Tuesday, August 28, 2012

State of Bengal desires to make Hospital for Minorities

Controversies rising ugly heads about reservation in treatment

Bengal government is all set to develop an especial medical college and also super specialty hospital for the treatment of people belonging to the minority community in the state. Land has also been bought at Bhangar, District: 24 Paraganas (South), to make this a reality. However, controversies regarding whether it is possible to dedicate a medical institution to any particular religious community have started to grow up.  Beds in hospital will be reserved based on religious identity – even if Medical Council of India (MCI) have started to raise objections in this context, Bengal government remains firm over its decision.

To have permission from the Planning Commission regarding the very proposal, Minorities Development and Finance Corporation of State Government has already sought the DPR (Detailed Project Report) from the Public works Department.    

Medical Council of India has already stated in clear terms no religious quota is pertinent as regards admission of any ailing person in hospital. As per one of its officials, “Does a patient have any religion? A patient is a patient.” In accordance with another official, “As blood collected in a blood camp can’t be differentiated, beds in any hospital have the same fate. He who has the need of it will be admitted only. There can’t b anything else.”

According to dictums of Supreme Court of India, no hospital can return any patient without treatment. Medical Council of India considers if an individual of any religion is not admitted in the said (proposed) medical institutions, it will be a gross violation of orders of Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, all these have failed to perturb the reigning Bengal government. On the word of Sushanta Banerjee, Director of Medical Education – Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bengal, “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken the decision to build up such hospitals. And to survey the selected land I will soon go to Bhangar.” It is to be noted, the very land worth 22 acres belongs to Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

In accordance with initial planning of Department of Health and Family Welfare, the very land at Bhangar has been picked out to build up a Multi Specialty and Super Specialty Hospital of 500 beds and Medical College of 100 beds there – for the minority people in the state. What is more, from Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), an amount of 40 crores has already been allotted. By the way, there is a need to send DPR to get money from BRGF. And to create the same report Minorities Department has sent a letter to PWD. The letter also states, “construction of Hospital and Medical College for treatment of patients of minority people in the state.”

Well, 40 crores will be available from BRGF. But reports of Department of Health and Family Welfare state, there is the need to have 100 crores for setting up a Medical College. How will the rest be gathered then?

As indicated by sources in the department, the concept of public-private partnership, in this regard, was thought of in the beginning. But Chief Minster wants that the Medial College would function under the auspices of the State Government. Hence, the idea of PPP has been deferred.  One official of Health Department states, “CM does apprehend, reservation beds will cease to exist if the hospital is privatized. As a result, government will make great efforts to collect the remaining amount of money.”

But it is not clear yet how the government will succeed in this regard. There is another question – where will teacher-doctors for the new Medical College come from. The sole reason being three Medical Colleges in the state viz. Sagar Dutta, Malda and Behrampur are just staggering due to paucity of teacher-doctors.  Owing lack of proper infrastructure, Medical Council of India (MCI) called off admission procedure in the above-mentioned three colleges. Well, after submitting a recognizance citing that all would be done in the following one year, the approval has been won back.

Who will read in the new Medical College in such a situation?  But an official of State Health Department states with confidence, “Due to lack of doctors in Bengal there is a pressing need to create more Medical Colleges. A few problems will surface in the beginning but will be solved before long.”

Sources in State Health Department avow, notion of reservation was stated in both sectors – seats of students in Medical College and beds of patients. Nonetheless, a few days back Supreme Court of India censuring the approach of reservation as found in both Andhra Pradesh and Kerala accentuated merit. In such a situation, Bengal Government is not ready to reserve seats in the new Medical College on the basis  of religion. Bikram Sen, Secretary, Minority Affairs Department, states, “There is a plan to create the new Medical College at Bhangar following the footsteps of Christian Medical College in Vellore or the Medical College under Aligarh Muslim University.” How do these two institutions function?  

As stated by management of Vellore College, “There is no religion-based quota regarding admission of students in the college, let alone admission of patients in the hospital. Mohammed Junaid, on behalf of Aligarh Muslim University, has informed, “Merit happens to be the sole factor of education in their college while seriousness of disease happens to be the only factor as regards admission of patients in hospitals. Reservation is out of the question.”

How is Government of Bengal going to adopt such a decision then? The government is found to be tight-lipped, in this regard. But Sushanta Babu states, “What’s the need to hurry? Each and every development will tell the whole story.” Again an official of Medical Council of India (MCI) states, “We have not received any written proposal thus far regarding such an approach of Bengal Government. If there is any written proposal with such intentions from the Bengal Government, we will certainly make our viewpoint in public.”     

Monday, August 27, 2012

BTAD villagers rue voter list 'anomaly'

At a time when Assam has become a battlefield of sorts over claims and counter-claims on illegal migrants in the state, the discovery of apparently fraudulent entries in the voter list of anAssembly constituency has revealed the poorly concealed truth.

According to residents of Noapara, Sishubari and adjoining areas under Bijni subdivision in Chirang district, which falls under the North Abhayapuri Assembly constituency and Subhaijar BTC constituency, 49 voters among 308 were found sharing the same addresses as several Bodo, Rajbongshi and Assamese families in the2010 Assembly election voter lists.

According to the list (a copy of which is with The Telegraph), the addresses of several voters overlapped. For instance, house number 13 has names of Ramcharan Ray along with seven of his family members but the same address is quoted under two other names ' Abdul Kader, 25, son of Mehr Ali. Similarly, Mohan Goyary and two of his family members ' Sabol Goyary and Jitu Goyary ' are listed against house number 16, which also purportedly houses Kurman Ali, 28, and Rahima Katun, 30.

According to local residents, the names were not there in the 2005 voter list but came up in 2010. However, they said nobody turned up to exercise their franchise. "We were surprised to see names of religious minority people in the list because till the 2005 elections, our centre never had such names on the list," said Banerjee Basumatary of Noapara village.

Another villager said, "The question is how come the same house number has been listed under names of persons from two different communities? Who are these people whose names were found on the lists? Is it a tactic of the government encouraging illegal immigrants to enlist themselves in the voter list?" he asked.

"We have seen their (suspected Bangladeshi migrants) numbers multiplying every year. In the last three years over 100 new houses have come up in areas like Majrapara, Baghmara and Duturi. We see new faces emerging in the area every year," 75-year-old Lalit Ray of Noapara said.

The villagers said they had brought the anomaly to the notice of the department concerned and also political leaders but no one took any action or interest, as the illegal immigrants are considered a vote bank.

Noapara, which houses both Bodo and Rajbongsi families, was badly hit in the recent riots, with over 100 houses torched.

The residents are now living at the Mongolian bazaar relief camp.

"We were like one family; there were no differences amongst us; we ate off the same plate. I cannot imagine that they could attack us, burn our houses and make us homeless in our land," Ray, who is yet to get over what had happened, said.

The NDFB's Ranjan Daimary faction today blamed the state and central governments of not paying serious attention to the issue of illegal migrants, who, it alleged, were the root cause of the violence in lower Assam.

In a statement issued to the media today, the outfit's information and publicity secretary B. Naijab said the violence was between the indigenous people and illegal migrants from Bangladesh. He also accused AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal of supporting the migrants and triggering the BTAD riots with an aim to get the BTC dissolved.

"It is not a clash between Bodos and Muslims. It is a clash between the indigenous people and migrants from across the border. It is not the ending; just the beginning. The government is not paying serious attention to the problem because the Congress in Assam is using the migrants as their vote bank and sheltering them," he said.

Source: http://in.news.yahoo.com/btad-villagers-rue-voter-list-anomaly-224520863.html

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Memoirs of a Hindu girl in Pakistan

I grew up in fear – every face around me depicted nothing but fear. I am sure that the first expression on my parent’s face on my birth as a female child born to Hindu parents living in Kandhkot would have been that of fear also. Why did I bring so much fear into the lives of my parents? I grew up always wondering what is it about me that continues to terrify. But I always drew a blank. How naïve I was.

Before I knew it, the time to attend school had arrived. School was comfortable; however, there were times when I felt like an outsider, finding it difficult to gel in with rest of the majority. Perhaps the snide remarks and incidents of discrimination led me to believe that I am not one of ‘them’. Of those incidents, I still vividly remember no one eating with me and refusing to sip from the cup I drank from.

Home wasn’t very different either. My mother asked questions about my life at school and otherwise looking for answers that would somehow relinquish her from the unknown fear. Afraid to disappoint her, I realized very early in my life that my mother could not be my confidant.

Growing up was not easy.

And then it happened. The fears of my mother and many Hindu mothers like her materialized. I went out to one of the largest markets of Kandhkot and was abducted by a man I knew very well. He was none other than the guard who was responsible for safeguarding our temples.

Knowing his face well prompted me to sit with him in his car without protest, however, instead of taking me to my house he turned to an alley that I wasn’t too familiar with. Scared and unsure about what lay ahead I started screaming just to hear my abductor scream louder and threaten me. Astonished and unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation I sat still until it was time to step out of the car to a small house which looked abandoned.

We entered the house to find a large room devoid of any furniture and other bearings except for a carpet that covered the floor. I was made to sit down on the floor.

Uncertain about what was going to happen to me; my mind raced with thoughts of the recent news of the abductions and forced conversions of Hindu girls. I sat there shuddering. The realization struck me and I could see my entire life in front of me in kaleidoscope. My mother’s fears, my father’s warnings, the alienation I felt, the yearning to be a part of the circle of friends, the search for a confidant, a friend.

My worst fears were reaffirmed when a man wearing a turban entered the room to teach me about a religion which I grew up hearing about, however, felt no urge to practice or embrace. He kept sermonizing me for hours but was unable to get me to listen to him, realizing that he left asking me to ponder about the true religion.

His departure did not ignite any fire for eternal glory inside me but only made me wonder why did my parents not relocate to another country when they had the chance to do so? Why did they continue to live in fear waiting for the inevitable to happen instead of making a move to safer pastures? And, what made me think that I am any different from countless girls who are forced to change their faith?

Each passing day appeared to be more and more surreal. The ritual of preaching continued for days, I lost track. Eventually, when preaching did not do the trick, my abductor threatened me. 

The routine ranging from threats to persuasion and from glorifying the paradise to the wrath of God for non-believers only made me wonder: Do we not all pray to the same God — a God who is manifested in nature, colors, happiness and love? Why would he punish me for being a Hindu?

Somewhere along this relentless persuasion, came that horrifying threat of harming my family – I gave in. My approval followed a small ceremony in which I was forced to embrace Islam and later married off to the man who will always be remembered as the ‘messiah’ who for saved me from the unknown territory of sin and infidelity I was treading on.

After the ceremony, instead of receiving blessings for a happy and prosperous life ahead, I was immediately escorted to a local court where a Muslim magistrate declared my conversion and marriage in accordance with the law.

The news of my conversion and marriage to a Muslim man spread like wildfire. I dreaded the moment of meeting my parents. I never wanted to see pain and agony on their faces let alone be the reason for all their grief. Sure enough, one look at my mother made me yearn for my own death.

I wanted to tell her that I love her and that her safety was all I had in mind when I converted. I wanted to tell my father to keep my sisters safe. I wanted to tell my brothers to leave the country whilst they still could. I wanted to say much more but their silent pain and suffering made me wish if only I wasn’t born a girl, if only I wasn’t born in Pakistan, if only I had the right to be myself and practise my faith without being herded into a religion that I failed to comprehend, if only I could make them all understand that there is just one God for all, if only I could give us all an identity that we rightly deserve.

Looking at all the faces that once seemed familiar; I wondered: who am I?

I am one but share the pain of many. I am Rachna Kumari, Rinkle Kumari, Manisha Kumari and the many more Hindu girls who will be forced to convert in Pakistan. I am the fear of their families and the agony that they undergo. I am the misery of those girls who die a little every day for the injustices done to them.

I am a minority living in an intolerant society.

Monday, August 20, 2012

98 Hindu refugees evacuated from Bengali Muslim camp

Myanmar government authority in Sittwe evacuated ninety eight Hindu refugees from Bengali Muslim dominated refugee camps to downtown Sittwe on Wednesday.

98 people from 18 Hindu families were moved from their current shelter of Thae Chaung and Thak Kay Pron camps to Sittwe city due to increased threats by Bengali Muslim extremists after many reported rapes and attempted rapes and tortures committed by the Bengali Muslims who are majority in the camp.

The transfer was carried out by two military trucks and the Hindu refugees are now living in a Hindu temple located on Mongbagree road.

An officer from Sittwe police station No (1) who do not wish to disclose his identity told RMG that 6 Hindu women including four teenage girls and two house wives were raped by Bengali Muslims during their stay in Thae Chaung camp. "We had to live in a cow butchery. They tried to feed us beef and theaten us with death if we don't convert to Islam. Our kids had to stay inside for 24 hours to avoid beating and other kind of harassment by the Bengali Muslims. The most horrible thing is that our women are being raped one after another and those Bengali Muslim rapists became more daring when the authority did not take any actions. We have to keep guards for days and nights for the safety of our people there. Those periods are really bad in our life.", a Hindu man shared about his experience in Thae Chaung camp.

 The existence of Hindu people in the Bengali Muslim camp was first noticed by Ashin Virathu, a prominent monk from Mandalay's famous Ma-Soe-Yin Buddhist institute. The monk expressed his concerns about the condition and suffering of the Hindu people in the wrong place. He also requested for the relocation of those people to a suitable place in a statement issued on 20th July, 2012.

It is reported that Bengali Muslims destroyed many Hindu temples during the riot. According to reliable sources, more than 40 Hindus were beheaded and murdered by the Bengali Muslim terrorists in Sittwe, Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships. However, those Hindu victims are not included in the government's official death tolls of the communal riot.

(Myanmar Police in front of a Hindu temple which was burned down by Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Invasion from the East

The disproportionate increase in the Muslim population in eastern India, both on account of continuing migration and higher fertility vis-à-vis other communities, has triggered major demographic distortions. The growth has been particularly steep in Assam, West Bengal, and Bihar, and is nearing double digit figures in Manipur and Tripura (Census 2011 religious demography figures have not been revealed so far).

Censuses since 1951 show a sustained rise in Muslim population, in absolute and percentage terms, and a nation-wide corresponding decline in numbers of Hindu Faiths (Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists). By Census 1981, Muslim population growth stood at nearly 45 per cent higher rate than Hindus and Christians. Census 2001 put the decadal growth rate of Muslims at around 36%, while Hindu growth rate declined from 23 per cent to 20 per cent.

State-wise Religious Demography delineated in Census 2001 (which does not include illegal immigrants without ration / Voter Identity Cards) suggests that huge political changes loom ahead. In eastern India alone, the percentage of Muslim population in the States is, in descending order: Assam (30.92 per cent); West Bengal (25.25 per cent); Bihar (16.53per cent); Manipur (8.81 per cent); Tripura (7.95 per cent); Meghalaya (4.28 per cent); Arunachal Pradesh (1.88 per cent); Nagaland (1.76 per cent); Sikkim (1.42 per cent); Mizoram (1.14 per cent).

In Assam, districts with the highest Muslim populations include, in descending order: Dhubri (74.3 per cent); Barpeta (59.4 per cent); Hailakandi (57.6 per cent); Goalpara (53.7 per cent); Karimganj (52.3 per cent); Nagaon (51 per cent); Marigaon 47.6 per cent); Bongaigaon (38.5 per cent); Cachar (36.1 per cent); Darrang (35.5 per cent); Nalbari (22.1 per cent); Kokrajhar (20.4 per cent). Thus, five districts are already Muslim majority; four are on the way to becoming so.

Similarly, in West Bengal, districts with the highest Muslim population include, in descending order: Murshidabad (63.7 per cent); Maldah (49.7 per cent); Dinajpur (composite) (38.5 per cent); South 24-Parganas (33.2 per cent); Howrah (24.4 per cent); Kooch Behar (24.2 per cent); Kolkata (20.3 per cent).

Can this changing demography be explained as simply the natural movement of peoples in a geo-cultural biosphere which pre-exists current international boundaries? Analysts with deep memories say much of the impetus is political, as Pakistan resented the failure to have Assam included in East Pakistan in 1947.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made a pointed reference to this in his book, Myths of Independence. Even Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Eastern Pakistan: Its population and Economics) claimed that East Pakistan needed land for expansion and wanted Assam for its abundant forest and mineral resources, coal and petroleum. The original map of the Muslim League before 1947 included the whole of India’s north-east! China is thus a newcomer in the queue for parts of our North-East.

A critical component of the current crisis is that Bodos never comprised the majority in the area carved out for the Bodoland Territorial Council in 2003. The Bangladeshi Muslims who are in majority in Dhubri district bordering Bangladesh are now exerting pressure on the Bodo heartland of Kokrajhar district. They derive political muscle from the All-India United Democratic Front of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, All-Assam Minority Students Union, and Asom Mia Parishad. The AIUDF demand that the BTC be abolished as Bodos are not the majority in large areas covered by it, or non-Bodo representation be increased, naturally escalates tensions.

The farcical Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, which made it virtually impossible to detect and deport nearly two million illegals, has not helped matters. Had the 1985 Assam Accord signed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the All-Assam Student Union been sincerely implemented, the National Register of Citizens would have been updated and curtailed infiltration from Bangladesh. Concerned citizens now feel that Census 1951 – first Census of independent India – should be the basis for the National Register of Citizens.

The gravity of the problem can be seen from Election Commissioner HS Brahma’s admission in a newspaper article that the Election Commission of India has to tackle the problem of nearly 1.5 lakh ‘D-Voters’ (doubtful voters) while preparing the Assam electoral rolls. Currently this matter is sub-judice, but it is a bullet the courts will have to bite eventually as it poses a serious security threat to the nation. India can no longer fight shy of the need to deport illegal migrants. Else it must be prepared for recurrent bouts of bloodletting.

Source: http://www.niticentral.com/2012/08/invasion-from-the-east.html