A press briefing by a number of minority rights groups was held at Dhaka Reporters Unit (DRU) on Thursday morning.
Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, said: “Many of the attacks were carried out with political agendas and often with indirect support from the state.”
“No government has ever taken an effective measure against those who attack minorities and the state has taken up the role of protecting the oppressors instead of the oppressed,” he added.
During his speech, Rana referred to the two recent attacks on the minorities – Hindus in Nasirnagar in Brahmanbaria and the Santal in Gobindaganj of Gaibandha which have triggered mass criticism throughout the country.
The Nasirnagar attack saw about 17 temples vandalised and around 58 households attacked.
In Gaibandha, three Santals were killed during an attack labelled “eviction” which saw thousands more of Santals be rendered homeless. Now they spend their days under the foreboding sky in fear.
Criticising government statements that often describe the attacks on minorities as “scattered” and “trivial”, Rana said: “This type of approach from the government raises questions about their stance on these attacks.”
Rama said it is very unfortunate that this country has developed a culture of denial and overlooking planned attacks on minorities.
“We want to see the government take an active role to protect the ethnic and religious minorities of Bangladesh,” he further said.
The committee demanded inclusion in the Election Commission (EC) that is scheduled to be reconstituted in February 2017 through at least one minority community member as a representative and urged the political parties to ensure rational and proportional representation of minorities in the upcoming district council elections.
They also demanded formulation of a special law to try criminals who instigate and attack minorities by spreading hatred through social media.
Their other demands were that a minority ministry and National Minority Commission be formed at the earliest to safeguard the minorities and that recommendations of the judicial probe report submitted by the Shahabuddin Commission that investigated violence against minorities after the 2001 National Election be implemented.
Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Ashoke Barua, general secretary of Bangladesh Buddhist Federation and other minority spokespersons also spoke at the programme.