DESPITE incumbent’s claimed commitment to secularism, many incidents of attacks on citizens belonging to religious and ethnic minority communities took place in 2016. Worst among these communal attacks took place on October 30, 2016 when about 200 houses and business establishments and 22 temples belonging to Hindu community were vandalised and robbed at Nasirnagar upazila town and Haripur union. In continuation of the attacks, miscreants set fire to nine houses of Hindus on November 4, 5, 13 and 16. The attacks came following two rallies organised by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Towhidi Janata of qoumi madrassah groups backed by Hefajat-e-Islam demanding punishment of Rasraj Das, a Hindu young fisherman of village Harineber, for allegedly sharing a doctored photo showing an idol set on the Kaaba on his Facebook wall. After the attack, victims blamed the local administration for their in action and role of silent spectator instead of trying to control the situation. While police probe body mentioned the involvement of a third party as instigator, the investigation of the National Human Rights Commission clearly stated the involvement of the Nasirnagar upazila Awami League president and general secretary along with others. Eventually, the district AL suspended some of their party members on allegation of their involvement in the attacks. In light of the atrocities in Nasirnagar, the incumbent’s claimed commitment to secularism does not ring true.
All together, eight cases were filed with Nasirnagar Police Station for the attacks, police have so far arrested 104 people and all but one are now on bail. However, there is hardly any progress in probe as police are yet to submit charge sheets in this regard. The delay in dispensing justice in the cases of communal violence is not uncommon. Shocking violence against religious and ethnic minorities took place under the watch of Awami Legue led government. A week after the Nasirnagar attack, on November 6, three Santal men were killed and at least 30 people injured when police, workers of Rangpur Sugar Mill, Jubo League and Chhatra League men attack a Santal village in Gobindaganj, Gaibandha. Earlier this year, on June 2, Bangalee settlers unleashed a series of arson attacks on the Chakma community in Rangamati’s Longadu over the death of a local Jubo League leader. After each incident of communal attack, the government has promised to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice and provide compensation to the victims for their material lost. In reality, none of these legal cases saw much progress and compensation processes are stalled in the
name of list making.
For the current political party in power to prove its mettle for communal harmony, it must break this cycle of institutionalised impunity and ensure that police investigation of the cases related to violence against religious and ethnical minority communities are done without political and other party influence. To take the government to task, people at large must raise their voices against institutionally tolerated communal violence and campaign for a truly pluralist society.
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