Bangladesh attacks trigger protests with civil society members criticising govt
Over a dozen organisations in West Bengal have held protests against the communal violence in Bangladesh since Monday. Over three dozen, actors, writers, poets and painters have taken part in the demonstrations
Attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh since the Durga puja festival have triggered protests with prominent civil society members criticising the Sheikh Hasina government for failing to protect the religious minority. Hundreds of Dhaka University students on Monday held a protest at Shahbag Square in the heart of the Bangladesh capital and demanded protection for Hindu citizens. Most of these students were Muslims, said media reports. They were joined by monks of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, whose temples were vandalised in the attacks.
The Shahbag Square emerged as a symbol of resistance against fundamentalist forces in Bangladesh in 2013 when thousands took part in an agitation, demanding capital punishment for 1971 war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah and a ban on electoral activities by his organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, a former Bangladesh cricket captain and member of the parliament of the ruling Awami League, expressed his anguish over the violence on Twitter. “I witnessed two defeats yesterday. One was that of the Bangladesh cricket team, which pained me, while the other was the defeat of the entire nation that crushed my heart. This is not the red and green (the national bicolour) we wanted. All the dreams and our hard-earned struggle died in seconds. May Allah offer us wisdom,” Mortaza tweeted on Monday.
The communal violence coincided with Scotland’s victory over Bangladesh by six runs in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Mortaza wrote in Bengali, the official language of Bangladesh.
Hours later, noted Indian lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar tweeted: “What is happening in Bangladesh is a matter of great shame. Those who are trying to crush a vulnerable minority are bullies, cowards and sick communalists. How can Sheikh Hasina who is known for secular values let this happen under her watch?”
Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki wrote on Tuesday: “I do not believe there can be anything that police cannot achieve. Nobody can commit a crime and disappear in thin air. Bangladesh is waiting to know who committed these crimes and waiting to watch them face trial.”
Over a dozen organisations in West Bengal have held protests against the violence since Monday. Over three dozen, actors, writers, poets and painters have taken part in the demonstrations.
The West Bengal Imams Association said those involved in the violence were insulting Islam and the Quran. “Those who carried out random attacks across Bangladesh, saying the Quran was insulted at one of the Durga pujas, not only showed disrespect for Islam and the Quran but insulted both. Nobody has to study rocket science to understand that the alleged act of insult to the Quran was a well-planned conspiracy to create communal tension,” said Muhammad Yahiya, the chairman of the association representing Muslim clerics.
National award-winning director Srijit Mukherji, who is married to Bangladeshi actress Rashid Mithila, condemned the violence. “Strongly, strongly condemn. A barbaric act,” Mukherji tweeted.
Ahead of the by-polls to four assembly seats in Bengal on October 30, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won two of these seats in the March-April elections, held protests in Kolkata and all 23 districts on Monday and Tuesday. The BJP demanded the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Bengal. It has claimed that the attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh are part of a “systematic ethnic cleaning” that started decades ago.
The CAA offers citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015 to escape religious persecution.