March 3, 2013
Since 1946, Bengali Hindus in East Bengal, then East Pakistan, and then Bangladesh have repeatedly been the collateral damage of the battles between kings (Raja e raja e juddho).
Between Muslim League and Congress, via Noakhali riots in 1947; between India-Pakistan by proxy during the 1964 riots; between East Pakistan and West Pakistan during the brutal genocide of 1971; between BNP and AL during the 2001 post-election revenge riots.
As a distraction mechanism again and again, as when the Ershad military junta instigated fake Ayodhya-retaliation communal riots to distract from the national protests against the military regime. There have been other moments throughout the last 4o+ years.
The chess game continues, and we continue to allow Bengali Hindus to be collateral damage, again and again.
This week, after the Sayeedi verdict, Bengali Hindus have faced vicious attacks by Jamaat-Shibir activists.
You can reassure Bengali Hindus as much as you want that JI-Shibir represents a small, fanatical fringe element. That majority are tolerant. That Bangladesh is as much their home as any Muslim or any other religion. You can say these words at seminar after seminar, but the damage is done and has been done for four decades now. Our Hindu brothers and sisters are leaving, bit by bit, every day. One day we will wake up to a Bangladesh emptied out of all religious and ethnic diversity and it will be too late.
Wake up, please. Before it’s too late.