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High Court orders action over attacks on Hindus

Clashes continue over war crimes sentences

High Court orders action over attacks on Hindus
More than 1,500 Hindu homes have been destroyed since Thursday (photo by Shahadat Hosen) reporter, Dhaka

March 4, 2013

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Bangladesh’s High Court on Sunday ordered the government to guarantee the safety of Hindus following a series of attacks linked to the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party and its student wing that have left five people dead and 1,500 homes burnt down.

The ruling forces the government to repair damaged homes and take action against those responsible, a response which it said must begin within 10 days.

Violence erupted on Thursday in 19 districts across the country following the death sentence handed to Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayeede for his part in atrocities committed during the war of independence more than 40 years ago. Thye clashes have left 68 people dead, including five policemen.

“We are aggrieved that minorities are being targeted by fanatics, just like during the country’s liberation war in 1971,” said lawyer Rana Dasgupta, secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council. “The country’s minority groups are feeling deeply anxious and insecure over the violence.”

Roughly eight percent of the population is Hindu and 90 percent Muslim.

Dasgupta accused authorities and law enforcement departments of failing to do enough to curb the violence, citing a continued culture of impunity.

But Hamidur Rahman Azad, of Jamaat’s central committee, said his party and its youth wing Islami Chhatra Shibir were innocent.

“A section of media is propagating against Jamaat and Shibir for attacks on minority communities," he said. He also accused the ruling Awami League party, saying: "It has caused the violence and is now trying to confuse the nation by circulating false news.” 

Jamaat enforced a 48-hour nationwide strike from Sunday, the same day Indian President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Bangladesh for a three-day state visit, his first as head of state. 

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