Foreign Policy Blogs

Op-Ed: Are Hindus being persecuted amid the coronavirus pandemic?

In an interview, Shipan Kumer Basu, President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, reported that the Sheikh Hasina government has been only praying that Muslims get spared from the coronavirus pandemic yet had no blessings to give to the minority communities within her country: “A number of non-Muslims live in Bangladesh.  No prayer was offered for their protection at this time. The question to the international community, are non-Muslims not citizens of Bangladesh? Do they not pay taxes and VAT to the government?”

Advocate Govinda Pramanik, the Secretary General of the Hindu Mahajot, noted, “During the pandemic, my organization is helping Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians by providing relief. But a number of Muslim organizations, including Bangla Aid, are only giving relief to Muslims.  Hindus, Buddhists and Christians have to convert to Islam if they are to get relief.  How can a secular country conduct themselves like that?”

He added: “Hindus are being tortured, killed and raped every day in Bangladesh during the Corona epidemic but Sheikh Hasina is not taking any action.”  Debasis Basu, president of the Bangladesh branch of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, concurred that attacks on Hindus by Muslims continue in Bangladesh: “Even in the midst of the Corona pandemic, Muslims are attacking Hindus. But the dictator Sheikh Hasina did not take any action in this regard.”

Shipan Kumer Basu, president of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, noted that Bangladeshi human rights activist Aslam Chowdhury, who has tirelessly worked in order to advance Hindu minority rights, remains in jail despite the pandemic, which already caused a football player whose cell was in the vicinity of Chowdhury to succumb to the virus: “He had gotten bail at a different time from the High Court but the Supreme Court overrode it. Chowdhury is a well-respected human rights activist associated with the Bangladeshi opposition and this stands behind his imprisonment.  His continued imprisonment during the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the bad intentions of the Bangladeshi government.  We demand his immediate release.”

Bangladesh Janata Party (BJP) President Mithun Chowdhury has been imprisoned for almost three years for working to protect the interests of the Hindus as well. Although all Muslim parties have been politically registered in Bangladesh, no Hindu party has yet been registered. While working to protect the interests of minorities, Mithun Chowdhury wanted political registration of the BJP but was arrested by the government. Mithun Chowdhury could have stood by the Hindus in dealing with this difficult situation in the country.

However, Bangladesh is not the only country where Hindus are getting persecuted amid the pandemic.  In Pakistan, there are reports that both Hindus and Christians have been denied food aid amid the pandemic.  Furthermore, recently in Pakistan, during the height of the pandemic, a 14 -year-old Christian girl was abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and then married off to her abductor.   

Abhishek Gupta, president of the World Hindu Struggle Committee India, said the Mamata government in West Bengal was also creating divisions between Hindus, Muslims and various parties in the distribution of relief: “The Mamata government is giving priority to Muslims and their party TMC in distributing relief and isn’t providing any aid to Hindu religious priests , which is anti-democratic. The Mamata government is also hiding the number of patients and deaths from Corona, which puts the people of West Bengal at the highest risk of death.”

In conclusion, Basu called upon the international community to not neglect the Hindus of Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Bengal at this critical time and to ensure that Hindus also receive assistance in dealing with the coronavirus.  

 

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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