Dhaka: protests over sectarian violence against non-Muslim teachers
In recent days a teacher was bludgeoned to death, while the principal of a school was evacuated by police and forced to resign for his own safety. A dozen pupils have begun a hunger strike in solidarity. Catholic teacher: "We demand exemplary punishment."
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of teachers and students demonstrated in several locations across the country in solidarity with religious minority teachers persecuted by hardline Muslims.
In recent days Utpal Kumar Biswas, a lecturer at Haji Yunus Ali School and College in Ashulia, was beaten to death. Swapan Kumar Biswas, principal of Mirzapur United Degree College in Narai was taken to safety by police and forced to resign following violent clashes that occurred inside the school.
On June 29 at least 10 students from different universities began a hunger strike demanding the arrest of those responsible.
In Ashulia, an 18-year-old student, Ashraful Islam Jitu, after being reprimanded by Utpal Kumar for frequent tardiness, took a cricket bat and beat the professor, who taught political science and headed the disciplinary department, to death.
In Narail, however, it all started on June 16 when Rahul Dev Roy, a Hindu student, was accused of making a Facebook post in favor of Nupur Sharma, the Bharatiya Janata Party spokeswoman expelled from the party for her offensive comments toward the Prophet Muhammad and Islam.
Muslim pupils informed Principal Swapan Kumar Biswas, who immediately took the Hindu student to his office and called the police. Before long, suspicion spread that the principal wanted to protect the student because he belonged to his own religious minority. At that point the school campus was invaded by fanatics, who burned three motorcycles, including the principal's.
When Swapan Kumar was taken out of the college by police some students tied shoes around his neck. Rahul Dev Roy was arrested under the Digital Security Act but the case was dismissed after 9 days later. Despite a video that went viral depicting the principal with a shoelace around his neck, police deny witnessing the incident. Instead, a 22-year-old boy, Rahmatullah Biswas Rony, was arrested on charges of insulting religion. Swapan Kumar was replaced and is now hiding in a safe place with his family.
"I strongly condemn the killing of Utpal Kumar Biswas and the persecution of Swapan Kumar Biswas," Catholic teacher Cornelius Milon D'Cruze, vice principal of Heed International School in Sadarghat, told AsiaNews. "We call for exemplary punishment for those responsible for these incidents."
"Teachers are respected everywhere. But some students did not receive a good education from their family and that's why they hurt teachers. It is very sad," he added.