Patriots and patriotic nationalists have been strongly resenting and reacting to the manorial master India increasingly gobbling up Bangladesh as if it were one of its feudal serfdoms in the neighborhood.
Let me begin my version of the dire and deadly Indian control of Bangladesh by referring to some of them, all well-known analysts and commentators on the history and politics of Bangladesh. They all protest, with a thumping and thundering force, India’s Corona control of Bangladesh under the watch of India’s crony Sheikh Hasina, who is too tyrannical at home turned into a police and prison state but too weak to stand up to her dominating and exploiting master India.
First, there is Dr Khalifa Malik, a writer and activist based in the UK. His thought-provoking observation is: “Hasina may dance with the Elephant or play with the Dragon, or even fly with the Eagle. But I am more interested in recovering my freedom and dignity from the brutality of a neo-fascist regime. Can anyone suggest how we get back our democratic rights by simply going from Delhi to Beijing or to Washington?” (E-mail of 1 August 2020). Patriotic political campaigner and activist Zoglul Husain of the UK replies in agreement:
By SIMPLY balancing the involved political forces of different countries, we cannot establish democracy. Very true. Our struggle for democracy has been arduous and long, and we are not alone, please look at the post-colonial countries. […] But while the army-people alliance achieved freedom, it was strangled by India as we fought from India with their help, and the Awami leadership surrendered sovereignty to them. Through the glorious army-people uprisings of 15 August and 7 November 1975 we gained democracy during Zia’s rule. Ershad was dictatorial, but after the fall of Ershad, Khaleda brought it back in 1991, which lasted up to 2006. But from 1/11 of 2007, we lost democracy completely. Since then, we have been ruled by India-BAKSAL fascist clique. Now if the elephant-dragon-eagle forces balance, it could increase our manoeuverable space. If the stranglehold loosens, it would be a help. People must fight on for freedom and democracy, until they achieve victory. We will fight, we will win!
Supporting both the letter and the spirit of the above, one can say that regardless of whoever Bangladesh tilts towards or has special alliance with out of political, tactical or strategic interests, the first and most basic demand of the people of Muslim majority Bangladesh is that they want to be free from the utterly choking and absolutely unacceptable Awami-BAKSAL-Hasina fascism. They want to remain a nation of liberal values and democratic principles with Islamic identity and integrity upheld, not one under the complete and tightening control of Hindu nationalist India.
Eminent author and professor Dr Taj Hashmi of Canada/USA makes his position clear about Indian domination of Bangladesh when he observes (through an e-mail of 1 August 2020): “India loves to treat Bangladesh as its extension, a quasi-state or Indian province with a mouthful name, ‘People’s Republic of Bangladesh’. All Indian High Commissioners to Bangladesh behave like viceroys in the host country under the compliant [Hasina] regime. They did not get this privilege during Mujib’s, Zia’s, and Khaleda’s tenure […] Most Indian diplomats behave like wolves in Bangladesh, especially when the latter is under the subservient pro-Indian people like Ershad, Moeen, and Hasina.” By “wolf”, Dr Hashmi suggests, “nasty vengeance, greed, desire to rule, dominate, exploit, bleed, and eventually kill the victims, more through deceptions than with sheer muscle power.”
Speaking in the same vein, Zoglul Husain comments, “You are right, the Indian High Commissioners have been behaving like viceroys. Since 1/11 of 2007, all major government decisions, appointments, etc. have so far been decided by India and transmitted through the Indian High Commission. […] We, the Muslim countries, should put our houses in order and unite, and then we would be a force to be reckoned with. In Bangladesh, we are determined to defeat fascism and hegemonism. We are determined to establish freedom, democracy, justice, human rights and harmonious development. The people of Bangladesh will certainly win!” R Chowdhury of the USA, a decorated soldier, freedom fighter, and published author, concurs with a resounding note:
The Indian HC (High Commissioner) in Dhaka usually behaves like the uncrowned prince in Bangladesh. S/He has access to all offices– sensitive or secret– where even Bangladeshi officials are restricted. Plus, the extensive network of RAW in the country cast a doubt if the country is really sovereign. Look at the policy of “anything you want” to India, be that complicity in the BDR-Jamaat-Hefazat massacre, be that corridor, be that water of the Feni River, be that Ramapal power plant, be that Chittagong and Mangla ports, be that flooding the markets with cheap Indian products, be that accommodating 1.5 million Indian workers at the cost of local hands, be that sensitive appointments like the Army Chief and senior military and civil appointments, be that accommodating 25% Hindus–who form only 8% of the population–in the government service, and the list goes on. Yes, Hasina is going to China for money, weapons and investment which India could not provide. She needed the fund and projects to show the loot-oriented “growth” against destroyed democracy, crushed human rights and ignored rule of law, and above all, to run her fascism.
Then there is the political and intellectual personality of Bangladesh, Mahmudur Rahman, who in his patriotic and nationalist zeal outshines many others, in contradistinction with the present fascist Hasina regime’s vassal status in terms of its servile surrender to Hindu fundamentalist India. A national conscience/জাতীয় বিবেক, Rahman has also emerged as a nationalist hero/জাতীয়তাবাদী বীর by virtue of his brave and brilliant role by standing up to the brutal hostilities heaped upon him as well as the nation by the fascist regime since it came to power in January 2009.
A victim of the regime’s violent oppression, who was jailed and tortured again and again, Rahman is one of the most outspoken dissidents of Bangladesh never compromising with his patriotic principles or with Sheikh Hasina’s repressive and reprehensible pro-Indian yoke imposed on Bangladesh. He was also a media personality as editor of a popular daily, Amar Desh, shut down by the regime, as it did many other outlets in its sustained and systematic efforts to drastically curtail the freedom of press, currently to the extent of being nil to nothing.
Shouldering the burden of 118 politically cooked flimsy and fictitious lawsuits, Rahman has been crusading against the Indian-backed regime’s continued excesses of violence and vengeance. Along with other active nationalist fighters, Rahman has been challenging the regime for its subservient role under the complete control of India, letting Bangladesh slide deeper and deeper into the corrosive and cancerous Indian clutches of fanatical Hindu communalism.
Even Indian Opposition (Congress) leader Sonia Gandhi would accuse the BJP government of spreading the virus of communal Hindutva prejudice and hatred, rather than fighting or tackling Covid-19. The all-giving and all-yielding Hasina has been taking Bangladesh further into Hindutva India’s communal chains and shackles, exceedingly and disproportionately indeed, with no viable resistance whatsoever from any quarter—neither the masses nor the military nor the intellectuals nor the politicians, many of which have been silenced, coerced, frightened, intimidated, bought over or bailed out, except, however, a very few.
According to Rahman, who is currently in forced exile, the USA has handed over the guardianship of Bangladesh to India during the military-backed government of 2007-2008 when the newly elected President Barack Obama followed the India-centric South Asia policy, perhaps to the extent of being “the greatest culprit” as far as Bangladesh was concerned.
By means of having been an adviser to the past BNP-led Government, Rahman claims that he was privy to some of the developments during that mostly martial law period when there was an experimentation of the “minus-two” formula that aimed to exclude the two main political leaders and rivals, both women — Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina — from the political scene of Bangladesh. The following passage from his book The Political History of Muslim Bengal (that describes the Hasina government as a totally corrupt, illegal and fascist regime) helps understand the situation of Bangladesh in what he calls a South Asian chess board. He writes:
India and her client in Bangladesh emerged as the ultimate victor at the conclusion of the 1/11 experiment. As a country, Bangladesh has lost its sovereignty. As a people, we have lost our unique cultural identity, our rich Islamic heritage and, most importantly, our freedom. Nationalist and Islamic parties have lost their organizational strength, unity and political voice. The Bangladeshi Army has lost its courage, professionalism, self-respect and popular support. Interestingly, the USA is also a loser. By making Bangladesh a client state of India, Washington has lost all its influence in this emerging economy with a population of a hundred and sixty million mostly Sunni Muslims. As far as Bangladesh is concerned, the USA is no longer a decision-maker here, India dictates the terms which the world’s only superpower follows obediently. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ministers now regularly lampoon the USA. She has said many times in public, in the parliament and in press conferences, that she values geographically a nearer friend much more than a faraway one, indicating India and USA respectively.
In an email post, Rahman argues that Hasina and her repressive regime are not the only cause for the disaster of Bangladesh. Acceptance of idol-worshipping Hindu culture in the name of the misleading Bengali/Bungalee nationalism (as radically different from the sane and sound and far-reaching patriotic ideology of Bangladeshi nationalism) by her supporters has greatly weakened the Iman (faith in Islam) of many Bangladesh Muslims, who are already under the influence of the illiberal regime’s fear and pressure. They have accepted the myth of Hindu superiority in consequence of their identity crisis and inferiority complex.
Due to an anti-Islamic false propaganda by Hindus and their cohorts among the so-called Muslims, all backed by the regime or subject to its coercion and intimidation, Bangladesh has some “Islamophobic” so-called secularist-atheist intellectuals, Muslim in name. Unlike the Hindu majority Nepal and Buddhist majority Bhutan and Sri Lanka, all of which stood up to Indian hegemony, Bangladesh has slavishly accepted Indian imperialist domination. While those neighboring countries protested and have fought with their limited capacity, both politically and militarily, against Indian expansionism, Bangladesh has shamelessly jumped into an embrace of Indian occupation in all across its spectrum — political, religious, cultural, economic and military.
Mahmudur Rahman’s views are echoed by Surendra Kumar Sinha, former Chief Justice of Bangladesh. (Ironically, a few years ago, the former was a victim of the latter’s politically motivated dispensation of “justice” but now the two opposite and antagonistic sides have come together on the issue). Initially pro-Hasina and serving at her pleasure, to the extent of being deadly to her political foes, Justice Sinha, a member of Hindu minority, was later ousted by Hasina for challenging the Awami-sponsored 16th Constitutional Amendment (that suited her nefarious political purpose) and not being as blind and biased (or as loyal) as she wanted him to be as before. In his book A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy (16 September 2018), Sinha writes:
The black chapter is that it [India] is behaving as ‘big brother’ with us instead of being an ‘elder brother.’ It has diverted waters from all the rivers flowing into Bangladesh causing serious environmental and ecological imbalance in our country particularly in Northern Bangladesh. The balance of trade and commerce is also lopsidedly in favor of India and these have caused much anxiety among most of the people. It has been purposely and intentionally supporting a government which has no respect for democracy, rule of law and human rights. Corruption is rampant, forced disappearances of citizens by security forces are a regular feature, and violation and discrimination based on gender, religion, affiliations are persistent. The government is run largely with the support of the security services. Terrorism is increasing daily and the more the government will depend on the security forces as a tool to remain in power, the more terrorism and fanaticism will rise. People cannot be ruled with the help of security forces consistently violating the civil rights of the citizens. No autocratic government can rule the country for an indefinite period. Unless democracy and the rule of law are established, the sentiments of the people will keep rising against the tyrannical government and it will go against India as well, because India is seen to be propping up an autocratic government for its own interests […] All that was possible only due to the weakness of the opposition political party, the support of a neighboring regional superpower and the judiciary’s [weak? partisan?] role. Everybody assumed that there would be fresh elections within two years. But all assessments proved false due to the unconditional support of the neighboring powerful country, India.
Justice Sinha “has urged India to support the rule of law and democracy in his country, saying the Indian government should not ignore the will of the people by backing the ‘undemocratic’ and ‘autocratic’ Awami League-led government.”
*Q M Jalal Khan is author of Bangladesh: Political and Literary Reflections on a Divided Country (Peter Lang, 2018) and Bangladesh Divided: Political and Literary Reflections on a Corrupt Police and Prison State (Peter Lang, 2019), in addition to numerous other publications on literature and culture. After disengaging from many years of full-time teaching abroad, American-educated Dr Khan is currently on the adjunct faculty at an institution of higher learning in North America. His recent work, “Sheikh Hasina’s Brutal BNP-Phobia and Her Scandalous “Midnight” Power Grab Through Vampire Vote Dacoity and Villainous “S/Election” Rigging With an All-Time High Record of Humongous White-Collar Corruption” has appeared in Sabria Chowdhury Balland (ed), Bangladesh: A Suffering People Under State Terrorism (Peter Lang, 2020).
https://bangla.bdnews24.com/neighbour/article1750516.bdnews; https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/bjp-spreading-virus-of-communal-prejudice-hatred-in-country-sonia-gandhi/articleshow/75314416.cms; monitorbd.news/2018/01/09/দিল্লি-থেকেই-এখন-বাংলাদে/; “মাহমুদুর রহমানের বক্তব্য, ০২ জুন ২০১৮ ইং” on YouTube, https://youtu.be/TYm5RA-v-0U; Mahmudur Rahman, The Political History of Muslim Bengal: An unfinished battle of faith (UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019), p. 302; PDF copy: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Fhee6W1159LY0TXYJqrDY1tlfoGEwuT7/view, P. 516-517; www.newagebd.net/article/52269/sinha-cautions-india-against-bangladesh-govt