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Attacks on Hindus aimed at land grab

Most affected Hindus in Satkhira staying in hideouts, Govt assistance inadequate

Mohiuddin Alamgir and Ruhul Quddus . Satkhira

People of Hindu community whose houses and businesses were vandalised and burnt down in Satkhira by Jamaat-Shibir men alleged that the attacks were aimed at grabbing the lands of the minorities.
Most of the Hindus living in the affected areas said they were yet to get any kind of assistance from the administration and had been passing days fearing fresh attacks.
The helpless Hindus avoid lodging complaints with the police as they fear it might invite more troubles as in most of the cases of violence against minorities in the past, the perpetrators went unpunished.
Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad general secretary Gostha Bihary Mandal said more than 100 houses, a few temples and 50 business houses had been destroyed in a wave attacks on the community since February 28, 2013.
‘Whatever happens, we, the Hindus, are made the target of attacks. We are still passing days in fear, as we might come under attack again,’ he said.
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir had unleashed terror in the Hindu neighbourhoods after Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee was handed death sentence on February 28, 2013, for the war crimes he had committed in 1971.
In the face of the attacks, people of the Hindu community and many Awami League activists, fled their homes. Although many of the Awami League activists have returned home since the joint forces started operaration in Satkhira to hunt down the perpertrators, many of the Hindus are still living in hideouts.
Satkhira, a south-western district that lies along the border with India, is usually known as a Jamaat stronghold, and has a history of violence against the Hindu community after the demolition of Babri Mosque in India in 1992 and particularly since the 2001 elections.
Miscreants set fire to at least 10 houses of the Hindus in Kaliganj upazila in the district and looted valuables
after bringing allegations that a drama performed by students of a local school had hurt the sentiment of the Muslims in March 2012, which proved wrong later.
Hindu community leaders said that there had been a systematic propaganda in Bangladesh over the years that Hindus usually voted for and supported Awami League and therefore they incurred the wrath of Jamaat.
Freedom fighter Subhash Ghosh said Jamaat men had attacked his house at Debhata on December 12, 2013, in which generations of his family lived. They looted valuables, smashed TVs, vandalised the temple in the house and finally torched the property, forcing the family to flee.
Subhash along with his family has taken refuge elsewhere. ‘I have heard that some influential quarters are planning to grab our lands and house,’ he said. Subhash, however, declined to name the plotters for fear of life.
The Jamaat-Shibir men even did not spare the house of Keshab Samaddar, a hero of anti-British independence movement, at Satani in Sadar upazila.
Keshab’s son Amal Samaddar and Subhash Ghosh said that they were yet to receive any assistance from the administration for their security and rehabilitation.
Scores of others houses of Hindus in Agardari of Satkhira Sadar, known as ‘Pakistan Para’ to the locals, were destroyed. In the area houses and shops of Taposh Acharya, Gopal Ghoshal, Prasanta Karmakar and Indrajit Majumder were also attacked and vandalised.
Different areas of Kaliganj and Ashashuni upazilas of the district also bore the brunt of sectarian violence.
A Hindu community member at Agardari alleged that the victims who were not involved with Awami League were not getting any assistance from the government. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina handed over cheques to victims of the atrocities, including some Hindus, on January 20, and all of them were somehow linked to Awami League, he pointed out.
The Hindus alleged that the administration had failed to stop the miscreants from attacking their houses in the remote villages of Satkhira.
‘Most of the affected Hindus did not get assistance from the administration,’ said Gostha Bihary Mandal.
‘We heard that the DC office provided some assistance but do not know anything more,’ he added.
Satkhira deputy commissioner Nazmul Ahsan said some incidents of attack on minorities had taken place before December 16. ‘But the situation has changed now. Law and order has been restored and nobody should fear any further trouble,’ he said.
‘We will take necessary steps if anyone feels insecure and lodges complaints with us,’ he added.
Nazmul Ahsan said that the administration had distributed Tk 10 lakh among the victims of atrocities from the prime minister’s relief and other funds.
According to the prime minister’s promise, Satkhira 38 Border Guard Bangladesh Battalion on Thursday began constructing a half-brick-built house for the family of AL activist Sirajul Islam, who was killed by Jamaat-Shibir men during the pre-election political violence.
The 38 BGB commander, lieutenant colonel Imam Ahsan, said they would build 85 houses for those who were affected in the violence.

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