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Hindu Minority in Bangladesh are Safe, but still have a feeling of Insecurity in Muslim Majority Nation: Tripura Governor

During the partition of the country in 1947, East Pakistan had 29 per cent Hindu, but now it has reduced to 8 to 9 per cent

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Agartala, December 22, 2016: The Hindu minority in Bangladesh are safe still have a feeling of insecurity, Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy has said.

“Bangladesh government has taken steps to provide security to the minority Hindus, but unfortunately the Hindus have a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty about their future,” Roy said, while participating in a discussion here on Wednesday night.
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He said the Bangladesh government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formed an international tribunal to punish the “slaughterers who have killed thousands of people”.

“During the partition of the country in 1947, (the then) East Pakistan had 29 per cent Hindu, but now it has reduced to 8 to 9 per cent,” the governor said.

The discussion was arranged in connection of publication of Roy’s book – “Ja Chhilo Amar Desh” (What was my country), a tale of exodus of minorities from what is now Bangladesh.

Roy, who elaborated how several massacres were taken place in erstwhile East Pakistan and acts of Pakistani Army and the then rulers, said that many people know about the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in India but many people do not know about the more heinous massacre in Chuknagar (under Khulna district in Bangladesh).

“In the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919 around 1,500 people were killed but in Chuknagar massacre, the Pakistani Army and its associate Razakars butchered 10,000 unarmed Hindus by bullets, bayonets and stampede on May 20, 1971,” he said.

“Chuknagar massacre is one instance. In many places in the then East Pakistan several massacre took place and during Bangladesh liberation war such brutal mass carnage took an ugly turn.”

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“The mass atrocities were begun on Hindus in Noakhali in previous East Pakistan in 1946. With the active participation of Pakistani rulers, the atrocities and massacres on Hindus turned barbaric in 1950, 1964 and 1971. Besides massacre, mass looting, rape and killings forced over one crore Hindus to take shelter in India and lived with heavy poverty and deprivation,” he said.

Roy, a former President of Bharatiya Janata Party unit in West Bengal, said that his book was not written to generate hate against the Muslims by the Hindus or not to make distance or create enmity between India and Bangladesh.

“The book was written only to say the truth. Many books were written, many films were made on the pre and post liberation period, but nowhere it was not elaborated why lakh of Hindu had forced to leave their ancestral homes in the then East Pakistan and took shelter in West Bengal.”

“I believe, forgive by all means but never forget. The new generation must know what done against the minority Hindus in the then East Pakistan and why lakh of people had to take shelter in India,” said the engineer turned politician turned governor.

Roy, was born in Kolkata but his ancestors belonged to Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria district. He said that some leaders backed by Pakistani founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah tried to merge Tripura with Pakistan instead of India.

He said: “After I wrote my first book – My People, Uprooted – in 2000, I was not allowed to visit Bangladesh as Dhaka did not give me visa but last year, I have visited Bangladesh thrice. I have a cordial relation with Bangladesh.”

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Renowned academician Arunoday Saha and Kolkata based publisher Sabitendranath Roy also spoke in the discussion.

The governor in his 384-page book also criticised former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and accused him for creation of Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

The septuagenarian writer also criticised Left parties for their role in India’s partition. (IANS)

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Violence And Intimidation Directed Towards Rohingyas In Bangladesh Camps

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies.

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Rohingya, Violence
Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The failed attempt to send thousands of Rohingya back to Myanmar starting this month has drawn attention to alleged violence and intimidation by security forces against members of the Muslim minority living in Bangladesh’s sprawling refugee camps.

Bangladesh has boosted its international reputation by hosting more than 730,000 Rohingya who fled a vicious campaign by Myanmar’s military last year that U.N. investigators have labelled genocide – an accusation Myanmar has consistently denied.

But Bangladesh appears keen to demonstrate that Rohingya refugees will not be welcome there indefinitely. The planned repatriations sparked fear and chaos last week as Rohingya went into hiding – and in a handful of reported cases attempted suicide – to avoid being sent back.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Meanwhile, allegations of sporadic beatings, looting and intimidation by Bangladeshi soldiers, police and camp officials have underscored the bleak conditions faced by Rohingya in their host country, where most are denied official refugee status and face restrictions on freedom of movement.

The repatriation of some 2,000 refugees was scheduled to begin last Thursday, but Bangladesh has now put the plans on hold until next year after failing to find any Rohingya willing to go back.

Rohingya in the camps have told VOA that soldiers were stationed near the homes of those who were told they would be sent back last week, fueling fears of forced repatriation and adding to widespread distress in communities already suffering extreme trauma after last year’s violence.

One Rohingya man told VOA anonymously that block leaders in the camps were also “announcing with loudspeakers… that it’s essential for everyone to carry ID with them whenever and wherever they go if they leave their homes.”

Late last month, security forces looted property from Rohingya shopkeepers at the Balukhali camp, said John Quinley, a human rights specialist with the non-profit organization Fortify Rights.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

“Right now the security forces are operating in the camps with total impunity,” he said.

In another case earlier this month, Fortify Rights reported that security forces rounded up 18 Rohingya leaders and slapped and hit some of them while telling them to instruct other refugees to cooperate with a new U.N.-backed project to provide them with “smart cards.”

Many Rohingya oppose the identity cards because they fear the information on them will be shared with the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh’s refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner, Abul Kalam, told VOA he was unaware of the allegations of violence but would follow up. “Generally, it is not acceptable that someone would apply force on or beat someone to do or not to do something,” he said.

Quinley called on the U.N.’s refugee agency to “do everything in their power to make sure that the Bangladeshi authorities are respecting human rights.”

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Spokesperson Caroline Gluck said the agency has notified the authorities of a “small number” of reports of violence related to the smart card project. The agency has “been following up with them to ascertain the circumstances of what happened,” she told VOA.

Officials have responded that the incidents were “not linked” to the smart card project, she said.

She added, “The new ID card will enable refugees to be better protected and will streamline access to assistance and services.”

Mohammed Sheikh Anwar, a Rohingya activist, told VOA the Bangladeshi government “needs to keep the lower-level authorities in check. There should be an accountability measure.”

“Committing violence against genocide survivors to make them agree to the authorities’ terms is not the solution,” he added.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
A Rohingya refugee woman draws water from a hand pump at a temporary shelter in New Delhi, India.

Last week a Rohingya man named Ata Ullah said he was beaten at the office of an official at the Chakmarkul camp, the Guardian reported, after he failed to provide the official with a list of refugees.

Ata Ullah said in a video circulated on social media that when he couldn’t provide the official with a list he “was beaten with a large stick… they stepped on my neck, I could not stand it.”

Also Read: Bangladesh Government Build a New Rohingya Camp

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies and Rohingya refugees to “create any structures, infrastructure, or policies that suggest permanency.”

As a result, the report said, “refugee children do not go to school, but rather to ‘temporary learning centers,’ where ‘facilitators,’ not ‘teachers,’ preside over the classrooms. The learning centers are inadequate, only providing about two hours of instruction a day,” the report said. (VOA)