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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Yes, it is a monstrous foe already

Indians seem to be laboring under a serious misconception about Bangladesh. Maybe because of some sentimental notion that Bangladesh is “grateful” to India for saving them from Punjabi Sunni tyranny.

This is nonsense. Bangladesh is the land of those responsible for Direct Action Day, on which 45,000 innocent Hindus were victimized, raped or slaughtered by Muslims in Bengal in 1946 to force Partition. Those who rule Bangladesh today are in cahoots with Pakistan, and were together responsible for the murders of 2.5 million Hindu Bengalis in the 1971 Holocaust. They have ethnically cleansed, murdered, dispossessed, raped tens of thousands of Hindus and Buddhists in the current genocide in the last two years. They are waging demographic warfare by converting the border districts in India into Muslim-majority areas. They are no different from the Islamists of Pakistan.

It is time for India to treat the two as hyphenated monsters. Pakistan-Bangladesh, the twin faces of Islamist menace. Part of the true axis of evil, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and China.

Once this paradigm shift happens, India will deal with Bangladesh realistically. In the past, India treated Bangladesh with kid gloves. Thus the idiocy of the Gujral Doctrine which gave away all sorts of goodies to Bangladesh, in return for … nothing! No transit for Indian goods. No natural gas at preferential rates. Absolutely nothing but a war of a thousand cuts. Indian soldiers tortured to death and returned, slung on a bamboo pole like pigs. No, this is not how a small neighbor shows friendship to a major power.

The hyphenation of Pakistan-Bangladesh is important. For Pakistan and Bangladesh are roughly comparable in all sorts of ways. Similar in GDP. One is a failed rogue state. The other is an economic basket-case. Both have become increasingly medieval and Islamist; both violate the human rights of non-Muslims.

Both live with the Damocles’ sword of water wars. India can use the Farakka Barrage to either flood Bangladesh with Ganges water or reduce its water supply to a trickle. Similarly, India controls the upper reaches of the Indus and treaty or no treaty, can seriously affect Pakistan’s breadbasket region.

Pakistan-Bangladesh are Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Let us take off the rose-colored glasses and see them for what they are: second-rank states, notable primarily for their ability to hurt themselves. India needs to treat them equally as enemies with mostly irritant value. In particular, Bangladesh needs to be taught a few lessons in good neighborliness before it too sinks into a failed-state morass.

Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Trivandrum, India.

No, Bangladesh is a nuisance at best

With age comes wisdom, goes the popular Indian belief. At a mature 55, India should be able to distinguish between two neighbors: a ne’er-do-well with little to offer besides skullduggery for 55 years of existence vs. a frustrated 32 year old struggling with calamities galore—political, civic, financial, and natural.

Indeed, the contrast between the two is best expressed through Hindu mythological analogies from the Ramayana and Mahabharata: Bangladesh is an impulsive Kaikeyi, Pakistan is a scheming Manthara. Bangladesh is a bumbling, irritating, insufferable Duryodhana, Pakistan embodies the villainous Shakuni.

Bangladesh’s roots lie in linguistic nationalism as opposed to the religious fanaticism that successively formed, shaped and destroyed Pakistan. Bangladeshis take trouble to point out that the green background on their national flag symbolizes the verdant countryside of Bengal than references to Islam, as in the case of Pakistan. The events culminating in the passing of a fatwa against noted writer Taslima Nasreen in the mid ’90s started with her taking up cudgels on behalf of persecuted Hindus in the backlash to the Babri Masjid destruction (1992). A Bangladesh Court was bold enough to take its government to task for “not doing enough to protect Hindus” as recently as 2001.

Contrast the above with Pakistan’s brazen bigotry. In the aftermath of 9/11, a prominent Lahore-based Pakistani “think tank promoting secularism” announced that the attacks were a “Jewish conspiracy scapegoating Muslims.” A “broadminded” Pakistani is a Sunni condemning Shia killings; lamenting the plight of isolated and persecuted Hindus in Sindh’s Tharpakar district is a mere memory.

The Bangladesh Army’s sporadic Indian forays exemplify bravado and juvenile posturing, and a class apart from. Pakistan’s cunningly well planned (if badly executed) Kargil misadventure.

The purpose behind Bangladeshi and Pakistani infiltration mirrors their perception of India. The millions of Bangladeshis slipping into India are economic migrants; many do so with the encouragement and assistance of their Indian friends. This phenomenon, (arguably premised on Bengali fellow feeling), was best exemplified in the 1996 incident of Hindu Bengalis “liberating” Bangladeshis-to-be-deported at the Kharagpur railway station. Pakistanis, on the other hand, infiltrate India only for annihilation—killings in Kashmir or kidnappings in Kolkata invariably can be traced back to the ISI. Bangladeshis view India as a means for economic improvement, Pakistanis view India as target practice for fine-tuning terrorism.

Bangladesh and Pakistan are no mirror images; the former is prone to error while the latter thrives on terror.

S.Gopikrishna writes on India and Indians from Toronto.