Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received an open letter from Bangladeshi academic Momtaz Jahan, regarding new Citizenship Law.
Momtaz, who is a one of the founding members of the Bangladesh Forum for Educational Development (Bafed), wrote the letter to Modi reminding India's secular tradition and urged him not to "create artificial rules or walls or barbwires to divide people," reported The Telegraph.
"We have always looked up to India as a secular country with a vibrant democracy…. The enactment of the amended citizenship law and the possibility of a citizen register do not conform to our understanding of India. I felt an urge to express my feelings and so I penned this letter," said Jahan, an active member of the Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a forum for secular Bangladesh and a retired professor of sociology.
The following are excerpts from Jahan's open letter to Prime Minister Modi:
This letter is written by a humanist citizen of Bangladesh, the country which is indebted to India, the then government, the Army and people for their assistance to the birth of my country. Our inseparable bondage originated from the sacrifice of both Indian army personnel and Bangalee freedom fighters.
The same way, we are very much aware of the fact that not long ago, India was one country and known as the Indian subcontinent before the cruel and bloody 1947 Partition which divided the region through a huge bloodbath of silent, simple commoners, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and indigenous people.
Prime Minister, we are carrying the deep sorrow of the meaningless 1947 Partition with a heavy heart….
I wonder what on earth has pushed you to enact an abnormally hateful divisive bill, the CAB, which inevitably will affect the Indians' proud heritage of secular ideology cherished in India and in Bangladesh for long. We are very much concerned about the outcome and impact of these measures which may fuel violent activities by the already brainwashed fundamentalist terrorists and communal groups not only in India but in Bangladesh and Pakistan also.
Besides, no government can invite or force any communities to leave their own motherland through measures like the NRC. This is absolutely unfair, unacceptable.
Now, we plead for your return to good sense and human values that would free you, Mr Amit Shah and others from communal discriminatory ideas related to the NRC…. Modiji, you know more than me that beauty lies in diversity, and India is the motherland of not only Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists but also Parsis, Sikhs, Jains and many nature-worshipping indigenous tribal people.
Modiji, let India remain as a secular democratic country of all its citizens belonging to the above religions. Here, I (would) like to remind your government that the homo sapiens travelled from place to place, crossing continents and countries of origin, since time immemorial. I request you not to follow the barbaric policy of the Myanmar army rulers who evicted citizens of Rakhine who settled there at least before four generations nearly four hundred years ago!
The very nature of humans is to move from place to place. For this reason, the present generation of Indians, Pakistanis or Bangladeshis is flocking to Canada, the USA and Australia.
So, please, do not create artificial rules or walls or barbwires to divide people. People always cross artificial borders, walls which they did in the past and will continue to do so in future.
Modiji, I like to recall an eye-opening comment from an illiterate farmer in a remote village in Jessore during my visit around three to four years ago. He stood up and told the assembly in a choked voice: "Can the embryo in the mother's womb plead to God to let him or her be born in a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Buddhist family? Did not each individual inherit his or her religion from their parents? Is it not a crime to hold a person guilty of his religion on which he or she has no role at all?"
Please try to understand the very sensible comment of the illiterate farmer who made us tearful. I sought apology from him as I was not in a position to ensure justice for him. But, Modiji, you are in that strong stakeholder's position to act with equality towards all citizens of India, from Kashmiris to all, minority groups as well as majority.
Please act sensibly in line with the glorious Indian heritage and scientific knowledge… and, of course, ensure peaceful cohabitation of all religious communities in the South Asian region, especially in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Let us be proud citizens of a secular India and Bangladesh, which were one country only 72 years ago.