The government's failure to give adequate protection to Hindus and punish the perpetrators of the previous atrocities is the main reason of the recurrence of violence against the religious minority, speakers observed at a discussion yesterday.
They demanded a special tribunal to put the attackers, regardless of their political identities, to trial immediately.
Against the backdrop of arsons, vandalism, and sexual assault on Hindus across the country following the January 5 polls, Jagannath Hall Alumni Association of Dhaka University organised the programme in the capital's Cirdap auditorium urging the state and citizenry to "stand against terrorism and violence against religious minorities".
The first and foremost duty of the government and law enforcement agencies is to protect the life of every citizen irrespective of their religion, said Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University AAMS Arefin Siddique. "Action has to be taken against the culprits, no matter who they are or even if they are from the administration," he added.
Communalism cannot exist in Bangladesh, as the people fought and gained independence in 1971 vowing to eliminate this vice, said rights activist Sultana Kamal.
Emphasising the need for forming a special tribunal to punish the pogromists, Awami league lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta said minorities made up 35 percent of the country's population in 1947, which dropped to 29 percent in 1971, and nine percent now.
In the case of any atrocity, the local administration should be held accountable, said lawmaker Shirin Akhtar.
International Crimes Tribunal Prosecutor Tureen Afroz recommended formation of a separate ministry or minority commission to protect their lives and rights. She also called for a national non-communal policy and its execution at all levels of society.
Eminent journalist Kamal Lohani stressed unity of Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims in resisting the attacks through forming a "brigade" in each locality.
President of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Ayesha Khanam urged people not to drop off from the continued protest against minority repression. "We should not demonstrate only after occurrence of an incident and then leave it to the government," she said.
Advocate Rana Dasgupta appealed to the prime minister to hold the lawmaker responsible if communal violence happens in his or her constituency.
Executive Editor of The Daily Star Syed Badrul Ahsan said that though the people fought against communalism in 1971, some eminent personalities in society whom people admire and respect often revealed their communal tendencies in the period soon after liberation. He noted that the need today was for a psychological change among those who matter.
Demanding adequate security to all, educationist Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said if a Hindu child could not sleep fearlessly, how it would be Bangladesh?
Supreme Court lawyer Tania Amir, ex-VC of Chittagong University Abdul Mannan, Prof Mesbah Kamal, Prof MM Akash, Dr Ajay Ray, and Dr Sarowar Ali also spoke.
In condemnation of violence against Hindus, a 1.5-killometre long human chain was formed by more than 10,000 people from all walks of life on the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar outside the capital yesterday, said organisers.
The protesters demanded a judicial investigation into the recent attacks on the minority communities and punishment for the culprits regardless of their identities.
"There is no scope of doing politics over attacks on minorities," said Joynal Abedin Khan, a trustee of Transparency International, Bangladesh and convener of the Committees of Concerned Citizens.
At least 40 development organisations, under the coordination of Savar NGO Samanay Parishad, jointly organised the human chain, which stretched from Rajfulbaria bus stand to Rajlakh Farm area, reported our Savar correspondent.
Meanwhile, Fakirhat Upazila Press Club organised a human chain in Dakbanglo intersection area in Bagerhat yesterday, demanding immediate arrest of the attackers, reported our Bagerhat correspondent.