Attacks remind people of the horror unleashed by Pakistani forces 43 years ago

The January 5 elections in Bangladesh have again reminded the vulnerable minority community of the brutal treatment it received 43 years ago at the hands of marauding Pakistani forces and their local cohorts.

Bangladesh media reports suggest that Hindus in particular have become easy targets of anti-election activists who attacked their houses and other properties, thinking that they voted for the ruling Awami League and did not heed their directive to refrain from voting .

The attacks, most of which took place in the post-election period, have forced hundreds of minority members to flee their houses, according to newspapers published from Dhaka. Systematic attacks were carried out by activists of the Opposition BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami, the party which had violently opposed the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971.

Most of the attacks took place in the minority dominated villages in the northern districts of Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bogra, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Rajshahi, the southern district of Chittagong and western Jessore.

Leading daily Ittefaq reported: “The Jamaat-Shibir cadres launched despicable attacks on Hindu communities in four districts the day after the 10th parliamentary elections. Hundreds of houses of the minority community were torched and looted since Sunday night in Dinjapur, Jessore, Satkhira and Thakurgaon. A large number of Hindus took shelter in the temples, while others have fled to other villages. They are too scared to return even after assurances from local administration.”

The daily reported, along with pictures, that residents of at least eight unions in different upazillas of Dinajpur district were the worst sufferers.

In Jessore, the miscreants vandalised at least 46 Hindu houses and establishments and torched six others on Sunday night, alleging that the minority people had voted for the Awami League. In Thakurgaon, the Jamaat-led terrorists unleashed violence on the religious minorities. Jamaat-Shibir and BNP activists went on the rampage, damaging and looting 65 houses and 30 shops and setting afire paddies stored on courtyards in several homes.

In western Satkhira, a traditional Jamaat stronghold, Jamaat-BNP men resorted to attacks with sharp weapons, sticks and iron rods. Several hundred Hindus and Awami League leaders have fled their homes in the past few days.

Giving on-the-spot coverage of the incidents, condemned by civil society and newspapers, The Daily Star reported that Hindus were still vulnerable to attacks by “anti-liberation forces” like in 1971 when they were targeted by the Pakistan army and their local cohorts.

The rampage reminds Doyamoy Sarkar, a villager, of the atrocities committed by Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators in 1971, reported the daily. “We left our house in 1971 as Pakistan army and razakars set our village on fire. And we are passing through the same ordeal in 2014,” he said.

About 700 elderly and young women, men and children of Malopara took shelter at Deyapara village across the Bhairab river. About 100 houses of Hindus were vandalised and torched.

Activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, in their hundreds carried out the massive destruction for two hours in the Hindu village for “violating” their order not to go to the polling booth.

Correspondents of national newspapers, during a visit on Tuesday, found that about 1,200 people from Hindu families of Gopalpur village were sheltered at a temple.

In Dinajpur, at least 350 houses and 50 shops in five villages were damaged, set ablaze and looted. According to the locals, around 2,000 Jamaat-Shibir men, armed with sharp weapons and sticks, launched the attack on Kornai village on Sunday. Several hundred men, women and children fled their homes.

In Chittagong, Hindus are under threat following attacks on poll night in Satkania, Loahagara and Banshkhali upazillas, considered a stronghold of the Jamaat-Shibir. In Loahagara, Jamaat-Shibir men vandalised and looted several shops owned by Hindus at Hindur Haat.