For the last few days, the people of Bangladesh have witnessed religious terrorism perpetrated by agents of jihadist madness and bigotry. Vested interest groups are making frantic bids in cashing these notorieties in fulfilling their evil agenda. Social media platforms are filled with pre-planned propaganda, false information and even instigative contents, which are spread by darlings of evils with the clear agenda of misleading 180 million people in Bangladesh and the international community. We also are seeing nasty actions of some religious bigots in the neighbouring nation who are openly maligning the sovereignty of Bangladesh with the target to gain political benefit.
The latest incident of religious terror took place in the Rangpur district on October 17, where several Hindu houses were set on fire by miscreants. But the government and the state machinery have promptly acted in identifying the culprits. According to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, those involved in the Rangpur incident were identified immediately, and the law enforcement agencies arrested 45 suspects.
Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, a veteran freedom fighter, said the government would soon rebuild Victims houses that were burned and adding, "This is an unfortunate incident that took place at Pirganj in Rangpur and those who set fire are miscreants." He said the incident sparked over a post on Facebook about 'Kaaba Sharif' (Muslim holy mosque in Mecca) by a teenager. "The [Facebook] status was given either intentionally or reluctantly, but everyone suffered in such incidents. Our police administration raided the place where the boy was staying, but the boy was not found," Kamal said.
Over 90 houses were set on fire, looted and vandalized by miscreants.
Ruling Awami League's general secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader alleged that Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is fueling to stage communal riots throughout the country. Referring to the arson attack in Rangpur, Quader said, "The incident is an example of communal violence." He said there was no single attack on the puja mandaps in the last twelve years during the Durga puja festival. "But the communal forces backed by BNP carried out mayhem this year across the country in a planned way," he added. Earlier, Obaidul Quader said, BNP is the 'number one' patron of communal evil forces.
Noting that the defeated forces of 1971 had carried out the 1975 carnage, after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the poisonous tree of communal evil forces has spread its root deep into the soil. Though it seems the evil forces are inactive, they are very much active behind the scene he mentioned.
Generally, the people of Bangladesh are against religious terror and radical Islam, as the people are more attracted to the spirits of Sufism. But unfortunately, especially following August 15, 1975, Bangladesh has been witnessing the alarming rise of radical Islam and religious terror under the patronization of General Ziaur Rahman and his party, BNP. Later, Jamaat-e-Islami became a prime collaborator of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, while General Hussain Muhammad Ershad's Jatiya Party has also been promoting Islamist bigotry and religious hatred. But the situation turned worse when BNP helped jihadist outfit Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) and later pro-Caliphate Hefazat-e-Islam in spreading their evil actions in the country.
BNP upholds the ideology of supporting Afghan Taliban, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, Iranian proxies and radical Islamic terrorist groups within Jammu and Kashmir in India. Most of its supporters are unwilling to oppose jihadist outfits such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State. BNP, Jamaat, and Hefazat also are committed supporters of Uighur militants in China's Xinjiang province.
Although BNP is looking for Western nations' support, especially the United States and Britain, the party is traditionally anti-West. It only follows the policies of the Pakistani establishment and is dictated by Pakistan's notorious spy agency–Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). For this reason, BNP violently upholds the anti-India notion and supports every separatist and terrorist groups inside India, including the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
Islam is no longer Bangladesh's state religion.
Awami League government has decided to revert to its 1972 Constitution offered by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Bangladesh state minister for Information, Murad Hassan, said that an amendment will soon be tabled in Parliament and will probably be passed with no opposition.
After the proposed amendment, Islam will no longer be the state religion of the Muslim majority country.
A Constitutional amendment made Islam the state religion during the reign of General HM Ershad in the late 1980s. The ruling Bangladesh Awami League enjoys an absolute majority in Parliament. Therefore, passing a fresh amendment may not be difficult.
While the ruling party has decided to revert to its 1972 Constitution, which upholds the spirit of secularism and ensures interfaith harmony, in my opinion, the government also needs to take initiatives in banning religion-based politics and political activities within the madrasas in the country. At the same time, the government needs to bring Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) activities under the radar, as this organization is accused of being used as one of the prime vessels of spreading radical Islam and jihadism. For the sake of checking the rise and spread of jihadism and radical Islam, Bangladesh should at least impose a temporary ban on the activities of Tablighi Jamaat, at least for the next five years. The Indian government should also take a similar initiative, as TJ continues its global activities through its headquarters in New Delhi.
(The writer is a multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz)