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Activists blame state-backed sectarianism in Bangladesh

Followers of Hefazat-e-Islam attack Hindu villages in Noagaon at Shalla upazila in Sunamganj of Bangladesh

The recent attack on the Hindus at Sulla in Sunamganj perfectly fits the pattern followed in inciting sectarian unrests in many parts of Bangladesh in the past, said members of a team that has recently visited Sulla to find out the reasons behind the attack and persecution of the minorities.

The team of rights activists shared its experience at an online press conference organised by Sammilita Samajik Andolon on Wednesday morning. The team visited Sulla on March 26 and 27.

The Sulla attack, mobilised over a minority community member’s Facebook post deemed religiously degrading to some people, brings to mind the 2013 attack on minorities in Pabna’s Santhia, 2012 Ramu attack and 2016 attack on Ahmadiyyas in Nasirnagar, said the written statement readout at the press conference.

‘We see a pattern in all of it. We find it a technique adopted by a vested group in using Facebook post, often faked, for inciting sectarian attacks,’ said Dhaka University teacher Robaet Ferdous.

Robaet, who read out the written statement, also said that the attack traumatised the Hindus who wanted the government to help them by ensuring security instead of sending foods as relief materials.

Mosque loudspeakers were used for mobilising hundreds of attackers led by Hefazat-e-Islam activists, said the statement.

‘The society is being discretely violent for sectarianism can never flourish without the patronisation of political forces,’ said Communist Party of Bangladesh central leader Ruhin Hossain Prince.

Local influential politicians, including the ruling party activists, were among the financiers and patronisers of the religious meeting for criticising which the attack was launched, said Prince.

Speakers demanded that the government should make public the reports of all investigations initiated over the years into incidents of minority repression.

They blamed the government for patronising sectarianism for in many cases proactive stapes by administration could have prevented it in the first place and never holding the perpetrators of such attacks accountable.

‘Minorities can no longer trust the government,’ said Supreme Court lawyer Subrata Chowdhury, adding that its words do not match its action.

The press conference was also attended by Nagarik Udyog executive director Zakir Hossain, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal central leader Tonima Siddiqi and Association for Land Reform and Development assistant project coordinator Rafiq Ahmed Siraji, among others.

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