A Hindu college lecturer was harassed, abused and physically attacked by a policeman after he saw her wearing a teep (bindi) on her forehead in Dhaka, Bangladesh reports The Daily Star. The policeman tried to run her over with his motorbike, causing her to fall and sustain serious injuries.
In a written complaint filed with Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station, Lata Samaddar, a lecturer of Tejgaon College’s theatre and media studies department, said the incident took place in front of Shezan Point shopping mall around 8:30am on Saturday.
The teacher, who is the wife of Dhaka University professor Malay Bala, said she came to Farmgate area by rickshaw from her residence and then started walking towards Tejgaon College.
“When I was walking towards the college, a middle-aged bearded man hurled abuse at me saying ‘Why are you wearing a teep?’ I turned around and found the man sitting on a motorcycle in police uniform,” Bengali news outlet prothomalo.com reports.
“As I protested, he started the bike and tried to run me over. I tried to move away but got injured severely by falling down,” she added in the complaint.
She also mentioned the bike’s number in the complaint. After the incident, she went to three on-duty traffic policemen who advised her to file a complaint, the Daily Star report adds. It does not clarify if those three policemen were in immediate vicinity of the incident, and if they were, why they did not take more pro-active steps to catch the accused.
“I want exemplary punishment for the man. Who is he to decide whether I should wear a bindi or not. Such an incident needed to be protested. Let women be safe from such communal and fundamentalist people,” Lata added. She broke down in tears after reaching her college.
“I wonder where we are. I am a Hindu and it is normal to wear a bindi. Not only me, anyone can wear bindi. Several people earlier made bad comments for wearing ‘shankha’ (conch shell bangles), but I paid no heed. Their comments and those uttered by the uniformed person today are quite similar,” she said.
Contacted, Utpal Barua, officer-in-charge of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station, said they could not identify the policeman yet. “We are checking the CCTV footage in the area. The motorbike number she mentioned was incomplete. We are trying to identify whether he was really a policeman or not,” the OC said. The lecturer’s husband, Prof. Malay Bala, said they want police to take immediate steps to identify the culprit and arrest him as soon as possible.
But going by the Bangladeshi state’s track record, wherein the Foreign Minister dismissed last year’s horrific Durga Puja anti-Hindu pogrom as a ‘conspiracy to malign the Hasina government’, one shouldn’t expect any meaningful action on this hate crime. Hinduphobia is deeply entrenched in the Islamic nation, where Hindus are pejoratively referred to as ‘malaun‘ (accursed) and subjected to various sorts of physical violence and institutional discrimination.