My heart bleeds as I am writing this piece. Our motherland Bangladesh is being overtaken by communalist elements and political bogeys. Hindus and other minorities are facing persecution day in and day out in a country that lionizes its moderate and secular identity to the world at large. While there can be no mistake that most people of this Muslim-majority country are not communally oriented, a section of the populace is increasingly being tilted towards radical and extremist version of the religion. Such radicalization is accompanied by land-grabbing tendency and political opportunism on the part of significant few influential members of the majority community. As a result, socio-communal equilibrium and mutual understanding get splattered. This peace-loving land comes under the grip of hate-mongers, fanatical demagogues and political chancers. Causes of such officially declared “isolated incidents” are not difficult to diagnose. Here is my list of causes of communal hooliganism.
1. Land-grabbing intentions top the list unsurprisingly. Since the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947, Hindus have been leaving this territory either being forced or to avoid persecution including rapes of female members. Anti-Hindu sentiments drummed up by “Two-nation Theory” in association with land- and property-grabbing zeal saw a number of Hindus crossing over the border into India during 24 years of Pakistan chapter. The tendency remains unabated even in the post-independence period with scores of Hindus crossing the border into the unknown on regular basis. The land-greedy syndicate mainly in the form of local influential persons, political leaders and gangsters perpetrate communal attacks on Hindu minorities to occupy their land and property.
2. Dirty political game is also played with Hindus to score political points out of their miseries. Members of a certain political party choreograph well-synchronized attacks against Hindus either for voting for the opposite campaign or to smudge the opponent party for dirty political gains. Blames are smeared upon each other across the political spectrum and innocent Hindus bear the brunt whatsoever. Tears trickle down Hindu eyes and their bellowing continues.
3. Hindus fall victim to brutal communal attacks in revenge of attacks on Muslims from across the border in India. Every time communalist Hindus in India torture its Muslim minorities, Bangladeshi innocent Hindus turn out to be sitting ducks of revengeful zealots.
4. The recent tendency in communal attacks is driving hate-campaign on social media, especially the Facebook. Issues range from cricket to border-killing to religious debate to Bollywood with Hindu-majority India in center of conflicts. Haters from each side of the frontier brutally bash each other online and social media fora, and some zealots over here in Bangladesh go bonkers taking it out on Bangladeshi Hindus in order for enjoying India-bashing vicariously. In addition, hacking Facebook accounts of Hindu subscribers and posting anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic status-es, photos, etc. have become common in whipping up religious sentiments and committing communal attacks.
5. The rust bucket law and order situation is largely to blame for these incidents. There are allegations reported in media that men in uniform do not take up proactive, let alone preemptive measures in handling such situations. Some members even allegedly rub shoulders with the perpetrators, to cap it all.
6. A significant number of the majority community people is more or less given to fundamentalism and averse to non-Muslims. Hindus are often at the receiving end of derogatory terms like “Malawoon” (The Cursed), “Dandee” (meaning of which is unknown but often used in places like greater Comilla, Noakhali and Chittagong), Kafeer (The infidel). Many children are brought up in communal ambience and given faulty religious teaching that inculcates in them religious fanaticism. All these factor in creating a communal environment in otherwise a moderate Muslim country.
To wrap up, these are among key reasons of Hindu-bashing in Bangladesh. As I said earlier that majority of Bangladeshi Muslims go by non-communal and peace-loving edicts, I believe they are saddened by the recent development in Brahmanbaria and elsewhere in the country. Many of my Muslim friends, fellows and teachers have expressed sympathy and apology to me personally. Even this write-up is provoked by one of my Muslim friends namely Shahriar Sarker. I hope my positive-thinking Muslim compatriots will stand up unequivocally against non-Muslim persecution also as a religious obligation. Our intellectuals and civil society should show the guts to take public stance on this issue. If intellectuals in India can join the award-returning mode of protest against attack on Muslims, why not a similar feat in Bangladesh? If you cannot follow suit, at least write something on social media that can win back our hope. Otherwise, the hooligans will be inspired to replicate their heinous acts even more fiercely. India will try to exercise their nose into Bangladesh affairs cashing in on the issue, which will be even more shameful to us Bangladeshi Hindus. Therefore, I appeal to the conscience and large-heartedness of my Muslim compatriots to join hands with their Hindu friends. For, a society is not wronged as much by the criminals in it as by the passivity of its good members. LONG LIVE BANGLADESH!