New Delhi: The recent vandalisation of 14 Hindu temples in northwestern Bangladesh has triggered concern and outrage in the country. The vandalism took place overnight, between Saturday and Sunday.
“I have a temple in front of my house. Like every other day, I woke up early in the morning today [Sunday] and went to the temple for prayers. But I found that the idol of goddess Laxmi was vandalised,” Dulal Chandra Singha, a resident of Shindurpindi, told The Daily Star.
“The criminals were very quiet because we did not hear anything,” he continued.
“Unidentified people carried out the attacks under the cover of darkness, vandalising idols in 14 temples in three unions (lowest local government tier),” said Bidyanath Barman, a Hindu community leader at Baliadangi upazila (sub-district) in Thakurgaon, told PTI.
Local leaders said that the region has been peaceful in the past and they do no know who may have indulged in this vandalism now. “It clearly appears to be a case of an orchestrated attack to disrupt the peaceful situation of the country,” Thakurgaon’s police chief Jahangir Hossain told reporters at one of the temple sites.
The police is investigating the incident and has promised stern action once the culprits are caught.
In an editorial, the Dhaka Tribune referred to the attack as a “terrible shame”. “Our nation was built upon the values of equality and secularism – that much is undeniable. And it is alarming and disappointing to see the rate at which these values seem to be disappearing in certain sections of our society,” the editorial notes.
“Cases of communal violence, whose frequency is far more significant than what is often said or believed, should be treated with much more urgency than we have seen in the past,” it continues.
The Daily Star too condemned the vandalism, and said that the country needed to look into why such attacks were continuing:
“While we condemn these acts in the strongest terms, we would also want to know what might have triggered the criminals to vandalise the idols. Did they want to create an atmosphere of fear among the Hindu community of Thakurgaon? Or did the criminals simply hold the misguided notion that by desecrating sacred symbols of other religions, they are actually showing love for their own? Whatever might have been their twisted reason, we must send them a strong and clear message that every person in the country has the right to practice their own religion, and that this right is guaranteed by our constitution. We must also remind them that desecrating others’ religions totally goes against the ideals of our Liberation War as well as our long-held social values.”