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The battle for Chandranath: How Hindus of Bangladesh are trying to save their Shaktipeeth from Islamists

The matter reached a crescendo in December 2023 when an Islamist named Raihan Riad organised a 'Beef Barbecue party' at the Hindu pilgrimage destination.

The Chandranath Temple, a famous shaktipeeth located in Sitakunda in the Chittagong district of Bangladesh, has been under the attack of Islamists since 2023.

A well-coordinated effort is underway to encroach upon Chandranth Hill which nests the Hindu shrine. Despite being a sacred pilgrimage destination, it has reportedly been transformed into a trekking spot by the Muslim community in the past couple of years.

The 1020 feet Chandranath Hill now has Muslim-owned eateries to serve their co-religionists. The matter reached a crescendo in December 2023 when an Islamist named Raihan Riad organised a ‘Beef Barbecue party’ at the Hindu pilgrimage destination.

When he posted about the event on Facebook, several other Islamists expressed their support for desecrating the sacred Chandranath Hill.

Thereafter, the local Hindu community in Sitakunda went to the Hindu shrine and distributed pamphlets calling for the protection of the Chandranath Temple and thwarting attempts to defile the pilgrimage destination.

In a video posted on YouTube, human rights activist and exiled Bangladeshi blogger Asad Noor informed that Islamists assaulted the Hindus. He stated that the local Muslims threatened to shove the Hindu deities in the posterior of the worshippers.

When Hindus protested against it, they were attacked by the same cabal of Islamists. As per reports, a total of 10 Hindus were seriously injured during the attack. The Muslim mob was reportedly armed with sharp weapons.

“This is Bangladesh where beef barbecue party and slogans of Allah hu Akbar are raised at Chandranath Dham… Muslims live in their own world of superiority complex,” Asad Noor was heard saying.

In the meantime, pictures and videos of Islamists giving ‘call to prayer’ (Azaan) on the Hindu pilgrimage site had also surfaced on social media. One extremist by the name of ‘Tigers Tamim’ was seen putting his feet up on the temple walls.

In a Facebook post, one Islamist named Mohammed Shibbir Bin Nazir was seen boasting about giving Azaan on Chandranath Hill. “Inshallah, the flag of Islam will fly here soon,” he had announced.

Another extremist Innamul Haq responded to his post, “I have been to that place twice and felt the absence of a masjid at that site (Chandranath Hill). Shirk (idolatry) is still going on in that mountain.”

Facebook post of Mohammed Shibbir bin Nazir, image via ‘Struggle for Hindu Existence’

This is in line with the nefarious agenda of radical Islamist outfits ‘Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh’ and ‘Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh.’

In February this year, several videos came to light where scores of Muslim men, wearing skull caps, were seen roaming around the Chandranath Temple in Sitakunda and raising Islamic slogans at the Hindu pilgrimage site.

It was also claimed on social media that burqa-clad women had also begun trespassing at the Chandranath Dham.

In the meantime, a video has surfaced on social media wherein a Muslim man was allegedly caught trying to keep a copy of the Quran inside the Chandranath Temple.

While OpIndia could not independently verify the incident, it must be mentioned that Islamists in Bangladesh pulled off similar stunts (here, here and here) in the past leading to large-scale riots and attacks on the Hindu community.

Hindus demand justice, accuse Sheikh Hasina govt of inaction

While speaking about the matter to Swarajya, an official of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council said, “Since April 2023, a few clerics started organising namaz near the mandir every Friday and we have heard there are plans to build a masjid on the hill. A false narrative is also being spread that there was a mosque atop the hill and that it was demolished by Hindus to build a mandir.”

He further added, “The Islamists who plan to lay claim on Chandranath Hill have close links with the Awami League. So we are sceptical of our demands being considered by the government,” “

A Hindu trader named Dhananjoy Das remarked, “Visiting the shrine is now fraught with risks. Muslims raise provocative religious slogans and abuse us. They behave very menacingly towards all Hindu pilgrims and we are often abused as malauns. It appears to us that it is only a matter of time before the radical Muslims take over Chandranath Hill.”

Poster in Bengali pleading Hindus to preserve Chandranath Temple from ‘Rahu’

One Hindu priest named Bishwambhar Banerjee told Swarajya, “The narrative that a masjid atop the hill was pulled down to construct a mandir many years ago is patently false.”

Meanwhile, a poster calling upon the Hindu society to preserve the Chandranath temple has gone viral on social media. ‘Sabdhan, Rahur kobole Chandranath Dham,” it reads.

Chandranath Temple and its significance

The Chandranath Temple in Chittagong is significant for the Hindu community. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva.Its historical significance dates back to the 8th century when it was built by local Hindu ruler Chandrasena.

The temple is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and attracts Hindu devotees from Bangladesh and neighbouring regions. It follows the Nagara architectural style, which is seen in many Hindu temples across the Indian subcontinent.

This style is characterised by a curvilinear tower (shikhara) with multiple tiers, topped by an amalaka (a circular disk-like structure) and a kalasha (a finial). 

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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