Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Editorial

Buddhists face the brunt this time

Places of worship of minorities easy target

Following the large-scale and systematic attack on Buddhist temples in Ramu in the very recent past, Buddhist residents at Patiya have faced similar onslaught. Going by newspaper reports, it is not yet clear which individuals or parties are responsible for carrying out arson attacks accompanied by looting and vandalism of a Buddhist temple and orphanage in the Boalkhali area. The right to worship and religious freedom are enshrined in the Constitution as an inalienable right of every Bangladeshi.
We condemn such incidents in the strongest possible terms any attack on any temple or site considered by any community, large or small, to be holy. What is now evident from the Ramu and Patiya incidents is that there has been a very large failure in intelligence on the part of law enforcement agencies to detect and prevent such well-orchestrated attacks. Incidents such as these require meticulous planning and logistics involving a group or groups of people to execute. With practically all the agencies at the disposal of the State ranging from police to the various intelligence organs concentrated wholly on the activities of opposition parties, it is little wonder that such ‘gaps’ in information gathering about probable attacks on religious sites is sidelined. This is a serious anomaly that must be addressed.
Suffice to say, the failure of the State to guarantee protection of religious minorities smears the country’s image. For in the final analysis of things it is wholly the responsibility of the government to ensure physical safety of community members and preserve the sanctity of places of worship. It has become more imperative than ever to put in place human “intelligence” networks around vulnerable pockets of minority communities. Any failure to protect our fellow brethren belonging to other faiths will automatically strengthen the hands of communal forces in the country. And it will act to undermine the very foundations of the secular State that Bangladesh claims to be.
The collective vigil of the community at large is also vital for ensuring harmony and peace in society.