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Bangladeshi minorities want justice for Catholic politician

Subrata Sangma died 10 days after he was attacked with iron rods and sharp weapons by political opponents

Subrata Sangma, 48, a Garo Catholic politician in Bangladesh died after a brutal attack, on Oct. 8

Subrata Sangma, 48, a Garo Catholic politician in Bangladesh died after a brutal attack, on Oct. 8 . (Photo: Facebook) 

Published: October 10, 2022 11:04 AM GMT

Updated: October 10, 2022 12:08 PM GMT

Minority groups in Bangladesh have demanded justice for an ethnic Garo Catholic politician, who died ten days after he was brutally attacked by his political rivals.

Subrata Sangma, 48, died on Oct. 8, while undergoing treatment in a hospital. He was a former elected chairman of the Kullagora Union Council, a local government body in Durgapur of northeastern Netrakona district.

Sangma’s relatives alleged that a group of criminals sent by current chairman Abdul Awal and his brother Shamim Ahmed beat him up with iron rods and sharp weapons twice on Sept. 29, leaving him seriously injured. He was rushed to a hospital by local people and died there 10 days later.

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One day later, his sister Keya Sangma filed an “attempt to murder” case against Awal, his brother, and 15 others. The accused have secured bail, police said.

“The dead body has been kept at the Mymensingh Medical College Hospital morgue for post-mortem. The accused in the attack case are currently out on bail. Since Subrata Sangma is dead, the case will now be converted into a murder case,” Durgapur police station officer-in-charge Mohammad Shibirul Islam told UCA News.

Sangma, a member of the ruling Awami League party, is the nephew of late Promod Mankin, a prominent Garo Catholic politician, and former state minister of social welfare.

Raymond Areng, a Garo Catholic and central committee leader of the Awami League, alleged Sangma was killed because of his politics.

“We respect the law of the land and hope to get fair justice,” Areng told UCA News.

Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC), the country’s largest religious minorities forum, issued a statement deploring the murder. It alleged the main perpetrator and his associates are members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The BNP has not commented on the killing yet.

“We express deep concerns and fear over the brutal killing of Subrata Sangma. We demand immediate arrest and exemplary punishment for the culprits,” the group said in a statement on Oct. 9.

Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA), the largest Christian forum, also condemned the killing.

“The government must immediately arrest those involved in the murder and hand down exemplary punishment,” its Oct. 9 statement read.

The brutal assault on Sangma is a part of the ongoing oppression of ethnic minorities, said Garo Student Union.

Apurba Mrong, secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission in the predominant Garo Mymensingh Diocese said the political murder discourages minorities from getting involved in politics.

“The minorities of Bangladesh, especially the Christians, are already few in politics. They will not come to politics if such killings happen. So the government should pay more attention to this aspect,” Mrong told UCA News.

In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Christians make up less than one percent or an estimated 600,000 of the more than 165 million people, according to the 2022 census.

About three million of the country’s citizens are members of various ethnic indigenous groups.

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