Bangladesh Strengthens Security as Violence Targets Hindu Festival

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Paramilitary forces unfold by means of a lot of Bangladesh on Friday to assist curb the worst communal violence in years concentrating on members of the Hindu minority as they celebrated their largest annual spiritual pageant.

At the very least 4 individuals have been confirmed to have died and greater than 100 others wounded since Wednesday as violence expanded throughout the nation following allegations {that a} copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy guide, was disrespected in a temple in Cumilla, a district southeast of the capital, Dhaka. Authorities shut down cell web entry in Dhaka for a lot of the day.

The worst of the violence convulsed Chandpur district, south of Dhaka, the place police clashed with an indignant mob attempting to assault a Hindu temple.

Clashes and protests have been reported in not less than 10 of the nation’s 64 districts, in line with native media stories. Paramilitary forces have been deployed to greater than 35 districts to curb the unfold of violence on Friday, the final day of a serious Hindu pageant, the Durga Puja, mentioned Shariful Islam, a spokesman for the forces.

“A mob of Muslims went to assault Hindu temples and we despatched police to regulate the scenario,” mentioned Anjana Khan Mojlish, the district Justice of the Peace in Chandpur. “The scenario was getting worse and the police had no alternative however to make use of firearms, which killed three — and all of them are Muslims.”

Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, the secretary basic of the Bangladesh Nationwide Hindu Mahajote, an umbrella group, mentioned not less than 17 Hindu temples had been attacked and that idols had been vandalized. He additionally mentioned that greater than 100 individuals had been wounded.

In an indication that the tensions remained excessive late into Friday, Mr. Pramanik mentioned two Hindus have been additionally killed in Noakhali district after a temple had been set afire. The Noakhali police confirmed one demise and mentioned they have been trying into stories of different casualties.

“I’ve by no means seen such an incident in my life,” mentioned Shibu Prasad Roy, who was on the organizing committee of the Durga Puja pageant. “At first 15 to twenty individuals, aged between 14 and 18 years outdated, got here to assault our temple in Cumilla. After that, the quantity elevated to a whole bunch of individuals.”

The violence in Bangladesh displays an growing intolerance towards minorities throughout South Asia. Non secular and ethnic minorities, from Sri Lanka to Pakistan, say they’ve been the victims of blatant communal politics catering to majority teams.

Bangladesh has seen the emergence of native Muslim extremist teams which have been accused of concentrating on the nation’s secular forces with a wave of assassinations. It has additionally been susceptible to cross-border tensions from an increase in communal politics in India that has focused Muslims, together with these of Bangladeshi descent.

A go to by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, to Dhaka this spring was met with widespread protests over the therapy of Muslims in India. At the very least 12 protesters have been killed when police opened hearth on the demonstration.

Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, on Thursday vowed to seek out anybody concerned in concentrating on the Hindu gatherings. However she made it clear that she noticed the violence as being tied to broader communal intolerance throughout the border.

“This isn’t the primary time that minorities in Bangladesh have come underneath assault,” mentioned Saad Hammadi, the South Asia campaigner for Amnesty Worldwide. “Concentrating on spiritual sensitivities to stoke communal rigidity is among the worst types of human rights violation. We urge the authorities to completely and impartially examine the incidents and produce these chargeable for the violence to justice by means of honest trials.”

The rising intolerance in Bangladesh, which has additionally focused minorities aside from Hindus, has been partly fueled by misinformation unfold on social media and exploited for political achieve.

For instance, Asif Nazrul, a professor of legislation on the College of Dhaka, pointed to the final wave of communal violence that focused the Hindu minority in 2016, in Nasirnagar, which was sparked by a faux Fb publish alleging an insult to Islam by a Hindu. A whole lot of houses belonging to Hindus have been burned down.

Many individuals accused of involvement within the communal violence — together with some with affiliations to Ms. Hasina’s ruling celebration — tried utilizing the assaults as a springboard for his or her political careers. Ms. Hasina’s celebration solely dropped the nomination of two candidates accused of involvement within the violence after public strain.

In 2012, a dozen Buddhist temples and monasteries have been destroyed by Muslim mobs in Cox’s Bazar, on the southeast coast of the nation, after a rumor circulated {that a} Buddhist had insulted the Quran in a Fb publish.

Final November, a star cricket participant, Shakib Al Hasan, obtained a demise menace from spiritual extremists after he visited a Hindu temple in Kolkata, India, and took part in a ceremony. Mr. Al Hasan later apologized and declared himself a “proud Muslim.”

Saif Hasnat reported from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Mujib Mashal from Kavre, Nepal. | Bangladesh Strengthens Safety as Violence Targets Hindu Competition

Aila Slisco

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