08/01/2014, 00.00
BANGLADESH

Tensions high in Boldipukur: Mission threatened

by Nozrul Islam
Unknown assailants warn the parish to withdraw the complaint filed after the attack on the church and the convent. The violence was not over money or an attack "in hatred of the faith." "It is likely - say local sources - that it was an attempt to intimidate nuns and priests and convince them to close a legal dispute over land ownership"

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - There is still tension in Boldipukur (Dinajpur) after the attack on the Catholic church and convent, which took place on July 6. The mission, where there are also some Missionaries of the Immaculate (a congregation of women religious associated with PIME), has received threats to withdraw the complaint against unknown persons and against some people already arrested by the police.

In the attack - which took place in the middle of the night - the attackers stole various items of value and deeds of land ownership. Three sisters were beaten and suffered an attempted rape.

According to members of the local Church, the assault on the Boldipukur mission is not over money (theft), nor an attack "in hatred of the faith." Rather, it is an attempt to intimidate nuns and members of the parish, to persuade them to close an ongoing legal dispute relating to land next to St Mary's Primary School Adibashi, run by the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception.

The High Court had ruled in favor of the mission, but when in 2010 the parish tried to take possession of the land it result in a physical confrontation between Bengali Muslims and tribal Christians, which resulted in 50 injuries and new tensions in the area. This brought the case back to court.

Recently, the parish had asked for permission to expand the school, and had even bought bricks. This may have caused the violent reaction took place on 6 July.

The religious factor is thus not the main cause, but it is not entirely alien to it either. Local community members say it "fans the flames". Disputes that have occurred over the years have also involved a madrassa (Islamic school) and a mosque, and Muslims have often pointed to the fact that their opponents are "tribal Christians", accusing them of wanting them to dominate and endanger the community.

 

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