The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minority attack slur on Dhaka

New Delhi, Sept. 21: Allegations of attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh continue to pour in, even 10 months after the Bangladesh National Party-led coalition swept to power in Dhaka.

Initially, the attacks were seen as part of the rivalry between the two main parties in the country. The Hindus — most of whom were said to be supporters of the Awami League — were allegedly targeted by the BNP and its ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami. But reports from Bangladesh suggest that even Awami League supporters are now taking part in these attacks against Hindus.

Most of these alleged attacks are reportedly aimed at snatching away the land and property of Hindus. Hooligans, often under the patronage of local politicians, are carrying out such attacks to spread terror and ensure that they either buy property from fleeing Hindu families at a “throwaway price” or forcibly attach them.

“Cutting across party lines, these attacks are taking place against the Hindus,” alleged Rabindra Ghosh, president of the Human Rights Congress of Bangladesh Minority. Ghosh and other members of the group are here to apprise Indian leaders about the plight of the Hindus in Bangladesh.

He plans to meet deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha to convince them to raise the issue with the government in Dhaka.

The rights body’s president, a lawyer, claims that he was attacked in the Supreme Court premises and his video camera was snatched.

Ghosh has been recording the plight of Hindus in the country by recording interviews with victims on video. He is also involved in the rehabilitation of affected Hindu families, but alleged that some sections in Bangladesh discouraged him from interviewing victims.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia had assured her Indian counterpart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in Kathmandu early this year that steps were being taken to ensure the safety and security of the Hindu minority. Though such attacks were brought under control to some extent, reports of sporadic incidents continue to pour in even now.

There are reports that five senior professors of the chemistry department in Chittagong University were recently issued threat letters in which they were asked to leave the country immediately or face the consequences. The vice chancellor and other teachers of the university lodged a strong protest against the threats and asked the police to take all steps to ensure the safety and security of the five professors.

There are a number of other such instances where members of Hindu families, including women, were being kidnapped, beaten up, and in some cases sexually abused by the criminals. The BNP government in Dhaka has issued strict instructions to the police and local administration to stop such attacks on the religious minority in the country. But despite these efforts, the attacks continue.

Ghosh and the other human rights activists from Bangladesh, are hopeful that India will be able to convince Dhaka that such attacks were not only going to have an adverse affect on the bilateral ties between the two sides, but also tarnish the image of the country in the outside world.

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