12 tragic tale of the Hindus facing systematic persecution in Bangladesh

12 tragic tale of the Hindus facing systematic persecution in Bangladesh

On March 18 we reported how hundreds of supporters of an extremist Islamist group attacked and vandalized about 80 houses of Hindus in the northeastern Sylhet division, Bangladesh. The brutal attack was planned after a young Hindu man criticized Joint-Secretary General Mawlana Mufti Mamunul Haque in a Facebook post.

A young Hindu man from Noagaon, Shalla Upazila was enraged by Mawlana Mamunul Haque’s speech and made a Facebook post criticizing it which he uploaded on Tuesday.

Upon discovering the post, Hefazat leaders staged a protest on March 16 (Tuesday) night alleging attempts to incite communal violence. Though the police had arrested the boy the same evening to bring the situation under control, yet several thousand members of Hefazat-e-Islam attacked the boy’s village with makeshift weapons on March 17 (Wednesday) morning.

Many local Hindus had to flee their homes fearing for life which gave the attackers an opportunity to ransack and loot their homes.

According to reports the fanatic mob used loudspeakers of local Mosques to incite violence and gather as many Islamist goons as they could. They incited the local Muslims to kill Hindus and rape Hindu women as a means to take vengeance for the Facebook status that criticized their leader. The followers of Hefazat-e-Islam reportedly entered the village, ransacked and looted many houses.

Though local reports suggest around 70 to 80 Hindus houses were vandalised, a local journalist claimed that at least 500 Hindu homes were vandalized and burned down. The Islamic extremists also vandalized eight temples. The attack was broadcasted on the Facebook live stream.

The next day (March 19, Friday) some miscreants attacked and damaged an idol of the Hindu goddess Kali at a temple in Bangladesh’s Uttargaon village of Thakurgaon’s Ranisankail Upazila.

Similar to Pakistan, Hindus in Bangladesh have also witnessed unbridled attacks. For decades, the Hindu community in Bangladesh have been facing systematic persecution at the hands of the radical Islamists in the country, so much so that around 11.3 million Hindus have left Bangladesh between 1964 and 2013 due to religious persecution and discrimination.

The tragic tale of the Hindus in Bangladesh which started with the 1947 genocide only to heighten during the Bangladesh Liberation War, when almost 3,000,000 Hindus were butchered in one of the biggest genocides of the century, continues until today.

In these years, umpteen number of Hindu shops have been looted, businessmen have been killed, land grabbed, temples demolished and idols vandalized. Hindu families have been forced to leave the country and girls and women have been abducted and raped.

This report throws light on 11 attacks, similar to the recent Shalla attack, on Hindus from 2012-2020. It is pertinent to note here that the following 11 cases are only a few of the thousand incidents which have occurred in the past few years. Surprisingly, in none of these incidents, trials have been carried out against the perpetrators. Instead, the Hindu victims have only been falsely accused of blasphemy and thrown behind bars.

Media too has always sugar-coated these incidents of atrocities against the Hindus orchestrated by fundamentalist groups by using the term ‘unknown miscreants’ to hide the attackers with radical Islamic intentions behind the attacks.

Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh burnt down shops and houses of Hindus in Hathazari in 2012

In 2012 and 2013, between February and November, at least 20 attacks were reported against the minority communities at Hathazari and Bashkhali in Chittagong, Kaliganj of Satkhira, Chirirbandar of Dinajpur, besides Ramu in Cox’s Bazar, Sathia of Pabna, Barisal and so on.

The assault started in Hathazari on 9 and 10 February 2012, when Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, members influenced local Muslims to attack, loot and plunder Hindu households. Eight temples, 12 shops and a number of houses were burnt down.

After the violence in Hathazari, police arrested the perpetrators but with the help of Hefajat leader Ahmed Shafi, they were let out on bail. Now, it’s been 9 years since the incident, but the Hindu victims have still not got any justice.

Fundamentalist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami behind the 2021 Fatehpur violence

The Hathazari incident was the starting point of religious terrorism against Hindus by the fundamentalist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh.

In March and April, several Hindu and a few Muslim households (who had tried to help their Hindu neighbours)  at Fatepur and Chakdaha in Satkhira, were attacked. At least 12 houses were burned down to ashes and two villages were ransacked during the two-day long vandalism in the area.

On March 31, 2012, a local newspaper named Daily Drishtipat, backed by Islamist hardliners, had spread the rumour that a school play in the village had made indecent remarks about the Prophet. The local newspaper reportedly circulated complimentary copies of the paper to different houses, bazaars and mosques. Based on this rumour, Islamists attacked and looted Hindus, while the police kept looking on. The houses of almost 10 Hindu families were looted and set ablaze.

Initially, the mainstream Bangladeshi media maintained a stoic silence, completely ignoring the incident. Later, as the Hindu Students of Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University protested against the persecution, the Bangladeshi media highlighted this event.

2012 Chirirbandar violence was a fallout of an inflammatory speech given by a radical Muslim professor baying for the blood of Hindus

On 4 August 2012, a similar attack was carried out by the local fundamentalists on the vulnerable Hindus of Chirirbandar Upazila of Dinajpur District in the Division of Rangpur, Bangladesh. The Islamic extremists mercilessly burned down 50 Hindu households in an attack that was pre-planned.

The incident was a fallout of an inflammatory speech given by Professor Hamida Khatun of Chittagong Metropolitan College with the help of the Chirirbandar Upazila Parishad chairman and a Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leader Aftab Ali Molla, to agitate the local Muslim against the Hindus of the area. The Muslims, in turn, hit the streets across the country in support of Jamaat-e-Islami’s and reduced houses of at least 50 Hindu families to ashes.

Islamists targetted Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples during 2012 Ramu violence

In the same year on the midnight past 29 September, Islamic fanatics launched attacks on a predominantly Buddhist neighbourhood at Ramu in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The incident occurred after an image of the desecration of the Quran appeared on a fake Facebook account registered under a Buddhist youth Uttam Kumar Barua. Accusing the youth of insulting the Quran through his social media account, Islamists targetted Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples.

The violence later spread to Ukhia Upazila in Cox’s Bazar District and Patiya Upazila in Chittagong District, where too Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples were destroyed.

Reports suggests that the Buddhist youth was falsely defamed as the picture was not posted by him.

According to rough estimates, 25,000 Muslims participated in the violence directed at Buddhists in Ramu, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

2013 Bangladesh anti-Hindu violence

On 28 February 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the vice president of the Jamaat-e-Islami to death for war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Following the death sentence, radicals of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir attacked the minority Hindus in different parts of the country.

Over 100 people, including police personnel were killed and many Hindu properties were looted, damaged and burnt to ashes. Hindu temples were also desecrated and set on fire.

According to minority community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in over 20 districts during the 2013 anti-Hindu violence in the country.

Muslim mob goes on a rampage vandalising 26 Hindu households during 2013 Sathia violence

On November 2, 3013, a Muslim mob had reportedly gone on a rampage vandalising a temple and 26 Hindu households in a Hindu dominated neighbourhood in a village in Bangladesh’s Pabna district. The incident occurred over a Facebook post malign the prophet. Accusing a class 10 Hindu boy of posting a blasphemous post, defaming Prophet Mohammad, the mob attacked Rajib Shah, son of Bablu Shah’s house. Babul was mercilessly hit and kicked upon. Later, more gangs joined in to attack the predominantly Hindu village and vandalised about 26 households.

2014 Bangladesh violence against minority Hindus

In 2014, major clashes had erupted in Bangladesh after Hindus refused to boycott the 10th general elections, which was already boycotted by the primary opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami. Soon after the voting ended in Bangladesh, the Hindus had to face the ire of the activist of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-Shibir. Hindu houses have been looted, vandalized and burned in several places like Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bogra, Lalmonirhat, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Jessore.

Hundreds of minority Bengali Hindus were rendered homeless in this mayhem, where as several Hindu temple were also burnt, vandalized and looted.

Two dozen Hindu households and a temple vandalised during 2014 Homna violence over fake charges of blasphemy

A fanatic Muslim mob of nearly 3,000, led by teachers and students of eight madrasas in the Upazila, attacked over two dozen Hindu households and a temple in eastern Bangladesh after rumours spread that two Hindu youths defamed Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

Villagers had then confirmed that a call was made from the loudspeakers of a Madrasa at Rampur village, near Baghsitarampur, to launch the assault on the Hindus. Before the attacks, leaflets were distributed for several days in the madrasas claiming that two Hindu youths had slandered the prophet in a Facebook post on April 27, 2014.

2016 Nasirnagar violence was yet another display of blatant intolerance by Muslims in Bangladesh

A similar incident transpired in Bangladesh’s Nasirnagar Upazila in October 2016. This time too, a frenzied Muslim mob launched a synchronized attack on the Hindus in Brahmanbaria’s Nasirnagar Upazila over an alleged Facebook post. More than 300 Hindu homes and at least 19 temples were reportedly looted. Moreover, 100 people including several temple devotees were left wounded in the attack which was triggered by an allegedly defamatory social media post by a Hindu fisherman against Islam.

Muslim mob turned violent and launched an arson attack on Hindu houses during 2017 Rangpur violence in Bangladesh

In yet another incident of violence against the vulnerable Hindus in neighbouring Bangladesh, at least 30 Hindu houses at Thakurpara village in Rangpur Sadar Upazila were looted vandalised and burnt to ashes on November 10, 2017. Several Hindus were injured in the incident where a Muslim mob turned violent and launched an arson attack on these Hindu houses.

A rumour had reportedly shaped and vented the anger of the Muslims in the neighbouring villages against the Hindu community. The rumour was that one Titu Roy, originally from Thakurpara but living in Narayanganj, had put up a Facebook post defaming Prophet Muhammad a few days prior to the incident.

The violence that ensued left one dead and several others injured as police had opened fire on attackers. Protestors also torched Titu’s house. An investigation by police, however, found no blasphemous posts made by Titu, but rather from a different account with a similar name.

Rumours about a blasphemous post against Islam triggered the 2019 Borhanuddin violence against Hindus in Bangladesh

Similarly, on October 23, 2019, four people were killed and hundreds more including 10 policemen injured in Borhanuddin, following clashes between police and local Muslims demonstrating for the punishment of a youth, Biplob Chandra Baidya, who had allegedly hurt their religious sentiment on a Facebook post. According to reports, 12 Hindu homes and one temple were vandalized. One Hindu home was also set ablaze. A motorcycle was also torched.

This started when rumours spread that the Hindu boy posted a blasphemous post against Islam on Facebook. However, it was later found to be posted by two Muslims.

Muslim mob attacks, burns houses of Hindus over a Facebook post about Charlie Hebdo cartoons in Muradnagar in Bangladesh

Last year on November 2, in yet another blatant display of fanaticism and bigotry, a group of radical Islamists attacked over 10 Hindu families at Korbanpur village under Muradnagar Upazila in the Comilla district of Bangladesh.

As per reports, the Hindu households were selectively vandalised and later set on fire after a man allegedly expressed solidarity with France and defended the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in Facebook comments. The man has been identified as one Shankar Debnath. The Islamist mob burnt down the office of the local Union Parishad Chairman Bankumar Shiv, his house, Shankar’s house and that of other Hindu families in the area.

The video of the incident had gone viral on social media, in which a violent Islamist mob, wearing skull caps and brandishing sticks, logs and stones, could be seen vandalising the houses of Hindu families. 

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