On May 28th, 2017, during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, a historic 500 year-old and very peaceful Hindu temple was attacked and vandalized repeatedly in another hate crime that has brought the total attacks on Hindu temples in the last 12 months to almost 200. Although Hindus make up approximately only 8% of the population in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, they face hate crimes almost daily by local Islamists and gangs of religious extremists.
The religious extremists and intolerant gang of bigots damaged 13 historic and priceless Hindu statues including 12 of Lord Shiva inside the Barashivalaya Hindu Temple (also called Baro Shibaloy Hindu Mandir). The ancient temple is located in Joypurhat, Bangladesh and creating panic among the Hindu people. Pundit Situ Chandra Mohanta (Hindu priest) of the 500-year-old temple found 12 priceless Shiva idols damaged when he came to the temple for performing the ritual and informed the members of the temple committee. Of the damaged holy statues, one was torched,” he said, adding that criminals also damaged the cow statue inside the temple.
Reaching out to locals, they said that attacks on Hindus and their temples in Bangladesh as become a daily occurrence. The Chakra team compiled a list of all reported attacks on Hindu temples in Bangladesh over the last 12 months and recorded over 180 with over 50 happening during the auspicious Hindu festival of Diwali in Oct/November 2017.
This isn’t the first attack on Hindus during Ramadan, as locals have stated that there is an increase in attacks on Hindu homes and their temples by extremists during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and during the Hindu festival of Diwali, as more Hindu temples become visible.
Although, Hindus are Bangladesh’s largest minority communities and are among the indigenous people of the nation, global media has not really been interested in their plight. Arguably, Bangaldeshi Hindus and indigenous tribes one of the most persecuted religious minority communities in the World, their % of population has dropped from almost 20% in the 1960s to less than 8% in 2017. Some academics and researchers such as respected Dr.Abul Barkat have stated that there will be no Bangladeshi Hindus left in 30 years. Many such fears are driven with the ongoing rise of Islamic extremism and lack of state protection for non-muslim minorities in Bangladesh.
According to the Bangladesh’s national english news outlet the Daily Start, Deputy Commissioner Mozammel Haque, Superintendent of Police Rashidul Hasan, Chairman of Joypurhat Zila Parishad Ariful Rahman and Upazila Nirbahi Officer Aminul Islam visited the spot.
As of May 28th, no media outlets or human rights activist groups outside Bangladesh condemned the hate crime attacks on this ancient Hindu temple during Ramadan. However, our team did a quick analysis and any instance globally where a Christian or Muslim minority had their house of worship attacked during a majority group’s religious holiday, then it was made a national debate of growing intolerance. We ask, why don’t Hindu lives matter too? Of the over 180 attacks on Hindu temples in Bangladesh over 12 months, we repeatedly reached out to media houses and journalists at Vice, Toronto Star, NYTimes, Washington Post, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, NDTV, Guardian, CBC, Fox News and more. However, the result was that only 1 instance of attacks was covered by New York Times, Fox News and Al Jazeera. Media outlets such as Toronto Star, CNN, Vice, CBC, Washington Post have ignored our requests without reply. However, as a test we did once share that a Mosque was attacked and almost all outlets or journalists from the outlet did show response.
Many Bangladeshi Hindus pray that the daily atrocities they face with one day get the attention of the global community such as the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingyas before its too late and they are all forced out or forced to covert to Islam for their protection.
If you are a journalist or human rights activists, please ask yourself, in the last 5 years where over 2000 hate crime attacks have occurred in Bangladesh against Hindu and indigenous minorities, how many have you shared, written about, or even shown empathy towards? The answer is probably 0 and the reason for this absence in empathy is due to your conditioning of being hinduphobic or hindu lives really just don’t matter vs. other minority groups.