How to stop attacks on minorities?

Tayeb Husain

HINDU-Muslim clashes started during the beginning of the last century and are still continuing. Millions of people were killed due to these clashes during partition and there seems to be no end to this criminality in the subcontinent even today. There are political and economic reasons for these clashes, camouflaged in “religious and cultural attire.”
In Bangladesh, we have two major communities, Muslims and Hindus.
Muslims comprise almost 88%. What are the reasons for the attacks by the vast majority Muslim on the minority 10% Hindus? Why are they happening again and again?
Creation of hatred between communities is a good way for the majority Muslim politicians to grab Hindu property. This happened during Pakistan time with blessing from the government and it is happening after liberation of Bangladesh, with the successive governments turning a blind eye. I am told that some politicians are beneficiaries of this Hindu property snatching after the creation of Bangladesh. Now, another phenomenon has appeared, which is small-scale attacks in which properties of the Hindus are burnt down and valuables stolen. The recent clash over playing badminton at a Hindu locality in Barisal Sadar upazila and burning of Hindu houses is an example of such attacks. Could there be a clash if the man killed was a Hindu? Most probably not. What would have happened if the locality was a Muslim one and both the parties were Muslims? Most probably there would not have been any house torching but there could be further killing.
Who incites these attacks? One can say that those who do are thieves and thugs, and they do it with direct or indirect encouragement from some politicians. The attacks after the election of January 5 were highly political. But why do they attack these poor people? Because they are Hindus? Does the Islam permit them to do it? Why don’t they attack their poor Muslim opponents? I know, they do that too but why so fiercely when the targets are Hindus? Again, because they are weak and the perpetrators’ patron protects them from punishment, if and when necessary. Is it not so?
Is it impossible to find out the real masterminds behind the attacks on the Hindus? Certainly not. But politics and political consideration make it impossible to bring the culprit to justice and punish them properly so that they never commit such offence in the future. The other day I read about an attack in Northern Bengal. The media also published a photograph of a criminal involved in this crime appearing with a minister the next day as if he knew nothing about the crime. What action was taken against the minister and the goon?
We may recall the Ramu violence in September, 2012. Both BNP and AL were involved, but what measures did the government take against the criminals? Did the minority-friendly AL government, as they claim to be so, bring the culprits to justice and give them exemplary punishment so that they would not dare to do commit such a heinous crime again? They arrested 300 people but no proper justice has been done as yet. And if justice is done, it is generally selective, and there lies the problem.
If the government, formed by whichever party, takes a solemn vow to take stern action against the culprits and acts sincerely, the attacks may not stop for good but certainly would be reduced. Local leaders and administration can also be active and take proper action against this crime. Most importantly, everyone, from ministers to Union Parisad members, should be given extra responsibilities to ensure communal harmony. Whenever there is a communal problem the Union Parisad chairman, members and the local administration should be held fully responsible. If necessary, stern action should be taken against the community as a whole to protect minorities against attacks. The problem is very inhuman one and only draconian action can tackle it. The question is, can we go for it?


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