Bangladesh was born in 1971 in a pool of Hindu blood. Nothing has changed there in the past 50 years; atrocities against religious minorities are at an all-time high in the country, and only increase in intensity during this time of the year, as Hindus gear up for the Durga Puja celebrations.
This year, the Durga Puja anarchy of Muslims in Bangladesh started even before the idols of the deities could be placed in the pandals; a group of vandals desecrated these idols while they were being sculpted in Kushtia, Bangladesh, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
“We informed the police immediately after we found the murtis broken Wednesday morning,” said advocate Anup Kumar Nandi, president of the district puja celebration committee. According to sources, the vandalism took place at a makeshift structure built for the ceremony in the Aruapara area, where the Bengali Hindus celebrate Durga Puja every year by putting up these temporary structures. The artisans had left the clay idols to dry overnight, and the vandal took advantage of this time. The Officer-In-Charge at the Kushtia Model police station, Sabbirul Islam, informed the public that the police have visited the area and are looking into the matter.
Such sabotage is common in the Islamic Nation; some Muslims in Bangladesh are not content with destroying just one pandal and taking down just one idol. Hence, shortly after this incident, on the night of September 24, unidentified miscreants reportedly ransacked two Hindu temples dedicated to goddess Durga in Joyporehat’s Madhyapara and Purbapara. They beheaded the idols of the goddess and other deities inside these temples. Local Hindus were livid after discovering the desecrated idols and informed the authorities. Local police have arrested the son of one a local, Mohammad Karim Mondol.
Reports of attacks on Durga idols have surfaced from Daulatdia city in Chuadanga District, Khulna as well. A Hindu temple has been raided; the idol was damaged and disfigured soon after the artisans completed the sculpting and left the temple premises on Friday, September 24. A few Hindus took to social media to express their anguish, but little seems to have been done by local officials, apart from inspecting the area and assuring the public that “efforts are being made to catch the culprits.” None of the attackers has been identified or caught as of this writing.
On Thursday, October 7, the Durga Puja arrangements made by the Chanchia-Mirgung-Sahapara locals were plundered by unknown agitators. The idol of the deity was torn down while it was still in the process of being constructed. This led to unrest among the Hindus in the area, and the police were called. Senior police officials and other notable civilians holding significant offices visited the site and initiated an investigation. No arrests have yet been made.
There has also been an allegation of attacks on a Durga Puja pandal in Kotwali, Chittagong, where Muslims harassed a procession carrying the idol of the deity inside the venue and ultimately destroyed the idol. Hindus took to the streets of Kotwali, demanding severe trials for those who planned and executed the attack.
A similar case of vandalism was reported in Rastampur village in Savar Upazila of Dhaka on October 11. With the state administration not granting any security or assurance to imperiled minorities, the committee members are trying to invite volunteers to take care of the temple’s security. However, given the violent nature of these planned ambush attacks, the safety of unarmed volunteers guarding the temples or pandals cannot be taken for granted, either.
While Bangladesh’s police have largely been ineffective in catching and punishing miscreants who have been disrupting the religious rituals of the religious minorities in the country, it was appalling to witness them subjugate the already terrorized Hindus further, and in an institutionalized way, and in the national capital of the Islamic republic.
After local Muslims made strong objections to the celebrations of the Hindus, instead of appealing for tolerance from these hardliners, police on Monday, October 11 directed the Hindus to cease the puja proceeding at the heritage Shankhanidi Temple on Tiu Sultan Road in the city. Anguished Hindus were ordered to move the idol to a makeshift pavilion elsewhere. This has caused great despair among the Hindus community, which has not been given an explanation as to why they had to relinquish their natural rights to hold religious ceremonies within a temple area that belonged to them.
The Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council, a Bangladesh-based Hindu body struggling for the basic rights of religious minorities in the country, took to Twitter to make public the fact that the rituals that should have been performed in the temple were now being conducted on the streets.