Bangladeshi Hindus seek Modi’s help for safety

narendra-modi-kanjibhais-sonKOLKATA: In the wake of a series of attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, the minority community there wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government to take up the matter with Dhaka to ensure their safety and security.
“The Hindu community, which is the biggest minority community in Bangladesh, is vulnerable in Bangladesh. Fundamentalist and Jamat forces are trying to wipe out Hindus from Bangladesh.
“We feel that India being a Hindu majority country, should do something. We have high hopes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He should act and take up the matter with Bangladeshi government and ensure the safety and security of Hindus,” Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council and noted human rights activist, told PTI.
A 60-year-old Hindu ashram worker, Nityaranjan Pandey, was hacked to death on June 10 by suspected Islamists, becoming the fourth person from the minority community to be killed in a series of brutal attacks on secular activists in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
“The religious majority and the fundamentalist groups want to eliminate the Hindu community. Since last two years, this religious cleansing has gained further pace. Stability in the Indian subcontinent region can never be achieved with Bangladesh turning into a fundamental state. So if India wants stability in the region it should act to stop the annihilation of minorities in our country,” Dasgupta, who is also prosecutor of International Crimes Tribunal, claimed.
Pandey’s murder comes within a week of killings of a Hindu priest, a Christian grocer and wife of an anti-terror police officer. In February, militants stabbed to death a Hindu priest at a temple and shot and wounded a devotee who went to his aid.
In April, a liberal professor was brutally hacked to death in Rajshahi city. In the same month, a Hindu tailor was hacked to death in his shop and Bangladesh’s first gay magazine editor was brutally murdered along with a friend in his flat in Dhaka by Islamist forces. Bangladesh has also seen a series of attacks on secular and liberal bloggers in 2015.
“The condition of Hindus is horrible in Bangladesh. Although we have a secular government of Awami League party, but at grassroots level the situation is grim. Rapes, murder, loot, arson, destruction of property of Hindu and other minority communities are rampant.
“Until and unless India puts pressure on Bangladesh, the fundamentalists won’t budge,” well-known actor of Bangladesh and former managing director of Bangladesh Film Development Corporation Piyush Bandopadhaya said.
“India is a major power in the region, it can’t sit idle when Hindus are being brutally slaughtered in a neighbouring country,” he said.
Bandopadhaya, who along with Dasgupta, lauded the quick response of Indian High Commission in Bangladesh, which had sent its officials to meet the family members of the Hindu priest and colleagues in the ashram, but said India needs to do more.
Human rights groups and Hindu leaders in Bangladesh have been demanding more security for religious minorities.
Although the minority leaders are expecting Indian government to take up the cause of the minorities in Bangladesh, a senior Bangladesh minister feels the attack on minorities are actually aimed at creating hurdles in the functioning of the secular and liberal Awami League government.
“This is actually a ploy by fundamentalist and Jamat forces to put up a bad image of Bangladesh. These attacks are not aimed at minorities, but the real target is to malign our government and turn our country into a fundamentalist state. We will never let that happen. We have taken several steps to ensure the safety and security of minorities and strict action will be taken against the culprits,” Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told PTI over phone from Dhaka.
When asked what would Dhaka do if India wants to take up the cause of security of Hindus, Inu said, “India and Bangladesh share very good relations. India is our friend. If India wants to take up a matter with us, we will talk. There is no harm in it.”