While India proclaims itself as not only a secular country but also a country, where people of every religion, sect and language enjoy equal status, the Indian Army very unfortunately has been undermining the vast Bangla speaking population in West Bengal by ignoring the justified demand of forming Bengal Regiment. Currently there are 23 Regiments in Indian Army namely Brigade of the Guards Regiment, Bihar Regiment, Parachute Regiment, Punjab Regiment, Madras Regiment, Grenadiers Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry Regiment, Rajputana Rifles, Rajput Regiment, Jat Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Sikh Light Infactry, Dogra Regiment, Garhwal Rifles, Kumaon Regiment, Jammy & Kashmir Rifles, Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry, Assam Regiment, Mahar Regiment, Mechanized Infantry Regiment, Nagara Regiment, Ladakh Scouts and Assam Rifles. Political parties, rights groups and members of the civil societies as well as retired army officers in Bengal had loudly voiced against such serious discrimination of the Indian Army, which has been under the tight grips of non-Bengali politicians and policymakers.
While Indian policymakers are continuing to undermine the emotions and sentiments of Bangla speaking millions of people, the mindset of the senior military officials in India (all of whom are non Bengalis), project Bengalis as cowards and funnies thus such wrong impression of the bosses of Indian Army are very often projected in non-Bengali movies made in Bollywood and other cine industries in India. The Trinamool Congress, under the leadership of Mamata Bannerjee had been extremely vocal against the Centre for ignoring its demand of formation of the Bengal Regiment on the basis of language and province. Trinamool Congress terms such tendencies of the Centre as double standard. Though Trinamool leaders decided to write letter to Defence Minister A K Antony urging him to explain why a separate Bengal regiment in the Indian Army can’t be raised on the lines of Bihar, Rajasthan, and Sikh Army Regiments – the matter had been kept pending as India’s former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee (who now is the President) had made numerous pledges to Mamata Bannerjee and other figures in the West Bengal of raising this important issue with the policymakers in the Centre.
Earlier, one of the leaders of Trinamool Congress asked Rajya Sabha on whether the Centre has any plan to raise new regiment on the basis of language, religion and province. In reply to the question, which was treated as unstarred one, the Defence Ministry gave a written reply that it has no plan to raise new regiment in the Indian Army on the basis of religion and province on policy grounds.
Questioning this decision of the Indian Defence ministry, a leader of Trinamool Congress said, “Why in that case there are separate Indian Army regiments for Bihar, Rajasthan and Sikh? The Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that there will not be any discrimination on the basis of religion and province?”
Asked what will the Trinamool do if a separate Army regiment is not raised for Bengal, the leader said they will “take up the matter politically”. “So many youths from Bengal have laid down their lives while protecting the country. Several Bengalis have occupied important portfolios in all the three forces of Indian Army.”
It may be mentioned here that, during British rule, British Indian Army had Bengal Regiment, which was given to a large number of infantry regiments. These regiments were originally raised by the East India Company as part of the Army of Bengal, which was one of the three presidency armies that were absorbed into British Indian Army in 1903. Composing mainly of recruits from the British Indian province of Bengal, following the partitioning of India and its independence from Britain, such regiments have been carried over into the Indian Army, the Pakistan Army and the Bangladesh Army where they continue to serve today. As a point of history, most regiments in the Bengal Army were dismantled by the British in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, because the anti-British mutiny was believed to have been started because of disaffection amongst the sepoys and sowars of the Army of Bengal. One of the main actors of the mutiny, Mangal Pandey belonged to the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, and it was the incident on March 29, 1857 at Barrackpore when he injured the adjutant, Lieutenant Baugh, with a sword after shooting him, that is said to have started the mutiny.
Commenting on Indian Army’s wrongful attitude of undermining Bengalis, a West-Bengal based journalist said, “The reason heroic people of Bangladesh waged against West Pakistan citing examples of discrimination towards Bangla speaking population in East Pakistan, now millions of Bangla speaking population in India has the rights to demand independence from New Delhi’s clutches, if they are not provided due respect, dignity and honor by the non-Bengali policymakers in the Centre.”
When he was reminded that Indian policymakers in the Centre has recently placed a Bengali like Pranab Mukherjee into Presidency, the journalist said, “Pranab Mukherjee has been totally polluted with similar notions of those anti-Bengali policymakers in the Centre and he (Pranab Mukherjee) is simply a clown of the Bengali haters in the Centre, who is more harmful than those identified opponents. For many reasons we have to believe that Pranab Mukherjee is a planted agent and snake into Bengalis sleeves.”
DISCLAIMER: The content is author’s own view and analysis. Times of Assam isn’t liable for the content.