Published:  02:49 AM, 14 September 2019

Why the percentage of religious minorities is declining over the decades

Archaeologi-cally and mythologically different religious-caste-ethnic groups emerged at different times in India. However, the first religious group of people of the region were known as 'Hindus'.

The rise of Buddhists started with the advent of Buddhism in 528 BC, while the rise of Islam followers in India started after the arrival of Muslims in 712 AD. Also, the existence of Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and few other religious groups was found in India at a very small number at different times.

As a result, at the beginning of twentieth century, there was existence of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis along with few other ethnic groups of people. Despite their co-existence, there were conflicts among different religious groups in the then British India.

With the introduction of modern education system including English in India in 1835, the door to the knowledge of Indians in history, literature, culture, politics and sociology opened.As a result, the desire for independence began to awaken.

For this purpose, the activities of two different political parties began with the establishment of the 'Indian National Congress' in 1885 and the 'All India Muslim League' in 1906after the 'Sepoy Revolution' that took place in 1857.

The eastern part of the then India was politically and administratively most difficult for the British.Therefore, by the policy of 'Divide and Rule', they split the greater Bengal through the formation of a new province in the name of 'East Bengal and Assam' in 1905, and there were found to be 59.5% Muslim and 39.5% Hindu populations in the total population in this new province.

The Hindus became minority in the population in 'East Bengal and Assam' due to the division of Bengal, whereas they were always majority in the undivided Bengal.

In fact, the Hindus had opposed the split of Bengal since the process started and the day after the division of Bengal, there was severe political unrest created throughout the whole Eastern part of India. As a result, the British had to reunite two parts of Bengal on 12 December 1911.

In this way, even though the Hindus were complacent due to dissolution of the partition, the Muslims were frustrated and outraged. Due to the partition of Bengal, the dissolution of the partition, the introduction of a separate electoral system etc., the differences between the Hindus and the Muslims became sharpener.

In an attempt to alleviate the outrage caused among comparatively backward Muslims, the British rulers set up the University of Dhaka on 01 July 1921. In establishing this university, properties of the residential hostels were determined based on religions of the students.

In spite of differences between Hindus and Muslims, the independence movement of the subcontinent continued not only in the province of Bengal, but throughout India.

In 1935, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned home from South Africa, took over the leadership of the Congress party and started the independence movement of India by introducing anti-apartheid& politics of non-communalism in a non-violent way.

Almost at the same time, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who returned from London, started politics under the Congress's flag to achieve a united India's independence through Hindu-Muslim unity.

At this stage, in the All India Muslim League Conference held at Lahore on March 23, 1940, Sher-e-Bangla A K Fazlul Haque formally proposed for establishing more than one independent states for the Muslims on the basis of 'two-nation theory'.

Though surprising, it was fact that Mohammed Ali Jinnah, one of the most influential spokesmen of the secular and undivided India, presided over the meeting while proposing the proposal at Lahore.

It is to be noted that on the basis of the religious identity of 'Hindus' and 'Muslims', a strange 'two-nation' theory was discovered by calling them 'Hindu Nation' and 'Muslim Nation'. As a result, communal riots broke out in different parts of India seeking new levels of enmity between Hindus and Muslims.

Among those, the 'Great Calcutta Killing' in August 1946 upon so-called 'direct action' instigated by Jinnah for implementation of Pakistan and in October of the same year, the 'Noakhali Riot' became the most horrifying and disgusting. Thousands of people were killed in those communal riots and millions of people got everything lost.

In the realm of riots and chaos, Indiawas divided and given independence on August 14 & 15 in 1947 in the original name of 'India' in one part and to create another strange new state called 'Pakistan'.

Thepains of this immature birth ofa new state, specially the division of Bengal and Punjab,resulted Hindu-Muslim-Sikh riots throughout these two regions that killed aroundhalf a million people and in all, around 12 million people migrated, which have been marked as rare instances of anarchic situations and atrocities in the contemporary world history afterWorld War II.

Religious minorities, of which about 99 percent were Hindus, became automatically unwanted overnight in their own homelands in Pakistan, a strange state that was created by the scandalous 'two-nation' theory.

Because, the only explanation of that religion-based theory was that Pakistan was a state created only for Muslims. As a result, from 14 August 1947, the large population of other ethnic groups instantaneously became aliens in their own homelands. Millions of minorities were bound to start migrating, while the process of forcible expulsion began with state sponsorshipfor those who did not want to emigrate.

Not only conducting atrocities on religious minorities, but Pakistan Government also chalked-out master plan to cripple them economically. To this end, they issued the 'Enemy Property (Custody and Regulation) Order II of 1965' and the 'East Pakistan Enemy Property (Lands and Building) Administration and Disposal Order of 1966' in order to consolidate the earlier order.

The infamous act known as the 'Enemy Property Act' during the Pakistani regimewhich was re-named as the 'Vested Property Act' after the independence of Bangladesh crippled almost every Hindu family in Bangladesh, many of them lost everything, and they migrated.

Against the wrongdoings of the communal groups, the progressive forces in favor of the independence of 1971, at various stages of movement and elections in 1952, '56, '62, '66, '67, '69 and `70,led by unanimous leader of the Bengali Nation- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, were based on secular consciousness and ideology.

The inhabitants of this land got a damn opportunity to express truly over everything only once in 1971 that they are 'Bengali' by Nation. The 'Bengali' ethnicity and nationality made the people of this region fearless to fight in the aspiration of independence irrespective of castes or religions. But, also in this case, Hindus, as a religiously homogeneous community, became one of the main targets of Pakistani invading forces and their allies.

The Hindus are the largest unique community in the country, who have sacrificed proportionately highest numberof lives in the war of liberation, Pakistani army gang rapped the women of this community at the highest in number, Hindus abundantly lost their wealth & other belongings and they were the highest in number, i.e.

almost 95%, among 10 million ofrefugees in India during nine months of liberation war of Bangladesh. However, with the emerge of a non-communal independent Bangladesh, each of the Hindu refugees returned to their homeland.

Because, they expected that they would never have communal black bears in the land due to its inborn characteristics. Nevertheless, the communal forces attacked and vandalized places of worships and temples simultaneously in different places of the country within a year during the Durga Puja in 1972.

Yet, at least for three years, the religious minorities of this country were not disappointed. Because of the holder & carrier of secular and progressive ideology, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his colleagues enacted a non-communal and progressive constitution for independent and sovereign Bangladesh in 1972.

As a result, religious minorities found a place of trust and confidence in the country, but it was a matter of great regret that they became disconsolate by the brutal murder of Bangabandhu on 15 August 1975, because their place of trust and confidence was lost.

Basically, it was started to governBangladesh with Pakistani ideology upon the killing of the Father of the nation. With the help of the military, several ordinances were issued in the name of the President, few military decrees were announced, and upon 5th amendment in 1979 & 8th amendment of the constitution in 1988, the characteristics of Pakistan was restored in Bangladesh.

This non-communal and secular country was constitutionally transformed to a religion-based state. As a result, again the security of the religious minority population of the republic became under threat. (The last part of the article will appear tomorrow.)

The writer is a Freedom Fighter and ICT Professional.

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