UN calls upon Bangladesh to protect minorities amid anti-Hindu violence

The United Nations urged the Bangladesh government to take measures to protect minorities amid widespread violence targeted at the country’s minority Hindu community

Oct 19, 2021
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Hindus in Bangladesh

The United Nations urged the Bangladesh government to take measures to protect minorities amid widespread violence targeted at the country’s minority Hindu community. The government has already arrested hundreds of people involved in the attacks. "Recent attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh fuelled by hate speech on social media, are against the values of the Constitution and need to stop," Mia Seppo, UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh, said.

In a statement released on Monday, Mia said, "We call upon (the) Government to ensure the protection of minorities and an impartial probe..... We call upon all to join hands to strengthen inclusive tolerant Bangladesh."

Homes, religious places, and businesses of Bangladeshis Hindus came under attack in many districts by extremists groups last week after an alleged blasphemous social media post. Sporadic attacks continued despite a stern warning from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

Representatives of the ISKCON temple--one of the temples attacked last week--earlier wrote to the UN, asking them to protect minorities in Bangladesh. On Monday, thousands of members of the Hindu community took to the streets of Dhaka, the country’s capital, demanding the government to take action against culprits. 

Authorities in Bangladesh have already fast-tracked investigations, detaining over 450 people in 71 cases. People who destroyed communal harmony will not be spared, said Police headquarters. Arrests and cases are likely to go up as police widen their operations. 
  
On Sunday night, at least 29 homes of the Hindu community were torched in a village in the Rangpur district. However, the situation came under control after police moved quickly into the village.

A preliminary assessment indicates the role of home-grown elements, with external support, in the attacks on the temples and Durga Puja pandals, given how the attacks were carried out in a coordinated manner and at multiple locations. “The Bangladesh authorities are looking at the Jamaat-e-Islami’s involvement,” an official told The Indian Express.

Hasina has reassured representatives of the Hindu community that authorities were taking all precautions to ensure there was no violence during the immersion of idols of Goddess Durga.

India, which shares friendly relations with Bangladesh, avoid any condemnation but termed the incident of violence “disturbing”, adding that it noted the “prompt actions” taken by the Bangladesh government. 

Initial reports suggested the involvement of a hardline extremist group Jamaat-e-Islami which has always been at odds with the Hasina government. Last week, Bangladesh quickly deployed Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB), a paramilitary force, in 22 districts to contain the situation. 

Hasina’s government has always been a strong proponent of maintaining the secular nature of the country which is constitutionally an Islamic nation. But there are now moves among a section of the ruling party to make it a secular constitution. 

(SAM)