Statement of Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen, MP
On Upholding and Strengthening Communal Harmony in Bangladesh
Dhaka, 30 October 2021
Durga Puja is one of the biggest celebrations in Bangladesh. Vested-quarters wanted to destroy the millennia old tradition of religious harmony prevailing in the land by attacking several Puja Mondops in some parts of the country at the height of the festivities this year. In some places, they vandalized idols of deities and goddesses. The violence was totally unacceptable and should not have happened. I express my deepest sympathy to those who underwent the panic created by the perpetrators.
The government took stern measures immediately to both contain and eliminate the violence and to prevent recurrence. The actions taken by the authorities brought the situation under control within a short time. The perpetrators were arrested and now they are under police custody.
As per the latest information, 6 persons died. Out of them 4 were Muslims and 2 were Hindus. As per the relevant reports, out of the 2 Hindus, one died of natural causes and the other by drowning. Moreover, a number of houses and shops were burned down in Rangpur and Chowmuhani. They have been promptly rebuilt and the affected people received compensation. More compensation is underway.
Unfortunately, a few media claimed that hundreds of women were raped and many temples were destroyed. Such reports were not based on fact. While the government is observing the Mujib Year and Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh, conspirators spread rumours and used the religion-card to tarnish the secular image of Bangladesh and the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which is unequivocally committed to religious harmony. Manifestly, the perpetrators were instigated by anti-Awami League and anti-Hasina elements.
The turmoil began when a copy of the Holy Quran was found near the foot of a deity in a Puja Mondop. When this was put up in Facebook, outrage sparked off. All the persons involved in these incidences were arrested. The government gave necessary instructions to law enforcing authorities to apprehend all criminals and conspirators and to bring all of them to justice.
I would like to reiterate that Bangladesh is governed by laws emanating from the Constitution which enshrines secular ethos and ensures equal rights for all. The Awami League government is pledge-bound to protect all citizens of Bangladesh irrespective of their faith under any situation. The government will ensure that the Rule of Law prevails, everyone associated with or contributing to destabilising the inter-religious and inter-communal harmony is prosecuted and be given the highest punishment.