14 Temples Vandalized in Bagladesh, Putting Islamist Attacks on Hindus in Focus Again

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As many as 14 Hindu temples were vandalized in Bangladesh in the latest attack on the Hindu minorities in the Islam-dominated south Asian nation. the Hindu places of worship were attacked in Bangladesh's Thakurgaon district.

"Unidentified people carried out the attacks under the cover of darkness, vandalising idols in 14 temples in three unions (lowest local government tier)," Bidyanath Barman, a Hindu community leader, said, according to NDTV.

Hindu temple worker hacked to death by suspected Islamists in Bangladesh
Police officers in Bangladesh Reuters

"The hands, feet, and heads of the idols were smashed to bits. Some were broken and left in the pond .. We want the authorities to investigate this thoroughly and apprehend the culprits," he added.

The incident happened at different villages in the region, local police chief Khairul Anam said, according to IANS. The perpetrators have not yet been identified, the police added.

Intentional Act

"After taking a look, it appeared to me that the act was intentional. It was done to disrupt the peaceful situation of the country," the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police said.

Bangladesh temple
Bangladesh Hindu temples attacked Wikimedia Commons

In 2016, a Hindu priest was killed by suspected Islamists at a temple in western Bangladesh. The priest, Shyamananda Das, was hacked to death by three men on a motorcycle in a village 300km south west from the capital Dhaka. "He was preparing morning prayers with flowers at the temple early in the morning and that time three young people came by a motor bike and killed him with machetes and fled away," the police said at that time.

Scores of Hindus Killed

Scores of people have been killed in Bangladesh in recent years by suspected Islamists. A report in 2016 said at least 50 people were killed in the three preceding years in a wave of murders of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities.

Bangladesh starts process to drop Islam as state religion
Bangladeshi Hindu women march on the streets during celebrations to mark the Janmashtami festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh September 5, 2015. The festival, which marks the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, is being celebrated today. Reuters

Although Bangladesh is officially a secular country, around 90 percent of its 160 million-strong population is Muslim and the remaining are Hindus.

In July last year, a temple, shops and several houses of the Hindu community were vandalised in southwestern Bangladesh over a Facebook post that allegedly belittled Islam.

In 2021, Hindu temples in Bangladesh were vandalised during the Durga Puja celebrations.

A report by legal rights group Ain O Salish Kendra said as many as, 3,679 attacks were carried out on the Hindu community in Bangladesh between January 2013 and September 2021, the Hindu newspaper reported.

Decline of Hindu Population

"Analysts point out that hard-line Islamist groups have gained prominence over the years and the governing Awami League, which has been in power since 2008, had failed to tackle the rising religious intolerance and fundamentalism," BBC reported in 2021.

Sustained persecution resulted in the dwindling of Hindu population in Bangladesh, which recognizes Islam as state religion. According to Hindu community leaders, the Hindu population in the country has come down from 30 percent in 1947 to less than 9 percent currently.

This article was first published on February 6, 2023