Leaders of religious minority groups on Sunday sought commitment from political leaders for their security in the wake of recent nationwide attacks on houses and temples of Hindus.
The leaders said they feared such attacks would run through to next elections.
Five were killed, at least 47 temples and 1,500 houses belonging to Hindus were vandalised or set on fire during the recent attacks in 37 districts, according to Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad.
Statistics have come from a monitoring cell installed in Dhaka’s Dhakeswari National Temple on Mar 1, the Parishad’s chief Kajal Debnath has told bdnews24.com.
But Hindu-Bouddha-Christiain Oikya Parishad said the extent of damages would be far more.
Ninety-nine temples were attacked, 48 of them were looted, vandalised and burned down, the organisation’s General Secretary Rana Dasgupta told bdnews24.com. “Almost 2,000 minorities’ houses were burned down.”
He feared such attacks would continue.
“Let this not be part of nasty politics. The way top politicians are speaking, it seems they are instigating conflict,” he said.
“BNP and Jamaat said they did not carry out the attacks, Ershad is also denying. Awami League says there’s no question of their involvement. Then who did it?”
Dasgupta said they all wanted to see that political leaders were with them. “They can prove by their deeds that they are politicians, not criminals.”
“They can do politics, but it should be clear that we are not guinea pigs,” he said.
Dasgupta cited Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics figures that Hindu and Christian and other minorities’ population in Bangladesh came down to 9.7 percent in 2012 from the 21 percent in 1971 and 19.7 percent in 1947.
“The main reason for attacking minorities’ houses and temples is to take away their property. The culture began in 1947,” he said.
He feared that if the current trend continued, the number of minorities would come down to one percent of the population over the next 10 years.
Puja Udjapon Parishad chief Devnath said they did not want any special favour for the minorities. “We only want that our name be not the cause of our trouble.”
“If this was to be the end, then it would have been peaceful. But this is not the end. More war crimes verdicts will come. Such acts are being done with a target before and after the elections.”
He called upon the government, administration and political parties to be aware of the attacks.
Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad Joint General Secretary Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee said they would file a report prepared by the monitoring cell findings to authorities and foreign agencies soon.
Government assistance to the victims was not satisfactory, he said.
Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad Presidium Member Subrata Chowdhury recalled the making of Bangladesh and later history to claim that those governments were ‘always involved in suppressing the minorities’.
“We don’t want to believe Awami League is involved in the 2013 attacks. But, they have failed to ensure justice. Local authorities have also failed to take necessary actions,” he said.