The helpless Hindus of Pakistan & Bangladesh

The Helpless Hindus of Pakistan and Bangladesh 

Update: Humanity Assassinated: Ethnic Cleansing of Minorities in Islamic Bangladesh

 The abuse suffered by those who stubbornly cling to their faith in lands conquered by the Religion of Peace. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

hinduofpakistanThe Hindu man to the left was beaten to death by Muslims after a Friday prayer in Bangladesh. Apparently the imam riled the congregants and immediately upon completion of the prayer the worshippers stormed into the street and grabbed the first Hindu they could find, and beat him to death. 

The writing is on the wall, folks: once the soldiers of Allah get the upper hand, there is no mercy or compassion for the conquered dhimmies under Islamic rule. If the jiziyah doesn’t do the trick, the systematic humiliation, exclusion from public life,  constant attacks on their churches or temples, rape or abduction of their daughters,  daily threats  and terror without access to the  courts forces the dhimmies to take flight or “accept Islam.”

But remember: Islam being such a mercy to all humanity would never forcibly convert a kuffar. What were you thinking, you Islamophobe, you?

By JG Arora

It is tragic that though Sanatan Dharma, commonly known as Hinduism, proclaims universal brotherhood and oneness of humanity, and addresses entire humanity as divine children (Shrunvantu vishve amrutasya putraha – Rig Veda: 10-13-1), most of the Hindus have either been killed or converted or driven out from Pakistan and Bangladesh which used to be Hindu lands. And those Hindus who are still left in Pakistan and Bangladesh are being treated with disdain and discrimination; and are being denied even the basic human rights. 

Genocide and persecution 

Only a few centuries ago, Hindu religion and culture used to reverberate from Afghanistan to Indonesia. Indian sub-continent including the present day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and even Zabol in Iran was Hindu land, and had no Muslim presence till Muhammad bin Qasim’s Arab army attacked Sindh in 711. After repeated invasions, Hindus lost the present day Afghanistan to Muslims in 987. And the areas now known as Pakistan and Bangladesh were lost to Muslims in 1947. 

Pakistan comprised of two segments: East Pakistan and West Pakistan. In 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh, a separate country. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have been declared as Islamic republics. 

Hindus have always been threatened and discriminated against in Pakistan and Bangladesh on religious grounds. Though in 1947, Hindus accounted for 24 per cent of the present day Pakistan’s population, now the numbers less than two per cent. Situation is equally grave in Bangladesh where Hindus numbered 31 per cent in 1947, but now number nine per cent. Most of the Hindus / Sikhs have either been driven out, or have been killed or forcibly converted in Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, in India, the present percentage of Muslim population is much higher than that was in 1947. 

Pakistan and Bangladesh have never explained what they have done to their Hindu population. 

Hindus suffer constant threats to their lives, security and property in Pak-Bangla lands. Many Hindu temples have been desecrated and destroyed in Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are regular reports of illegal encroachments on Hindu temples and lands, looting of Hindu property, discrimination, persecution, molestation and abduction of Hindu girls both in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

During 1970 and 1971, Hindus in East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) underwent massive massacres by the Pakistani army and its collaborators. Over two million Hindus are reported to have been killed in East Pakistan during 1970 and 1971 leading to Indo-Pak war in 1971. Besides, countless Hindu women were dishonoured and kidnapped during this period. 

As per Dr. Sabyasachi Ghosh-Dastidar’s book, Empire’s last casualty: Indian subcontinent’s vanishing Hindu and other minorities, over three million Hindus have been killed in the process of Islamisation in the area now known as Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) since India was Partitioned in 1947. This loss of three million lives remain suppressed from the world. 

Even now, Hindus are facing genocide, terror, persecution, dishonour and atrocities in Bangladesh every day. And there is selective killing of Hindu judges, professionals, teachers, lawyers and civil servants in Bangladesh to smash Hindu resistance. 

Human rights organisations like Amnesty International are silent spectators of this blatant ethnic cleansing of millions of Hindus. 

Forcible conversions and marriages 
The alarming trend of Muslims kidnapping young Hindu girls and forcibly marrying them to Muslims is tormenting Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

Though Pak-Bangla media may occasionally report such atrocities, main stream media in India remains silent in this regard. To illustrate the dismal situation, just one such example is given here. It was reported in Pakistan’s premier English daily ‘The Dawn’ dated November 3, 2005 that 19 Hindu girls mostly from Punjab Colony, Karachi were missing from their homes. Relatives of these girls believed that they had been kidnapped and were being forced to change their religion, the press release added. 

Columnist Irfan Husain’s write up entitled “Conversion Losses” published in The Dawn dated December 3, 2005 relates the tragedy of Hindu parents in Karachi whose three young daughters Reena, Usha and Rima of marriageable age vanished in October, 2005. In a few days, the shocked parents received a courier package containing three identical affidavits from their daughters stating that they had converted to Islam and, therefore, could not live with their Hindu parents. And father of the girls just wailed, “We just sit and stare at each other. For us, life is over.” 

And this hopeless situation can be the fate of any Hindu parent in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

Kidnappings and killings 
Even during the last few months, thousands of Hindus have been forced to flee Pakistan, and take shelter in India. 

Increasing incidents of kidnappings, robberies and forcible conversion have rattled Hindu community in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Those unable to pay the ransom are just killed. Hindu film maker Satish Anand’s kidnapping in Karachi and recent release after payment of a huge ransom is just one of such countless examples. 

In April, 2009 Sikhs in Karzai in Pakistan were targeted to pay fifty million rupees as Jazia, the tax levied on non-Muslims. As the victims could not pay the said Jazia, their houses were looted and destroyed. 

Discrimination and dispossession 
Discrimination against Hindus is a fact of life as also a fact of law in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

As per Constitution of Pakistan, only a Muslim can be the President or Prime Minister of Pakistan. As per Bangladeshi Constitution too, only a Muslim can be the head of the state. 

The Vested Property Act was passed in 1965 as “Enemy Property Act” in Pakistan. This law legitimised confiscation of Hindu property. After emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, this Act was renamed as the Vested Property Act in Bangladesh, and the state was made the owner of the Hindus’ property. This Act has legitimised the forfeiture of millions of acres of ancestral Hindu lands. And Hindu lands and properties are being taken over by the government (under the Vested Property Act) to be distributed among Muslims. 

Way out 
In 1950, Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan signed an agreement called the Nehru Liaqat Pact under which both the governments undertook to protect life, liberty, religion and safety of the minorities in each other’s country. 

But the government in India is doing nothing in the ongoing genocide and deprivation of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

It is the Indian government’s legal and moral duty to ensure that as per the Nehru-Liaqat Pact of 1950, and as per the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Pakistan and Bangladesh treat their minorities in a human manner. India must also ask Bangladesh to repeal the Vested Properties Act, and restore the lands and properties of Hindus to Hindus. 

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights must also be approached to redeem the situation. Denial of human rights to Hindus violates UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. 

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, Hindus have only the right to suffer and right to silence. Shockingly, the tragedy of Hindus of Pakistan and Bangladesh remains untold by Indian main stream media. 

India’s callous inaction regarding the pathetic plight of Pak-Bangla Hindus is disgusting. Killing of Hindus in Pakistan, in Bangladesh or even in India is not taken seriously by main stream media, by government or by various political parties or by human rights industry in India. 

Is it because for some sections in India, only the terrorists, anti-nationals and Pak-Bangla infiltrators are entitled to fundamental and human rights? 

Will India ever act to save Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh? 

(The author is the former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax. His E-mail address is:

  • Just yesterday we posted this:

Muslim Terrorists Attack Hindu Temple in Chittagong, Bangladesh

The Hindus were busy preparing for a weekend festival when fifty to sixty Muslim terrorists burst into the temple, brandishing knives and iron bars. They first destroyed the kitchens, devotee accommodation, and Gaura Nitai deities. Then, as the devotees ran into the temple courtyard in a panic, the attackers poured boiling water on them from the balcony, badly burning many.

The terrorists also stole ten to twelve thousand taka (Bangladesh’s monetary unit) from the temple donation box, as well as a further ten thousand from individual residents. Devotees phoned the nearby police station again and again, but to no avail.  More>>






36 thoughts on “The helpless Hindus of Pakistan & Bangladesh”

  1. If Islam is to survive it will have to be purged and the Koran brought up to date. These violent Muslims do not realise that their religion is rotting from within and this evil ideology does not compute in the modern world. Every evil act commited in the name of Mohammad/Allah is just another death rattle of the belief system. This does not mean that the west can sit back and watch this anachronism wither on the vine, no we have to poison the roots at the same time.

  2. Odhikar is a human rights organization in Bangladesh that investigates incidents of violations of human rights including those of ethnic, religious and minorities. We noted your write-up and the photo that a Hindu man was beaten to death by Muslims after a Friday prayer in Bangladesh. We intend to investigate the incident but there was no mention of where the incident took place and when. Kindly provide us at least the date and specific place of the occurrence. We also presume that since you got photographic evidence, you have other details to facilitate an investigation. All investigation reports are publicized nationally and internationally and sent to relevant authorities in Bangladesh for actions. Your cooperation will be appreciated.

  3. Just click on the link under the photo, Odikar. The photo is not new, but this (and worse) is going on wherever the soldiers of Allah have taken the reigns of power.

  4. Odhikar monitors and documents reported incidents of human rights violations. It wanted to investigate this incident, captured on film, as not many incidents are so recorded. If you provide some information such as name of the victims, if available, identity of perpetrators, if available, date and place of occurance. Also the name of the mosque would help our investigators to locate and find more facts. By monitoring, investigationg, documenting and publishing reports on human rights violations, Odhikar, as a human rights organization, does as much as it can, to defend and protect human rights. Odhikar always appreciates any assistance in this regard.

  5. I am from bangladesh.i don’t think that there prevails any discrimination on religious identity.hindus live here in peace and harmony and they are equally loyal to our country.i know that there are less hindus in our army but our govt never openly discourages the hindus to join the army as indian govt did to the muslims in kashmir.i know that some problems occured at the time of 1971 war and during the 2001-2006 govt term but it was done by some radical parties which does not mirror the perception of general bangladeshi in my country a large amount of hindus serve as doctors,engineers,govt officers i like to say that my country is really peaceful one.

  6. note the source – jihadwatch, jihadwatch and jihadwatch. Rather like asking Rudolf Hess his justification for hatred and his handing out Mein Kampf, Mein Kampf and Mein Kampf.

    There are events, like there are all over the world from various communities against others, but if you just highlight one of them it looks like a conspiracy.

    Not to mention if we start showing the other events, such as the Hindus in Orissa killing thousands and forcing the evacuation of Christian villages, if he is unable to argue back, the blog-owner will say – the title of this blog is Winds of Jihad or “I do not care”.

    1. Stick with the substance, not with smears against the ‘source’, solker. Jihad Watch is merely reporting the news as it comes through the tickers of Al Reuters, AP or Al Jizz or Al BeBeeCeera.

      The readers here are becoming increasingly irritated with your idiotic ad hominem attacks and phony smears on those who oppose Mohammedansim and the global jihad.

      I promise you, you are on borrowed time and past your use-by date. If you don’t start making sense you will be gone, no matter how hard you’re bitchin’…..

    2. The Hindus of Orissa, do they have a guidebook for terrorism that tells them all the world belongs to shiva and that they will get 72 virgins (not to forget the 28 pearly boyz) when they blow themselves up among non Hindus?

      Nice try, solker. How much is the Moroccan gov’t paying you for your obfuscation efforts?

  7. * note the source – jihadwatch, jihadwatch and jihadwatch.

    Links, Solkhar.

    Here is one of the sources: AsiaNews
    Dhaka: armed Muslim gangs against Christians, victims of robberies and violence
    by William Gomes
    In Solepur parish violence against the Christian community is up. Muslim gangs persecute Christians in order to force to leave so that they can take their land. Despite reports and complaints, police does nothing. […]

    Isn’t that what allah and his false prophet instruct muslims to do?

    Well, Solkhar? Spin it!

  8. * How much is the Moroccan gov’t paying you for your obfuscation efforts?

    Enough to buy a block of land & build another home, apparently.
    Nice little earner, BS’ing to the Interior Ministry.

  9. Great joke there guys, 22 years of dedicated and patriotic service to the Dutch foreign service and adding to an private fund makes for great asset and pension management. Not to mention 14 of those years paying of three apartments in den Haag that I sold one to buy this one I live in and two for rent to suppliment my meager consulting fees here (I am working part time). In the end, I am going to fully retire on the land I purchased which by law as it is considered agricultural, my wife must own half as foreigners cannot own 100 per cent agricultural land or other resources.

    I make 8000 dirhams on average per month which equates to under 800 dollars US and get 17,000 dirhams (1,800 USD) from the apartments so that should make you understand that I am well off, consdering that the minimum official wage in Morocco is exactly one tenth of my income from Holland 1,700 dirhams or 180 USD, a senior public servant gets 7,500 dirhams or 800 USD.

    I can survive very easily here, my job gives me more than a public servant even though I work only part-time but that is professional fees AND I can stop anytime but I get satisfaction in tracking illegal financing AND EVEN BETTER, in 8 years time I can claim my pension which under current calculations is going to be 15,00 dirhams a month.

    So I will be in one years time if all goes to plan, sitting in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, drinking my mint tea next to a swimming pool and watching my youngest son grow up. I worked for it and I earned it.

    Oh, I inheritted a family home in Rotterdam, bought out my brother’s half and it is not huge but elegant in a nice street (did you see the pics?) and since my cousins are neighbours, I know it is safe and ready for when I drop back home from time to time.

    You see, life is fine and normal, hard work wins and that is all that most people want in life.

  10. [Solkhar] I make 8000 dirhams on average per month which equates to under 800 dollars US …

    Do you get a bonus for dobbing in the saints of Jesus Christ?

  11. no, I got personal satisfaction for identifying a hypocrit who was breaching his status as a diplomat and a decent person.

    I also got a formal thanks and apology from the Ambassador of that Embassy.

  12. “The photo is not new, but this (and worse) is going on wherever the soldiers of Allah have taken the reigns of power.”

    You mean the event is old, the events around it unsure and though a real body/watch-dog has asked for information to support, you in fact cannot because most of what you publish is inuendo and not referenced based facts.


    1. “You mean the event is old, the events around it unsure and though a real body/watch-dog has asked for information to support, you in fact cannot because most of what you publish is inuendo and not referenced based facts.”


      I posted an archive photo that accurately reflects what happens in Mohammedania on a daily basis. The supporting information is accurate, relevant and up to date, that’s why the article was posted in the first place. And if your “real body/watch dog” cannot research it by using the available data then they are just about as competent as Mohammed al Baradei.

  13. I am married to one, I sponser distant cousins of her family through education, there is a man that lives in the basement of our apartment block with his wife and son, they have nothing but self-respect. He cleans shoes, washes cars and sells cigarettes. I insure that any fitr, zakat goes only to him and that he gets maximum work. He does not bet even though his health is not good, he works hard. In February I purchased clothes for him and a new pair of glasses because his broke.

    Do not assume that I do nothing.

  14. Hey Sheik,solky(PBUH) said you are a Failure ( read above),but he can’t move away i minute from your Site.

  15. “I promise you, you are on borrowed time and past your use-by date. If you don’t start making sense you will be gone, no matter how hard you’re bitchin’…..”

    you mean I cannot do what your doing?

  16. I had a major foot operation and so I am mostly at home, I do things but moving is difficult, almost better though and you will not see much. Add to that it was summer and then ramadan so there is not much work to do.

    But your wording is clear, you did say “Shouldn’t you be doing something for them ?” s backtracking does not really work that well, thus you asked, you got it.

    I am rather proud of my life, I worked hard, I invested my money well and I have a responsible job, but can do it part time to enjoy my life more and I think that working hard pays off. Not to mention I am living in the country and the city that I prefer to live in and I am making the most of it.

  17. “you mean I cannot do what your doing?”

    “No you can’t. Its not your blog. Use your own soap box if you must.”

    Thus the confession, you are and can spit BS, make accussations,

    SNIP for stoopid

  18. If you people give a close look on bangladesh you will see that the biggest religious festival of hindus,sarodia durgautsob was observed in bangladesh a few days ago and in this festival rab(rapid action battallian the supreme elite force of our country)provided adequate safety to the hindus.i don’t know which people gives this exaggerated misconceptions to you people that hindus have been harassed in bangladesh.i do have many hindu friends studying with me in notredame college(the best college in bangladesh as the result is concerned)and we study with mutual 1971 we together fought against pakistan and i believe that evem if india attacks our country the hindus will be beside why should the hindus leave there motherland and migrate to india to live in the slums of kolkata.i believe our country to be one of the liberal countries as the freedom of religion is concerned.don’t judge my country simply by reading the reports of jihadwatch.if you want to judge my country come to bangladesh during durga puja and you will the tolerance of bangladeshi people or see the list of names selected for reading in the medical colleges engineering colleges civil service examinations and you will find that hindus are doing better than their the way can you people justify the discrimination prevailing in india or ever gujraat massacre?

  19. you bengali muslim asses.
    if you dont stop we will target your illegal bangladeshi immigrants in india and make life hell for them.

    choose what you want peace or hell.







  21. xxxxx-only way
    islam has to stop
    otherwise indian hindus will stop you,because its high time due to islami people doing series of blast in india even hindu terrorist organization are forming to counter them.
    lets get back what is ours………..

    sword for sword

    i am from land of prithvi raj chauhan and shivaji
    shishri ram arya the,hindu to sab hai paki,india,bangla sam
    lekin so called hindu actually arya hai

  22. i am yet to see any hindu from a muslim majority country get down to writing anything good about their majority muslims partners. i mean its rather sefl congratulatory of the bngladeshi and pakistani muslims to claim that they treat the Hindus very well and that the hindus are doing very well in their country. But then maybe i am not reading too many blogs/sites.
    You know, if you are anywhere in the suburbs of calcutta or the nearby small villages, over time u wld invariably come across someone who fled bangladesh. And i use the word fled because he/she was more or less hounded out.
    Check out places like bhopal where u wld come across many hindu girls from Sind who come over to find grooms for themselves. None of them wants to go back. Overtime they wld try to get their entire family over.
    I talk of these cities because i was there for sometime and both have large muslim populations plus large immigrant populations from bangladesh and pakistan.

  23. Rohingya Troublemakers

    Monday, Oct. 14, 2002
    Deadly Cargo

    As it headed for port through the midwinter dusk, there was little about the M.V. Mecca that stood out from the other boats plying the waters off southern Bangladesh. Portworkers and fishermen noted the same squat deckhouse and plump hold that for centuries have sheltered fishermen from the cyclones of the Bay of Bengal. The Mecca had the usual rusted rigging and smoke-blackened stern. And the crew too was like most others working off Chittagong: pure Rohingyas�stocky Muslim refugees from western Burma. Only the thick salt marks high on the Mecca’s bow hinted that it was ending a voyage longer than most fishing trips. But this was Chittagong, South Asia’s premier hub for pirates, gunrunners and smugglers. When the dockworkers saw the Mecca anchoring on a sandbank three kilometers out to sea on the night of Dec. 21, it was a signal to all not to ask questions.

    For nine months the exact nature of the Mecca’s cargo or the shipment’s eventual destination remained unknown. But there were clues. Portworkers that night said they saw five motor launches ferry in large groups of men from the boat wearing black turbans, long beards and traditional Islamic salwar kameez. Their towering height suggested these travelers were foreigners, and the boxes of ammunition and the AK-47s slung across their shoulders helped sketch a sinister picture. Then in July, a senior member of Bangladesh’s largest terrorist group, the 2,000-strong al-Qaeda-allied Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), told TIME the 150 men who entered Bangladesh that night were Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan. Three senior Bangladeshi military sources also confirmed this was the case. And on Oct. 7, Indian police arrested Burmese-born HUJI fighter and weapons courier Fazle Karim (alias Abu Fuzi) as he arrived in Calcutta by train from Kashmir. A veteran of al-Qaeda’s camps in eastern Afghanistan who told his interrogators he had twice met Osama bin Laden, Karim said he recognized two people he had trained with in Afghanistan while visiting HUJI hideouts in Bangladesh in August. The pair told him they were part of a group of “more than 100 Arabs and Afghans belonging to al-Qaeda and the Taliban who had arrived by ship at Chittagong in winter,” Karim said, according to transcripts of his interview with Indian police.

    The arrival of a large al-Qaeda group in the capital Dhaka that night raises pressing concerns that Bangladesh may have become a dangerous new front in America’s war on terror. Indeed, one Bangladeshi newspaper last month even quoted an unnamed foreign embassy in Dhaka as saying Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been hiding out in the country for months after arriving in Chittagong. (Last week, in an audio message that authorities have tentatively authenticated, al-Zawahiri warned of further attacks against the U.S., vowing that it will not go “unpunished for its crimes.”) According to a source inside a Bangladeshi Islamic group with close ties to al-Qaeda, al-Zawahiri arrived in Dhaka in early March and stayed briefly in the compound of a local fundamentalist leader. It’s unclear how al-Zawahiri came to be in Bangladesh, or whether he’s still there. However, a source in the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (dgfi), a Bangladeshi military intelligence agency, told TIME that al-Zawahiri is believed to have left Bangladesh this summer, crossing over the eastern border into Burma with Rohingya rebels. U.S. intelligence, however, has no evidence this report is true.

    As for the Mecca, its passengers’ plans remained a mystery. One military source says most of the men stayed in Bangladesh rather than merely transiting, although he adds it was not clear whether the group sought only refuge or planned to establish a new base of operations. On Sept. 24, a fuller picture finally began to emerge when Bangladesh’s domestic intelligence agency arrested four Yemenis, an Algerian, a Libyan and a Sudanese at three houses in the upper-crust district of Uttara in Dhaka. Bangladeshi intelligence sources said they received information from “several” foreign agencies that the men�Abu Nujaid of Libya, Sadek Al Nassami, Abu Sallam, Abu Umaiya and Abul Abbas of Yemen, Abul Ashem of Algeria and Hassan Adam of Sudan�were involved in militant arms training at a madrasah in the capital run by a Saudi-backed charity, al-Haramain. In September, Indonesia’s al-Qaeda supersnitch Omar al-Faruq told the CIA that al-Haramain was the foundation used to channel bin Laden’s money to him from the Middle East. An American expert in the region concurs that branches of the ultraconservative foundation have funded terrorism around the world�a fact that earned two al-Haramain foreign offices a blacklisting by Washington in March�although probably without the knowledge of al-Haramain’s headquarters in Riyadh. “Disreputable folks have penetrated al-Haramain and used its offices, funds and personnel for nefarious purposes,” he says.

    The seven al-Haramain members were questioned by interrogators from domestic intelligence, police and the DGFI. Bangladeshi agents also fanned out across the country to investigate al-Haramain’s 37 other branches, which promptly ceased operations. Although Bangladeshi intelligence sources confirmed the suspects were being questioned about links to al-Qaeda, they cautioned that no relationship with bin Laden’s terror network had been discovered, nor any evidence of training. They added that the men had been in Bangladesh for three years and were also being interrogated over allegations of child trafficking. Sources within Bangladesh’s intelligence community, however, told TIME the authorities had been embarrassed not to find any evidence at al-Haramain’s five-story offices in Dhaka and were trying to play down the raid. They said the passports and entry stamps indicating that the seven arrested men entered Bangladesh in 1999 were most likely fakes. Whatever the case, after being held for five days at a secret location, the men were driven to court and released on Sept. 29. No charges or proceedings were brought. After they were freed from custody, the seven were driven to Dhaka’s Sheraton hotel where they spent the night, and then disappeared. TIME’s HUJI source claimed the trafficking story was merely an official smoke screen. “These are the same guys from the Mecca,” he said. “These are bin Laden’s people. They’ve been hiding here for several months.”

    Bangladesh, it is true, is no Afghanistan, or even Pakistan. For centuries, Bengalis have been united by a culture of tolerance that defies the familiar South Asian divide between Hindu and Muslim. After Sept. 11, the CIA did set up a new five-man base in Dhaka, but merely as part of a global policy of establishing a presence in all Muslim countries. The American intelligence community’s view is summed up by one U.S. source who told TIME that Bangladesh is “not a real hot account.” But Bangladesh also has its fundamentalists. And its southern coastal hills and northern borders with India are lawless and bristling with Islamic militants armed by gunrunners en route from Cambodia and southern Thailand to Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Central Asia and the Middle East.

    Today, southern Bangladesh has become a haven for hundreds of jihadis on the lam. They find natural allies in Muslim guerrillas from India hiding out across the border, and in Muslim Rohingyas, tens of thousands of whom fled the ethnic and religious suppression of the Burmese military junta in the late 1970s and 1980s. Many Rohingyas are long-term refugees, but some are trained to cause trouble back home in camps tolerated by a succession of Bangladeshi governments. The original facilities date back to 1975, making them Asia’s oldest jihadi training camps. And one former Burmese guerrilla who visits the camps regularly describes three near Ukhia, south of the town of Cox’s Bazar, as able to accommodate a force of 2,500 between them. The biggest, he claims, has 26 interconnected bunkers complete with kitchens, lecture halls, telephones and televisions concealed beneath a three-meter-high false forest floor that stretches between two hills. Weapons available for training there include AK-47s, heavy machine guns, rifles, pistols, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Mantraps and mines, which can be triggered by spotters hiding in tree houses, protect approaches to the camp.

    Over the years, the former guerrilla says, Ukhia has hosted militant visitors from the southern Philippines, Indonesia, southern Thailand, Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, even Uzbekistan and Chechnya. Videotapes showing al-Qaeda in training that were unearthed by CNN in August include footage from 1990 that feature Rohingya rebels. And one of the five signatories to bin Laden’s Feb. 23, 1998 call for a jihad against America was Fazjul Rahman, who signed in the name of “the Jihad movement of Bangladesh.” Fighters trained and given new identities in Bangladesh also regularly find their way to conflicts in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Indian intelligence says the Islamic hijackers of an Indian Airlines plane with 189 passengers and crew on board, which they forced to fly from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999, had traveled to Nepal from Bangladesh. “With the right amount of money, whoever you are, you can do anything,” says one Western diplomat based in Dhaka. “If 150 militants want to come in here and buy themselves new passports and new identities, stock up on any weapons they might want and maybe do a little refresher training before heading off again, there’s nothing to stop them.” Indeed, December was a repeat visit for the Mecca, according to the HUJI source. In June 2001, he says the boat sailed from Karachi to Chittagong with 50 other militants who had completed their training in bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan.

    The Bangladeshi government typically reacts with fury to reports of jihadi camps or fundamentalism within its borders. The reason isn’t hard to fathom. In October 2001 two Islamic fundamentalist parties with a history of links to terror groups were elected as part of a four-way electoral alliance led by Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The accession of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islamic Oikya Jote to power in Bangladesh rang alarm bells. Islamic Oikya Jote is open about its sympathies: it is well known for its support of Islamic fundamentalism, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The party’s membership largely duplicates that of the HUJI, which was founded in 1992 by Bangladeshi mujahedin returning from Afghanistan with orders from bin Laden to turn the moderate Islamic state into a nation of true believers. The HUJI has been involved in scores of bombings, including two attempted assassinations of then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in July 2000. And while Jamaat now projects a moderate face, its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir has been behind a string of bomb attacks and killings. At gatherings during the campaign, Jamaat leaders spoke of breathing the “Islamic spirit of jihad” into the armed forces while supporters rallied around posters of bin Laden and the HUJI slogan: AMRA SOBAI HOBO TALIBAN, BANGLA HOBE AFGHANISTAN. (“We will all be Taliban and Bangladesh will be Afghanistan.”)

    Jamaat is also the main force behind the phenomenal growth of unlicensed madrasahs, known as qaumi madrasahs, in the past decade. There are now an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 in Bangladesh, of which 30 to 40, run by mujahedin veterans, are known to shelter militants and recruit fresh fighters. Such militants sometimes receive explicit encouragement from Bangladesh’s spiritual leaders. Mullah Obaidul Haque, head of the national mosque in Dhaka and a Jamaat associate, told a gathering of thousands in the capital last December: “America and Bush must be destroyed. The Americans will be washed away if Bangladesh’s 120 million Muslims spit on them.” So controversial were the BNP’s partners in government and so infuriating did they find reports of rising fundamentalism that earlier this year Zia twice denied that there were any “Taliban” in her government, or even in Bangladesh. But a Bangladeshi government official tells TIME that while Zia’s administration is aware of the fundamentalist threat inside the country, tackling it head-on might trigger a violent backlash. Foreign Minister Morshed Khan took the same line, telling TIME that it was better to have such groups inside the government, looking out.

    Al-Qaeda’s links to the leadership of Jamaat or Islamic Oikya Jote may be largely rhetorical. But the DGFI, Bangladesh’s military intelligence service, may have more to hide. Its agents maintain contact with their counterparts in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and have a long history of supporting rebels fighting Indian rule across the border, including providing safe houses in Dhaka for the leaders of the United Liberation Front for Assam (ULFA). The HUJI source and the portworkers who saw the Mecca arrive claim that the man who greeted the new arrivals was a major in the DGFI. The major checked the visitors in by name and led them to a fleet of suvs lined up on the docks, add the portworkers. A spokesman for the DGFI denied knowing that members of al-Qaeda had ever set foot in Bangladesh. He even denied that the major existed, although diplomatic registration records show the officer is a long-standing member of the service and was stationed in Calcutta in the mid-1990s. The HUJI source and a Bangladeshi military source maintain the major was the last link in an operation that began in Afghanistan. After leaving the Taliban’s headquarters in Kandahar as the city fell in early December and crossing into Pakistan, the fugitives traveled to Karachi, hired the Mecca and made the sail around India.

    The emergence of al-Qaeda in Dhaka is merely the latest sign that Bangladesh’s more radical Islamic groups are coming out from the forests. The former Burmese rebel says three of the camps near Cox’s Bazar have closed since October�not because of the kind of governmental pressure being applied in Pakistan, but because the militants feel safe enough to transfer their operations to like-minded madrasahs, some of them in the capital. On May 9 and 10, 63 representatives of nine Islamic groups�including Rohingya forces, the Islamic Oikya Jote and the ULFA�met in Ukhia to form the Bangladesh Islamic Manch, a united council under HUJI’s leadership. So far, the Manch has restricted itself to circulating speeches by bin Laden and Mullah Masood Azhar, a Pakistani militant leader. But it has big plans, says the HUJI source: “The dream is to create a larger Islamic land than the territorial limits of Bangladesh to include Muslim areas of Assam, north Bengal and Burma’s Arakan province.” That dream, if Islamic terrorists are allowed to continue their operations in Bangladesh, could be a nightmare for the rest of the region.

    For Rohingya in Bangladesh, No Place is Home

    Hundreds of children flock at the site of a stranger in the Kutu Palong makeshift camp in southeastern Bangladesh, near the border with Burma. Some are wearing salvaged clothes; mostly, they are naked. “Hello, how are you?” they shout, repeating the one phrase they have picked up from the few aid workers that have gained permission from the Bangladesh authorities to enter the unregistered camp.
    These kids are all Rohingya, a religious and linguistic ethnic minority from Burma’s northern Rakhine State, who have been fleeing state-sponsored persecution in their homeland since 1978. In 1991, when the population experienced widespread repression and abuse from security forces posted in Rakhine, a quarter of a million crossed the border to Bangladesh seeking asylum. Most of them still live there today. Some 28,000 have been officially recognized as refugees and are living in a U.N.-run camp, waiting to be relocated to a third nation. Hundreds of thousands of others live outside these grounds, in the district of Chittagong or in unofficial camps, stateless and hopeless.
    In recent months, Kutu Palong has become a refuge from a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya, according to a report issued Thursday by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). More than 6000 people have arrived in the camp since October as police and border authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown in Bangladesh, pushing over 2,000 Rohingya back across the border into Burma. More than 500 were arrested around the country in January alone. MSF doctors working in Kutu Palong say they have been treating Rohingya who have been beaten and raped. “[Border guards] broke my fingers and then they threw me into the river and told me to swim back,” says Ziaur Rahman, a 23-year-old who managed to escape and walk for three days to get medical care at the MSF clinic based outside the Kutu Palong makeshift camp.
    (Read about visiting the Rohingya in Burma.)
    About 30,000 Rohingya now live in the makeshift camp, in crude huts thrown together with bin liners, sticks and mud. Sanitation is minimal. Sewage facilities, hugely inadequate in the monsoon season, run alongside the housing. An earlier March 2009 MSF survey found that 40% of those who died in this unregistered camp in the first part of that year died from diarrhea. The government, however, has forbidden further development of the camps’ infrastructure, so as not to attract any people more to the improvised settlement. “There is just one toilet between every 10 families,” says Ziaul Haque, 40, who acts as a kind of camp administrator.
    Bangladesh, like India, Thailand and Pakistan, is not one of 147 nations to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, the global treaty that defines who is eligible for refugee status and what rights they are guaranteed. As a result, Dhaka has not registered a single refugee since 1991, and, as one of the most impoverished nations in the world, does not have the financial resources to cope with such a huge number of people. “We are a poor country and we have our own issues to deal with,” says one local from Cox’s Bazaar district, where the greatest concentration of Rohingyas live.
    Though half of the Rohingya who make their way to Bangladesh are taken in by local families until they find their feet, it’s been a fragile relationship. Many are competing for jobs with the Rohingya, who are often willing to work for less than Bangladeshis. Others worry that armed extremist gangs are radicalizing the youth of this marginalised, leaderless community, and suspicions of drug smuggling and an increase in petty crime in the camps have been recorded in the local press. With a new round of elections slated for later this year in Burma, locals are increasingly concerned that another exodus from its neighbor state may ensue and the situation in Bangladesh might further deteriorate.
    The official channels of moving refugees to new homes has been slow. Since 2006, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has resettled 749 Rohingya from the registered camp. Five hundred were relocated in 2009 and another 190 are pending departure for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the U.S. It’s a rate of departure that barely covers the population growth of 2.9% within the registered camp; right now, the system is simply paying off the human interest.
    Meanwhile, thousands wait, unregistered, and unsure of what their future holds. A visit of European Parliament members to the country this week to assess the situation may help highlight the suffering of a community and provoke a regional response to a challenge that today is being left to Bangladesh alone to grapple with. Leaving Kutu Palong, the children are still smiling, the chorus of ‘hellos’ replaced with ‘goodbyes.’ Many lives have begun in this camp in the last decade. Many will end here, too, without a birth or death certificate to prove that they ever existed.

  24. Soft Target in Pakistan

    Abduction, oppression and forced conversion is fate of Hindus in Pak

    These young Hindu girls were kidnapped from Tharparker in Sindh province in March 2010. They have not been traced so far.
    In March, Poonam, a 13-year-old Hindu girl kidnapped last year, was forced to convert in the Lyari area of Karachi in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Her parents were stunned by the influence the maulvis (Islamic scholars) had over their daughter. “She was very scared. She told us that she was now going to live with them as a Muslim,” Poonam’s uncle, Bhanwroo, 61, told India Today. Poonam is now Mariam.
    No one protested against Poonam’s conversion because almost every Hindu family in Lyari has endured religious persecution for years. Kidnapping is routine in Pakistan. But what has shaken the 2.7 million-strong Hindu community in a nation of 168 million Muslims are recent forced conversions of young girls. Many see the incidents as a conspiracy to drive Hindus out of Pakistan.

    “We are very worried. We have started sending our young children either to India or to other countries. We are also planning to migrate soon,” says 46-year-old Sanao Menghwar from Nawab Shah in Sindh province. He has reason to panic. Research done by local agencies says that on average 25 Hindu girls are kidnapped and converted every month in Pakistan.

    The Shamshan ghat in Rawalpindi that was demolished in 2010. Hindus and Sikhs used to perform last rites there.
    Hindus comprised nearly 15 per cent of the country’s population in 1947. Now, they are a mere 2 per cent. Many have left, many more have been killed, and others have converted to survive. Hindus are allowed to vote only in separate electorates and are not allowed to register marriages. Of the 428 temples in the country, only 26 are functioning, says Jagmohan Kumar Arora, 60, community head in Rawalpindi. To make matters worse, the Shamshan Ghat in Rawalpindi, used by Hindus and Sikhs to perform last rites, was demolished on July 19, 2010. “How would the Muslims feel if their mosques were demolished to build homes,” asks Arora.
    Following the riots after Babri Masjid’s demolition in India, attacks on Hindus have only increased; Hindus in Pakistan are routinely affected by communal incidents in India and violent developments in Kashmir. A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a non-profit organisation in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks have been used to inculcate hatred towards Hindus. “Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour,” the report stated. “The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From these government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious,” the report stated.

    Pervez Hoodbhoy, 61, a prominent Pakistani scholar, says the “Islamisation” of Pakistan’s schools began in 1976 when an Act of Parliament required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum for the Grade 5 social studies class that includes topics such as: “Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan”, “Make speeches on jihad” and “India’s evil designs against Pakistan”.

    “In Karachi alone, Hindu girls are kidnapped on a routine basis,” Amarnath Motumal, an activist and council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told India Today. “People are scared. The kidnappings and conversions are done by influential people of the region. The victims prefer to remain silent to save their lives.”

    Agrees Bherulal Balani, a former member of the provincial assembly. He says Hindu girls mostly belong to the lower castes. Officials say the attacks have increased in interior Sindh during the last three months. At least nine incidents, ranging from forced conversions to rape and murder, have been reported from the region.

    In one incident, a 17-year-old girl was gangraped in Nagarparker area while in another incident, a 15-year-old girl was allegedly abducted from Aaklee village and forced to convert. The Aaklee incident prompted an instant migration of about 71 Hindu families to Rajasthan. Members of the Hindu community in Kotri town in Sindh province recently protested against the kidnapping of four teenagers, Anita, Kishni, Ajay and Sagar.

    The plight of Hindus in Pakistan came to light in January this year when Lakki Chand Garji, 82, a Hindu spiritual leader and an official of the Kala Mata temple in Kalat district of Baluchistan province, was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen from his home. He was released in April after a ransom of Rs 50 crore was paid, but the case remains unresolved till date.

    Minority Community leaders at a conference in Hyderabad, Pakistan, in January 2011.
    Alarmed by the discrimination against the Hindu community, Pakistani lawmaker Marvi Memon, 43, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), has criticised what she calls a total failure of the government. Memon, the only lawmaker to protest against the discrimination, says, “The tragedy is that as a result of these kidnappings, many Hindu families have migrated to India. After all, it is better to live in another country than in perpetual fear in Pakistan. It has become routine for Hindus to be humiliated at the hands of the influential Muslim community in Pakistan.” She recalls an incident of several members of the Hindu community being attacked and forced out of their homes in Sindh after Dinesh, a Hindu boy, drank water from a facility meant for Muslims. “He was beaten up badly,” says Meerumal, Dinesh’s father, who witnessed the attack.
    Years of keeping a low profile have affected the sense of identity of the Hindus. “They have become a people without a true identity,” says Memon, adding “if there is no awareness and concern for the Hindus of Pakistan, they will remain a voiceless people and eventually cease to exist.”

    In Peshawar, 62-year-old Jagdish Bhatti’s long stint in the army was no insurance against discrimination. His sons Ramesh and Lal had to adopt Muslim names for jobs. Ramesh (now Ahmed Chohan) works in a private multinational bank and Lal (Nadeem Chohan) is a supervisor in a food warehouse owned by the municipal authority in Peshawar district.

    “Throughout our educational career, we enjoyed a good relationship with our Muslim teachers and classmates. However, we were shocked when we were told to adopt Muslim names to get jobs,” Ramesh Bhatti told india today.

    Members of the Hindu community in Larkana in Sindh province recall the tragic tale of Sundri, an 18-year-old college student. One day in 2004, Sundri did not come back home after classes. After a long search, her family went to the police. Two weeks later, the police informed the family that Sundri had eloped with Kamal Khan, an employee of a local transport company, and converted to Islam. Sundri’s parents were also informed that their daughter would soon appear in court to declare her new faith. Escorted by the police and a few men sporting long beards, Sundri appeared in court to state: “I, Sundri, was born of Hindu parents. Now, as an adult, I have realised the religion I was born into is not the right one. Therefore, completely of my own accord, and without being coerced, I have decided to break away from my parents and religion, and have converted to Islam.”

    The judge accepted her conversion and Sundri was whisked away to an unknown location. She is learnt to have later married Khan but was divorced very soon. Subsequently, she married another Muslim from the neighbourhood. This marriage, too, ended in divorce and Sundri was married for the third time. Shortly after her third marriage, Sundri died under mysterious circumstances. Her parents believe she was murdered, while her third husband told the police that she had committed suicide. “Kidnapping Hindu girls like this has become routine. The girls are then forced to sign papers stating that they have become Muslims,” says Laljee Menghwar, a member of the Hindu panchayat in Karachi.

    Last year, 27-year-old Jagdesh Kumar, a factory worker, was killed in Karachi by Muslim colleagues on the charge of blasphemy. The police and factory management made no attempt to stop the attackers from killing Kumar, who was reportedly in love with a Muslim girl.

    In September 2010, Ashok Kumar, 32, an income tax inspector in Hyderabad in Sindh , went to collect tax return forms from shopowners. Instead of complying, one of the shopkeepers alleged that Kumar had threatened to grab him by his beard. Within minutes, the shopkeepers took out a procession, demanding that Kumar be taught a lesson. This was followed by a two-day strike. Kumar was not only suspended from his job, he was also jailed after a case of “blasphemy” was registered against him. “Since then he and his family are missing,” says a source.

    In the same month, Dr Kanhaiya Lal, 52, an eye specialist, was kidnapped in Larkana. He was released following a ransom payment of Rs 5 lakh. Another Hindu, Darshan Lal, 50, was killed in Badah town in Larkana district when he resisted attempts to abduct him. At least 23 prominent Hindu men have been kidnapped from Sukkur in the past few years.

    Police officials told India Today on condition of anonymity that many Hindus pay regular bhatta (protection money) to different groups of extortionists. Hindus in Pakistan contend that their insecurity is compounded by the apathy of the administration and the judiciary.

    “From the first Indo-Pak war to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Hindus in Pakistan have been perceived as enemies and persecuted,” says an Islamabad-based political analyst, requesting anonymity. He cites the recent incident of a Hindu businessman’s spat with a local editor after the former refused the editor’s demand for a car. The daily carried an editorial the next day, dubbing the businessman an Indian agent supplying arms to terrorists. Says a Hindu businessman in Kandhkot city of Sindh: “For 50 years, we have been addressed as ‘vaaniyo’ or ‘baniya’, which in these parts is a pejorative.” Calling for an end to institutionalised discrimination, the Scheduled Caste Rights Movement of Pakistan (SCRM) has demanded passage of a law allowing Hindu marriage registration. A Pakistan Supreme Court ruling of November 23, 2010, ordered the government to prepare a law to legalise Hindu marriages. The scrm warned that inaction would force them to launch a nationwide signature campaign to highlight the issue.

    Hindu women have routinely complained of discrimination regarding Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC). “If we cannot produce marriage registration certificates, we are not entitled to get a CNIC which, in turn, denies us the right to vote. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in our favour, no measures have been taken,” says Sangeeta Devi, 45, from Karachi. She has been at the forefront of the campaign demanding registration of Hindu marriages.

    Says Shami Mai, 34, a Hindu woman who lives in Rahim Yar Khan in south Punjab: “In case of separation or domestic violence, a Hindu woman cannot complain because she does not have any document. If she is unable to tell the court who her husband is, why would the court react to her crisis?”

    Something as basic as travel can pose problems for Hindu women. “If we stay at a hotel, policemen and hotel staff mistreat us. We end up spending nights on footpaths,” complains Naina Bai, 37, from Islamabad.

    If the hallmark of a nation is how it treats its minorities, perhaps Pakistan’s title as a failed state is well deserved.

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