Bangladesh Under Siege by Islamists

Bangladesh is a nation which is over 90% Muslim, where Islam is recognized as the state religion, and Islamists dominate socio-political life to such an extent that Hindus have fallen from 22% of the total population in 1951 to less than 8% today. Yet Bangladesh is not ‘Islamic enough’ for outfits like Islamic State, Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent, Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), and JeI’s electoral alliance partner Bangladesh Nationalist Party (also the nation’s chief Opposition party).

For the last few years, Bangladesh has been fighting a grim war with Islamists of various hues who are opposed to even the bare minimum rule of law which allows minorities like Hindus, Buddhists etc the freedom to practise their religion. And events over this weekend should leave no one in doubt that Bangladesh today is under siege by Islamists; it is a nation on the brink and the warning bells should be ringing loud and clear in Bharat and the rest of the world.

Siege at Upmarket Dhaka restaurant

20 foreign hostages were hacked to death with sharp weapons by Islamist terrorists during a dramatic siege at an upmarket Dhaka restaurant that ended in a bloodbath on Saturday morning. The majority of the victims were from Italy and Japan. One 19 year old Bharatiya girl, Tarushi Jain, was among those murdered in this attack.

Director of Military Operations Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said the militants slaughtered 20 hostages before the joint operation led by the armed forces began. Most of those killed were found with their throat slit, he added. “Army Para commando Unit-1 led the operation and killed six terrorists within 13 minutes,” Chowdhury told reporters. “During operations, we rescued 13 people including one Japanese and two Sri Lankan citizens.” he added.

Six of the terrorists were shot dead and one was arrested at the scene. Commandos recovered assault rifles, knives and crude explosive devices from the scene. Two police officers were killed in the initial shoot out with the terrorists. 

One member of staff from the restaurant who managed to escape, Sumon Reza, told Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star: ‘They blasted several crude bombs, causing wide-scale panic among everyone. I managed to flee during this confusion.’ He added: ‘They came armed with pistols, swords and bombs. They shouted Allahu Akbar [Allah is great] before blasting the bombs.‘  

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity. SITE said ISIS’ Amaq News Agency reported ISIS terrorists had carried out the attack which was launched on the final Friday of Ramadan, as millions of Muslims prepare to celebrate the Eid holiday. 

Gruesome: This is one of the images that was released by ISIS' media agency Amar, purportedly showing victims inside the Dhaka restaurant which was taken siege by Islamist militants on Friday night.
Gruesome: This is one of the images that was released by ISIS’ media agency Amar, purportedly showing victims inside the Dhaka restaurant which was taken siege by Islamist militants on Friday night.

Survivors claimed the killers cut down those who were unable to recite passages from the Koran.  

On Friday night, Hasnat Karim had brought his family to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. Hasnat was too traumatised to say more than a few words about his ordeal, saying only that the hostage-takers ‘did not misbehave with us’. But he detailed to his father Rezaul how the gunmen – who were armed with automatic weapons, bombs and makeshift machetes – had split the diners into two groups.

Rezaul said: ‘(The foreigners) were taken to the upper floor and the Bangladeshis were kept around a table.’ He said his son told him the terrorists ‘did not hit people who could recite verses from the Koran. The others were tortured’. He added: ‘The gunmen asked everyone inside to recite from the Koran. Those who recited were spared. The gunmen even gave them meals last night.’ 
A Bangladeshi MP whose constituency is in Dhaka tweeted this picture:

More Hindu priests Hacked to death

Continuing the series of attacks on Hindu priests and ashram workers, one priest was hacked to death by Islamists on Friday morning while another was critically injured on Saturday morning. 

Shymananda Das, 45, was hacked to death in front of Radha Madhav Mandir in Jhinaidah sadar upazila at about 5AM on Friday. Shyamananda was collecting flowers in front the temple when three assailants riding a motorbike arrived there and attacked him. 

Police said they did not know the motive behind the killing of the Hindu priest and no one had been arrested. “He was preparing morning prayers with flowers at the temple early in the morning and at that time three young people came by a motor bike and killed him with machetes and fled away,” said Mahbubur Rahman, the chief of Jhinaidah district administration.

Bangladesh Under Siege
Hindu Priest Shymananda Das was murdered while collecting flowers outside the temple

On Saturday, assailants attacked Bhabasindhu Bor, priest of local Sree Sree Radha Govinda temple in Brahmarajpur village of Satkhira Sadar Upazila, leaving him severely injured. He is undergoing treatment at Satkhira Sadar Hospital in critical condition, said police.

Around 3:30am, seven to eight assailants knocked at the door of the priest’s house. When the victim opened the door thinking it was the night guard, they stormed into in the house and attacked him with sharp weapons. Hearing the scream of the victim, his family members and neighbours rushed there. But the attackers managed to escape before they managed to reach the spot, police said quoting Samitra Bor, wife of the victim. 

Hindu priest Bhabasindhu Bor critically injured in attack by Islamists
Hindu priest Bhabasindhu Bor critically injured in attack by Islamists

This bring the total number of Hindu priests attacked this year alone in Bangladesh to 5. The other cases being:

Feb 2016: Two assailants armed with pistols and cleavers beheaded Jogeswar Roy, 45, the head priest of Sri Sri Sant Gourio Math, at his home in the temple.

June 2016: 60-year old Hindu ashram worker, Nityaranjan Pandey, was hacked to death in northern Bangladesh, while walking early morning near his ashram in Pabna’s Hemayetpur Upazila.

June 2016: 70-year-old Hindu priest, Ananda Gopal Ganguly, was hacked to death in Bangladesh by three suspected Islamic State (IS) jihadists who nearly severed his head.

In addition to these murders, around a dozen secular bloggers (including atheist Hindus) have also been hacked to death, along with some foreigners and other minorities (Buddhists and Christians) in recent years in Bangladesh.

The spate of brutal murders in Bangladesh show that even with a democratic system and a relatively secular party (Awami League) currently in power, radical Islamism is bubbling beneath the surface in this Muslim majority nation; and there is a real danger of Bangladesh descending into Islamist-fueled anarchy. The Bharatiya sub-continent, oblivious to most Hindus, has spawned some of the most radical and hardline Sunni Islamic movements like Deoband, Jamaat-e-Islami, Tablighi Jamaat etc. in the last 150 odd years. The Islamist menace facing Bangladesh, Pakistan, large parts of Bharat and Sri Lanka is homegrown to a large extent, and not down to just Saudi-exported Wahabbism.

Politically correct statements like ‘terror has no religion’ after every Islamist terror attack should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve. Islamist terror does have a religion, and that religion is ISLAM.