The violent, communal incidents against Hindus in the backdrop of Durga Puja in Bangladesh reached a tipping point on Friday (October 15) when the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in the Noakhali district in the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh was attacked by a blood-thirsty, frenzied mob of 400-500 radical Islamists.
The temple desecrated
ISKCON temple took to Twitter to share the barbarity of the situation with pictures. “ISKCON temple & devotees were violently attacked today by a mob in Noakhali, Bangladesh. Temple suffered significant damage & the condition of a devotee remains critical. We call on the Govt of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all Hindus & bring the perpetrators to justice.” it tweeted.
ISKCON temple & devotees were violently attacked today by a mob in Noakhali, Bangladesh. Temple suffered significant damage & the condition of a devotee remains critical.
We call on the Govt of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all Hindus & bring the perpetrators to justice. pic.twitter.com/ZpHtB48lZi
— ISKCON (@iskcon) October 15, 2021
ISKCON spokesperson Radharamn Das shared a video wherein radical Islamists were seen desecrating the ISKCON temple. “Just few hours back today, around 500 Muslim mob gathered outside ISKCON temple in Noakhali and they broke deities inside ISKCON temple and set temple on fire,” he informed. Furthermore, he stated that a makeshift Durga pandal, located in front of the temple, was also vandalised. “Our devotees fought; many are critical,”
Request Hon'ble @PMOIndia Shri @narendramodi ji to speak with his Bangladeshi counterpart immediately. There is wide spread violence going against Hindus & today they attacked our @iskcon temple in Noakhali. Many dead & many devotees in critical condition#SaveBangladeshiHindus pic.twitter.com/IzBGXCExxB
— Radharamn Das (@RadharamnDas) October 15, 2021
ISKCON dug a hole for itself
However, it appears that ISKCON dug a hole for itself by trying to go the secular way. Reportedly, the ISKCON authorities have been holding iftars for Muslims, at least here in India. And since ISKCON has a global presence, it certainly cannot be ruled out that the Bangladesh facility might have engaged in a similar exercise to see it all spectacularly backfire in its face.
According to news reports, in 2016, in West Bengal’s Chandroday Mandir, Mayapur, some 130 kilometers away from the capital city of Kolkata, the Hindu priests and volunteers of the ISKCON temple held an Iftar party to help over 165 Muslim men break their day’s fast during the month of Ramadan in temple’s virgin compounds.
One of the Muslim residents to attend the Iftar was quoted as saying, “The response from Muslims in neighboring villages was so overwhelming that more than 160 turned up at the temple, while temple authorities only expected 75 people,”
Similarly, Taslima Nasreen, in one of her articles dated 2018 remarked that Muslims were fed in ISKCON temples, “In Bangladesh too, Iskcon and the Buddhist temples give iftar to destitute Muslims during Ramzan. Do Muslims do the same – give food and alms to Hindus and Buddhists during their religious festivals? I don’t know. If they don’t, they should.”
What has happened in Bangladesh?
As reported by TFI, Durga Puja – the biggest Hindu festival to be celebrated in Bangladesh, came to an abrupt and violent end on Wednesday (October 13), when Islamists’ mobs ravaged the Hindu pandals and mandaps, desecrating the vigrahas and creating chaos by killing 4 people and leaving hundreds injured.
The cycle of violence against Hindus started with a rumour, when some BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) and Jamaat-e-Islam miscreants planted a copy of the Quran at the feet of Ganesh in the Durga pantheon at Nanuyar Dighir Par Temple in Comilla district, on Tuesday night. A district official was quoted as saying, “The miscreants took some pictures of this and ran away. Within a few hours, using Facebook, the propaganda spread like wildfire with the provocative pictures,”
Read More: Durga Puja ends early in Bangladesh
Following Comilla violence, incidents of vandalism were also reported from temples in Chandpur’s Hajiganj, Chattogram’s Banshkhali, and Cox’s Bazar’s Pekua.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina released a statement saying that those involved in the attacks will be hunted down and punished. However, in the same breath, she shot off a veiled warning to India that it shouldn’t do anything that hurts the Hindu community in Bangladesh.
“We expect that nothing happens there (in India) which could influence any situation in Bangladesh affecting our Hindu community here,” she said.
The ISKCON authorities might have fed the Muslim community with a good heart and noble intentions of forging a deep, meaningful relationship. However, unless and until the love is not requited the same way, there is no point in going the extra yard. It’s not nihilism but accepting the reality as it is and acting maturely about it. Hindu minority in an Abrahamic faith majority nation will always struggle and ISKCON in Bangladesh found it the hard way.