Future of the Hindus in Bangladesh

| by Swadesh Roy

( November 16, 2013, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) After the death of the father of the nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman, the noted intellectual of India Annada Shankar Roy wrote regarding the future of Hindus in Bangladesh. He wrote, a day would come when, if somebody found any person, who is Hindu in religion, in Bangladesh, he would ask why his forefather came in this land, they would not believe that he was a Bengali kayesto by cast. In fact, he wanted to say that, one day this land would be a Hindu free country. This article was published in 1976 or 77. Then freedom fighters of Bangladesh were young. So it was very shocking matter for those Hindu boys who fought for the freedom of this country because before the assassination of Sheikh Mujib ,they never thought that they are Hindus and they have not equal rights in this country and they have to leave this country.

However, after the death of Sheikh Mujib, thirty eight years have passed and in these thirty eight years many things have been happened in Bangladesh and a much water has flown through the river Padma but still more than twelve million Hindus are living in Bangladesh. They are not only living in this country but also fighting for changing the political and economic situation. In politics, from 15 august of 1975 to still now Bangladesh is fighting for restoring its political spirit, which the country has lost in 15 august 1975 through the assassination of Sheikh Mujib by the defeated force of 1971. Simultaneously, the Hindus are fighting for building the economy of the country put shoulder on the shoulder of the majority people. On the other hand, a large number of Hindus have left the country and most of them have gone to India. A small portion of them has gone other countries. Those people who have gone to India, they were bound to leave Bangladesh, the motherland.

However, it is a big question, why a large number of Hindu people have left the country; on the other hand, more than twelve million Hindus are living and fighting for this countries good fate. First thing is that though immigration is the nature of the human being from the very beginning of the civilization; but people try their level best to stay in their birthplace because of their culture, heredity and habits. Besides, an uncertainty always remains in any kind of immigration; it is economic and social insecurity. Therefore, the Hindu people of Bangladesh are trying their best to stay in their own land. It is a natural cause. The socio-political cause is that, a large number of people in Bangladesh are non-communal; they want a religious harmony in the society. Besides, the most organized and big political party in Bangladesh, `Bangladesh Awami League’ and some other small political parties want a secular country and they are fighting for this at least three and a half decades. Similarly, a large number of intellectuals of Bangladesh are fighting for a secular Bangladesh by their heart for a long; even for this reason some of them have lost their jobs, the Muslim fundamentalist attacked some of them and some of them were captive in jail by the fundamentalist government. Overall, in Bangladesh a good number of educated young generations are now very much vocal in favor of secular Bangladesh. They are modern, secular and love the freedom struggle spirit of Bangladesh from their eternal heart. Thus, the progressive people are helping the Hindu people of Bangladesh, thinking that it is their country too. Besides, after the assassination of Mujib, Awami League was in the movement against the reactionary military government. In those twenty-one years, Awami League was lead by Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Sheikh Mujib for sixteen years. The Hindu people of Bangladesh have kept faith on her. When Awami League was in the movement, the Hindu people took a lot of pain but they had hoped that, one-day Awami league would win the movement and then they would get their full rights.

From the assassination of the Mujib, the Hindu community has been gradually loosing many of their rights in the state. After the birth of Bangladesh, they would live under a constitution, which gave them equal rights in every sector but after the assassination of Mujib, the quasi military ruler made a lot of change in the constitution by the proclamations of the martial law. By changing the constitution they cut the equal rights for all citizens, they divided the citizen of Bangladesh in the name of religion. From then the state had started discriminating the people of Bangladesh through religion. It had started by the military ruler Ziaur Rahaman and the next military ruler gave its finishing. Amending constitution the next military ruler Earshad, introduced Islam as a state religion in the constitution. From then according to the constitution Hindus have not equal rights in Bangladesh due to their religion. However, it is not the full scenario, there is another picture in Bangladesh. A number of progressive people are not with this dirty works of the military and fundamentalist. They want to repel it from the constitution and they are fighting for it with the minor communities from the very beginning. However, reality is not in favor of it. Indeed, after getting freedom, Bangladesh had been run for twenty-seven years by the military and their successors; they had always been patronizing the Islamic fundamentalists. So, now the Islamic fundamentalists are very strong in Bangladesh, besides they have been trainen by Al Qyeda and Taleban; so they have a power that they can mislead people in the name of religion. That’s why, present government of Bangladesh has changed the constitution, they have tried to return the constitution, which, the country got through the freedom struggle, but they could not do it properly due to the fear of Islamic fundamentalists. Despite of their all efforts, they could not erase the Islamic religion words and Islam is the state religion from the constitution introduced by the two military rulers. However, the present government has failed to do the constitution very secular, but it is true, if this government of Awami league continues in Bangladesh, one-day constitution will be a secular constitution. It is not only for the present leadership but also for the new generation. Recently in Bangladesh, a huge number of new generation came on the road demanding a capital punishment of war criminals. They stayed on the road more than one month; it was a revolution, it has changed the mind of the huge portion of the new generation. In this uprising of the new generation, it has made clear that the new generation will be a big and strong force of the secular politics. So if government of Awami league continues upholding the secular politics, in very near future they will get a big supporter, they would be in favor of secular politics. So, if Awami league lead government can continue their power up to that time, then in Bangladesh the Hindus and the other minorities will live with equal rights in all sectors. Nobody could dare to discriminate anyone in the name of religion.

But in Bangladesh, after the uprising of the secular young generation a notorious thing has been happened. After this uprising of the secular new generation the Islamic fundamentalist groups, those who have been consolidating their economic and political power last thirty-nine years, they come out on the street under the leadership of the present opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Making people confused they blame that, the secular young generation is atheist and they have insulted the prophet of Islam. By using the Islamic cards they came out on the street, they ruined many parts of the capital of the country, and the main opposition went to take the advantage of it. The main opposition tried to topple the elected government with the help of those notorious fundamentalists, but they failed and the fundamentalist groups were driven away from the capital. In spite of that, they are working with the main opposition in favor of Islamic fundamentalism. in the mean time, the world knows very much that the government of Bangladesh is trailing the war criminals, those who committed war crime in 1971, the freedom struggle time of Bangladesh. The war crime tribunal has given nine verdict and most of them got death sentence and the Supreme Courte has given one verdict, which also death penalty. However after starting the war crime trial, the war criminal party Jammat-E- Islami ( Jammat) with the help of their ally Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have targeted the Hindu people along with all the minorities. For last one and half years the Jammat and BNP men have attacked more than thousands of Hindu houses and vandalized their many Gods statue. Even their sketch is now very clear that they will force the Hindu people to leave this country. Because, they know that Hindus are the supporter of the secular politics. On the other hand, they think that, the culture, which is upheld by the progressive Bengali people as Bengali culture is Hindu culture. They never admit that, it is the culture of this soil. They think that this culture is the main enemy of their Islamic fundamentalism. The young generation who are called by them atheist, they are to uphold the Bengali culture. That is why from the epoch of Pakistan they have identified that Bengali culture as their main adversary and they believe that Hindu people patronize this culture.

So now, they have understood that, if the present government can be successful to get power in the next election,they will continue and finish the trial of the war criminals and the war criminal party Jammat would be banned; then scenario will be different. If jammat become banned in Bangladesh and government can finish the trial and execute the criminals then the root of the Islamic fundamentalist in Bangladesh will be cut. Then the Middle East groups and ISI will not get chance to do their terrorist works in Bangladesh. For this reason, they are trying their level best to win the next election. That is why for three and half years with the help of their Middle East friends and Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), they are spending huge amounts of money inside and outside of the country. They have engaged lobbyists in America and Europe by huge money. They have purchased media inside of the country and abroad. They have employed a huge number of women in the city, town and the village to confuse the women in the name of religion that present government is the enemy of Islam, so for saving Islam they should cast their vote for the present opposition party. Besides, their policy is that before the election they want to terrorize the Hindu locality by killing, looting, arson, raping and vandalizing the statue of the Gods. Now they are doing this. Now they are doing this for stopping the Hindu people going to the vote center. By using all the weapons if they can win the election under the leadership of BNP then from the very victory night Bangladesh will fall in real danger. The Jammat people, fundamentalists and a group of BNP people will start the genocide. Their first target will be the Hindu people, intellectuals and the progressive new generations. Then thousands of people will die and hundreds thousands people will try to take Shelter in India.

So the minority Hindu people in Bangladesh is now living in a dangerous border line. If fundamentalist groups lead by BNP win in the election, the forecast of Annada Shankar Roy will be correct; then Bangladesh will be a Hindu free country. On the other hand if the Awami league lead ally win the election, Bangladesh will be a modern and secular country where a generation will come in the front line who are like son of God, they won’t make the country Hindu free and it will be fundamentalist free country.

Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, the Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh, he can be reached swadeshroy@gmail.com