We are unnerved by the news from Satkhira where six idols of a Hindu temple have been desecrated by miscreants only hours before the start of the Durga Puja. Police high ups have visited the spot assuring that the incident will be investigated. Additional police will be apparently deployed to avert any further untoward incident.
While we hope this is a stray act of vandalism that will be duly punished after the perpetrators have been caught, it is expected that the government will take extra precaution in the coming days of this festival, the biggest one for the Hindu community. This is all the more important at a time when there have been reports of extremist elements trying to destabilise the country.
We cannot emphasise enough the need to reassure all minority groups that their right to practice their religion will be protected and upheld. The government on various occasions has in fact publicly announced such assurances and has also taken steps to beef up security at vulnerable spots. But the recent attack on a pastor as well as past incidents of vandalism in temples and other religious sites is proof that more needs to be done in terms of ensuring safety of religious minorities. The most important step would be to find the culprits behind these attacks – past and present - and bring them to book. The security forces have to be extra vigilant during such religious festivals.
In addition, there must be a spontaneous mass awareness regarding the need to maintain religious harmony. Here the media – print and electronic – must work wholeheartedly to promote religious tolerance and a complete rejection of bigotry.