Hindu Lives Matter: Attacks on Hindu in Bangladesh
At least six people were killed and numerous more were injured in attacks on Bangladesh’s Hindu minority during Durga Puja celebrations last week.
In connection with the incident, which reportedly began following a blasphemous remark on social media regarding the Quran, police have detained 450 individuals and filed 71 charges.
According to Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a Bangladeshi human rights organisation, at least 3,600 similar attacks have occurred in Bangladesh since 2013.
Hindus constitute less than 9% of Bangladesh’s more than 165 million population, with Muslims accounting for 90% population.
At the time of Partition in 1947, the Hindu population were roughly 30% in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). In the 1980s, the Hindu population was 13.5 per cent, according to government figures. In the last four decades, the Hindu population of Bangladesh has decreased from 13.5 per cent to 8.5 per cent.
The German news website DW cited Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of the nonprofit Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC), as stating, “The purpose of the attacks is to force minorities out of their houses, to minimise the minority population of Bangladesh.”
“There is an orchestrated attempt to grab Hindu houses and lands in Bangladesh and they are being forced to leave the country.”
“It was a pre-planned attack on the Hindu community,” said Achinta Das, the head of the Hindu festival committee in Comilla town.
A day after the temple attack, prime minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the violence, saying the perpetrators “must be found out”.
“We did so in the past and will do it in future as well,” she said. “They must face appropriate punishments.”
Despite her warning, the violence spread to other parts of Bangladesh, triggering fear and panic among members of the minority community. At one point, the government had to deploy security forces in 22 districts to control the riots.
Analysts point out that hard-line Islamist groups have gained prominence over the years in Bangladesh and the governing Awami League, which has been in power since 2008, had failed to tackle the rising religious intolerance and fundamentalism.
“The government has for political expediency compromised with the fundamentalist forces, particularly in the backdrop of a constrained democratic polity,” said Debapriya Bhattacharya, an eminent economist.
“As a result, fundamentalists have got prominence, recognition and influence,” he said.
There is ample evidence and documentation to prove that there has been a Hindu exodus from Bangladesh.
Hindus have been targeted for vandalism and arson in over 550 homes and 440 stores and enterprises during the last eight years.
During the same period, more than 1,670 vandalism and arson assaults on Hindu temples, idols, and places of worship were documented.
(With inputs from agencies)
(Featured image: AFP )