Amid recent attacks on Hindus in different parts of the country, the government has urged all to uphold the spirit of tolerance, inclusivity, peace and pluralism and stay alert to further attempts to malign the state institutions and tarnish the country’s image.
“The government remains committed to preventing the recurrence of such untoward incidents and would expect that further complication or misunderstanding would be averted through responsible and fact-based reporting by all media platforms,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Tuesday.
The government expressed its concern that certain vested quarters are carrying out such pre-meditated attacks to gain some dubious political mileage. “It’s regrettable that the local elements that opposed Bangladesh’s independence 50 year ago are still propagating their toxic narratives to instigate violence, hatred and bigotry,” reads the statement.
They are trying to undermine Bangladesh’s secular, non-communal and pluralistic credentials in the international context by deliberately targeting one of the biggest religious festivals of the country, it said.
The government has appreciated the Hindu community for concluding the festivities in a befitting spirit and also welcomed the overwhelming show of solidarity by people in general. When the people of Bangladesh were celebrating Durga Puja in a joyous mood, there emerged reports of attacks on Hindu religious sites and idols in different parts of the country, the MoFA said.
The government unequivocally condemned those incidents and took serious note of the reactions from within and outside the Hindu community.
As an immediate measure, members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were deployed in 22 districts in aid of the civilian administration, said the statement.
She urged all concerned to exercise restraint under any provocation and refrain from spreading or acting on unfounded rumours. She called upon all to maintain communal harmony at any cost.
Senior government leaders have visited a number of affected sites and assured the Hindu community members of adequate protection and compensation for the damages incurred.
The statement said some 71 cases have been filed in connection with these incidents. The alleged mastermind behind the attacks in Cumilla has already been arrested.
In this context, the government would like to reiterate that communal harmony and peaceful co-existence are cornerstones of the democratic polity. For centuries, people from different faiths, ethnicities and religions have been living in this land in peace and harmony.
“Our long-standing commitment to tolerance and inclusion is safeguarded by constitutional provisions,” the MoFA said, adding: “While the supreme law of the land guarantees protection of all its citizens from any kind of discrimination and intolerance, the democratic governance of the country ensures enjoyment of fundamental rights of its citizens irrespective of their religions, beliefs and ethnicity.”
“The government of Bangladesh strongly upholds that every religious community has the right to establish, maintain and manage its own religious institutions and to perform religious rituals,” reads the statement.
It said the government, under the guidance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has set an example by advocating the motto of “Each unto his or her religion, festivals are for all”.
Bangladesh is perhaps the only country where the major religious festivals of all religions are observed as public holidays.
The government has also been supporting different religious groups by setting up special trust funds for their well-being.
This year, on the occasion of Durga Puja, the Prime Minister donated Tk 30 million to the Hindu Kalyan Trust for the smooth observance of the festival, said the statement.