Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pakistan Hindu Marriage Bill Approved

Finally Hindu wives and husbands can call their husbands and wives legally married and their sons and daughters can call their parents Ma and Baba.

Statesman February 14, 2016
Hindu marriage bill creates row in Pakistan
| Islamabad | 14 February, 2016

Representational Image (Getty Images)

A clause in the draft Hindu marriage bill, which states that a marriage will be annulled if either spouse converts to another religion, has triggered vehement contest between its opponents and supporters in Pakistan.
Seeking an end to the controversy, Senator Nasreen Jalil, chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, has called a meeting of the panel to discuss the matter, Dawn online reported.

The draft legislation has been passed by the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

Senator Jalil said: "We would like to discuss the matter. If there is a consensus, the committee will forward its recommendations to the speaker of the National Assembly to get the clause deleted."
At its meeting on February 8, the National Assembly Standing Committee witnessed serious opposition from Mohammad Khan Sheerani, the Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), to the clause.

But Shugufta Jumani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Ali Mohammad of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf clearly said if any of the spouses embraced Islam, the marriage should be terminated.
Clause 12(iii) says a marriage would be annulled if either spouse converts to another religion.
The patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, said the matter was related to the basic human rights of Hindus in Pakistan.

“There are fears the clause will be misused for forced conversions of married women the same way young girls are being subjected to forced conversions," he said.
He referred to the kidnapping of teenage Hindu girls who were then presented them in courts with a certificate that she had married after converting to Islam.

PPP Senator Taj Haider opposed the idea in the law.

"I do not understand how the marriage will be annulled if any of the partners converts to Islam," Haider said, adding the clause will also discourage cross-marriages.

Civil society activist Kishan Sharma, who is also the chairman of REAT Network, an independent civil society organisation, said this clause was added by the CII and it was not a part of the original draft.

“The key concern is that only one option of dissolution of marriage has been included in the law and that too where the partners might be willing to live together despite different faiths."

“As societies change, attitudes of individuals also change and even now we see youths belonging to Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities deciding their fate to live together," Sharma said.
"But stopping this change through laws will only add to discontent and frustration in society," he said. 


Hindus in Pak protest for law to register their marriages
March 30, 2012
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad

Pakistan's minority Hindu community has protested the prolonged delay in the approval of a law to register their marriages, saying the lack of legislation affected the inheritance rights of women.
A large group of Hindus joined a protest outside the National Press Club in Islamabad on Thursday and shouted slogans against the government. They also performed a mock Hindu marriage to protest the delay in the approval of the Hindu Marriage Registration Act by parliament.
Shakuntala Devi, an activist of the Scheduled Caste Rights Movement, said Hindu women had suffered for more than six decades due to the absence of any law to protect their matrimonial rights.
"There are no family laws for Hindus. Their marriages are not registered. The women cannot claim their inheritance rights as they cannot produce any evidence of their marriage in court," she told the media.
There were cases of married Hindu women being kidnapped while their husbands were unable to approach the court because they had no documentary evidence of their marriage.
"Women cannot file for divorce nor can they claim custody of their children as men often deny the marriage in court," Shakuntala Devi said. There were also cases of Hindu women being abducted and married off to non-Hindus and even this phenomenon goes unchallenged because there is no law to protect the women, she said.
"The most challenging task is to get our national identity cards. We have to bribe the staff to get the NIC and sometimes, we cannot stay in a hotel because we are unable to produce a marriage registration certificate," she said.
Over 100 members of the minority Hindu community from across Pakistan joined Thursday's protest that was organised by SCRM and ActionAid. Some of the protesters carried placards with their demands and slogans like 'No more delay to marriage registration'.
"What they are demanding is just documentation. It has nothing to do with religion," said Amir Nadeem, a lawyer who joined the protest. He listed several incidents in which Hindu women were denied their legal rights only because they did not have any documents to prove their marriage.
Shakuntala Devi said Hindu women were "constantly victimised" as were deprived of basic social, political and economic rights in the absence of a marriage registration law.
"It has been over four years that we have been waging a struggle for our rights. In 2011, a bill was presented in the National Assembly for a law to register Hindu marriages but so far there has been no progress," she said.
All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement chief Haroon Sarab Diyal said the Hindus prepared the draft legislation in 2009. "The draft was prepared after extensive research on prevailing Hindu marriage laws in India and Nepal and it was made according to the Pakistani constitution but it was never passed by parliament," he said.
The same draft is pending with the Human Rights ministry but landlords and some influential members of the Hindu community, who want the 'panchayat' system to remain in place, were creating hurdles in its passage, Diyal claimed.
He also contended that Hindu lawmakers should be directly elected instead of being "selected" by political parties.

The Hindu February 18, 2017
Pakistan Senate passes landmark Hindu marriage bill

Islamabad: February 18, 2017 11:18 IST

The much-awaited landmark bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan is set to become a law with the Senate unanimously passing it.

The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017, which is the first elaborate Hindu community’s personal law, was adopted by the Senate on Friday.

The bill had already been approved by the lower house or the National Assembly on September 26, 2015, and it now just needs signature of the President, a mere formality, to become a law.
Dawn News reported that the bill is widely acceptable to Hindus living in Pakistan because it relates to marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage, with the minimum age of marriage set at 18 years for both boys and girls.

The bill will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.

It will be the first personal law for Pakistani Hindus, applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The Sindh province has already formulated its own Hindu Marriage Law.
The bill presented in the Senate by Law Minister Zahid Hamid faced no opposition or objection. It was mainly due to the sympathetic views expressed by the lawmakers of all political parties in the relevant standing committees.

The bill was approved by the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on January 2 with an overwhelming majority.

However, Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl had opposed the bill, claiming that the Constitution was vast enough to cater to such needs.

While approving the bill, committee chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had announced, “This was unfair —— not only against the principles of Islam but also a human rights violation —— that we have not been able to formulate a personal family law for the Hindus of Pakistan.”

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a leading Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League—Nawaz, had been working relentlessly for three years to have a Hindu marriage law in the country.
“Such laws will help discourage forced conversions and streamline the Hindu community after the marriage of individuals,” he said, expressing gratitude to the parliamentarians.

Mr. Vankwani also said it was difficult for married Hindu women to prove that they were married, which was one of the key tools for miscreants involved in forced conversion.

The law paves the way for a document ‘Shadi Parath’ —— similar to the ‘Nikahnama’ for Muslims —— to be signed by a pundit and registered with the relevant government department.

Dawn February 15, 2015 | Reuters — Updated Feb 15, 2016 10:57pm

KARACHI: For the first time in the country's history, marriage laws for millions of Hindus living in Sindh have been codified after the Sindh Assembly approved the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2016, on Monday.

Senior PPP leader and Sindh Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmad Khuhro moved the bill in the provincial assembly which was later passed after a debate between the opposition and treasury benches.

The bride and groom cannot be less than 18 years, according to the text of the approved draft.
Married couples will be required to obtain a marriage registration certificate, while a couple can also face fines in case their marriage is not registered. The law can be applied retroactively to existing marriages.

Zoroastrians and Sikhs will also be able to register their marriages under the new law.
Hindus, despite being the second-largest religious minority group in Pakistan, with a population of 3.3 million, had no legal mechanism to register marriages.

Unlike the Muslim majority or Christians, Hindus lacked any legal framework for protection of their marriages and are unable to provide legal proof when required.

Christians, the other main religious minority, have a British law dating back to 1870 regulating their marriages.

Without the law, Hindus say their women were easy targets for rape or forced marriage and faced problems in proving the legitimacy of their relationships before the law. Widows have been particularly disadvantaged.

Without official proof of relationships, getting government documents issued or moving forward on any other activity which involves documentation — from opening bank accounts to applying for visas — became next to impossible for any citizen.

After the 18th Amendment, the issues of religious minorities and their family matters became provincial subjects but the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies passed resolutions allowing the federation to legislate Hindu marriage law.

A similar resolution is pending in the Punjab Assembly.

A draft bill has already been passed by the National Assembly standing committee on law and justice, while Senator Nasreen Jalil, the chairperson of the Senate standing committee on law and justice, has also convened a meeting of the committee to take up the matter.

A clause in the draft Hindu Marriage Bill, which states that a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses converts to another religion, is being vehemently contested by both its opponents and supporters.

Clause 12(iii) says a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses converts to another religion
The patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, PML-N MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, said the matter related to the basic human rights of the Hindus in Pakistan.

“There are fears the clause would be misused for forced conversions of married women the same way young girls are being subjected to forced conversions.”

He referred to the current practice by certain elements who kidnapped teenage girls and eventually presented them in courts along with a certificate that the girl had married after converting to Islam.
PPP parliamentarian Senator Taj Haider opposed the idea in the law, and said the clause could also discourage cross-marriages.

The US Commission on Religious Freedom said in a recent report that conditions in Pakistan had “hit an all-time low” and governments had failed to adequately protect minorities and arrest those who attack or discriminate against them.

But many see the passage of the bill as a ray of hope.

“Now after the passage of this bill in the Sindh Assembly, after 70 years, Hindus will also have a marriage certificate just like Muslims do,” said Shahnaz Sheedi, the coordinator for South Asia Partnership Pakistan, a civil rights movement.

“We hope that bill will be soon adopted at the national level,” she said. The National Assembly in Islamabad has been considering such a bill it is still in committee.

Dawn January 2, 2017

Inamullah Khattak — Updated Jan 02, 2017 04:14pm

In what appears to be a New Year's gift for Hindu minorities in Pakistan, the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights unanimously approved the much-awaited Hindu Marriages Bill on Monday.

Earlier in September, the Natio­nal Assembly had passed the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016, thus paving the way for the adoption of a comprehensive and widely-acceptable family law for Hindus living in Pakistan.

The bill will enable the Hindu community to get their marriages registered and to appeal in courts of law in cases of separation.

There are penalties for violating the provisions of the bill, which allows Hindus to finally have a proof of marriage document called the shadiparat, similar to the nikahnama for Muslims.
The bill also allows separated Hindu persons to remarry. Clause 17 of the bill states that a Hindu widow "shall have the right to re-marry of her own will and consent after the death of her husband provided a period of six months has lapsed after the husband’s death".

The Senate committee under the chair of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Senator Nasreen Jalil took up the bill for discussion.

Soon after the bill was approved, the committee room 4 in Parliament House echoed with jubilation as senators and officials of different ministries started thumping their desks.

Minority member in National Assembly Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani called the move a new year's gift for Hindus living in Pakistan.

"Today, we are proud to be Hindu Pakistanis after the approval of the bill. Hindus will now be able to get registered their marriages and also apply for divorce under family laws," he said.

Top constitutional expert Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said the bill is in accordance with the essence of the Constitution.

Ahsan clarified that the bill was not in contrast with Islamic jurisprudence as Islam emphasises protection of minorities.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Maldives: A Nation with Endless Coral Islands

Maldives: A Nation with Endless Coral Islands

Sachi G. Dastidar

Maldives is certainly one of the most interesting places on earth with her endless islands, endless white beaches, blue & turquoise waters. It is also to her credit that in spite of short of land and resources, located in Third World, she has been able to significantly raise the standard of living of her people mostly with tourist dollars, especially compared to her close neighbors Sri Lanka and India. Maldives is a Sunni Muslim-majority nation.
Landing in the airport in the man-made island one has to take a short ferry ride to get to the main island of Male, the political, administrative, economic and cultural center of the nation. Almost half the nation lives there. Maldives contains hundreds of islands, mostly uninhabited, but the most important is its capital Male. Nearby Hulhumale Island is being further expanded through land-filling with a bridge that will connect her with Male. Already a large number of housing for the workers of Male exist there with a bus service that takes residents to various corners of that small mostly man-made island. With her economy expanding Maldives has attracted large number of foreign workers from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and most importantly Bangladesh. One worker commented that “of our entire population, native and foreigners, probably 20% to 25% could easily be Bengali. Here you will hear on the street not only English, but also Hindi, and now Bengali.” There is such a preponderance of Bangladeshi Bengalis that many there do not know that there are over 100 million Bengali speakers in India. One Maldivian named Ashok in Villingili Island said apologetically “I didn’t know that there are Bengalis in India too.” Thus if one walks around Male it looks very much “Indian” as Maldivians belong to the same stock as in India and Sri Lanka, and as lots of foreign workers are from the Subcontinent. Since independence from Britain she has been ruled by one strongman but his loss to a young leader convulsed the nation until the new leader being imprisoned, finally exiled. During the visit in early 2017 it didn’t affect tourists. 

Male – and Maldives – is one of the densest cities on earth yet in that small walkable island men and women have taken to motorbike with vengeance. There are cars as well but if one wants to see the capital one can easily cover that on foot. Two adjacent islands are Villingili and Hulhumale which are connected by ferry which leave every few minutes. There are ferries to other islands too, but not that frequently, or one can take seaplane. (Additional information can be obtained from official webs of Maldives government or travel sites.)

Here are a few pictures from the trip to Maldives:

Adjacent Islands

Friday, February 3, 2017

Islamizing Bengali Curricula in Bangladesh and Indian West Bengal

Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Hindu-majority West Bengal both are Islamizing Bengali Curricula to appease anti-Pluralistic, Intolerant, Jihadi Islamists

Sachi G. Dastidar

            Note from Bengal: West Bengal, India and Bangladesh

Increasingly both independent Bangladesh and West Bengal State of India – together the former Bengal Province of British India – are Islamizing the Bengali literature and school curricula as per several articles, one appearing in the New York Times, the other in India, yet another one in Bangladesh. Yet the poor and middle class Hindus, Christians, pro-secular Muslims and others of urban and rural West Bengal – with Calcutta (Kolkata) its capital – decry this Islamization and Arabization in every casual conversation yet are too terrified to protest against a perceived tyranny of the ruling elites. This is of course true for morally-and-bravery-challenged West Bengali population. This is not true for Bangladeshis. They are still alive and kicking. 
During a 2017 trip to the Subcontinent what was puzzling to find out how even in 2017 minority Hindu population of Bangladesh is fleeing to India, especially because Bangladesh is apparently being run by a pro-tolerant Awami League party. During a trip to New Garia Station at the southern end of Kolkata (Calcutta) Metro I found one green coconut seller Dilip Babu, or Mr. Dilip, a Hindu, a skeleton of 5 feet tall person, possibly in his fifties, wearing dirty pair of pants and an undershirt when asked said he is from Perojpur, in southern coastal Bangladesh. He knew some individuals I have met from the district: Prof. Chitta Ranjan Mondal, former Member of Bangladesh Parliament Mr. Sudhangshu Sekhar Haldar, among others. He knew a Hindu monk engaged in social work in his homeland. When asked why a poor person like him would migrate to India leaving ancestral homestead, he remarked “for poor oppressed-caste people like us it is increasingly difficult to live there with our family. Women are always a target. Moreover, I don’t think my son would have been able to go to a top engineering college like Bengal Engineering College where he is studying now. There is lots of official discrimination against us.” I asked, “Really?”
I still refuse to believe this.
Then I ran into Bikash, 27, who fled to India 15 years ago. He said after continued fleeing of Hindus our family was one of the few minority Hindu families left our Barisal village. My father is a well-known school teacher. To drive us out there were 11 night-time attack by dacoits (armed gangs) on our family, but wealthy Muslim families were spared. All of our movable assets were taken away. We were afraid of being killed. When we saw our attackers in the bazaar the police said “don’t report to us. We won’t arrest them.” Finally during an attack by Muslim thugs they kicked my father in the back so hard that he was hospitalized and his back was almost broken. Then my parents said that I must leave our homeland for India. I left my parents when I was 12. I crossed the border illegally through a smuggler. Now I am 27. I have obtained an Indian passport. I haven’t seen them in 15 years.” What is worth noting that this high-energy boy, a step away from being a street child himself, has opened an N.G.O. to educate street children at MajherHaat in Kolkata! 

Then there was this Kolkata (Calcutta) carpenter, Tarun M, a young Hindu of early 30s, skinny, possibly 5’ 3”, when asked where he is from, answered “South 24 Parganas District,” a southern suburb of Kolkata connected by suburban train service. But his accent gave away his identity. Then he said, “I am actually from Hatia Island near Chittagong City in Bangladesh, you wouldn’t know that place. I came recently.” I asked “Weren’t there need for carpenters in Chittagong, a booming metropolis?” He replied, “Uncle, do you know anything of my desh (homeland)? How can a poor or bhadralok (i.e. middle class) Hindu live there? Although many of my family members (i.e. parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts) still live there, but they live subjugated. They can’t say anything including when they are robbed.”

“Don’t you live like a second-class subjugated citizen anyway in a foreign India?”

“No, uncle. I have a ration card, ID card, and even a voter card. Our women are not threatened. No one takes our crop forcefully. I paid (bribe) to local TrinaMool (ruling West Bengal State) politicians and police to get those cards.” Then he quickly added, “It is not just Hindus but majority Muslim Bangladeshis are also coming to West Bengal and getting all these (IDs).” He then pointed to the Muslim workers at the construction site across the street. “Ask them.”

Incidentally, construction is one of the few areas where low-skill individuals can get a job in urban sector after the demise of industrial sector in post-independence (1947) India once Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) took state power in 1977 in India’s second-most industrial state. During the 34 years of their rule tens of thousands of factories closed due to Communist agitation. By the time there was an effort to bring back industrial jobs CPM was ousted by a virulent anti-Communist Miss Mamata Banerji of TrinaMool (Grassroots) Congress Party. She too has failed to attract jobs because of her ultra-populist rhetoric. But the construction sector remains a bright spot as 90-million strong West Bengalis who now find jobs out-of-the-state for lack of development in the state buys homes for their retirement or for their parents who live in the state. There is a belief among many that these construction jobs are being taken by Bangladeshis not West Bengalis. This is a serious issue, true or false, and can turn into violence and political liability unless checked early.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial for both Bangladesh and West Bengal if folks like Tarun, Dilip and Bikash were able to serve their Bangladesh homeland? Then there is Aunt Shil Mashi, a widow, surviving away from her homeland. When asked why she has left her ancestral land, she just said, “How can we live there?” Why a stable, pro-tolerant Bangladesh Government is not able to keep their Hindu minority for their own benefit still puzzles many. Is Islamization of Bangladesh education speeding up the process? Is Hindu-majority West Bengal also heading in the direction of anti-Hindu Islamization? Where would West Bengalis flee then? 

Here are a few recent articles:

New York Times article of January 23, 2017 by Ellen Barry and Julfikar Ali Manik: To Secular Bangladeshis, Textbook Changes Are a Harbinger

Check for Hasan Ferdous' column on (daily) Prothom Alo, Dhaka Bangladesh

From Dainik Jugasankha, January 23, 2017
Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore is out because he used the word "temple" in his poetry:

NY Times 
The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor
Bangladesh’s Creeping Islamism

By K. ANIS AHMED FEB. 3, 2017 

West Bengal, India

Here is an article of Islamization of Education in Hindu-majority West Bengal State:

Secularising gone wrong? Row after Bengal government replaces 'RAM' with rong in textbook rainbows
The commonly used Bengali term for a rainbow is "Ramdhonu", which literally translates to "Ram's Bow" has now been replaced by "Rongdhonu" in the new text books. 

by Indrajit Kundu  | Kolkata, January 13, 2017 


Hindu-majority West Bengal bans traditional celebration of Saraswati (Goddess of Learning) Puja (service) performed for generations:

"Saraswati Puja stopped at Tehatta High school"

"Controversy at GourBanga [univ 
ersity] with Vice Chancellor's order to Stop Saraswati Puja"

Thanks, Sachida. Enjoyed reading it.  
Hasan; February 4, 2017

Consequences of Partition, 1947-1971

Consequences of Partition, 1947-1971: Demographic, Political, Social and Human Costs which continues till Today

Presentation at the
Indian Council of Historical Research, Delhi, India
January 4, 2017

Dr. Sabyasachi Ghosh Dastidar

Distinguished Professor, State University of New York, Old Westbury, Politics, Economics & Law Department

Namaskar, greetings. Let me first thank ICHR, Dr. Rao, Sri Aruni, Dr. Singh, and especially Saradindu Babu, for inviting me to speak here. What can an amateur historian say to professional historians? For me it’s a bit scary. It is like the Bengali proverb of what not to do: mayer kachhe mashir galpo kara or not telling your mother her sister’s story. Nevertheless I will share some of the lessons that I have learned through reading and my four decades of travel, field work and social work in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Incidentally my NY Partition Library contains hundreds of English and Bengali history and history-based books on partition and post-partition events till today. One lesson for Indians is that it is possible to do academic, human rights and social work during intolerant conditions in both Bangladesh and Pakistan but constraints vary, and parameters is localized. I have been welcomed by Muslims, stayed with then, as well as non-Muslim minorities there. Many Bangladeshis tell me that I am the first Hindu who has reclaimed its home. There are groups and individuals with whom we have failed to bridge. I must also add that I have faced constraints for our work with helping schools for the poor in West Bengal, but not in Bangladesh.
With the partition of India into India and Pakistan, serious demographic changes took place in the Subcontinent. In West Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir demographic change of non-Muslim minority took place with jhatka killing and cleansing in 1947 through 48. But in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, slow killing and cleansing started with Noakhali Pogrom of 1946 under the Muslim League Government of British Bengal but anti-Hindu pogroms continues to this day. Large-scale pogroms took place in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1964 (possibly genocide), 1965, 1971 (genocide), 1990, 1992, 2001 till 2016. With cut off of exchange of information, travel and ideas between India and Pakistan it brought serious social, political and human consequences with long term effects that continues to this day. One of the consequences was that of Bangladesh Liberation War and extermination campaign of Hindu minority and mass-killing of secular Muslims. Self-censorship in India added another dimension to the problem. Having traveled to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan I feel that a large section of Indian intelligentsia, academics and media – left to right – have failed to understand the seriousness of the issue and come to assist those like-minded peoples across the border as well as to the minorities they left behind in hostile land. I hope to highlight some of these issues and contradictions with slides, references from my books Ai Bangla Oi Bangla, Empire’s Last Casualty: Indian Subcontinents’ Vanishing Hindu and Other Minorities, A Aamar Desh, Living among the Believers: Stories from the Holy Land down the Ganges, Memoirs of Homeland: Partitions of Bengal in India, Mukti: Free to be born Again – Partitions of Indian Subcontinent, Islamism, Hinduism, Leftism and Liberation of the Faithful, our work with Partition Documentation Center and Probini Foundation (that helps educate the poor and the orphaned in 33 schools in Bangladesh, PaschimBanga, Assam and Mizoram.) The last two books have just been released.
For me talking about partition and human consequences is difficult, stressful and painful. It is very stressful. It is a taboo subject for many. It raises passion among many, especially of refugees, hard liners, fundamentalists, denialists, fatalists, neo-colonialists, communal left and right, nationalists and partisans. I believe, on the other hand many are only too happy to blame others. I do not believe that has lead us to anywhere, but that does not mean censorship. If you have strong feelings, different from mine, I am sure many of you do, please share that at the end of the presentation. I will try to address that as much as I can. Very recently I was attacked by a Bangladeshi-Indian-claiming-to-be-atheist but who chose not to live with his Muslim neighbors in Bangladesh for living in India and has chosen not to visit his homeland saying “there hasn’t been any oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh” which even ideologically anti-Hindu Jamat never says that.  A Bangladeshi-Indian atheist Politburo Member who chose not to live with the Muslim-majority in Bangladesh also said the same thing in NY which was immediately challenged by the folks, when he ran away from the public. When I was invited to be a keynote speaker at an international conference in Dhaka I got death threats. Then there are folks who wrote/broadcast total lies about me in Bangladeshi media while some others thought that my family is demigod. This is the problem in our lands. I also received scorn from Hindu nationalists as they thought our work in Bangladesh allows non-Muslim minority to live in their ancestral land instead of fleeing to India which Islamists want. They would always tell me “why don’t you bring them to India?” In Bangladesh and in PaschimBanga, except for cities like Kolkata, Dhaka, Durgapur or Chittagong people who call my family as their own are not bhadralok, yet to us they are truly bhadra. Sometime back we estimated many of them were surviving in about 1,200 Indian rupees (US$20) for a family of 3 generations of 8 people, but they are not starving.
So, let me first share the demographic change which is in the past and easy to present from Census data. Then I will share some slides with anecdotes of pleasure and pain from my travel and field work. Unfortunately it must be mentioned that discussion on social, political, and especially human, costs come from my post-1971 travel to partitioned Bangladesh and Pakistan. This is also true for my travel to far corners of India from Ladakh to Andaman, or from Mizoram to Bengaluru to Dandakaranya. Before 1971 I was too poor to take those trips and experience the joy and pain of my extended family. I will share some slides from Bangladesh, then West Bengal, finally Pakistan.
I hope to hear your experience after that.
As I may not get a second chance let me tell you that apart from full-time teaching I head the Partition Documentation Center in NY which is funded by my family’s savings and donations from people like you. We have saved over 175 oral histories of refugees, survivors and protectors on YouTube. Please visit our ispad1947 channel and if you could please tape some interviews for us. We have a one-room Partition Museum. If anyone likes to donate documents for display, please do so. We have annual conference in October, please join us – this is not just 1905, 1947 or 1971 Subcontinent partitions but lot more from identity to unity, from influence of music to politics and religion around the world. We publish a Journal, please write for that too. I have brought a few copies. I have also brought a few copies of Probini and ISPaD newsletters. Please take one.
This is just to inform you that in 1996 I ran for and was elected to an office in New York making me the first Indian, Bengali, Bangladeshi, Hindu or a short dark-skinned like me to hold an elective position in New York. Moreover I testified in Congress twice on minority plights in the Subcontinent. I guess several groups must have recommended me for presentation. For sake of time I will make some broad generalizations. I will be happy to explain further. I can go on and on, but let me stop, read bullet points, and talk about demographics first:
·         Pakistan: 25% minority in 1947 to less than 2% Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian, Brahmo by 1949
·         Pakistani Kashmir: 20% non-Muslim in 1947 to practically 0% by 1949
·         Bangladesh: 30% Hindu with some Buddhist and Christian in 1947 to less than 10% now; 22% in 1971
·         India: with 12% Muslim minority in 1947 to 14% Muslim now in spite of tens of millions of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Pakistani Kashmir, Bangladesh and Afghanistan; overall non-Hindu minority has increased after 1947. I don’t think cries of differences of birth rate will explain that.
 A few points of Social, Political and Human Costs:
·         With connections cut off between India and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh (East Pakistan) we have all become culturally ghettoized in many ways. Often misinformation & propaganda influenced politics, e.g., the 1964 Hazrat Bal Danga Killing of East Pakistan.
·         Except for Muslim League Party cross-border political parties collapsed. Congress Party vanished in both East and West Pakistan, even Communist Party lost most of its connection with West and East Pakistan.
·         Saving grace was radio, then TV, and now Internet.
·         There are people in Pakistan who truly don’t know that India and Pakistan was one country, and Pakistan and Bangladesh was one country, and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lived with each other. Bangladesh is also heading in that direction except for the tenacity and love of land of the oppressed-caste Hindus who live there and pro-tolerant Muslims who are trying to protect them. (Ex: Farhan)
·         People-to-people contact were lost from 1947 between India and Pakistan; between two majority communities. People who lived with their neighbors of other religions were forgotten forever. Hundreds of years of friendship was lost forever. (Lahore Lakshmi Baag; Lahore Museum; Lenin Sarani of Kolkata; Gava-Ram Chandra Pur.)
·         Linguistic connection between 2 Punjab is gone; one Urdu and the other Punjabi;
·         Linguistic connection between Sind and Sindhi diaspora is broken forever;
·         As you travel in Pakistan pushing monotheistic Islam and monolingual Urdu, especially by Punjabi Muslims who gave up their own language for Urdu, has homogenized the population a lot – a dream for many rulers – yet was the reason why majority Bengalis split from Pakistan. In India in a remote corner of Arunachal I saw signs in some villages wanting to be taught in Thai, but not in Pakistani Kashmir for Kashmiri language. I suppose a pluralistic, fatalistic Hinduism does allow for that kind of diversity and tolerance. Regional Sindhi, Baloch and Pakhtun linguistic demands are rising in Pakistan.

·         In West Bengal elites and media completely ignored and censored oppression in East Bengal/ Bangladesh Hindus and its Muslim intelligentsia – a common complaints in Bangladesh, as well as of the oppressed oppressed-caste Hindus with silence (mounam sammati lakhsmanam) although most of the elites and rulers of Paschim Bangla and Tripura come/came from East Pakistan/East Bengal who chose not to live with the Muslim majority there;

·         Problem of communal self-censorship in West Bengal and India. Pakistan and Bangladesh had state-sanctioned censorship, frequently managed by dictators; 

·         Oppression of Hindu minority in East Pakistan/Bangladesh was ignored by the refugee ruling communal privileged-caste elites & media of West Bengal and Calcutta – a form of racism of the elites, including leftists. (I grew up as one of those.) Yet those oppressions and atrocities are boldly highlighted by pro-tolerant Muslim intelligentsia in Bangladesh, even at their own peril. (This is also partially true at times in Pakistan);
·         Most Bangla secularist Muslims and Hindus are amazed that the entire Indian and Hindu civil society were/are completely silent about the Enemy Property Act which allows Hindus to be declared enemy of the state and ancestral lands and businesses taken away without any notice and compensation by Pakistan and Bangladesh;
·         And we showed no support for the trial of War Criminals in Bangladesh whose main target was killing and cleansing of all Hindus and secular Muslims.
·         In Bangladesh there is significant solidarity between Muslims and non-Muslims at village level – except at times after Friday Jumma prayer and sermon. One special feature of our society is while a village thug protects in his own village yet he kills-rapes-abducts-converts in the next village (see Subhas Mazumdar of Noakhali interview at YouTube’s Ispad1947 channel);
·         No safe heaven was provided to secularist Muslims or murtads from Bangladesh or Pakistan by the Indian civil society, often complained by the activists across the border;
·         One irony in overseas is that we all come together for Bollywood events, otherwise folks from secular India celebrate religious festivities at mandirs, churches, gurdwaras, and masjids except for a few August-based India Day festivities yet many neo-colonialists oppose Indian religious festivities for so-called “South Asian” events, yet Muslim-majority Bangladeshis celebrate secular festivities of Bijoy Dibas (Victory Day), Independence Day, Nababarsha (Baisakh New Year); while Pakistanis have very few secular festivities except for masjid-based acts. All Mandirs, however, welcome all during their events and festivals.
·         I will end these bullet points with a serious, philosophical question for you historians. Having traveled to over 100 countries and territories, and having visited numerous museums and memorials I always wanted to ask our historians like you, what is it that we Indians or Hindus do not commemorate our historical events, unlike Christians, Jews and Muslims? Is it because we worship deities of pre-historic origin, and cremate our dead not leaving any memorial on ground that we don’t have a collective historic memory? We do not commemorates when the first partition took place in India, which brought the second partition. No one remembers when Portugal entered India, or the first non-native Muslim invasion or building of Kutub Minar, or when the First War of Independence began, or Noakhali Danga Pogrom or Calcutta Killing. Like other nations can we do not remember these taking along our Muslim, Christian or Euro-Indians along, not demonizing them for their ancestors’ deeds? Yet West commemorates Inquisition, First World War or America remembers Pearl Harbor after 75 years, and Jews remember Hanukkah. I will wait for your reflection after my presentation. (For a point of reference, in 2005 for commemorating the first partition in India in 1905 my mostly non-Subcontinent students of Politics of India and South Asia class in NY had a petition signed by hundreds of people around-the-world, sent a letter to the prime ministers, had a book display in a Bengali-Christian church, organized by white, black and Hispanic students helped by a Bengali Muslim. The petition and the letter are available in the Internet, while students of 3 elite colleges in Bengal barely knew the year, but certainly not the date, October 16. Accidentally on that date our daughter Joyeeta was born and on that year my mother Nihar Kana was born. That is also the date when Noakhali pogrom began in 1946 on auspicious Kojagari Lakshmi Puja Day

Even after lots of deleting I have 85 slides. (Not included here.)

Here are a few pictures from the event: