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Suvojit Bagchi | The Hindu Special Correspondent | Kolkata | April 3, 2017:: A week before Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi, speakers at a seminar organised here by the chief of the Refugee Cell of the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal, alleged the she was “appeasing” the majority community in Bangladesh.
Using still photographs and films, the participants — mostly members of the minority Hindu community of Bangladesh and many of whom who had been attacked in recent months — gave a graphic description of the violence against them during the Awami League’s tenure.
They held Ms. Hasina “responsible” for not protecting Hindus.
Governor of Tripura Tathagata Roy and president of the BJP’s State unit Dilip Ghosh were among the key speakers.
President of Bangladesh Minority Watch, Rabindra Ghosh, who authored many fact finding reports on persecution of Hindu minority in Bangladesh, provided an extensive account of the violence. He visited Brahmanbaria district, in east Bangladesh, in November to find that about 150 families are “attacked” and about one hundred temples are demolished.
“But when we approached local ministers and MPs, they claimed that the Hindus are not targeted…the police helps but refuses to register a FIR,” he said.
According to Mr Ghosh there are at least “1653 attacks on the minorities” which includes Hindus, indigenous groups, Buddhists and Christians “from the time of BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] till now.” Arun K. Dutta of Toronto-based Bangladesh Minority Rights Alliance said that while Sheikh Hasina “sounds progressive, she does not play a positive role to protect the Hindus.” Subrata Chowdhury of Bangladesh Hindu Bouddha Christian Oikyo Parishod [Unity Council] categorically accused Awami League leaders for the attacks, while President of Bangladesh chapter of Vishva Hindu Parishad, Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, asked the Bangladesh residents in the audience to “keep trishuls [tridents] at house to counter the attackers.”
14 resolutions, described as Kolkata Declaration 2017, were adopted to protect the minorities in Bangladesh. “We propose that Bangladesh ensure proportional representation of religious and ethnic minorities in the Parliament and all sectors of civil service and defense,” was one of the key resolutions. Dipan Mitra, General Secretary of World Hindu Federation, Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Minority Party, argued that if the “Hindus want to live in Bangladesh they have to get political representation” as the population of Bangladeshi Hindus have come down from 28 % in 1941 to 8.5% in 2011.
“We need a political party for the Hindus and minorities. For several years I have been trying to get registration for my party but failed. I think the Awami League government does not want to give our party registration,” Mr Mitra said and regretted that even the Prime Minister “has said that people has to work for the spread of Islam.”
The Kolkata Declaration demanded removal of the Eighth Amendment  in the country’s Constitution, where Islam was incorporated as the State religion. The Declaration further demanded “prevention” of violence against minorities; justice for the victims of communal violence and setting up of a Minority Ministry or a Commission, like in India.
The Declaration asked Indian Government to “put pressure” on Bangladesh “so that it stops its appeasement of the Islamist section of the society.” The convener of the seminar, Mohit Ray, a senior BJP leader, said that the conference “has nothing to do with” Prime Minister’s visit.
“The focus of the seminar is the persecution of the minorities in Bangladesh; it is a coincidence that the seminar taking place ahead of Sheikh Hasina’s visit,” Mr Ray said. The two-day seminar had many speakers from India, Bangladesh, United States,Britain and Canada.
Courtesy : The Hindu.