In the late winter of 2007, some time after Richard Benkin returned from a trip to Bangladesh, he received a fax from Bikash Halder. The fax acknowledged Benkin's human rights success in Bangladesh then made a plea for him to help Halder's community: the Bangladeshi Hindus. (Halder's parents had escaped persecution in Bangladesh and brought him to India when he was a child.) Halder had contacted one of the Bangladeshi Hindu attorneys who had been working with Benkin on the case of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury; and he gave Halder Benkin's fax number in the United States. Neither individual knew what that contact would produce. While Benkin knew something about Bangladesh's persecution of its non-Muslim citizens, especially Hindus, Halder's fax led him to dig deeper into the issue. What he discovered both shocked and appalled him. It was not just the documented atrocities, but it also was the inaction by successive Bangladeshi governments to stop them. "After all," Benkin said, "Hindus are their citizens, too. Or are Muslims and non-Muslims in effect accorded different status in Bangladesh? "But I don't blame the Bangladeshis as much as I blame us," he said. "While there is no way to excuse tolerance for the atocities committed against the Bangladeshi Hindus, those governments were, like all others, trying to survive politically; and they knew that there was a growing Islamist vote in Bangladesh and even more votes Islamists could influence. So, there is no dynamic within the Bangladeshi government to stop this jihadist ethnic cleansing; and the rest of us have told them it's they will face no consequences for allowing it. Having Holocaust survivors in my family--and members of my family who did not survive--I cannot in good conscience fall in with that," Benkin added. And so stopping the destruction of Bangladesh's Hindus, as well as the jihadist aims driving it became Benkin's mission. Halder has called him his "guru," but Benkin has noted that were it not for Halder's courage, moral outrage, and willingness to take a risk, none of the subsequent events would have happened. The two now work closely together--Halder in Bengal, Benkin in the United States; except for periodic missions when the two work together in the refugee camps and along the open borders where the victims and victimizers can be encountered.
Some time later, Dr. Daniel Pipes, one of the most knowledgable people there is on the threat of radical Islam and related topics--as well as one of the great minds of our time--put Benkin together with Amitabh Tripathi, a pro-Israel, pro-Hindu, and anti-Islamist activist whom Pipes had met in Delhi. It took only one trip by Benkin to India for the two men to recognize their common cause and mutual admiration. Tripathi has been working non-stop at grass roots and other levels to further the goals of stopping jihadist terror; stopping the destruction of Hindus in Bangladesh, Kashmir, and elsewhere; strengthening India-Israel ties at official and people-to-people levels; and at promoting a Hindu awakening.
Aside from the dedicated fight these relationships have promoted--and the lives that are saved as a result--they also serve as an example of interfaith respect and cooperation and a recogniztion of mutual goals and values.