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Bangladesh to revert to 1972 secular constitution soon , says Hasina’s minister


Taking the radical Islamist challenge head-on, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina’s government has decided to revert to the 1972 secular constitution .
If that happens, Islam will no longer be the state religion of the Muslim majority country.
Hasina’s junior information minister Murad Hassan said in video post tonight after visiting Durga Puja pandals that military dictators ,who seized power after the the bloody 1975 coup, undermined Bangladesh’s core ideal of secularism .
So Islam was made the state religion by a constitutional amendment during the reign of General H M Ershad in the late 1980s.
“We will soon return to the 1972 secular constitution that founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave to Bangladesh after independence,” Murad said in the video post seen by News9Live. 
Murad was quoted by news agency UNB as saying that Islam is not the state religion and he does not believe in that.
‘We will return to the 1972 Constitution. We will get that bill passed in the parliament under the leadership of PM Sheikh Hasina,” Murad Hassan said in the video post.
He said the ruling Awami League will soon table the bill in parliament. ” I dont think there is anyone in parliament to oppose it .”
The Awami League enjoys an absolute majority in the parliament with its coalition accounting for 280 seats in the 300 member house.
Murad lashed out at military dictators Zia and Ershad for instituting Islam as  state religion and unleashing the politics of religious division.
 The 5th amendment of Bangladesh constitution inserted “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful” at the beginning of the constitution and validated all laws made by military rulers following the 1975  coup d’état was passed in 1979 under a parliament led by President Ziaur Rahman. 
The Constitution (Eighth Amendment) Act, 1988 declared, among others, that Islam shall be state religion (Article 2A) and also decentralised the judiciary by setting up six permanent benches of the High Court Division outside Dhaka (Article 100). This was passed during the reign of General Hussain Mohammed Ershad.
Both these amendments undermined the secular character of Bangladesh constitution and led to the mushrooming of an radical Islamist ecosystem in Bangladesh, which broke off from Pakistan through a bloody civil war fought to establish a state based on secular and syncretic liberal culture based on Bengal’ distinct linguistic traditions. 
Murad’s announcement, surely authorised by the Prime Minister, came on a day Bangladesh battled with an outburst of Islamist radical violence directed against Hindu temples and Durga Puja pandals .
The violence started on Wednesday morning after the mysterious and vitriolic circulation on social media of a picture showing the Holy Quran at the feet of Hindu God Hanuman in a Durga Puja pandal in Comilla town.
” But Bengali Hindus dont worship Hanuman in Durga Puja . The pantheon consists of Durga spearing the evil Asura, and Gods Kartick and Ganesh and Goddesses Laxmi and Saraswati  . The pictures were fake and were meant to trigger violence against Hindus,” said Rana Dasgupta of the Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council.
Five Hindus have died and scores of Hindu temples and Puja Pandals have been vandalised in the last two days . Four Muslim rioters were killed in police firing at Chandpur when they tried to attack Hindu temples.
The Hasina government deployed borderguards and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel in 22 districts to restore peace. 
140 rioters and troublemakers have been arrested so far, more than 40 in Comilla where the trouble began . 
Police say six of those arrested were involved in placing the Holy Quran on the feet of the Hindu God to take pictures which led to the mayhem.  ” One has to grant it to Hasina. What courage ? Who would dare to revert to a secular constitution at a time when the Islamist radicals are on the offensive in an orchestrated campaign,” said Bangladesh watcher  Sukhoranjan Dasgupta, author of “Midnight Massacre” on the 1975 coup that led to the assassination of Mujibur Rahman with almost his entire family. Only daughters Hasina and Rehana survived .
Hasina has brought down military regimes by street agitations, she has survived 19 assassination attempts including the 2004 grenade attack on her rally which killed more than twenty party leaders and activists.
“Bangladesh is a secular country and will remain one. People have different religions, but festival is for all,” Hasina has repeatedly said. 
In the last two years, she has managed the Covid pandemic successfully and crushed Islamist agitations on different issues like installation of Mujib statues and PM Modi’s visit to Bangladesh .
Scores of Islamist radicals including top leaders have been arrested and charged with violence and rioting .
“The violence during Durga Puja in the last two days is an well-orchestrated campaign to discredit the government, complicate relations with India and  create panic amongst Hindus. The Hindus are a soft target, but the real target is the Awami League,” said the party’s woman leader Aysha Zaman Shimu .

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