Connecting Regions of Asia.

Bangladesh Violence Against Durga Puja “Well Planned”

50

On Tuesday night, a picture showing the Holy Quran at the feet of a Hindu God Hanuman at a Durga Puja pandal at Nanua Dighir Par in Comilla town spread on Facebook like a wildfire. Fictitious FB accounts like SK Media and Juelparadoxical spun the story with a call to ‘avenge the insult to Islam.’ On Wednesday morning , organised groups of teenagers armed with sticks, crowbars and bags full of stones picked up railway lines started attacking Hindu temples in Comilla.
The Durga Puja venue at Nanua Dighir Par at the heart of Comilla town came was the first to come under attack.
Attackers targeted Chandmoni Kali Temple in the city three times between 11 am and 3 pm. 
The members of the temple’s governing body said they called the police and tried to reach officers through the 999 national helpline, but the help did not come in time.   
Committees of two other temples raised similar allegations. 
Chandmoni Rakshakali Temple, a century-old place of worship, is situated in Kapuriapotti neighbourhood, about one kilometre from Nanua Dighi and Kotwali Model Police Station.
The Chawkbazar police camp is half a kilometre from the temple and the police lines are not far away. But no [policemen  showed up during the attacks, local Hindus and Awami League leaders alleged.
Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, secretary-general of Jatiya Hindu Mohajote, said all temples in the area complained of the police’s slow response.
The devotees said they contacted police when the temples, one after another, came under attack since morning, but police did not come. The attackers scaled the wall of Chandmoni Kali Temple using a ladder to set fire. But the police did not arrive even after four hours of vandalism.” 
Faruque Ahmed, Comlla’s police superintendent , denied the allegations that the puja venues were not provided with adequate security “Foolproof security measures were taken at the venues. Ansar members were on patrol,” the officer said at a news briefing.  But he failed to explain how could the attacks on the temples continue so long without any resistance.
Awami League leader Aysha Zaman echoed the allegations of the Hindus, saying the police response was “too little , too late.”
Aysha, who is the local organizing secretary of Awami’s women wing Mohila League,  also points to use of outsiders to launch the attacks.
 ” None of the attackers were locals. The local Hindus could not recognize any of them. Most were teenagers , so it is quite clear they were mobilized from outside Comilla which has an enviable tradition of communal harmony,” Aysha Zaman told News9Live, as she organized party volunteers to guard the temples from future attacks.
“We reposed faith in the police but the local OC aggravated the situation by carrying a Holy Quran saying he had recovered it from the feet of the Hindu God.  I will not be surprised if a section of the police is part of the conspiracy to trigger the violence,” a bitter Aysha complained.  
“From now on, our party volunteers will guard the Puja pandals until the end of the festival.”
Awami League leaders blame the Islamist radical Opposition of Jamaat e Islami and Hifazat e Islam for orchestrating the violence.
” The violence this time followed the same pattern in some of the previous incidents of communal violence in the last four or five years. A provocative picture or a post, often faking Hindu names, is circulated widely over social media, especially Facebook, to incite Muslims and calling them to avenge the insult to Islam. Then gangs of youngsters who support the Islamist parties are mobilized to target Hindu temples or Puja pandals outside their own area so that they are not recognized by locals,” said Tanmoy Ahmed, social media coordinator of Awami League think tank , Centre for Research & Innovation (CRI).
“Facebook has been again used as a trigger and a force multiplier by the radical Islamists to spread mayhem in the country,” Ahmed said.
From Comilla, the violence spread to 17 districts, which reported organised attacks by Islamist radicals on Hindu temples and Puja pandals . From remote hill district of Bandarban to Chittagong and Cox’s bazar to the Gazipur Industrial zone near Dhaka, Hindu temples were attacked and vandalised on Wednesday. 
An alarmed government deployed the units of Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) in 22 districts by Wednesday evening.
At Hajiganj in Chandpur, an angry Muslim mob with the banner of ‘Touhidi Janata’  (Religious Mass) attacked three Hindu temples on Wednesday night. The small police posse there , outnumbered and fearful of lynching , opened fire , killing four rioters on the spot. 
Similar incidents of police firing were reported from other places to chase away the rioters on Wednesday evening.
An angry Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina , who has provided three million BD Taka for the Durga Puja from her special fund, vowed ” exemplary punishment ” for all troublemakers, so that “they dare not repeat this again.”
She ordered firm action against any rioting mob, regardless of who they were.
Junior Information Minister Murad Hassan reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to secularism and promised an early return to the 1972 secular constitution, which had been undermined by the military dictators in the 1980s when General Ershad declared Islam as the state religion.
” This is a secular country and secularism is one of the basic principles of Awami League .  We are determined to uphold it at any cost,” said Awami youth leader Sufi Farooq, who runs vocational guidance programs under “Digital Bangladesh.’ 
Another Awami League youth leader Shah Ali Farhad called for all-out people’s resistance against the ‘dark communal forces” . Farhad is special assistant to PM Hasina. ” Those who are unable to tolerate the phenomenal progress of Bangladesh are behind these incidents.”
“Why do our Opposition parties join us in the appeal to oppose the communal violence. They never will because they are the villains,” he said.
On Friday, as the Durga Bhasan ( Immersion) ceremony is to coincide with the Friday prayers, huge deployment of BGB troops, units of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armed police was reported from more than twenty districts of the country. 
” We cannot declare prohibitory orders because that will hamper immersion of the Goddess. So we are deploying borderguards in large numbers as a show of strength to avoid any fresh flareups,” said a senior official in the National Security Committee, but on condition of anonymity.
Reports also point to shutting down of high speed internet as a precautionary measure, because some Islamist elements are now calling for ‘avenging the killing of Muslims by police.” 
“There is clearly a tendency to escalate the violence to the next level. So now it is no longer the Quran issue but they are calling for revenge against the government for unleashing large scale arrests and resorting to firing,” said NSC official. 
He also points to the suspicious role of some Pakistan embassy staffers who have been camping in Chittagong , one of the major trouble spots and stronghold of Jamaat and Hifazat radicals , for the last three years.
“These radicals enjoy close links with Pakistan , so we need to watch them,” said the NSC official.
‘There could be planned attempt to cause hiccups in bilateral relations with India,” he said.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More