Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council Saturday observed a hunger strike and staged sit-in demonstrations across the country protesting the recent communal violence and arson attacks on the Hindu community.
Different political parties and socio-cultural organisations expressed solidarity with the demonstrators, according to reports by The Business Standard district correspondents.
In Dhaka, the protest took place in front of Shahbagh National Museum on Saturday morning. After the hunger strike, the protestors staged a demonstration blockading the Shahbagh intersection that paralysed vehicular movements in the entire area.
At noon, they brought out a procession from Shahbagh and marched to the National Press Club where it ended.
Expressing solidarity with the protest, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haque Inu said the recent attacks were not just on Hindus, but on all Bengalis. Minorities were attacked due to the negligence of the administration. A part of the administration is responsible for this.
He said it is necessary to investigate the inactivity of the communal employees lurking in the administration and bring them to book. To build a non-communal Bangladesh, the country needs a non-communal administration.
Gonosasthyo Kendra Trustee Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said, "I visited different parts of the country, including Rangpur, after the attack. The victims asked me when the prime minister would visit them."
Referring to the PM, Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said, "You should go to them and express solidarity."
Gano Forum leader Subrata Chowdhury said, "Talking about the spirit of the liberation war is a business of this government. The state religion is Islam as per the constitution, while we are terming the state secular, which is hypocrisy."
At the protest programme, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad put forth an eight-point demand.
The demands include the formation of a judicial inquiry commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to investigate the communal attacks; rebuilding of all the temples and houses damaged by the attacks; free medical treatment of the injured and at least Tk20 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased; arrest of the perpetrators and conspirators of the attacks; and setting up a special tribunal to ensure their punishment as soon as possible.
They also demanded identifying those in the administration and law enforcement agencies who neglected their duties and taking immediate disciplinary action against them.
Professor Neem Chandra Bhowmik, president of the Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, said, "We want exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of these communal attacks. All the attacks that have taken place before must also be brought to justice. If necessary, a special tribunal should be formed to try the attackers. The government must fulfil our eight-point demand as soon as possible."
Human rights activist Sultana Kamal, JSD General Secretary Shirin Akhter, Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mohajote Secretary-General Palash Kanti, Dhaka University Teachers Association General Secretary Prof Nizamul Haque Bhuiyan, DU Alumni Association General Secretary Ranjan Karmakar, Dhaka University teacher Robayet Ferdous, Mohila Oikya Parishad President Supriya Bhattacharya, and Teachers Unity Council Convener Arun Kumar, among others, also addressed the protest gathering.
International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad, Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mahasangha, Bangladesh Sanatan Kalyan Jote, Bangladesh Buddhist Federation, Association for Land Development, Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Samajsanskar Samiti, Janmashtami Udjapan Parishad, Bangladesh Buddhist Samity, Bangladesh Minority Sangram Parishad, Bangladesh Hindu League, Minority Rights Forum, Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Forum, Hindu Chhatra Forum, Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Samaj Sangrakkhon Samity, Bangladesh Harijan Oikya Parishad, and Jatiya Adivasi Parishad took part in the protest programme.
In Munshiganj, a mass hunger strike was observed and a protest procession was brought out on Saturday as part of the nationwide protest called by the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council.
The mass hunger strike and mass sit-in programme was held with the participation of people from all walks of life at Munshiganj Central Shaheed Minar.
Later the protestors brought out a procession that paraded different streets of the town.
Advocate Ajay Kumar Chakraborty, president of district Hindu-Buddhist Christian Unity Council, presided over the protest programme.
In Satkhira, a human chain was formed in front of Satkhira Press Club on Saturday, protesting the attack and torture on the Hindu community. The event was organised by Bangladesh Dalit and Banchito Janogosthi Adhikar Andolon.
Speakers at the human chain said the holy Quran was deliberately placed at the puja mandap in Cumilla on 13 October, only to justify and carry out the attack on the houses and temples of the Hindu community. Later, on 17 October, the miscreants set 29 houses on fire at Majhipara village at Pirganj in Rangpur. Violent communal attacks have also been carried out in different parts of the country including Chattogram, Feni, Noakhali, Kishoreganj and Chandpur.
The speakers also demanded the arrest and exemplary punishment of those involved in attacks on Dalit and Hindu communities in different parts of the country.
Bivotosh Roy, central committee president of the Dalit Adhikar Andolon, presided over the human chain while general secretary of Satkhira district branch of the organisation Dulal Chandra Das, Uddipta Mahila Unnayan Sangstha Director Jayanti Rani Das, and district Bede Committee President Akbar Ali, among others, also addressed the human chain.
Satkhira unit of Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council and Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad also organised a protest programme at Shaheed Abdur Razzak Park protesting against the countrywide communal attacks.
In Dinajpur, a mass hunger strike was held on Saturday protesting the attacks on houses and temples, vandalism, arson and looting in different parts of the country.
The protesters staged the mass hunger strike and formed a human chain in front of Dinajpur Press Club. Later, they brought out a procession that paraded various roads of the city.
Thousands of people including leaders and activists of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Bangladesh Hindu Parishad, and Jubo Oikya Parishad took part in the protest programme.
Police were deployed in different parts of the city in substantial numbers.
Mentionable, demonstrations and protests have been going on across the country for the last couple of days over attacks on the Hindu community. On 13 October, a copy of the Holy Quran was found at a Puja Mandap in Cumilla.
This triggered a spate of communal attacks on puja mandaps and temples in several parts of the country that continued for 4-5 days. Seven people died during these attacks.
Police arrested the man who allegedly placed the Quran at the puja mandap. At least 71 cases have been filed in different districts over the attacks and at least 450 people have so far been arrested, according to the police.