Social Issues

Fear grips Bangladesh Hindus after deadly religious violence

By Azad Majumder

Dhaka, Oct 23 (EFE).- Fear has gripped Hindus in Bangladesh after at least six from the minority community were killed and 150 temples vandalized in a series of attacks during a Hindu festival in the Muslim-majority nation.

“We are now living in constant fear,” Shanto Chandra Das, 27, told EFE.

His brother Pranta, a priest at a temple run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), is one of the dead.

The ISKCON temple in the southeast Noakhali district was attacked on Oct.15.

When the assailants left, people found his body in a pond.

“None of his organs was spared. From sexual organ to hand, head, everything was smashed and then he was thrown into the pond,” Shanto said.

The trouble began on Oct.13 after a video circulated on social media showing the Quran placed on the knee of an idol of a Hindu idol.

The violence, which snowballed into one of the worst bouts of religious riots in Bangladesh, left six people dead.

The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC), a platform for minorities, said at least 150 temples were ransacked and torched across the country.

Police later arrested a Muslim man accusing him of placing the Quran near the idol.

Temples in Cumilla city bore the brunt of the attack.

Haradhan Chakrabarti, the general secretary of Chanmoni Kali Mandir, said they faced “a cruel and planned attack” from the mob the next day.

“Our temple was attacked three times. A makeshift worship place was vandalized, torched. A drummer was injured. An 85-year-old suffered a stroke in fear and died.”

Bangladesh government shut down mobile internet and deployed paramilitary forces to more than 35 districts to stem the violence.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to take “exemplary punitive actions” against the perpetrators.

The violence, however, escalated.

On Oct.17, a Hindu village was attacked, and 66 houses were set afire in the northern Rangpur district.

“They were 500 to 700 people. We ran away to save our lives and spent the night in a paddy field, they set fire to our house and looted our belongings,” Noni Gopal Das, a victim, said.

Das said when he returned to his house in the morning, he found only ashes, and the only means for his livelihood, a fishing net, was burned.

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