Unacceptable failure to protect minority communities

Bangladesh on 04 November 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : New Age. Image Source: Flickr User v i p e z

YET again, Hindu houses and temples came under communal attack. This time, as New Age reported on Sunday quoting locals and the police, a group of people agitated by a rumour that a Hindu boy, also a class X student of a local school, posted something derogatory to the prophet of Islam on Facebook attacked the house of the boy, who went in hiding for understandable reasons, picked up his father, a local businessman, tied him and beat him up and finally set fire on his house at Bongram village of Santhia upazila in Pabna on Saturday morning. Subsequently, 25 Hindu houses and four temples were attacked and at least 11 Hindu houses were set ablaze. Intriguingly, when the mayhem was on, the state minister for home was reportedly busy laying foundation stone at a local madrassahs, some ten kilometres off the troubled area, and most of the local police were busy ensuring protocol for him. Additionally, the perpetrators of the heinous incident prevented fire service vehicles from dousing the fire and engaged in chase and counter-chase with the police and the Rapid Action Battalion in phases till evening. 

One can recall here the Ramu violence in which a similar rumour led thousands of locals at Ramu and some other areas in Cox’s Bazar to ransack, loot and burn down a number of Buddhist houses and temples in September last year. Then, too, the local administration allegedly remained largely indifferent to the violence. Besides, people who allegedly masterminded those horrendous attacks are still moving around freely under their nose. One can also recall the series of communal attacks on Hindu temple and houses, especially in the wake of the verdict delivered by the International Crimes Tribunal 1 on February 28 sentencing Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a frontline leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, to death, which remains unaddressed as well. 

The government needs to realise that its inability, if not unwillingness, to ensure safety and security for people belonging religious and ethnic minority communities amounts to violation of the latter’s constitutional rights on the one hand and undermines the nation’s long tradition of communal harmony on the other. It needs to also realise that had it acted decisively and demonstratively, and brought the perpetrators of similar attacks on minority communities to justice, the atrocities in Pabna may not have occurred. Hence, it is imperative that the government make all-out efforts to trace the masterminds and perpetrators of all such attacks and have them prosecuted and punished.

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