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The curious case of vanishing Hindu population in Bangladesh

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By Arka Mondal

“The numbers tell the story – or at least part of it.  After India’s Partition, Hindus were almost a third of the East Pakistan population, according to Pakistan’s 1951 census.  When East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, they were under a fifth; 30 years later less than a tenth; and according to reliable estimates, less than eight percent today. Throughout that time, there was a steady flow of reports on anti-Hindu atrocities there; atrocities that include religious desecration, land grabs, property destruction, beatings, forced conversion to Islam, child abduction, rape, and murder.  Bangladeshi governments not only refused to prosecute the perpetrators, but also maintained openly discriminatory laws.”- Dr Richard L Benkin

The minorities, especially the Hindus, in Bangladesh have been subjected to categorical atrocities since the country achieved Independence in 1971. The paradigm of ethnic cleansing is well portrayed in the havoc discrimination and slaughter against the Hindus. The relentless war crime like activities by a Bangladeshi quarter has led to the exodus of Hindus from the country. Hindu masses in the country are regularly subjected to horrific incidents of violence, hidden discrimination, violation of basic rights and encroachment of property rights.

The Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government that spring-boarded to power with alleged

Hindu family stands over devastation of their home destroyed by Muslims in Satkhira
Hindu family stands over devastation of their home destroyed by Muslims in Satkhira

backing from the then Congress government (UPA) of India does nothing to protect the Hindu masses that are gradually vanishing. The Hindu population which contributed 31 per cent of the total population in 1971 now stands at a meager 8 per cent. A biased Constitution with minimal provisions for the minorities along with the government’s fathomless reluctance to address the issue have resulted in a dramatic decline in the Hindu population. Alike Pakistan, barbaric chapter of violence against Hindus was evident in Bangladesh following the infamous Babri Mosque incident. Bangladesh claims to be a secular country, but in reality it is a moderate Muslim country. However, this in no way ensures equal existence for all or eclipses the society’s hostile attitude towards Hindus.

Frequent vandalizing of Hindu shrines and temples (reportedly by Jamaat-e-Islami cadres), rampant land grabbing (by Awami League backed mafias) and harassment of Hindu women folk point to the fact that Bangladesh has failed miserably to recover from the hangover of the Pakistani influence. The country seems to overlook the fact that a Hindu-major neighbor literally single-handedly liberated it from the clutches of a tyrannical regime. These facets have largely contributed to the waning Hindu population in Bangladesh.

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  • Kazi Hasan

    Hindus in Bangladesh had been emigrating to India for economic and job advantages since 1947.

    • Amol Kekre

      Kazi, Pls stop masquerading ethic cleansing under false economic lies. Emigration would equally affect muslims & hindus. 25%-30% down to 8% is catastrophic. Something horrible is happening.

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UN Agencies and Bangladesh Government Advances to Prevent Further Deforestation

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government have begun distributing liquid petroleum gas stoves in Cox’s Bazar to help prevent further deforestation, which has been accelerating with the huge influx of Rohingya refugees during the past year.

Cox’s Bazar is home to large areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. The arrival of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar has put enormous pressure on these precious resources.

U.N. Migration Agency spokesman, Paul Dillon tells VOA, the refugees have been cutting down the trees and clearing land to build makeshift shelters. He says they and many local villagers also rely almost exclusively on firewood to cook their meals.

“Consequently, the forests in that area are being denuded at the rate of roughly four football fields every single day. We are told by the experts at this rate, by 2019 there will be no further forests in that area,” he said.

Deforestation
Deforestation

Scientists note deforestation has devastating consequences for the environment leading to soil erosion, fewer crops, increased flooding and, most significantly, the loss of habitat for millions of species.

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

“It interrupts migration pathways and regrettably forces these, sort of, artificial confrontations between animals in the wild and communities as they move into areas that have been logged out often-times in search of arable farmland and that type of thing,” he said.

Also Read: First Satellite Launched by Bangladesh

The project aims to distribute liquid petroleum gas stoves and gas cylinders to around 250,000 families over the coming months. U.N. agencies say the stoves will have additional benefits besides helping to prevent deforestation.

For example, they note smoke from firewood burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation causes many health problems, especially among women and children who spend much of their time indoors. (VOA)