Today, the High Court of Bangladesh asked the government to probe alleged attacks on minority Hindus by supporters ofPrime Minister Khaleda Zia’s governing coalition. The directive came in response to a petition filed by a humanrights group called Ain-O-Shalish Kendra. The group claims that Hindus have suffered more than 350 incidents ofattacks, looting, vandalism and rape of women since Prime Minister Zia’s coalition swept the Oct. 1 parliamentaryelections. The recent violence has affected some 4 million people, according to the popular daily newspaperJanakantho. They say gangs of Islamic extremists have torched homes, raped women, poisoned ponds and attacked templesin Bangladesh.
The scale and ferocity of is raising the specter of Talibanization in a country usually regarded as a moderate Muslimland.
According to a November 16th article in the Bangladesh paper the Daily Star: "In one night, nearly two hundredwomen were raped in Char Fashion of Bhola, and amongst them were an eight-year-old girl, a middle-aged amputee and aseventy-year-old woman. They were raped in the paddy field, in the bush, on the riverbank, in the house, and in theopen field by gangs of men, who had come to spare nothing in the village."
Last week, Bangladeshi police arrested journalist and anti-Muslim fundamentalism campaigner Shahriar Kabir, foralleged anti-state activities on his return from neighboring India three days ago. Kabir had been filming and writingabout alleged attacks on Bangladesh’s minority Hindu population around the general elections which brought PrimeMinister Khaleda Zia’s Islamist-allied government to power. As part of his investigation he visited India to speak toHindus who fled Bangladesh because of the alleged attacks. The government has denied that Hindus have been attacked.
- Sandip Roy, associate editor of Pacific News Service.
- Dhiman Chowdhury, president of Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities.