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Op-Ed: Bangladeshi Hindus’ struggle

President of the Hindu Struggle Committee in Bangladesh Shipan Kumer Basu explains some of the horrors his community is facing under the government of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Photo Credit: Mendi Safadi

Greetings to all the Durga Puja 2016 celebrators and a sweet 5777 new year to all the Jewish people from the Bangladeshi Hindu community. Durga Puja is a famous Hindu festival during which Goddess Durga is worshiped. Durga Puja, also referred to as Durgotsava, marks Maa Durga’s victory over evil.

According to the Hindu mythological story, Goddess Durga defeated the evil demon Mahishasura and ever since, this festival is celebrated within Hindu communities. In the Hindu community, we believe that Maa Durga (Mother Durga) helps those people who are helpless, vulnerable and tortured by terrors and criminals. We believe she sends her envoy or rescuer to find the path in order to save the victims in any and all possible ways. And we believe that Maa Durga is sending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. Mendi Safadi, head of the Safadi Center for Public Diplomacy and International Relations, as the guide, survivor and protector of the Hindu community in Bangladesh.

As a minority, we are continuously facing numerous hardships including the abduction of our girls and women, rape, murder, forced conversion to Islam, marriage, eviction from our homesteads, the burning of our homes, shops, eidolons and temples, the looting of our properties and assets, being sacked from our jobs for allegedly criticizing Islam and being extorted. All these crimes are happening under the leadership of ruling party ministers, parliament members and other Bangladesh Awami League leaders and workers alongside Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who claims to promote secularism!

After the election on January 5, 2014, the number of minorities who were tortured increased drastically due to the political new ties between Hasina and the Islamist group in Bangladesh. Here’s the statistics indicating the declining Hindu population in Bangladesh: In 1941, the total population was 28% Hindu. In 1951, 22%. In 1961, 18.5%. In 1974, 13.5%. In 1981, 12.13%. In 1991, 11.62%. In 2001, 9.6%. In 2011, 9%. This means that the current population in 2016 might just be 8%!

After the new government was formed by Hasina in 2014, more crimes against humanity committed by the workers and leader of the present government began to occur against the Hindu minorities. In order to fully grasp the reality of the tortured Hindu, Buddhist and others minority communities in Bangladesh, you must understand that from 2007 to 2014, 1,699 temples were attacked and destroyed, 406 people were forced to convert to Islam, 5,050 people were evicted from their homes, 302 people were murdered, 392 people were raped, 2,900 people were tortured under different circumstances, 2,000 homes were burnt down and looted and 50 people were sentenced to the death penalty. But we believe that during this year, Maa Durga will bless us by providing us with energy, patience and strength.

Hasina, Bangladesh is our motherland just as much as it is yours; you are wrong if you think that we’re leaving Bangladesh. Our ancestors were born and buried in this holy land. No evil power will give you the ability to uproot us from our motherland. We have the same rights to live here freely as you have. Why do you think that you have the right to classify the citizens as the majority and the minority? You’re the person who defined us (Hindus) as the minority! As a result, we’re being treated as second class citizens and are being humiliated everywhere in Bangladesh.

Shipan Kumer Basu (left) and Mendi Safadi (right) Photo Credit: Mendi Safadi

There are numerous cases in which minorities are being tortured. The government has declared an industrial zone in Mongla, which is in the district of Bagerhat. It’s true that we need industries for our economical building and employment generation but almost 5,000 minorities had to leave their properties and homes in order to allow the establishment of the industrial zone and the government has offered no initiative aimed at reimbursing these people. Every day, minorities are leaving their homes and birth place Where are they going? Where have they gone? What will be the future of their children? The head of government has taken no responsibilities regarding those homeless and landless minorities!

But we are not alone. Ma Durga has found the right person to serve as her messenger (the Israeli Prime Minister and Safadi) to stand with us. Get ready Hasina, you will have to answer all of these questions mentioned above very soon.

The decision of Indian government to shelter the Bangladeshi minority is quite harmful for us because it has encouraged the Bangladeshi ministers and parliament members and the Awami League leaders and workers to rapidly cleanse the minorities as Hasina remains silent regarding this in this issue.

This government is very intolerant to any criticism that proves there is no democratic practice and freedom of speech. If anybody try to raise his or her voice on behalf of a minority, the government defines him/her as an anti-nationalist!

Mr. Aslam Chowdhury, the joint secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) central committee, is a very whole hearted and secular person who has always supported minorities in regards to different issues. But unfortunately, Chowdhury was arrested by the government because he met with Safadi in India. The Bangladeshi government claimed that Safadi is a Jewish spy from the Mossad and that he could make Bangladesh unstable. Though Safadi is neither a Jewish nor a spy, he is a Druze who formally worked for Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara.

We want Chowdhury to be set free from police custody right now. Otherwise, arrest your cabinet minister Dr. Biren Sikder, the State Minister for Youth and Sports, under the same allegations because he met with Safadi in Zurich, Switzerland. If Chowdhury is an anti-nationalist, Sikder is the same! So, he must be held in police custody under the same allegations.

The Hindu community in Bangladesh is very interested in forming a network with the Israeli community in order to share cultural, technology, knowledge and development. The Israeli community is so talented, meritorious and hardworking and we respect the talent and contribution of the Jewish people worldwide. We are looking forward to the day when we will receive your blessing.


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