Once more, we find ourselves facing the ugly truth: Communal violence is very much alive in Bangladesh.
What is perhaps worse is the fact that these acts of violence — this time, the attacks were carried out on Hindu temples and Durga Puja venues across Comilla — are no more or less than what we have seen occur almost like clockwork every year.
It comes as little surprise that these tensions erupted as a result of a social media post which — it should be obvious by now — falsely showed the Holy Qur’an being besmirched at the Durga Puja celebrations at a Comilla temple.
While such an incident occurring once would have been one thing, its continued recurrence highlights the various ways in which our society as a whole continues to harbour hostilities between different communities despite Bangladesh’s rich and diverse history and landscape.
From the person who posted the initial video — who has since been detained and his post is being investigated — to the riled up masses who see no other recourse but to take matters into their own hands and that too with violence, there definitely exists individuals who use the sensitivities of the common people to create such disharmony, taking advantage of the people’s trust in certain authority figures and a lack of awareness regarding the ideologies and practices of their fellow countrymen and women.
It is encouraging to note that law enforcement has acted swiftly to calm the situation down and arrested 43 individuals in this regard, but these yearly arrests have done little to prevent such falsely provoked attacks from recurring.
The government must not only take a firm stance against those who encourage communal disharmony and bring them to book, but moving forward, it must generate awareness through community outreach programs in order to ensure that manipulating a group of people into becoming an angry mob is not as easy as it has been so far.
This article was first published in Dhaka Tribune and may be read here