As many as 3,679 attacks on the Hindu community took place between January 2013 and September this year, says ASK
People from all walks of life have been banding together to voice their protest against the ongoing communal violence in the country. However, the tempo of the violence is yet to recede. The latest victim is the Hindu community ofMajhipara in Rangpur's Pirganj upazila.
At least 20 homes were completely burnt in an arson attack on Sunday night by a group of miscreants over a post on social media that allegedly dishonoured religion.
Demanding justice for the victims of ongoing attacks and vandalism across the country, thousands of people from the Hindu community, students and teachers of Dhaka University and other institutions gathered at the Shahbagh intersection in the capital on Monday.
They kept the intersection blocked for more than four hours, with people from different walks of life joining them in expressing solidarity. The agitators left the road after calling for the acceptance of a seven-point demand within twenty four hours.
The demands included repair of the damaged temples, providing compensation to the owners of ransacked houses and businesses, ensuring punishment for the attackers, forming a separate ministry and commission for religious minorities, and allocating 15% of GDP for the wellbeing of the minorities.
Addressing the protesters at Shahbagh, Jagannath Hall Provost Mihir Lal Saha said: "The spirit of independence of our country is not being upheld anymore."
He said: “Fanatics have vandalized our idols. We are not some refugees; we are citizens of the country. We want equality,” he added.
He demanded exemplary punishment of those involved in the attacks and sought the prime minister’s intervention to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The government has formed a five-member committee comprising the Rangpur divisional commissioner, deputy commissioner and police over the Rangpur attack.
Joyjit Datta, organizing secretary of Jagannath Hall unit Chhatra League, issued an ultimatum to the home minister.
He said: “I had hoped that an assurance would come from the high-ups about our seven-point demand. But we did not get any such assurance.”
“ISKCON placed a memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and she has assured them of justice. We are hopeful of getting justice,” he added.
‘Attacks on Hindus need to be stopped’
UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo has said the recent attacks on Hindus "fuelled by hate speech" on social media were against the values of the constitution and needed to be stopped.
"We call upon the government to ensure protection of minorities and an impartial probe," she said on Monday.
The UNRC tweeted, calling upon all to join hands to strengthen inclusive tolerance in Bangladesh.
Protest from different quarters
Several TSC-based socio-cultural organizations have expressed deep concerns and condemned the attacks and vandalism at puja venues during the Durga Puja centring on an alleged defamation of the Holy Quran at a Comilla temple and issued a statement on Sunday pressing for a speedy trial of the offenders.
Bangladesh cricket team's former captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza in a Facebook post wrote: “Saw two defeats last night. One was Bangladesh cricket team's and that one hurt. The other one was a defeat for the whole of Bangladesh, which tore my heart to pieces.”
Journalists at a protest rally in Dhaka said that a vested quarter was trying to tarnish the spirit of liberation war and non-communal Bangladesh by the attacks. The rally was arranged by the Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ).
The journalist leaders said that the country became independent as people of all religions had fought for it.
They pledged that journalists would stand by the Hindu victims.
Dr Mohammad Atiqur Rahman, assistant professor of Chittagong University, protested against the communal attacks across the country by putting on a blindfold on Monday morning.
“The situation that has arisen in Bangladesh in the last few days is not our culture. Such activities hurt us all,” he said.
Teachers, students of Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University in Tangail also formed a human chain on their campus in protest against communal violence.
According to the prominent rights group, Ain o Salish Kendra, as many as 3,679 attacks on the Hindu community took place between January 2013 and September this year. At least 1,678 cases of vandalism and arson attacks on Hindu temples, idols and places of worship were also reported in the same period.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) organized a human chain and protest rally in Dinajpur.
Otherwise known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON is a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. It has spread across the globe since 1966.
In Bangladesh, several ISKCON leaders and temples have come under violent attack by religious fanatics in recent years.
At the hour-long human chain and protest rally before Dinajpur Press Club, the Hindu leaders said the people of Bangladesh believed in a non-communal polity and could never do such a vile thing as insulting a religion.
The Bangladesh National Hindu Grand Alliance demonstrated in Manikganj to protest the recent attacks.
The speakers said that a group of fanatical extremists were using religious sentiments of the common people to attack, torture and persecute the Hindu community.
Criminals are repeatedly getting away with committing such crimes, depriving the victims of any justice due to the government’s negligence and corrupt officials in the administration, they added.
BNP forms two committees
Meanwhile, the BNP has formed two committees to investigate the attacks, alleging that the government was trying to protect the real offenders.
The BNP standing committee at a virtual meeting on Sunday formed the committees, said a press release signed by party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday.
He said one of the committees was headed by Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, standing committee member of BNP, while another one was led by Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Barrister Ruhul Quddus Kazal.
Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the Gayeshwar-led committee would visit the violence-affected temples and puja mandaps in different areas of the country and offer solace to the victims on behalf of the BNP.
He said the other committee, led by Kazal, wouldl look into the incidents of vandalism and arson attacks to ascertain the facts.
“The two committees will visit the affected areas very soon and submit a report to the party high-command. The decision was taken at our standing committee meeting. They will start their work in a day or two,” Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said.
6 BCL leaders relieved
The Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) has relieved six of its members from the Satkhira district committee on charges of spreading communal hatred over social media.
A press release on Sunday signed by district BCL President Ashikur Rahman said that they were relieved on charges of being involved in anti-party ideology and activities.
Meanwhile, Awami League leader AKM Bahauddin demanded the arrest of Dr Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, secretary general of the Bangladesh National Hindu Grand Alliance, accusing him of spreading communal hatred.
MP Bahauddin said Gobinda Chandra Pramanik needed to be arrested to get to the truth of who was behind the attacks at Hindu temples and homes.