Kolkata: During his trip to Bangladesh on March 26, on the occasion of their Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the shrine at Orakandi, which the Matuas in West Bengal and Bangladesh consider to be their ancestral place.
The PM, who will also visit the ancestral home of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is likely to be accompanied by Bongaon BJP MP Shantanu Thakur.
Asked about the proposed visit to Bangladesh, Thakur said: “Bangladesh’s Orakandi is Harichand Thakur’s birthplace. Of the total number of Hindus there, two-thirds are Matuas. Modi ji might be visiting the place to pay his respect at the ancestral temple there. I don’t have any confirmation yet.”
Thakur is looking forward to the visit as he had proposed to the PM that he go to Orakandi a year back, but then the coronavirus pandemic broke out and lockdown was announced.
“Though I’m born here, my ancestral home is still there and I have visited the place earlier. My grandfather, barrister PR Thakur, had migrated to India just after the Partition of India. My last visit there was a year-and-a-half back,” said Thakur.
According to the Journal of International Academic research For Multidisciplinary by Dr Krishnendu Dutta, Matuas patriarch Harichand Thakur was born in 1811 at Safaldanga in Gopalgang and his place of work was Orakandi village. Harichand formed the Matua Mahasangha and pitched it as a religious reformation movement around 1860 AD.
In 1971, the evacuees left their country (Bangladesh) and took shelter in refugee camps in West Bengal. During this period, the headquarters of Matua Mahasangha was founded in Thakurnagar.
“The Hindus are not in a good position in any Muslim neighbourhood. I cannot say if anyone wants to migrate to India now, it is their personal matter. The central government has said that anyone who has come here before 2014 will get Indian citizenship. It will be a very happy moment for all the community members in India as well as in Bangladesh,” the Bongaon MP said.
The Matuas in Bengal have been demanding Indian citizenship for a long time, but successive governments at the Centre have not met their demand. The Modi-led BJP government has assured them that he will grant citizenship to Matuas in Bengal.
There is a sizeable number of Matuas in Thakurnagar, but the 3-crore population is divided between Trinamool and BJP as far as political allegiance is concerned.
Union Home minister Amit Shah said during his last visit to Thakurnagar that the citizenship issue will be taken up after COVID-19 vaccination is completed. This disappointed many saffron supporters from the community, who believe the BJP government is trying to woo them because elections are around the corner and that citizenship will remain an election promise.
Eight-phase polls in West Bengal get underway on March 27.
Trinamool MP Abhishek Bannerjee, on the other hand, had said at Thakurnagar itself that the state government is extending all benefits to the Matuas as citizens of the country and it has never discriminated against the community.