Those attacking Durga Puja pandals will be hunted down, punished: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

WION Web Team
Dhaka Updated: Oct 15, 2021, 01:22 PM IST

File photo of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

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Exemplary punishment will be given so that none can dare to engage in this type of incident in future, said the prime minister

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the Hindu community on Thursday that they will continue to have equal rights and be able to openly celebrate their festivals, while also threatening those who engaged in violence and destruction at temples and Durga Puja pandals in Comilla and elsewhere. 

"You are considered as citizens of this country. You live in equal rights. You will enjoy equal rights. You will observe your religion and celebrate festivals with equal rights. That`s what we want. This is the real policy of our Bangladesh and our ideal.I urge you again never to think of yourself as a minority," she said.

"We are getting a lot of information and of course we will find out who is behind the provocation to destroy the communal harmony... strong action will be taken against those no matter which religion they belong to. I want to remind all; Bangladesh is a land of communal harmony. Here, people of all faiths will live together and will practice their own religion," she said.

The prime minister made the remarks while addressing members of the Hindu community at Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka on the occasion of Durga Puja.

She joined the event via video conference from Ganabhaban.


A vandalise temple is seen in Comilla on October 14, 2021. (AFP Photo)

She called the vandalism of temples in Cumilla "extremely sad," adding that such actions may be carried out by individuals who lack the confidence and trust of the people and lack ideas. 

"We are getting a large amount of information. We will definitely trace those who carried out the attacks. This is the age of technology," she added." They must be found.

Durga Puja festival

Police stand guard next to a vandalised temporary place of worship set up on the occasion of Durga Puja festival in Comilla on October 14, 2021. (AFP Photo)

We have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

They must face the appropriate penalty.

"Exemplary punishment would be meted out so that no one dares to engage in this sort of occurrence in the future," the prime minister stated, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

She also urged everyone to work together and be watchful in order to prevent such horrific actions from happening again.

She stated that in Bangladesh, people of all castes, creeds, and religions celebrate all holidays together, adding, "Religion is for individuals, and celebration is for everybody, and we enjoy every festival together." 

According to Hasina, the Cumilla event came at a time when the country was going at full speed toward development, and it was intended to stymie the nation's elevation and create a crisis in the country.

On Wednesday, emotions flared among a section of Cumilla residents when reports of an alleged destruction of the Holy Quran at a Durga Puja location on the bank of Nanuar Dighi spread on social media.

At one point, the situation became out of control, and rioting extended to a number other Puja locations in the surrounding districts.

The local administration and police were attacked while attempting to restore order, according to the Dhaka Tribune. 

Similar incidences occurred in other districts around the nation on Wednesday night and Thursday, prompting the government to deploy Border Guard Bangladesh troopers along with extra law enforcement personnel in 22 districts.

Several individuals have been reported dead during skirmishes in Chandpur, while scores of people have been injured or detained by police enforcement in several districts up to this point.

A Hindu community leader requested the government's intervention during Thursday's ceremony, citing knowledge that some individuals are intending to harm them at the immersion of goddess Durga idols on Friday.

Prime Minister Hasina stated that they are aware of the situation and that steps have already been made to address it.

She urged Hindu leaders, particularly the Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Committee, to develop a policy determining how many Puja mandaps will be set up across the country to celebrate Durga Puja, while keeping in mind the limited number of security personnel available to ensure the mandaps' safety and security. 

She also asked the Hindu community not to regard themselves as a minority and to do their religious rites with the same privileges as followers of other religions because they were born and raised in the nation and fought side by side to free the country during the 1971 Liberation War. 

"We believe that those who are born on the soil of this country and who are its children will practice their respective religions freely," she said.

She stated that her administration was devoted to promoting the wellbeing of all people, regardless of caste, creed, or religion, while highlighting several efforts done by her government to improve the Hindu population.

Hasina stated that Bangladesh's dignity has been established on the world stage as it has evolved into a developing nation, adding, "We want the country to be developed and affluent by 2041 while maintaining the dignity."

(With inputs from agencies)