“Being Hindu in Bangladesh – An Untold Story,” a recent publication of Harper Collins, is a well-researched narrative on the plight of Hindus. Written by leading Indian journalist Deep Halder and Prof. Avishek Biswas, it’s a book that has documented horrific incidents of violence against Hindus, both during the Noakhali riots in 1946 and in 2021, as well as in other instances.
In this book, we learn about Smritikana Biswas, the grandmother of co-author Avishek Biswas. She was just 12 years old when her father contemplated killing her 7-month-old sister due to her cries, hoping to keep rioters away from the building where her family was hiding.
The author, Deep Halder, extensively traveled across Bangladesh to gather glaring case studies. He also met Bangladesh President Mohammed Shahabudddin Chuppu, who led a judicial commission in 2006 to investigate the 2001 anti-Hindu violence orchestrated by the opposition BNP and Jamaat.
In the chapter titled “Horror in the Countryside,” the narration by a woman, Purnima Rani Shil, recounts a brutal rape after the BNP and Jamaat came to power in 2001 when she was just 12 years old. Her fault? She was a polling agent of the Awami League Party and had campaigned against the BNP, occurring right after the Awami League lost the election.
Like a burning leaf on which an old poem disappeared, the chapter titled “The DNA of Hate” examines the exodus of Hindus from the country. The book elucidates many such examples of brutality faced by Hindus, causing one’s faith in humanity to shudder. The authors deserve praise for their tireless ground research backed by archival material, including noted old newspaper clips.
The Awami League, under Sheikh Hasina, has been lauded by the authors for the country’s economic growth since she came to power. She has implemented several welfare schemes for minorities, though much remains to be done. Despite a decline in numbers, Hindu minorities still hold a significant position in voting numbers in the country.
With elections in Bangladesh scheduled for January 7, 2024, trends indicate the re-emergence of Sheikh Hasina in power, unless the Padma River decides to flow in the opposite direction. Indian pundits predict that Hasina’s friendship with New Delhi will grow further after she returns to power.
Returning to the book, it delves deeply into the story of the origin of Bangladesh from East Pakistan in 1971 and the human massacre. This book is indeed a compelling read, exploring various facets of religion, violence, and cultural identity woven through the passage of time.
The father of the nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was quoted in this book saying: “This country does not belong to the Hindus. This country does not belong to Muslims. Whoever thinks this country is theirs, this country will be theirs….”