When religious fanatics were burning our temples or tarnishing Durga, I didn't feel offended. I have seen my goddess being smashed from time to time. I have become numb. I felt relieved that at least they have not hurt people. But when I came to know about the deaths, I became horrified. I have started worrying about my community. It's very painful to accept that I belong to a minority community of Bangladesh, I am a Hindu.
My orientation with religion is nothing different from a typical child being born and brought up in a Hindu family in Bangladesh. There is a home shrine at our home and a temple in our yard. We were introduced to numerous gods and goddesses around the year when pujas were offered at different times to different gods and goddesses in a particular year. Knowingly or unknowingly the pujas became a part of our daily lives. We used to read the Gita. We used to offer prayers by singing and chanting. As I grew up in a gigantic family, the process of my learning on religion was a kind of community learning. Every day we used to learn something from here and there. Like someone used to tell us a story on God Shiva and someone warned against the goddess Manasa by depicting a story and someone told us the myths behind the Durga puja.
Another thing I was taught from my childhood is to keep quiet regarding religious beliefs. Actually, we have inherited the horrific experience of my ancestors during the Liberation War, 1971. Coming back to Bangladesh, my ancestors struggled hard to get back on their feet. Living in Bangladesh as Hindu has been difficult from time to time. So, we have learnt to compromise, we have learnt to keep quiet if anyone says something derogatory regarding my religion or our way of observing pujas.
We were warned that any of our actions or comments (irrespective of right or wrong) might put the whole community in danger. We have learned to be silent. Many times people call us "malaun", "Deda", "pagans" on our face. We keep quiet. We try to keep ourselves blind, deaf and dumb as if nothing happens.
I have seen my father being insecure in every aspect of his life. He was insecure about his government job, because he was a Hindu. He had to be more cautious regarding his loyalty towards the government as well as the country. Because there is a common concept that Hindus belong to India. But the truth is that my father and his family truly belongs to this country. Our home is here, our land is here, our relatives are here, our language, our accent, our food habits, our cultural orientation, everything that defines a person is here in Bangladesh. My father's over cautiousness stems from his insecurity as being a Hindu.
Therefore, my father passed down that insecurity to us. During childhood I used to think that his fear was overrated. As the time passes, I have observed my existence in a minority community. We have choked our emotions many times. This year when we were attacked, when our goddess was shattered, when our people were beaten to death, I understood the fear of my father. I understood the root cause of the life-long insecurity he was going through.
This time, I feel my back being crushed against the wall. For any sort of religious or political outcome, we are being targeted. It has been a very common practice that the minority community should keep quiet against religious fanatics. If we talk, if we protest, if we cry out loudly, we will get silenced. But for how long…???
I don't think that the government or administration or police can help us to feel secure. This type of religious upheaval can only be controlled by the community itself. We need our majority community to show their sensibility towards different religions. There are many of you who are showing their sympathy on virtual platforms. But where were you when we were attacked or beaten to death?
I know some questions are difficult to answer. I know some of my Muslim friends will always feel sympathetic towards us. Dear friends, sympathy or support is not the only thing we want. We want you to take your stand when you see your friends being harassed or beaten or murdered virtually or in the real world.