Friday, April 29, 2005

INDIA: Poor Bangladeshi entrants are rather different from extremists

And it is not only a question of emigration, regular or irregular, of non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh. Much verbiage was expended six decades ago on behalf of the Congress leadership to put across a somewhat pompous claim: because of circumstances, they had to reluctantly agree to divide the country on religious basis, but India would always remain a secular nation. Does that not mean that should some Bangladeshis, who happened to bear Muslim names, want to come over to economically-better-placed India, conceivably in search of a livelihood, no particular barriers need be placed on their entry? Secularism is as secularism does. The policy indiscriminately followed by the police, specially in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi, to pick up Bengali-speaking Muslims on the ground that they must be Bangladeshis, cuts across this nation’s commitment to secularism.