Incidents of violence and vandalism amid Durga Puja celebrations were reported from several parts of Bangladesh, hindu-miority country on Thursday. Communal tension has gripped the country since. Reports on social media that the holy Quran was dececrated at a Durga Puja pandal near Nanuar Dighi Lake in Comilla town prompted violent responses.
Similar incidents of vandalism were reported from temples in Chandpur’s Hajiganj, Chattogram’s Banshkhali and Cox’s Bazar’s Pekua. According to reports, atleast three people lost their lives in the violence. The police tried to control the situation, but were pelted with stones. Following this, additional forces including the Rapid Action Batallion (RAB) were deployed in the violence hit areas.
The Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council called the reports of Quran being insulted as rumors. They said “A scandalous day in the history of Bangladesh… We cannot publish in a tweet what has happened in the last 24 hours. The Hindus of Bangladesh saw the real faces of some people. We don’t know what will happen in the future. But the Hindus of Bangladesh will never forget Durga Puja in 2021…”
Md Faridul Haque Khan, Minister of Religious Affairs called for people to refrain from taking the law into their hands. He said that a probe into the matter has been ordered by the Bangladesh government. Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, living in exile in India, termed the incident “an excuse to attack Hindus”.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in his weekly briefing acknowledged the incidents saying India has been in close contact with Bangladesh government over the incidents. He said “We also understand that the ongoing festive celebrations of Durga Puja, which you alluded to, continue in Bangladesh with the support of the government of Bangladesh agencies, and of course, the large majority of the public. The high commission in Dhaka, as well as our consulates in Bangladesh, are obviously in very close contact with the authorities in Dhaka and at local levels. So that’s for the moment. I think I will leave it at that”.
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, addressing a gathering of the Hindu community at Dhakeswari temple in Dhaka, assured stern actions against the perpetrators. She said “We follow the ideals of Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman. Bangladesh is a secular country. People of all religions shall live together in Bangladesh. Religion may be personal, but festival is universal. And people in Bangladesh have always celebrated such festivals together. People who can’t win people’s confidence, and have no ideology, indulge in such acts. But everyone must stay alert and action will surely be taken against the perpetrators.”
The violence didn’t end there as on Friday, a mob allegedly attacked devotees at an ISKCON temple and vandalized the temple in Noakhali area. Director of ISKCON National Communication, Vrajendra Nandan Das said three devotees were killed, ANI reported.