What happened with Hindu minorities at Hathazari in Bangladesh is not only a matter of grave concern but also clearly shows the rise of religious fanatics in the country, which upheld the sentiment of religious harmony for centuries. The incident in brief is some miscreants spread rumor in the locality on Thursday (February 9, 2012) stating a mosque had been attacked by the local Hindus. Immediately some religious extremists in the locality put seize on the Chittagong-Rangamati highways and continued to chant slogans against Hindus. The Muslim agitators alleged that a mosque in the locality was hurdled with brick bats from a procession of the Loknath Sebashram. The blockaders demanded arrest of those linked with ‘hurtling brick bats’ on the mosque.
By- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury | Date- February 12, 2012
According to the local people, Hindus in the area took out a procession to celebrate the founding anniversary of Loknath Sebasram in the morning of the day of the incident. They used loudspeakers and drums in the procession to cheer the celebration. When the procession was passing through a local mosque, Muslims in the mosque forbade them to drums. At one stage, someone hurled a brick bat on the procession. This resulted in chase and counter-chase between the Muslims and Hindus. At one stage, the confronting situation was eased through the intervention of some local leaders and both parties sat for peaceful discussion to reconcile the entire situation. While such meeting was continuing, a group of fanatic Muslims attacked the temple, smashed deities and damaged a number of vehicles of the devotees in the temple. It was later learnt that an announcement to ‘give proper response’ to Hindus for playing loudspeakers and drums in front of the mosque were announced from a local madrassa, which actually instigated some unruly Muslim fanatics in committing such heinous crime on the religious minority. Vandalizing of temples as well as looting of business establishments and shops of the Hindus minorities continued for hours, before the local law enforcing agencies rushed on the spot to stop such notoriety. It is reported that more than 50 Hindu residences also came under attack of the Muslim fanatics. During this vandalism, a number of Hindus temples namely Sri Sri Jagadeshwari Ma Temple and Jagannath Bigroho Temple at Nandirhat, Raksha Kali Temple, Jalakumari Bari Temple, and Sita Kalibari Temple at Sadar Upazila. Attackers also set fire at the Sri Sri Jagadeshwari Ma Temple.
Taking advantage of such confronting situation, some vested interest groups started giving instigations to spreading the religious riot in a greater area. Sensing such severe consequences, local authorities and police imposed Section 144 banning all forms of rallies, demonstrations and gathering of more than 4 people in a group. Police have filed two separate cases accusing more than 800 unnamed miscreants over the vandalism and arson attack on several Hindu temples as well as blockade of the Chittagong-Rangamati highways. Police sources said, one case was lodged under the Explosives Act over the vandalism and arson while the second one was lodged for barricading the highway and attacking members of the law enforcing agencies.
Following this notoriety on Hindus temples as well as Hindu residences and business establishments in the eastern district in Bangladesh, several Hindu rights groups have already issued statements demanding exemplary punishment of the culprits. Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Moha Jote (Bangladesh National Hindu Grand Alliance) formed human chain in front of National Press Club. During this program, secretary general of the alliance, Advocate Gobinda Chandra Pramanik said, Bangladesh was liberated in 1971 under secularist philosophy and the constitution of the country gives equal rights to people of every religious beliefs.
He said, for some years, vested interest groups, including some political parties are continuing to play ‘Minority Card’ for cashing political benefits in their favor. Rise of Jihadist forces in Bangladesh is an issue of grave concern for every citizen of the country; as such situation may greatly hamper the global image of Bangladesh, being a country of religious harmony and peaceful co-existence.
Advocate Gobinda Chandra Pramanik said, the current government needs to ensure fullest security to the Hindus and other religious minorities in the country, though attacks and vandalism on Hindu temples and residences as well as illegal occupation of Hindu and temple properties has not changed even a bit during the past three plus years.
He said, Hindu girls and females are regularly kidnapped and converted into Islam by several well organized gangs of Muslim fanatics, who are backed by Tablighi Jamaat.
‘It is well known that Hindus are treated as third grade citizens or not citizens at all, in Islamic Pakistan, while similar notion is being infected in Bangladesh in the recent years’, he added.
The statement of this prominent Hindu leader in Bangladesh very clearly portrays the prevailing situation in the country and everyone will be able to understand the gravity of such notoriety on the religious minorities. It may be mentioned here that, Bangladesh government earlier banned religious publications of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat, which has never been withdrawn despite international outcry. No legal action has ever been taken against the Muslim clergies who led series of vandalisms on the Ahmadiya mosques in Bangladesh as well as grenade attack of Ahmadiya Mosque in Khulna in 1999.