Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Second-class citizen

Second-class citizen

Author: From our correspondent
Publication: Organiser
Date: April 7, 2002

Introduction: Not more than half the incidents of atrocities find any place in the newspaper, and not more than 10 per cent complaints are recorded in the police station. Living under a constant threat of violation these hapless people are in a difficult situation. In many cases they are subjected to harassment by police for lodging complaint and face renewed violence of higher degrees by the culprits when administration moves for action.

The Hindus in Bangladesh are facing an organised attack from the supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and some allied religio-political outfits. Reportedly, the attack is political in nature as the Hindus there are labelled as supporters of the Awami League (AL).

Since the gory tragedy of the Naokhali killings of 1946, the Hindus in Bangladesh have been subjected to pogroms at regular intervals. They have fallen victims to the religious fury of their neighbours and the government on numerous occasions. The incidents in 1947, 1950, 1964, 1971, 1990-92, are only some instances. And it is noteworthy that the non-Muslim minorities in Bangladesh (east Pakistan) constituted 29 per cent of the population in 1947. Now only eight per cent non-Muslims are living there.

The Hindus in Bangladesh vote for Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the jatiya Party (JP) and other left parties. But since the 8th parliament elections, a massive terror has been unleashed on the minority Hindu community attributing the false charge that they voted only for the Awami League. Starting from murder, rape, physical assault, looting of properties, setting fire on houses, eviction from houses, demolition of temples and deities, nothing has been left out from the purview of revenge. The BNP and its allies are aiming at creating a monolithic Islamic state like Pakistan by driving out all the Hindus from Bangladesh.

The torture has been intensified recently. The reason is not political or economical, but a clear fermentation by the religious fundamentalists, according to a well chalked out blueprint. It' is clear as daylight from the mode of atrocities that religious cleansing of the Hindus is the primary goal. The underlying policy is "don't kill them, molest their women, so that the they will leave the country gradually.

For the majority Muslims it has become a routine since the last election to arbitrarily own household properties, fishing and landed properties of the minority Hindu community. The misdeeds are not taken as illegal as these are passed off by the authorities as stray incidents. The grass root level BNP-JI activists are instructed to suppress the Hindus since they vote for AL. Thousands of Hindus hounded in the country are spending sleepless.

Begum Khaleda Zia, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said during a nationwide broadcast on 19-10-2001: "Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. Everybody irrespective of his religion is a Bangladeshi and not just a Muslim, Hindu or a Christian. In this wonderful country of religious harmony we caution the people of our country to be watchful against those people who are trying to create a division among us by uttering the word 'minority' with a motive.'

The Home Minister Altaf Hossain Choudhury, retired Air Vice-Marshall, said in a press conference held in Dhaka on 15-10-2001: "Most of the incidents are stage-managed, and concocted stories, and the reports published in the newspapers are mostly false, and fabricated. 80 to 90% of what has been published in the newspapers are false and baseless since we do not find any conformity between the news reports and the reports submitted by district administration.'

The editorial-of the Prothom Alo 'A futile attempt to hide the truth' published on 23-10-2001 about the contents of the report submitted by the cabinet committee constituted by the government to probe into the matter of minority harassment clearly brings out the role of the Bangladesh Government on this issue.

"What has been stated in the 6th meeting of the cabinet committee on the law and order about the alleged harassment of the minority and their migration from Bangladesh has been a matter if surprise to all of us. It has been stated that out of nine specifically alleged complaints about the torture and persecution of the minority community only two have been found partially true; and there has been no evidence of their leaving the country and migration to India. The cabinet committee has furnished this information after carefully going through the four-tier reports submitted by Ministerial, Parliamentarian, Secretariat and diplomatic levels.

The obvious question that will creep into the minds of the people is-are the reports on the atrocities committed on the minorities that have been published in the newspapers are all false and fabricated? We would like to put this question to the cabinet committee and the govermnent, do they mean to say that countries' media is all lying?"

After the demolition of the Babri structure in December 1992, when there was arson, loot, murder, rape and demolition of Hindu temples and deities which continued for over a month, the then Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia said on the Floor of the Parliament: "Nothing has happened anywhere in Bangladesh, a wonderful communal harmony is reigning in Bangladesh".

As all these utterances of the former Prime Minister and the Home Minister are inhuman and incorrect. They are in a way inspiring the communal forces. The local administration has also understood have noted that more than 10 incidents can be admitted out of 100 such incidents. The district administration and the police have precisely done this. Not more than half the incidents of atrocities find any place in the newspapers, and not more than 10 per cent complaints are recorded in the police station. Living under a constant threat of violation these hapless people are in a difficult situation. In many cases they are subjected to harassment by police for lodging complaint and face renewed violence of higher degrees by the culprits when administration moves for action. The media also shy away from reporting torture on the minority in fear of disturbing so-called communal harmony.

During the Pakistani regime the intellectuals of Bangladesh used to attribute the reasons for communal riots to the "divide and rule policy" adopted by the British and the communal policies adopted by the Pakistani ruler in Bangladesh. They did this even in 1971 only to console themselves and earn accolades for this argument in seminars and various discussions on this subject. They said that the communal riots of 1990 and 1992 were the result of the conspiracies hatched by a dictatorial government and the fallout of the demolition of the Babri structure in India respectively. This time also the same logic based on political consideration has been put forward by many, and they still believe that people of Bangladesh are not at all communal. The major political parties of Bangladesh and their obedient intellectuals never admit that lslamization, and communalisation of Bangladesh society have gone the full circle during the last fifty years. What the common Muslim population is doing now is grossly soaked in communalism and anti-Hindu sentiment. It has now become a wishful thinking that the fair wind of communal harmony is blooming in Bangladesh. These are the reasons that the Enemy Property Act survives for decades after decades.

With few exceptions (brief rule of AL for five years from 1996-2001), all the governments since 1975 have pursued the communal agenda like Pakistan. An atmosphere of anti-Hindu sentiment is pervading the society barring a handful of intellectuals. The communal face of the government it looming large in Bangladesh for the last fifty years. During the Pakistan regime, the Defence of Pakistan Rule (DPR) has been applied to the leaders belonging to the Hindu community without exception. During 1965 war the Hindus were subjected to DPR indiscriminately, and through the operation of Enemy Property Act Hindus have realized that they are nothing but second-class citizens of Bangladesh.

A recent study entitled "An Inquiry into Causes and Consequences of Deprivation of Hindu Minorities in Bangladesh through the Vested Property Act" has estimated the violations of Hindu's right to property as follows:

'Approximately a million Hindu households (40 per cent have been deprived of over 1.64 million acres of landed property, which is 53 per cent of the land owned by Hindu households. This included 81.7 per cent agricultural land, 10 per cent homestead land, 1.74 per cent garden land, 2.4 per cent ponds, 0.68 per cent fallow land and the rest was 3.4 per cent.

At the time they appropriated the property, approximately 44 per cent were affiliated with the Muslim League, 20 per cent with BNP, 17 per cent with Awami League, 5 per cent with Jatiyo Party and 1 per cent with Jamaat-Islami. In 1995, 72 and 11 per cent of those who appropriated minority property belonged to the BNP and AL respectively. While in 1997, an equal number of 44 per cent each from AL and the right wing parties were involved in appropriating Hindu properties."

Before 1996 no Hindus were able to get appointment in the higher posts of the government in spite of having requisite qualification, and a few that they got during the AL rule is now being taken off from them after 2001 election. The employment profile may be considered a yardstick to understand the situation prevailing in Bangladesh. The other yardstick can be migration of the Hindu population. The majority community of Bangladesh has to ponder over the question: Why the percentage of Hindu population has come down from 30 per cent to below 10 per cent during the last fifty years from 1947, i.e. the year when East Pakistan was created?

After 1947, migration of Hindu population from Bangladesh to India has been a continuous process. The riot of 1950 and the post-marshal-law dictatorial torture of 1958 and again the riots of 1962 and 1964, the wartime terror on the minorities of 1965, the mass killing, rape and arson of 1971, and the continuous torture of the Hindus after the brutal murder of Sheikh Mujib in 1975 coupled with terrible communal flare-up of 1990 and 1992 witnessed large scale migration of the Hindu population from Bangladesh to India. As a result of the step-motherly attitude of the government towards them the minority communities live continuously under a threat of violence making them mentally weak. In Bangladesh, the riot is one-sided. Murder, rape, extortion, abduction, grabbing of properties from the Hindu community are the common features of all these riots. This has been going on unabated oven after Bangladesh became a sovereign country through a liberation struggle where the Hindus and Muslims fought together against the Pakistan army.

Since the Pakistani days lslamization of Bangladesh has been going on, which has grown very rapidly after the gruesome murder of Sheikh Mujib. Madrasa education is the main plank of nurturing this process, which has been strengthened by policies adopted by the Bangladesh Government from time to time. Islam has become the state religion according to its constitution. Thus there always existed a propensity in Bangladesh society to hate the Hindus. In addition, the ill-effects of Islamic fatwa coupled with ultra-Islamic extremism of Taliban, Rajakar, Mujahiddin and Ladenic have increased this feeling. With this social situation the claim of the politicians and intellectuals that the Muslims of Bangladesh believe in communal harmony and are protectors of the minority Hindu is nothing but a wisp in the wind.

There must be a way to put an end to the unrelenting atrocities of Hindus in Bangladesh. The international community, Government of India and every citizen of India especially in West Bengal have to play their role to save the Hindus of Bangladesh.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements