Why Bangladeshi Hindus don’t view India’s CAA as a saviour

Sheikh Hasina government has been proactive in quelling communal tensions; also, no one would want to leave their motherland unless under extreme duress, says Hindu leader

Over the years, representation of Hindus has increased in Bangladesh. Image shows a girl getting dressed as Lord Krishna, in a small shop in Old Dhaka. Pic: iStock

India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will not greatly help Bangladeshi Hindus, a top member of the community has said, noting that nobody wants to leave their homeland and take refuge in another country.

“We do not welcome this special law (CAA) from India. Such laws are not helpful. We do have certain problems like many others but we are from Bangladesh and we will remain here. No one wants to leave his or her motherland and take refuge in a neighbouring country. People leave their roots only in extremely unfortunate circumstances and there is no certainty for their future in such situations,” Monindra Kumar Nath, President, Mohan Nagar Sarbojanin Puja Committee, was quoted as saying by media reports.

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“We will deal with whatever challenges we have by mobilising our community in a coordinated manner within our country,” Nath, who is also the Joint General Secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, told a group of visiting Indian journalists.

Currently in the backburner

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) aims to grant citizenship to persecuted members of the Hindu, Buddhist, Parsi, Christian, Sikh and Jain communities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, the law triggered huge protests from Muslims and civil society across the country. The government is also yet to frame the rules under this Act and has put it on the backburner.

Bangladesh witnessed communal violence targeted at Hindus during Durga Puja last year after the Quran was placed on the lap of an idol. At least two people were reported killed and 150 were injured in the violence which lasted for around six days.

Also read: Sikhs, Hindus coming to India from Afghanistan may run into CAA hurdle

Dhaka taking prudent steps

Nath said the Sheikh Hasina government was proactive in dealing with majoritarian tendencies, though some sporadic incidents of intimidation of the minority Hindu community are reported from time to time.

A strong indication of this, he said, was when the Sheikh Hasina government helped the historic Dhakeshwari temple of Dhaka to regain the property it had lost earlier.

The Muslim-dominated country is also building a Buddhist pilgrimage centre in Lumbini, Nepal, to attract Buddhist tourists from all over the world.

Also read: Is Hasina testing waters for a return to 1972 ‘secular Constitution’? 

Nath also said that over the years, representation of Hindus has increased in Bangladesh. “We have increased representation in the bureaucracy and in the law and order machinery. But we need to have a minority affairs minister and that is what we are campaigning for. That apart, there should also be a minority affairs commission that will ensure rights of the minority groups in the country,” he said.

Sheikh Hasina’s government also has a Ministry of Religious Affairs that looks after the issues involving all mosques, temples, churches, pagodas and gurdwaras in Bangladesh.