Attacks on Hindu minority in Bangladesh
The targeted attacks on the Hindu minority of Bangladesh, which include sexual violence against girls and women and driving them out of their homes and livelihood, that have resulted in over 2,000 Hindu refugees seeking safety in Kolkata, is the latest manifestation of the cynical manipulation of religion for political ends. The attacks that sharpened during the Durga Pooja season were part-legitimised by the sectarian rhetoric employed by Begum Zia of the Awami League before it emerged triumphant in the recent national elections.
Voices for sanity across the national and religious divide need to strongly condemn and protest such attacks whenever and wherever they take place. Attacks on Hindus, Christians or Muslims because of their religious identity has been the sad and cynical reality of the beleaguered Indian subcontinent. Developments within all the countries that signal a sharp rise of politics that seeks legitimacy on religion-based identity are the inspiration behind these attacks. Each time such attacks take place it
becomes a challenge for forces committed to peace, secularism and democracy across the national divide to join hands in unequivocal condemnation.
As in India when such attacks take place (be it in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh or Maharashtra), the recent attacks all over Bangladesh have been highlighted by scribes and intellectuals from within Bangladesh, for which they have faced repression. The arrest and detention of Shahriar Kabir, a journalist who has been campaigning against alleged post-election repression on minorities is the most recent example of this.
The strengthening of voices of rationality, justice and peace that do not succumb to the politics of hysteria and vitriol within all our countries will halt the erosion of secular and democratic ideals that has been the unfortunate trend within all the countries of the region, of late.