Parties like BNP and Jamaat believe in communalism: Bangla minister
Bangladesh information minister Hasan Mahmud said on Thursday that the recent attacks on Hindus there were part of a plan by the Opposition BNP-Jamaat alliance to engineer riots and create instability in the country.
“Some parties like the BNP and the Jamaat believe in communalism and they cash in on that and create instability…. Recent atrocities on the Hindu community were such an attempt through which they wanted to engineer riots across the country,” said Mahmud, who was here to inaugurate the Bangabandhu Media Centre at Calcutta Press Club.
The facility set up in memory of Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation in Bangladesh and known as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal), is the second such centre in the country, after Press Club of India in Delhi, which has come up with a grant from the information ministry of the Bangladesh government.
Although the event was held to mark 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence, the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and 50 years of India-Bangladesh friendship, and celebrate the role that Calcutta Press Club and its members played in the 1971 Liberation War, the focus shifted to recent developments in Bangladesh during the Q&A.
Mahmud, who is also the joint secretary of the ruling Awami League, underscored that the Sheikh Hasina government was committed to retain Bangladesh’s secular fabric.
“When incidents of these attacks happened, we spent sleepless nights calling up our party colleagues and telling them to protect the puja pandals,” said Mahmud.
Responding to questions on the security of the minorities in Bangladesh, a Muslim majority country, he echoed Hasina, who had urged the Hindu, Christian and Buddhist communities not to consider themselves minorities.
“In Bangladesh, we don’t believe in minorities.… Everyone is a Bangladeshi and that’s our first identity. The festival of Puja is not only for the Hindus as all of us take part in it and so is the case with Id, which is celebrated by all,” said Mahmud.
The Bangladesh government has been trying to send out a message that it has “zero tolerance” towards fundamentalist forces. The re attacks on Hindus followed rumours that someone had placed the holy Quran at a puja pandal in Cumilla.
“From the very beginning, we were sure that no Hindu can place a Quran at a puja pandal.… Finally, investigations revealed that a Muslim, by the name Iqbal, had done it under instigation. The agencies are probing the case and what happened thereafter and stern actions are being taken,” said Mahmud, referring to 139-odd cases filed and over 1,300 arrests across the country.
He stressed the number of pujas in Bangladesh was more than 32,000 this time, an all-time high.
“The government gave grants to the puja committees… Out of more than 32,000 pujas, only five or six were attacked by some people, who have been trying to communalise the politics of Bangladesh. You all know that even during the country’s Liberation War, there were people who had supported the Pakistani forces. Don’t forget that their descendants are still there,” he said.
Some veteran journalists, who had covered the Liberation War, were felicitated by Mahmud.