Bengalis, the Enemy within – Ethnic Contempt from constitutional and statutory body appointees of the BJP government of India

This article has been co-authored by Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh and Dikgaj

In this article, we highlight the ethnic disdain exhibited by constitutional and statutory body authorities appointed by the BJP government. With primary evidence, we catalogue the distortions employed by these authorities, which portray the Bengalis in a poor light. Two examples have been shown here, the first, the governor of Tripura and the second, a film board censor committee member.

We start with public pronouncements of Tathagata Roy, a senior BJP politician, who used to be the President of the West Bengal State unit of the BJP from 2002 to 2006, and was a member of BJP’s National Executive from 2002 till May 2015. In May 2015, he was appointed as the governor of Tripura, by the President of India, following the recommendation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is running a full-majority central-level BJP government since May 2014. By all considerations, Tathagata Roy, is an educated man; he retired as Chief-Engineer Design of Metro Railways and holds a law degree from Calcutta University. He has also authored several books on pre-independence history.

First, note that Tathagata Roy and BJP MPs like Roopa Ganguly said that the Hindu minority in Bangladesh are safe, but “feel’’ insecure [27], [28], denying the persistent persecution faced by Hindus in Bangladesh, and current Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina’s complicity in it? [29]. Next, Tathagata Roy, had tweeted about the Hindu Bengalis who fled religious persecution in East Pakistan and Bangladesh as follows:


In the above example tweet, Tathagata Roy is abusing the refugees from East Bengal for fleeing their homeland like rats during and after the partition. The analogy of rats that he uses surely qualifies this tweet as a nasty abuse. But, first, as an aside, the abuse is rather Islamic. Several Islamic chroniclers refer to Shivaji, a great hero of Indic resistance – as the “mountain-rat”. The “rat” epithet on enemies is very popular with Islamists, as many Pakistanis were apparently fond of dubbing Bengalis as “rats”. Next, although he is tweeting in English, he does not use the English word, rat, as his chosen abuse, neither does he resort to “indur’’ in his native tongue, but he opts for the Hindi version, the “chuha’’. It suggests that he was tweeting for the section of his base and his political bosses, who cherish the “Hindi Hindu Hindustan’’ dream.

Any event, he tweeted the above while occupying the August office of the Governor of a state. This tweet did not invite any public censure of the BJP government at the centre, or any other section of the polity, or the media; nor did any of his several other tweets revealing his deep contempt of Bengalis.   We contacted Mr. Ratan Sharda, a spokesperson of the RSS on the matter on Twitter, and he deflected the issue saying that Tathagata was also a Bengali and if he had made the remark, it was unfortunate.  No censure of Mr. Roy’s tweets were forthcoming.  A simple twitter search on Mr. Roy’s TL would reveal many such aspersions on the Bengalis, negating any assumption of a one-off aberration (which would also be unacceptable from a senior politician and a holder of a constitutional office).

We visit two obvious defenses of the indefensible act of the Governor: (1) his own ethnicity (2) truth. As to (1), Tathagata Roy is a Bengali, possibly his ancestry is from East Bengal too. But, then many Hindus have been known to bear strong hatred of Hindus, and Jews have shown anti-semitism too. In fact, the bulk of BJP-RSS base accuses, with some justifications, several Hindu journalists like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai and intellectuals like Mallika Sarabhai, Teesta Setalvad, Girish Karnad, Anantamurthy, etc, of Hindu-phobia. If their religious denomination is not considered a defense of their bias against one religion, as it should not, neither can Mr. Roy’s ethnicity serve as a legitimate shield. Ethno-religious groups have often been betrayed by their own. Many of the ethnic minorities in the erstwhile USSR had a history of acting against their own compatriots. For instance, Stalin’s deputy, Lavrenty Beria, a Georgian himself, was deeply involved in the massacre of the Georgian intellectuals and even old Bolsheviks like Mdivani in the 1930s p. 225 [10]. Similarly, Ilya Ehrenburg, a Jew himself, later admitted to lying about several murders, of Jews among others, he had known committed during the Stalinist times [11]. Genrikh Yagoda and Nikolai Yezhov (the former was a Jew, the latter had a Jewish wife) also helped murder thousands of Jews in the Great Purge in the 1930s. Finally, Khadzhi Ghabidullin, a pro-Moscow Tatar, was used to oust and eliminate the `Nationalist Tatars’ of Mirsaid Sultan Galiyev. [13]

For example, the Indic merchants of Gujarat colluded with the Islamic rulers there, facilitating the regimes politically and financially, and enjoyed wealth and power in return; all the while, the same rulers exploited the Indic commoners of Gujarat who lived in abject penury and starved to death during the famines [8]. Then again, Man Singh of Jaipur, crushed local Hindu kings of Bengal like Pratapaditya on behalf of Mughal emperor Akbar, with the assistance of some local Hindu Bengali collaborators who were subsequently richly rewarded. With the fall of Pratapaditya, large parts of Bengal were opened up for the slaving expeditions by the Portugese-Magh combination, which ravaged Bengal for centuries [9]. Thus, contempt of a member of an ethnicity on the ethnicity as a whole should be subjected to the same scrutiny as that of an outsider. Next, does Mr. Roy usually ruthlessly dissect those he considers his own? A video tape allegedly shows his brother, Saugata Roy, Trinamul Congress MP to be accepting money from a CEO in return of favors [1]. Saugata Roy also engaged in verbal abuse in Parliament [2]. We did not hear Tathagata Roy harshly condemn his family on such occasions, as he is wont to do for a collective.

As to (2), the Bengalis fleeing religious violence against Hindus in East Bengal in the wake of partition, did put up defenses, albeit unsuccessfully and often isolated. For example, Rajendralal Roy, the President of Noakhali Bar Association, resisted the Jihad on his own. As a result, lieutenants of notorious rioter, Gholam Sarwar, presented Rajendralal Roy’s head to Gholam Sarwar on a platter, and in exchange, Sarwar rewarded the lieutenants with part of the “Jihad-booty’’, two of Roy’s young daughters [3]. It is worth pointing out that, while the population of Indics in West Pakistan came down from ~20% in 1941 to ~2% in 1951, the fall of Indic population in the east was far slower. From 29% in 1941, it came down to 22% in 1951 (and quite a bit of this fall was due, in part, due to the emigration of Bengali Muslims from West Bengal to East Bengal) and to ~19% in 1971. Indeed, the Indic population of Bangladesh fell from 19% to ~12% only after the genocide of 1971. Given that Indics lasted with roughly 2/3 of their population intact till 1971, it seems more than a trifle unfair to conclude that they fled `chuha-like’ from East Bengal. In East Bengal, as in West Punjab (during Partition) and Kashmir (post partition), Hindus have been subjected to similar dastartdly religious violence in places where they have been horribly outnumbered. They fled all those places without being able to put up successful (or even failed) mass-resistances. It would be the same story for Muslims in places where they were subjected to religious violence during partition and where they were demographically hugely outnumbered. Even recently, long after partition, mass exodus of Hindus have been reported from Kairana in West UP where Hindus have been severely demographically outnumbered [4]. It would therefore be malicious and malafide to selectively accuse Hindu Bengalis of cowardice, and hurl disgusting ethnic abuses at them, for reacting similar to all sections of humanity subjected to similar circumstances. The statement therefore qualifies as ethnic contempt, which coming from an educated senior politician, is all the more abominable.

The lack of censure on the above only suggests that Mr. Roy’s acts have blessings of his appointers, namely the prime minister himself and the leadership of BJP-RSS, and approval of the BJP-RSS base, as also the rest of the polity and the media. In contrast, BJP officially objected and its ecosystem raised a huge furore, including trending on social media, when a leading politician from UP, Akhilesh Yadav, cast equally offensive stereotypes on Gujaratis [5]. PM Modi and BJP-President Amit Shah, who are both from Gujarat, usually vociferously object to real or perceived slights to Gujarat from political opponents [6] [7]. Summarily, BJP would reward those who undermine Bengal with high public offices, and vociferously object when other high profile persona undermine Gujarat. Does there then exist an ethnic pecking order in BJP’s value system, where Gujarat far outranks Bengal? Or, the PM chants “India first’’ during Lok sabha polls, but really means “Gujarat first’’, particularly during the Gujarat polls? Is this why his constitutional position appointee has to rate Gujarat as follows (let us recall that the current Governor of Tripura has never won an election in Bengal, has no mass-base and owes his August office only to the good graces of the PM)


Gujarat must then be the only place in the Universe that is devoid of dirty politics. We have however learned that political murder happen there, or allegedly so. On 26 March, 2003, the home minister of Gujarat, Haren Pandya was shot dead by unidentified assailants. His widow Jagruti Pandya had been on record in 2012 that “My husband’s assassination was a political murder. For the last 10 years I have been fighting a legal battle to get him justice but in vain, however, I will continue to fight …I have not received any support from the BJP in my fight. My husband gave his life for the party. But he was not aware that he would be betrayed’’ [15]. Let us also recall the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethwa in Gujarat. Ahmedabad Mirror writes about the incident: “The RTI activist was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court premises on July 20, 2010. It is suspected that Jethwa was targeted for exposing illegal mining activities through numerous RTI applications.’’ [14] . BJP MP Dinu Bhoga Solanki was an accused in this case [14]. But then, political murders definitely constitute instances of clean politics, if the ecosystem says so. On the issue of Syndicates, Justice J B Pardiwala of Gujarat High Court has observed that: Over a period of time, the city of Surat, once known as the Manchester of India, has be come a paradise for the land mafia. People have started going to any extent to grab agricultura and non-agricultural lands. In the past one decade the price of lands, all over the city of Surat and its adjoining villages, have escalated in leaps and bounds,” [16] The same judge had to order the government to act against land mafia in Rajkot too [17]. But the ecosystem obviously knows better. On theft, the ecosystem may well be technically right, as the land mafia would rob lands, not “thieve’’ them. We came across a recent report of a gang-rape of two teen-aged girls in front of their father [18], but if the ecosystem insists rape is not a crime against women, then the ecosystem must be right. We would not ruin the narrative by bringing in multiple recent incidents of lynching of Dalits in Gujarat [19], [20], [21], but just ponder that come every election in Gujarat, PM Modi thunders about “Gujarati Asmita’’, and how Congress has slighted Gujarat at every traffic light of history. He would know such strategies for sure, for it seems to ordinary mortals like us that he has reserved a few constitutional posts for humiliating, through falsehood, the states ruled by his political opponents. Nonetheless, we will of course wish the Bengalis in this ecosystem better luck next life to be reborn in the paradise of their choice, for the Bengalis who wished to retain their connection to their motherland even in their death could not only not go up to the hallowed Raj Bhavan, but died in penury. Michael Madhusudhan Dutt had composed his epitaph as follows:
দাঁড়াও পথিক-বর, জন্ম যদি তব
বঙ্গে! তিষ্ঠ ক্ষণকাল! এ সমাধিস্তলে
(জননীর কোলে শিশু লভয়ে যেমতি
বিরাম) মহীর পদে মহানিদ্রাবৃত
দত্তোকুলোদ্ভব কবি শ্রীমধুসূদন!
যশোরে সাগরদাঁড়ি কবতক্ষ-তীরে
জন্মভূমি, জন্মদাতা দত্ত মহামতি
রাজনারায়ণ নামে, জননী জাহ্নবী [22]
Yet another poem describing how the poet pined for his home from a distant land [23]. Yet another emotional fool who had never made it to Raj Bhawan (D. L. Roy) had once composed:
“এমন দেশটি কোথাও খুঁজে পাবে নাকো তুমি
সকল দেশের রানী সে যে আমার জন্মভূমী ’’ [24].
The fools were not aware that the path to Raj Bhavan is not facilitated by emotions for one’s land, people, or even with obsession for facts, but by a talent for abject sycophancy and the genius of maligning one’s own people.


We next consider filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who, in 2017, has been named a member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) [12]. CBFC is a statutory body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the ministry is currently manned by a BJP minister. Mr. Agnihotri’s twitter feed indicates a strong support for BJP. He tweeted as follows on his movie, Buddha In a Traffic Jam’’:


Through a cursory search, we have located at least two reviews that are critical of Mr. Agnihotri’s redoubtable, and which have been authored by those who were not born in the heretic ethnicity called Bengalis [25], [26]. Be that as it may, to lesser mortals outside the BJP-RSS ecosystem, the import of the ethnicity of the critics may be unclear, but filmmakers know their audiences, so he may just be advertising his movie the way it would sell best. It may well be crystal clear to the ecosystem that if an evil collective criticizes a work of art, it has to be the next best thing after Rasgollah.

Goes without saying that Mr. Agnihotri received no visible censure anywhere, and he was appointed to the statutory body after he pandered to the ethnic biases of the BJP-RSS base (which will be dwelt in greater detail in a subsequent article). We had expressed our surprise at the unusual correlation of ethnicity to views on a movie right at that point, but did not receive a response.


We had shared an earlier version of this article in our blog space. After hearing of our article (its unclear if he read it), he responded as follows:


Other than the abuse embedded in the tweet above, it becomes clear that he is yet to imbibe the basics of intellectual engagement that discourses needs to be evaluated based on the content, without any consideration of ethnicity or any other birth-based identity of those involved in it. But the response above becomes relevant in context of his position below:

It is worthwhile to note that he invoked ethnicity of one of the authors even in his response, while his ethnicity was never invoked in our article, neither has it been done now. And, only the ethnicity that he had earlier invoked for all his critics (falsely as we have shown) was invoked here as well. From his personalized abuses, it becomes clear that our article did not amuse him, just as the criticisms of his movie didn’t earn his grace. So, the significance of the ethnicity in both the above remains pejorative, and relevance to the content minimal. If an individual is so obsessed with the Bengali ethnicity, and rather unfavourably so, can he, or should he, be trusted, as member of CBFC, to evaluate movies based on their content, rather than on ethnicities of the contributors? Similarly, is Tathagata Roy fit to discharge his functionalities as the Governor of a state, where a large part of the populace comprises of the descendants of the “chuhas’’, that is the Hindu Bengali refugees from East Pakistan/Bangladesh? But then the BJP-RSS constitutes an honourable ecosystem.

We now update the article with Tathagata Roy’s thoughtful rebuttal to our piece: First, an abuse, pretty much like, Vivek Agnihotri’s:

This tweet reveals twitter-illiteracy, or a propensity to distort truth, to the extent that he becomes endearingly transparent at this point. His blocking one of the authors would not have prevented him from reading her tweets, if he wanted to read our “trashy’’ piece earlier. Even the issue that the tags from the author did not appear in his esteemed TL, because he had blocked her, does not arise as she did not tag him after the article was posted, either. Most important, unlike his assertion, he had not blocked the author in question until at least some time after the tweet. She had obtained most of the tweets from his TL through twitter-search, while being logged in. She had remained unblocked the entire duration Mr. Roy apparently could not read our article because she was blocked. A screen shot below should settle the issue to the tech savvy readers


Its unclear if he had confused with the fact that it is the author in question who had blocked him long back because of his abusive behaviour earlier (he was unblocked a few weeks back for ease of searching his TL for specific tweets).:


Any event, let us consider the apparently more substantive part of his response:


It starts with exactly the defense that we had negated – one can not assume any greater right to abuse a group because of his connections to the group.

Now, note that he had tweeted “We also fled East Bengal, without protest, chuha-like.’’ He is here abusing the refugees who fled East Bengal, for fleeing without protest, like rats. Does he expect the refugees to be super-human to force the exodus of the Muslim inhabitants of West Bengal after fleeing to West Bengal, which would be an unfamiliar milieu for most of them. Like refugees everywhere they were struggling to make ends meet. So, its unclear why he would call the refugees rats, because no reciprocal exodus was enforced in West Bengal. This, alas, is an attempt to defend the indefensible and leads to blaming the victims even more than he did in his earlier tweet.

First, Joya Chatterjee mentions that Muslims fled from West Bengal in large numbers (though she is uncertain about the exact numbers) due to “the deadly sequence of intimidation and murder, which had become regular features of Calcutta life.’’ p. 165, [33] Further, she points out that a huge number of Bengali Muslims fled West Bengal and the North East in 1964, in the wake of deadly riots in Bangladesh, which threw lakhs of refugees into India. p. 166, [33].

Incidentally, a research paper has recalled the departure of several prominent Muslims from West Bengal due to riots during partition and just after 1950, some of which were suppressed by Ashok Mitra, ICS, as reported in his memoir [30]. We will show that Governor Roy holds Mitra in high esteem later in this article. So he would praise the men who suppressed the riots against Muslims in West Bengal, and abuse the refugees for not enforcing the reciprocal exodus. But then they are the rats and he is an honourable man.

Then, on the point that there was no exodus of Muslims from West Bengal, let some numbers tell the tale. In West Bengal, the percentage of Muslims in 1941 was 29%. In 1951 (after Nehru Liaquat Pact that had already brought quite a good number back), Muslims were less than 20%. It shows that a large number had emigrated to East Pakistan. The census of India 1951 p. 279, [31] shows that the actual number of Muslims dropped from 68 lakhs in 1941 p. 279, [31], to 51 lakhs in 1951 p. 279, [31], showing a net fall of 17 lakh Muslims in West Bengal. Given the backdrop of the Bengal famine, if we assume that the Muslims grew at just half the rate as the Muslims grew in 1931-1941 (~21%), there should have been ~75 lakh Muslims in West Bengal. This shows that roughly 24 lakh Muslims (32% of the total Muslims) left West Bengal for East Pakistan (or maybe elsewhere in Pakistan and India too); indeed, many more had probably left W Bengal, but returned in the wake of the Nehru Liaquat Pact (the actual number of Muslims who returned between April 1950 and census 1951 is not documented anywhere, to the knowledge of the authors). We had also shown earlier that exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan was far less than that from West Pakistan at partition. So, the exodus was about reciprocal.

In fact, even after 1951, nearly 10 lakh Muslims returned from Pakistan, mostly to Maldah, and (the then united) Indian Dinajpur in West Bengal, Goalpara in Assam, Purnea in Bihar and Santhal Paraganas in current Jharkhand (comparison b/n 1951 and 1961 census given in [31]). Indeed, even in (current) Haryana, around 62,000 Meo Muslims who had fled in the wake of the Partition were returned to (the then) Gurgaon district, and even had their property restored, courtesy Vinoba Bhave. p. 26, [32]. As far as we know, there were no protests in any case. But, Tathagata Roy selectively targets the Hindu refugees from East Bengal for not protesting against the Nehru-Liaquat pact:

The last tweet was from a descendant of Hindu Bengali refugees who had to flee East Pakistan, that is the chuhas for BJP. We reproduce some more tweets showing their pain:




We include a few other responses from people who understand the pain of the refugees, or were refugees (or their children) themselves.




We include Tathagata Roy’s deeply sensitive response to human pain:




Although he was originally blaming Hindu Bengalis of cowardice, simply for fleeing religious persecution, he now adds to their list of crimes – they are rats for preaching Marxism and Secularism. Its irrelevant that the constitution Tathagata Roy has sworn in to become a Governor, the constitution by which he will administer oaths to chief ministers of his state, has secularism embedded in it as a core principle. If he thinks preaching secularism makes the refugees rats, why did he swear by the same constitution to enter the plush Raj Bhawan? How is that any better than “preaching secularism’’? Whether the principle of secularism should have been in the constitution, is another matter, but as long as it is there, can the President and Prime Minister of India appoint a man as Governor who abuses a people for preaching constitutional principles? Further, it is of some import to wonder that a man should hold secularism in such contempt, when the party in which he served as the chief of the West Bengal unit also swears by the same `secularism’. We reproduce verbatim from the BJP’s constitution, “The Party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India’’ p. 1, [34] Lastly, Communism is not illegal in India. Then, how can the President and Prime Minister of India appoint to the gubernatorial constitutional position a man who abuses people for campaigning for Communism? This would be particularly wrong for a state where the democratically elected chief minister is from a Communist Party, because this means that he has called a substantial majority of the people there rats for opting for the Communist rule, and shown abject hatred against them. His inability to identify with the human pain of a descendant of a refugee, reflects his bias against them, even more, it also suggests that he would be equally insensitive to plights of a large number of people of Tripura who have ancestral roots in Bangladesh.

On the point of Assam clamouring to drive illegals out, we point out that Assam, in the 0-4 age group, is 50.7% Indic and 45% Muslim. It is nearly beyond the point of no-return for Indics to remain as a majority for more than four or five decades, unless the illegal Bangladeshi Muslims are expelled immediately. It is of further interest to remark that there are 20-30 lakh illegal Bangladeshis in Assam and they have not been driven out despite many protests. Lastly, Assam has the highest per capita number of Bangladeshi illegals in all the states of India, and despite voting in the BJP, the illegals have not been detected yet, far less expelled.

We add a perceptive analysis by the “chuha’’ he has hurt:


And, that is the crux of the problem. How could the Hindus from East Bengal not vote for him but opt for the Marxists instead? Thus, he abuses them as chuhas. Also, note that he does not abuse Jawaharlal Nehru as a chuha for signing the Nehru-Liaquat pact, nor is Ashok Mitra, ICS, who occupied an eminent bureaucratic position in Nehru’s government and crushed riots against Muslims, a chuha for him. One might recall how the British glorified the “martial races’’ who helped them crush Indic resistances through brute force, as brave, and those who resisted them as cowards – this was how the coward Bengali or shall we say the chuha Bengali stereotype arose. It is no coincidence then the man who abuses his “own’’ as chuhas, also nearly absolves Churchill of responsibility of the Bengal famine, interestingly, through the accounts of Ashok Mitra, ICS, who helped crush riots against Muslims (recall, the refugees are being called chuhas because apparently they did not force the Muslims out):



Thus the Hindu Bengalis are rats, Madhushree Mukherjee, who did superb research on the Bengal Famine stands negated, Sheikh Hasina and Churchill stand absolved, and Tathagata Roy remains the Governor, for the BJP-RSS is an honourable ecosystem.


[1] Narada Case – CBI to examine TMC MP Saugata Roy Today
[2] Saugata Roy’s Verbal Altercation in Parliament
[3] Noakhali Riots
[4] BJP’s High Level Team to Probe Mass Exodus of Hindus from UP’s Kairana
[5] Any Martyrs from Gujarat-Akhilesh Yadav’s Comment evokes Sharp Comment from BJP

[10] Robert Conquest, “The Great Terror: A Reassessment’’



[13] Pavel Polyan “Не по своей воле’’















[30] (A version of this paper has been published in Indian Journal of Politics, Vol. XLII, No.1 & 2 (January-June 2009)

[31] AP Joshi, MD Srinivas, JK Bajaj, “Religious Demography of India’’

[32] LC Jain, “The City of Hope: The Faridabad Story’’

[33] Joya Chatterjee, “The Spoils of Partition’’

[34] The Constitution of BJP.