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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Award-winning Bangladeshi public health activist Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury calls Ramayana, Mahabharat ‘lies’, bashes Bharat and Hindus

A video that surfaced online recently shows Bangladeshi public health activist Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury making a hate speech against Hindus and Bharat during a public address. Referring to the Ram Mandir construction at Ayodhya, Dr. Chowdhury declared that both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are ‘tales of fiction that narrate many incidents of falsehood and depravity’; and based on such ‘lies’, the Ram Mandir is now being built in Bharat after demolishing a ‘mosque’.

A Bangladeshi Hindu youth, Ishan, who is a member of Bangladesh Sanatan Vidiyarthi Samsad, shared a clip of the offensive speech on Twitter- reports that Zafrullah made the speech on 9th August, where he started off by saying Bangladesh cannot be truly liberated without opposing Bharat. But his anti-Bharat diatribe gradually turned into Hindu-bashing, typical of Bangladeshi Islamists – he reportedly claimed that Hindus ‘consumed beef’ before Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister, whereas now, during Modi’s Prime Ministership, Muslims in Bharat are not even allowed to ‘celebrate Eid or practice Islam’. These baseless claims and disparaging Hindu itihaas as mere fiction have hurt the sentiments of numerous followers of Hindu Dharma in Bangladesh, who are now demanding justice.

79-year-old Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury is the founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra (meaning the People’s Health Center in Bengali), a rural healthcare organisation which employs a large number of women. He is also well respected for his work in formulating the Bangladesh National Drug Policy. Born in Kolkata, his family later moved to East Pakistan, and he studied medicine in Dhaka and UK. He took part in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war by setting up a large hospital in Tripura for freedom fighters and refugees. Ironically, it was Bharat that helped rid Bangladesh of the genocidal Pakistani Army during that war.

He is a winner of several international awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay award instituted by Ford Foundation. Dr. Chowdhury provides yet another example that anti-Hindu venom can lurk in the hearts of even the most educated, progressive-looking Muslim.

Another important point which Ishan’s tweet brings out is that despite such a clear case of anti-Hindu bigotry by a respected member of Bangladeshi society, Bangladeshi Hindus are still only demanding justice as per the law of the land – unlike radical Muslims in Bharat who riot at the drop of a hat; the latest example of which was seen in Bengaluru where mobs attacked police, looted and burnt over an alleged anti-Islam post.

After the video of Zafrullah Chowdhury went viral, Bishwa Sanatana Oikya convener and journalist Biplob Dey filed a case against him. In his complaint, Dey alleged that “Zafrullah Chowdhury, addressing a program organized by Bhasani Anushari Parishad in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka, had criticized setting up of a Ram Mandir in India based on an ‘imaginary tale’.“ The derogatory comments about Mahabharata and Ramayana had caused bleeding in the hearts of countless Hindus in the country, added Dey.

On Wednesday, the Chattogram Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court directed the Detective Branch of the Chattogram Metropolitan Police to probe further on the case and submit its report by November 19, stated Dey’s lawyer Mithun Biswas.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chowdhury, who recovered from Covid-19 a few months back, has dismissively stated that he had not said anything hurting any religious sentiment. The court giving 3 months to probe an easily available speech, tells us that authorities are just waiting for the issue to blow over before it is quietly buried.

And this is no surprise. In a country where brutal persecution of Hindus – physical assaults, rapes, murders, land grabs – is a routine affair which often goes unpunished, ‘hate speech’ is hardly likely to attract much attention of the state. The situation was even worse under the Prime Ministership of the pro-Islamist Khaleda Zia, leader of the Opposition BNP party with which Dr. Zafrullah is aligned, and is only marginally better under the current Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League regime.

Just recently, we had reported how a Hindu youth, Subha Shil, was attacked and his wrist chopped off. Prior to that gory incident, on August 10th unidentified Muslim miscreants plundered the house of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s uncle in Bahubal upazila of Bangladesh. They vandalized many murtis and robbed gold and other expensive items. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a 16th-century Hindu saint who is revered widely, especially in Bengal and Odisha. Many people in Bengal consider him to be an avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu.

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