Thu, 01 December 2022
The Daily Ittefaq

As Durga Puja ends on high note, Bangladesh's Hindus thank PM Sheikh Hasina

Update : 11 Oct 2022, 15:11

After last year's violence during Durga Puja, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina took major steps to ensure that Hindus get to celebrate the festival safely this year, reports India Today.

The immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga in rivers and lakes across Bangladesh last week brought about an end to the biggest festival for the countrys 160 million Hindus, thanks to additional security measures. The extra layers of security were put in place in the wake of last year's violence that marred the festivities and sent ripples among the community.

Security was specifically boosted in Cumilla where communal violence broke out last year during Durga Puja. However, this year's media reports highlighted the return of the fanfare and festivity among Hindus. As many as 794 Puja mandaps were set up in the district this year, according to Bangladesh's leading news wire service UNB.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the countrys longest-serving Prime Minister and president of the countrys secular party Awami League, ensured that no untoward incident occurred during the festival and assured the community leaders of her unequivocal support to prevent violence this year.

On the eve of Durga Puja, Sheikh Hasina extended her greetings to the Hindu community. In her message, on October 1 (Mahashasthi), Sheikh Hasina said that Durga Puja is not a festival of just the Hindus. It is now a universal festival. All Bangladeshis celebrate every religious festival together and believe in the mantra Religion is for individuals, festivals are for all.

Just ahead of the commencement of Durga Puja. Law enforcers were seen meeting leaders of the Hindu community. CCTV cameras were maintained at almost every temple. The presence of Bangladesh Ansar members and the frequent patrolling of police played a big role in preventing violence. Bangladesh Ansar is a paramilitary force that takes care of the internal security and law enforcement in the country.

Despite the risk of attacks by radical forces, Durga Puja was celebrated at a record 32,168 mandaps across the country this year, including 241 in the capital. In an interview with UNB, Superintendent of Cumilla Police Md Abdul Mannan warned people against spreading rumours.

 

Anti-liberation forces can use religion to take political advantage. So, we must be careful about them and face them unitedly, he said.

On top of that, days ahead of Puja, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Shafiqul Islam also cautioned people against extremists. Around 50 people suspected of being involved with extremist outfits have gone missing over the last month, increasing the risk of attacks during Durga Puja. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been working to trace them and their training hideouts, Shafiqul was quoted as saying by the country's media.

Another key move to help the Hindus safely celebrate the occasion in harmony was how Awami League leaders and activists were asked to stand guard at temples. Dhormo jaar jaar, uthsob shobar (festival is universal irrespective of religion), a slogan promoted among the public and on social media by Hasina's Awami League, has been one of the key elements that motivated people to keep violence at bay.

HINDUS EXTEND GRATITUDE TOWARDS SHEIKH HASINA

Right after the Durga Puja festivities ended on a high note, members of the Bangladeshi Hindu community extended their gratitude to PM Sheikh Hasina for her active role in ensuring safe celebrations.

Minorities have always been a soft target for parties like BNP and its all-weather ally Jamaat-e-Islami. Under the rule of the countrys first military dictator and founder of the BNP Gen Ziaur Rahman and later under another military ruler, HM Ershad the country saw secularism take a backseat and the installation of Islam as the state religion through Constitutional amendments.

The last BNP-Jamaat regime between 2001 and 2006 saw unprecedented attacks on minorities, that involved rape, land grabbing, and burning people alive as the alliance deemed Hindus pro-Awami League, according to media reports.

The Bangladesh Puja Celebration Parishad thanked the Prime Minister for the peaceful completion of Durga Puja this year. The organisation's president JL Bhowmik and general secretary Chandranath Poddar thanked the Prime Minister. Without her support, such peaceful completion of the Durga Puja wouldn't have been possible, he said.

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