12:00 AM, December 28, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:28 AM, December 28, 2018

Fear that won't ever go away

Sense of insecurity engulfs Hindus in Jamaat strongholds of Ctg before polls

The arson attack on Hindu houses in Banshkahli's Muhuripara area nearly six years ago still haunts the villagers.

They are terrified when they hear slogans from campaign processions parading the village roads.

An elderly man was killed and seven houses were burnt during the attack in the locality on February 28 in 2013 over a war crimes verdict on Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee.

Talking to the Daily Star on Friday, an elderly woman from the village said, “Every campaign procession and slogan reminds me of the horrific attack on our homes. I feel more worried if such a procession passes by at night.”

With the national election knocking at the door, fear of fresh attacks grips the minority community members in Chattogram's different upazilas, particularly in Jamaat strongholds Banshkhali and Satkania.

“Fear gets into people's minds whenever an election approaches. What wrong did we commit? Is it a crime to live in this country as a member of a religious minority community?” asked another woman, also a witness to the arson attack in 2013, from nearby Mohajon Para.

Soon after the attack, the seven families whose houses were burnt had left the village.

Ramanondo Puri Moharaj, head of Bashkhali Abbot (Rihsi Moth), said the overall law and order situation was calm now, but it didn't mean that there was no risk of fresh attacks against the Hindus.

“We had filed a case in connection with the arson attack and killing of an elderly man in Muhuri Para, but it saw no progress in five years. Police also failed to arrest anyone involved in the incident,” he added.

Visiting Madhyam Kanchana in Satkania on Monday, this newspaper found three elderly people discussing the latest polls situation at a pharmacy shop.

One of them was Pulak Ghosh who came to the area from Chattogram city for some family activities. He expressed concern about the post-polls situation.

City resident Anindya Nandi, who was preparing to go to the village to cast his vote, said the recent attack on the convoy of the Jatiya Party in Banshkhali created panic among the villagers.

“As the members of the Hindu community, we are always branded as a vote bank of a particular party. It is not a proper way to judge us. Such labeling as vote bank infuriates the supporters of BNP-Jamaat and we become their target,” said Anindya.   

Rumi Ghosh, a trader in the city, said she would not travel to her in-law's home in Bathuapara of Anwara upazila to cast vote for fear of violence.

Nitai Prasad Das, general secretary of district unit of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha Christian Oikya Parishad, said the overall law and order situation in Chattogram was much better, but some areas in Banshkhali, Satkania and Sitakunda were still vulnerable to violence.

The Oikya Parishad during separate meetings with police, Rapid Action Battalion and intelligence agencies has expressed concern over the recent violence in those areas, he added.

“They ensured us of maintaining law and order through deployment of strike forces in those areas,” he added.

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