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Suhas Chakma, Director, Asian Centre for Human Rights

The BJP's accusation that the secularism of the UPA Government is threatening national security is a compliment neither the Congress nor its allies deserve. Obviously, a country in which mythology shapes the daily lives of the majority; and where history was written by foreigners whether they be Hsuan-Tsang, Fa-hien or Ibn Batuta, the history of national security regimes is of little importance.
The Congress is the architect of all the national security laws. India is the only democracy to incorporate preventive detention in the Constitution under Article 22. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 remains the mother of all draconian laws. MISA was another such law.

Before the BJP throttled down the POTA in a Joint Session of Parliament in 2002, Congress-led governments in MP, Karnataka and Maharashtra had already adopted the much-abused TADA of 1985 with different nomenclatures. Now, the UPA Government has made provisions of temporary law, POTA, a part of the permanent law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004. It was also the Congress-supported Government that amended Section 197 of the CrPC in 1991 to give blanket immunity to Government officials.

The Left parties are equally repressive. There is no difference between the Left's Buddhadev Bhattacharjee and BJP's Arjun Munda or his predecessor, Mr Babulal Marandi, in dealing with the suspected Naxalites. The only difference is that while Mr Marandi was rightly accused of abusing POTA, Mr Bhattacharjee went scot-free for abusing the Indian Penal Code by arresting suspects for waging war against the state. He further blames the Telugus, an oblique reference to the PW in Andhra Pradesh, for Naxalism in Bengal. But from Amlasole to the Dooars, social discontent among those who suffer the most - the Adivasis - is all-pervasive.

Secularism among the present political class is skin deep. It was the Congress which introduced in famous Religious Freedoms Acts. Yet, nothing exposes pseudo-secularists more than the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Recently, Mr Arun Shourie wrote a series of articles on "The silent demographic invasion" in a national daily and as expected, he made it synonymous with "Muslim immigrants". But, more Hindus cross the border to India everyday because of the systemic religious profiling of the Hindu minorities under the Enemy Properties Act in Bangladesh.

According to the Association for Land Reforms and Development, a Dhaka-based NGO, an estimated 5.3 million Hindus migrated to India between 1964 and 1991 as a consequence of appropriation of an estimated 1.05 million acres of land. Not surprisingly, the minority Hindus in Bangladesh comprised just 9.2 per cent of the population in 2001, down from 18.4 per cent in 1961.

The migration of these persecuted Hindus directly contributes to insurgency in Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya thereby creating national security problem. Like the BJP, the CPI(M) too maintains silence. In Tripura, the Communist Party is also known as the "communal party" by the tribals. It is a contest between crude Hindu fundamentalists and pseudo-secularists, that is, sophisticated Hindu nationalists.

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