Arson and Vandalism Rattle Hindu Communities in Bangladesh


DHAKA (INP): Vandalism and arson directed at Hindu temples and homes continued over the weekend in Bangladesh, as crowds in various parts of the Muslim-majority country appeared to target its largest religious minority group.
Many of the acts were minor. Late Saturday or early Sunday, for instance, Hindu idols were defaced in temples in the north and south of the country, according to the police.
But Hindu communities are increasingly unnerved, said Anjan Kumar Deb, the vice chairman of Nasirnagar subdistrict, northeast of Dhaka, where an angry Muslim crowd ransacked 15 temples and scores of homes on Oct. 30. Fifty-three people have been arrested in connection with those crimes.
India expressed “grave concern” over the attacks, with Sushma Swaraj, external affairs minister, instructing Delhi’s ambassador to the country to visit the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina.
The violence in Nasirnagar, whose population is about 40 percent Hindu, was set off by a Facebook post published by a Hindu youth. The post included an image of the Hindu god Shiva appearing at a Muslim holy site in Mecca.
Mr. Deb, a Hindu community leader, received a call on Saturday that unknown people had built a fire on the veranda of his home. “The attackers want to create a panic among Hindus,” Mr. Deb said, adding that the campaigns may aim to strip Hindus of their lands.
On Saturday, in the northern district of Netrakona, a youth was arrested while trying to set fire to a temple, said Zaydeb Chowdhury, the superintendent of police.
In Jhalakathi, a southern district, “unknown miscreants” destroyed Hindu idols either late Saturday or early Sunday, said Mohammad Mahe Alam, the officer in charge of Jhalakathi police station. He said that there were no witnesses, and that he suspected the attack had been motivated by a dispute over the land the temple occupies.
On the same night in Sirajganj, “unidentified miscreants” broke the heads off statues of goddesses from a temple, said Basudeb Sinha, the head investigatory officer at the Sirajganj police station.