At least 79 Hindus have been killed in the last six months.
New Delhi: Incidents of persecution of minorities (Hindus) in Bangladesh are witnessing a steep rise, with more than 79 Hindus being killed in the last six months and more than 800 Hindus injured or threatened to be killed. This has made it “extremely” difficult for Hindus to live in that country and Hindu organisations in Bangladesh are asking for help from both India and the Sheikh Hasina government.
“In Bangladesh, what we are witnessing is a silent persecution of the minorities (Hindu) and it is spread across the country, from killings, to death threats to attempt to murder, to forced conversion and land grabbing and even raping of Hindu women, while the government here turns a blind eye. The government here has even instructed the media not to report incidents involving the persecution of Hindus. There is targeted and organised crime against Hindus in this country and sometimes it feels like we must have done something extremely wrong in our past life to have been born a Hindu in Bangladesh,” Pradip Chandra, a Bangladeshi Hindu working for Hindu rights in Bangladesh, told The Sunday Guardian.
Earlier this week, one of the frontal Hindu organisations, the Bangladesh National Hindu Mahajot, released comprehensive data showing how Hindus in their country were being targeted “every day” just for practising their religion.
According to the data released, apart from 79 Hindus being killed this year alone, 620 of them have been threatened, 183 of them injured in “targeted” quarrels and fights, 32 of them are missing and more than 145 of them have faced attempt to murder like situation across Bangladesh.
Not only this, the Hindu Mahajot also claims that more than 130 Hindu families have been rendered homeless, 77 Hindus have been kidnapped, while 501 incidents of “organised” attacks on Hindus have been reported. The Hindu Mahajot also claims that this year alone, 95 cases of forced conversion have been documented in the country in the last six months.
Gobindo Chandra Paramanik, president of the Hindu Mahajot, speaking to The Sunday Guardian, said, “We have collected and compiled this data after collecting inputs from across the country from our units that are present in every district of Bangladesh. These are some of the incidents that we have come to know of, but let me tell you, the non-reported incidents are much more than this. Many fear for their lives and do not come forward to report such incidents. In view of the rising number of atrocities against the Hindu community of Bangladesh, we demand that a separate ministry for minorities be made in Bangladesh and Hindus are present in Bangladeshi Parliament.”
Bangladesh’s Hindu organisations also said that the attack on Hindus has increased since the “Nupur Sharma case” in India, where the BJP spokesperson was seen on television making a derogatory comment on the Prophet, because of which she was later suspended by the BJP.
The Hindu organisations also claim that since the last few months, attacks on Hindu teachers and professors in Bangladesh have seen an upward trend since the extremist organisations in the country are unhappy with the fact that Hindus have been teaching or heading educational institutes in an Islamic country.
According to multiple media reports in Bangladesh, at least 10 cases where Hindu teachers have been threatened, injured or humiliated have been reported in the last few months. In a recent case, principal Swapan Mazumdar of Narail’s Mirazapur United College was beaten up by his students and later forced to wear a garland of shoes and paraded across the town in the presence of the police, only because a student from his college had commented on Nupur Sharma’s profile with a “Namashkar Didi”.
Apart from this, several other Hindu teachers from Bangladesh like Pansha college professor Arun Pramanik, teacher from Narayanganj, Shayamal Kanti, Lata Samadar, Hriday Mandal, among many others, have either been threatened or beaten up by extremists.
Professor Kushal Baran Chakraborty, a Sanskrit professor at the Chittagong University, recently faced cyber bullying and repeated death threats for coming to India and clicking photographs with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Chakraborty, speaking to The Sunday Guardian, said that he has been constantly bullied on social media with threats from individuals and organised extremist groups in Bangladesh for being a Hindu and for speaking about Hinduism. “I am constantly living under threat. I get random calls. They accuse me of being an Indian agent because I recently went to India to attend a conference on Sanskrit and met Yogi Adityanathji. They are calling me and saying that they will kill me anytime and have also put out my address on social media. The administration and the police do not take complaints of atrocities against the Hindus here. Only I know how I am living here; the situation is very scary,” Chakraborty told this correspondent over phone from Bangladesh.
Chakraborty further added that like him, many other teachers and thousands of Hindu students are being regularly harassed and some are even being arrested “illegally” under Bangladesh’s draconian blasphemy law.
Another government professor of Bengali from a college in Dhaka, Ruma Sarkar, was arrested last year during Durga Puja on a “false” blasphemy case and put behind bars for 70 days. Narrating her horror, Sarkar said, “At around 12 midnight, Bangladeshi armed forces broke into my house where I was staying with my 7-year-old twins. They held a gun on my head and arrested me for posting a video that protested against the killing of an ISKCON priest during last year’s Durga Puja. They treated me like a terrorist and called me an agent of India. The RAP (Bangladesh armed forces) kept me locked for 36 hours without food and water and forced me to remove my Durga locket. They then transferred me to a jail where I was kept in solitary confinement. During this period, my children lost their school and no one helped me. I still do not know what wrong I have done. My father was a Mukti Joddha Bahini (independence fighter), we fought for Bangabandhu; and her daughter has treated me like this. I don’t know how I am going to live from here on.”
Sarkar also claimed that although she is out on bail, she has been kept under house arrest and the college has de-rostered her from her teaching job and she has not been given any responsibility in the college since then.
Not only this, several social media pages on Twitter and Facebook are full of videos and photographs from Bangladesh that show how Hindus are being targeted and sometimes killed. Videos also show how temples are being destroyed in the country by extremist organisations with the aim to threaten and eliminate Hindus from that country.
As late as Thursday evening, a temple in Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka was attacked and idols destroyed. Hindu organisations allege the involvement of Awami League leader Mirazur Rehman and his extremist associates in the act.
The same day, in another incident, a Hindu farmer, Uttam Mahant of Kashipur village in Nagaon district, was attacked and beaten up for being a “kafir”. Even on Friday, at least 11 houses belonging to Hindus in Naorail district reportedly were torched by religious fanatics.
According to the Hindu Mahajot, several women are also being targeted for conversion and if they fail to oblige, they are raped and sometimes even killed.
A Bangladeshi Hindu woman (name withheld) who was raped and later forced to convert to Islam, told The Sunday Guardian that she has never accepted Islam from her heart and that by faith, she will always remain a Hindu.
Narrating her incident, she said, “A group of seven to eight people used to come to our house regularly and threaten our family to convert to Islam, but my father did not relent; he was later killed while he was returning from the farm. These men raped me and my mother and forced us to convert to Islam. They force fed us cow meat to insult us and convert us. From the outside, we are Muslims, but deep inside, I still pray to Lord Krishna.”
According to multiple reports, the Hindu-dominated areas of Bangladesh are also witnessing a demographic change where many Hindus are being forced to convert to Islam. A Hindu professor from Bangladesh, who did not wish to be named, told this newspaper that the district of Barishal has witnessed the biggest demographic change in the last 10 years. It once had around 30% Hindu population, which has now been reduced to less than 10%.
Other Hindu dominated areas of Gopalganj, Sunamganj, Chandpur, Rangpur, Brahman Bari, among others, too are witnessing rising atrocities against the community. “Forced conversion is a reality in Bangladesh, since the majority population here sees us as kafirs; they force Hindus to either convert to Islam or face death. Hindu families are forced to leave their homes, children are forced to drop out of school. This is the reality of Bangladesh. Land grabbing too is a big issue here,” Pradip Chand from the Hindu Mahajot told this correspondent.
Asked how the administration reacts to such complaints, Pradip Chand said, “They don’t bother. They are puppets of the extremists and even they think we are kafirs.”