Published:  01:45 AM, 07 December 2017

Do you hear the voice of your neighbor whom you consider a minority?

Do you hear the voice of your neighbor whom you consider a minority?

If you want to punish a none-Muslim, especially a poor Christian in Pakistan, point your index finger at him and utter the word blasphemous! You will find thousands of Islamic hardliners beside you chanting "Death to blasphemers."

 Similarly, if you want to punish a Hindu or root out a Hindu family from their ancestral home in Bangladesh, just accuse him of using derogatory words about Prophet Muhammad. You will find thousands of Muslim compatriots rushed to burn the Hindu houses to ashes even without having any knowledge or information about the fact.

These trends have become habituation to the Muslim religious communities in both the sub-continent countries. It seems that minority Christians in Pakistan and Hindus in Bangladesh are trapped in the nets of religious hatred. Moreover, both the governments have surrendered to the Islamists of the respective countries. 

On November 5, a Muslim man in Rangpur named Alomgir Hossein filed a case against Titu Roy, a Hindu man, saying the latter posted a picture in his facebook page with derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad. The Muslims of his native area gave police 24 hours ultimatum to arrest the blasphemer. Though, Titu Roy does not live in the area. Due to his profession, he lives in another district named Narayanganj, some 500 miles away, along with his wife and two kids. 

On November 10, after Friday prayers, about 10 thousand Muslim rushed in Thakurpara, a Hindu dominated village of district Rangpur, with bamboo sticks in hands. Police tried hard to dissuade them without success.

The Muslims vandalized 15, including 3 houses of the accused and set fire. United News Bangladesh, a news agency, says that a man was killed and 20 others including four policemen were injured in the clash between police and angry mob.

According to Bangladesh Police, leaders of some Islamic political parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami, were seen on the spot. Ironically, the investigating team of the law and forces agencies confirmed that the user of the facebook ID, from where the controversial post was circulated, was signed in last time on 9 November (noticeably the case against Titu was lodged on November 5) from near Bangladesh Bank's Rangpur district office and the name of the ID is MD Titu, not Titu Roy.  MD is the shortened form of Muhammad that millions of Muslims across the world use as the first name. 'Titu' is one of the rare names that both Muslims and Hindus do use.  Moreover, the facebook account was opened just two months back while Titu Roy left the area seven years ago.

It has been proved that the Hindu man Titu Roy is illiterate and he did not  use facebook to make any derogatory comment. Yet he was arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiment. He has been remanded by police twice. The local lawyers of the Muslim majority country were not willing to deal with the case. Titu's brother said, "We have become distressed since the incident. No lawyer had shown willingness to advocate for him."
      
This has not been the first violence of its kind. About Bangladesh, US State Department's International Religious Freedom report for 2016 reads, "There were a significant number of attacks against religious minorities, particularly Hindus. In October hundreds of villagers in the eastern part of the country vandalized more that 50 Hindu family homes and 15 Hindu temples, following a facebook post believed by some to be offensive to Islam.

 High levels of election-related violence in June resulted in the deaths of 126 individuals and injuries to the 9,000 others. In one attack in a suburb of Dhaka, the media reported, hundreds of attackers used sticks and bamboo poles to beat a group of Catholics and vandalized their homes and shops, injuring an estimated 60 people." The report cited that the religious minority groups that claimed the government continued to discriminate against them in property disputes and did not adequately protect them from attacks.

 Minority Rights Group International has published a report in November 2016 that categorically said that Bangladesh has regularly failed to protect its minority communities. It says, "A large number of attacks targeting religious minorities in particular have subsequently been claimed by the organization Islamic State-a claim vigorously denied by the Bangladeshi government, which has attributed the attacks to domestic militant groups. Regardless of their authorship, since the beginning of this new outbreak of violence, the authorities have visibly failed to ensure the protection of those targeted." 

Well-known economist, researcher and expert on minority issues Professor Abul Barakat calculated in 2016 that there will be no Hindus in Bangladesh in next three decades. According to his research, 11.3 million Hindus had left Bangladesh due to religious persecution and discrimination from 1964 to 2013.

The figure of 1951 census, there were 22 percent Hindus in the than East Pakistan. The erstwhile East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971.  But the fate of the Hindu population has not been changed. National census in 2011 suggests that only 8.4 percent Hindus survive in the land. 

 Due to religious persecution and systematic oppression, Hindus are continuously crossing the border, with papers or without papers, to seek refuge in neighboring India. According to Bangladesh government data, nearly a million Hindus disappeared from the country between 2001 and 2011.   
Thus Bangladesh is being 'purified' for the Muslims.


The writer is Executive Editor of
The Asian Age  

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