- India Today journalists have collected the stories of Hindu Rohingyas
- They claim that there is a culture of murder and forced conversions
Hindu Rohingyas living in Bangladesh relief camps have become a soft target for those looking to enforce religious conversions on those vulnerable and alone, fighting for survival in Cox’s Bazar.
Both Hindu and Muslim Rohingya have taken shelter after fleeing from Myanmar, but with far more Muslims than Hindus seeking refuge, the women from the community – who have already lost their homes and loved ones – are now faced with the real danger of losing their identity, dignity, and way of life.
Hindu Rohingya women are reporting that they are being forced to remove sindoor (a traditional vermilion red powder worn by married women along the parting of their hair) break their bangles, and marry Muslim men, converting religion in the process.
Puja Mullick is among those targeted and she speaks of the trauma she has gone through for almost three weeks. Puja calls herself Rabia now: the change happened this month.
Rabia is a Hindu Rohingya who left Myanmar in hope of a refuge. But circumstances turned her life upside down.
Puja, now Rabia, lost her husband to violence in the last week of August in Myanmar.
She says he was not killed by the army, but by men clad in black with their faces hidden, who were acting in the name of their religion.
Cox’s Bazar: A Rohingya woman carries a child after crossing a stream on a small boat, Bangladesh
Rabia is not alone. Theoman says her husband and entire family were shot in front of her but she was left alive to live as a captive.
‘They took us to the forest and said I would have to read namaz or they would release me… My sindoor was removed and my religious shakha pola bangles broken.
‘I was told I would be allowed to live only if I changed my religion. I was made to wear burqa and stay with them to learn their traditions for almost three weeks.
‘I was made to read namaz… I had to say Allah, but my heart was beating for Bhagwan… My family started searching for me and came to know that I was living in a Muslim camp.’
The red saree is the only one she has now and her three-year-old son has no clothes at all.
Mail Today’s team met many more such women in the Hindu Rohingya camp in Kotupalong area of Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh.
If Puja became Rabia, Rica was being turned into Sadia. Twenty-eight-year-old Rica Dhar adjusted her orange saree to feed her year-old son as she narrated a similar tragic tale.
‘On Friday (August 25) they entered all the Hindu residences and attacked. First the mobile phones were taken away and then men were tied and beaten brutally. My husband worked as a goldsmith.
‘They took away all my jewellery and began beating me. All Hindus were identified and taken to a nearby hill. They were then killed in a row. Only eight women were allowed to stay among them… mostly young and beautiful.
‘They were told ”You will have to turn Muslim and marry us”… We had no option but to surrender and go with them… We were taken to the forest and left without food to weaken us mentally also… Then we were brought to a camp in Bangladesh… Once my Hindu relatives heard about it…they brought me to this place…”
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