Bangladesh has proved it time and time again. The state’s economy, health, and development crises can also be overcome. But if you lose the custom and values, can you turn around again? If Bangladesh deviates from the custom and values, then our independence will be meaningless. We will lose and defeat. Are we also burning in the intense flames of communalism? Is Bangladesh losing?
‘Bangladesh’ was founded with one of its basic goals and ideals being ‘secularism’ and ‘secularism’. But does Bangladesh have its right goal? Or is Bangladesh losing by deviating from the values? Father of the Nation Bangabandhu is the visionary and architect of Bangladesh. Throughout his life, he was vocal against bigotry and fundamentalism. What kind of Bangladesh Bangabandhu wanted is found in his speech. In his speech in the National Parliament on 12 October 1972 on the draft constitution, Bangabandhu said: ‘Bangladesh will be an ideal state and one of its main pillars of principles will be secularism. Secularism does not mean irreligion. The Hindu will practice his religion; Muslims will practice his religion; Christian, Buddhist-whoever practices their religion. No one can interfere in anyone’s religion; the people of Bengal do not want to interfere in religion. Religion cannot be used for political purposes. Religion will not be allowed to be used in Bengal for political purposes. If anyone uses it, I believe that the people of Bengal will retaliate against him. ‘
In the Parliament on November 4, 1972, he again said: “Mr. Speaker, secularism does not mean irreligion. Seven and a half crore people of Bengal will have the right to perform religious duties. We do not want to stop religion by law and we will not. For 25 years we have seen exploitation in the name of religion, dishonesty in the name of religion, murder in the name of religion, adultery in the name of religion – this has been going on in the land of Bangladesh. Religion is a very sacred thing. Holy religion should not be used as a political tool. If anyone says that religious rights have been curtailed, I would say, religious rights have not been curtailed. We have made arrangements to protect the religious rights of seven and a half crore people. (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the National Parliament of Bangladesh, p. 46)
A state will respect the human rights of an individual or a group and will not interfere in the enjoyment of their human rights. Second, protect individuals or groups from human rights violations; After all, the state must always strive to meet the positive needs of an individual or group to enjoy human rights. Article 26 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights urges adherence to the practice. In general, a state is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of every person in the state, regardless of religious majority or minority. But the state will provide special protection to the religious rights and intolerance of minorities. The discussion of special protection is referred to in Articles 26 (4) and 29 (3) of the Constitution of Bangladesh. The state or government will encourage the state to take necessary measures for the protection of minorities.
The current scenario in Bangladesh is different. After an incident in Cumilla, communal violence against Bangladesh’s religious minority Hindu community has been going on for the past few weeks. Due to some baseless allegations, torture, vandalism, clashes and violence have taken place among the minorities of Bangladesh during the biggest festival of the Hindu community and people have been killed in the violence. Neither communal violence nor religious intolerance is sanctioned by the constitution of Bangladesh. This conflicts with the constitutional and liberation spirit of Bangladesh.
Those who believe in patriotic and non-sectarian human values, who respect the religion of others as well as others, can no longer support the frenzy of such heinous orthodoxy. Everybody knows how extremists have attacked the homes of religious minorities in different places including Chattogram, Lakshmipur-Noakhali, and Rangpur in the last few days after the attack on the Puja Mandapa in Cumilla. Such terrorism in the name of religion cannot be allowed to grow in any way. To prevent such communal terrorism, law enforcement agencies, including local political activists, social workers, philanthropists, intellectuals, and progressive forces, must be properly prepared and resisted.
Although the case was registered earlier incidents, the perpetrators were not punished and all of them are now out on bail. Newspapers have reported that the minority people affected by the attack have not received justice. According to the law of Bangladesh, hurting religious feelings is a punishable offense under various sections of the law and the Criminal Procedure Code. But the allegations of various incidents of insulting religion are heard at different times, but the trial of perpetrators are also not heard. However, if examples of speedy justice are not created in these cases, people may gradually lose confidence in the judiciary and the state. In that case, the government has to play an adventurous role in this regard.
Bangladesh emerged as an independent state in 1971 after a long and bloody war of liberation for nine months. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians all fought together and made this country independent. Bangladesh’s journey began with a commitment to communal harmony and social justice. Our liberation war was not for a discriminatory society. The Bengali nation did not wage a war of liberation for the spread of the two-nation theory. Religious discrimination, on the one hand, racial discrimination on the other. The liberation war of Bangladesh was based on the desire to be free from discrimination and to establish a democratic state system.
The people of this country have fought, fought for a state that, if born, would ensure equality and social justice for all citizens, that is, equality and social status, and it would be the Bangladesh of the Bengalis, regardless of religion or caste. People of all religions and castes took part in the liberation war under the strong leadership of Bangabandhu. We have attained Bangladesh through the sacrifice of all Bengalis. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, which was adopted on 4 November 1972, was adopted, but the principles of four states were declared. In its vicissitudes, however, it was a reflection of the aspirations of the Bengalis for the liberation war and its previous struggles.
We see a horrific example of post-election violence in the 2001 parliamentary elections, in which post-election minorities were subjected to widespread persecution. Revenge is a major cause of electoral violence at this stage. The persecution of minority women in post-election violence in 2001 was a black chapter in the history of communal violence in Bangladesh.
Many incidents could have been avoided if the government, the administration, the intelligence agencies, and the law enforcement agencies had been a little more active. And in all these cases, if the perpetrators could been brought under the law, the situation would have improved a lot. The onlookers were afraid to do these evil deeds. We have to ensure justice for all the people in the society and build a harmonious society. The minority people of Bangladesh now need to regain their sense of security.
The government should take necessary measures against the communal forces to uphold the non-communal spirit of the great liberation war. The administration and the government need to do more to protect the security and communal harmony of all citizens, and civil society needs to do more. We have to ensure equal rights for all by punishing the perpetrators. The present government said that Bangladesh is trying to develop religious pluralism and protect the rights of minorities. The government is working successfully to combat any kind of violence and discrimination.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned recently, “The government is working relentlessly to maintain communal harmony where people of all faiths can live in peace. The people must be vigilant and aware so that the conspirators do not destroy the inter-religious brotherhood or hinder the progress of the country. We believe in peace and progress. We will ensure the safety of people of all religions in our country. We have also cracked down on those who break the law and attack religious minorities. She directed the Home Minister to complete the investigation and take stern action against those behind the incident of Cumilla and Rangpur as soon as possible.
However, to maintain communal harmony in the country, our family needs to teach non-communalism to children, give real education in educational institutions, discuss communal harmony in textbooks, discuss evil forces in children’s organizations, development of cultural activities, establishment of healthy social politics, progressive and non-communal discussions, raising awareness about non-communal consciousness in the media, building an inclusive society must be emphasized. To maintain communal peace and harmony in the society, besides forcing the state, government, and administration to fulfill its proper responsibilities, the members of the civil society should also be conscious and diligent in fulfilling their duties, only then the non-communal Bangladesh of Bangabandhu’s dream will be materialized.
We have confidence and trust in the various initiatives of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. With her firm steps, Bangladesh will go further as a non-communal country in the spirit of the liberation war. We think Bangladesh will not lose its way and never defeat evil forces as long as in the hands of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Our responsibility is to advance our democratic struggle for equality, social justice, and human rights. Therefore, the administration and the government have to do more to protect the security and harmony of the minorities and all the civil society irrespective of party affiliation has to come forward and build Bangabandhu’s Golden Bengal, which he has dreamed of all his life for which he has struggled and sacrificed his life.