A string of deadly communal violence and destruction had been unleashed in Bangladesh after alleged allegations of desecration of the holiest book of Islam. Hindu places of worship are being vandalised, and law enforcement agencies are using firearms to control the crowd. The government had deployed additional paramilitary troops in all 22 districts after initial religious tensions and disharmony were reported in Cumilla. On Wednesday 13th October marked the holy day, especially for the Hindus celebrating the auspicious Durga Puja festivities. The festival lasted for almost a week and started on Monday 11th October. This is perhaps the most auspicious time for the Hindus who celebrate Durga puja. This festival also has national holidays across Bangladesh.
It has been reported that the troubles were initiated when videos and allegations spread like wildfire across various social media platforms that; the holy book of Muslims, The Quran, had been placed on the knee of a Hindu deity as part of the Durga puja festival. Rumours spread like an inferno. A massive mob of almost 500 fanatics gathered in Cumilla to avenge this reported and started vandalising the Hindu places of worship, shops indiscriminately, including attacking them which stones and other makeshift weapons. On Friday and Saturday, further communal violence erupted in the capital, Dhaka, and the southern town of Begumganj.
In the city of Feni, which is almost 160 kilometres from the capital Dhaka fresh reports of vandalism and mob robbing has been reported targeting specifically Hindus and other minority-owned businesses and establishments. Mass protests and demonstrations condemning this violence have also been reported throughout Bangladesh, involving journalists, civil society, academicians and other liberal-minded people who denounce these cowardly attacks in the most condemnable voice. In the clash of Feni, almost 40 people, including the officer in charge of police, have been severely injured. Zealots ran a free hand riot, vandalising Hindu idols, temples and shops in Chandpur, Chattogram, Noakhali, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Kurigram and other districts. Durga Idols were vandalised in Munshiganj and Kishoreganj even on Friday and early Saturday 16th October.
The ruling government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised that no stone will remain unturned to bring the perpetrators to books. This deliberate act to disrupt the communal fabric of the country will not be tolerated whatever the cost. The minority groups and other spokespeople have given a powerful message to the government of continued hunger strikes throughout the country until this prefabricated and organised violence targeted towards minorities is under control and the peoples’ rights are withheld. The Blue panel teachers of Dhaka University, civil society groups on Sunday strongly condemned the vandalism across multiple Durga puja venues in the country. There have also been reports of hunger strikes being initiated next week throughout other major global capitals, including London, in front of the respective Bangladesh High Commissions and Embassies as a mark of protest and to ensure that the government acts quickly to close this feeling of unrest among the minorities.
The state minister for Information and Broadcasting, Hasan Mahmud, has hinted the flame towards the opposition Bangladesh nationalist party BNP and the radical group of Jamaat E Islami, Engineering this communal incitement. He added a political angle to this unrest skating, but this was a deliberate tool in their hands To provoke communal outages across the country and thus embarking on a heinous path of hatred. The Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad has demanded exemplary punishment and a quick judicial enquiry into the whole incident.
It is to be remembered that in 2021 Bangladesh celebrates its 50th independence anniversary marking a brutal war to end the Pakistani occupation. However, there were groups of local collaborators who were hand in glove with their Pakistani masters. However, until today, a segment of the Bangladeshi society is sympathetic to events 50 years ago. The Pakistani deep state finds these groups at arm’s length to kindle the fire of vengeance and violence through various means. With the recent geopolitical backward shift in Afghanistan, the radical elements with support from the neighbour in Pakistan have embarked upon their road map of creating an environment of fear and violence in South East Asia.
The Hindu community is the single largest amongst minorities in Bangladesh who almost make up 10% of the country’s population. In August, four Hindu temples were attacked in the country’s Khulna region. In March, before the 50th anniversary, violence broke out, post the Indian Prime Minister’s official visit to the country.
This year a total of 32,118 Durga Puja pavilions/pandals (places of worship) has been erected throughout the country, and approximately 238 in the capital of Dhaka alone. It remains to be seen what the law enforcement agencies deduce from their investigation and the possibility of any intelligence breach which might have led to an earlier control of this curse. The auspicious celebration of Kali Puja & Diwali is due to take place in the first week of November, and hopefully, the authorities will be better prepared to thaw any such untoward instances.
Image Courtesy: Isckon