At the discussion meet of the Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad held on Friday, apprehensions were raised about the invariable fear felt by the religious and ethnic minorities during the national election. These apprehensions must be taken into cognizance. After all, in the past, the minorities did face all sorts of harassment and assaults before, during and after the elections. They faced a particularly violent backlash after the 2001 election.
At the discussion, some of the speakers said that if the government fails to provide protection, the minority communities will be forced to boycott voting. We hope such a situation does not arise. The government and the law enforcement must be alert that no one can take advantage of the situation.
It also must be kept in mind that the safety of the minorities is not for just the election time. It must be ensured at all times. The security of the religious ethnic minorities has been breached at various times in various manners, including forceful taking over of their land and property.
In his paper presented at the meeting, the organisation’s general secretary Rana Dasgupta alleged that the major political parties were forming ties with communal forces. His words cannot be ignored. The political parties allied with communal forces can easily be identified.
In the past, the government in Bangladesh has even been formed in alliance with communal forces. But when a party, considered to be based on the values of the liberation war and on secularism, compromises with communal forces, changes texts books in keeping with their demands, join hands with them in political interests, then the minorities lose their last resort of hope.
When communal forces were officially partners in power, then non-communal political forces could stand up for the minorities if their safety was threatened or they came under any sort of attack. The minority communities could turn to them. In 1990, 1992 and 2001, the political forces considered to be secular, did just so.
But when the forces claiming to be non-communal are in power and the communal attacks in Ramu, Nabinagar and Gobindaganj occur, it is only natural that the insecurities of the minorities increase. The present government may claim that they reconstructed the damaged houses and temples of the minorities, but have the perpetrators of this violence been brought to trial? In most cases the perpetrators have not been identified and remain out of reach. What message does this give to the minorities? Unless this culture of impunity is cast off, the minority communities can never feel secure.
The government as well as the political and social forces must be alert to ensure that communal forces do not rise up ahead of the national election due towards the end of this year. The Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad made such a call. It called upon all concerned not to nominate persons known to be communal. We hope democratic and non-communal parties take this into consideration. If political parties do not nominate persons who stand against the interests of the minorities that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on national politics.