Bangladesh Minority Condition 2015
The year 2015 saw 262 incidents of violations of human rights concerning the religious minorities in Bangladesh. In numerous incidents, at least 1,562 individuals were affected – of which 24 individuals died, 256 were injured, and 239 were abducted. There were 25 women who were the victims of rape, of them 10 became pregnant and 2 were killed. One individual also became the victim of an acid throwing incident. There were 209 incidents of usurped land properties, businesses and temples. About 60 families had their properties snatched from them. Furthermore, 180 idols were broken and many temples were destroyed by the fundamentalist forces. There were 57 cases of forced conversions.
These facts are based on the reports published by fourteen daily newspapers and cases documented at various police stations which clearly demonstrate the oppression and tyranny faced by the minority communities of Bangladesh. There are also reports that the establishment did not provide any support to the affected victims.
January 2015 was particularly a singularly brutal month for the minorities of Bangladesh. There were incidents of 54 idols being destroyed. In Jessore, due to the political pressure from a local businessman, 31 minority families were forced to leave the country. There are also reports that 50 additional families are thinking of leaving the country.
It appears that as the election season arrives in Bangladesh, oppression and torture of the minority communities increases.
January 5th, 2015 was the first anniversary of the elected Awami League government. The opposition BNP had already started an agitation against the ruling party. From January 5th, BNP and its allies started a continuous strike nationwide. During these strikes, Bangladesh saw acts of huge destruction, mostly caused for the first time by petrol bombs. Similarly, if we look back at January 2104, soon after the general elections, there was an onslaught of havoc and tyranny on the minority population of the sub divisions of Chapatala and Malopara in Jessore. Election related violence against the minority population was also witnessed in Dinajpur, Sitakund, Bogura, Magura, Satkhira and Sunamganj. It is apparent that the fundamentalist forces used the minority community to vent their anger of the election results.
Forceful occupation of land and property of minorities is rampant in Bangladesh. Women are particularly targeted. Behind the curtain of rape and abduction lies the motive of snatching of property. The leaders of both Awami League, BNP and their allies are involved in these kind of activities. One such major incident happened on March 13, 2015 – in the village of Chandantala, in Barguna district. Fourteen 14 Hindu families were facing relentless pressure to vacate 40 acres of land to the local leaders of Awami League and BNP. There were daily reports of Hindu female students being harassed on their way to school. Some reports also suggest that these young school girls and housewives were forced to go and meet local political leaders. Due to social stigma, these victims remained silent. Such continuous harassment of females is not only derogatory to them, it also brings with it disrespect to the individual’s parents, relatives and their community. Faced with such a grim scenario, one family was forced to leave the country.
- January 7th, 2015 – District Rajbari – Subdivision Pangksha – Village of Britidanga – a poverty-stricken minority family’s mother and daughter became the victims of rape.
- January 15th, 2015 – Area of Savar Bank Colony – Chairman of Union Parishad raped a minority woman.
- January 15th, 2015 – Rangamati – District Kashthali – a 2nd grade tribal child was raped as she is returning home from shopping.
- February 8th, 2015 – Dinajpur – a young tribal Shawtal girl was abducted and raped by two men.
- May 3rd, 2015 – Rangamati – Kaptai – a tribal woman was gang raped.
- May 15th, 2015 – Habiganj – Madhabpur – Shilpi Rani Das, 18 years old was raped and killed by the perpetrators.
- May 21st, 2015 – Dhaka – Kuril Road Area, a Garo girl was gang raped on Thursday night. The same night the family of the victim took her to Turag police station, as it is closest to the spot, where the incident had occurred. The police refused to file a report, as it was not in their area. They were sent to Gulshan Police Station at 5am. Next, at 6am, they were sent to Bhatare Police Station – they waited for the OC to arrive, and finally a case was filed that afternoon at 12 pm.
- May 27th, 2015 – Syhlet – District Balaganj – Sanju Rani Deb, wife of Lipon Chandra Deb, became the victim of rape. The local law enforcement agency took no action. Later Lipon Chandra Deb and his wife became the target of an attack.
- June 3rd, 2015 – Jessore – Chogasha Area – a Dalit housewife became the victim of rape. The culprits made a video of the incident and broadcast it over the internet. The Intense shame caused by this incident forced the young housewife to commit suicide.
- June 5th, 2015 – Syhlet – Balaganj – Around 9pm, when Aparna Das left her house to use the toilet, Mohammed Hiran Miya and Mohammed Shafiq Ali, abducted her and took her to Shafiq Ali’s house where both raped her.
- July 9th, 2015 – Sub Division Uthiya, Kutupalang – Ira Barua was abducted and raped.
- July 11th, 2015 – Nowgaon – Dhamraihat – Gita Rani Robidas was raped by Dilwar Hussain while Gita was sleeping in her room.
- July 29th, 2015 – Thagrajhari – Guimara – Anjana Tripura was gang raped.
- August 4th & 8th, 2015 – Khulna – Sub Division Dumuriya – Village of Mrzapur – Srabanti — 8 years old and Hira Roy, 9 years old were raped by Mohammed Shorab Gazi.
- August 4th, 2015 – Dhaka – Bhatara police station area – 6th grade tribal student, Minita Marian was raped by Mohammed Ali Amin, aged 22 years.
- August 18th, 2015 – Bandarban – when Subran Tripura, 16 years old got admitted at a local hospital for treatment, she was gang raped by some employees of the hospital.
- September 11th, 2015 – Habiganj – Banyachang – Around 11:45 pm, Shamsul Alam forcefully entered the bedroom of 11 years old Rumi Das and raped her.
- September 19th, 2015 – Bogura – Shibganj – Village of Dabuur – 45 years old Mofazul Hossain Jinnah, a worker of Jubo League, abducted Buli Rani from the road and raped her.
- November 1st, 2015 – Nowgaon – Sub Division Dhamraihat -Village Bhatgram – When a tribal, housewife went to the market to sell her wares, Sadek Islam, abducted her, took her to his house and raped her.
- November 11th , 2015 – Wednesday night, around 9pm, Sonarai Union, Babubazar Area, a minority housewife became the victim of rape. The young woman was from the Sub Division Jhaldhaka, Village of Shimulbari.
- November 22nd, 2015 – Natore – Area of Bagatipara – Supervisor of Lokmanpur North Bengal Sugar Mill, Bravani Das was raped and then killed by the perpetrator.
- December 19th, 2015 – Khagrachari – Sub Division Mayesjhari Union – in a 5 acre rubber plantation, resident of Mayesjhari, Bina Debi Tripura, aged 16, was raped.
- December 2015 – Kaptai – Sweden Polytechnical Institute Road ( BSPI) – a young 9th grade student, out on a walk, was kidnapped by four men in an auto rickshaw. After raping her, they left her on BSPI Road and fled from the area.
- October 12th, 2015 – Gazipur – Pubail Shapmara area, Shanta Robidas, aged 9 years was killed, after a foiled rape attempt by the perpetrators.
- January 21st, 2015 – in Syhlet – Sub division Jantaipur – Baurbag High School student Jyotsna Biswas was abducted.
- March 4th , 2015 – Netrokona – Sub division Barhatta – village of Raimadhab – Rani Das was abducted by a primary school teacher, Mohammed Khan.
- March 14th, 2015 – Borguna – Sub division Patharkata – Lemuya Degree college student, Kona Rani Bepari was abducted, forced to convert to Islam, using notary public, along with the preparation of marriage certificate.
- April 17th, 2015 – Moulvi Bazar – Sub division – Bharapasha – 6th grade student Shamali Rani Dey, 15 years old was abducted. Her birth certificate was fraudulently changed and on April 19th, 2015 with the help of a Notary public – under force she was converted to Islam.
- May 27th, 2015 – Kishoreganj – Pinky Rani Stradhar was abducted, a 6th grade student of Majid Mollah High School.
- June 5th, 2015 – Syhlet – Balaganj – Village of Dekariya – Aparna Das was abducted and forced to convert to Islam.
- June 18th, 2015 – Goinghat Degree College’s student Shoma Rani Das was abducted.
- June 25th, 2015 – District of Gazipur – Bagherbazar High School’s ninth grade student, Antara Rani Debnath was abducted, and the abductors and their families started the process to marry her off to one of the abductors, after converting her to Islam.
- July 13th, 2015 – Khulna – Dumuriya Madhamgram Degree college student Priya Saha was abducted.
- July 9th, 2015 – Cox Bazar – Subdivision Uthiya – Kutupalang resident Iti Barua was abducted.
- July 30th, 2015 – Brishti Biswas, student of Narayanganj College was abducted.
- August 3rd, 2015 – Susmita Singh, a 6th grade student of Narsingdhi Girl’s High School was abducted. Reports suggest that the local police did not give any importance to this incident.
- July 20th, 2015 – Bhashantek Diwanpara – Rupa Sarkar was abducted. The abductors forced her to sign notary papers and convert to Islam. Soon after, Rupa’s family managed to rescue her from the abductors. She narrated the story of her forced conversion. On August 24, 2015 she was abducted again!
- August 28th, 2015 – Rinki Rani Debnath, a 10th grade student of Garib Nawab High School, Chittagong was abducted.
- September 16th, 2015 – Dashami Rani Debnath, aged 14, was abducted from the area around Shah Jalal University.
- September 8th, 2015 – Chittagong – Hathajari resident, Ratri Das was abducted.
- October 8th, 2015 – Kishoreganj – Pakundia High School student, Supriya Rani Roy, a 7th grade student was abducted. On October 10, the abductors forced her to sign notary papers, convert to Islam and get married.
- October 20th, 2015 – Gaibandha – Priyabal Girl’s School – 8th grade student Swapna Rani is abducted. On November 13, 2015, police rescued her.
- October 31st, 2015 – Barishal – Sub Division Gournodi – Bakai Niranjan Middle School, a 7th grade student, Ashtami Rani Bala was abducted.
- November 9th, 2015 – Sunamganj – Sub Division Dharamshala – SSC student Monty Rani Sarkar, 16 years old, was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and get married.
- November 16th, 2015 – Chittagong – Sub Division Anwara – Village of Parikora resident Ari Chakraborty was abducted and forced to convert to Islam and get married. The abductors told everyone, that the girl had willingly taken such a decision. The local police OC refused to file a case. The victim’s father later filed a case with the tribunal, which handles cases of oppression against females and children.
- November 26th, 2015 – Tangail, Dhanbari College student, Upama Saha, was abducted.
- November 29th, 2015 – Satkhira, District Shyamnagar – Shariffunessa Middle School student Hiramoni, was abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married.
- December 19th, 2015 – Noahakhali – Shaikat Degree College – first year student, Sumi Rani Majumdar, was abducted. On December 29th, Sumi’s parents held a press Conference at Noakhali Press Club. They demanded Sumi’s immediate release and that the abductors brought to justice and punished.
The minority conditions in Bangladesh and the continuous attacks and destruction of temples have become daily news. According to different news media sources, every year, there is an increase in Puja Mandaps in Bangladesh. In 2015 there were 28,962 Durga Puja Mandaps, of them 225 were in the capital city of Dhaka. That was an increase of 252 mandaps from 2014. In 2014 nationwide 28,700, in 2013 – 28,200, 2012 – 27,800, Durga Puja celebrations were held. It is sad to note that though the number of Puja Mandaps have increased in the country, the numbers of devotees has decreased, especially the minority Hindu community. Therefore the increase in Puja Mandaps around the country does not reflect the true picture. Although the constitution of Bangladesh talks about religious freedom for everyone, it fails to provide security to minority communities like the Hindus. As a result, the atrocities committed on the Hindu community have not abated. It is sad to witness, that each time the court announces the verdict of Liberation War criminals, the wrath of the fundamentalist forces fall on the Hindu community, its businesses and its temples. For the last 44 years, the conditions of minority communities have not changed. Each year during Durga Puja, there are several reports of temples, idols and mandaps being targeted and destroyed. Though so many years have passed, the country had yet to eradicate this evil. During the month of October thru November each year, there are many reports of idols being destroyed. During these months, Durga Puja, Laxshmi Puja, Kali Puja and Jagatdhatri Puja are held. At this time there are also increased reports of temples and idols being vandalized. In 2015, during the month of October and November, there were 36 such incidents.
During other months too, we have seen similar destruction and vandalism in different temples across the nations. In December 2015, there were 21 such incidents.
- December 3rd, 2015 – Thursday evening, Dinajpur – Ghorashat sub division area – during foiled rape attempt on Chandana Pahari (32), the perpetrators destroyed the idol of Goddess Kali at the Kajirbon Kali Mandir.
- December 5th, 2015 – Saturday, Parjaton Center Dinajpur – Kantajir Temple – Rash mela festival, the anti-social communal forces, threw a hand bomb and 9 people were injured.
- December 8th, 2014 – Chittagong Akbarshah Police station area, New Shaheed Lane – the fundamentalist forces attacked Sri Sri Shyma Kali Bari Mandir, several idols and religious artifacts of the temple were broken and six individuals were injured in this incident.
- December 10th, 2015 – Thursday – Dinajpur, Sub division Kasharol, Dabor Union, village of Joyanand Dachi – Iskon Mandir – during prayer service at 8pm, perpetrators threw bombs and fire arms. Four people were hurt, including two, who suffered gun wounds.
- December 15th, 2015 – Tuesday 11 am – Kushtia, Kumarkhali Sub division, Chapra Uniion, Village of Bhadra – involving land dispute – Shiv Mandir was attacked, property ransacked, 3 idols were broken, by the local powerful political group of Kalimudin group. Due to the continuous attacks on the Hindu families of that area, many of them have left their family properties and moved to a different locations.
- December 15th , 2015 – District of Gopalganj, Kotalipara, Village of Johorkhandi, Manasha Mandir, Ram Krishna Mission’s Radha Gobinda Mandir – idols were destroyed in both these places.
- December 17th , 2015 – Thursday night – Faridpur, Nagarkhanda Sub division, Talma Bazar – 100 year old Sharbajanin Kali Mandir – 7 of its idols were destroyed.
- December 20th, 2015 – Sunday morning – Jamalpur – Shorshabari Sub division – Boushi Bangali Para – Padha Puja Mandir – idols were destroyed by fanatical forces.
- December 21st, 2015 – Monday night – Mymensingh – Fulbari Sub division – Bhavanipur Union – Village of Maheshpur Goppara – vandals set Sharbajanin Kali Mandir on fire and broke the Idol of Ma Shital.
- December 24th, 2015 – Thursday – Kurigram – Romari Sub division – Village of Ramdaspara – idols of Kali, Lakshmi and Shiv were vandalized.
- December 26th, 2015 – Saturday night – Tangail – Madhupur Sub division – near Mirzabari Bazar – Darhasil area – family temples of Makhon Lal Gope and Subal Chandra Gope, were vandalized and the idols were destroyed.
The attacks on religious sites are grave cause of concern for minority communities of Bangladesh and the main cause of the migration of the minority population. Their properties are being forcefully snatched, houses are burnt down, religious institutions are being destroyed, fraudulent documents, and false legal cases are being used to threaten them. Lack of personal safety and security for their families is forcing them to leave their generations old land properties. The government is not giving any special attention to this matter and this is a matter of great concern. When reports surface that any minister or any representative of the public is involved, no action is taken – rather the minority communities face more atrocities. No matter, which political parties come to power, the level of harassment and atrocities against the minorities remains the same. Attacks and discrimination against the minorities have increased steadily each year – justice is not being served. If any individual wielding political power is involved, then these cases especially fail to receive any justice. The following incidents clearly demonstrate this fact.
October 28th, 2015 – Feni – Sub division Pachgasha – Union Mathiyara – on Wednesday night, because of nonpayment of forced donations, a group of Awami League members attacked a village of fishermen. They kicked a pregnant young housewife on her stomach and this brutal attack caused the death of the baby being delivered on the spot. The newborn lost his life before seeing the rays of daylight. A gravely injured housewife, Tulsi Rani was admitted to the hospital. Twenty more individuals were injured in this incident. Among them were – Alo Rani Das, Johar Das, Shobha Rani Das, Bikash, Sukhdeb Das and Parimal Das. About 22 – 25 attackers start ransacking and looting. They looted all goods from the store of Swapan Das. When people from surrounding areas came to help them, the attackers started to beat the innocent minority villagers with bamboos. At this time the attackers kicked pregnant Tulsi Rani on her stomach. They started to beat her with a stick. Soon she started to bleed profusely, and delivered a still born baby. Next day, injured Tulsi Rani was admitted to a hospital. That day about 50 families left their homes and sought refuge on small boats on river Choto Feni. Only when the police reached the affected area around 9 pm, the families returned to their homes. That evening with the help of the police, the injured received treatment at the hospital. To date justice has not been served in this heinous crime. Miscreants have always worked under the protection of a political party to wage war on the minorities.
December 9th, 2015 – Feni – Sub division Dahlia, Palpara – Wednesday – At midnight, a group of followers of Jubo League and Chatra League set fire to their houses and attacked the villagers. Eight people are injured. These attackers had, for a long time, demanded forced donations from a local villager called Gopal Paul. On the evening of December 8th, the secretary of Chatra League and a group of 7-8 companions, attack Gopal Paul and threatened him with a gun. When family members came to his aid, the leaders of Chatra League and Jubo League attacked everyone with a large knife and a gun. Bimal Paul and Gopal Paul and eight others were injured. On Wednesday, December 9th, a case was filed in the local police station. The same night, the miscreants returned to the village and threatened them to withdraw the case. At this time they set fire to four houses. That night many terrified villagers ran away from their houses. Unfortunately, there are reports that the local law enforcement forces are reluctant to accept such incidents.
December 2015 – Patuakhali – Sub division Kolapara – Village Alipore – An influential politician, using intimidation, forced two minority families to vacate their property. On December 8th, 2015, they kidnapped one member of the family. When family members went to the police station to file charges, their request was denied. Next these families filed a case through the Diwani court. From then on, these families are constantly getting threats of murder. Fanatical influential forces are utilizing similar methods to seize the properties of the minority community. They are being forced to leave the country. The local law enforcement agencies are helping these influential individuals. The reluctant attitude of the local OC, not to accept this case of kidnapping, demonstrates their involvement. Most of the cases relating to forceful occupation of land are perpetrated by local influential political leaders. Under intense pressure of intimidation and threat the minority Hindu families are forced to vacate their generations old properties. The very forces who should be helping the victims of these cases are seen to be aiding the attackers. As no actions are being taken against these culprits, such incidents of snatching of land have increased significantly. If such a pathetic scenario continues in the country, then the once flourishing Hindu community of Bangladesh will soon become extinct.
Dinajpur – Parbartipur – December 29th, 2015 – In front of National Press Club, 55 Hindu families held a press conference. Their spokesman informed the press that under the pressure of the local government, these 55 families were facing continuous forms of oppression and torture. These families arrived by bus from Village of Satpurush, for the press conference. Between them they have about 25 acres of land. This land comprises their home, temple and fertile agricultural property. Thugs have been using intimidation and creating false documents to usurp minority properties. They are being murdered and then set on fire, females are being raped – thereby forcing them to leave the country. Panic and terror has engulfed the minority communities across Bangladesh. The law enforcement agencies are not helping them. They pled that if nothing is done to protect them, than the only path left for them is to commit suicide.
Nowgaon – Mahadevpur – A minority man, who refused to pay bribe money to the local Sub division land officer, was charged with illegal leasing of land for 32 years. Though there are laws to protect the initial lease holders in the country, the administration made new lease papers for another individual, and started to pressure the minority man to vacate the property. There are 500 cases of conspiracy to usurp the minority families from Gopalganj, Mohamadpur, areas. Agro Fishery, forcefully started a fishery project on the lake of a Hindu man. If this project is not discontinued, 500 hundred Hindu families will lose their livelihoods. These families will be forced to sell their properties to the Fishery project at a nominal price.
In 2015, 24 individuals of the minority communities were killed. In various incidents 239 were injured. Alok Sen, a Secretary of the Unity Council of District Faridpur was gravely injured. On November 24th, 2015, masked terrorists, pulled him out of his own house and attacked him with a sharp weapon. Mr. Sen has always been a spokesman for the minority issues of Faridpur area.
October 5th, 2015 – Three youth entered the house of Lok Sarkar, a devotee of the Ishwari’s Faith Bible Church, and tried to slit his throat. He had been receiving death threats for a long time. In Rangpur, a Christian Father and 9 officials of his church received death threats by mail. Palak Pradhan, of Bangladesh Regional Baptist Church, Rangpur, received death threats by mail on November 25, 2015. The Father of Dinajpur, Birganj Catholic Mission, also received death threats. Some individuals of Khulna’s Christian Community also received death threats. On November 27, 2015, the Secretary of Bangladesh Inter church Partner and Leader Fellowship, President of Church of God, and the Bishop of Khulna region, received death threat by mobile phone. There were 52 incidents of death threats in 2015.
Last year in December, Bangladesh Awami Ulama League demanded to ban all Hindu organizations. The absence of concern and strong objections from the ruling political party, has given rise to terror and fear in the Hindu communities across the nation. On December 19th, 2015 – Saturday, Bangladesh Awami Ulama League and 13 other groups held a press conference at National Press Club, with a 10 point demand. One demand was to oust Suranjit Sen Gupta from the Awami League’s Advisory Board. They also demanded the ban of Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Jago Hindu Parishad, Iskon, Hindu Mahajot, Vedanta Cultural Manch, Sanatan Moitri Sangha and Argya Samaj.
We minorities demand that as citizens of a democratic nation – we receive equal rights. Law must be fair for all citizens, irrespective of their class or creed. We demand that we must receive all facilities and benefits from the government – freedom of speech, cultural freedom, and freedom to form organizations, religious freedom, and freedom to celebrate all festivals. Equality for all is a birth right of all citizens. The truth is the administration is not taking the required measures to protect the minority population. As a result, they feel neglected in politics, business, social and cultural arena. Every day, they are forced out of their own homes. Ethnic cleansing, which started many years ago is still being continued. A generation of wealthy citizens is now being forced to be called “minority”. The unconstitutional change of the State religion to Islam, has made the minority population, second class citizens. This has increased religious fanaticism. The majority population has harassed and attacked, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. Murder, forceful possession of land, destruction of temples, idols, and ancient artifacts are being committed by the powerful fundamentalist and anti-social forces. We want our State to be more humanitarian, and seek that Bangladesh becomes a land, where all religious communities can live in harmony and receive equal rights.
-Mousumi Sarker, Mahua Dutta & Himangshu Sehgal
Bangladesh Women’s Unity Council ,USA