Dr. Richard Benkin
Jihad has come to India. The Obama administration and the State Department will tell you that it is nothing more than isolated acts by individuals and the New Delhi government will say you are stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment. But I have seen it for myself first-hand and know that this studied denial will find us caught as flat-footed in India as we were in Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere. The difference is that India is an economic and military giant, with nuclear weapons and could be a cornerstone of any effective fight against radical Islam.
I have spent several years along India's 2545 mile-long frontier with Bangladesh, and have seen the impact Bangladesh's radicalization has had on its giant neighbor to the west. Amitabh Tripathi, who has been fighting against what he calls his country's "soft policies," noted that Bangladesh's Muslims "are not radicalized but their institutions are." Mixed with corruption on both sides of the border, that radicalization has produced demographic change in many strategic areas of India and given Muslim activists carte blanche throughout the country.
Each year in states like Uttar Dinajpur and West Bengal directly across from the Islamic state, we find that increasingly more mixed Hindu-Muslim villages are now all Muslim or Muslim-dominated. Gone are the roadside temples characteristic of places where Hindus practice their faith openly; gone are the sights of Hindu women dressed in their colorful saris and other vestments. They have been replaced by mosques and burqas. Last year, Tripathi and I met with Bimal Praminik, Director of the Kolkata-based Centre for Research in Indo-Bangladesh Relations who has studied these population changes and is convinced they are integral to the jihad's that threatens us all, noting that the dominant culture for South Asian Muslims has become more "Arabic," than South Asian.
Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been disappearing for years; now we are seeing Hindus being replaced by radicalized Muslims all in India. Between 1981 and 1991, Muslim population growth in West Bengal actually exceeded its growth in Bangladesh. India’s Muslim population growth outstripped government predictions based on demographic factors (fertility and mortality). There had to be another element driving the change, which Pramanik and others identify as "illegal immigration from across the border."
Statistics might be the "smoking gun," but jihad's impact is more powerful in the testimony of its victims. In places as far afield as Deganga and Meerut, Hindu populations are fleeing Muslim violence and government inaction. Elsewhere, an elderly Hindu in the Howrah district told us how Muslims are taking over her property piece by piece. She even showed us a wall with a star and crescent on it that local Muslims built to identify it as dar al Islam. In another village, residents showed us the remains of a Hindu temple that Muslims recently destroyed after urinating on its holy objects. Most poignant was the testimony of a crestfallen mother in Norit whose 22-year-old daughter was abducted weeks ago by local Muslims. Abduction of Hindu women and girls in the name of Islam has been common in Bangladesh for years and is a key element in jihad: eliminating females of childbearing years from the gene pool and forcing them to "produce" Muslim offspring instead. It is now happening in India, according to victimized parents who told me about it in India's North and Northeast.
Our State Department will tell you that there is no jihad in India. They will hew the official line that the liberal Awami League government in Bangladesh has put an end to anti-Hindu actions there. A similarly weak government in New Delhi will parrot the same platitudes. Yet, their false palliatives bring no comfort to the scores of victims who have told us their stories; or the many others now unable to do so. Imagine what an Islamist India would mean.