Bangladesh was born in 1971 premised on a secular and democratic ethos as paragraph 2 of the preamble of the first constitution of Bangladesh which was adopted on November 4, 1972 accepted ‘nationalism’, ‘socialism’, ‘democracy’ and secularism as state principles. But “soon after its birth, the political history and politics of Bangladesh found itself within the twists and turns of majoritarian politics. Through the Eighth Amendment to the constitution on 7 June 1988, Islam was declared as the state religion of Bangladesh (Article 2 Clause A) with the provision that other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony. Since then the minority community (largely Hindus) face discrimination and continuous atrocities and violence as reported by many scholars and world bodies. It is also documented that the political process and the political parties were a major source of discrimination against minorities. Hindus are being marginalized in Bangladesh. The statistics showed the declining of Hindu minority gradually from 1947 to 2011 in Bangladesh. According to Bureau of Statistic. But our perception this statistic is not ok.
Hinduism is the second largest religious affiliation in Bangladesh, covering more than 9% of the population, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics for 2011 Bangladesh census. In terms of population, Bangladesh is the third largest Hindu state in the world after India and Nepal.
Ever since the birth of Bangladesh, the Hindu population grew only marginally and their relative share in the total population declined considerably. According to the 2001 census, the size of Hindu population was 11.6 million which means since the past 27 years only, 1.7 million population was added yielding a 0.6% annual average growth rate. Therefore, the share of Hindu population to the country’s total population declined from 13.5% to 9.2% during the same period and by 1.79% since 1991, whilst the relative composition of Christians and Buddhist population did not change.
Further, the Hindu population declined to 8.2 percent in the country with annual growth rate coming down to 0.05 percent between 2001-2011 and it is projected that in 2051 the share of Hindu population will decline to 3.7 percent.
A history of bloodshed against Hindus prevailed even before independence of India and the violence against Hindus was a common phenomenon in today’s Bangladesh because Hindus were historically religious minority. Since 1947 the violence against Hindus in then Pakistan and now in Bangladesh is a continuous phenomenon and followed religiously by the majority of Muslims irrespective of political parties.
The innumerable incidence of atrocities against Hindus like killing, rape, slaughter, forcible annexation of properties, burning of houses, abduction and conversion to Muslim are taking place and in considerable number of cases the violators are the cadres of various political parties irrespective of whether they are ruling or are in opposition. According to an estimation, 475 persons belonging to the minority community are migrating from Bangladesh daily (Azad, Executive Director, Amity for Peace, Bangladesh).
After the 1947 genocide, Hindus were persecuted the most in 1971 due to which large scale migration of Hindus to India took place. According to estimates, at the time of Bangladesh Liberation War, almost 3,000,000 Hindus were butchered in one of the biggest genocides of the century. An article in ‘Time’ magazine dated 2 August 1971, stated “The Hindus, who account for three-fourths of the refugees and a majority of the dead, have borne the brunt of the Muslim military hatred (Wiki, 2014). According to BBC (9 March 2013) “Official estimates say more than three million were killed and tens of thousands of women raped during the Bangladesh war of independence. The aim of the violence, Hindu leaders allege, is to grab land and other property. As a result, they say, many Hindus are fleeing to India to escape harassment, intimidation and violence (BBC, 9 March, 2013).