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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2400

The plight of Hindus in Bangladesh

By Rabindranath Trivedi

Legacy of tortures, humiliation on Bangladeshi Hindus not yet stopped, party in power sponsored humiliation every now and then shake the confidence of the innocent law abiding citizen of the country. The plight of Hindus in Bangladesh never stopped.

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.

"Since the 2001 elections, attacks on religious minorities have led to the routine posting of law enforcement personnel during major religious festivals and events, since festivals tend to attract large congregations that make easy and more attractive targets.

Reported incidents included killings, rape, torture, and attacks on places of worship, destruction of homes, forced evictions, and desecration of items of worship. These claims continued during the period covered by this report [July 2005 to June 2006]: “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", says USCIRF report-2006.

In May 2008 USCIRF Report says :‘despite constitutional protections, Hindus and other non-Muslims in Bangladesh face societal discrimination and are disadvantaged in access to jobs in the government, armed forces, and police, as well as public services and the legal system.

Religious minorities are also underrepresented in elected political offices, including the national parliament. Minority group advocates claim that religion plays a role in property and land disputes, pointing to expropriations of Hindu property since the Pakistan era and the gradual displacement of non-Muslim tribal populations by Bengali Muslims in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and other traditionally indigenous areas. Such disputes occasionally result in violence'.
Hindu Population Declining in Bangladesh

Pre-Partition, Hindus in Bangladesh constituted 28 per cent of the population. Of course, soon after Partition in 1947, millions of Hindus fled to India... 'During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, Hindus in particular bore the brunt of the Pakistan army's onslaught, leading to more migration. 'Though many returned after the formation of Bangladesh, the 1974 census showed that the population had fallen to 13.5 per cent, mostly because of steady emigration to India.

By this calculation, the number of Hindus missing from Bangladesh over the two decades ending in 1991 is 20 million. This figure includes both those persons killed or forced to flee the country. The number of Hindus who fled Bangladesh between 1964 and 1991 was estimated at “5.3 million people or 535 people per day.” Brutalized, targeted, and forced to emigrate to India or elsewhere. Bangladesh now has a total population of approximately 158.6 million people, only about 9% of who are Hindus. The percentage of the Hindu community in Bangladesh has dropped from 31% to 9% (or less) in the span of 70 years.

Hindus in Bangladesh 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. The findings of a judicial commission tasked with probing the post election violence of 2001, when Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) workers carried out a systematic campaign of rape, murder, and intimidation against Hindus.

The commission found that 26,352 people, including 25 ministers and lawmakers of the previous BNP-Jamaat alliance government, were involved in perpetrating the violence. According to the commission, there were more than 18,000 incidents of major crimes, including murder, rape, arson, and looting by members of the then ruling BNP-Jamaat alliance in the 15 months following the elections in October 2001. The commission’s findings demonstrate the extensive nature of state sponsored violence against the Hindu community in Bangladesh.

We need not to go for further explanation in detailing the agonies and woes of minority community in Bangladesh. The statutory National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) rightly observed as in its report said that the attacks on the Hindu temples and households were carried out under a well orchestrated plan by an organized group. It said near simultaneous attacks were carried out at several temples and Hindu households at different locations at Nasirnagar area. Hindu community leaders have said that the attacks were carried out to forcefully evict Hindus from their own land by creating an atmosphere of fear. “.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).

A fight for minority rights anywhere can only happen when the politically correct facade of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ is replaced by an active struggle against religious militancy, for real-life equality under law and, most importantly, when the majority accepts pluralism as a pre-condition for a desirable future .

It was thought that the Liberation of Bangladesh marked the end of a chapter of communal politics, opening up newer possibilities for the Hindus and other ethnic minorities and they would be able to play a more effective role in the political process. Minorities had also thought that Bangladesh would put an end to discrimination against them, and their loyalty to the country would no longer be questioned. The Hindus have sacrificed everything at the altar of War of Liberation in 1971. In return, they received nothing beside humiliation. It is known, any one speaking on behalf of Hindu community is likely to be dubbed as agent of a foreign country or communal.

Bangladesh has given us honor and identity as her freedom fighter. We fought for secular-democracy in 1971 and continuing to fight for its achievement till his last days. The Government of Bangladesh should enact law – aims to protect and fulfill the right to equality before law and equal protection of law by imposing duties on the government, to exercise their power in an impartial and non-discriminatory manner ; The Government of Bangladesh, should show respect to those obligations uphold the ideas in the constitution of Bangladesh as ratified so far the “Universal Declaration on Human Rights” to protect and fulfill the right to equality before law and equal protection of law by imposing duties on the government, to exercise their power in an impartial and non-discriminatory manner to prevent and control targeted violence .

- to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence, against religious minorities and linguistic ethnic minorities in any part of Bangladesh;

– Protection to these vulnerable groups is proposed through effective provisions for investigation, prosecution and trial of offences under the Act to provide for relief, rehabilitation and compensation to all persons affected.

--Judicial Commission for investigation is recommended for atrocities on minority Hindus in Bangladesh including continuous repression, conversions, abductions, rape, and vandalizing, looting and setting fire on temples, business firms and houses of Hindu communities.

-- Bangladesh is second largest Hindu populated country in the World. Hindus would be ensured in Bangladesh with due representation of the community in the field of all decision –making institutions of the Republic. I.e. representation of minority in the Administration, Army, Police, Judicial and Foreign services as well as public offices at all level is effectively ensured. They need 60 reservation seats in Parliament through Constitutional provision. They want empowerment in political and public offices and constitutional social justice as equal citizens of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh...

--The Government of Bangladesh should constitute a separate ministry concerning minority’s affairs and reconstitute National Human Rights Commission for Bangladesh with more minority members to ensure justice to the Minorities to uphold religious rights of Devuttur Property by promulgating a new Act and help secure fair and equal access to justice by allowing Hindu Human Rights NGOs to work in Bangladesh.

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

- Asian Tribune -

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