Mostafa Kamal Majumder
Attacks on minorities during the past one fortnight have sent wrong signals to Bangladesh’s friends and development partners who know its people as moderate Muslims with a predominantly secular outlook. But nothing concrete has been done to fix the responsibility for the violence that tormented many concentrations of the minority Hindus.Hindus make up nearly 10% of the population of about 153 million in this Muslim-majority nation. The two communities live side by side in villages across Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has long prided itself on its secular values – but that image has taken a knock following the recent violence.
Zee News has reported by quoting an organisation that looks after Hindu temples in the country, 47 temples and at least 700 Hindu houses had either been torched or vandalised by members of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.
Jamaat, which is an ally of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has denied any role in the attacks, blaming supporters of the ruling Awami League party for the violence.
BNP Chief the leader of the Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia has demanded that the government identify and punish the perpetrators through “neutral” investigation and compensate the victims.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni earlier told diplomats that Jamaat and Shibir attacked Hindu temples and houses in a “pre-planned manner”.
The BBC on the other hand quoted Hindu community leaders of Noakhali as saying the attacks are systematic and have been going on for years. They say they are not only carried out by hardline Islamists but also by supporters of other mainstream political parties, including the Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The aim of the violence, Hindu leaders allege, is to grab land and other property.
Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia paid a visit to an affected temple in Louhajang upazila of Munshiganj district, saw for herself the damage caused to Monipara Kali Mandir at Goalimandra village and also visited the affected families. She pledged to reconstruct the temple if her party comes back to power.
Home Minister MK Alamgir who visited Banskhali on the day said anti-liberation forces attacked the minorities there. “Anti-liberation forces are attacking minorities and carrying out sabotage for foiling war crimes trial, but their plots would never be succeed,” he added.
It is however sad to note is that despite the issuance of a rule from the High Court to initiate suo motu investigation of the crime, little has been done so far. None has been charged, although lakhs of people, known or unidentified, have been charged in cases of hartal violence during the past one fortnight.
(Source: The New Nation)
Mostafa Kamal Majumder