While the Hindus have not yet been able to come out of the trauma of the anti-Hindu pogrom orchestrated across Bangladesh during the Durga puja last year, the incident of 35 Saraswati murtis being destroyed in one night has alarmed the Hindus ahead of Saraswati Puja.
The incident has been reported from the port city of Chittagong where earthen murtis of Maa Saraswati made with great craftsmanship for the upcoming puja were vandalized by unidentified miscreants. At least 35 Saraswati murtis have been crushed in Boalkhali on Friday, January 14, reports Bengali daily Sangbad Pratidin. The incident took place at the dead of the night near the well-known Lala Hat Asrayan project in East Shakpura of the Upazila.
These murtis were sculpted by Basudev Pal for sale. This is Basudev’s ancestral occupation with his ancestors also having sculpted murtis of Hindu deities and they have held on to their tradition for about a hundred years. Hence, locals were stunned by such an attack on the poor artist’s murtis. Enraged residents of the area are demanding severe punishment for the culprits.
Basudev Pal informs that he has been making murtis every year at the Lala Hat. The murtis that were smashed were being prepared for the occasion of Saraswati Puja that falls on February 5 this year. They were crafted in an open space enclosed by bamboo fences and shielded with white curtains. But on Saturday morning, he saw 35 of his Saraswati murtis wrecked. Most of them were ordered by his various clients and have been paid for in advance. The sculptor mourned that such an incident had never happened before.
Chittagong Additional Superintendent of Police (North) Mohammad Kabir Ahmed, Officer-in-Charge of the Police Station Mohammad Abdul Karim, and Member Secretary of Boalkhali Pujo Celebration Parishad Amit Lala visited the spot after learning of the incident. Sudipta Biswas Bivu, a resident, said, “Basudev Pal makes murtis of Saraswati in our village. In childhood, on my way to school, I would stand for hours watching Basu making his murtis. Trusting everyone, Basu kept the murtis in the open. It didn’t occur to him that these murtis needed to be guarded. Who knows who has broken the murtis of Saraswati made by Basu in the darkness of night? ”
Member secretary of the Boalkhali Pujo Celebration Council, Amit Lala said, “Some miscreants have hatched a conspiracy to cause communal unrest in this area. By shattering the murtis created by Basudev, they have broken the long trust we had. We want a proper investigation.”
The Officer-in-charge of the local police station Abdul Karim said, “Even though it is being said to be a factory, the murtis were kept unprotected in an open space by the road. It doesn’t seem that someone has deliberately smashed the murtis. The younger children living in the shelter project may have accidentally collided with the murtis while playing or pushing their carts or transporting bamboo with mini-trucks. Anyway, we are investigating the matter.” He also said that the security was being beefed up to protect the Murtis.
The police’s statement, in this case, doesn’t come as a surprise as even the stalwarts of Bangladesh’s dispensation had earlier rubbished incidents of vandalism of Hindu temples. This incident brings back the unsettling memories of the Durga puja unrest when hundreds of Puja mandaps and Hindu temples were vandalized after a Muslim man Iqbal Hossain had placed a copy of the Quran at a Durga Mandap in Comilla.
Several Hindu homes were raided, devotees at the ISKCON temple were also murdered by fanatic Islamists. Despite the evident bloodshed in various parts of the country, the Bangladeshi foreign minister AK Abdul Momen had asserted that “not a single Mandir was destroyed,” during the violence.
Anti-Hindu sentiment is raging hard over Bangladesh. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Hindus to survive there. They are terrified and remain under death threat from extremist Muslims there, who wage anti-Hindu pogrom at slightest pretext to grab their land, loot their belongings, and burn their homes to ashes.