Celebrations take a violent turn . . .
While Bengali Hindus worldwide celebrated the 10-day-long celebration of Goddess Durga’s arrival and victory over evil, in Bangladesh, they faced a spate of violent clashes at their places of worship. The trigger for the violence that began last Wednesday was a social media post that alleged a blasphemous incident had taken place in the city of Cumilla. By Sunday, attackers had entered local villages and destroyed the property, businesses, and livelihood of their Bengali Hindus. Six people have reportedly died in these clashes, and 450 have been arrested for inciting violence. Government officials are still investigating but believe the attacks were pre-planned.
History of communal tensions . . .
In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the Hindu population has decreased from 30 per cent in 1947, when Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan, to about 10 per cent today. Victims of the recent incidents drew parallels to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and the atrocities committed against Hindu families. Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for peace as she recounted the assassinations of her family members in 1975 as a reminder of the carnage that can befall the country if hostility and discord continue. Since 2013, there have been more than 3,600 attacks on Bangladesh’s Hindu minority, and Hindus have been fleeing the country for decades, fearing persecution and a lack of stability.
India-Bangladesh connection . . .
Communal tensions in Bangladesh and India have a way of percolating inside the other’s borders. For example, the demolition of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in India led to the 1992 Bangladesh pogroms, when Muslims attacked and killed members of non-Muslim minorities. While Bangladeshis have migrated to India for decades through their porous land borders, their arrival has also led to growing anti-immigrant sentiments in Indian states like Assam, which borders Bangladesh. Prime Minister Hasina said she hopes that the recent events in her country will not have any repercussions for India, but when it comes to religious tensions, the two countries' fates are often intertwined. The Indian government has remained silent on the recent anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh, arguably to preserve the strained but good relations with Dhaka.
- Al Jazeera: Hundreds protest in Bangladesh over deadly religious violence
- Dhaka Tribune: Protests against attacks on Hindus multiply as violence continues
- The Indian Express: Communal violence rocks Bangladesh: Here’s what has happened so far