Protesters decry attacks on Bangladesh Hindus
At least 19 were killed and hundreds hurt in weekend election violence
A distraught Hindu family sits in front of their vandalized house (Picture: Shahadat Hosen)
About 1,000 rights and political activists rallied in Dhaka on Tuesday to demand justice and better protection for minority Hindus, after attacks by opposition supporters during Bangladesh’s general election on Sunday.
“We are dismayed and ashamed as citizens of Bangladesh to see that communal and fundamentalist forces have once again targeted minority people and that the government has failed to protect them,” said Durgadas Bhattacharya, an advisor to the United Council of Hindus-Buddhists-Christians in Bangladesh, a prominent minority group.
“The government must immediately crack down on this."
Shafique Ahmed, legal advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, responded to the protesters on Wednesday.
Rampaging BNP/Jamaat supporters also vandalized and set fire to hundreds of Hindu homes and shops, forcing thousands of villagers to flee their homes and seek refuge in nearby temples.
At least 5,000 Hindus took shelter at a temple in Thakurgaon after a mob destroyed about 35 Hindu-owned homes and 50 shops, said Pushpashila Shyamdas, the temple’s head priest.
“We offered food and accommodation until the situation calmed down,” he said.
Hindus, the country’s largest minority group who make up about nine percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million population, traditionally support the ruling Awami League, which is considered a center-left secular party.
Faruk Hossain, local commander of the Rapid Action Battalion, said most Hindus who fled have returned to their homes.
"We are keeping watch on their safety and security,” he said.
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