Last month, on October 15, amid the celebration of the biggest Hindu religious festival across Bangladesh, several Durga Puja pandals and temples were vandalized after a temple at Comilla district became the flashpoint for allegedly disrespecting the Quran. All this happened after a Facebook post went viral on social media showing a copy of the Quran placed at the feet of an idol with the caption “Insulting Quran” using the fake accounts of Jamaat militants named ‘Juelpradoxical’ and ‘SK Media’. The violence was followed by several attacks on the members of the Hindu minority with angry mobs vandalizing temples and Puja Pandals. In response to this incident, Hindu groups have protested and a few rallies were taken out in Tripura against the attacks on the Hindu minority in Bangladesh.
Tripura is a state in northeast India bordered by a Muslim majority country Bangladesh and connected by a thin corridor to the neighbouring state of Assam. The state has been ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014 where Muslims make up less than 9℅ of Tripura’s 4.2 million population. More than 10 incidents of religious violence have been reported from the North Tripura district in Chamtila, Jalebasha, and Rowa Bazar areas under the Panisagar subdivision where several mosques, shops, and houses belonging to Muslims were vandalized. The violence has mostly occurred in areas bordering Bangladesh.
A video portraying vandalism has gone viral on social media and people who were part of the rally could be heard chanting, “Tripura mein Mullagiri nahi chalega, nahi chalega” and “Oh Muhammed tera baap, Hare Krishna Hare Ram“. At least four mosques were vandalized whilst several homes and shops owned by Muslims were ransacked. The attacks were followed by a rally taken out by a Hindu organization, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on the 26th of October. According to senior police, about 3500 people had taken part in the rally. Similar rallies were taken out in other parts of Tripura as well. A rally was taken out in Agartala in West Tripura where a few miscreants allegedly damaged a CCTV camera of the mosque. On October 21, in North Tripura, a 10,000 strong rally was taken out by different organizations including the VHP and the HJM.
All the mosques across the states are under strict security and the police officers are in the field. One of the senior police officers said that they have registered a case after a few members of the minority community filed a case against some unknown VHP workers who chanted provocative slogans during the rallies. He further said that they are investigating the matter and collecting the video footage but so far no one has been arrested. He also added that section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC) which prohibits congregations of more than five people was also clamped in the Panisagar sub-division.
Responding to this Hindu-Muslim clash across the state of Tripura, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya claimed that there was a political conspiracy behind the incident.
“VHP is a social organization and they took permission before holding the rally. I believe there was a political conspiracy behind the incident to malign the name of the government and to disrupt the peace and tranquillity of the state. We want peace. We are demanding strict action against the culprits.”
The organization’s North district president Nani Gopal Debnath claimed in support of VHP that the shops, houses, and mosques were attacked by a section of people from the minority community itself.
Using social media for creating religious conflicts has become very common. Recent attention to mainstream media reveals that relations between religion and media appear to be breaking down. Religion is a sensitive topic and some middle-ground people being fully aware of it directly attack the sensitive spot of the public for their benefit. Responding to the riots in Bangladesh, Hindu-Christian-Buddhist Parishad’s General Secretary Das Gupta said: “All these are prejudicial acts….it is the same practice of political crime.“
Maria Aqdas is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Zaina Shahid Khan