What’s the future of Hindus in Bangladesh as Sheikh Hasina’s party woos Islamists

Manik Bhowmik’s land in Cumilla district of Bangladesh was forcefully taken over by Khurshid Alam, a leader of the farmers’ wing of the Awami League. Manik Bhowmik isn’t a nobody. A lawyer by profession, it took a lot of protests by several organisations to help recover his land. However, most minorities aren’t so lucky and end up losing their land.

Bhowmik’s case of 2021 isn’t an isolated incident. There are numerous cases of land-grabbing where Hindus are the victims. Most of these attacks don’t even make it to the national media in Bangladesh.

Such has been the “othering” and persecution of minorities in Bangladesh that the share of Hindus in Bangladesh’s population has dipped from 22 per cent in 1951 to below 8 per cent in 2022. This, even as the population of Muslims rose to over 91 per cent from 76 per cent in 1951.

Between 1964 and 2013, over 11 million Hindus fled Bangladesh due to religious persecution, according to the Hindu American Foundation. It says 230,000 Hindus continue to leave the country every year.

The 2011 census showed that a million Hindus went missing from the country’s population between 2000 and 2010, according to DW.
Not only the out-migration from Bangladesh, the higher birth rate among Muslims and the lower replacement rate of Hindu population are also behind the slide in numbers.

The state religion of Bangladesh is Islam, but the Awami League government reintroduced ‘secularism’ to the preamble in 2011.

Why are religious minorities facing such attacks and persecution when a ‘secular’ Awami League government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in power in Bangladesh, and that too, for the last 15 years?

‘Allah Sarbashaktiman’ and ‘Allah is great’ was at the centre of the Awami League manifesto in the 2018 general election. The party hasn’t come out with its manifesto for the January 2024 election yet.

“In my research, I have not found any leader in Bangladesh from the immediate post-independence period who did not favour the majority religion in policy-making and foreign policy. In my book, I argue that there is no secular party in Bangladesh,” Mubashar Hasan tells IndiaToday.In. “Within this context, minorities have become political pawns,” he adds.

A look at Bangladesh’s religious diversity. A million Hindus went missing from Bangladesh’s population between 2000 and 2010, according to the country’s census data. (Source: Bangladesh census)


“Among Bangladesh’s five major political parties, the Awami League is the only officially secular party. However, in the current political landscape, the Awami League is practically unable to become more secular and counter anti-secular elements. Recent developments suggest that the Awami League occasionally befriends anti-secular forces for political benefits,” Professor Shantanu Majumder of Dhaka University tells IndiaToday.In.

The share of Hindus in Bangladesh’s overall population has dipped over the years. (Source: Bangladesh census)

Source : India Today

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