Even though I am a secular non-Muslim from Bangladesh, it is embarrassing for me as the radical Hindu alliance government in India plans to grant citizenship to the Bangladeshis now living in India. Moreover, if the BJP-led government finalises this massive plan, the so-called secular Bangladesh government led by the Awami League will be exposed too.
In Bangladesh, there have been several hundred incidents of systematic attacks against the non-Muslim communities, especially the Hindus, Buddhists and the indigenous people of the hills and plains. The incidents include murder, rape, forced conversion, eviction, rampage on houses, farmland and businesses.
But the number of cases disposed of and the criminals punished could hardly be a dozen.
Even it is seen that the law enforcers, local public representatives, ministers concerned keep mum on the incidents of communal attacks even if those are carried out by those outside the ruling party men.
In Bangladesh, it is widely believed that the Jamaat-e-Islami, Hefazat-e-Islam, Islami Oikya Jote, BNP and the like-minded political groups, as well as the radicals and militant outfits spread hatred and propaganda against the non-Muslims while claiming that those religions are baseless.
But it is also true that the people involved with the ruling party also target the non-Muslims as easy prey. Hence, due to the persistent and deep-rooted culture of impunity, the culprits evade arrest and prosecution.
Latest, the mastermind of 2013 Ramu attacks have been found cutting down hills in his area. Jamaat leader Tofail is also the chairman of Naikkhyangchhari upazila in Bandarban. He had planned the attacks on Buddhists in Cox’s Bazar along with other Jamaat men few days before the attacks that left some 30 people injured, and several hundred houses and a dozen temples vandalised and looted.
Though Tofail was arrested once, he managed to get bail from the High Court.
Apart from local Jamaat men, the attackers, however, included those from the BNP and the Awami League. The presence of Rohingya Muslims living in the coastal district was significant, apparently due to the propaganda. The attacks were shown as retaliation to the persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Arakan province.
Two years after the gruesome midnight attacks, police are yet to press charges.
Vandalism of Hindu temples has been a regular phenomenon nowadays, though it had been prominent together with murder and rape of Hindus during the country’s Liberation War in 1971 which the Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators had termed “war by India against the Muslims.”
There are many radical Muslim preachers in Bangladesh who regularly preach against Hinduism and Bangalee culture. They profess vandalising idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in public, and are never tried for the offence.
The mental strength of the Hindus has gone so down that they are afraid of raising their voices, especially those living in the rural areas far from Dhaka.
Massive level of attacks against non-Muslim communities was reported from across the country before and after the January 5, 2014 national elections and just after the verdict against radical Islamist preacher Delawar Hossain Sayedee.
The incumbent government did a great mistake by not declaring Jamaat outlawed in 2013 when its leaders, activists and supporters backed by radical Hefazat and other militant organisations resorted to brutal attacks against the state.
Impunity awarded to the radicals has resulted in the non-stop attacks on the Hindus. Leave aside the attacks here after the demolition of Babri Mosque in India, no government took any measure to bring to book those who killed and raped Hindus and rampaged their establishments in 2001 across the country or at Hathazari and Satkhira in 2012.
The rights bodies and non-Muslim groups are courageous enough to present data on the reported incidents of attacks only while many incidents are never published in media. The role of mainstream media is also shocking: they do not publish or carry the reports possibly due to self-censorship or shame.
Yes, the radical BJP-led government has used this trump card: they are poised to shame the Islamist governments in Bangladesh for failing to protect the non-Muslims and also the ordinary Muslims who claim to be non-communal but keep mum.
“Hindus should go to India” – the widely circulated threat now comes true! The Indian government and its opposition Congress both have agreed to grant citizenship to the Bangladeshis who had left the country due to persecution. Apparently, those willing to go and stay in India will also be allowed.
BJP’s decision has, however, relieved me much as it will save the lives of many non-Muslims living here in Bangladesh, which is no longer known as a country of communal harmony.