Source: Daily Pioneer
There was a time when the plight of Hindus in Pakistan would bring the Left and Right on the same platform. Today, it’s seen as a BJP(Right wing) concern!
This past week, the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan was raised in India’s Parliament and led to Union Minister for External Affairs SM Krishna making a statement, with a particular reference to Pakistan’s tiny but beleaguered Hindu community. There was much discussion on the subject in political circles, the media and the social media too.
As can be expected, views varied strongly. There were sections that wanted default refugee status for Hindus who fled or left Pakistan and came to India. There were calls for immediate offers of citizenship to these embattled people. Others took the view that India should petition and raise the issue with the international community. After all, there were clearly-defined principles as to how countries must treat, and the freedom and autonomy they must accord, their minorities. The common-sense retort to that was that it was impossible for the international community to get Pakistan to ensure anything at all, whether related to its minority communities or indeed its majority community as well.
It has been easy to consider the matter of Hindus in Pakistan as a cause for the Indian Right, for the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. It is equally easy to contend that the Left and the Congress, the urban intelligentsia and foreign policy pundits must take a more detached view, calling for international action and cautioning against emotionalism and entanglement in domestic politics.
While there are persuasive arguments to be made on either side, it is worth asking if the implicit divide on the question of India’s responsibility vis-à-visPakistan’s Hindus that we see today has been with us ever since 1947. Were things always so clear cut?
Some years ago, this writer was researching the history of religious tensions and violence in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the post-Partition period. An educative set of incidents from 1964 that emerged shook a lot of contemporary certitudes.