Stand by Bangladesh: A Hindu Bangladeshi’s Appeal to the World

Now is the time to put our geopolitical, religious, social and cultural differences aside and fight together.

3 min read
Indian activists participate in a candle light vigil protesting the Bangladesh restaurant attack, in Kolkata. (Photo: AP)

Well, it has been almost 16 hours since Dhaka got included in the map of global cities being effected by terrorism. And, as I walk around my neighbourhood (very close to the terror attack site) and look out of my window, I see some things have not changed yet everything feels different today. Being part of the general public and a religious minority in the country, I am finding it extremely difficult to express my thoughts and feelings right now.

I have trained myself to think multiple times before making public utterances and take necessary precautions. This becomes necessary, given the multiple chances of your words being misinterpreted. They do not even need to be in context. But this is too close to home to sit quietly and say nothing about. Given that I am neither a political observer, nor a professional, I shall therefore strive to give you a more personal outlook into what has been happening.

I have travelled quite a lot in my life and Bangladesh has always held a special place in my heart. Despite all our problems, we pride ourselves to be hospitable and caring towards people, irrespective of caste, creed and colour and I will still like to believe that this will not change even after last night. On the other hand, things have changed already and perhaps irrevocably. They have been changing ever since last year when a series of people were killed, one after another. 

The incidents started with the killing of two foreigners along with a host of bloggers and other public intellectuals and civil society members, majority of whom belonged to the country’s minority population. These killings were carried out in a systematic manner, targeting specific groups of people to create a devastating impact on our collective psyche. The incidents created a sense of panic and foreboding amongst people in general and minority groups in particular.

I have to check in with my family every time I leave my apartment and return back in the evening – something which I used to loosely follow earlier but now has become a cardinal rule. The incidents were not targeted at a particular group or community but to strike against hope, good will and reason in our society, and perhaps last night they may have finally succeeded. There has been a steady sense of trepidation and caution building up amongst the people which now make us think twice before moving out of the house or discussing the situation in open. We have either become accustomed to it, or we do not know who to trust anymore! Needless to say neither of these thoughts are particularly comforting.

Johura Begum shows a photograph of her brother-in-law Saidul Islam, who works at the Holey Artisan Bakery and currently missing. (Photo: AP)
Johura Begum shows a photograph of her brother-in-law Saidul Islam, who works at the Holey Artisan Bakery and currently missing. (Photo: AP)

People I am close to in Bangladesh are worried for my and my family’s safety as I am for theirs. But there is nothing we can say to each other which will make the situation better. So we go on with our lives, hoping for the best. A friend called me from abroad early today morning, crying. I just heard one line – “Now will you please consider relocating?” Until yesterday, life went on in the cities as normal. People discussed daily affairs at local tea stalls, never guessing how certain grave concerns will turn graver overnight. People who were most concerned realised they did not have a forum to make their voices heard.

While I am writing this article, someone close to me asked what kind of a note I will like to end on. The person advised I should not sugar coat reality and be true to myself and the situation we find ourselves in. Oscillating between eternal optimism and pessimism as a person, this is the best I can come up with:

We need to be united, and by we, I mean the entire world and not only my country. We need you now to stand by us more than ever. Stand by Bangladesh and her people because now is the time to put our geopolitical, religious, social and cultural differences aside and fight together. Stand by Bangladesh because we will surely get back on our feet once again. The night is the darkest before dawn and even though I do not see any light in the horizon, I will not lose hope.

This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.

(The writer’s name has been changed to protect his identity and for security reasons.)

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