Amid communal tensions prevailing in Bangladesh following the attacks on Hindu temples, especially on Durga Pandals, former IT Minister Hasanul Haq Inu refused to call it a 'communal riot'. Speaking to Republic, former Bangladesh Minister Hasanul Haq Inu termed the vandalism of the Durga Pandals and Hindu temples as 'motivated planned attack to create tension and disability.'
As many as three people were killed, while 60 others suffered injuries in multiple cases of communal violence during the Durga Puja festivities in Bangladesh's Chandpur Hajiganj Upazila. The administration imposed Section 144 in Hajiganj following the violence and deployed eight platoons of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to bring the situation under control.
On being asked about the targetted vandalism and attacks on Hindus, former Bangladesh Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said,
"Let me first very candidly say that it is not a communal riot so there are no religious clashes only known communal fundamentalist terrorist activists tried to vandalize one or two puja mandaps and attacked temples.
"It is not a general phenomenon, in Bangladesh out of 32,000 plus puja mandaps only in 5 places such unwanted incidents happened. And the police forces, the government took very tough actions. Even they fired upon the terrorist activists."
Furthermore, Hasanul Haq Inu stated,
"The public irrespective of their religion they protested together and resisted these attacks on the puja mandaps. So, my point is religious harmony in Bangladesh is a general phenomenon, and people practice their religion peacefully across the country."
On being asked why these religious fundamentalists attacked only on Durga Pandals, Inu said,
"These religious fundamentalists are operating in Bangladesh for the last few years. They also attacked Christians' churches, Muslims' mosques and they have also killed Imams in the past. So, it is not a clash between two religious communities but an attack of communal fundamentalist forces. It is a selective, specific, targetted vandalism by a selective fundamentalism group."
"In 5 places the incident happened but it has not spread. So, other puja mandaps are safe and the public are enjoying and performing their religious rites. The government has also posted paramilitary forces across the country because they were also alert during the puja festivals. There is no tension between Hindu and Muslims in villages. It was a sudden covert attack by fundamentalist religious groups. It is not a religious attack, it is a motivated planned attack to create tensions and disability," added Hasanul Haq Inu.
Famous author and activist Taslima Nasreen took to her Twitter handle and shared that there is a complete media blackout in Bangladesh. Taslima also stated that the government of Bangladesh has ordered to censor all the news related to vandalisation of puja pandals, Durga idols & Hindu temples.
Media blackout in #Bangladesh.Govt ordered to censor all the news related to vandalization of puja pandals,durga idols & Hindu temples. There must not be any blackout. People should know what is going on.They should organize protest rallies.Govt must take action against jihadis.— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) October 14, 2021
It is pertinent to mention here that India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday took cognizance of Bangladesh Durga Puja violence.
Referring to the incident, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian embassy and the High Commission in Dhaka are in close contact with Bangladesh authorities on the developments and trust the administration with conducting a fair investigation on the matter.
As per reports, the conflict erupted on Wednesday when devotees were celebrating Durga Puja, the most celebrated religious festival of the Hindu community in Bangladesh. Earlier in Cumilia, at least 50 people were left injured as a group of hardliners clashed with the police in Nanua Dighirpar area over rumours of a communal incident.
The miscreants flocked in numbers at the Mandap area around 9 am after a video went viral on social media. Eventually, law enforcement agencies arrived at the scene to bring the situation under control.
Later at 10 am, the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police in the district held a meeting with the local Hindu community and others. In the meantime, several factions under different religious associations gathered in Nanua Dighirpar.
As per Daily Star, locals and police said that the mob attacked the mandap around 10.30 am. Police and the government confirmed that three cases of attacks were reported in Banshkhali's Chambal area, Kali Mandir municipality, and Karnaphuli Upazila. In Kurigram's Ulipur Upazila, destruction of several temples were reported, while one was set on fire.
The Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council said, "We cannot publish in a tweet what has happened in the last 24 hours. The Hindus of Bangladesh saw the real faces of some people. We don't know what will happen in the future. But the Hindus of Bangladesh will never forget Durga Puja in 2021."