Dhaka, May 16, 2016: A senior Buddhist monk, aged 75, was found dead in a Buddhist Temple in a pool of blood. Bhante (monk) Maung Shue U Chak was murdered in Bangladesh’s south-eastern district of Bandarban. This recent attack has left the Buddhists angry and alienated.
Like always the Buddhists, the Hindus and all the secular people are outraged, these outraged people are on streets demanding justice, and then, after some time, everything will go back to where it was, except that the monk will never come back and the Buddhists in Bangladesh will continue to live under fear. In short, all this is now the ‘new normal’ in Bangladesh.
So far total three people have been detained with regards to the murder but the Bangladesh’s Home Minister is content with saying that these two are the ‘relatives’ of the murdered priest! The names of those apprehended by the police are two suspected Rohingyas, Abdur Rahim, 25, and Md Zia, 26, who were picked up from Tadangkhali Para and Titar Para, and another one is Sa Mong Chak, 35, who was picked from the Uppar Chak Para.
How the Muslim Rohingyas are ‘relatives’ of the slain Buddhist monk is something that only Sherlock Holmes is capable of deducing, but all that tells to the Buddhist community is that the leaders of Bangladesh don’t care; they can simply mouth anything and expect the hapless minorities to believe it.
Till now the state of Bangladesh has refused to acknowledge the presence of Islamic State foot soldiers and sympathizers in the nation but the proofs keep piling up which show that the situation is far more serious than what it seems from their end. The murder of Buddhist monk is on the lines of the murder of a Hindu priest and for the latter murder Islamic State took full responsibility.
Also, with an increasingly radicalised majority and mushrooming of Wahabi schools of thoughts how far will the minorities, even the passive ones like the Buddhists, can remain safe?
What is worse is that the two neighbours with big Buddhist population, India and Myanmar, have never really bothered to openly stand up against these atrocities on the minority Buddhists of Bangladesh. Due to this silence, especially on the part of India (the regional superpower), today the minority Buddhists feel threatened and are forced to migrate to India.
Actually, Indian government is all fine with taking minorities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh despite its own burden of population, but it suddenly develops cold feet when it comes to doing the easier job; telling Bangladesh that the ongoing persecution is unacceptable! Is it because India shares great ties with the Sheikh Hasina government? Could be.
Or is it that it feels that it should not disturb her while she takes care of ensuring that the democratic machinery gets strengthened? This is the most likely view as has been vouched for by many in the Indian government. However, the intention of the Hasina government is best illustrated with what it does and has been doing till now. If secularism is what Bangladesh wants, then it first needs to preserve its minorities and stop the exodus happening from the nation.
In any case, most of these law-abiding citizens when migrate to India, turn out to be an asset for their adopted nation as they hunt for business and educational opportunities and settle down in the country aiding to its economic growth and cultural and human rights position in the world. And what does Bangladesh gets? Nothing. So it is in the interest of Bangladesh to keep its minorities safe and allow them to flourish.
There was a time when at least the Chittagong was a thriving Buddhist center but now it is nothing short of a Bangladeshi Army’s camp with bunkers and troops everywhere!
The Army is accused by minority for trying to change the demography of the region which remains an unacceptable position for minority Buddhists.
The government must take up these issues earnestly and ensure that the late monk Maung Shue U Chak gets justice. This is the only way to convey to its minority Buddhist community, that it is serious about their human and political rights.