Christians, Buddhists and Hindus held a rally to protest against an attack by Muslim radicals against the Hindu community in Sunamganj District. The mob desecrated a temple. One minority leader lamented the fact that “the police and local authorities were silent” on the day the country celebrated 50 years of independence and the creation of a secular state.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council organised a rally on Saturday in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka to protest against an attack three days earlier against the Hindu community in Noagaon, a village in Shalla (Sunamganj District). About a hundred leaders from religious minorities took part in the initiative.
On Wednesday of last week, supporters of the Hefajat-e-Islam Group and other radical Islamists attacked Hindu homes. A mob of several hundred men from Noagaon and nearby villages came with hand-made weapons forced their way into the homes and looted them.
Following the incident, the police arrested a local official, Shahidul Islam Swadhin, who also heads the local section of the Jubo League youth organisation.
At the rally in Dhaka, participants condemned the attack in Sunamganj. Christian James Subrata Hajra, deputy secretary general of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said he was tired of having to protest the persecution of minorities.
“We live in an independent country,” he said. “If the persecution does not stop, we minority groups will have to stage even bigger protests.” He urged the government to arrest all those responsible for the attack on Hindus.
Buddhist leader Ushaton Talukdar, president of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, is saddened by the indifference towards those who spread hate.
“While Hindus were being attacked, the police and local authorities were silent. They could have protected them but didn't. In an independent country, we religious minorities shouldn’t live in fear. I call on the government to ensure justice.”
Hindu leader Neem Chandra Bhowmik stressed the importance of unity among minorities. “Yesterday I visited the village of Noagaon,” he said. “I saw what kind of attack was carried out. Radical fanatics have destroyed not only houses, but also desecrated the Hindu temple. This is a very sad fact that requires exemplary punishment.”
What makes the attack on a minority even more serious is that it coincided with the country's celebration of 50 years of independence. Protesters noted that Bangladesh was born in 1971 after a bloody war to set up a secular state in which people of all creeds could live together as brothers.