Hindus Celebrating 'Durga Puja' Attacked in Bangladesh Over Quran Desecration Claims
14:45 GMT 14.10.2021 (Updated: 18:35 GMT 19.10.2022)
The violent attacks on Bangladesh's Hindu community took place as they were celebrating Durga Puja, a five-day festival dedicated to a Hindu goddess. Hindus, which according to the 2011 census, comprise 8.5 percent of Bangladesh's population have said that they will never forget this year's festival, which ends on 15 October.
Members of the minority Hindu community
in Bangladesh have been fatally targeted by frenzied Islamist mobs, after claims spread through the country that the Quran had been desecrated at a prayer stall.
The attacks across several of Bangladesh’s districts, including Comilla, Noakhali and Cox's Bazar, left three people dead and scores injured, according to local media reports. Mobs have also reportedly vandalised temples of Hindu deities, and attacked Hindu homes and businesses in the spate of violence that began on 13 October.
Shiba Prasad Dutta, a local Hindu community leader, was quoted as saying by bdnews24.com that a copy of the Quran had been found at a Durga Puja stall in Comilla district on the morning of 13 October. He claimed that within hours, rumours that the religious text had been desecrated started doing the rounds of social media, sparking violent reprisals on Hindus.
In a bid to stem the attacks and bring the situation under control, Dhaka has reportedly deployed paramilitary forces in 22 of the country’s 64 districts. Local police said on Thursday that 43 people have been detained for allegedly inciting violence.
31 October 2020, 10:26 GMT
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that the authorities would “track down” those who were behind the violence, which he described as an “act of sabotage”.
“I personally don’t believe [a Hindu person] can gather the courage to do it. Let’s see. Now we are trying to keep everything under control. We will find out the facts,” bdnews24.com quoted Khan as saying.
Hindu groups have, however, claimed that the attacks on their minority community continue in some parts of the country despite the police action.
The attacks in Bangladesh have triggered significant outrage in India
, where allies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have demanded New Delhi’s intervention in the matter.
Suvendu Adhikari, a politician from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition leader in the West Bengal state assembly, has asked that the Hindu community in Bangladesh be granted “immediate relief”.
Top Hindu outfit Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has asked Prime Minister Modi to take up the attacks with the Bangladeshi leadership and ensure that Hindus are “compensated” for their losses during the violence.
Durga Puja is an annual festival held in honour of the goddess Durga who is the goddess of protection and motherhood and, appropriately - given what has been taking place this year, war and destruction.
India foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said at a weekly briefing on Thursday that Indian embassy and consulates in Bangladesh were in “close contact” with Bangladeshi authorities over the recent violence.
“We note that the government of Bangladesh has reacted promptly to ensure control of the situation, including the deployment of the law-enforcement machinery. We also understand the ongoing festive celebration of Durga Puja continue in Bangladesh with the support of the Bangladeshi agencies and of course the large majority of the public,” Bagchi remarked.