Millennium Post

Who will speak up for B’desh Hindus?

The persecution of religious minorities in Bangladesh has been an elephant in the room of the global campaign for religious freedom of every kind. While the recently elected Awami League government has always envisioned and favoured a secular project for the nation, the country is still mired in politics of religious fanaticism, particularly the vicious brand practiced by the likes of Jamaat-e-Islami and fringes of the main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Unfortunately for Bangladesh, the BNP has for long been able to portray itself as a victim of political persecution under the garb of AL’s ‘cleaning up’ of the polity, and the West, chiefly the US, has found a strategic ally in the party that revels in destabilising the political sphere, spreads religious malaise and commits deadly violence in the name of Islam. Moreover, while the Sheikh Hasina-led AL has been trying to bring the 1971 war criminals to book, having executed in December last year Abdul Kader Mollah, who was responsible for over 300 murders during the liberation war. But in the tussle between the ruling party and the main opposition, Bangladeshi Hindus become the unwarranted victims of not only vicious targeting by the religious fundamentalists but also the deliberate losers in this game of political one-upmanship. Not only has the JI, which was de-registered by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court last year, has been striking at Hindu families and destroying temples and shrines to remain a viable political force, but it has also engineered brutal attacks, killing hundreds of people, including several from the Hindu religion.

Clearly, the Hindus in the country, along with Christians, have come to occupy a position much, much worse than Muslims in India, as the latter is a secular democratic republic, while Bangladesh is still grappling with shaping the contours of its national polity. In fact, it was the Shahbag Square movement driven by the secular youth of the nation that had forced the AL government to take the 1971 war crime trials seriously and send the criminals behind the bars. Unfortunately, the international community is still silent on the unenviable condition of the religious minorities in Bangladesh and it should not be the case. It is time for the supporters of global human rights to speak up for the terrible status of Hindus in Bangladesh.
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