Over 800 BJP workers were stopped in their bid to enter Bangladesh yesterday to protest atrocities on minorities and join protesters demanding the death penalty for those convicted of war crimes in that neighbouring country, police officials here said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cadres tried to enter Bangladesh through the Akhaurah checkpost near here. They were led by Tripura state party president Sudhindra Dasgupta.
“A huge contingent of police led by senior officials stopped the march 500 metres from the Akhaurah checkpost. There was no major trouble," a police official told IANS.
Additional troopers of the Border Security Force (BSF) have been deployed at the Akhaurah border to foil further attempts by BJP cadres to enter Bangladesh.
"The march to Dhaka was organized to protest atrocities on religious minorities and their installations in Bangladesh. The rally was also to express solidarity with protestors of Ganajagaran Mancha," Dasgupta told reporters.
Ganajagaran Mancha, a platform of intellectuals and activists, has been organizing protests across Bangladesh since February 5 to press demand for the death penalty for all war criminals during the country's liberation from Pakistan in 1971 and a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, an organization backed by fundamentalists.
The march to Dhaka was in support of the BJP's five-point charter of demands, which includes reconstruction of damaged shrines, compensation to families affected by religious strife and security to people from religious minority communities.
BJP leaders have submitted a letter at the Bangladesh diplomatic mission in Agartala addressed to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requesting her to take steps to stop attacks on people belonging to religious minorities.
According to Dasgupta, religious minorities had accounted for 46 per cent of the population in East Pakistan (before the creation of Bangladesh) and even after the partition in 1947.
"Following attacks by fundamentalists, the percentage reduced to 28 after Bangladesh was created in 1971 and now it has fallen to 10 per cent," Dasgupta said.
Intellectuals, law-makers, artists, singers, academicians, journalists, writers and poets of Bangladesh and India have organised programmes in Agartala in solidarity with the protestors of Ganajagaran Mancha in Bangladesh.