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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

Declining of Hindu population in Bangladesh?

By Rabindranath Trivedi

“.The way the religious minorities are being treated, I don't think the state response to that is adequate. If it goes on, I think within 15 years there will be no Hindus in Bangladesh. “Outgoing chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Prof Mizanur Rahman's shared his invaluable experience and insight reports. (The Daily Star on 20 June 2016) The statistics come as Hindu community leaders expressed fears that their number was decreasing gradually as a sense of insecurity forced many Hindus to leave the country for neighbouring India over the decades.

So, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Bangladesh is very critical of what is happening in Bangladesh. It may quote here, presently total Hindu population in Bangladesh is the second in the world exceeds the population of 7 (seven) Muslim majority countries like Yemen Republic, Jordon, Tajikistan, Syria Arab Republic, Tunisia, Oman, Kuwait etc politician must therefore come to grips with this inescapable reality.

According to the 1951 census, the country then known as East Bengal, Hindus were 22 per cent of the population.

In 1974 the figure came down to 14 per cent and the last 2011 census suggests the followers of faith consists only 8.4 per cent of the population. Thereafter, during 1951-1961, the share of Hindu population in East Pakistan declined by 3.5%, i.e. from 22% in 1951 (after riots in East Bengal in February 1950 and persecution and tortures of martial law regime after October 1958) to 18.5% in 1961 with a growth rate of only 1.53%. Even during the 1961-1974 periods including war of liberation in 1971, the share of the Hindu population further declined by 5%, and came down to 13,5% in 1974. Today Hindu population in Bangladesh has dropped from 14% (1974) to 9%(2011). Conceivably, by 2050 Bangladesh will have achieved the status of Pakistan: with no significant Hindu population.

It was a well-calculated design of Muslm League regimes and their policy of hunting the minority in 1950, 1964 and 1971 helped advantage in Pakistan but why it is happened in Bangladesh? Does it mean that Bangladesh is maintaining the" legacy of policy of Minority Hunting in 1990, 1992 and 2001? The policy of hunting the minority helped Pakistan to take advantage up to certain level; afterwards, Pakistan herself was collapsed with sins of genocide and cut unto size. If Bangladesh steps in the same policy of advantage that also of a practically one-way traffic in exchange of population.

Following the Dhaka Coup in August 1975, the then Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi admitted “Of course, had the Government of Bangladesh adopted the Islamic principles, the question of the Hindu minority would have arisen. The Hindu minority might also leave Bangladesh for India creating new economic and political problems for India.”(While replying a question to BBC on 20 August 1975) India knew it, but did not act properly. It may recall that Prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi asked Hindu refugees to ‘go back’ to independent Bangladesh in December 1971; we left India for independent Bangladesh with a great hope. But what’s happened after August 1975, which could not dissolve the old congenital Hindu-Muslim enmity. That is why, the ill-fated Hindus once again opened to the great humiliation under the pretest of Islamisation and policy of minority hunting.

What Maulana Abul Kalam Azad cited two instances of “blunders” committed by Nehru in dealing with League in 1946 as he mentioned in his book entitled ‘India Wins Freedom’. Mrs. Indira Gandhi had committed the same ‘blunders’ in different perspectives in dealing with Bangladesh and Bengali Hindus in 1971. India failed to provide sense of security, dignity, welfare for the evacuees bracketed as minorities in Bangladesh. Fear psychosis is so deep among Hindus that some of them leave Bangladesh even before they themselves become victims of some sufferings, because such sufferings have been already inflicted upon their relatives and neighbors. It's an evidential fact that Hindus in Bangladesh unfortunately have been facing the music of great declination in respect of politico-economic and social status.

Hindus in Bangladesh after August 1975, are so terror-stricken that ethnic cleansing is largely bloodless, brought about by various ways of intimidation, threat of force and non-homicidal assaults/torture. “Hindus had multiple disadvantages against them in Bangladesh, such as perceptions of dual loyalty with respect to India and religious beliefs that are not tolerated by the politically dominant Islamic Fundamentalists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Violence against Hindus has taken place in order to encourage them to flee in order to seize their property". (USCIRF report-2006)

Sanjib Tripathi of RAW opined, “ An analysis of population growth and demographic statistics for Bangladesh and India in the last four censuses of 2011, 2001, 1991, and 1981, however, suggests with reasonable certainty that their number exceeds 15 million. Most of them have settled in states along the border with Bangladesh, and some subsequently moved to other parts of India, including its remote corners”.

“While the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh has existed for decades, it is generally expected that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in India will soon initiate concrete steps to tackle the problem in a holistic and transparent manner. This was one of the issues that the NDA vowed to resolve in its 2014 parliamentary election campaign.” ( http://carnegieindia.org/publications/?fa=63931)

Meanwhile, India’s move to grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus moving there in fear of religious prosecution may intensify torture and repression on minority communities at grassroots in Bangladesh, claimed Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad on 28 June 2016. A dozen minority communities' organisations jointly organised the press conference in the capital's Jatiya Press Club.

Some of the Indian media recently reported its home ministry's initiative to amend a citizenship law, exempting minority Bangladeshis and Pakistanis moving there in fear of religious prosecution from being tagged as “illegal migrants”, reports the daily star, 29 June 2016.

“We are very anxious and tensed...We fear...such an announcement will encourage those who want to evict religious monitories and grab their lands,” President Ushatan Talukder, also a lawmaker, read out the parishad's statement at a press conference.

Rabindranath Trivedi is a retired civil servant, founder member of Bangladesh ` Secretariat in 1971, freedom fighter, author and columnist and Secretary General Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), an NGO affiliated by ECOSOC of the United Nations

- Asian Tribune -

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