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Priya Saha: A Courageous Bangladeshi Hindu Woman of Valor

Dictatorial regimes usually like to bully small ordinary people into submission.  They think just because they have absolute power that they will succeed against the underdog.  However, famous American writer Mark Twain once wrote, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight.  It is the size of the fight in the dog.”  In other words, one does not need to be big and powerful in order to be a heroine.  One only needs to have the courage and determination to stand up to a mighty adversary in order to be victorious.   Bangladeshi Hindu activist Priya Saha has proved this point in recent days.  

Last March of this year, the home of Priya Saha, a Bangladeshi Hindu woman, was burnt to the ground.  Her lands were subsequently occupied by radical Muslims.   Following this tragic incident, instead of crying in silence over her fate, Saha visited the White House and appealed to US President Donald Trump at the Oval Office regarding her plight and that of other Hindus within Bangladesh.  In retaliation, the Bangladeshi government accused her of sedition and filed a number of legal cases against her.  So far, some of these cases have been dismissed.  Others are awaiting a decision.  

Numerous Bangladeshi media outlets have also slandered her name. Furthermore, Sajeeb Wazeed, the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, declared that the US Embassy in Dhaka chose her to speak as part of a delegation merely so she could make outrageous statements: “The only logical outcome of making such a claim to the US President is to build demand for a military intervention in the region on humanitarian grounds. This ties in with another US Congressman’s recent statement that Bangladesh should take over Rakhine state. It is no secret that the US Embassy is decidedly anti-Awami League. With their support of Priya Saha’s statement, they now appear to be plotting a direct takeover of our country.”

So many powerful people in Bangladesh are ganging up on Priya Saha due to her courageous stance.  However, because she believes that justice is on her side, she is determined to stand up to the Sheikh Hasina government and to defend her right to live peacefully in her home in the international arena.   Shanti Datta, President of Shiv Sena of West Bengal, India and Pradip Ghosh, Secretary General of Shiv Sena of West Bengal, India and President of the West Bengal Region of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, related that all of Saha’s statements to US President Donald Trump are 100 percent true and that they will always be on the side of Priya Saha. 

Every day, the Hindu community of Bangladesh is suffering.   Congressman Bob Dold said in the US Congress that “since 1947, 4.9 million Hindus have disappeared from Bangladesh. Hindus are being tortured. Dangerous incidents of murder, rape, abduction, physical abuse and the destruction of the temples are happening every day in Bangladesh.” In 2016, Professor Abul Barkat of the Economics Department at the University of Dhaka wrote in his book ‘The Political Economy of Reforming Agriculture – Land-Water Bodies in Bangladesh’, 626 Bangladeshi Hindus are leaving the country on average daily. According to him, if this situation continues, the Hindu religion will not exist within the country within three decades.

According to the research performed by Dr. Subodh Biswas, President of the Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samanway Samiti, “55 million Bangladeshi Hindus are still living as refugees in India. Priya Saha, you are not alone.” Shree Malin Borman, who works for the Chopra Refugee Rehabilitation Health and Education Welfare Organization (Shiliguri Region), said, “I have been working with Bangladeshi Hindu refugees for about 15-20 years. I know that millions of Bangladeshi migrants in this region are living as refugees.”

Shipan Kumer Basu, President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, added: “Since the partition of India in 1947, many Hindus from Bangladesh have taken shelter in India. Most Hindus could not sell their land when they came.  Now, these lands are being seized by the leaders of different political parties. Actually, they have no valid documents for this land. On July 19, Priya Saha complained to Trump.  We also complain about this allegation. Immediately after Priya Saha’s speech, the fundamentalists of Bangladesh became enraged about her because she exposed the daily torture that Hindus are exposed to in Bangladesh. Priya Saha went to America to complain to Donald Trump for not getting justice for the atrocity that was done to her by the Sheikh Hasina government. For that, the World Hindu Struggle Committee thanked her.”  And for this reason, many Bangladeshi Hindus recognize her as a woman of valor, who stood up and spoke truth to power, despite the dangers involved in doing so.

 

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. For 7 years, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her 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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