Despite increasing attacks, minister claims Hindus safest in Bangladesh

Days after a Hindu village was set ablaze, Bangladesh Law Minister has claimed that there is no reason for the community to be worried.

 By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Nov 13, 2017, 13:34 PM IST
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Despite increasing attacks, minister claims Hindus safest in Bangladesh
File photo of Bangladesh Police.

New Delhi: Despite several reports of attacks on minority communities and just days after local police blamed Jamaat-e-Islami for torching a Hindu-majority village near Dhaka, Bangladesh’s law minister has bragged that Hindus are the safest in his country.

Anisul Haq claimed that Hindus in Bangladesh are safer than anywhere else in the entire subcontinent. “The minority community in Bangladesh is safer than anywhere in the subcontinent at the present point in time,” he said in a recent interview. Activists, however, have debunked Haq’s statement and have said the ground reality in the country is that minorities are being targeted and persecuted.

On Saturday, a mob torched an entire village in Rangpur – about 300 kilometres from Dhaka – after rumours about a ‘defamatory’ post on Facebook. According to Dhaka Tribune, 30 Hindu houses were set ablaze by the rampaging mob and there was widespread looting and vandalism as well.

While the police eventually arrested 50 people in the aftermath of the incident, many feel not enough is being done to deter violence against minority communities – especially Hindus. “The government is always cooperating verbally, they say they are taking action. But the result is zero,” said Ripon Dey, International Secretary of Hindu Mohajote – an organisation formed in 2006 with the aim of addressing the needs of the community in Bangladesh.

Gobinda Pramanik, another representative of the Hindu community in the country, also says that incidents like the one in Rangpur are not isolated or sporadic outbursts. “There have been several incidents like the one in Rangpur in the past. What happens is that a reason is artificially created to target Hindu homes. Violence and anarchy follow and it is often seen that the government usually takes no action against those who participate in these sort of incidents,” he said.

Pramanik adds that the Hindu community – especially in rural areas of the country – live in constant fear of being victimised and those who have been wronged in the past usually never get justice.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque also recently blamed local authorities for ‘incompetence’. “It is shameful that local authorities are unable to predict and prevent incidents like the one in Rangpur,” he was quoted as saying by local media outlets.

It is little wonder then that by some estimates, the population of Hindus in Bangladesh is a little over 10 per cent in recent years – dropping from over 40 per cent in 1947. Prominent faces of the community are especially vulnerable – a fact established when journalist Utpal Das went missing over a month ago. Even as Sheikh Hasina-led government faces an increasing number of questions on the matter, answers remain elusive.

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