Bangladesh Durga Puja violence: Vandalism continues; minorities call for countrywide hunger strike

New Delhi : A Hindu temple has been valdalised in Bangladesh in a fresh case of communal unrest amidst days of violence unleashed by unidentified Muslim bigots who attacked the minority community’s places of worship during the Durga Puja celebrations over alleged blasphemy, prompting a minority group to announce a countrywide hunger strike, media reports said on Sunday.

Hindu-owned temples and shops in Feni, about 157 kms from the country’s capital, have been vandalised and robbed during fresh clashes on Saturday which broke out after an attack on demonstrators who were protesting against the attacks on Durga Puja venues in several places in Bangladesh, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.

The clashes left at least 40 people, including the Officer In-charge Nizamuddin of Feni Model Police Station, injured in the clashes, it said.

On Saturday night, authorities deployed additional police forces and the paramilitary force — Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), after several temples and businesses owned by Hindus were vandalised and robbed during clashes that lasted from 4:30 PM (local time) to midnight, the report said.

The report said that some miscreants on Saturday vandalised six idols at the Daniapara Maha Shoshan Kali Mandir in Rashunia union of Sirajdikhan upazila in Munshiganj, about 40 kms from here.

It said that protests against attacks and vandalism on Hindu temples during the Durga Puja celebrations continued across the country on Saturday, as did the vandalism that led to the public outcry.

Meanwhile in the country’s southeastern port city of Chittagong, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council announced a sit-in and hunger strike from October 23 in protest against the attacks during the Durga Puja celebrations.

The protest events will take place at Dhaka’s Shahbagh and Chittagong’s Andarkilla, the council’s General Secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta said at a press conference at the Chittagong Press Club.

Before making the announcement, the forum observed a six-hour strike in Chittagong on Saturday.

The Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad has demanded exemplary punishments for those involved in the rampant vandalism, violence and mayhem that took place during the Durga Puja celebrations.

Milan Kanti Dutta, president of the forum, said that they would launch a tougher movement if the government did not pay heed to their demand.

”From the home minister to ruling party General Secretary Obaidul Quader, everybody has assured us saying they are informed about everything. If you know everything, why are you not punishing the culprits?” he asked.

Charu Chandra Das Brahmachari, general secretary of ISKCON Bangladesh, warned that the community would not sit silent and watch the attacks happen.

”We believe a group of fundamentalists are initiating such hatred to upset religious harmony. We also know some activists of the ruling party are affiliated with such heinous crimes at some locations.

”I would like to urge the prime minister to not become weak and take action against them too,” he said.

The leaders of the forum also demanded the enactment of a protection law and a national minority council.

The Durga Puja celebrations on Friday concluded in Bangladesh amidst days of communal unrest and violence over alleged blasphemy, leading to the deployment of paramilitary forces in more than half of administrative districts.

The paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has expanded the vigil from 22 to 34 out of 64 administrative districts.

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