A slice of Bihar in Karachi #indopak

Sameer Arshad and Tnn | November 10, 2012, Times Crest

BUILDING BONDS: Nitish greeted by supporters in Patna before leaving for Pakistan. His visit could strengthen ties with Bihari Pakistanis

Few know that Pakistan has an impressive number of migrants from Bihar who have hung on to their cultural identity for decades.

Punjabi folk singers lined the road, performed bhangra to dhol beats to welcome then Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh to the Pakistani side of the land of five rivers in January 2004. Amarinder was overwhelmed and described his journey to Lahore as a pilgrimage, as the city “is the composite Punjabi culture’s central pillar”, while pledging to promote the divided region’s shared heritage.

Eight years later, Nitish Kumar became the second chief minister of an Indian state to visit Pakistan since 2004 on Friday. Unlike Amarinder, Nitish may not feel culturally at home elsewhere in Pakistan, but parts of Karachi would be an exception. The city has a sizeable Bihari population that has retained its distinct identity despite being clubbed with its Urdu-speaking residents.

Abdul Kadir Khanzada, who represents Karachi’s Orangi Town in the Pakistani parliament, says over a million people in his constituency have their roots in Bihar. “My family came from Alwar in Rajputana (Rajasthan), but 70 per cent of my voters are of Bihari origin, ” he tells TOI-Crest. He says his party – Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan’s third largest party representing the Urduspeaking people – have always supported peace with India and hopes Nitish’s visit would help the process. “I will speak to my leader in parliament, Farooq Sattar, and see whether we can invite Kumar to connect with the people of Bihari origin. ”

Biharis have over the years been seen as die-hard supporters of the MQM, which is a part of the country’s federal as well as the Sindh provincial government. But a breakaway faction, the Bihari Quami Movement, was formed a few years earlier in Karachi, and is indicative of the community’s attempt to assert its separate identity.

Biharis have enriched Karachi’s cosmopolitan culture. Their imprint on the city is perhaps best reflected in the Bihari kebabs that are an integral part of the city’s culinary attractions. The place where the early Bihar immigrants settled after Partition is still known as Bihar colony in Karachi’s Layari Town.

Mostly well-off immigrants managed to reach Karachi, then Pakistan’s capital, following bloody riots in Bihar before the Partition. The rest of about three million Bihari refugees found it easier to cross over to East Pakistan (Bangladesh). Around 1, 63, 000 of them were repatriated to Pakistan in the ’70s and ’80s after Bangladesh’s liberation as they were accused of being collaborators, stripped off their properties and forced into camps. Thousands returned on their own and preferred to settle in Sindh and its capital Karachi among their fellow Urdu-speaking people. MQM, then known as Muhajir Qaumi Movement, backed them, hoping it would consolidate its political hold over the region.

Nearly 8, 00, 000 Biharis in Bangladesh declared themselves as Pakistanis after the ’71 liberation and sought to be settled in that country to escape linguistic persecution. Most repatriated Biharis settled in Orangi. The process was stopped in the ’80s after it led to bloody ethnic riots in Karachi amid fears that it would further tilt the politico-ethnic balance in favour of the city’s dominant Urdu-speaking people at the cost of the province’s native Sindhi speakers. The latter are now a small minority in Karachi.

The process re-started briefly in 1993 when 321 Biharis were brought to Pakistan on the condition that they would settle in Punjab to allay fears of the Sindhi nationalists. A Bihari colony was set up for them 370 km from Islamabad at Mian Channu in Punjabi Khanewal district. Successive Pakistani governments have since gone back on their promise to bring back an estimated 3, 00, 000 Biharis, who live in 66 camps without citizenship rights in Bangladesh.

A recent Abu Dhabi-based The National report highlighted the miserable condition of Mian Channu’s Biharis, who along with their brethren in Bangladesh represent the horrors of the double partition they faced while other communities uprooted in the aftermath of the 1947 division have moved on and prospered.

The report cited the plight of 60-year-old Manzar Husain, who had arrived in Mian Channu leaving behind his daughter, now a mother of three. He expected her to be on the next flight to Pakistan, but that was not to be and has not since seen her. He has lost all hopes of seeing her daughter and grandchildren. His family had lost everything when they migrated to what was then East Pakistan in 1947, but he never thought he would have to face the horrors of another migration.

The National reported that Mian Channu’s Bihari colony is now a slum and Punjabis occupy most of two-room apartments constructed for Biharis with foreign assistance.

Kamran Asdar Ali, a US-based Pakistani academic whose parents had migrated from Bihar at the time of the Partition, argued that the community is very diverse in Pakistan. “Biharis in Pakistan are there in all walks of life, from the most wealthy and influential to the lowly urban poor, much like in India. ”

Sasaram-born scholar and anti-colonial activist Eqbal Ahmad was among the most prominent Pakistani-Biharis to earn international acclaim. Ali says Biharis have been given a “politically available” Muhajir identity, which, he added, “is a constructed ethnicity – a family that migrated from Madras or Bombay is also Muhajir and those who migrated from Bihar or UP are also Muhajirs”.

The academic says most Pakistani Biharis may not know about Nitish, his visit and what he has done in Bihar. “But his coming to Pakistan may change that, ” he says.


Raj Thackeray: AN EXCLUSIVE CON #mustread #mustshare

(Translation of  FOUR PLUS PAGES , more to come )


Raj Thackeray: An exclusive con




That (non-existent) letter by the State Secretary of Bihar




On the evening of September 9, an exclusive interview of Raj Thackeray was telecast on ABP Mazha. A statement reveals that this interview was shot on September 6. The purpose for referring to the dates is a revelation made in the presence of Raj Thackeray himself, about a supposedly ‘threatening’ letter, never being sent by the Chief Secretary of Bihar. Using this letter as a ruse, Raj Thackeray had declared at a gathering of MNS officials held on August 31, in combative words that every Bihari in Maharashtra will be considered a squatter and driven away. Raj Thackerey says his ‘lie’ was based on a report published in the Samna [a newspaper run by the Shiv Sena] about a threat issued by the Chief Secretary of Bihar to the Mumbai Police that if the latter entered Bihar and arrested criminals there without a warrant, they would face charges of ‘kidnapping’. There is no need to ask why the makers of Samna resorted to such exaggeration. Samna’s expertise at creating a rift in society by spreading false news is well-known.




Abhay Anand, the DGP of Bihar had written a letter to Sanjeev Dayal, his counterpart in Maharashtra, expressing his annoyance over the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police not informing local police in Bihar when arresting criminals there. There is nothing wrong with that. If, for any reason they do not want to inform the local police [in Bihar] in advance – considering the covert relations between the police and criminals – then there should be no issues with them informing the local police immediately after the arrest. Due to this, the Bihar police will not have to needlessly face the anger of the locals. By twisting this routine letter by the Bihar police and exaggerating it, Samna turned it into a threatening letter sent by the Chief Secretary of Bihar. Raj Thackeray then upheld the news and created a ruckus in the name of Biharis. The caper here is that his family publishes hanky-panky and he wastes words by holding it up. It is infuriating that almost all media gave a lot of publicity to Raj Thackeray’s statement and to the non-existent ‘threatening’ letter by the Chief Secretary of Bihar, without verifying anything (which they should have done). It is a relief that this matter ended where it did; otherwise it could have taken an ugly turn and led to loss of life and limb for the common Bihari (or non-Marathi) and Marathi. What gives for leaders? They instigate people for their selfish ends, and walk away.




Bangladesh Passport scandal


The uproar created by goons during a morcha by Raza Academy on August 11. The ready opportunity it created for arm-flexing by way of retaliation, the quick support offered to Raj Thackeray by Sonia’s Congress – which kept mum over the entire affair – because it put the Nationalist Congress Party in a spot, Aaba’s [RR Patil’s] political rivals in the NCP, and most important of all, RR Patil’s mismanaged modus operandi – the amalgamation of all of this benefitted Raj Thackeray who is always on his ego trips. Under the excuse of lifting the low morale (?) of the police, Raj Thackeray held a big morcha on August 21. He declared in the morcha that illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh were responsible for the violence on August 11, and displayed a Bangladeshi’s passport found at the site of violence as proof. How does Raj Thackeray possess a passport found at the site of the violence in CST that took place on August 11? Whose passport is it? And why did the person who found the passport (Raj Thackeray definitely didn’t) send it to Raj Thackeray? From August 11 to 21, for 10 whole days why did Raj Thackeray keep the Bangladeshi’s passport with himself? If the morcha on August 21 had not taken place, would he have kept the passport with himself forever? Has Raj Thackeray directly or indirectly helped the Bangladeshi ‘rioter’ in escaping by not handing over the passport to the police? To this day, Raj Thackeray has the passport, which indicates the Bangladesh passport scandal is a publicity stunt, and that is why this incident becomes even more serious.




However, all politicians and the media seem to have conveniently turned a blind eye to such a serious incident because this could be a part of their politics. But when the common people accept such an incident silently, then its danger increases manifold – because this game started by the leaders of hankering after vulgar publicity by making a hullaballoo of national security, and the greed for increasing their vote banks may surely backfire on them. However, the leaders are not concerned with that; they are cozy in their burrows, in the huddles of their bodyguards.  Those who die and suffer are common people like you and me.




The heartburn of Indu Mill




In the morcha flagged off for providing encouragement to Mumbai Police, Raj Thackeray – as his wont – digressed to Dalit leaders, without any rhyme or reason. No one knows why, but Bal Thackeray and the generations after him have a ‘solid grudge’ against the Dalit community, specifically Buddhists. Be it relevant to the context or the topic or not, this generation after Prabhokankar will drag in Dalits. (Anyway, the Thackeray family does not need any reference to context; the practice is to consider their words as the context.)




“A statue of the Buddha was shown contempt in Lucknow, yet why are Dalit leaders silent? Why do they keep harping on in the Indu Mill?… Do they wish to construct a bungalow on the land?,” Raj Thackeray asked. Now, after banishing the workers of a mill that was closed down, only Raj Thackeray can tell how the land can be disposed off. So be it. By bashing up the Ambedkar-following young men and women who had gathered to protest against this unrestrained statement by Raj Thackeray, MN sainiks [workers of the MNS] have shown the spark of their ‘Maharashtra dharma’. Raj Thackeray, who cracked his knuckles because Dalit leaders did nothing after a Buddha statue was vandalised in Lucknow, made a blatant U-turn by saying in an interview with ABP Mazha, “Why are statues and memorials needed? The statues are vandalised, then riots happen”. Does Raj Thackeray not know why the statue of only one exemplary man is shown contempt for, even though there are statues of countless leaders in this country? The vandalism does not happen because the statues are, it happens because of the sick mentality to commit such vandalism. It seems that Raj Thackeray has conveniently forgotten that the mentality to show contempt for Babasaheb’s statue has thrived especially in his courtyard.


download orginal article in marathi by  milind bhanwar

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