May 23, 2008

Xenophobia and the blame game

A shocking development in South Africa (More at Global Voices Online):
Over the past few weeks, xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans, Malawians, Zambians, Ugandans, Rwandans, Burundians, Mozambicans, and many other African illegal (and legal!) migrants who are living near Johannesburg on the East Rand, have been on the increase.
The situation escalated after hundreds of thousands of migrants fled from Zimbabwe to have a recluse in South Africa.

I was wondering how is the situation different from the recent spat from the Indian media indicting Bangladeshis and immigrants in Bangladesh for every terrorist attack in India.

Naeem Mohaiemen writes a very good rebuttal against it:
“They let us cook rice-daal for them, let us raise their children, trust us with the keys to house-home-jewelry. And then they turn around and vote for people who call us terrorists and want to cut us into pieces and bury us inside the ground.”
– Bangladeshi taxi driver in Delhi (author interview, 2005)

BOMB blast in Jaipur. Round up the usual suspects. Calling Abdul, Rahman, Rahim, Karim, Salim. All you “illegal” Bangladeshi immigrants within our borders. Report to the newest detention centers. It’s not who you say you are, it’s what we say you are.

Bangladesh has emerged as the all-purpose “Nondo Ghosh” (joto dosh) for Indian intelligence agencies. Attack on train station? Defused bombs? Bicycle bombs? Bag bombs? It must be the ultra-efficient, tentacle-spreading spectre of “terrorist organisations based in Bangladesh.”

Within days, we are told that the “modus operandi” of the Jaipur blasts is similar to the Uttar Pradesh court blasts (November 2007), Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts (May 2007) and Malegaon blast (2006). Every bomb blast is similar to the one before. They are all connected, except when they aren’t. Working on these leads, police are raiding Bangladeshi localities at Galta Gate, Baghrana, Ramganj, Subhash Chowk, and Bhatta Basti in Jaipur. Very convenient.
The blame game is actually played to hide the Indian intelligence's failures to minimize these terrorist threats.

An Indian Muslim provides some sane arguments:
This reflects the hollowness of our society. Are all Nepalis criminals? Or, all Bangladeshis terrorists? Of course, the latter are mostly Muslims and have a different religion, which makes them even more an anathema for a large section of populace.

If Bangladeshis are infiltrating and living illegally, there should be a proper policy or they should be identified and given work permits, licences and allowed to live here. But you can't treat a poor person in this way just because he is desperate to feed his family and comes this far to eke out a living.

We all know that India is a target of terrorists. They attack mosques and temples, they kill Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and Christians alike. And they ought to be caught. But that should happen. Unfortunately we don't see the real culprits arrested. We just hear jingoistic rhetoric and hysteria.
But the propaganda goes on. Brahma Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi said about the bomb blasts, “Bangladesh is becoming a haven for transnational Islamists. It is in danger of becoming another Pakistan.” (Newsweek — May 26/June 2 2008). (Source Hana)

Pr3rna questions Naeem's article “Is it our responsibility to ensure that poor countries around us develop at the same speed?”

Here is part of what I commented in that blog referring this post and the South African incident which can be a reality in India against Bangladeshi immigrants:
The people in question are economic migrants who wanders because of displacement due to natural calamities and poverty(lack of opportunities). If the economy of Bangladesh becomes better and can come close to India they will certainly prefer home as their first choice and hit back home.

The problem with the influx of Bangladeshis in India were mainly due to population growth and increasing opportunities in India. The porous borders were also an added advantage (after the fencing the situation is better). Indian politics have played a role here too. Some Indian politicians want them to enroll as voters and vote for them and cry for deporting them when the election is over. They are the keepers of these migrants in helping them getting papers - a fact which the Indians should bother.

I know its unfair for Indians to be bothered by the neighbors shortcomings. But India is the country who set a commendable precedence in 1971 of accepting 10 million refugees during the liberation war of Bangladesh and helped Bangladesh liberate. These refugees went back after the independence of Bangladesh. If Bangladesh was not liberated where would these refugees be?


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