Narendra Modi has been in “Muslim” in Bangladesh, saying he staged organized protest for the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, and even went to jail. Media has started praising this as usual. Narendra Modi is now the hero of the liberation war of Bangladesh.

Let’s look into the matter.

By Partha Banerjee

There was a time horses were not traded for black money, and bloody riots were not used for political gain in the name of rath yatra (chariot procession). When thugs did not scare people riding on motorbikes. There would not have been a procession with a sword in the heart of Calcutta on Ram celebration. When Nathuram Godse’s name was mentioned, people of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Volunteer Corp (RSS), Jana Sangh, Hindu Mahasabha would cover their eyes in shame (thinking how one of their own assassinated Gandhi).

At that time, Bangladesh gained independence through a bloody and traumatic liberation war, unimaginable bloodshed, gang rape of Bengali girls, and then with help from the Indira Gandhi government of India and the Soviet Union.

At that time Bengalis never thought about Hindu-Muslims. Intense Bengaliness was in the veins of blood.

What the RSS will never say is that they never saw the liberation war of Bangladesh as the result of a glorious, secular movement to protect the Bengali language. The forces of Hindutva — extremist Hindus — saw it only as an anti-Pakistan religious war. Their only ideological goal was to defeat and humiliate Pakistan in that war. As part of this strategy, they supported Indira Gandhi in that war through their “moderate” leader Atal Behari Vajpayee.

I have spent a long time in RSS. I have never heard of the language movement in Bangladesh in any meeting or event. I have not heard of Ekushey February, which is now known as the International Mother Language Day. I have not heard of Rafiq, Jabbar, Salam, Barkat — martyrs who gave their lives in 1952. I have never heard of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmed. Only occasionally have I heard about the persecution of Hindus. This was the sole focus of the RSS and its various organizations – forever. Nothing more. East Pakistan meant killing Hindus. East Pakistan meant Muslims.

RSS has never criticized the US government for aiding Pakistan, nor has it criticized its lethal military. At the same time, RSS never took a stand against the brutality of Nixon and Kissinger’s Vietnam War, the genocide in Chile, Indonesia. During the liberation war of Bangladesh, the secret game of CIA was never mentioned by RSS and BJP’s predecessor Jana Sangh.

When Bangladesh was first recognized by India and the Soviet Union after the war of liberation and independence, the United States and China refused to recognize it. The Jana Sangh did not utter a single anti-American word, even if it is said, it was very gentle, almost unspoken.

At a time when there was a strong wind in favor of Bangladesh’s independence all over India, the Sangh family held some symbolic hunger strikes and meetings here and there to sail in that wind – what they call “Satyagraha.”

Absolutely symbolic.

Maybe Narendra Modi participated in one of them. However, it is unclear why he would be arrested and jailed for that sudden movement. Prison records can be verified.
Even if he were to be arrested, the question arises as to how long he spent in prison for this “crime.” People may want to know. Symbolic protest, symbolic imprisonment for symbolic “satyagraha”. That’s how it happens in India.

But RSS and Jana Sangh never saw the liberation war of Bangladesh as the final battle to protect the Bengali language and Bengaliness. They saw anti-Pakistan Hindutva as a wind-blowing politics. They never saw the liberation war of Bangladesh as a great, secular, historical struggle of the united forces of Hindus and Muslims. They saw it as Hindu genocide and rape of Hindu girls. The US government-backed Pakistani army and Islamic extremist Razakar Al-Badr’s horror in Bangladesh in 1971 was simply a “Hindu genocide” for the RSS, Jana Sangh and today’s BJP. Nothing more.

In that war of liberation Sheikh Mujib was never their recognized leader. I have never heard Mujib’s name in my nearly twenty years of RSS life. Narendra Modi is not saying that history clearly now. The media is not challenging him either.

Just the same way they are not challenging the role of RSS or Hindu Mahasabha in India’s independence movement. If I did, the cat would come out of the bag. They sabotaged that glorious movement too. They even spied for the British. But no one likes the cat coming out of the bag at the time of this critical election in Bengal.

Dr. Partha Banerjee was a longtime member and leader at RSS before he came out in 1980. He is a Labor Educator and Writer in Brooklyn, New York.