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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2038

Durgaostab and Hindu religious status in Bangladesh - Part- V

By Rabindranath Trivedi

It may be recalled In the last sixty two years since 1950 , more than ten million of the country's religious minorities have fled to India in the face of sustained persecution and periodic riots . At the time of country's partition, the Hindu population in East Pakistan was 11.4 million or 29.17 percent of the total population. It has decreased alarmingly over the last few years and stood at 15.6 million in 2001. In other words it has come down to 12 per cent of Bangladesh's total population of 130 million.

The minority community including Buddhist, Christians and Adibashis in Bangladesh participated in the War of Liberation so that in the newly liberated country we would enjoy equal status and rights along with the majority community. But in practice, the persecution of the Hindus continued like Pakistani days even after independence. The forms of oppression of the religious minorities are manifold.

Constitutionally, The Hindus have been downgraded by introduction of Islam as State religion of Bangladesh;

Economically, they have been crippled through systematic discriminatory laws like Enemy turned Vested Property Act and unequal application of laws and practices;

Politically,The Hindus have been segregated and alienated from the mainstream rather they become stooge of so-called secularism; The great Bengali Hindu race have been made a non-entity in different government institutions including army, police, judicial and administrative and non-government services like Bank and industries; the religious minorities are under threat of conversion i.e. socially, culturally and observing religious rites, they are insecure.

The recent atrocities on minorities in Bangladesh prove their persistent exploitation for the majority's gains the same way they were discriminated against in the past, academics observed at an international workshop yesterday.

They also criticized the democracy of the majority and recommended its amendments reasoning that minorities are not given due attention in such a system.

"Minorities in Bangladesh become target of pre-electoral violence in a democracy ruled by the majority for political gains as seen in the recent cases in Ramu and Rangamati for instance," said panel speaker Dr Amena Mohsin, professor of international relations at Dhaka University.

The political blame game of one political party accusing another centering the attack on Ramu Buddhists puts in perspective the kind of politics prevailing in Bangladesh, she told the workshop, "Controversial Democratic Spaces: Land, Environment and Human Rights in Bangladesh", at DU Senate Bhaban.(DS,18Oct.12)

Many believed that the agony of the Hindus would be over and they would regain their lost honor with the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971. It was entirely a mistaken notion. By and large, the successive Governments in liberated Bangladesh have followed the same policy as was pursued and practiced by Pakistan towards her Hindu and other minorities. The state turned authoritarian for fifteen years (1975-1990), military dictators ruled the country the initial constitutional commitment was gradually diluted by successive amendments through a martial law ordinance. In a study on minorities and politics of vengeance for over last seven decades, how millions of people have been killed or driven out of their homeland because of difference of religions.

Unless there is a radical change of policies and establishing constitutional equal rights including (for proportional representation in jobs (both civil and army and police) and reserved seats in parliament, municipalities, university syndicates and high court benches) on the part of the present Bangladesh Government towards its Hindu minority, their future is indeed bleak and uncertain. They will, therefore, have to opt one of the options out of the three ( Hindu can embrace Islam, leave the country or commit suicide"). They may abandon their hearths and home in sorrow but in panic.

Who knows what is in the womb of the future?

concluded

Rabindranath Trivedi is a retired civil servant, author and columnist.

- Asian Tribune -

Durgaostab and Hindu religious status in Bangladesh - Part- V
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