Migration fears as Bangla zealots go after Hindus

Hindus and other minorities from Bangladesh, migrating to India to escape religious persecution

NEW DELHI (TIP): After reciting all his morning shlokas and mantras, 70-year-old Ananda Gopal Ganguly , bowed before the multi-armed, lion-mounting Goddess Durga, walked out of the temple, climbed his bicycle and pedalled slowly through the paddy fields. The incense and the oil lamps might have been still burning in the sanctum sanctorum when three bikers blitz through, hit him with sharp-edged weapons and slit his throat, leaving his head barely hinged on the neck.

Ganguly was hacked to death in a small village in southwestern Bangladesh on June 7. Two days later, another Hindu religious worker Nityananda Panday (60) was killed in almost the same manner early morning in front of a mental hospital.

Bangladesh is caught in a spiral of violence targeted at religious minorities, following a spate of systemic attacks on atheist bloggers, secular activists and intellectuals that began last year. The priest’s beheadings, however, has triggered fresh fear psychosis and whisper talk about the arrival of the Islamic State (ISIS) and migration plans among the already dwindling Hindu minority in Bangladesh.

“I don’t know whether it is ISIS or some other group decapitating Hindus but it is quite clear that this persecution is not the same as earlier. It is a new phenomenon,” Kajal Debnath who heads Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist, Christian Unity Council (HBCUC) told TOI from Dhaka. “Earlier, they would rape Hindu girls or torch our temples and houses, forcing Hindus to abandon their properties and migrate to India. It was mostly about grabbing Hindu land and property. But now they are slaughtering ordinary landless poor Hindus with no social or economic standing and the message is entirely different,” he adds. A fresh wave of migration of Hindus out of Bangladesh, he fears, will start quietly.

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