There have been a total of 1004 incidents of communal violence on the minorities (religious and racial) of Bangladesh in 2017. In most cases in each individual incident multiple people, families and organizations have suffered damages totaling to an estimated figure of 30000. In reality these numbers are epidemical. These incidents have created a deep psychological trauma among the millions of sensible people living in Bangladesh and all over the world, who are akin to the victimized people, living alongside them in the ruinous areas, belonging to the same social and religious belt. A total of 82 people have been victims of murder. At the same time 22 more mysterious deaths have occurred and the dead bodies have been recovered which make them seem like palpable murders.

At this time there have been various incidents of violent attacks and physical infliction which have injured 325 people, 18 people have been abducted, there have been 44 incidents of rape and attempt to rape, among which 4 victims were murdered following rape. There have been 471 incidents of attack on land and property, residences, temples and businesses along with loot-plunder and arson.      There have been 114 cases of forceful acquisition of houses and property (including crematories and religious establishments), 120 incidents of unlawful acquisition of land and forced eviction. At least 228 Hindu idols have been desecrated and beheaded.All information have been collected from national newspapers, online news mediums and by inquiry conducted by the organization.

At the same time there have been incidents of arson, loot and plunder in minority and tribal inhabited areas. Among these incidents, two of the most gruesome and bloodcurdling ones were i) the grisly attack on Pahari minorities of Langadu in the mountainous  district of Rangamati (June 2, 2017) and ii) the organized attack on Rangpur’s Gangachara Thakurpara following allegations of hurting religious sentiment (November 10, 2017).

After the murder of Secretary of the Langadu Subdistrict Juba League Front/Outer Union Nurul Islam Nayan on the 2nd of June, 2017; a faction of the protest march, set the Pahari people’s houses on fire in Tintila Para, BaittaPara, North and South Manikjor area. A total of 223 Pahari houses were set on fire in the 3 villages. Among the three villages, the residents of Tintila sustained maximum damage. There were over a hundred and fifty houses in Tintila village, out of which 94 were burned down. About 43 more houses were partially burnt and ransacked. 129 houses and shops were burnt in the other two villages combined.

These attacks were preplanned. Without allowing time to the concerned authorities to find out Nurul Islam Nayan’s murderer and put him behind bars, the attack on the Pahari minorities was deliberate and aforethought and this fact can be attested by citing several past occurrences. That morning hundreds of Bengalis from neighboring areas of Langadu Sadar and from far off areas like Maini, Gadochora, Bogachotor etc. arrived in cars and boats and started gathering around the dead Nurul Islam’s house in Batyapara village. The scheduled time for the ‘Janaja/zanaja’ was 11 in the morning but instead they took out the procession at around 9:30 am towards Langadu Sadar and started shouting provocative slogans against the Paharis. This gathering of hundreds of people long before the scheduled time of the procession proves undoubtedly that this attack was premeditated. In a protest assembly/meeting organized on the 2nd of June, 11 am, in the Subdistrict Council ground, the Officer in-charge of Langadu Police Station Md.Mominul Islam along with many other senior officers of the administration delivered their speech. As the speeches were being delivered, the Pahari houses were being burnt simultaneously in Tintila village, in less than a kilometer’s distance. Had the local administration been more prompt and alert, the Pahari village wouldn’t have been attacked. It is because of their inoperativeness/callousness this attack was carried out successfully. The Human Rights Commission had conducted an investigation on this matter and this is what they said in their report. (Source: Pratham Aalo, July 24 2017). [1] On the other side, the victims have accused that the police were involved in the attack. The administration had been made aware of the situation long before the attack. But they had assured that they’ll provide security and see to it that no attacks are perpetrated. But later it was discovered that the perpetrators perpetrated the attacks right in front of their eyes. They committed arson, loot and plunder/vandalism. Not a single perpetrator was arrested by the policemen, who just stood by unreactive. There were efforts made by them to stub out/extinguish the fire. As a mattet of fact, when the Paharis tried to resist, they were pushed back so as to make it easier for the attackers. (Source: Pratham Aalo, July 10 2017) [2]

In recent times, a similar premeditated attack on minorities took place in Rangpur’s Gangachara, where houses were attacked and set on fire. On the 10th of November, 2017,  in Thakurpara of Rangpur Gangachara’s Khaleya Union, 11 Hindu houses were set on fire and 7 more houses were pillaged, on the charge of hurting religious sentiments. After Juma Namaj, at about half past three in the afternoon, about 20 thousand people from 6-7 nearby villages like Khaleya Union’s Shaleyashah, Balabari village and Mominpur village, perpetrated a vicious attack on Thakurpara village. The attackers looted the houses; furniture, utensils and even the domestic animals were taken. Three houses belonging to Titu Ray, six houses of Sudhir Ray, two houses each belonging to Amulya Ray, Bidhan Ray and Kaushalya Ray (total of six houses) and a house each belonging to Kulin Ray, Khirodh Ray and Dinesh Ray were turned to ashes.

The locals complained that there were some assemblies a few days prior to the attack where they instigated the crowd to set Hindu houses on fire. A report/FIR was lodged on the 5th of November, against a man named Titu Ray for hurting religious sentiments. The law and order forces had ample time in their hands to prevent such an attack. Had the police acted promptly, the minority houses would have been saved. According to several news media, Titu Ray is illiterate. It is not possible for him to post a Facebook status. The wounds are still fresh from November 2016, when a similar attack was perpetrated on the minority community of Brahmanbaria’s Nasirnagar, their houses and temples were vandalised. That time also an illiterate youth named Rasaraj Das was accused for defaming religion.

On top of that there is political patronage and an extremely delayed justice system which protects the criminals. The wrongdoers become untouchable due to their political identity and alliances. Prior to this, similar incidents occurred in Coxbazar’s Ramu and some other places. In Coxbazar, a fake Facebook account was created under the name of Uttam Barua and several houses and monasteries belonging to Buddhists were set on fire. In such cases of communal violence, no party or ideology is of any use. Religion and community becomes primary. The Awami League leaders and workers played hand in hand with the local BNP or Bangladesh National Party and Jamaat-e-Islami’s leaders and workers in organizing this destruction. But the charge sheet does not mention the names of the ruling party members. Now it seems that no witness is willing to appear in the hearings. Similarly, allegations have been made that the charge sheet formed on the incident of attack on the Hindu community in Brahmanbaria’s Nasirnagar has omitted the names of the main culprits. This is how easily criminals get away. The masterminds, the instigators, the perpetrators and the patronizers who are truly responsible for such incidents of communal violence are never arrested; they are never brought to justice. Till date the state has failed to set a positive example in such cases of communal violence. Hence such incidents keep on occurring one after one, time after time. On the other hand, every time such an incident takes place the law and order department’s role and ability is questioned in handling such incidents. In the video footage of the Gobindanagar incident of November, 2016; one can clearly see the police committing arson in the name of eviction. If this is the role of the law and order forces, from whom will the minorities seek protection? First Ramu, followed by Nasirnagar, followed by Gobindaganj, then Langadu and Rangpur’s Gangachara relentless organized attacks on the minorities continues. The way the continuous incidents of communal violence are becoming unstoppable in a nation which was born with the secular ideals, are only corrupting our perception of the liberation war.

Figures and details of crimes and victims given in pics as charts cannot posted in text. Please go through the horrifying numbers.

Sources/References:

www.prathamalo.org, প্রথম আলো, আজকের চট্টগ্রাম, bn.timeline-bangladesh.com,কালেরকন্ঠ, এইবেলা, ইত্তেফাক, সংবাদ, bdnews24.com, ঢাকাটাইমস্, মানবজমিন, shompadak.com,দৈনিক জনতা, জনকণ্ঠ, desh1.com, somoyersangbad24.com, যায় যায় দিন, deshersangbad.com, arvnewsbd.com , এবিনিউজ, TnewsBD.com, সমকাল, dailyjagoran.com, যুগান্তর, eibela.com, sylhettoday24.com, জনকণ্ঠ, বাংলাদেশ প্রতিদিন, sylhettimesbd.com, পার্বত্য নিউজ, somoterkonthosor.com, bdtodays.com, এনটিভি, নয়াদিগন্ত, মানবকন্ঠ, ভোরের কাগজ, parbattanews.com, currentnews.com.bd, RTV online, বরিশাল টাইমস,Barishaltimes.com, Channel I online, NTV online, আমাদের সময়, bangladeshnews24.com, BBC Bangla, surmardak24.com, বণিক বার্তা, এনটিভি।Other Sources: Bangladesh Minorities Watch Reports, Police Files, Case Files.

Special thanks to Priya Saha & Mousumi Sarker for drafting this report.

 

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