The Hindus of Bangladesh Fear for Their Future

Bangladesh's minority Hindus are being attacked by Islamists who seem as preoccupied with land as they are with politics or religion

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Joseph Allchin

Subhash Ghosh, back, and his brother stand in the ruins of their family home in Satkhira, Bangladesh. The home was razed by Islamists seeking to drive minority Hindus from their holdings

Subhash Ghosh was away when, early on Dec. 13, dozens of activists from Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), descended on the home in which generations of his family have lived. They paid particular attention to his valuables, smashing TVs and looting gold. They gave the same treatment to the home’s Hindu shrine. Then they torched the property.

On Jan. 5, Bangladesh concluded what many judge to have been the country’s most violent election to date. But in the rural Satkhira district something much more substantial than ballot papers is at stake. Here, minority Hindus are targeted for their land.

“When anything happens, Hindus get attacked in Bangladesh,” explains Ghosh, 63, standing in the verdant greensward at the back of his house. Even if it weren’t ruined, he would be too scared to live in it. “They came at around 9:30 and suddenly set fire to the building with petrol bombs and gunpowder,” he explains.

The district of Satkhira lies only a few miles from the Indian border and just north of the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans. It is spliced by creeks and tributaries that form the final reaches of the Ganges riverine plain. With a large Hindu minority, this area has seen some of Bangladesh’s worst violence over the past year. Much of that violence is down to land — or rather its scarcity.

(MORE: Execution Ignites Violent Protests in Bangladesh)

With a population in excess of 160 million crammed into less than 148,000 sq km, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. To make matters worse, almost the entire country lies in a floodplain, with lives, farms and crops constantly hanging in the balance. The pressure on land is enormous.

“When we say it’s just political, it legitimizes the violence,” explains Jyotrimoy Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer in the capital Dhaka. “Most of the people’s houses they are burning are [those of the] poor. If you burn their house, they will leave the country, and you get their land.”

Ghosh, who fought for Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, is determined not to give his enemies that satisfaction. “If we leave the country, then everybody will take our property,” he says. “I cannot leave and be a rickshaw puller in India like a coward.”

In Satkhira’s isolated villages, however, there is palpable fear. Ghosh’s sons, like many Hindu children, can no longer go to school. When we visit a Hindu community, dozens emerge out of the mist and huddle around us, explaining how they are unable to travel the small rural lanes alone for fear of attacks by Islamists. A local journalist we are traveling with receives threatening calls from an Islamist leader.

In parts of Satkhira, the Islamists are a law unto themselves. The village of Agordari lies just a few miles from Satkhira’s main town, but the police dare not visit. Locals call it “East Pakistan,” run as it now is by the JI, which supported Pakistan in the 1971 war. The authorities are trying to restore order. “People didn’t come out of their houses, no vehicles, no people, no nothing, like a graveyard,” is how the new chief of police for the district, Chowdhury Monzirul Kabir, describes the atmosphere after a recent crackdown that saw 90 arrests. But fear of the Islamists persists.

There clearly is a sectarian basis to attacks on Hindus. Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League (AL) was voted into power in 2009 on the strength of its promise to try pro-Pakistan figures for atrocities committed during the 1971 war, and violence often accompanies attempts to mete out justice to war criminals. The hanging of JI leader Abdul Quader Mollah, on Dec. 12 last year, preceded the attack on Ghosh’s house.

However, the sectarian issue is exacerbated by intense competition for usable land. After the monsoon of 2011, tens of thousands of Satkhira’s small holdings — almost half the homes in the district — were ruined by waterlogging, which occurs when groundwater saturates the soil and makes agriculture extremely difficult or impossible.

The violence isn’t just perpetrated by JI. In other provinces, opportunistic AL leaders have been accused of using divisive communal sentiments to enrich themselves. “In some constituencies, it’s Awami League,” says the lawyer Barua. Both the AL and JI, he says, “are tussling from the same group of voters — if anyone loses, he blames the Hindus.”

81 comments
truthmast
truthmast

People who are the supporters of so called legendary religion " Islam" , they are all following a blind man with their eyes covered. Muslims may be good or bad but the religion Islam is not a religion but a biggest threat to the humanity . Islam is not a religion but an ideology an wicked political ideology . The Motto of Islam is to have an world with only one religion which is "Islam". They have wiped Hindus from Indian state of Kashmir , Jews from Middle-east and Africa and Christans from other parts of the Islamic countries . What's important is with the moderate and liberal Musims protesting against it but the hardliners know that people who are protesting also from Islam so they are taken for granted and are considered softer Muslims. The Biggest problem with Islam is the sermon that is given every-day 5 times stating " la illaha ill Allah" which means" there is no God other than Allah". If such vicious sermons can be preached over microphone 5 times a day 365 days a year any body's brain will be completely washed with such notorious ideology. Pity for those who are supporting and reacting like blind being aware of the Islamic Tide the world is facing today. May God bless all humanity and save us from this Tsunami called "Islam".

truthmast
truthmast

People who are the supporters of so called legendary religion " Islam" , they are all following a blind man with their eyes covered. Muslims may be good or bad but the religion Islam is not a religion but a biggest threat to the humanity . Islam is not a religion but an ideology an wicked political ideology . The Motto of Islam is to have an world with only one religion which is "Islam". They have wiped Hindus from Indian state of Kashmir , Jews from Middle-east and Africa and Christans from other parts of the Islamic countries . What's important is with the moderate and liberal Musims protesting against it but the hardliners know that people who are protesting also from Islam so they are taken for granted and are considered softer Muslims. The Biggest problem with Islam is the sermon that is given every-day 5 times stating " la illaha ill Allah" which means" there is no God other than Allah". If such vicious sermons can be preached over microphone 5 times a day 365 days a year any body's brain will be completely washed with such notorious ideology. Pity for those who are supporting and reacting like blind being aware of the Islamic Tide the world is facing today. May God bless all humanity and save us from this Tsunami called "Islam".

rmoral
rmoral

All are guilty of prosecution of a helpless and peaceful minority. It doesn't matter whether the ruling party is AL, BNP, JI or JP; Hindus are always looked upon and treated menially. Hindus are victim of injustice in Bangladesh since the PARTITION of India. The execution of Hindus happened during AL era and non-AL era regardless. Although, AL is known as such socalled protector of Hindus and they get overwhelming support of Hindus; they really never protected Hindus rights, instead they were involved in violance against Hindus. I can vividly recollect at earliest dated back in 1971-1972. My father witnessed it in faridpur while he was the ADC of Faridpur. He protested oppression against Hindus - as a result he was summoned to transfer to another district. My father then met with Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman - results, Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman pacified him by sending him to Australia for few months - but no justice was done to Hindus who suffered. Sheikh Hasina is no different than that - she is quite indifferent to Bangladeshi hindus safety and security, that was reflected in some of her private meeting with BHBCP activist. I am not even talking about the inequality in government services, which is a foregone conclusion that Hindus would never get deserving positions or responsible and productive positions. My father was a victim throughout his life time. Keep in mind liberation of Bangladesh was predominantly possible due to the overwhelming support of Hindus behind Awami League. One of the mandate during the independence was that Awami League would abolish "Enemy Property Law" which was implemented by East Pakistan Government after PARTITION of India to systematically eradicate Hindus from East Bengal (or East Pakistan); in spite of their lip-service, their commitments never came to fruition after independence. On the contrary Awami League cadres confiscated properties from hindu families by hook or by crook after liberation during Awami League's rule. What Happened to Ramna Kalibari - a cultural heritage - that was demolished to rubble right after Indira Gandhi's speach at Sowroardy Uddan (Ramna Park). What was the purpose for demolition of such a treasure - beautification of the city or systematic abolition of the minority.There was not a single dnouncement from any quarter of Bangladesh against that barberic act. Now lets face our CONSCIENCE. It is not too late to ask ourselves - what are we going to gain by abolishing a peaceful minority; it is time to ask ourselves "Are we better off...." Only History will answer that.

gal8896
gal8896

India has some responsibilities to save Bangladeshi Hindus. I am well concerned about Hindus in Bangladesh. They live randomly all over the country making them more vulnerable to islamic attack.

India should take all Hindus from Bangladesh and claim proportional lands for Hindus from Bangladesh. If Bangladesh does not want Hindus, it needs to leave 30% of lands for Hindus.

kqzaman
kqzaman

Minorities are precious beings. Protect them as jewels. You do not know what benefit you can get from them by their skills, ideas and services even they may speak different languages, they may worship different god(s) and have skin color not like you. It is my appeal to all concern, please do not shift blame to others, do not use them as pawns to fulfill your personal or group desire. God will not spare you.

tanpura0
tanpura0

It's very sad, upsetting and embracing such cowardly act and need to bring the culprits under the justice. But the problem lying mainly in personal greed than anything else but sometimes happen under local political shelter. Usually Bangladeshi are very peaceful and good neighbourhood where people live side by side and help each other without any religion, cultural, cast, race or political barriers.Compare to Pakistan, India,Burma minority of Bangladesh live less fear and get less attack because of their religion, culture , cast, race differences.   But few immoral,opportunistic,greedy locals and some corrupted political leaders are to blame. The current government Awami Leig party done it after 5th January post election to cover up their shame one sided election to distract international community. Also some greedy local took the chance to occupy minority property but sometimes it happens to opposite political rivals businesses or poor people who are not as mighty as the culprits are. The Islamic parties in Bangladesh has few little political support and not as fundamentalist as Taliban or BJP. But the current government Awami Leig policy towards them making more hard lines and country is dividing and falling in between dangerous cross road.The government is playing a political cat and mouse game and blaming each other and putting the country and people in the danger. However we need a proper investigation of the minority attack and put the culprits under the justice and give the minority safe and secure environment like everyone else. 

mradulagohil
mradulagohil

It is good to read such an article in Time because no one has ever taken any notice of the pain of hindus for the last 1400 years.  Our land has been stolen, our women and children have been kidnapped and raped, our population massacred and our temples razed.  Our country (just one country is hindu in the whole world) has been totally destroyed and the people turned either corrupt or zombies.  So much destruction.  People took notice of Hitler.  Wars took place for one small reason.  But not one person has taken note of the violence faced by hindus for 1400 years.  Where is the world now?  UN gives hindu land away.  USA supports attacks on India from islamic countries because it needs the petrodollar to survive.  So who cares about the hindu?  Why has no one taken up this cause openly but is into the appeasement of this violent muslim race all over the world?  I thought AIDING AND ABETTING was a crime.  It made you an accomplice to all the crimes committed by this vile race.  But I guess we are too dependant on petrol now to take note of a race being eliminated.

ShajalTalukdar
ShajalTalukdar

Both the Hindu and the Muslim , we all are BANGLADESHI ... so BD government should take a strong action against JI and AL also ....

shibely.saha
shibely.saha

Thanks to Time Magazine for publishing this article. There is no one to look after us. Everybody there is saying it's a political issue, but why only us have to suffer for that? There are few people protesting from a safe distance but most of the others are quiet because deep down in their heart they want us to leave the country forever. 

Magi Simon
Magi Simon

When are we going to treat humans as humans rather be of diff religions...who would help us...we need a Saveour..

Neeta Pathak
Neeta Pathak

The father of Indian Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar was of the view that we should recall all the Hindus from Bangladesh and Pakistan otherwise they would be butchered and we should send off all the Muslims from India to Bangladesh and Pakistan else they would forever be troublemakers. After six decades of independence both his fears have come true. Less than 10% of Hindus of the 25% after independence remain in Bangladesh and less than 2% of around 15% remain in Pakistan. In India the Muslims have grown from 10% to more than 14%. Yet, such is the politics of the world that Hindus are targetted as communal whenever they rise up in defence. Our own Indian political parties which are blackmailed into submitting to even unconstitutional demands of the organised Muslim votebank are equally blameworthy. Thanks "TIME" for taking this up. Our own pseudo-secular media would not do it because they have the wisdom that speaking the truth may disturb the communal harmony in India. They are busy protecting the minorities who can start up a disturbance and expect the Indian media to blame it on some Hindu organization.

Bapi Bairagi
Bapi Bairagi

amdr bengal er 1matro BARTAMAN chara kub km news paper i ei bepar ta nie km high light krece..bt sotti i bepar ta kub dhukkojonok..............eta kno sovvo deshe hte pare na...

Rahul Khond
Rahul Khond

o yeah then why not move rest of the muslims from india over there .

Sanjukta Dey
Sanjukta Dey

Why there is no discussion/protest about this at diplomatic level from India's end? If there is then why don't we see any news coverage about it by Indian media? Thanks TIME for taking up the issue.

Arnab Banerjee
Arnab Banerjee

Thank u TIME for highlighting the sorry plight of the minorities in Bangladesh. The pseudo-secular Indian media wouldn't dare take up their cause, since they dont come into the votebanks of their political masters, & can be ignored and dismissed as children of a lesser god. Any mention of rape & other dastardly atrocities against these minorities would imply being communal, & in their zeal to look secular, every media house will steer clear of such shocking reality. C'est la vie in a pseudo-secular necropolis called India.

Clovis de Cruz
Clovis de Cruz

Simple Solution: Move to India. That's why Pakistan and Bangladesh were created.

punjabi_munda82
punjabi_munda82

Its sad. It is supposed to happen in Over populated Country. Islamic thinking doesnt help. God save BD n its people. Hope they live in harmony. They r the same race, converted by Mughals by Sword.

DwightFinney
DwightFinney

this is biased article with barley the thread of real truth...    Where is the interm govt?  So what if the minority hindus loose, their CORRUPT and have emptied the country of its wealth. No peace No CLOTHES  Hasana OUT, free Bangladesh

Rubayyat Taher
Rubayyat Taher

Bangladesh is a secular country every democracy has its faults but it is accepting your faults and dealing with them that will make the country stronger and deal with these such issues in the future better and aware that it can be secular and harmonious ......

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

Slow disintegration of Bangladesh would be great news in Pakistan. Bangladesh's leaders are working hard to become another failed State and such attacks on Minorities is the obvious result

Mohammad Hasibul Haque
Mohammad Hasibul Haque

Why this Indian political party is commenting on our country's issue. The amount of riots that you have in your country and in Pakistan are far greater than our country. Take a good look at the stats. And realize that we are at a far better state socially than India and Pakistan. Resolve your own problems. Don't poke nose in our internal business. Hindus are our brothers we will resolve this together. And if you have anything against Muslims then take it somewhere else.

Mohammad Hasibul Haque
Mohammad Hasibul Haque

I could not agree more. Bangladeshi people are peace loving people at the end of the day. Don't compare Bangladesh with any other Muslim activists country. We new generation of Bangladesh would never allow our beloved country to become one. A normal human being cannot attack another human being only a criminal can. And common people of Bangladesh are not criminals. These acts are purely politically driven.

Arnab
Arnab

In last five decades the percentage of Hindus came down to about mere 8% from some 40 percent. And this reduction by all means were pre-planned and mathematical. Pakistan was born as a Muslim country, more specifically Pakistan was born as an ONLY for muslims country. Bangladesh fought it's way out of Pakistan, but the racist Pakistani mentality still exists in the fundamentalists. The ruling party -- AL treats us as the vote banks. And the 2nd largest party think we are the vote bank for the 'ruling party'. That means we are the enemy. 


A Lot believe that, you can only be happy if your enemies are shading tears. Our political parties think in the same way I reckon. So, the hindus are indeed fantastic play toys for the majorities. When ever they are happy and want to become ecstatic, or sad but willing to turn their moods on; what they do? They extort some hindus and get some sukkun (peace).

For last half a century, our community is living the life of a malaun (slang for non muslims), not human. Unfortunately when something happens to a muslim, it is interpreted as a war against muslims. But when the victim is a hindu, it is regarded as a vandalism conducted by some miscreants.


You know what, Bangladeshi hindus kind of accepted their fate. In 2001 some 13 Jamayat men were trying to rape a 15 year old hindu girl and the mother said, do that one by one. Otherwise my girl will die.


Life becomes easy if you take your ill fate for granted. For example I won't be surprised if some one knocks on my door while writing this comment and make my place of hip in 10 minits or even kill me. Yes, probably a local newspaper will cover that for a day. Maybe an international agency will feel sorry for us. But when money will change hand everybody (national+international) will praise the government for makiing violence against hindus invisible. And by that time, probably another millioms hindus would be beaten down and would be left at the border so that they can flee away.

Fz Rocky
Fz Rocky

U say - I think this issue of religion dictating power is so completely overdone in history. ----» MAY BE . BUT IN BANGLADESH - HERE THIS IS ONLY A POLITICAL MATTER.

Fz Rocky
Fz Rocky

There is 7% Hindu - they are all safe - only 0.0007% hindu's are in danger. U can see -A SINGLE HINDU IS NOT KILLED. ONLY , THEIR HOUSEs ARE ATTACKED.

Nima DS
Nima DS

I think this issue of religion dictating power is so completely overdone in history, can we not learn from our past and also actually listen to our religions, ones that promote being good people to others?

Fz Rocky
Fz Rocky

In our country - there are 7% Hindu. We live here with mutual understanding. You can go back and see the 43 years of our independence .You will see that -In this 43 years - No hindu-muslim riot happened . Islam teaches us to - live with peacefully. HINDU's are our brother. Personally , My best friend is HINDU TOO. SO , where is the problem? The problem is completely - political.Awami league tries to derive our attention . They want to hide their funny election - by this. They use this as a veil to hide their dictatorship. U can search on google - In pabna , sathiya - awami minister Tuku done that .At all - political problem should be politically solved. Hindu's are not in danger in our. A simple numbers of Hindu are suffering - not , ALL HINDU !! Yellow journalism - makes this small number , big!

MosesJesus
MosesJesus

@gal8896 So in that case give the asam, jommu, kashmir, ahmedabad to muslim countries specifically to Bangladesh and Pakistan since each of those states have muslim majority. the Asam was supposed to be with Bangladesh but India took it forcibly with them. they didn't stop there, they also took some part of Bangladesh. the current rulling party is using militery forces like border guards, army inaddition to police, RAB, and other civilian forces to enforce whatever they want. Jamat e islami is a very small party compare to Bangladesh Awami-League (BAL). Only the current rulling party is saying that Jamat e islami is doing this. Why don't they send army there to protect those hindus? When those hindus called police for help, why didn't the police come? When Hindu, Christian, BUddo organization leaders said that it was done by the BAL supporters to distract the world from the most corrupted election that was help in January 5th, why does the time, cnn, BBC report that or why do not you talk about that?  Bro if you want to exchange the land then again Give us Asam, Jommu, Kashmir, Ahmedabad, give us part of bihar.  

Chhobi
Chhobi

@gal8896Hey gal, who do you want to take from us? Don't forget, they are Bangladeshi first (then Hindu). It's a shame that we could not protect our brothers and sisters. You can criticize us for that, but don't dare think about taking anyone or anything from us anymore. You have already taken enough from us (and deprived us from our due shares in countless instances which still continues).

We have many problems, and you too. Please oil your own machines. If you talk about communal harmony, I can bet, we are much better than you. Yes we couldn't protect our citizens, Hindus and Muslims alike, and we are ashamed of that. I am not ashamed as a Muslim, but as a Bangladeshi. I am ashamed for failing to protect weaks from the political thugs. I am ashamed for failing to establish social justice. I am ashamed for nurturing a dirty politics. But, keep your hands off us,we are capable of solving our own problems. You think about your own problems, I know you have many. I can very well feel what communal harmony you may have from the comments put here by your fellow Indians, and we often see the reflections of that in various parts of India.

We are conscious about the agonies of our Hindu brothers and sisters. We are sorry, sympathetic and ashamed of what happened to them. Insha Allah (God willing) together we will be able to make ours a better place to live for all of us. 

gal8896
gal8896

@kqzaman Muslim never treated other faith followers as precious being in the history 1400 years of Islamic rule. Look at the 56 Muslim major countries, they wiped out other faiths and Bangladesh is on the way of doing that.

MosesJesus
MosesJesus

@tanpura0 Yes right. the current rulling party is keep saying this despite being in the power. if they wanted to stop that they could have stopped that by sending trops or police there. remember islamists are not in the power, it's the Hindu and secularists are in the power and they are keep saying they are being killed, looted, tortured. But this is totally a propaganda. They are the ones who are killings the muslims and at the same time torturing some hindus to justify the killings of muslims there. 

MosesJesus
MosesJesus

@mradulagohil you are saying exactly opposit of what is going on right now. It seems like you are part of it. stop being hatred towards other ppl especially to muslims. have u ever heard islamists are killing hindus in India? no. its the hindus who are killing and even sometimes it is state sponsored. 

MosesJesus
MosesJesus

@ShajalTalukdar the Govt is saying all of these are happening. do you think if such a thing were happening they wouldn't have sent any police/militery there to solve the problem since the current rulling party is run by the Indians? the whole thing is a propaganda. now I understand how western media propagates against islam

gal8896
gal8896

Bangladesh is Secular country!!! What is your next joke??

No islamic country could be secular country. Bangladesh is a semi-islamic country by it's constitution and effectively a future terrorist nation.

jit123456
jit123456

"Bangladesh is a secular country" .. then yeah this is the real Spiderman writing !! lol!!

gal8896
gal8896

Looks like a Joke Mr. Mohammad.

Hindus constituted 30% of total population in Bangladesh just 42 years ago. Now this percentage is 7. How did you resolve it?? I know how, it was persecution, forceful conversion, burning houses/temples etc.

Regardless whatever moronic comments you make, if Bangaldeshi Hindus find their way to leaving the country, Bangladesh has to give up 30% of it's land for Hindus.

jit123456
jit123456

"Bangladesh is a secular country" LMAO!!!!!!! .. then yeah this is the real Spiderman writing !! lol!!



karunakaran100
karunakaran100

Talking about stats my friend - in 1951 ...22.5% of population in Bangladesh were Hindus. Today it is 7%. What happened Mr Haque?...Looks like you have been "resolving it"..HAHAHAHA ...like one Bangladeshi Hindu said...."this problem will not be over until that 7% becomes 0%". Also FYI - Muslim population is fastest growing population in India....and have you heard of muslims running away from India as refugees......TO pakistan or bagaldesh.....hahahahaaa...i pricked your bubble, didn't i ?

shibely.saha
shibely.saha

I respect your views towards the Hindus in Bangladesh. But could you please tell exactly what steps did you take to protect your Hindu brothers and sisters? It is very easy to say 'Bangladesh is a Secular country'. What a joke!!!! I never felt myself safe in there and always worried about my families who are still in there. Could you explain why being citizen of an independent country we have to worry about the basic need 'life security'?

gal8896
gal8896

Islam is a cancer on the surface of our globe. Unless this truth is recognized, no change is possible in Muslim major countries. But nuking mecca-medina can be a good start i think.

karunakaran100
karunakaran100

That is all lofty talk Mr Haque......plain rhetoric.....why doesn't the new generation take on the Islamists then? You can't...they will give you the same treatment.....lets face it. There is no place for a minority in any Islamic country in the world.....once that is accepted and realized, then change MAYBE possible, along with reform in Islam

shibely.saha
shibely.saha

Oh really. What a good news!! Will you be happy if your house is burnt in front of you? Can you tell me one thing is it a crime to be a hindu in Bangladesh?


prabhatranjansri
prabhatranjansri

You are right -In this 43 years - No hindu-muslim riot happened.Riot is when two communities clash.But it was always one sided.Islamists targeting Hindus.No retaliation from Hindus.



MosesJesus
MosesJesus

@gal8896 @kqzaman muslim always treat the other faith like you would treat a VIP people. In BD hindu has 10 days of national holidays, plus other 3-4 holidays. Despite being a very minority group, Christians have 3 consecutive days of holidays. the USA doesnt even give that for christains. In all muslim majority countries all minority groups have that privileges including christians. Only in SAudi Arabia you do not have that. 

rmoral
rmoral

@MosesJesus@tanpura0 you are nothing but a hatemonger totally captivated with twisted and crooked thoughts like all al-kaida/ai-badar type extremist, who look upon the whole world with notion "we are always right.....you are all wrong". 

dcitizen
dcitizen

@MosesJesus @mradulagohil 

It's funny to how you blame Hindus. Hindus, along with all other eastern religions, have always been peaceful. Even a small number of Muslims start problem for majority groups. Whether you think it's true or not, it depends on you. Muslims start problems in India and Hindus take care of it when they have enough of the extremists. The time has come for everyone to see the truth. Even though Muslims call themselves the [Religion of Peace], it only teaches hate and everyone is seeing the truth.