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Hindu persecution in Bangladesh: A tale of slow genocide

  The minority population in Bangladesh is facing hard time recently. The Hindu populace is getting the short end of the stick for quite a while now. An attack on the Hindu population recently during their festive months of October showed the true face of the violence to the whole world.

Bangladesh has a history of turmoil and turbulence. Initially East Pakistan in 1947, the country was divided from India based on religious majority-influenced voting. Later on, they fought for freedom against the crackdown of the Pakistani army, when there was an attack on their linguistic expression. With the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, they won their freedom. However, an ‘Islamic way of life’ was programmed in their constitution amendment in June 1988, which restarted the minority oppression, moving away from the base concept of secularism.

Even though the Awami League is in power now instead of the religiously inclined centre-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the condition is yet to improve on a larger scale.

Presently, the Hindu population has gone down from 29% since 1947 to less than 8%. Even though Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians also facing attacks on various occasions in the country, yet the Hindu community is the most threatened with regular plights.
The attack on Durga Puja pandals, which is the major yearly celebration of the Hindus is a common occurrence every year. Beheading the idols, burning the pandals happen across the nation. However, this year, it took a more violent turn in nationwide chaos where there were high Hindu casualties, with more than 70 houses being torched. Both the UN and Amnesty International condemned the heinous act of aggression.

There are still rays of hope as it indicates that the country is yet to be on an irreversible path. The people from the local community came together to guard the Durga Puja Pandals. The student wing of various organizations, along with the ruling party, the Bangladesh Awami League, took to the streets, to show solidarity with the Hindu population.

There are also demands across the nation to restore the original constitution since 1972, which can bring religious harmony. After all, the idea of the nation was deep-rooted in the unity and pride of the common language - the pride of the nation - the mother tongue, Bengali. The current trend in terror does not go with the core idea of the country.

The Bangladesh government was quick to take action against the attack on the Hindu minorities. They deployed the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in more than twenty districts. The initial investigation points the finger at the Pakistan-supported Jamaat behind the attack on the Durga Puja pandals.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised strong action against the offenders. In a few days, the Bangladesh Police arrested Iqbal Hossain, a Muslim citizen, who put the Holy Quran at the feet of Lord Hanuman, instigating the lethal riot. Over 600 people have been arrested so far for their direct involvement with the mass murder of the minority.

Bangladesh is standing at the crossroad of the century for now, with the country’s future hanging in the balance. The recent economic growth rate, which was steady even during the Covid years, indicate that the country has the potential for all-round growth, economically and socio-politically. On the other, these kinds of religious persecution along with the systemic minority oppression is harmful for the country itself. If the trend continues, it may lead to ongoing instability and chaos, like in Afghanistan or Syria.
As is the case of any democratic country, the power of change lies within the grasp of the people. Will the country plunge into the depths of the darkness in intolerance and religious prejudice or will it reveal in the glory days that resulted in the free nation of Bangladesh - only time can say!
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