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Thousands gather across Assam’s Barak Valley to protest against communal violence in Bangladesh

Approximately 6,000 people turned up for the rallies which were organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to call for the “protection, safety, and security of the persecuted Hindus of Bangladesh”.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: October 18, 2021 10:33:28 pm
AssamPeople protest against the communal violence in Bangladesh (Express photo)

Thousands gathered in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi — the three districts of Assam’s Bengali-dominated Barak Valley — on Monday to protest the communal violence reported in Bangladesh during Durga Puja celebrations.

The rallies were organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to call for the “protection, safety, and security of the persecuted Hindus of Bangladesh”.

In all three districts, police deployed additional security personnel and were on alert to prevent any untoward incident. “It passed off peacefully,” a senior police official said on Monday night.

Part of the Barak Valley was carved out of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) during the Partition. A large chunk of the valley’s population comprises Hindus who migrated to India to escape religious persecution, and their social ties across the border remain strong even today.

The Barak Valley is the only part of Assam where the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), that seeks to provide citizenship to religious minorities, enjoys strong support.

Through the respective deputy commissioners, the protestors on Monday submitted a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have requested the PM to take the matter up diplomatically with the Bangladesh government. This is not the first time that incidents of this nature are happening. It seems to be a targeted, pre-planned attack on the Hindu minorities there,” said Santanu Naik of the VHP.

“Bangladesh had taken India’s help when they needed it. The country was formed with India’s help, now they have forgotten everything,” he added.

In Cachar district, a large bike rally was held in Silchar town, as well as in other parts of the district. “It passed off peacefully. But the protests were emotionally charged and so we kept a strict vigil,” said a senior police official from the district.

Assam A bike rally held to protest against the incidents of violence in Bangladesh (Express photo)

On Sunday night, the Cachar district administration held a meeting with the organisers and appealed to people to “ensure peace and harmony.”

The valley has an equal number of Hindus and Muslims and has witnessed episodes of communal tension in the past.

In Hailakandi district, about two thousand gathered to protest against the violence in Bangaldesh, said SP Gaurav Upadhyay. “We had warned the protestors that they while they were allowed to sloganeer, they should not say anything that may the hurt religious sentiments of any community,” he said.

In Karimganj, which shares a riverine border with Bangladesh, nearly three thousand protestors had gathered. As per reports, some protesters attempted to jump into the Kushiara river to “cross over” to the neighbouring country to “save the Hindus”. But they were stopped by the security personnel stationed there.

“Obviously there was no plan to do such a thing and it is not realistically possible either. But some people, who were emotional, tried to do it in the spurt of the moment,” said senior BJP leader Ranjan Das from Karimganj. “The protest was held to send a strong message to Bangladesh. We are going to observe what the government does in the following days and if we are not satisfied with their action, we will block the two trade entry points in Karimganj in protest,” he added.

Apart from VHP, other organisations such as the Hindu Jagran Manch, Bharat Sevasram Sangha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh also took part in the protests.

 

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