Durga Puja is an integral part of Hindu Bengali culture. Apart from being a religious festival, it is an emotion that resonates in the hearts of the Bengali community. As such, it comes as no surprise that Bengalis wait in sheer anticipation of the annual Durga Puja. But, for Hindus living across the border in Bangladesh, the auspicious occasion was sullied by violence, vandalism, killings, rapes and desecration at the hands of radical Islamists.
In a Muslim-majority nation where they constitute less than 10% of the total population, Hindus remain vulnerable to attacks by radical Islamic terrorists. Opindia has documented 100s of such cases of persecution and ill-treatment meted out to the minority community. Given Bangladesh’s track record of human rights violations, attacks on Hindus remains a routine affair. However, this time the Islamists tried to create a context to justify their ruthless atrocities on minorities, ahead of Durga Puja.
In the wee hours of Wednesday (October 13), radical Islamists reportedly entered the Nanuar Dighir Par Durga Mandir in Cumilla district and placed a copy of the Quran on the feet of the idol of Lord Hanuman. According to Shibu Prasad Dutta, the general secretary of Cumilla Mahanagar Puja Udjapon Committee, someone carried out the mischief in the morning when the guard was asleep. “The miscreants took some pictures of this and ran away. Within a few hours, using Facebook, the propaganda spread like wildfire with the provocative pictures,” confirmed a district official.
The foundation for orchestrating a Hindu pogrom was perfectly laid – The insult of the ‘Holy Book’, the punishment for which is death. Dipan Mitra, the Secretary-General of World Hindu federation (Bangladesh Chapter), stated, “Then they raised an issue of insulting Islam and gathered a mob and started attacked Hindu Temples in Cumilla town. After that, the attack on temples and Hindus was spread all over the country…”
He further added, “They Vandalized more than 315 Temples and its Idols and looted all valuable things in more than 30 districts of Bangladesh during 13 – 16 October 2021. They attacked and vandalized nearly 1500 Hindu houses in Cumilla, Chandpur, Noakhali, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Feni, Chapai Nawabgonj and other districts.” Mitra recounted the names of the 10 Hindus who were slaughtered by radical Islamists under the garb of blasphemy. They included Manik Saha, Jatan Saha, Prashanta Das, Priest Nimai Krishna, 4 unnamed Hindu priests and 1 more unidentified victim. Besides, 23 Hindu women and girls were raped and 17 Hindus remain missing.
Mitra concluded, “Now is the time to clarify the position of the government – do they want Bangladesh to be a secular prosperous Bangladesh or do they want to take it back to the ideology of previous Pakistan”. He also mentioned that the lack of justice is giving birth to new crimes in this country. He appealed to the government for immediate arrest of all culprits and provides exemplary punishment.”
The seeds of violence was sowed in Cumilla district
While blaming the Hindu community for the desecration of the Quran, Islamists vandalised the Durga Puja pandal and the idols of the deities kept at the Nanuar Dighir Par Durga Mandir in Cumilla. According to Dipan Mitra, the Islamic extremists also attacked the Nrisingh Dev and Dashavuja Kali temples. He added that the mob also vandalised the Rishipara temple, Rajeswari Kali temple, besides 14 other temples and Durga pandals in the district.
Muslim mob demolished 9 Durga mandapas and Murtis in Comilla, Bangladesh. Hundreds of radical Muslims attacked this morning. The attack is still going on.— JatayuOSINT🔸🌍 (@JatayuOSINT) October 13, 2021
HINDU GENOCIDE IS TAKING PLACE IN BANGLADESH RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT
Violence in Chandpur and Chittagonj districts
The Secretary-General of the World Hindu Federation (Bangladesh Chapter) informed that the Muslim fanatics attacked 15 Puja pandals (Banskhali), 3 temples and puja pandals (Melaghar in Patia), 5 temples and Puja pandals (Sarkarhat and Hathazari) in the Chittagonj district. He added that attacks were also carried out at the Karunamoyi Kalibari temple at Chakbazar and J M Sen Hall Puja Pandal in Chittagonj.
Chandpur, Bangladesh.— Female Times🇮🇳 (@SantaniPrashemi) October 13, 2021
The miscreants are demanding to set the local ISKCON temple on fire. In the second video, attacks on 150 Hindu families in Shilpara, Cox’s Bazar, looting and vandalism in Hatiya, Noakhali. Kalimandir attacked, women molested and 2 dead bodies found. pic.twitter.com/bc63SkUi1r
At the same time, 70 Hindu houses were attacked in Hajiganj in the Chandpur district. About 150 Hindu families were targeted along with the iconic Ramkrishna Mission. Besides, 7 temples and puja pandals were also destroyed by Muslim extremists. Advocate Dr Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, Secretary-General of Bangladesh Jatio Hindu Mohajote, shared the news of the death of Manik Saha, publicity secretary of Chandpur district branch of Bangladesh National Hindu Youth Grand Alliance.
The mayhem at Noakhali
The Islamists attacked the Ram Thakur Ashram and vandalised 10 temples and puja pandals including Mongola, Nabadurga, Bijoya, Trishul and Koatbari Puja Pandal. About 20 houses were attacked in Nalchira, Chayanibazar, Begumgonj, Choumohoni and Sonaimuri. At the same time, 9 temples and puja pandals were vandalised at Choumohoni in Noakhali.
On Friday (October 15), a frenzied mob of radical Islamists attacked the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in the Noakhali district of Bangladesh. In a tweet, the official handle of ISKCON wrote, “ISKCON temple & devotees were violently attacked today by a mob in Noakhali, Bangladesh. Temple suffered significant damage & the condition of a devotee remains critical. We call on the Govt of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all Hindus & bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Just few hours back today, around 500 Muslim mob gathered outside @iskcon— Radharamn Das (@RadharamnDas) October 15, 2021
Temple in Naokhali and they broke Deities inside ISKCON temple and set temple on fire. They also destroyed Durga Devi in front of ISKCON Temple. Our devotees fought: many r critical pic.twitter.com/R8Rfs8H6kX
The Bangladesh unit of ISKCON lamented that the sculpture of its founder, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, was burnt down during the arson attack on the temple. A Twitter account (@HinduVoice_in) had shared disturbing visuals of arson by radical Islamists. In the video clip, flames and smoke were seen rising from the burnt ISKCON temple. Spokesman Radharamn Das had shared visuals of a Hindu monk, who was critically injured after sustaining a dagger attack to his head.
Just see how they have attacked our ISKCON monks. This devotee was attacked with dagger on his head. He fought bravely before attacked from behind. These devotees don’t fear for their life but worried about women & children’s of neighborhood.— Radharamn Das (@RadharamnDas) October 15, 2021
Will world wake up tonight? @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/s2He9nKJct
In a video that has now surfaced on social media, a Hindu monk at ISKCON narrated, “Hare Krishna! Today, Jamaat attacked the ISKCON temple and other temples in Choumani in Noakhali. They have executed it as part of a vicious plan. ISKCON Mandir has been desecrated. They have killed one devotee outright and stabbed another, leading to his critical state. Several motorcycles were set on fire. There was a mob of 400-500 people. They have looted 1 lakh taka from our temple The Noakhali administration has yet not taken any action against the miscreants.”
More Hindu temples attacked, petrol bombs hurled in Feni district
Radical Islamists attacked Hindus in the Feni district in the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh. A 14-second video clip had gone viral wherein radical Islamists could be seen creating mayhem on the streets. Equipped with lathis, the frenzied mob gathered in large numbers and then looted and vandalised Hindu temples in unison.
Reportedly, the President of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Shukdeb Nath Tapan, was attacked by the same Islamist mob near the Joykali temple. The Hindu community was preparing to lead a march from the said temple to the old Dhaka-Chattogram Highway’s Trunk Road. Islamists, who had gathered near Trunk Road Bara Masjid attacked the Hindus with sticks and brickbats. In a bid to control the law and order situation, the cops deployed a large team in the Feni town. They resorted to firing tear gas shells to disperse the unruly mob.
According to Officer-in-Charge (Feni Model Police Station) Nizam Uddin, more than 40 people were injured during the clashes. They were then rushed to the Feni General Hospital. According to Shukdeb, the district administration took time in sending in Border Guard Bangladesh (BGF)and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The attackers torched a passenger vehicle at Kalipal, hurled crude bombs, vandalised a fire truck and attacked Hindu temples such as JoyKali, Jagannathbari, Kalibari Temple and Gaziganj Ashram.
As per eyewitnesses, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami named Islami Chhatra Shibir was among the perpetrators. Local activists of the Awami League and its student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League tried to resist the attackers. “We’ve got reports about vandalism of shops. We are working on it,” stated Inspector Monir Hossain (Feni Model Police Station).
Hindu houses, temples burned in Rangpur
In a fresh attack on Sunday (October 17), they carried out arson at a village and burnt 20 Hindu homes in Pirganj Upazila in the Rangpur Division of Bangladesh.
BDNews24 reported that Muslims in Jelepolli in Majipara had alleged that a Hindu man had posted ‘content dishonouring religion’ on Facebook. District Superintendent Md Qamruzzaman stated, “Police stood guard around his home. That home was saved, but the attackers set fire to some other homes not so far from his.” The frenzied mob of radical Islamists targeted three villages namely, Majhipara, Bottola and Hatibandha villages in Pirganj Upazila.
BDNews24 added that the Fire Service Department received information about the arson attack at around 9:50 pm. It was only at 3 am on Monday morning that the fire could finally be extinguished. While there have been no casualties or estimates of the damage caused, it is believed that 15-20 houses were burnt down during the attack.
Attack on Hindu temples in 24 other districts of Bangladesh
Dipan Mitra, the Secretary-General of the World Hindu Federation (Bangladesh Chapter) shared a list of temples, Hindu houses that were attacked and burnt in 24 other districts of Bangladesh. His comprehensive list reads –
150 Hindu families in Shilpara have become victims of molestation, rapes looting vandalism and DEATHS.— JatayuOSINT🔸🌍 (@JatayuOSINT) October 13, 2021
Cox’s Bazar, looted and vandalism in Hatiya, Noakhali. Kalimandir attacked, women molested and 2 dead bodies found. pic.twitter.com/rQJuYcIY1l
- Attacked 4 Puja Pandels in Kashempur area
- Attacked other 3 temples and Puja Pandel in Gazipur City
- Attacked 7 Temple and Puja Pandels Pat Ramgati and Char Sita in Lakshmipur.
- Vandalized and set fire in 9 Temple and Puja Pandels at Kuladanga and Ulipur in Kurigram.
- Attacked 6 Puja Pandels at Jakiganj in Sylhet.
- Attacked 7 Temple and Puja Pandels at Chakaria and Pekua.
- Attacked and looted more than 200 Hindu families of 4 unions at Chakaria and Pekua in Cox’s Bazar.
- Lama Hari temple and another 4 temples were vandalized and looted money and all Jewelries of the idols in Bandarban.
- 18 crude bombs found in Rupsha area in Khulna district .
- Attacked 5 Temples and Puja Pandels at Avaynagar and Sharsha in Jessore district.
- Attacked 8 Temples and Puja Pandels at Mankasa, Bindapara and Shibgonj area in Chapai Nawabgonj.
- Attacked 5 temple and Puja pandels at Chandpur in Moulvibazar.
- Attacked 6 temples and Puja pandels at Bhola Sadar. Vandalized and looted the Hindu owned Shops and Business places at Barabazar in Bhola Sadar.
- Vandalized 3 Temples and Puja Pandels at Agarghara in Barisal district.
- Attacked and vandalized 3 temples at Dimala in Nilphamari.
- Attacked and vandalized 20 Hindu Houses at Shuktagram of Kalia Upazila.
- Attacked 1 kali temple at Pannar More area in Rajbari.
- Vandalized 2 Temples at Baghat in Faridpur district.
- Vandalized 3 Temples and Puja Pandels at Ashashuni, Paikgacha in Satkhira district.
- Vandalized Raksa Kali Temple and Maa Sitala Temple in Bogra Sadar.
- Vandalized 3 Temples at Karimgonj and Kuliachar in Kishorgang district.
- Vandalized 1 kali Temple and 1 Puja Pandel at Sirajdikhan in Narsingdi district.
- Vandalized 2 Temples and Puja Pandels at Sharakhola in Bagerhat district
- Vandalized 1 Shiv Temple and 1 kali temple at Khatalia and Rajapur in Jhalokhati district.
- Vandalized 5 Temples and Puja Pandels at Bhandaria, Mathbaria and Nazirpur in Pirojpur district.
ICHRRF condemns violence against Hindus in Bangladesh
In a statement on Friday (October 15), the International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom(ICHRRF) condemned the targeted attacks on the minority Hindu population during Durga Puja. ICHRRF remarked, “Durga Puja is the year’s biggest religious festivity in traditional Bengali Hindu culture, and is a time of great celebration, musical performance, dioramas, feasts, parades and personal reflection, observed across social divides in Bengali society. However, this iconic Hindu religious festival has come under gruesome attack from Muslim mobs this year in Bangladesh, vandalizing Hindu temples, smashing icons, and assaulting devotees.”
It further added, “Across 22 districts of Bangladesh, major and minor incidents of attacks and vandalism have so far claimed the lives of at least 4 people and injured over 60 others, some critically. The violence erupted in Cumilla after rumours of an act of blasphemy at a Hindu religious gathering. Attacks followed in quick succession at several other locations.” ICHRRF also condemned the targeting of the ISKCON temple in Noakhali. The International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom also criticised the action of the Bangladeshi police.
“To stop the attacks, Bangladesh police authorities have enforced a ban on all kinds of gatherings and rallies in several districts, effectively squelching public festivities and giving in to Islamist demands to exterminate overtly Hindu observances. The police also opened fire on a gathering of over 500 people, which is reported to have resulted in some casualties. The Durga Puja attacks this year are not isolated. They form part of a continuing series of attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus since early this year, which in turn are part of a decades long process of ethnic cleansing of minorities from Bangladesh,” it concluded.