6 dead in communal clashes in Bangladesh
Two Hindu men were killed, and temples vandalised following unrest triggered by the alleged desecration of the Muslim holy book during a Hindu religious festival last week. Added to these two deaths, at least 4 other people were killed late on Wednesday 13 when police opened fire on 500 people attacking a Hindu temple in Hajiganj.
Violence between worshippers cracked after a photo was published on social media on Wednesday, showing the Quran placed on the knee of a Hindu deity during celebrations for the Durga Puja festival in the eastern district of Cumilla.
Angry mobs attacked Hindu temples and clashed with police in various parts of Bangladesh in the following days, leaving at least six people dead and more than 100 injured.
Police have said that more than 200 attackers beat and stabbed to death an executive member of the temple committee in the southern town of Begumganj where members of the Hindu community were preparing to perform the last rites of the festival.
Violence spread to the capital Dhaka and the city of Chittagong, prompting police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at brick-throwing Muslim protesters. Bangladeshi media have reported that around 20 Hindus’ homes were also torched in Rangpur city’s Pirganj neighbourhood.
As of now, 300 suspects have been arrested.
Moving forward from these communal clashes
The confrontations came a day after some 10,000 protesters took to the streets outside Dhaka’s main mosque to protest the defamation of the Quran. “We ask the government to arrest those who defamed the Quran by putting it at the feet of an idol in Cumilla,” voiced Mosaddek Billah al-Madani, president of Bangladesh’s Islami Movement. He added that protesters demanded “the death sentence” for those responsible for the images dishonouring Islam.
In a nearby intersection, about 1,000 Hindus marched showing their disapproval of the attacks on temples and the killing of the two Hindu devotees. At the end of the day, around 150 Hindus were injured across the country, community leader Gobinda Chandra Pramanik told AFP, and at least 80 makeshift temples were attacked.
ISKCON temple & devotees were violently attacked today by a mob in Noakhali, Bangladesh. Temple suffered significant damage & the condition of a devotee remains critical.— ISKCON (@iskcon) October 15, 2021
We call on the Govt of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all Hindus & bring the perpetrators to justice. pic.twitter.com/ZpHtB48lZi
While authorities did not confirm the figures, on Saturday night, they deployed extra security including the Border Guard Bangladesh to control any further unrest. It is worth mentioning, that the clashes lasted from 4:30 pm (local time) to midnight, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met leaders of the Hindu community and promised to act, but the pressure is mounting on the government.
The Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad has demanded exemplary punishments for those involved in the vandalism and mayhem. “From the home minister to ruling party General Secretary Obaidul Quader, everybody has assured us saying they are informed about everything. If you know everything, why are you not punishing the culprits?”, Milan Kanti Dutta, president of the forum requested.
He added that they would launch a tougher movement if the government did not pay heed to their demand. In the same vein, Charu Chandra Das Brahmachari, general secretary of ISKCON Bangladesh, warned that the community would not sit silent and watch the attacks happen. The leaders of the forum also urged the enactment of a protection law and a national minority council.
According to the Press Trust of India agency, in the city of Chittagong, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has announced a sit-in and hunger strike starting from October 23 to protest the attacks on Hindus.
The protest events will take place at Dhaka’s Shahbagh and Chittagong’s Andarkilla, the council’s General Secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta said at a press conference at the Chittagong Press Club.