It has been a long period of 43 years. Yet Hindus in Bangladesh remain vulnerable to attacks by anti-liberation forces.
Hundreds of Hindu families who fled their homes following post-poll violence in different districts on Sunday are scared to return as the administration could not ensure their security.
As soon as the voting ended on Sunday afternoon, BNP and Jamaat-Shibir men looted, vandalised and burned Hindu houses in Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bogra, Lalmonirhat, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Jessore.
The raids remind many of the atrocities by the Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators in 1971.
“We left our house in 1971 as the Pakistan army and razakars set fire to our village. And we are passing through the same ordeal in 2014,” lamented Bishwajit Sarkar of Malopara village in Abhaynagar, Jessore.
Hindus under threat
Hindus and Awami Leaguers of Chehelgazi union in Dinajpur, attempt to leave the area following attacks on their homes, businesses and properties. Photo: Star/ Focus Bangla
His small shop was looted and fishing nets at his house were burned down.
Bishwajit’s neighbour Mayarani is an elderly woman who works as a domestic help in nearby houses. Jamaat-Shibir activists looted all her belongings, even the small quantity of rice she had stored in her hut.
While talking to our Jessore correspondent, she said she now had only one item of clothing left, and that was the saree she was wearing.
Her house was destroyed as well.
According to villagers, Jamaat-Shibir activists of Prembag, Chanpadanga, Bahirghat, Beledanga and some adjacent areas threatened the voters of Malopara not to go to the polling stations.
But the villagers went to the polling centre at Chanpatola Alia Madrasa one by one to cast their vote.
Enraged, Jamaat-Shibir activists numbering about four to five hundred wreaked a two-hour mayhem from the evening. They exploded about 250 bombs, vandalised one hundred houses and torched 10 to 12 others.
There were 1,200 to 1,500 people in the village, inhabited mostly by fishermen. About 700 of them left immediately after the attack. They took shelter near Deyapara village after crossing the river Bhairab, swimming or by boat or trawler. And a number of people hid in different orchards.
Hindus under threat
Jamaat-Shibir men go on the rampage, in Kornai Bazar of Dinajpur Sunday evening. Photo: Star/ Focus Bangla
Locals said they had called police, ruling Awami league leaders and the administration over the mobile phones but nobody came to help. Police were seen after 9:00pm, when it was all over.
Our Thakurgaon correspondent, during a visit yesterday afternoon found about twelve hundred people from five hundred Hindu families of Gopalpur village sheltered at a temple of Iscon (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).
Following a clash between Awami League and BNP supporters that left one dead and a few hundred injured, Jamaat-BNP men with sharp weapons, sticks and iron rods attacked Hindus and other Awami League supporters.
Our Dinajpur correspondent reports, at least 350 houses and 50 shops of five villages, including Pritampara, Sahapara, Profullahpara, Telipara, Madhabpara and Ajaypara of Kornai village under were damaged, set ablaze and looted.
According to locals, around 2,000 Jamaat-Shibir men armed with sharp weapons and sticks launched the attack at Kornai village around 5:30pm Sunday.
“My house was set on fire. All my valuables were burnt to ashes,” said Fonibala Roy, wife of Santosh Chandra Roy. She showed our correspondent the gutted books of her daughter, an SSC examinee this year.
Several hundred Hindu men, women and children fled after the attack.
Iqbalur Rahim, lawmaker-elect of Dinajpur-3, visited some of the affected areas yesterday and asked people not to leave as the government would secure their safety.
In Chittagong too, Hindus are under threat following attacks on Sunday night in Satkania, Loahagara and Banshkhali upazilas, considered Jamaat-Shibir strongholds.
In Loahagara, Jamaat-Shibir rowdies vandalised and looted several shops owned by Hindus at Hindur Haat in Kolujan, said locals and police.
They also tried to vandalise a nearby temple, but locals resisted them, reports our Chittagong office.
Besides, the Jamaat-BNP men also attacked Hindus in Kaunia upazila of Rangpur and Nandigram upazila in Bogra, report our correspondents.