Madaripur Hindus passing days in fear

hinduismSattyajit Karmakar, owner of a pharmacy in Madaripur, commutes to work on his motorcycle from his home in Shariatpur every day.

His smile rings false when asked about his well-being.

“Everyday, I leave home at 7:30am to come to the shop. In the last couple of days, when I get out and start my bike, my mother follows me to the main gate with tears in her eyes. She just says, try to move carefully,” Sattyajit says.

“Until I go back home in the evening, my wife calls me every hour,” says Sattyajit.

“I am not afraid but when I see my family like this, I feel restless all the time,” he adds.

The same tension and fear is palpable among the Hindu community in the district. According to Madaripur district administration, nearly 143,907 residents of the district identify with the Hindu religion.

There are around 17 temples in Madaripur. In a visit to the city’s oldest temple, known around here as Puranbazar Boro Mondir, this correspondent spoke to one of it’s members, Krishno Kanto Dash, who has been living in the area for around 80 years.

“I have not seen or heard of such scary attacks my whole life. I am now old and have no fear of death, but I am worried about the safety of our temple priest,” he said.

“If something happens to our priest then who will offer prayers to our Goddess? We would be without a guardian,” said Krishno.

He said the community could not put its trust on the police as they had not put a guard on the temple. Devotees were staying in the temple by rotation for security, he said.

Chief priest of the temple Bishnupodo Chakrabarti said while he was horrified by the attacks on the community around the nation, he did not fear for his own life.

The temple authority held an emergency meeting after the attack on Madaripur Nazimuddin College teacher and priest Ripon Chakrabarti on June 15 and sought protection from the police.

Babul Dash, president of the temple committee, said police had increased security but temple members were nevertheless staying on alert at the temple premises all day.

Ziaul Morshed, officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station, told the Dhaka Tribune, “You have to understand the reality that we do not have the manpower to deploy anyone 24 hours for protection purposes.”

“However, we have increased vigilance and instructed patrol teams to pay attention to the areas where there are temples and gatherings of minority groups,” he added.

Madaripur’s Hindu community leadership also held a meeting after the attack on Ripon and expressed their concern over the attackers still being on the lose.

Pranotosh Mondol, convener of Madaripur Puja Udjapon Committee, told the Dhaka Tribune that Ripon used to live in a house very close to a police station.

“And yet he came under attack, which is really worrisome and we are all concerned about our lives,” he said.

“We can’t even sleep at night properly and some of us have moved from their homes,” he added.

Besides the police had only arrested one attacker while the others were on the run, and the arrested man had been killed in a gunfight, which made the community more concerned, he added.

Shyamol Dey, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad Madaripur unit, said each and every person of in the community were living in fear.

“We don’t know why the administration is still silent even after continuous attacks on us,” he added.

Sarowar Hossain, superintendent of police of Madaripur, told the Dhaka Tribune that drive to trace the militant network was under way.

“We have asked our officials to remain alert about the minority groups but it is not possible to ensure security for everyone,” he said.

“The concerned people and communities need to be alert of any suspicious movement around them,” he said.

“If anyone informed us about any suspicious movement, we will definitely take action,” he added.

Source: Dhaka Tribune