand the plight of the Hindu people in the regions dominated by so called ‘minorities' led by extremist elements. It is experienced that larger organsiations tend to ignore local incidents terming them as minor failing to understand the fact that these minor incidents are somehow linked to major designs. In such a situation, organization like Hindu Samhati play much bigger role than they are understood to be playing. They actually fill the gaps and act like cement in the system making the movement all the more strong and dynamic. People like Tapan Ghosh are undoubtedly rendering great service to the motherland in building, nurturing and taking forward such organizations at grass root level and in defending the Indian civilization and culture.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

History of Bengal

Pre-600 C.E
The region of Bengal (including present day Bangladesh), find mention in the writings of Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (90 BC - 40 BC), as the powerful kingdom of Gangaridai, which along with Prasii (present day Gangetic India), forced Alexander the Great, to abandon his advances into South Asia.

Hindu, Gupta empire (335 - 600 CE) and were responsible for establishing Bengal as a prosperous and culturally and militarily advanced region with its sphere of influence extending into Indonesia, Tibet and Myanmar. The Mallas, Devas, Chandras, Varmans and other localized dynasties, whose influence was limited to small parts of Bengal, were instrumental in developing arts and culture unique to Hinduism in Bengal. Tantric Buddhism and Shakta Hinduism under the Mimansa School of Hindu philosophy were the popular belief systems.

The Anga Mahajanapada (Greater Republic)

The earliest reference to Angas, the region which is now known as Bengal, occurs in the Atharava Veda. According to Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya, Anga was one of the sixteen great nations Mahajanapada (great Republics) which had flourished in central and north-west India in the 6th century BC. The Puranic texts like the Garuda Purana, Vishnu-Dharmottara, and the Markendeya Purana divide ancient Janpada horizon into nine divisions and place the Janapadas of the Angas, Kalinngas, Vangas, Pundras or Pundra Kingdom (now some part of East Bihar i.e. Purnea, West Bengal and Bangla Desh), Vidarbhas, and Vindhya-vasins in the Purva-Dakshina division.

Based on Mahabharata evidence, the kingdom of the Angas roughly corresponded to the region of Bhagalpur and Monghyr in Bihar and parts of Bengal; later extended to include most of Bengal. The River Champa (modern Chandan) formed the boundaries between the Magadha in the west and Anga in the east. Anga was bounded by river Koshi on the north. According to the Mahabharata, Duryodhana had named Karna the King of Anga.
The capital of Anga was Champa. According to Mahabharata and Harivamsa, Champa was formerly known as Malini. Champa was located on the right bank of river Ganga near its junction with river Champa. It was a very flourishing city and is referred to as one of six principal cities of ancient India (Digha Nikaya). Champa was noted for its wealth and commerce. It was also a great center of trade and commerce and its merchants regularly sailed to distant Suvarnabhumi for trading purposes. The ancient name of region and kingdom of Champa of central Vietnam (Lin-yi in Chinese records) apparently has its origin in this east Indian Champa.

Mauryan Dynasty 

From the 6th century BC, most of Bengal was a part of the powerful kingdom of Magadha, belonging to the Mauryan dynasty, which was an ancient Indo-Aryan kingdom of ancient India, mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It was also one of the four main kingdoms of India at the time of Buddha, having risen to power during the reigns of Bimbisara (c. 544-491 BC) and his son Ajatashatru (c. 491-460 BC). Magadha spanned to include most of Bihar and Bengal. The Magadha Empire included republican communities such as Rajakumara. Villages had their own assemblies under their local chiefs called Gramakas. Their administrations were divided into executive, judicial, and military functions. Bimbisara was friendly to both Jainism and Buddhism and suspended tolls at the river ferries for all ascetics after the Buddha was once stopped at the Ganges River for lack of money.
In 326 BC, the army of Alexander the Great approached the boundaries of the Nanda Empire of Magadha. The army, exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing a larger Indian army at the Ganges River, mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas) and refused to march further East. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return.

Gupta Dynasty 

The Gupta Empire is considered by many scholars to be the "golden age" of Bengal. The Rulers of the Gupta Empire were strong supporters of developments in the arts, architecture, science, and literature. The Guptas circulated a large number of gold coins, called Mudras, with their inscriptions. This period is also very rich in Sanskrit literature. Several important works were composed by well-known writers, such as Mrichchakatika or The Little Clay Cart by Shudraka, along with ones like Shakuntala, Kumarasambhava and Meghduta by Kalidasa and others. Panchatantra, the animal fables by Vishnu Sharma, and 13 plays by Bhasa, were also written in this period. Some of the best works of Sanskrit Literature, and thus of Indian Literature, were written down during this period. The most significant achievements of this period, however, were in religion, education, mathematics, art, Sanskrit literature and drama, and Kama Sutra, the principles of pleasure. Hinduism witnessed a crystallization of its components: major sectarian deities, image worship, emotionalism, and the importance of the temple. Education included grammar, composition, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. These subjects became highly specialized and reached an advanced level. The Indian numeral system—sometimes erroneously attributed to the Arabs, who took it from India to Europe where it replaced the Roman system—and the decimal system are Indian inventions of this period. Aryabhatta's expositions on astronomy in 499, moreover, gave calculations of the solar year and the shape and movement of astral bodies with remarkable accuracy.
In medicine, the Guptas were notable for their establishment and patronage of free hospitals. And although progress in physiology and biology was hindered by religious injunctions against contact with dead bodies, which discouraged dissection and anatomy, Indian physicians excelled in pharmacopoeia, cesarean section, bone setting, and skin grafting. Indeed Hindu medical advances were soon adopted in the Arab and Western worlds.

600-1200 C.E
The first recorded independent king of Bengal was Shashanka - reigning from 606 CE.
More concrete evidence of Bengal becoming an independent political entity is found in the 6th century, with the first recorded independent king of Bengal - Shashanka - reigning around 606.
The first Buddhist Pala king of Bengal, Gopala I came to power in 750 in Gaur by election. This event is recognized as one of the first democratic elections in South Asia since the time of the Maha Janapadas. The dynasty's most powerful kings, Dharmapala (reigned 775-810) and Devapala (reigned 810-850) united Bengal and made the Pala Empire the most powerful empire in 9th century India after expanding across much of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Afghanistan. Internecine strife during the reign of Narayanpala (reigned 854-908) and administrative excesses led to the decline of the dynasty.
A brief revival of the kingdom under Mahipala I (reigned 977-1027) ended in battle against the powerful, South Indian Chola kingdom. The rise of the Chandra dynasty in southern Bengal expedited the decline of the Palas, and the last Pala king, Madanpala, died in 1161.
The Malla dynasty emerged in Bengal in the seventh century, although they only rose to prominence in the 10th century under Jagat Malla who moved his capital to Vishnupur. Unlike the Buddhist Palas and Chandras, the Hindu Mallas worshipped first the Hindu god Shiva, then the Hindu god Vishnu. The Mallas built temples and spectacular religious monuments during their rule in Bengal.
Shashanka the first important king of ancient Bengal, occupies a prominent place in history of the region. It is generally believed that he ruled approximately between 600 AD and 625 AD, and two dated inscriptions, issued in his 8th and 10th regnal years from Midnapore, and another undated inscription from Egra near Kharagpur have been discovered. Besides Shashanka's subordinate king of Ganjam (Orissa) Madhavavarma's copper plate (dated 619 AD), Harshavardhana's Banskhera and Madhuvan copper plates and the Nidhanpur copper plate of the Kamarupa king Bhaskaravarmana contain information about Shashanka. Besides, Shashanka issued gold and silver coins. A number of independent rulers flourished in Bengal in the intervening period between the decline of Guptas and the rise of Shashanka, and their existence is known from a few inscriptions and gold coins. Besides the seal-matrix of Shri Mahasamanta Shashanka from Rohtasgarh and the contemporary literary accounts of Banabhatta and the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (also known as Hiuen Tsang) and the Buddhist text Aryamanjushrimulakalpa are important sources of information.
Shashanka has been described both in the inscriptions and literary accounts as the ruler of Gauda. In the narrower sense Gauda is the territory between the river Padma and Bardhaman region. But in course of time it embraced much wider area. In the Satpanchasaddeshavibhaga, the seventh patala of Book III, Shaktisangama Tantra Gauda is said to have extended from the vanga country up to Bhuvanesha (i.e. Bhubaneshwar in Orissa). It is not unlikely that the author had described the extension of Gauda country keeping in mind the kingdom of Shashanka, which also embraced a part of Orissa.
Pala Empire (8th to 11th cent. CE)
The Pala Empire was a dynasty in control of the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent, mainly the Bengal and Bihar regions, from the 8th to the 11th century. The name Pala means "protector" and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs.
The founder of the empire was Gopala. He was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 in Gaur by democratic election, which was unique at the time. He reigned from 750-770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal. His successors Dharmapala (r. 770-810) and Devapala (r. 810-850) expanded the empire across the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent.
The Palas were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. They often intermarried with the Gahadvalas of the Kannauj region. They created many temples and works of art and supported the Universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila. Their proselytism was at the origin of the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.

Gopala (ruled 750 – 770 CE) was the founder of the Pala Dynasty of Bengal. The last morpheme of his name Pala means "protector" and was used as an ending for the names of all the Pala monarchs. Pala does not suggest or indicate any ethnic or caste considerations of the Pala dynasty.
Gopala was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 CE in Gauda by democratic election as per evidence furnished by Taranatha. After the death of famous Gauda ruler Sasanka, there ensued a century of anarchy and confusion in Bengal. Tired of ceaseless political chaos and anarchy (known as matsyanyaya), the various independent chieftains of Bengal, in 750 CE, selected a person named Gopala to put an end to this sorry state of affairs.[2] Gopala was already a leading military general and had made a mark as a great ruler. In the Khalimpur copper plate inscription (dated 32nd regnal year of Dharmapala) Gopala's father Vapyata is described as a noted military chief of his time and his grandfather Dayita Vishnu is described as a learned man of no military distinctions.
The Palas emerged as the champion of Buddhism, and they patronized Mahayana Buddhism. The Pala universities of Vikramashila and Nalanda became seats of learning for East Asia. The famous university of Nalanda reached its height during the Pala Empire. The Palas were responsible for the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and the Indonesian archipelago, and the fame of Bengal spread in the Buddhist world for the cultivation of Buddhist religion, culture and other knowledge in the various centres that grew under the patronage of the Pala rulers. Buddhist scholars from the Pala Empire traveled from Bengal to the Far-East and propagated Buddhism. A few outstanding ones among them are Shantarakshit, Padmanava, Dansree, Bimalamitra, Jinamitra, Muktimitra, Sugatasree, Dansheel, Sambhogabajra, Virachan, Manjughosh and many others. But the most prominent was Atish Dipankar Srigyan who reformed Buddhism in Tibet after it had been destroyed by king Langdharma.

Sena Dynasty (11th-13th cent. CE)

The Sena dynasty ruled Bengal through the 11th to 13th centuries. They were called Brahma-Kshatriyas and Karnata-Kshatriyas.
The dynasty's founder was Hemanta Sen, who was part of the Pala Dynasty until their empire began to weaken. He took power and styled himself king in 1095 AD. His successor Vijay Sen (ruled from 1096 AD to 1159 AD) helped lay the foundations of the dynasty, and had an unusually long reign of over 60 years. Ballal Sena conquered Gour from the Pala and expanded his empire. Lakshman Sen succeeded Ballal Sen in 1179 and ruled Bengal from Nabadwip for approximately 20 years.
1200-1500 C.E
Sometime in 1243–44 C.E, residents of Lakhnauti, a city in northwestern Bengal, told a visiting historian of the dramatic events that had taken place there forty years earlier. At that time, the visitor was informed, a band of several hundred Turkish cavalry had ridden swiftly down the Gangetic Plain in the direction of the Bengal delta. Led by a ruthless officer named Muhammad Bakhtiyar, the men overran and destroyed venerable Buddhist monasteries in neighboring Bihar before turning their attention to the northwestern portion of the delta, and then ruled by a mild and generous Hindu monarch. Disguising themselves as horse dealers, Bakhtiyar and his men slipped into the royal city of Nadiya. Once inside, they rode straight to the king's palace, where they confronted the guards with brandished weapons. Utterly overwhelmed, for he had just sat down to dine, the Hindu monarch hastily departed through a back door and fled with many of his retainers to the forested hinterland of eastern Bengal, abandoning his kingdom altogether.
This coup d'état started an era, lasting over five centuries, during which most of Bengal was dominated by rulers professing the Islam. Eventually, in Bengal, those areas with a Muslim majority would form the eastern wing of Pakistan—since 1971, Bangladesh—whereas those parts of the province with a Muslim minority became the state of West Bengal within the Republic of India. In 1984 about 93 million of the 152 million Bengalis in Bangladesh and West Bengal were Muslims, and of the estimated 96.5 million people inhabiting Bangladesh, 81 million, or 83 percent, were Muslims; in fact, Bengalis today comprise the second largest Muslim ethnic population in the world, after the Arabs.

Enforcement of Islamic authority over a Hindu society

The reliance on naked power of the new Islamic rulers of Bengal, or at least on its image, is seen in the earliest surviving Muslim Bengali monuments. Notable in this respect is the tower (minar) of Chhota Pandua, in southwestern Bengal near Calcutta. Built toward the end of the thirteenth century, when Turkish power was still being consolidated in that part of the delta, the tower of Chhota Pandua doubtless served the usual ritual purpose of calling the faithful to prayer, inasmuch as it is situated near a mosque. But its height and form suggest that it also served the political purpose of announcing victory over a conquered people. Precedents for such a monument, moreover, already existed in the Turkish architectural tradition. Bengal's earliest surviving mosques also convey the spirit of an alien ruling class simply transplanted to the delta from elsewhere. Constructed (or restored) in 1298 in Tribeni, a formerly important center of Hindu civilization in southwest Bengal, the mosque of Zafar Khan appears to replicate the aesthetic vision of early Indo-Turkish architecture as represented, for example, in the Begumpur mosque in Delhi (ce. 1343).
Clues to the circumstances surrounding the construction (or restoration) of the mosque are found in its dedicatory inscription:
"Zafar Khan, the lion of lions, has appeared,
By conquering the towns of India in every expedition, and by restoring the decayed charitable institutions.

And he has destroyed the obdurate among Hindu infidels with his sword and spear, and lavished the treasures of his wealth in (helping) the miserable". 
Zafar Khan's claims to have destroyed "the obdurate among Hindu infidels" gains some credence from the mosque's inscription tablet, itself carved from materials of old ruined Hindu temples, while the mutilated figures of Hindu deities are found in the stone used in the monument proper. Near Zafar Khan's mosque stands another structure, built in 1313, which is said to be his tomb; its doorways were similarly reused from an earlier pre-Islamic monument, and embedded randomly on its exterior base are sculpted panels bearing Vaishnava subject matter.
Entrenchment of Islamic rule in Bengal
More accounts of Muhammad Bakhtiyar's 1204 C.E, capture of the Sena capital is that of the chronicler Minhaj al-Siraj, who visited Bengal forty years after the event and personally collected oral traditions concerning it. "After Muhammad Bakhtiyar possessed himself of that territory," wrote Minhaj, he left the city of Nudiah in desolation, and the place which is (now) Lakhnauti he made the seat of government. He brought the different parts of the territory under his sway, and instituted therein, in every part, the reading of the khutbah, and the coining of money; and, through his praiseworthy endeavours, and those of his Amirs, masjids [mosques], colleges, and madrassas(for Dervishes), were founded in those parts.
The passage clearly reveals the conquerors' notion of the proper instruments of political legitimacy: reciting the Friday sermon, striking coins, and raising monuments for the informal intelligentsia of Sufi Muslims and the formal intelligentsia of scholars, or'ulama.
One of the clearest statements of the political vision of the Islamic invaders of Bengal was given by Fakhr al-Din Razi (1209 C.E) of Herat, a celebrated Islamic scholar and jurist who served several Khurasani princes, in particular those of the Ghurid dynasty of Turks. Inasmuch as Razi was at the height of his public career when his own patrons conquered North India (1193 C.E) and Bengal (1204 C.E) and had even been sent once on a mission to northwestern India himself (1184 C.E), it is probable that his political thought was familiar to the Ghurid conquerors of Bengal. Certainly, Razi and Muhammad Bakhtiyar inherited a shared tradition of political beliefs and symbols current in thirteenth-century Khurasan and the Perso-Islamic world generally.
In his Jami' al-'ulum Razi formulated the following propositions:
The world is a garden, whose gardener is the dawlat [state]; 
The state is the sultan whose guardian is the shari'a [Islamic law]; 
The Law is a policy, which is protected by the mulk [kingdom]; 
The kingdom is a city, brought into being by the lashkar [army]; 
The army is made secure by mal [wealth]; 
Wealth is gathered from the ra'iyat [subjects]; 
The subjects are made servants by 'adl [justice]; 
Justice is the axis of the prosperity of the 'alam [world].
Far from mere platitudes about how kings ought to behave, these propositions present a unified Islamic theory of a society's moral, political, and economic basis—a worldview at once integrated, symmetrical, and dogmatic.
Sufis of Bengal
The Sufi orders that migrated to Bengal under the patronage of Islamic rulers, were instrumental in bringing about massive social upheavals. In the first two centuries of Islamic rule, five major Sufi orders had been established and local Hindu and Buddhist population by fear and fraud converted into Islam in large numbers. Most Sufi Muslim orders were led by Persian or Central Asian missionaries, who faced persecution under Sunni Islamic rulers in their native land. Most of these men belonged to three organized Sufi brotherhoods, the Suhawardi, the Firdausi, and the Chishti orders. 
The political role played by these Sufi Muslims in Bengal was shaped by ideas of virulent and dangerous Sufi authorities that had otherwise failed to evolve in the contemporary Persian-speaking Islamic world in the Middle East and Central Asia but showed its efficiency by converting non Muslims in these frontier areas of Caliphate control.
Shaikh Jalal al –Din Tabrizi
Shaikh Jalal al-Din Tabrizi (d. 1244–45), was one of the earliest-known Sufis of Bengal. The earliest notice of him appears in the Siyar al-‘arifin, a compendium of Sufi biographies compiled around 1530–36, three centuries after the shaikh’s lifetime. According to this account, after initially studying Sufism in his native Tabriz (in northwestern Iran), Jalal al-Din Tabrizi left around 1228 for Baghdad, where he studied for seven years with the renowned mystic Shaikh Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi. When the latter died in 1235, Jalal al-Din Tabrizi traveled to India and, not finding a warm welcome in the court of Delhi, eventually moved on to Lakhnauti, then the remote provincial capital of Bengal. There he remained until his death ten years later. 
“When he went to Bengal,” the account records, "There was also there a (river) port called Deva Mahal, where an infidel had built a temple at great cost. The shaikh destroyed that temple and in its place constructed a (Sufi) rest-house [takya]. There, he made many infidels into Muslims. Today [i.e., 1530–36 C.E], his tomb is located at the very site of that temple, and half the income of that port is dedicated to the upkeep of the public kitchen there".
Shah Jalal Mujarrad
Shah Jalal Mujarrad (d. 1346 C.E), is Bengal’s best-known Muslim so-called 'saint’. His biography was first recorded in the mid sixteenth century by a certain Shaikh ‘Ali (1562 C.E), a descendant of one of Shah Jalal’s companions. According to this account, Shah Jalal had been born in Turkestan, where he became a spiritual disciple of Saiyid Ahmad Yasawi, one of the founders of the Central Asian Sufi tradition. The account then casts the shaikh’s expedition to India in the framework of holy war, mentioning both his (lesser) war against the infidel and his (greater) war against the lower self. “One day,” the biographer recorded, "Shah Jalal represented to his bright-souled pir [i.e., Ahmad Yasawi] that his ambition was that just as with the guidance of the master he had achieved a certain amount of success in the Higher (spiritual) jihad, similarly with the help of his object-fulfilling courage he should achieve the desire of his heart in the Lesser (material) jihad, and wherever there may be a Dar-ul-harb [i.e., Land of non-Islam], in attempting its conquest he may attain the rank of a ghazi or a shushed [martyr]. The revered pir accepted his request and sent 700 of his senior fortunate disciples…along with him. Wherever they had a fight with the enemies, they unfurled the banner of victory".
After reaching the Indian subcontinent, he and his band of followers are said to have drifted to Sylhet, on the easternmost edge of the Bengal delta. “In these far-flung campaigns,” the narrative continued, “they had no means of subsistence, except the booty, but they lived in splendour. Whenever any valley or cattle were acquired, they were charged with the responsibility of propagation and teaching of Islam. In short, [Shah Jalal] reached Srihatta (Sylhet), one of the areas of the province of Bengal, with 313 persons. [After defeating the ruler of the area] all the region fell into the hands of the conquerors of the spiritual and the material worlds. Shaikh [Jalal] Mujarrad, making a portion for everybody, made it their allowance and permitted them to get married.”
In modern Bangladesh Islamists present Shah Jalal as someone who brought about a break between Bengal’s Hindu past and its Muslim future, and to this end a parallel is drawn between the career of the saint and that of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. The number of companions said to have accompanied Shah Jalal to Bengal, 313, corresponds precisely to the number of companions who are thought to have accompanied Muhammad at the Battle of Badr in A.D. 624, the first major battle in Muhammad’s career and a crucial event in launching Islam as a world religion. The story thus has an obvious ideological propaganda value to it.

Bengal under Mughals: Consolidation of Islamic hegemony

In the late sixteenth century, a dynasty of Chaghatai Turks commonly known as the Mughals annexed Bengal to their vast Indian empire, thereby ending the delta’s long isolation from North India. As just one among twelve provinces, Bengal was now administered by a class of imperial officials who, regularly rotated through the realm, shared a larger, pan-Indian view of their political mission. The new ruling class lacked attachments to Bengal and its culture. This served to widen the gulf betweenashraf Muslims, identified with the new wave of outsiders who swept into the delta after the conquest, and non-ashraf Muslims, increasingly identified as native converted Bengali Muslims.
It was in Jahangir’s reign (1605–27 CE) that the Mughal enterprise in Bengal passed from an ad hoc pursuit of rebels to the establishment of a regular administration. In May 1608, aiming to crush rebellious elements once and for all, Jahangir appointed as governor ‘Ala al-Din Islam Khan, an extraordinarily able and determined commander. A man about thirty-seven years of age at this time, Islam Khan enjoyed close ties with the emperor—the two had grown up together since childhood as foster-brothers—and possessed remarkable powers of self-discipline. Taking leave of the emperor, he moved down the Gangetic Plain at the head of an immense army of cavalry, artillery, and elephants, and a huge flotilla of war boats. After entering Bengal and pausing in Rajmahal, the army made its way through the jungles of the central delta, subdued rebellious chieftains on both sides of the Ganges-Padma river system, and finally reached Dhaka in 1610.
Soon after Islam Khan’s arrival in Bengal, the Mughals succeeded in annihilating or winning over all the major chiefs entrenched in the countryside since the time of the sultans. Yet it is fair to ask how far the new rulers were able to extend their political reach beneath the level of important chieftains, or zamindars, after these had submitted to imperial rule.
In sum, by the mid seventeenth century, as both foreign observers and contemporary revenue documents attest, the Mughals had established power throughout the delta. They achieved this by means of a military machine that effectively combined gunpowder weaponry with mounted archers and naval forces, a determined diplomacy that rewarded loyalty while punishing perfidy, and the financial services of mobile and wealthy Marwari bankers. Both militarily and diplomatically, success begat success. Bengali chieftains who witnessed these successes increasingly understood that the advantages of joining the new order outweighed those of resisting it. Above all, the advent of the Mughal age, unlike previous changes of the guard at Gaur, did not represent a mere military occupation in which one ruling class simply replaced another. Nor were the changes accompanying Mughal rule merely ones of scale—that is, bigger cannons, a more dazzling court, or taller monuments. Rather, as will be seen in the following chapters, the conquest was accompanied by fundamental changes in the region’s economic structure, its sociopolitical system, and its cultural complexion, both at court and in the countryside.

During the Mughal rule Sufis saints, under the patronage of Mughal's successfully penetrated Islam into the developing agrarian social order. As state-supported pioneers established Islamic institutions in formerly forested areas, three different kinds of frontier—the economic frontier separating field and forest, the political frontier separating Mughal from non-Mughal administration, and the religious frontier separating Islam and non-Islam—fused into one.

Despite the virulent ways in which Mughals had accommodated itself to North India, with respect to distant Bengal, isolated for centuries from the north, the Mughals saw themselves as distinctly alien. In part, this was because of the delta’s wet monsoon climate, of which North Indian officers posted in Bengal frequently complained. In effect, Bengal had become a colony for outsiders, effectively reversing the long-term pre-Mughal trend whereby a Muslim ruling class had progressively accommodated itself to the Bengali environment owing to generations of forced marriages with Hindu Bengali women and centuries of isolation from the north.
Both the literature and the architecture of the period reveal the new ruling class’s profoundly foreign—that is, non-Bengali—character. In 1626 an Afghan, Mahmud Balkhi, journeyed to Rajmahal and wrote of encountering people whose family origins lay in Balkh, Bukhara, Khurasan, Iraq, Baghdad, Anatolia, Syria, and North India. These would have been remnants of the predominantly Sunni ashraf of Akbar’s day, when Rajmahal was the provincial capital. Some years later the poet-official Muhammad Sadiq Isfahani, who lived in Dhaka from 1629 to his death in 1650, kept a diary, the subh-i sadiq, in which he mentions the dozens of artists, poets, generals, and administrators he had come to know in that city. Most of these men were Shi‘as whose ancestors had migrated from distant centers of Persian culture—for example, Mashhad, Teheran, Ardistan, Isfahan, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Taliqan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Herat, Bukhara, or Gilan. This suggests that between the reign of Akbar (1556–1605), when Rajmahal was capital, and that of Shah Jahan (1628–58), when Dhaka was capital, an increasing proportion of Bengal’s urban ashraf, although born in North India, claimed Iranian ancestry.
The most striking statement of the imperial attitude toward Bengal was made by Akbar’s chief advisor, Abu’l-fazl. “The country of Bengal,” he wrote in 1579, shortly after imperial armies had routed the capital’s Afghan occupants, “is a land where, owing to the climate’s favouring the base, the dust of dissension is always rising. From the wickedness of men families have decayed, and dominions [have been] ruined. Hence in old writings it was called Bulghakkhana (house of turbulence).” Here, in this “Mughal colonial discourse,” we find a remarkable theory of political devolution: an enervating climate corrupts men, and corrupted men ruin sovereign domains, thereby implicitly preparing the way for conquest by stronger, uncorrupted outsiders. In linking Bengal’s climate with the debased behavior of people exposed to it, Abu’l-fazl’s theory of sociopolitical decay anticipated by several centuries the similar views adopted by British colonial officials.
Even immigrant Sufis harbored negative attitudes about the Bengal. Shah Ni‘mat Allah Firuzpuri (d. 1669), anashraf shaikh from the Punjab who settled down in Malatipur near Malda early in the reign of Shah Jahan, quickly grew tired (malul) of the region. Mincing no words, he revealed his thoughts in the following clumsy but blunt quatrain:
"Bengal is a ruined and doleful land; 
Go offer the prayers to the dead, do not delay. 
Neither on land nor water is there rest; 
It is either the tiger’s jaws, or the crocodile’s gullet".
While harboring such attitudes toward his adopted home, the shaikh nonetheless curried favor with the province’s ruling class, whose life-style he and his descendants adopted, and from whom he accepted substantial lands in personal endowments (madad-i ma‘ash).
The Mughals’ feeling of alienation from the land was accompanied by a sense of superiority to or condescension toward its people. In matters of language, dress, and diet, newly arrived officials experienced great differences between Bengal and the culture of North India. The delta’s diet of fish and rice, for example, disagreed with many immigrants brought up on wheat and meat, basic to the diet in Punjab. Written in 1786, the Riyazal-Salatin faithfully reflects the ashraf perspective regarding Bengali culture, and reads almost like a colonial British manual on how to survive “amongst the natives”:And the food of the natives of that kingdom, from the high to the low, are fish, rice, mustard oil and curd and fruits and sweetmeats. They also eat plenty of red chilly and salt. In some parts of this country, salt is scarce. The natives of this country are of shabby tastes, shabby habits and shabby modes of dress. They do not eat breads of wheat and barley at all. Meat of goats and fowls and clarified butter do not agree with their system[s].
Mughal officers also associated Bengalis with fishermen, whom they openly despised. Around 1620 two imperial commanders, aiming to belittle the martial accomplishments of one of their colleagues, taunted the latter with the words: “Which of the rebels have you defeated except a band of fishermen who raised a stockade at Ghalwapara?” In reply, the other observed that even the Mughals’ most formidable adversaries in Bengal, ‘Isa Khan and Musa Khan, had been fishermen. “Where shall I find a Dawud son of Sulayman Karrani to fight with, in order to please you?” he asked rhetorically, and with some annoyance, adding that it was his duty as a Mughal officer to subdue all imperial enemies in Bengal, “whether they are Machwas [fishermen] or Mughals or Afghans.” In this view the only truly worthy opponents of the Mughal army were state rebels or Afghans like the Karranis; Bengalis, stereotyped as fishermen, were categorized as less worthy adversaries.

So finally these Islamic rules change the Bengal forever.