We vehemently condemn the attack on a Hindu temple and the murder of a priest, that too on a day which, for Bangladeshis, symbolises plurality, tolerance and secularism. As per our reports, unnamed miscreants attacked a Hindu temple in Debiganj upazila of Panchagarh at 6.30 am yesterday. They stabbed the 50-year-old priest to death and fired several gun shots and exploded crude bombs while fleeing the spot, leaving a devotee critically injured.
We strongly feel that the attack – the third of its kind on a minority religious leader in the last five months – cannot be brushed aside as an isolated incident but should be looked at from the broader perspective of escalating extremism and intolerance in the country. Last year, we witnessed attacks perpetrated against the minority community, including the blasts in the historic Kantaji Temple in Kaharol upazila in December, attack on a Shia mosque in Shibganj upazila in November, and bomb explosions at Hossaini Dalan at Dhaka in October. These incidents, in addition to the attacks on foreign nationals and freethinkers, have led to a regrettable scenario in which we -- in particular our minority communities -- feel increasingly vulnerable.
We have consistently called upon the government to address this looming threat to our inclusive, syncretic and secular fabric, and to arrest the perpetrators and masterminds of such violence. We would like to know what, if any, progress has been made on the previous investigations, and remind the authorities of the urgency with which these perpetrators ought to be apprehended. Unless we can tackle this menace of extremism head-on, we risk losing the ideals which form our national identity.