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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Hindus in Bangladesh

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Date(s) Item
Oct 1990 The government imposed an indefinite curfew on older sections of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, amid mounting tension over the storming of the Babri Masjid (mosque) by Hindus in Ayodhya, India. The curfew was ordered after an attempt by protesters to set fire to Hindu temples in old sections of Dhaka. Police foiled the attempts, but the demonstrators seized cameras of newsmen outside the temple. Maulana F. H. Amini, the head of the fundamentalist party, Khelafat Andolan, protested a recent attack by Hindus on the Babri Mosque in India, but warned that any harm to Hindus in Bangladesh or damage to their property is not permissible under Islam (UPI, 10/31/90).
Feb 1991 The US Dept. of State Dispatch, 1990 Human Rights Report states that: A number of Hindu shops, temples, and homes in Chittagong, Dhaka, and other cities were attacked in October following an assault by Hindus on the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. There were no confirmed deaths of Hindus in Bangladesh as the result of the rioting, although two or three Muslim looters were shot by police. As in 1989, there were reports of harassment, beatings, robbery, vandalism, and encroachment on property directed against non-Muslims.
Dec 1992 Muslims attacked and burnt down Hindu temples and shops across Bangladesh and disrupted an India-Bangladesh cricket match following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in India by Hindu fundamentalists. About 5,000 young men with rods and bamboo sticks tried to storm Dhaka National Stadium, but they were beaten back by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. At least 10 people have died, many Hindu women have been raped, and hundreds of Hindu homes and temples have been destroyed.
Oct 1993 Hindus in Bangladesh have decided to curtail this year's Durga Puja (Hindu religious festival) celebrations beginning on the 21st in view of the "atrocities" committed against them following the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, All-India Radio reported (0245 gmt, 16 Oct. 1993). The Hindus have demanded that damaged and destroyed temples be repaired and that an inquiry be held into the attack on a Hindu religious procession in Dhaka in August.
Nov 1993 Several thousand Muslim radicals marched through the streets of Dhaka to demand the arrest and execution of Taslima Nasrin, a female Muslim author critical of male chauvinism and Islamic fundamentalism. Nasrin, 31, has received death threats for her novel "Lajja" (Shame), which condemns Muslim mobs that attacked Hindus in Bangladesh to avenge the destruction of the Babri Masjid in India. The government banned Lajja last July, six months after it was published. The campaign against Nasrin gained momentum last month after a little known group called the Council of the Soldiers of Islam placed a 50,000 taka price ($1,250) on her head at a public meeting in the conservative north-eastern district of Sylhet. The group claimed that Nasrin's books decried the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad, causing offence to the country's majority Muslim population.
Feb 1994 A 15th century temple housing a priceless record of Hindu history attracts thousands of devotees every year to remote Dinajpur, a town in the northernmost corner of Bangladesh. According to government archeology department records, it was built in 1452 by a Hindu Raja (King), who hired architects and artisans from the Mughal court in Delhi to build the temple. Every autumn, after the rainy season is over, nearly 100,000 Hindus and people from other faiths camp near the temple for a 3-week annual fair. Many also come from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Jun 1994 The federal government has ordered the arrest of Taslima Nasrin, a feminist writer whose novel, Lajja (Shame), led to a fatwa (death threat) being issued against her by Islamicists. 3000 orthodox Muslims marched in the streets of Dhaka on June 3 to protest against her allegedly "anti-Islamic" remarks (Reuters, 06/04/94).
Aug 1994 Taslima Nasrin, the feminist Bangladeshi writer, has arrived in Sweden. She is in Sweden for a writer’s conference and has gone into hiding following death threats by orthodox Muslims. Nasrin's book, Lajja, describes how Hindu homes and temples were destroyed and Hindu women were raped following the 1992 destruction of the Ayodhya mosque in India (Reuters, 08/10/94).
Mar 1995 The US State Department's 1994 Report on Bangladesh's Human Rights Practices indicates that there were no major intercommunal incidents in 1994. However, the report states that the Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist minorities are still disadvantaged in terms of access to government jobs and political office. Further, Islamic extremists were reported to have violently attacked women, religious minorities, journalists, writers, and development workers (03/95).
Jun 1995 The leader of Bangladesh's opposition, Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League, says the religious rights of minorities in Bangladesh have been affected by constitutional changes. These changes led to the removal of secularism as a state principle in 1977 and the institution of Islam as the state religion in 1988. Prem Ranjan Dev, the leader of the Hindu community, called for the repeal of these amendments and for the government to rebuild Hindu temples that were destroyed in 1971 and 1993 (in the aftermath of the Ayodhya incident) (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/09/95).
Jul 1995 The World Hindu Conference calls on the United Nations to investigate threats against the fundamental rights of Hindus residing in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Kashmir (Reuters, 07/11/95).
Sep 1995 Prime Minister Khaleda Zia donates US $75,000 from the government’s welfare fund to a local trust for expanding Hindu temples and other facilities (Xinhua News Agency, 09/21/95).
Nov 1995 A recent study by a Roman Catholic relief organization, Misereor, says that while there is no major discrimination against religious minorities in Bangladesh, some discrimination is present in certain regions and there appears to be an increase in support for Islamic extremists (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 11/09/95).
Jan 1996 The police storm dormitories reserved for Hindu and non-Muslim students at Dhaka University. Some 300 people are wounded and 95 arrested (United Press International, 02/04/96).
Mar 1996 The ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) steps down amid protracted shutdowns and violent protests that have left 130 dead and thousands injured. A caretaker government will preside until federal elections are held in June (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/25/96). The US State Department's 1995 Report on Bangladesh's Human Rights Practices indicates that property ownership by Hindus remains a contentious issue. In the early years following Bangladesh’s independence, many Hindus lost their land due to discriminatory legislation, which is still in place (03/96).
Jun 1996 Hindu leaders call for the reservation of parliamentary seats for religious minorities (Reuters, 06/14/96). The Awami League wins this month’s federal elections. Sheikh Hasina becomes Prime Minister. She is the daughter of Mujibur Rahman, the country’s first leader. Hindus have generally supported the Awami League. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) charges that the Awami League has a pro-India stance (Reuters, 06/14/96). The US-based National Democratic Initiative reports that Hindus in some areas of Bangladesh, including the Chittagong Hills, were intimidated and stopped from voting in the elections (Ibid.).
Aug 1997 Supporters of the opposition BNP, engaging in a nationwide strike, attack a Hindu religious procession in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region. No injuries are reported (Agence France Presse, 08/25/97).
Feb 1998 The leader of India’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party says that Pakistan and Bangladesh should reunite with India. Pakistan dismisses the suggestion as wishful thinking, contending that it reveals India’s hegemonistic ambitions (Agence France Presse, 02/09-11/98).
Mar 1998 Following elections in February, the Bharatiya Janata Party forms a new government in India. Later this month, the major opposition party in Bangladesh, the BNP, calls for a boycott of Indian goods. The BNP accuses the ruling Awami League of being pro-India (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/29/98).
Jan 1999 Police are deployed in the western town of Kushtia after Islamic militants threaten to attack Hindu temples in retaliation for an alleged dishonor to the Koran. On their invitations to a local religious festival, the Hindu community had included a Koranic verse below a picture of a Hindu goddess. The youth front of the Islamic party, the Jamaat-i-Islami says this is blasphemy. Local Hindu leaders issue an apology (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/15/99).
Mar 1999 Hindu women in Bangladesh are reported to suffer greater gender discrimination than Muslim women due to existing legislation that governs the religious community. Hindu women do not have any legal rights to inherit property and as no formal registration of Hindu marriages is required, Hindu women do not have the legal right to divorce. Under the country’s Muslim laws, Muslim women are allowed to divorce under compelling circumstances. While the government is in favor of amendments to the marriage and inheritance laws governing Hindus, it wants the impetus to come from the Hindu community as the government does not want to offend any religious sentiments (Inter Press Service, 03/01/99).
Jan 2, 2004 Thirty persons were injured, five of them seriously, when a group of armed men, led by a local BNP leader, allegedly set afire 20 houses belonging to minority Hindus in Natore district of Bangladesh yesterday (BBC Monitoring South Asia -- Political. 1/2/2004. "Thirty injured, 20 Hindu houses burnt in Bangladesh").
May 19, 2004 US Congressman Frank Pallone spoke out against the persecution of Hindu minorities in Bangladesh and warned the Bengali government, namely the BNP, not to actively undermine the harmony of the region (The Press Trust of India. 5/19/2004. "Pallone asks Bangladesh to stop persecution of minorities).
Oct 16, 2005 Hindu places of worship came under attack by suspected militant Muslim youths in northern Bangladesh. Additionally, five people were injured in an attack Saturday on a Hindu temple in the farming town of Peergacha. (Indo-Asian News Service. 10/16/2005. "Panic after temple, church attacks in Bangladesh")
Jun 8, 2006 Two people were chopped to death and four others seriously injured in an attack by Bengali miscreants at Sakokati village in Gournadi upazila, a local Hindu community. (United News of Bangladesh. 06/08/2006. "Two chopped to death, four injured in attack in Barisal")
Oct 4, 2006 At least 20 Hindus were injured in an attack by Bengali miscreants at Purbapara Kalibari Puja Mandap in Devidwar upazila Monday night. The group attacked on the mandap, damaged valuables, looted gold ornaments from women and beat up people indiscriminately leaving 20 injured (United News of Bangladesh. 10/04/2006. "20 injured in attack at a puja mandap in Comilla.")
Dec 20, 2006 BNP Chairwoman Khaleda Zia issued a statement that Hindus should break with the perception that the Awami League promotes their interests. Instead, they should focus their support on the BNP, which recognizes all Bengalis under one Bangladesh. (Indo-Asian News Service. 12/21/2006. "Zia asks Hindus not to be 'tied' to Awami League.")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010