The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has expressed deep concern and condemnation over the killing of at least six people and injuries of hundreds in sectarian violence in at least 15 districts of the country, including Cumilla, centred on Durga Puja.
There is no scope to call this continuous violence an isolated incident because previous such incidents have not been brought to justice due to political blaming game and consequently such violence takes place at regular intervals, reads a press release sent by the TIB.
"We are surprised to see that the field administration, including the law enforcement agencies, has failed miserably to stop the week-long sectarian attacks on the livelihoods of Hindus, including temples, houses and businesses across the country," said Dr Iftekharuzzam, the executive director of TIB.
"Thousands of defendants have been charged in hundreds of cases since the incident, but the real culprits have yet to be identified in most places, apart from the traditional political allegations. We see a repetition of the same scene in all the previous violence of this incident," he added.
TIB executive director also said, "The real culprits go into hiding and communal violence continues at regular intervals. We do not find any information on exemplary punishment in the case of arson and vandalism of more than one and a half thousand houses, idols, shrines and temples of different religions in more than three thousand violent attacks in the last one decade."
It is this culture of impunity, along with political patronage of communal forces, that fuels the aggressors and perpetuates the seeds of communalism. If the political patronage of communal forces is not eradicated forever and exemplary punishment for those responsible for the violence is not ensured, it will be impossible to fulfil the dream of Bangladesh in the spirit of the liberation war, he added.
The executive director criticised the failed attempt to curb the violence by shutting down mobile internet services for more than 12 hours and disseminating news in the mainstream media, citing technical glitches following the Cumilla incident.
"We believe that the situation would not have gone so far if the real culprits were immediately identified and brought under the law. In particular, the involvement of leaders and activists of various political parties, including the ruling party, in the recent communal attacks in Ramu, Ukhia, Nasirnagar and Sunamganj is not unfounded.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the Shahabuddin Commission, which was set up by the High Court in 2009 to investigate communal violence in the aftermath of the 2001 elections, submitted a report to the Home Ministry in 2012 with several recommendations. The report has not yet been unfolded to the public in a decade.
TIB feels that now is the time to sincerely end communal violence by taking appropriate action, eliminating the practice of forming committees of inquiry into each such incident and not publishing investigation reports.
The TIB demands strict and exemplary punishment for all those involved in the recent incidents as well as a specific and workable plan of action to prevent such heinous crimes in the country in the future, adds the press release.