Dhaka: Police in Bangladesh have detained at least 300 suspects after two Hindu men were killed and temples vandalised following unrest triggered by the alleged desecration of the Muslim holy book during Durga Puja festival last week. Violence erupted across the country after a photo was widely circulated on social media, showing the Quran placed on the knee of a Hindu deity during the Durga Puja festival in the eastern district of Cumilla.
Angry mobs attacked Hindu temples and clashed with police in various parts of the country in the following days, leaving at least six people, including two Hindus, dead and more than 100 injured.
Police said more than 200 attackers beat and stabbed to death an executive member of the temple committee in the southern town of Begumganj where members of the Hindu community were preparing to perform the last rites of the 10-day Durga Puja festival. On Saturday morning, another Hindu man’s body was found near a pond next to the temple, district police chief Shahidul Islam said.
The Hindu community makes up about 10 per cent of Bangladesh’s 165 million population. At least four others were killed when police opened fire on a crowd of about 500 people attacking a Hindu temple in Hajiganj, one of several towns hit by the disturbances. Violence also broke out in the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong, prompting police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of brick-throwing Muslim protesters.
Media reports said at least 20 homes belonging to Hindus were torched in Rangpur city’s Pirganj neighbourhood. The incident came a day after some 10,000 protesters took to the streets outside Dhaka’s main mosque.
Separately, in a nearby intersection, about 1,000 Hindus protested against the attacks on temples and the killing of two Hindu devotees in another district where several temples were vandalised by Muslim mobs. At least 150 Hindus were injured across the country, community leader Gobinda Chandra Pramanik said and at least 80 makeshift temples had been attacked.
The authorities said they have deployed extra security including a paramilitary border guard to control any further unrest. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met leaders of the Hindu community and promised stern action. “So far around 90 people have been arrested. We will also hunt down all the masterminds,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said.
In the port city of Chittagong, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has announced a sit-in and hunger strike from October 23 in protest against the attacks on Hindus, reports said.
The protest events will take place at Dhaka’s Shahbagh and Chittagong’s Andarkilla, said a spokesman of the forum, which observed a six-hour strike in Chittagong on Saturday before making the announcement.
Following are the reactions UK diaspora after the attacks on Hindu temples in Bangladesh:
Anirban Mukhopadhyay, Global Bengal Heritage said, ‘We are watching with extreme anguish and sadness the attack on Durga Idols in Bangladesh- even more disheartening to see a section of the Indian society almost trying to justify them by comparing with atrocities on Muslims in India - two wrongs never make a right - so the logic is hollow. The silver lining, however, is the Haseena govt has swung into action to nab the culprits - but the protests must continue till the guilty is booked."
UK stands with those working for religious harmony
Robert Dickson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh said, "My condolences to victims of recent violence affecting Durga Puja celebrations. UK stands with those working for religious tolerance and harmony, in and around the world."
No encouragement to divide humanity
Lord Rami Ranger CBE tweeted: "Religious leaders must condemn such barbaric attacks on the worshipers. No British politicians encourage people to use religion to divide humanity."
March outside Bangladesh Embassy in the UK
ISKON UK is holding a collective march at the Bangladesh Embassy in the UK in protest against the continued persecution of Hindus and minorities in Bangladesh, petitioning the Government and High Commissioner of Bangladesh to take action. The march will take place on Saturday 23rd October outside the Bangladesh Embassy in Central London.
Ensure the safety of all Hindus
Hindu Council UK said in a statement: HCUK condemn violence against Hindus in Bangladesh. Attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh continues unabated. Govt is either unwilling or unable to protect the minority but we urge the Bangladesh govt to immediately take action, ensure the safety of all Hindus and bring the perpetrators to justice
Alpesh Patel OBE said, “Bangladesh’s strength will come from being liberal and plural, not a fanatic. We #hindus are not the children of a lesser God. We hope the British High Commission on Dhaka will take up a cause of concern to global democratic values and British people.”
Trupti Patel - Hindu Forum of Britain
We can not and must not tolerate violence against Hindus. Fake narratives are spread to legitimise violence against Hindus. We are devastated to receive this atrocious news from Bangladesh. Killings of minorities is not knew in both Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Bangladesh, Hindu community is now less than 10% ; massive reduction from 23% in 1970s.