Monday, January 26, 2009

Strike Against Gaza Attacks, Calcutta, 2009

A state, West Bengal, India, and a city, Calcutta (Kolkata), ruled by privileged-caste Communist elites of Bangladeshi Hindu refugees, and privileged-class opposition Congress Party and Trinomool (Grassroots) Congress Party who chose not to live with their Muslim or oppressed-caste Hindu neighbors in their Bangladesh homeland, goes on for a just protest in the faraway Middle-East, yet since 1947 haven't held even one protest against atrocities on their own Hindu-Buddhist families or for establishing a secular, non-racist regime in Bangladesh. This are examples from 2009.

Bandh (general strike) against Gaza attacks
The Times of India
13 Jan 2009, 0323 hrs IST, TNN

KOLKATA: A four-hour bandh from 12 noon to 4 pm has been called by the Milli Ittehad Parishad West Bengal, a forum of 13 Muslim organisations to protest Israel's strikes on civilian targets in Gaza City of Palestine. Lawyer Idris Ali, who had moved high court against bandhs earlier, is himself a party to the bandh call. On Monday, he and Haji Abdul Aziz gave the call after a rally. The organisers will invite prominent leaders CPM* state secretary Biman Bose, Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee and state Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya to a downtown protest gathering on Friday, hoping that none of them can ignore the invitation with the Lok Sabha election around. Although Left parties have already condemned the attacks on Palestine, it is not certain whether Bose will join Friday's gathering. Speakers at Monday's press conference came down heavily on Israel for the way it has targeted Hamas, the largest and most influential Islamic organisation in Palestine, killing women and children. They insisted that Israel was leading the attack at the prodding of the US.

* CPM - Communist Party of India-Marxist, rulers of Bengali states of West Bengal and Tripura and of the City of Kolkata (Calcutta), India

Kolkata Muslims protest against Israeli air strikes Kolkata
January 03, 2009 12:09:21 PM IST

Muslims here staged a massive demonstration to protest against Israel's offensive in Gaza that has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent Palestine civilians. The demonstrators, who gathered outside Tippu Sultan's mosque, also set the Israeli flag on fire. Noorur Rehman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of the mosque said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA* chairperson Sonia Gandhi would be urged to snap bilateral ties with Israel immediately. "We have declared Israel a terrorist nation. We will burn their diplomatic offices all over India. If the war doesn't stop now, then their diplomatic consulates will be burnt in India and in other countries also," warned Barkati.

"America and the United Nations are corrupt because Muslims are bleeding and no action is being taken against the Israeli attackers. We Muslims have called it a Jihad. We will eradicate Israel for which plans are going on," Barkati added. In New Delhi , protestors gathered outside the Jama Masjid, to burn the Israeli and American flags, as well as an effigy. The Government of India has joined international calls for a halt to the conflict, and promised a million dollars in financial aid to affected families in Gaza.

Diplomats said the deadliest conflict in the Gaza Strip in four decades appeared close to a crucial stage after four days of cross-border fire had killed over 400 Palestinians and four Israelis.
Foreign powers have increased pressure on both sides to halt hostilities, whereas reports indicate that public anger in Israel could move the Government in Tel Aviv to hit the Hamas even harder. (ANI)

*UPA - United Progressive Alliance, the governing coalition in Delhi

Israeli hanar protibadey pathey Mamata (Protest against Israeli attack)
(Translated from a Calcutta Bengali Paper)

Trinomool (party) leader (Ms) Mamata Bandyopadhyay is begining a street protest today, Tuesday, against Israeli attack. In the afternoon there will be a protest meeting at the foot of Gandhi statue (in Calcutta), then march. At the begining of the protest Kabir Suman will sing songs of humanity. There will be leaders of (protection of) agcultural land, Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque Nur Barkati and leaders of Trinomool minority (Muslim) leaders. Mamata has given responsibility to Trinomool Youth Congress leader (Mr) Madan Mitra. Trinomool's Youth Brigade will also be on the street.

Udayan (New York), February 1, 2009; 29

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bangladesh Census and Loss of Hindu Population

Note: Comulative loss adjusted with the rate of growth of population

Note: Cumulative loss is adjusted with the rate of growth of population

Source: Empire's Last Casualty: Indian Subccontinent's Vanishing Hindu and Other Minorities, Firma KLM Publishers, Kolkata (Calcutta), India; 2008

Bombay Massacre 2008 and India's Past

“Bombay Massacre”

In the aftermath of Bombay massacre many Indian think tanks are urging government of India to invade Pakistan. But in reality that’s not a sensible option. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. At some stage of the war either of the country might consider using this deadly weapon system. It will not only bring total destruction in the region, but also encourage the West to denuclearize entire Indian Sub-continent. In the process, Indian and Pakistan might lose their sovereignty also. The biggest threat to Indian integrity and security does not come from Pakistan or Bangladesh; rather it comes from home-grown terrorism. In recent Bombay massacre only 10 Pakistani terrorists participated and at least 40 or more local sleeper cells supported them on the ground. The best possible remedy for India would be to integrate its Moslem population in the main stream development by enforcing western education system and closing down Muslim madrasas.
Does radical Islam Hate India?Many Islamic revivalists believe that India should be converted into a Muslim country. They argue that IN 712 A.D Mohammad Bin Qasim and his Muslim descendants ruled India until British takeover in 1757. Although Mohammad Bin Qasim had conquered India with only a couple of thousand soldiers, yet they successfully held this vast land for hundreds of years with fierce force and sheer terror. Lack of unity among Hindus and absence of a strong Central government gave Muslim invaders an upper hand over Hindus.
After the end of Second World War, Independence of India became inevitable. But, the British wanted a political control over the region even after independence. So, they planted a permanent trouble in the region by creating the first Islamic Republic state of this planet, Pakistan, before leaving India. To legitimize this misdeed, British organized a referendum in 1946. In that historical referendum 90% of Muslims in undivided India voted for Pakistan and other 10% who did not vote for Pakistan were Punjab and North East Frontier province of Pakistan. Almost one hundred percent Muslims of East Bengal now called Bangladesh voted for Pakistan. Hindus of East Bengal largely voted for a secular state in 1946 for which they were slaughtered by the fundamentalist Muslims after Partition. In other word 90% Muslims rejected the idea of a secular India. That still is the mindset of the descendants of those Muslims who voted for the creation of Pakistan.
The same mindset is seen in Bangladesh and Pakistan also. In spite of voting for the creation of Pakistan, ironically, only 8% of Indian Muslims migrated to Pakistan and the rest remained inIndia with their radical ideology. Indian political leaders exploited minority Muslims in their meanest vote politics. Muslims were never given an opportunity to integrate with the main stream culture; rather Muslim law board was created parallel to western law for a permanent division in the society. The most damage to Indian unity has been caused by Muslim madrasa education system.To turn the page of the history back to pre-British occupation, India militarily created Bangladesh in 1971 without a political and cultural orientation. Because of thousands of year’s Islamic mindset Bangladesh turned anti Indian soon after 1971 and ISI of Pakistan has used this situation in their interest. Because of the mindset, Indian Muslims didn’t support Bangladesh independence / war of cessation in 1971. Bangladesh will soon turn into a proxy battle ground between India and Pakistan. Radical Islam is gaining ground in Bangladesh every day and in a fine morning it will declare itself an Islamic Republic. The aim and objective of Bangladesh and Pakistan aboutIndia are the same, either make it an Islamic republic or disintegrate it. Many in Bangladesh believe that cessation in 1971 was a conspiracy of India to weaken Islam and Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The best way to resist Indian domination in the region is by helping cessations andterrors inside India; that’s what Bangladesh and Pakistan are doing today. Why India has become frequent target of Islamic terror: in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh women and downtrodden are the most vulnerable to physical and sexual torture. Because of religious, social and economical reasons women and poor are defenseless in these countries and forced to submit to the brutality of men. In the process of nonresistance from the victims, menof this region often go wild and take torture as pleasure. Due to passive reaction of people and government, Islamic terrorism in India is a wild fantasy today. Muslim terrorists can strike any target of their choice at any time without the fear of retaliation. After 9/11 America lunched a massive campaign against Islamic terrorism worldwide and kept its land safe from new terror attack.
During cold war Pakistan received military, diplomatic and financial support from the West and used its territory against India and USSR. At that time Pakistan was considered equal or superior to India, but at the end of cold war everything changed rapidly. Afghan mujahedeen onceconsidered an asset to Pakistan, soon turned into liability. After the fall of USSR Pakistan reorganized mujahedeen’s for liberating Indian occupied Kashmir. Srinagar of Indian occupied Kashmir was soon compared with Kandahar of Afghanistan. But everything changed on 9/11. America declared war on terror with zero tolerance and Pakistan soon became a terrorist country. Once Pakistan rupee was stronger than Indian rupee but present exchange rate against US Dollar is 99 Pakistani rupees compared to 49 Indian rupees. You may recall the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulficar Ali Bhutto’s call to his countrymen to acquire nuclear weapon even at the cost of starvation to match India. Today Indian is positioned among the top ten economic powers with a trillion dollar economy and on the other hand, Pakistan is considered a failed orfailing state with unmanageable debt. This contrast between India and Pakistan has caused a great deal of frustration among the people of Pakistan, and there will an outburst in the form of terrorism in the region. “If we cannot match India why not to destroy them, since they are incapable of defending themselves and it is very easy for us?” say Pakistanis.The same pattern of mindset is seen within Indian Muslims and that has made the situation worse for the Indian government. There are innumerable homegrown Islamic terrorist cells active in India today. Like Bombay, many more terrorist attacks will be carried out countrywide to demoralize Indian citizens and slow down India’s economic growth. In the process, India will be disintegrated like USSR or will succumb to Militant Islam. In past India never stood firm and united against any foreign aggression. Political parasites will act as fifth columnist in foreign interest like communists did during Chinese invasion in 1962.

Sachin Karmakar
Writer is an ex Defense officer and current affair analyst and comes from a Hindu-Muslim family background
December 03, 2008.
New York

Exhibition on persecution of Minorities in Bangladesh

* ASRU: Exhibition on persecution of Minorities in Bangladesh. The exhibition has travelled all over India, even in the interior villagesof Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa. A total of 250,000 visitors appreciated the exhibition.

* <>

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bangladeshs Election 2008: Defenders of the minority vote

Election 2008: Defenders of the minority vote
Naeem Mohaiemen

AT a seminar last week discussing the newly formed National Human Rights Commission, it was pointedly asked why it had no minority members. The chairman had no reply for us, but the question kept percolating in the room.

In another air-con room a week later, the Awami League unveiled its election manifesto. Section 18.1 pledges to improve the condition of minorities, adivasis, indigenous people, and dalits, by removing discriminatory laws, forming land commission to protect their land, creating job opportunities, etc. Section 18.2 talks about implementation of the CHT Peace Accord.

Those who recall the abrupt volte face of the AL-Khelafot Andolon alliance of December 2006, or who are distressed at the alliance presence of JP which inserted "Islam as state religion" into the constitution, will remain cautious. But while guarded, we may still hope for an incremental shift in political parties' commitment to minority rights.

Historically, minority communities have been perceived to vote for the AL (if only because the other parties are increasingly hard-line on religion). This was manifested in 2001, when Hindu voters were prevented from voting in many areas. After the BNP-Jamaat victory, BNP-allied local gangs attacked Hindu villages. According to press reports at the time, the southwestern and southern part of Bangladesh (popularly known as the 'Hindu belt') was worst affected.

Meghna Guhathakurta, in a forthcoming essay (Journal of Social Studies No. 121 January-March 2009), describes a visit to Bhola, one of the worst affected districts: "Among the atrocities committed were charging into households, attacking men, women and children with sharp knives and weapons, in certain cases threatening with guns, terrorizing women and children by beating and chasing them and in certain cases raping and attempting rape. Looting of Hindu households and sometimes Muslim households which sheltered Hindus took place throughout the night and in waves since most householders had fled in terror and their houses were left unguarded."

According to research done by a rights NGO, based on the National Democratic Institute (NDI) data-set, the 1991 and 2001 Bangladesh election results could have been different given the razor-thin margins by which many seats were won, and the huge number of minority voters that were prevented from voting in those very seats. Out of 300 constituencies for parliament seats, there are 71 where minority voters are significant (ranging from 11% to 61%) and 50 where they are visible (5-10%). According to the 2001 Population Census, the Hindu population was 11,379,000 -- 9.2 per cent of the total.

These statistics do not count other religious minorities, nor ethnic minorities. If we look at the intersection between religious and ethnic minority in Jumma people of Chittagong Hill Tracts, we find these were areas with lowest voter turnout. According to analysis of NDI data by Rahman & Ahamed (Daily Star, Dec 12), there were 850 centres where voter turnout in 2001 was less than half of total registered voters. Of these, 87 centres were in Cox's Bazaar, 49 in Bandarban, 67 in Rangamati, and 36 in Khagrachari. In addition, around 87 centres with less than 50 per cent turnout were in Cox's Bazaar-3. There were 35 polling centres where voter turnout was as low as or lower than 10 %. Of these, 18 were in Rangamati, 8 in Khagrachari, 5
in Cox's Bazaar-3, and 2 in Bandarban.

Looking at specific constituencies in 2001, Rahman & Ahamed (Daily Star, Dec 13) zero in on Bagerhat-4 where 12% voters are religious minority, and Khulna-5 where 40% of voters are religious minority. Looking at the NDI data, there is clear evidence of violence which resulted in Hindu-majority polling centres being closed, Hindu voters staying away from polls, as well as manipulation of vote counting to exclude the Hindu vote. In both constituencies, a Jamaat-e-Islami candidate was declared the winner.

As a result of the tremendous pre- and post-election violence directed at minorities in 2001, this has become an area of specific interest for international election observers in 2008. Local human rights defenders are doing outreach to make sure minority voters do not get intimidated. But so much more is needed, including a public commitment to this from the Election Commission and other administration.

In India's West Bengal, Trinamool and Left Front compete with each other to woo the minority vote (in their case, the Muslims). Of course this is practical politics -- West Bengal has a 27% Muslim population, and there is no law like Bangladesh's Vested Property Act that creates downward pressure on their numbers (in fact the Muslim voter numbers have gone up with each elections). In Bangladesh, as the Hindu
population is going down due to VPA, politicians think the minority vote does not have to be respected, nor do many worry about ensuring that these voters can enter polling booths safely.

A call to protect minority rights must come from the majority. I place my hope on ordinary citizens, the silent majority, the secular Muslim. We can and must defend Bangladesh's secular core, starting with the minority vote.

Naeem Mohaiemen ( has written about minorities for Ain o Salish Kendra and Drishtipat.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bangladesh 1972 Secular Constitution to be Restored

The Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ministers' Maiden Pledges

1972 constitution to be restored

Says Barrister Shafique

Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said his ministry will take steps to restore the 1972 constitution in order to reestablish the spirits of secularism, the great liberation war, rule of law, human rights and democracy in the country. "As a lawyer and human rights activist I have certain commitments to the people. The government is also committed to restore the Constitution of 1972. If those commitments are fulfilled, the religious militancy and terrorism emerged in recent years in the country will be rooted out," he said.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Star at his Indira Road residence Tuesday night immediately after taking oath as a minister, Barrister Shafique Ahmed said his ministry will take all necessary legal steps to try the war criminals who committed genocide, rapes and torture against the people of the country during the liberation war in 1971.
The war criminals should be tried in the special tribunal under the International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973, he said. "My first task will be to scrutinize the ordinances promulgated by the immediate past caretaker government to place those before the parliament to pass those into laws. The caretaker government has promulgated more than 100 ordinances and if those are not passed in the parliament within 30 days after the start of its session, those will be lapsed," he said. Replying to a question Barrister Shafique said his ministry will very soon establish an independent secretariat for the judiciary in order to ensure the independence of the judiciary and to effectively execute the separation of the judiciary from the executive.
He said the judges should be appointed to the Supreme Court and High Court as per the rules of the 1972 Constitution so that honest, competent and qualified judges are appointed there as per recommendations of the Chief Justice. "Two vacant posts of judges of the Appellate Division will be filled up soon, as per the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Commission. The commission on October 16 last year recommended names of four senior most judges of the High Court division for appointment of two of them to the Appellate Division," he said.
He also said at least 20 new competent and honest judges should be appointed to the High Court to dispense fair and speedy justice.

Noakhali Hindu Killing 1946 East Bengal, India

Refugees Tell of Terror in Bengal As Hindu-Moslem Rioting Goes On

Refugees Testify to Bengal Terror

Special to The New York Times Calcutta, India, Oct. 18 (London Times dispatch)-- Unofficial reports reaching Calcutta indicate that acts of violence are continuing on an alarming scale in the districts of Noakhali and Tippera. This is despite the local Government's assurance that the communal situation in eastern Bengal had shown some improvement during the last twenty-four hours. Hundreds of refugees have reached Calcutta from these districts and they have a grim picture of the happenings there during the last eight days. They say that a hundred villages have been burned by hooligans, that hundreds of persons have been butchered or maimed and destitute. They report that both districts are infernos of communal fury, and that unless the Government urgently dispatches more troops and police whole minority populations will be wiped out. [In new Delhi Mohandas K. Gandhi repeated his declaration to Indian women that they should commit suicide rather than submit to dishonor.] Both Noakhali and Tipperah are predominantly Moslem areas. The total population there is just over 8,000,000 and of these only 2,000,000 are Hindus. The latest reports show that the scenes of the disturbances since yesterday have been moving from Noakhali into Tippera and that they are concentrating in the Chandpur subdivision of that district. The capital town, Chandpur, is a large railway and river junction toward which refugees are fleeing in an attempt to escape into western Bengal. But most of the roads and the river exits are being guarded by armed rowdies and a large population of the evacuees has cut into the jungles and swamps to avoid molestation. Thus far police and military action in the affected areas has been confined to about six firings. The casualties from this source are about twenty killed and an equal number injured. The total casualties from the riots will perhaps never be known. Official sources [Moslem in Bengal] remain silent over this point but unofficial reports variously estimate the totals between 5,000 and 6,000 killed and 1,500 to 2,000 injured. It is reported that a further 50,000 to 60,000 have been forcibly converted ot another faith or abducted. There is grave public anxiety in Calcutta over the inadequacy of the police and military forces dispatched to the stricken areas by the Bengal Government. So far only two companies of troops are known to have been sent to an area covering several hundred square miles. During the August Calcutta riots had at their disposal about 45,000 troops to protect the city. Food is another urgent problem. With both railway and river communications seriously dislocated and trade completely at a standstill in most parts of Noakhali and Tippera, thousands face starvation. Local leaders have made urgent representations to the Government to fly food to the starving villages. They have also telegraphed to the Governor of Bengal and the Chief Minister, who at present at the hill resort of Darjeeling, jointly to visit the affected areas. The Secretary of the Bengal Hindu Mahasabha party has just received from the Governor's private secretary a message that the Governor proposed to visit Noakhali soon.

Gandhi Advises Suicide

New Delhi, India, Oct. 18 (AP)- Mohandas K Gandhi, "spiritual leader" of the Hindu-led Congress party, again today advised women in eastern Bengal to take their own lives rather than submit to dishonor. In Bombay the provincial Congress party chief called for halting of all business activity as a demonstration of sympathy for riot victims. Mr. Gandhi said he felt a "call" to go to the trouble areas as soon as the situation in New Delhi permitted. He said that at his request Acharya Kripalani, newly elected president of the Congress party, and Sarat Chandra Bose, recently retired member of the interim Government, had gone to investigate the riot reports. He was most emphatic in his instructions to women, insisting it was "not an idle idea" and he meant every word he said. Last night he advised women to suffocate themselves by holding their breath, but he said tonight that he had been told by physicians that suicide by that means was impossible. "The only way known to medicine for instant self immolation is strong poisonous doses," he siad he was told. He added: "If this is so I would advise every one running the risk of dishonor to take poison before submission to dishonor."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Non-Muslim or Human?

Please find out the documentary Edited for Campaign Against Atrocities on Minority of BAngladesh's 4th International Conference

By Human Rights Defender William Gomes

"Mallaun Na Manush" (Non-Muslim or Human)

We will be blessed to hear from you .Please Click this to see the documentary:

Fell free to share this with others.

With Thanks

William Gomes

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jagannath Temple on Road to Oblivion - Dhaka, Bangladesh

Daily Star, Dhaka
August 1, 2008

Jagannath on road to oblivion
The century-old temple faces demolition amid shifting of blames and responsibilities
Durdana Ghias

The partially demolished façade of Jagannath temple stands with a broken pinnacle. Demolition of the frontal façade of Jagannath Mandir at city's Tantibazar is going on while the authorities concerned are still unsure about who has the responsibility to save the 100-year-old temple.A big obstacle in saving the structure lies in the fact that the authorities are yet to make a complete list of city's heritage buildings.
The temple committee started knocking down the structure on Saturday night. A new building is being constructed inside the temple compound. According to locals, the temple was built by Hariprashanna Dey, Kartik Sen and other elite of the trader community of the area. Taimur Islam, conservation architect of Urban Study Group, said the 19th century temple is known for it decorative ceramic tiles and moulded tiles.Corinthian capitals, small ornate domes, pilasters, relief work, decorated cornice and parapets are some of the important features of the temple."Parts of the parapets are broken now. The structure has an oriel window jutting out of the wall. The pinnacle was once broken by the Pakistan Army during the Liberation War. Then it was redeveloped," he said."We are trying to raise funds to save it. The façade can be preserved and partially reconstructed. We have sought one-month time from the temple committee to provide necessary technical assistance to save the façade." Taimur contacted Rajuk's authorised officer of the area when he found that the demolition was going on Sunday. The authorised officer responded by sending an inspector immediately to the spot.Babul Das, head of the temple committee, said they have tried their best to save the façade of the temple but they could not do it due to lack of funds. "We wanted to save the façade but we do not have enough money. The architects told us that they would manage funds but they couldn't. Therefore we are not in a position to save it,” he said. “The best we can do is to reconstruct the whole thing after demolition. But we have to knock it down for the new building," said Das. “The façade stands as an obstacle to the worshippers coming to the temple,” he added. "Due to the rickety façade we are facing problem in worshipping. We have a string of Puja in the next few months -- Jhulon, Monosha Puja, Janmashtami, Bishwakarma Puja and Durga Puja. So we will have to prepare the temple now,” the temple committee chief said. Das said Rathjatra is the most gorgeous religious event at this temple. But in the last Rathjatra they faced problems because they had lots of worshippers who faced difficulties getting into the temple. “Till now we have broken only the pinnacle of the façade which can be reconstructed," he said. Kajal Devnath, president, city unit of Hindu, Bouddha, Christian Oikya Parishad, said he is trying his best to save whatever is left. "I have told the Urban Study Group that if they can take the responsibility and provide technical help in saving the structure then I can convince the temple committee," he said.If a sponsor is not found or the government do not come forward in time then it will be hard for anyone to save it. This is the stark reality, he said.Asked what steps the recently formed heritage committee under the government's Urban Development Committee, will take regarding the matter, one of its high officials said that since their convener is not in the country they are waiting for him to return.On his return, the committee will take action. Official letter will be sent to Rajuk about the buildings which were not listed but are invaluable from architectural point of view."The two main jobs of the heritage committee are to prepare a list of the heritage buildings and to apply to the authorities concerned to save the buildings. But the committee cannot take any action. We are not empowered to stop any demolition work. We can only make a request," said a high official seeking anonymity. "Right now we are observing what the temple committee does. We have informed the concerned Rajuk officer about the demolition," he said. But Aminur Rahman Suman, Rajuk's authorised officer of the area, said none from the committee has contacted him. “I sent a inspector to the spot Sunday evening following a verbal request from an architect. As far as I know they have stopped the demolition. But it would have been easier for me if I had a written complaint,” he said. These buildings are under the jurisdiction of DCC according to clause 111 of the Dhaka City Corporation Ordinance 1983, he said."It would have been of great support to us had there been a list of these heritage buildings. Since I don't have any list how will I know which one is a heritage building and which one is not?”Asked, Sirajul Islam, DCC's town planner, said DCC, Rajuk and Disaster Management Bureau are responsible for the risky structures in the city. He said DCC is responsible for the maintenance of any structures, be it a building or a footpath. DCC has a technical committee comprising representatives from Rajuk, PWD, house building and disaster management committee, for identifying risky buildings in the city. "After identifying a building we make an assessment of the building and serve a notice to the owner for necessary repairs to make it risk-free. If he does not comply, then we serve another notice to knock it down,” he said. "Now the problem is most of the risky buildings are heritage buildings. If we could know which of them are heritage buildings it would have been easier for us to take proper steps. We heard that a list of heritage buildings will be prepared by the Urban Development Committee," he said. Sirajul mentioned that 19 people died in 2004 due to building collapse in Shankharibazar. At that time DCC prepared a list of risky buildings but Jagannath Mandir was not on the list. At that time it was a stable structure.

Bangladesh: The Holy Land of Hindu-Buddhist Tirthas

Bangladesh: The Holy Land of
Hindu and Buddhist Tirthas (Places of Pilgrimage)

Sachi G. Dastidar

Over the millenniums several places have become famous tirthas or places of pilgrimages in Bengal. Large concentrations of those places are in today's Bangladesh. Many notable monks, rishis, bhikkhus, and famous personalities were born here. Many Muslim tombs of holy pirs and darbeshes exist here, notable among them is the mazar of Shah Jalal in Sylhet. There exist several famous Christian churches.

It is said that in the Golden Age of Bengal, Bengali Buddhist monks spread their faith in Tibet and Sri Lanka, and Hindus brought Hinduism to Shyam [Thailand], Cambodge [Cambodia], and in Jabadwip [Indonesia].

To document the religious heritage of Bangladesh, the Bangla Academy in Dhaka has published several books: on Hindu temples [Ratanlal Chaakraborty, Bangladesher Mandir, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, B.S. 1394,] Buddhist stupas and temples, and Muslim mosques and mazars.
In Bangladesh [Bengal] Hindu traditions of local, vedic, non-vedic, tribal, Mongolian along with Buddhist and Islamic, have all merged to give her a distinctive identity. Here the traditions of the saivaites, saktas and vaishnavs have merged producing many festivities from worshipping of tulshi plants and baniyan trees to snake goddess Manasa to Gods Kali, Shiv and Sri Krishna.
For the convenience of travel and for hotel accommodation, Bangladesh could be divided into six tirtha regions. For example, the Dhaka-Narayanganj-Mymansingh region of Madhya Bangla [central Bangla], the Khulna-Jessore-Kushtia Paschim Bangla [western Bangla], Barisal-Faridpur’s Jal Bangla [marshy Bengal], the Chittagong-Comilla’s Dakhin-Purba Bangla [southeast Bengal], Sylhet, and Uttar Bangla [North Bengal.]

It is worth mentioning here that it is estimated that there are over 20,323 temples in Bangladesh (Ref: Sibsankar Chakraborty, Uddipan, Sri Ramakrishna Mission & Mott, Dhaka, 1986.} Thus it is impossible to write about all these. Many of these are in disrepair, and many have been attacked by Muslim fundamentalists. Bengal temple architecture is a special feature of Indian architecture. Most of the famous styles are as follows: shikhar (steeple), rekha (line) or peerra (flat seat) deul, akchala (single slope), dochala (double sloped), charchala (four slopeed) or aatchala (eight sloped), pancha-rotno (five-jeweled or five-steeple) made out of various materials - the famous one being Bengal terracotta temples. After Lord Sri Chaitanya’s birth in the 15th Century, a new liberal Hindu religious movement started in Bengal, and Sri Chaitanya’s followers have built numerous temples throughout Bengal, notable among them in his native Sylhet, in the village of Sri Chaitanya, and in the birth places of his early disciples.

According Hindu customs, there are only 51 piths, spread from Baluchistan to Bengal, and Kashmir to Kerala. These are the places where the parts of the body of Ma Sati (Ma Kali) fell after her death. However, eight of those sites are located in Bangladesh. There is no such concentration of holy places anywhere else. In these sites one normally finds temples of Lord Shiv and Mother Kali [Bhabani.] Bangladeshi piths are: 1. “Shugandha,” Uttar (north) Shikarpur village, Gour Nadi Thana (police station), Barisal district; 2. “Karatoya Tot,” Bhabanipur village, Sherpur Thana, Bogura; 3. “Srihatta,” Jainpur village, Thana & district Sylhet; 4. “Jayanti,” Baurbhag village, Jaintia, Sylhet; 5. “Tripura,” Radhakishorpur, Comilla; 6. “Jesssoreswari,” Iswaripur, Khulna; 7. “Kirit Devi Kamala,” Botnagar, Elahiganj, Sylhet, and 8. “Chattagram,” Sitakunda, Chittagong. Some individuals believe that the Elahiganj temple is not a pitha but it is the temple at Devikot village, Bangarh, Dinajpur. Of all these, the location of Chattagram at the mountain top at Sitakunda is spectacular, and is in decent shape as a tourist attraction and as a pilgrimage place.

In central Madhya Bangla one must mention the thousand-year old Ramna Kali temple. This was partially destroyed by the fundamentalists and by the Pakistani Army in 1971, and later “cleared” by the independent government. Many Hindus still visit this site as a holy place. Then there is 15th Century Dhakeswari Mandir temple in Dhaka. Langolbandh near Dhaka attracts thousands of pilgrims in the month of Falgun [mid-February to mid-March] for a fair and for a holy dip in the Brahmaputra river. In the west of Dhaka, near Savar Memorial, is Dhamrai. Its Rath [chariot] Festival was the second most popular after Puri’s [Orissa] Ratha-jatra of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Shuvadra. During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War the eight storey rath was destroyed by the Islamic Army of Pakistan and its Bengali Islamist allies. Now with a smaller rath [chariot], Ratha-jatra and Rather-mela [fair] attracts thousands of people. Incidentally, Dhamrai has a beautiful collection of 18th-20th century buildings dalan and zamindar [land owner] jamidar barris of typical Hindu families.

In the west there are several 3 to 4 centuries-old temples dedicated to Lords Shiv, Kali and Sri Krishna. Jessoreswari of Khulna is the most famous among them. In addition there are Raghunath mandir and Gopinath mandir of Abhoynagar, Ganesh mandir of Jhenaidaha, Krishna and Durga mandirs of Mohammadpur, Shiv mandir of Magura, Kodala Mott of Khulna, LakhsmiNarayan and Jorhbangla Mandir templesof Jessore, Pancha-Rotno mandir of Noldanga, etc. In Kushtia, Shilaidaha of Rabindranath, Bengal’s singing minstrel Lalon’s tomb and Mosharaf Hossain’s homestead is a must-see for all.

There are several mandirs, motts and ashrams in southern marshy Jal Bangla. Indian freedom fighter Charonkobi [wondering minstrel] Mukunda Das has created a place of pilgrimage through his Kali temple in Barisal town. Then there is Sugandha pitha a couple of miles north of Barisal. A few miles north is the 400-year old Maha-Bishnu temple at the LakhsmanKathi village east of Batajore. Adjacent to that is the 16th century Mahilara Leaning Mott or Sarkari Mott. In Madaripur one will find the Pronob Mott, the former head quarters of the Bharat Sevasram Sangha, at Bajitpur village founded by the Indian nationalist and Hindu reformer Swami Pranavananda Maharaj. A large fair is held annually during Guru Purnima [February full moon.]

In the southeast Dakhin-Purba Bangla there are at least 50 famous Hindu-Buddhist temples and viharas in Chittagong city alone. Some of the well known are: Raj-rajeswari Kalibari, Chatteswari Kalibari, Panchanan Dham, Nandan-kanan Buddhist Mandir temple, Brahmo Mandir, Koibalya-dham, Jagatpur Ashram, Sitakunda, Pancha-batika of Swami Vivekananda fame, etc. In and around Comilla there are Abhoy Ashram, Iswar Pathshala, Gandhi Ashram of Noakhali, half-a-millennium old Chandimura temple, 10th century Moynamati Vihara, and more.

Sylhet has hundreds of famous temples dedicated to Lords Kali, Shiv and Sri Krishna. Bagala Matar Mandir temple of Habiganj and Kalibari of Jaintiapur is known throughout the Subcontinent. Sylhet is also a destination of many pilgrims for the Islamic saint of Shah Jalal.
In North Bengal kings and zamindar’s have helped create many temples, mosques, palaces and ashrams. One of the most famous temples is the Kantajir [terracotta] Mandir of Dinajpur. Two 9th and 10th century Buddhist stupas (mounds) are very important attractions there. They are located at Paharpur and at Mahasthangarh. Additionally, Bogura’s Karatoa Tott tirtha, Bardhan-Kuthi Mandir temple of Rangpur, Shiv and Gobindo Mandir temples of Putia is worth mentioning in addition of the well planned of the same name.