On the ground, one will not be able to spot many terror attacks or overt political activity in these places. But the change is happening slowly and by the time one realises what is happening, it will be too late.
The two districts directly breathe down on the Chicken’s neck, the country’s most vulnerable spot.
Chicken’s neck refers to the Siliguri Corridor — a narrow stretch of land of about 22km in Bengal that connects northeastern states to the rest of the country, with Nepal and Bangladesh on either side. If radical Islamists manage to block this important location, then the entire Northeast will get completely cut off.
In January, a video went viral on social media where former JNU student and Shaheen Bagh Coordination Committee chief Sharjeel Imam was seen arguing for cutting off Assam and Northeast from the rest of India so that army and other government functionaries cannot go there.
The statement indicates such ideas are already gaining ground.
In September, the NIA arrested five suspected al-Qaida terrorists from Murshidabad who were planning attacks at different parts of the country. According to preliminary investigations, the men had been radicalised by Pakistan-based al-Qaida terrorists on social media and were motivated to carry out attacks.
While details are still sketchy, at least one of them seems to be a Rohingya.
If the information is confirmed, it will confirm that Murshidabad is turning into a busy transit hub for extremists from Myanmar’s Rakhine province.
During interrogation, NIA sleuths found the identities of two people from Malda working in tandem with the Murshidabad group
Pamphlets recovered from local al-Qaida operatives show the two districts are part of the organisation’s plan to create a greater Bangla merged with Bangladesh and several other states.
During Partition, a case was made for Muslim-dominated Murshidabad joining Bangladesh and Hindu-majority Kulna becoming a part of India. However, the opposite happened.
Since 1947, Murshidabad’s Muslim population has grown over 65 % while Kulna’s Hindu population has reduced to nearly 10%. Malda, on the other hand, has over 51% Muslims.
Both district have a long history of bloodshed crimes, illegal rackets and links with Rohingyas, who have been deemed illegal immigrants and a threat to national security.
Murshidabad witnessed the first wave of anti-CAA violence with burning of trains, trucks, cars and hundreds of buses. Also, in October 2019, RSS activist Bondhu Prakash Pal, his wife and their 6-year-old son were found with their throat slit.
In the district, Muslim cleric have become so emboldened that they have started objecting to the state’s core cultural celebrations like Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja.
The other district — Malda — is no less a danger.
Kaliachak witnessed serious communal clashes in 2016 over a statement made on Prophet Muhammed. Drug transport, sex-trafficking, gun-running and jihadi money transfers are rampant in the area.
Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal government has created a welcoming gateway to radicals driven out of Bangladesh, thereby making Murshidabad and Malda a safe haven for them. It is only a matter of time before we see a call for secession in these districts.
With the rise of the BJP and Hindutva, the call might come even sooner but not before much damage has already been done.