“9 lakh Hindus have vanished from Bangladesh”: Reports

published on September 2, 2013

A recent report has given an alarming figure of how over  9 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus have vanished from the country during the past decade. The report is based on the figures prepared by Bangladesh Statistical Bureau (BSB) and the National Population Research and Training Institute (NPRTI). 

The BSB study reveals how, since Bangladesh’s independence, Hindu population has continuously declined, while the population of other minority groups like Buddhists and Christians have remained the same.

Stating that the figure should be ‘an eye opener for India’, the report which appeared in Assam Tribune says that the matter has been widely reported in the Bangladeshi media and has been “raised by speakers at a discussion on Role of Media in Strengthening Relations between Bangladesh and India on August 17 in Dhaka organised as part of the Track-II initiative.

This correspondent had taken part in the discussion.”The report, based on the findings of the “two reputed institutions of Bangladesh” has been referred to as “alarming” because they have been based on the census reports of Bangladesh of 2001 and 2011. “It was reported that despite a rise in the Hindu population, their percentage had gone down,” says the report in AT. 

“Hindus account for 8.5 per cent of the total population of Bangladesh. In the 2001 census, the Hindu population of Bangladesh was 9.2% and the Muslim population was 89.7%. But increased to 90.4%,” says the AT report. 

“According to the 2001 census report, the Hindu population was 1.16 crore, as the rate of growth of the Hindu population during the previous 10 years was 1.37%. Going by the rate of growth, the Hindu population of Bangladesh should have been over 1.22 crore, which is 9 lakh less than the expected population, according to a study conducted by BSB.” continues the report. 

15 Bangladeshi districts have been identified, where Hindu population was found to have suffered an alarming dwindle. “The institutions were quoted by the speakers as having claimed that the ‘missing population have not shifted anywhere in the country’,” states the report.

 A noted human rights activist, who wanted to remain anonymous has also been quoted. “The 9 lakh missing population has migrated to neighbouring India,” he is reported to have said. “At a closed-door session, he expressed the apprehension that if the BNP, backed by the fundamentalist Islamic forces returns to power, then the rate of illegal migration from Bangladesh would increase manifold.

Already the houses and farms of those who have fled the country have been looted and taken over,” he says. “If the minority community flees, then the Enemy Property Act comes into play and mischievous elements take full advantage of the situation,” he said.

According to a veteran journalist, “the Enemy Property Act has acted as a pressure on the Hindu population for long. Besides, demands to declare Islam as the national religion of Bangladesh have further scared the Hindu population, leaving them with little option but to flee to neighbouring India.

“Media reports also state that in places like Gopalganj city, “senior functionaries of various political parties forcibly occupied the houses and lands of Hindus.”Another example cited is that of Borishal Division. “The Hindu population in six districts of that division namely, Borishal, Bhola, Jhalkathi, Perojpur, Patuakhali and Barguwa, the Hindu population did not show any increase.

In the 2001 census, the Hindu population was estimated at 8.16 lakh, but in the 2011 census, the population went down to 7.62 lakh. Khulna Division also reported the same pattern,” it says. Yet another example is that of Dhaka Division, where in three districts, namely Madaripur, Gopalganj and Kishoreganj, there is no increase in the Hindu population.According to the census figures, the Muslim population in 1974 was 85.4%, while the Hindus accounted for 13.5%. In 2011, the Muslim population was 90.4%, while the Hindu population declined to 8.5%.

 One reason, as cited by Prof Anisujjaman is the “absence of security and evil designs of miscreants” , which has led to the situation.A senior Awami League leader has even revealed that cordial relations between India and Bangladesh have been hurt because of communal tensions. 
“The Jamat-e-Islami is responsible for the planned attacks and regular incidents,” he said.

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