Seeking to assure the predominantly Hindu minorities in her country and the global community at large, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that her government strongly supports secularism and any attempts to disturb communal harmony are immediately dealt with.
In an interview with ANI ahead of her visit to India, Sheikh Hasina, however, contended that extremism was not limited to her country as many countries, including India, were witnessing it. She said one of the reasons for the rising extremism was social media, which had become “very very bad nowadays”.
“As long as we are in power, we always give importance to that and I always tell them (the minority) that you are our citizens. You should own our country. But some incidents sometimes take place but immediately we take action. It is sometimes, it happened, it’s very unwanted situation but you know very well it is not only Bangladesh, even India also sometimes minorities suffered,” she said.
There have been reports about attacks and hostility against the minority Hindu population in Bangladesh. Some reports have mentioned attacks on Durga Puja pandals or places of worship. Sheikh Hasina, however, said that it was important that countries show magnanimity, when asked about incidents of attacks on the Hindu minority population.
“I think that both the country should show their magnanimity and our part, you know Bangladesh is a secular country and we have many religions here. And religious harmony is here, very much. So one or two incidents when it takes place immediately… especially my party… my party people, they are very much, conscious about it and also my government. We immediately take action,” she said.
Asked to comment on the role of the radical community of bloggers and others on social media, Sheikh Hasina said that it is not desirable that people write things to hurt each other and added that her government tried to curb any such activity.
“Look, extremism is everywhere. Even in India or other countries if you see in the world, there are many countries you can find it out. So because of social media it has become very… very bad nowadays. Some people sometimes write something. Even sometimes it’s not the bloggers but even other religion or so… Sometimes they write and then immediately people they come, but we have been trying our best to control it. We never support that. Each and every religion, they have their right to perform their religion properly, and one should not say such a thing that will hurt the other religion,” she said.
Last month, responding to incidents of violence in some parts of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, while addressing the minority Hindus, had said that they had the same rights as her. She made the comments on the occasion of Janamashtmi. Earlier there were reports from southwestern Bangladesh that temples, shops, and houses of Hindus were vandalised.
Sheikh Hasina, told ANI, that while some incidents occurred, Bangladesh has a tradition where people of all religions take part in all celebrations.
“We all, together we celebrate… As a cultural event, even you can see in Bangladesh, during Durga Puja. So many places, we have Durga Puja and people celebrate all together. So the religioous harmony is there but now some… here and there some incidents happen but our government immediately takes action against it,” she said.
Asked about the prevalence of cattle-smuggling from India into Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said the issue was under discussion and the problem had also been reduced a lot.
“But still sometimes some incidents take place. So, we discuss with India that they should show some patience on the issue of cattle trafficking. Already you know nowadays in our country, now we don’t depend on Indian cow much. We are growing our own, you know, cattle here because we need it. But some border smuggling takes place. So the two sides, the border forces, they are sitting together. Any incident happen, they hold the flag meetings, they discuss. So yes, we’ll say the assurance that it will reduce so it should not take place,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina is set to visit India on a key bilateral visit on Monday. Sheikh Hasina’s four-day India visit is being seen in both countries as an opportunity to further enhance the time-tested cooperation between the two fastest growing South Asian economies. It is expected that the Bangladesh Prime Minister would also discuss defence cooperation and regional stability with the Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)