Foreign Policy Blogs

The plight of Hindus in Bangladesh continues to deteriorate

Between 2001 and 2011, a dramatic decrease in the Hindu population was recorded in Bangladesh. Since then, the plight of Hindus in the country has only gotten worse.

Destroyed Hindu Temple (Photo Credit: Hindu Struggle Committee)

As we speak, the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh is getting worse and worse. Between 2001 and 2011, an alarming decrease in the number of Hindus within Bangladesh was recorded. According to statistics available with government sources, the proportionate decrease in the Hindu population is around nine hundred thousand. The statistics show an almost elimination of the Hindu population in fifteen districts in the country. Most of the Hindu families in those districts were forced to leave the country.

In 2001, the total number of Hindus in Bangladesh was 16.83 million, while the population was expected to be 18.2 million in 2011. But the 2011 statistics show that the total number of Hindus in the country stands at 12.3 million, which is nine hundred thousand less than the expected rate of growth. In 2011, 8.5 percent of the total population of Bangladesh was Hindu while in 2001, it was 9.2 percent. The proportion of Christian, Buddhist and other religious minority populations did not see any decline in the past. Currently, the total number of the Muslim population in Bangladesh is 90.4 percent.

According to Shipan Kumer Basu, the head of the Hindu Struggle Committee, the reason for the drastic decline in the Hindu population in Bangladesh is that no one is ensuring that the rights of the minorities are protected so they are leaving silently: “In Gopalganj, Barisal and Ghola, it is reported that the reasons for the decline in Hindus is due to the exodus. The Hindus face various types of pressure and torture during the elections.” The situation is noted to be especially dire in Gopalganj, Sheikh Hasina’s home district. Anisuzzaman, a professor at Dhaka University, said that the lack of security for the minorities of Bangladesh is a real issue: “Some people are trying to seize their property. Some leaders and political parties have pledged their support for the minorities but at the local level, those commitments are not observed.”

In the village of Dhanodoba, Manoj Baidya left his home with his wife two days before the 2001 election and did not come back. A neighbor named Saiful Islam said that in the day after the election, BNP activists attacked and looted the Hindu and Christian villages. They stole cows and rice from Manoj’s home. According to a local source, in the first night many families including his own and their neighbors attacked, looted and tortured. Kajol Debnath, a member of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, said many parents married off their girls at a young age or sent them to study in India due to the horrific situation for minorities in the country. In the Bhola district since 2001, the Hindus have been moving away. The people in this area have been exposed to communal violence.

Since 2011, the situation has deteriorated even further. According to Human Rights Watch, there were three times more violent incidents targeting minorities in Bangladesh in 2016 than there was in 2015. Opposition leader Mithun Chowdhury, who is an outspoken proponent of minority rights and who heads the Bangladesh Janata Party, was arrested and is confirmed to still be in custody. This is a major blow to all of the minority communities in Bangladesh, who saw him as their main hope for the country’s minorities in obtaining justice for the crimes committed against them. By arresting him, the Bangladeshi government destroyed the political voice for the country’s minorities.
Chowdhury was an outspoken opponent against all of the rapes, murders and other human rights violations committed against Bangladesh’s minorities on a daily basis. One particularly gruesome example of these human rights violations occurred in early November of this year, when over 30 Hindu homes were set on fire in Rangapur’s Thakurbari as the Bangladeshi government stood by and watched.

The attack upon over 30 Hindu homes was blamed upon Titu Roy, a Hindu boy who is now in Bangladeshi custody for writing an anti-Islam post on Facebook. However, sources inside Bangladesh stressed that Roy never wrote such a post and that someone else utilized his name in order to write the Facebook post. This reality did not help Roy to obtain his freedom. According to the National Human Rights Commission, the main motive for the attack was to grab Hindu lands and it had nothing to do with a facebook post published by Roy.

There have also been communal riots targeting minorities in the Gopalganj, Chittagong, and Sunamganj districts. Basu related that in recent times, many Hindu temples in Bangladesh have been destroyed: “In Mymensingh city, Durguduriya Shiva and Durga Temple were demolished in the presence of executive engineers, magistrates and other officers of the district council. Local eyewitnesses said that the officers came and destroyed the temples with a bulldozer. Even the home of a priest has been demolished. The international community should come forward now or there will be no Hindus left in Bangladesh in the future.”

 
  • Peter Aremone

    It was a big mistake historically for Hindus to allow Islam to spread in Indian subcontinent (the word ‘Hindu’ means ‘Indian’, the word ‘India’ comes from ‘Hindu’).

    Even then in 1947, it was another big mistake not to go for total population exchange when Pakistan was carved out of India by bigoted Muslim population of India.

  • mridhasolayman

    Not Ghola , it will be Bhola . Take care

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is based in Israel and publishes in a variety of media outlets throughout the world. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media." Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University and a BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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