Address to Chicago Rally for Tuktuki Mondal

Dr. Richard Benkin

July 11, 2015

 

Namaste.

 

What happened to Tuktuki Mondal is terribleóbut itís nothing new.  In 2013, I met another young woman in West Bengal.  For months, local Islamists had been pressuring her and her disabled brother to leave their small plot of land.  Why?  Because they are Hindu.  They threatened; they attacked.  She showed me how they cut down their fruit trees and drained the small pond where they raised fish, because if they couldnít scare them out, they would starve them out.  And why?  Because they are Hindu.  Still they resisted.  This was their home, she said, their family legacy; and she would not abandon it.  Despite the challenges, the difficulties, and the cost; the she and her brother traveled to Kolkata and sought help from West Bengal strongwoman Momata Bannerjee.  They met with her personal assistant who promised help; but it never came.  Why?  Because they are Hindu.

 

Then, one night after previous criminal action and official inaction failed, those same attackers broke into their home, tried to abduct the young woman, and threatened to gang rape her.  Somehow, she fought them off, kicking and screaming, using what she could find to fightóand I say somehow because if you saw this daughter of Bengal you would see that she was so frail, almost childlike in her appearance.

 

But not in her strength of will.  She would not be denied justice.  Knowing that her life was in danger, the next day she filed charges against her attackers.  But the West Bengal police was in cahoots with the criminals and when they made an arrest, they arrested herócharged her with making a false claim, all the while knowing that their own claim was false.  And why?  Because she is Hindu.

 

For years, Iíve been fighting the persecution of Hindus in East Bengal, what we know as Bangladesh, all the while warning that jihad is spreading to West Bengal, as well.  Each year, I travel Bengalís villages; and each year I find more of them that were once home to both Hindus and Muslims, now empty of Hindus who were driven off or worse.  Each year, I see more roadside temples, once strewn with fresh flowers now strewn with garbage, abandoned and desecrated.

 

Our enemies are already in Kolkata.  Iíve seen Jamaatís office there and fought Islamist actions that spew from the Tipul Sultan Mosque.  Right now, Bangladeshi schoolchildren are being taught that Kolkata is theirs; and if we let that happen, whatís next?  New Delhi?  London?  And how soon before theyíre in New York and Chicago?

 

When I first raised the issue of Bangladeshís Hindus, people told me that no one cared, that no one ever would care.  And while we still have much to do, thatís changed.  Itís now been raised in the US Congress and other official circles; and more action is pending.  We can make a difference if we have the will.

 

So, what we have to do for Tuktuki is difficultóvery difficultóbut itís not impossible.  Moreover, itís our dharma.

 

Honor Tuktuki and that brave young woman I met by making today a new beginning.  Do more than just shake your fists in anger.  Join with me.  Make our enemies fight a multi-front war.  Make them take off their shoes at the airport.  Make a noise so loud that Mamata canít ignore it; and neither can those here who will be looking for our votes next year.  Join with me in this struggle, and we will succeed.  Join with meófor Tuktuki and for our own daughters.

 

Nasmaskar.