Ansar Ahmed Ullah:
We must unitedly oppose any candidates, known for sectarianism & hate crime, standing at the next general election said NAP President Pankaj Bhattacharya. He was speaking as the Chief Guest at a meeting in Dhaka’s CIRDAP (Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia & the Pacific) venue on 31 October organised by the UK based Secular Bangladesh Movement (SBM).
Hate crime based on religion is now a national and international issue of concern he said. So, why the rise of hate crime? He asked. Bangladesh came into being in 1971 opposing religious persecution and against disparity. With the killing of Bangabandhu in 1975 pro-liberation ideals including secularism were obliterated. In addition, culture of impunity has encouraged further attacks against religious & ethnic minorities. Finally, he said we must return to the four principles of our constitution that enshrined secularism.
The event titled “11th National Parliamentary Election: Protection, security and responsibilities of the minority community”, was presided over by SBM President Pushpita Gupta and conducted by Rajib Saha, Chatro Union activist. The meeting was attended by leaders of various sections as well as minority representatives of Dhaka region. SBM’s Bangladesh representative Rashedul Islam made opening remarks commenting on findings of seven divisional cities. He summarised the findings and recommendations as: to address disparity establish Minority Commission, Foundations for Hindu, Christian and Buddhists, ban Jamaat-e-Islam responsible for war crimes, oppose any sectarian candidates, prevent places of worship from inciting hate messages against minority faith communities, get all political parties to pledge secularism, ensure justice for previous attacks, introduce proportionate minority candidates in the national parliament and finally identify risky areas, set up monitoring cells in each district ahead of the upcoming national elections to prevent violence & ensure safety of minority communities.
Other guests who spoke at the discussion were Mukul Bose, Advisor to Awami League, journalist from Faridpur Probir Sikdar who lost a leg following an attack by Islamists, SBM’s advisor Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Gautam Kaur of Puja Committee, Mostak Ahmed of Bhashani NAP, Dr Rathindranath Sarkar, Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishod, Rathan Chaki, Association of Textile Engineers, Mohila Awami League’s Manwar Begum Tamanna, Prof M A Rakib Khan Awami League’s Abu Tahir, journalist Joyonta Acharjee, Ripon Dey, Hindu Moha Jote, Rajesh Neha, Jubo Moha Jote, Pappu Saha, Jubo Oikyo Parishod amongst others.
Speakers urged all to refrain from voting candidates who had taken part in persecution of the country’s minorities and demanded immediate steps for protection of the minority communities before the next polls. They added that persecution of minorities is on the rise as most perpetrators were able to evade justice. The event ended with Oath taking pledging to uphold secular ideals and national anthem