On 9 December 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah had tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha. During his speech on the bill, the Home Minister highlighted the injustice, persecution and violence that the minority Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are subjected to.
The Home Minister also mentioned an incident in Bhola, Bangladesh, stating that after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in Bangladesh, a wave of violence, torture and persecution against minorities that had started there, had broken the backbone of the minority communities in that country.
Shah added that in Bhola, under a well-articulated attack, over 200 Hindu women were raped and tortured by Muslim men in Bangladesh.
बंगबंधु शेख मुजीब उर्र रहमान की हत्या के बाद बांलादेश में जो अत्याचार का दौर चालू हुआ, उसने वहां की धार्मिक लघुमतियों की रीड की हड्डी ही तोड़ दी, भोला में एक सुनियोजित हमले में 200 अल्पसंख्यक महिलाओं के साथ बलात्कार किया गया: श्री @AmitShah #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019
— BJP (@BJP4India) December 9, 2019
The Bhola rape and violence incident that the Home Minister mentioned had occurred in 2001, just after the Bangladesh National Party under Begum Khalida Zia came to power. After the election victory, the BNP and Jamat-e-Islami goons had wreaked havoc over Hindus in Bangladesh.
In several places, like Bagerhat, Barisal, Bogra, Brahmanbaria, Chitgaon, Fani, Ghazipur, Jesor, Khulna, Munshiganj, Bhola, Narayanganj, and Sirajganj districts, Hindus were targeted in orchestrated attacks by Muslim gangs.
In October 2001, in Bhola districts, Lalmohan region, Hindus were attacked by Muslims. The attackers rushed into Hindu homes, looted their belongings, cut down their trees, destroyed their crops. In Bhola’s Char Fasson, BNP supported Muslims had attacked and raped over 200 Hindu women. The youngest victim was 8. The eldest was a 70-year-old woman.
Years later, a Judicial Commission inquiry in Bangladesh had concluded that over 25,000 leaders and local party workers of the then ruling BNP and Jamat-e-Islami were involved in the attack against Hindus and other minorities that had led to hundreds of deaths, injuries and had forced the Hindus in Bangladesh to flee into India.
Bhola is an island district in southern Bangladesh. The population is 96% Mulsim. Hindus were just 4%. Incidentally, 2001 was not the first time. Hindus were targeted there by Muslims in 1996 too. The purpose of the attacks was to loot their property and force them to flee so the local Muslims get to claim their houses and lands.
This year, in October, a Hindu boy named Biplab Chandra was targeted. His Facebook account was hacked, and ‘anti-Muslim’ posts were shared. When Biplab was at the police station reporting the hacking, the hackers had reportedly called Biplab and asked for ransom. Using the ‘anti-Muslim’ posts as an excuse, Muslims in the area later torched 12 houses of Hindus in Bohranuddin area in Bhola district.
Not just the mentioned incidents, Hindus in the Bhola district have been repeatedly subjected to attacks, false accusations, and violence. A report by the Bangladesh Minority Council states that over the past 45 years, a silent ethnic cleansing of Hindus has been going on in Bangladesh.
It also says that in rural areas, the minority Hindus face an immense pressure to convert into Islam. Rape and forced conversion are being used as a ‘cleansing tool’. Much like the targeted abduction and forced conversion of Hindus in Sindh province of Pakistan, Muslim hardliners have been waging a war against the minority Hindus in Bangladesh.
It is notable here that targeted rapes of women belonging to minority communities is something consistently seen in radical Islamist violence. Be it Kashmiri pandits, Yazidi genocide by ISIS, the rape gangs of Britain, Cologne attacks in Germany or the ethnic cleansing of minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, targeted rape, sexual assault and violence against women is one tool which has been consistently used by adherents of radical Islam to propagate their ideology and terrorise minorities.
The CAB tabled by the BJP government aims to provide Indian citizenship to the persecuted minorities from the three neighbouring Islamic countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have been staying as refugees in India.