Bangladesh And The Religious Warfare Based On Deception
Who is Priya Saha? Preo Bala Biswas alias Priya Saha told the US president that 37 million Hindu, Buddhist and Christian people have disappeared from Bangladesh. Photo credit: The Daily Observer
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
~Sun Tzu, The Art of War (500 B.C.)
by Sabria Chowdhury Balland 31 July 2019
It is no secret that Bangladesh has been painfully encountering issues of oppression and authoritarianism, particularly since the farcical theatrics imposed on its people on December 30, 2018, in the name of elections. Extra-judicial killings enforced disappearances, a very significant surge in the rate of rape of women and children, mob lynchings and the corruption and politicization of each and every aspect of governing institutions are nothing new and have tragically become the new normal in mainstream society.
However, one aspect of the society, culture, and administration, which has been highly commendable is religious harmony and the respect which is shown to religious minorities. In a subcontinent and in the larger context, a world in which religious persecution and human rights abuses based on such discrimination have been rampant, Bangladesh has set an example in general in not succumbing to such victimization and maltreatment of religious minorities, which constitute approximately 10% of the population in the Muslim majority country.
There has been an upheaval of this rather peaceful status quo ever since July 19, 2019. Priya Saha, one of the former (she has since been suspended) organizing secretaries of the Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad was unknown to most until International Justice Day when 20 victims of religious persecution visited with President Trump at the White House.
Priya Saha has come under intense criticism from the government and citizens of Bangladesh for the totality of her comments to Trump. Not only have her statements, or rather, complaints, to President Trump been proven wrong, they have shocked and outraged the nation. Statistically, Saha seemed to be picking numbers out of a hat. Her claim that 37 million Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians have “disappeared” in Bangladesh have been vehemently and legitimately refuted.
In her claims that her home was burnt and her land was taken, the element of greater shock came when asked by President Trump who took her land, she hesitated for an instant and shifty-eyed, replied, “Muslim fundamentalists.”
These two words constitute “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Anyone who knows anything about the history and practices of land grabbing and property damage at large in Bangladesh knows that “Muslim fundamentalists” do not constitute the perpetrators she is talking about, but rather goons and thugs of the ruling party, the Awami League. It would be highly unlikely, or rather impossible to find a Bangladeshi national or an expat today who has not suffered or who does not know at least one family who has suffered the misfortune of land grabbing. It is common knowledge that land grabbers in Bangladesh are all politically connected and involved, for, in order for this crime to be able to thrive, an entire network of law enforcement, members of the judiciary, clout and a great deal of funding are required. Once again, anyone who knows anything about which vested interest groups have such a combination of power and finances knows it is the Awami League.
Furthermore, Hindus and other religious minorities are hardly the solely targeted victims of land grabbing and property damage, the vast majority of the victims being Muslims.
What Priya Saha thought would be overlooked in her untruths was that there are no Muslim groups, fundamental or otherwise, which have the means, politically or financially, to carry out the land grabbing and property damage she spoke of. The Jamaat-E-Islami has been entirely vanquished by Sheikh Hasina, and the Hefazet-E-Islam has become an ally of the Awami League. The others are too small to speak of.
But, Priya Saha knew that very well when she complained to President Trump. She was never sent to the White House to talk about her personal tragedy of experiencing religious persecution, being a member of the higher echelons of society. Nor was she sent as a guardian angel to speak on behalf of the minorities of Bangladesh. Priya Saha was sent as a pawn, a soldier, in a much larger internationally-backed chess game for religiously motivated ulterior motives geared only to destroy the one sector in Bangladeshi society which was not in turmoil: mutual understanding and respect between religious groups.
Since July 19, 2019, mutual distrust and ideological conflict seem to have arisen between Hindus and Muslims, a distrust which has not manifested itself since the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, thus clearly confirming that this “crisis” is a contrived man-made plan, Machiavellian in nature, to weaken Bangladesh from within.
Sheikh Hasina’s allegiance to India is no secret to Bangladeshis. She has been an insubstantial leader in the face of grave practices of Bangladesh’s stronger neighbor for years, at the expense of Bangladeshi lives. From the water-sharing disputes causing floods and droughts in Bangladesh, the regular killing of Bangladeshi citizens on the border, the vast trade deficit, the complete takeover by Indian intelligence services in political matters (even elections), etc. she has remained loyal to India. Bangladeshis know very well about the lack or rather absence of their sovereignty but are too petrified to say anything for fear of their lives. It is a tragic irony that the country fought for independence with Pakistan only to have lost it to an oppressive internal regime and in turn, its masters.
Priya Saha is thus merely a pawn in this more magnificent political game. In falsely accusing “Muslim fundamentalists” and creating a false narrative of the victimization of minorities, notably Hindus, she lit the fire and added several hundred liters of fuel to create the divide which has ensued. Should there be the slightest bit of sympathy for the lynching and abuse of Muslims in India by BJP thugs, with false narratives of crimes committed by invisible “Muslims,” aka Awami League thugs in Bangladesh, any such sympathy will be negated. The idea was to induce sentiments in the international community of “Muslims deserve being oppressed and tortured” whether it be in India, China, Palestine, or Yemen, by selling fictitious testaments.
There is no doubt that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Religion is the most sensitive factor in most societies, and this is most certainly the case in Bangladesh. This is undoubtedly the reason why Bangladeshis are so respectful of others’ religions and religious sensitivities. Therefore, false accusations, creating problems where there were none can only have very negative and detrimental consequences. That is no doubt the desired effect from Bangladesh’s neighbor. Three hundred years of British rule have taught us the benefits of “divide and conquer.” It is essential to not fall into this trap. However, considering that the administration in Bangladesh, the Prime Minister herself, is allowing the hostile takeover of the country for her own personal gains, this is easier said than done.
Diplomacy is key and now, more than ever, it is crucial for Bangladesh to re-establish strong diplomatic ties with Muslim nations in the neighborhood, such as Pakistan, in order to counterbalance the religious tensions and to restore stability. At this time, appeasement is crucial.
The White House may have bought Priya Saha’s fiction but more than 160 million people who know Bangladesh did not.