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FACING INTERNAL THREATS TO NATION'S INTEGRITY

THE ALERT and organised manner in which the Swayamsevaks have responded to the challenges of external aggression has been equally in evidence in dealing with internal threats to the nation's integrity. Such threats have begun to loom large especially in regions where the Hindus are in a minority.


Defeating Forces of Separatism in Kashmir

The sorrows of Jammu and Kashmir did not end with its accession to Bharat and the throwing out of Pakistani invaders by the Indian Army in 1947. Another equally grave threat began developing from inside Kashmir itself seriously threatening the integrity of Bharat and the future of Hindus in that State.

Up to 1947, Sheikh Abdullah's activity was mostly limited to the valley where he spread his 'hate Jammu, hate Hindus' venom and had launched a powerful separatist movement in the name of Muslim Conference and in the guise of progressive slogans. In style he was dictatorial, oppressive and vengeful; in design, communal and separatist. He introduced party dictatorship. The press was gagged. Those voicing dissent were detained without rhyme or reason. Students opposing the dictates of the ruling party were rusticated. The party apparatus of the Muslim Conference had virtually taken over the administration and sidelined the Government machinery. It became fashionable to sport all that was separatist—a separate Prime Minister, an independent judiciary, a separate flag, a separate Head of State, a separate passport system (in the form of permits).

The State was put under the Ministry of External Affairs of Bharat, and not the Home Ministry like other States. No leader from outside the State was expected to lend his ears to the cries of the people of Kashmir. From the Congress point of view, the State was an exclusive preserve of the Sheikh, and all that he said and did had to be meekly accepted by them.

At the other end, Jammu's politics at that time was run on caste and biradari lines and no political party representing all sections of society on democratic basis existed. That arrangement became ineffective and irrelevant after 1947 when, by a conspiracy of circumstances, Sheikh Abdullah was catapulted to power and he landed on the political scene of Jammu with his communal and anti-Jammu blitzkrieg.

The need for a political party on democratic lines was therefore acutely felt. The Sheikh's separatist postures began putting the nationalist elements in the State on the alert. Some Swayamsevaks decided to fill the vacuum with a view to facing the threat of storm gathering on the political horizon of the State. They founded a political party in November 1947, by the name of Praja Parishad. The Parishad threw an open challenge to the Sheikh, by declaring as its objectives (a) full and final accession of the State to India, (b) abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, (c) one President, one Flag, and one Constitution for the entire nation including Jammu and Kashmir, (d) ending of the policy of discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh and the Hindu minorities, and (f) dismissal of Sheikh's Government. And still later, when a special status for the State of Jammu and Kashmir was accorded constitutional sanction through Article 370, the Praja Parishad included, in all its subsequent agitations, the abrogation of that Article as one of its demands.

The gravity of the prevalent situation left the Praja Parishad with no other option except to resort to struggle. For, no steps had been taken to implement the terms of even the limited agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Nehru as announced in the Parliament in July 1952. On the other hand, the Centre had acceded to Abdullah's demands for a separate Head of State, a separate Constitution and a separate Flag for the State.

After 1947, the Congress leaders had vigorously advertised the Sheikh as a beacon of secularism. He was painted as the tallest among nationalists and it was considered blasphemous to doubt him. This had made him invulnerable against criticism. Even the iron man of Bharat, Sardar Patel, Deputy Prime Minister of India, had to eat the humble pie in a showdown between him and the Sheikh when, at the latter's behest, Jammu and Kashmir State was taken out of the Home Ministry and placed under the administrative control of the External Affairs Ministry in 1948.


A STRUGGLE: UNIQUE AND MATCHLESS

During the brief period of five years from its inception in 1947, the Praja Parishad waged three main struggles in the years 1948, 1950-51 and 1952-53 against the communal, anti-Jammu and separatist policies of Sheikh Abdullah.

The Praja Parishad Satyagraha launched in December 1952 stands unmatched in many respects. Neither separatist demands nor special privileges, but full and total integration and demand for joining the mainstream of Bharat—well, could there have been anything more patriotic than this? And still the Government of Independent Bharat chose to despatch Special Reserve Police from other provinces to help Sheikh Abdullah to crush the movement. Huge processions of non-violent Satyagrahis, including hundreds of women, in scores of places, were brutally caned and fired upon. En masse arrests and confiscation of properties went on. The venerable 75-year-old leader of the movement, Pandit Prem Nath Dogra, the State Sanghachalak, was thrown behind bars.

Every possible calumny was poured on the head of Praja Parishad by the Central Government to defame it in the eyes of the countrymen. Total press censorship was clamped and entry into Kashmir of plain-speaking papers like Organiser was banned.

The Praja Parishad leaders realised the paramount need for educating the leaders and people in the rest of Bharat about the goings on in Jammu and Kashmir. Pandit Prem Nath Dogra, released after 18 months of incarceration, and other Parishad leaders undertook a tour of Delhi and other major cities of the country, and addressed public meetings and held press conferences. Their delegations met the President of Bharat, Union Ministers, Members of Parliament and leaders of political parties. They also talked to a cross-section of the rest of the intelligentsia and apprised them of the dangerous political situation prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir. Their efforts soon began bearing fruit. Once a taboo, criticism of the Sheikh soon began to be articulated in the Parliament and the press. Leaders of public opinion, casting aside their differences, began evincing keen interest in the affairs of that State.

Credit must go to Bharatiya Jana Sangh for taking the lead at the national level against the ominous trends of separatism in Kashmir. Under its lead, over 15,000 Delhi citizens marched and congregated outside the Parliament House on 26th June 1952 when the Parliament was scheduled to debate the Kashmir issue. Patriotic slogans affirming the unity of the country rent the air. Dr. Shyma Prasad Mukherji, Ramachandra Reddi, Sardar Hukam Singh, N. C. Chatterjee and other MPs came out of the chambers to receive the demonstrators.

The historic convention of the Praja Parishad held in August 1952 in Jammu unanimously resolved that Kashmir State accede fully to Bharat. "In case Kashmiris are not so inclined," the resolution declared, "Jammu and Ladakh will fully accede to and fully integrate with Bharat without any reservation whatsoever." Prior to that, the whirlwind tour of Dr. Mukherji, V. G. Deshyande, Pandit Prem Nath Dogra and other leaders had literally set the whole of Jammu on a war footing.

The movement, as days went on, turned into a veritable storm of people's protest. The end of December saw the call of "No integration—no taxation." The canard spread by Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Nehru that the movement was communal was laid low when the Muslims too joined the movement in hundreds. Whole villages joined the march of the Satyagrahis at Chamb, a border town to the west of Jammu. The Satyagrahis went up to the tehsil building to hoist the National Tri colour. One of them, Melaram, a Swayamsevak, was shot down by the police. The dead Melaram with the Tricolour in his hand now became the fiery symbol of struggle and sacrifice for the whole of Jammu.

The volcanic discontent of Jammu was sought to be put down by a reign of terror and oppression. Appeal for reason and wiser counsels by Dr. Mukherji to Pandit Nehru were spurned. Dozens of responsible workers of Sangh, Jana Sangh and Hindu Mahasabha were rounded up in Delhi. Their offices were swooped upon and searched. Satyagrahis belonging to Hindu Mahasabha and Rama Rajya Parishad had also joined the national movement.

In the neighbouring Punjab also, the same tale of brutal lathi-charges and tear gassing was repeated. Hundreds of nonviolent Satyagrahis had their limbs and heads broken. Even respected citizens and ladies were not spared. In Uttar Pradesh too a general round-up and reign of oppression were let loose on Jana Sangh workers. Harassment and ill-treatment went on inside jails also. But oppression only sharpened the Satyagrahis' resolve. Pandit Ramnarayan Shastri, President, All-lndia Ayurvedic Mahatabha, was brutally beaten up in Delhi. Due to kicking, slapping and beating by the police he began profusely bleeding from the head and fell unconscious. At that time Shastri was the personal physician to Begum Abdullah. Sivadhar Pandey, Head of the Department of English, Allahabad University, was another victim. Merciless blows had bled him so much that he succumbed to a terrible nervous breakdown. Prof. Pandey, it must be remembered, had taught the Delhi District Magistrate and a score of MPs including four Central Ministers.

In the meanwhile, Dr. Mukherji's whirlwind tour of several provinces continued. By then, the entry of 11 dailies and weeklies into Kashmir had been banned and publication of four others in Kashmir suspended.

In Kashmir, Kushak Bakula, the undisputed Ladakh leader, declared his support for full integration of Kashmir with Bharat. He warned that in case steps were not taken to do so, there was the danger of Ladakhis' going over to Tibet.

The Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (the All-India General Council) of the Sangh, in March 1953, severely condemned the repressive policy of the Central and Jammu and Kashmir Governments against the Satyagrahis and urged them to heed to the just and patriotic demands of the Praja Parishad.

The climax came when Dr. Mukherji himself decided on his final march to Jammu. On 11th May 1953, as he entered the Jammu region at Madhopur bridge, he was presented with an order banning his entry. Dr. Mukherji defied the order and was promptly whisked away and kept under detention. That marked a new wave of resistance all over the country with the rallying cry of Jammu Chalo with MPs and eminent leaders in various provinces jumping into the fire of struggle.

By June, firings and killings because of shoot-at-sight orders had taken a toll of 37 lives in Jammu. There was a brutal lathicharge on the Satyagrahis, including Prem Nath Dogra, in the Jammu jail. Soon the National (previously, the Muslim) Conference of Abdullah too had to change its stance. 14 out of 19 of its Working Committee Members voted for closer integration with Bharat.


THE PRICE OF SUPREME SACRIFICE

The sudden and unexpected news of Dr. Mukherji's death in jail on the 23rd of June shook the country to its depths. The giant who had entered Kashmir hale and hearty was returned dead. Evidence began trickling out that the death was not a natural one. The circumstances pointed to a clear case of medical murder. For the first time, the national press began speaking openly about the intrigues of Sheikh Abdullah for carving out an independent Kashmir.

In the meanwhile, the pro-Pakistan lobby had also become active seeking to fish in troubled waters. Clamour for plebiscite in Kashmir became loud. The Praja Parishad was quick in laying bare the ruse behind it for pushing Kashmir into the Pakistani arms. Shri Guruji, at a Nagpur function in August 1953, declared:

"If at all a plebiscite is to be held on the Kashmir issue, it should be held all over the country and not confined to Kashmir State alone. Limiting it merely to Kashmir would be an act of treachery to the whole country."

Came the anti-climax, as sudden as it was unexpected. On 9th August 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed and arrested. His plot had been exposed. Even Pandit Nehru could not save him when he was confronted with incontrovertible evidence of the Sheikh's intended coup on 21st August. On that day, the Sheikh had planned to arrest the Sadar-e-Riasat, suppress all pro-Bharat voices, declare Kashmir free and independent, and seek UNO's protection against Bharat. The previous record of that international body and its agents in Kashmir was such as to leave no one in doubt that the imperialist countries were only too ready to oblige the Sheikh.

Thus was vindicated the patriotic stand of the great movement of Praja Parishad spearheaded by the Swayamsevaks; thus was saved Kashmir, the jewel crown of Bharat. In fact, it turned out to be a Second Freedom Struggle for the patriotic people of Jammu and Kashmir—but with a difference. This time, the fight had to be waged against our own free independent national Government. The trail of tears and blood left behind by that struggle has now at last been sanctified in the fulfilment, though posthumously, of the life-dream of martyrs, both Swayamsevaks and others.

The dismissal and arrest of Sheikh Abdullah signified the beginning of a basic change in the perception of the Government of India in respect of Kashmir. The road was paved for a number of further steps taken subsequently at the State and Central levels for the further integration of the State. Some of them can be noted here:

i. The permit system then in vogue to regulate entry and exit of persons into and from the State was abolished. Prior to that, no State subject could visit the rest of the country nor could any Indian from other States of the Union visit Jammu and Kashmir without the permission of the State Government granted under a permit.

ii. Financial integration of the State with the Union was effected and jurisdiction of the Comptroller General of India extended to Jammu and Kashmir. The State had till then its independent financial system.

iii. The National Flag also became the Flag of Jammu and Kashmir.

iv. The Head of the State was designated as Governor instead of Sadar-e-Riyasat and later the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir as its Chief Minister.

v. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India and the Chief Election Commissioner of India was extended to the State.

vi. Scores of Central Laws previously not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir came to be applied to the State.

The Praja Parishad took a historic decision in 1954 to end its regional identity and merge with an all-Bharat party—the Bharatiya Jana Sangh—so as to draw the state politics into the national mainstream.


Protest Against Potential 'Mini-Pakistan'

As soon as the Muslim League became entrenched in the Communist-led United Front Ministry in Kerala in 1967, it started agitating, in pursuance of its pre-Partition dream of Moplastan, for a separate Muslim-majority district. Significantly, this move was preceded by the formation of a special coastal navy unit by Pakistan with 10,000 Kerala Muslims to man it.

Choudhary Rahamat Ali, who is reputed to be the first to propound the concept of Pakistan (which however was actually formulated by the British bureaucrats in London) had included Moplastan as one among those independent states which were to confederate with other states to form the 'Commonwealth of Pakasia'. Later still, in a letter written by the Muslim League President, Mohammed Ismail, to the League member of Parliament, C. T. Seethi Saheb, on 28th June 1947, he said: "I talked to Quaid-e-Azam about the movement for the formation of separate Moplastan. His advice is that we have to put the demand in the future Hindusthan Constituent Assembly. Anyway, a movement outside the Assembly also is desirable. When the proper time comes, we can link it with Pakistan."

When the Communist-led United Front Government succumbed to the League's pressure tactics and acceded to the carving out of the Muslim-majority district of Malappuram, the entire national press denounced it in unequivocal terms. Hindustan Times, in a special article, termed it as a 'dubious' and 'sinister' move which was bound to create a communal problem where none existed before. The Times of India feared that pampering the League, 'a chronic divisive force in Kerala's affairs', by the creation of Malappuram may 'give rise to similar demands not only within the State but alsc, outside'. Hindustan Standard of Calcutta bluntly said: "The creation of Moplastan is a security risk which could become a fertile ground for Pakistani propaganda." The Free Press Journal of Bombay carried a special article titled: 'Kerala's Mini-Pak Plan Spells Danger'. It said: "The Communists and the Muslim communalists have joined hands in a conspiracy to disrupt national unity by constitutional means."

Sensing the danger implied in the patently anti-national gang-up of the Communist leadership with the disruptive Muslim League, a powerful agitation was launched under the leadership of K. Kelappan, a veteran Gandhian and freedom fighter, and spearheaded by the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Batches of Satyagrahis numbering between 30 and 40 started daily picketing the collectorate of Calicut from 2nd June 1969. On.6th June, the day the new district was announced, a batch of 50 Satyagrahis, led by Kelappan, offered Satyagraha. This was followed by a huge procession of black flag demonstrators. Bacharaj Vyas, the all-India President of Jana Sangh who offered Satyagraha, was jailed for a fortnight. As days went by, Satyagrahis began pouring from different provinces and swelled into thousands.

At the same time, Ibrahim Suleman Sait, Muslim League MP, in a way substantiated the worst fears of the nationalist sections and justified the rationale behind the Satyagraha when he said, "the formation of the separate Muslim district had inspired and exhilarated the Muslims all over India."

Soon after, administrative measures followed to give a practical shape to the dream of Moplastan. The proposed Calicut University for which the foundation-stone was laid 13 kilometres north of Calicut was shifted to 20 kilometres south, so as to locate it in the Malappuram district. An Arabic moulvi was inducted as the Dean of Faculty of oriental Studies in the new university. The university started with six Muslim colleges, including two Arabic colleges for the exclusive study of Arabic and Urdu, and only one Hindu private college. Since then, the same process of Islamisation of the district has continued to this day.


Warning Against Silent Foreign Invasion

The partition of the country has given birth to a new kind of threat to our national integrity and sovereignty, especially in the border areas. This is due to the systematic efforts being carried on to reduce the Hindu majority by sustained infiltration of Muslims from Pakistan in the western side and more massively from Bangladesh in the eastern side. A slogan that often played on the lips of the pro-Pakistani elements in our country was, Hans ke liya Pakistan, Ladhke ienge Hindusthan ('Smiling we got Pakistan, fighting we shall take Hindusthan'). But with the planned and massive infiltration by Muslims from across the border, they might now well change the slogan Ladhke lenge Hindusthan into Chuske lenge Hindusthan ('Infiltrating, we shall take Hindusthan').


IN ASSAM

Even prior to Partition, there was a planned silent invasion of Bengali Muslims into Assam. As early as in 1906, Samiullah Khan, the Nawab of Dacca, had exhorted the Bengali Muslims to move into Assam and convert it into a Muslim-majority state. The Census Commissioner of Assam, in his Census Reports of 1921 and 1931, had warned: "If the invasion of East Bengal Muslims into Assam continues unabated like this, fifty years hence the whole population pattern would be drastically changed and the present Assamese cultural life would remain only in Sibsagar District." However, the influx continued and under the Muslim League ministry in Bengal in 1939, it developed into a massive flow. Even after 1947, the infiltration continued with the active connivance of the Muslim ministers in the Congress Cabinet in Assam.

It was ironic in the extreme that while prior to 1947 the Bengali Muslim influx into Assam was strongly criticised by the top national leaders like Gandhiji, Subhas Chandra Bose, Savarkar and even Nehru, after 1947 the Congress ministry in Assam itself should have turned into an instrument in helping infiltration. Among the all-Bharat leaders, it was left to Shri Guruji alone to continue to administer, right from early fifties, stern warning to the Government and to the people of Assam, about the looming threat posed by infiltration to the safety and security of not only Assam but to the entire country.

After his first visit to Assam in 1950-51, Shri Guruji wrote in detail to the Prime Minister about the continuing flow into Assam of the East Pakistani Muslims and the increasing dangers it posed. In 1964-65, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh took the lead in forming an influential anti-infiltration committee. The committee submitted a memorandum to the Assam Governor and the Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri. The Government conceded the fact of large-scale infiltration into our country. Soon after, the Home Minister, Gulzarilal Nanda, and the Home Secretary, L. P. Singh, visited Assam along with the Central Intelligence Chief, Mullick. As a result of their on-the-spot study and assessment, special tribunals were instituted. After a thorough inquiry, 220,000 persons were identified as foreign nationals and were pushed back. Right from the early sixties, Alok, an Assamese weekly run by Swayamsevaks, played a notable role in alerting the people of Assam about the growing volume of infiltration and the disastrous consequences flowing out of it.

The hydra-headed threat the 3.5 million strong Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators are posing to Assam has come to be recognised all over the country only in recent years—largely because of the massive anti-infiltration agitation launched by AASU— the All-Assam Students Union—since 1978. However, it was Balasaheb Deoras who was the first to put the problem in a proper perspective. He declared that the Hindus who were streaming into Assam were 'refugees' being hounded out by the Bangladeshi Islamic regime; and Bharat was under a moral obligation to give refuge and protection to them. On the other hand, the Bangladeshi Muslims whose influx into Assam is being engineered by the Bangladeshi regime in pursuance of the decadesold design of converting it into Islamic Assam, are infiltrators'. Balasaheb also warned the Assamese Hindus of the dreadful fate awaiting any part of the country that would be reduced to a Hindu-minority area. History bears witness to the fact that all such parts had been cut asunder from the motherland and the Hindus there liquidated. Balasaheb emphasised in all his public speeches—more so in Assam—the paramount need for maintaining Assam a predominantly Hindu province.

With a view to bringing home this right perspective of the situation to all sections of Hindus and to strengthen the spirit of consolidation among them, a series of 27 Hindu conferences was organised by the VHP throughout Assam and other States in the North-East. A sustained pamphleteering campaign was undertaken to educate the Hindu masses, especially in the rural areas, about the Muslim designs and how they have to face it unitedly.

Right from the early fifties, Shri Guruji had been laying bare the tactics of Muslims of inciting the Assamese Hindus against the Bengali Hindus and vice versa, in the name of language, and indulging in atrocities on both, taking sides as it suited them. Since then, Swayamsevaks have been straining their utmost to iron out the prejudices between the Assamese Hindus and other sections of Hindus, particularly the Bengalis.

The role of ABVP in generating awareness of the seriousness of the Assam problem at the all-Bharat level is significant. It demanded a thorough constituency-wise checking and deletion of names of foreigners from the electoral rolls and, in 1981, submitted a memorandum to that effect to Shakdhar, the Election Commissioner. The national convention organised by A.BVP at New Delhi in January 1981 proved to be a landmark in taking the Assam issue to the national stage. Its campaign of 'Save Assam today to save India tomorrow', launched on 15th August 1983, drew tremendous response from all over the country. T op leaders of political parties, eminent journalists and Sarvodaya leaders from Assam and Bengal demanded with one voice the holding of tripartite talks between the leaders of the AASU, the Government and the opposition parties to solve the problem. It demanded the detection of foreigners, deletion of their names from the electoral rolls and their deportation on the basis of 1961 Census, and also the publication of National Register of Citizens of 1951. This was followed by a fortnight-long countrywide 'Save Assam' campaign involving over 250 district conventions.

The climax was reached on 2nd October 1983, Gandhi Jayanti day, with Satyagrahis converging at Guwahati from all corners of the country. The Judges Field was the venue fixed for the Satyagraha. In spite of searches and detentions in trains and every possible check-points, nearly one thousand Satyagrahis reached the venue of the meeting. When the police ordered them to disperse, they firmly said, "Either allow us to submit our charter of demands to the Governor or arrest us." The police did neither. They resorted to lathi-charge, beating and kicking, not sparing even the girl Satyagrahis. The peaceful Satyagrahis bore it all with shouts of Bharat Mata ki jai on their lips. They neither ran nor reacted. They simply squatted with bleeding heads and swollen limbs—a real birthday homage to Gandhiji !

Finally, the police realised the futility of the lathi. They arrested them all, took them to distant places in Meghalaya and other jungle areas, where also they were harassed and tortured. Leading newspapers of Assam gave a graphic account of the Satyagraha with bold headlines like 'Gandhians beaten on Gandhi Jayanti day.'


IN BENGAL

In West Bengal, however, the Assam movement was viewed as a potential threat to itself. Papers and leaders had darkly hinted that the Bengalis residing in Assam would be driven out which would cause their influx into their provinces. The ABVP strove to set right this misconception. It set up a comprehensive Poorvanchal Anti-Infiltration Committee to highlight the wider dimensions of the threat of infiltrators invading several provinces including Bengal. At the convention organised in Calcutta, leaders from Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Tripura, Rajasthan and Gujarat read papers giving out authentic facts and figures regarding their provinces and the problems created by infiltration. In Fehruary 1984, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the present Chief Minister of Assam, and eminent men in public life from other provinces like Justice H. R. Khanna, Jagjeet Singh Aurora, Ram Jethmalani and Samar Guha participated in the convention. For the first time, the Calcutta public were exposed to the gravity of the tragedy in which Bengal also was equally involved. Demands for special census in border districts and institution of a National Register of Citizens were made.

To this day, little is known outside Bengal about the volume of infiltration into West Bengal. Till recently, even West Bengal public were hardly aware of the lengthening shadow of that threat over them. The reason is simple. Both the dominant political groups, the Left Front and the Congress, dared not rub the Muslims on the wrong side. They look upon the Bangladeshis as their vote-banks. The major credit for bringing into public focus the real magnitude of this threat should go to Seemanta Shanti O Suraksha Samiti. With Niharendu Datta Muzamdar, an old-time associate of Subhas Chandra Bose, as its chairman, the Samiti has distinguished citizens who had served as Law Minister, Ambassador, Accountant General, etc., as its members. On the basis of extensive probes by workers, the Samiti has come out with the estimated numbers of Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators not only in West Bengal but in various other provinces and cities also. Besides West Bengal and Assam having over 5 million each, Bihar accounts for 1.2 million; Tripura, Manipur, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir States ranging from I to 2 lakhs each; and Hyderabad, Bhopal, Delhi, Bombay, each ranging from about 0.5 to 3 lakhs.

Infiltrators from Pakistan also have partly contributed to these numbers—more so in cities and provinces bordering Pakistan. The Samiti has highlighted the fact that the census of 1981 had shown that five districts of West Bengal and six districts of Assam had already become Muslim-majority.

It is only recently that the West Bengal press seem to have woken up to the gravity of the problem. They are now coming out with devastating details. The Statesman (3rd November 1985) reported that over the past decade half-a-million Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators had entered West Bengal every year and had stayed back. Ananda Bazar Patrika (22nd November 1985) gave out the startling news of the issue of ration-cards several millions in excess of the population of West Bengal. Bartaman, a Bengali daily, stated: "In the border districts of West Bengal the Indian citizens have become refugees in their own homeland because of depredations by Muslim marauders from across the border. Even the normal performance of religious ceremonies and festive gatherings have become risky for the Hindus there."

The Government too started moving after the Samiti stepped up its publicity campaign through press-meets, public meetings, deputations, etc. Arun Nehru, a Minister of State at the Centre, announced trebling of BSF forces, increase of the number of outposts and watch-towers to six times. The formation of a special task-force was also announced. For the first time, Rajiv Gandhi raised the issue of infiltration with President Ershad of Bangladesh. The Samiti leaders undertook tours of several districts, addressed the public, Bar Councils and the press and held discussions with the workers. A couple of whole-time Sangh pracharaks have been on the move incessantly covering the entire State for building the organisational network of the Samiti. Just before the last elections to the West Bengal Assembly, the Samiti addressed a petition to the Chief Election Commissioner urging him to carry out a thorough revision of the electoral rolls, as otherwise scores of constituencies would be dominated by the foreigners' votes. The Commission did not deny the need for it, but pleaded practical difficulties like want of staff, etc. The fast-spreading Shakhas in the border-areas of West Bengal have helped fortify the Hindu morale in facing the Bangladeshi threat. Swayamsevaks and the VHP workers have been striving to stop further infiltration. As a result of these efforts, at some places, the new infiltrators find it hard to cross the borders. The workers are also helping the authorities in identifying and expelling the entrenched infiltrators. In this onerous task, besides facing Muslim opposition, they have often to encounter opposition from interested political groups.


IN BIHAR

The ABVP workers are actively engaged in waking up the Bihar Government, the press and people about the growing threat from Bangladesh infiltration. Armed with facts and figures, they have shown how the claim of the administration in respect of tackling the problem is a mere eye-wash, and how both the Congress (I) and the Communists are busy shielding the Bangladeshis with an eye on the latter's vote-banks. In a memorandum submitted to the authorities, the ABVP has demanded that a tribunal be set up in each district to go into the question of infiltration and identification, based on the Panchayat Act of 1956, the 1951 Census Reports and the 1952 voters list. As a first step, the ABVP workers began registering complaints against 20,000 entries in the electoral rolls.


IN RAJASTHAN

Infiltration from the Pakistan border is a constant problem in Rajasthan especially in the border districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer. During 1985-86, when allotment of the land was to begin in the wake of Rajasthan Canal Project, influx of Pakistani Muslims increased perceptibly. They began submitting applications for land allotment. Local Muslims also joined hands in registering false claims in hundreds. 1'he Swayamsevaks promptly met the concerned authorities and placed before them the real state of affairs. The names of those Muslims who had opted for Pakistan during 1965 and 1971 wars and had now returned to lay claim to fertile lands were published in newspapers. As a result, their applications were rejected.

For the first time, on the initiative of Swayamsevaks, a comprehensive memorandum elaborating the many-sided problems and dangers posed by infiltrators was presented by the Seema Janakalyan Samiti to the Prime Minister on 10th August 1985 when he visited Jaisalmer. For half an hour, the Samiti members posted the P.M. in person with relevant details and gave a memorandum The suggestion made therein that identification cards be issued to those residing in border areas was later accepted and brought into force. One more memorandum was submitted to the Governor by the Samiti on 9th January 1986. Articles and news-items published in newspapers gave wide publicity to the problem.

These sustained efforts had their desired effect. Procedures for issuing identification cards to residents came to be streamlined by early 1988. Earlier, hundreds used to take advantage of defective and inadequate procedures; ration cards were being misused, and many corrupt sarpanchs used to abet all such anti national acts. Now rules are being tightened. This has helped in controlling the pace of infiltration to a considerable extent.


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