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Bangladesh communal violence: Human Rights Watch asks for protection of Hindus, but calls for law enforcement to act with 'caution & restraint'

09:44 AM Oct 22, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

New York: In the wake of the surge in communal violence in Bangladesh, the international group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the country's authorities to protect Hindus, but also added that the law enforcement should act "with caution and restraint".

"The authorities need to be de-escalating violence, not shooting live ammunition into a crowd," HRW's Asia Director Brad Adams said in a statement issued by the group here. "Bangladesh authorities are dealing with an extremely stressful situation that could easily escalate into even more bloodshed, unless law enforcement acts with caution and restraint," he added.

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HRW's statement did not identify or directly condemn the ones engaging in attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, but instead turned to India and said that Bangla Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has "called on Narendra Modi's government to quell communal violence in India, where the ruling party has fueled violence targeting the minority Muslim community".

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However, the statement of HRW did acknowledged that "Hindus, who make up about 10 per cent of Bangladesh's Muslim-majority population, have repeatedly come under attack".

"Since the first attacks, mobs have torched dozens of Hindu homes and vandalized temples and statues throughout the country."

It quoted a Bangladeshi human rights group, Ain o Salish Kendra, as reporting that "at least 3,679 attacks on the Hindu community since January 2013, including vandalism, arson, and targeted violence" have taken place.

Adams said that the Bangla Prime Minister "is facing a critical moment to show in words and action that she is serious about her party's commitments to democracy and human rights" and "her calls for an end to the violence should lead to transparent investigations and real legal protections for the Hindu community in Bangladesh".

The statement further added that "authorities have reportedly filed at least 71 cases in connection with the violence and arrested 450 people" and added that Hasina "has promised strong action, declairing 'Nobody will be spared. It doesn't matter which religion they belong to'".

Supporting up its call for restraint by law enforcement, HRW said: "The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials states that security forces must 'apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms,' and that 'whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall: (a) Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved; (b) Minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life'."

Meanwhile, protesters and academicians across Bangladesh earlier this week demanded that the government should enact a new law to ensure religious freedom for everyone and condemned the mob attacks on the Hindu community and vandalisation of idols and temples during Durga Puja celebrations.

Attacks on Hindus and their temples have intensified in Bangladesh since last Wednesday after an alleged blasphemous post surfaced on social media during the Durga Puja celebrations. On late Sunday night, a mob damaged 66 houses and set on fire at least 20 homes of Hindus in Bangladesh

With IANS and PTI Inputs

Also Read: Bangladesh Communal Violence: Protesters demand law to protect minorities as they condemn attacks against Hindus

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