Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Bangladesh violence: Protection of Hindus must be ensured, urges rights groups

Violence against Hindu minority erupted in Bangladesh following allegations on social media that a copy of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, was desecrated at a puja pandal (temporary structures made for the religious ceremony) in Cumilla on 13 October 2021.

At least seven have been killed, and hundreds have been injured in clashes that broke out across Bangladesh since 13 October.

According to local reports, at least 25 houses and shops belonging to members of the Hindu community were torched in Rangpur, a northern district of Bangladesh on 17 October. The country’s information minister Hasan Mahmud warned about further attacks.

The Hindu community makes up about 10 percent of Bangladesh’s 165 million population.

Tension in the country mounted following allegations that a Hindu man’s Facebook post dishonoured Islam, the bdnews website quoted a police official as saying.

The incident came a day after some 10,000 protesters – many of them carrying banners of Islamist political parties – took to the streets outside Dhaka’s main mosque.

The Muslim mobs chanted “Down with the enemies of the Islam” and “Hang the culprits”.

Separately, in a nearby intersection, about 1,000 Hindus protested against the attacks on temples and the killing of two Hindu devotees in another district where several temples were vandalised by Muslim mobs.

The police have filed at least 46 cases against 10,000 unidentified people for the violence and vandalism across the country.

Meanwhile, Teachers and staff from Dhaka University have today blocked a major intersection in the city in protest against the ongoing violence.

“Reports of a spate of attacks by angry mobs against members of the Hindu community, their homes, temples and puja pandals during the country’s biggest Hindu festival are symptomatic of the growing anti-minority sentiment in the country,” responding to the violent attacks on Hindu minority households and temples in Bangladesh during and after the Durga Puja, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Saad Hammadi, said.

“Targeting religious sensitivities to stoke communal tension is a serious human rights violation and requires immediate and decisive action from the government to address the situation of minorities in the country,” he added.

The global rights watchdog urged the authorities to take urgent steps to protect the members of the minority community against such attacks and ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims.

“The authorities must promptly, thoroughly, impartially and transparently investigate the incidents and bring those suspected to be responsible for the violence and vandalism to account through fair trials,” Amnesty demanded.


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