LONDON: Hundreds of Bangladeshi Hindus joined Indian-origin Bengali Hindus at a protest outside the UK Houses of Parliament on Wednesday demanding the British government put pressure on Bangladesh to take action over the recent anti-Hindu atrocities.
The protesters, men, women and children, travelled to London from Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester, Wales and Scotland.
Outside the House of Commons they shouted “Stop Killing Hindus” and “We want justice” and held placards saying “Stop ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh”.
“There are a significant number of Bangladeshi Hindus living in the UK and we want British MPs to know what is happening in Bangladesh. We want the UK Foreign Office to put pressure on the Bangladesh government to take action,” explained Himanish Goswami, youth ambassador for the Bangladeshi Hindu Association (UK).
They marched down Regent Street, past bemused shoppers, to the BBC headquarters where they demanded the broadcaster cover the anti-Hindu riots and questioned its silence, shouting “Bias BBBC”, holding placards saying: “We demand the BBC and world media investigate and report on the ongoing atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh.”
Rumy Haque (48), a Bangladesh-born Muslim, joined the protest. “It happens every year. It is being done by Islamist extremists who want Bangladesh to be a Muslim country. I think it must be funded by Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. There are preachers in Bangladesh radicalising youngsters. It is an attempt at ethnic cleansing. They want to get rid of all the minorities. The majority of Muslims in Bangladesh don’t support it but they are too scared to speak out,” she said.
Kolkata-born Bikram Banerjee, from Bengali Hindu Adarsha Sangha UK (BHAS UK), which represents Bengali Hindus in Britain, said: “The BBC is suspiciously quiet, not saying anything about the human rights violations happening in Bangladesh. But we are British taxpayers. Hindu lives matter. We hope they will fulfil their (responsibility) as a news broadcaster.”
Bangladesh-born Proshanta Purokayastha, chairman of BHAS UK, said: “This has been going on since 1946, The administration is not taking any action so we want the UK government to put pressure on Bangladesh and create dialogue and stop the violence.”
Shatta Bhowmick (19), a Bangladeshi-origin Briton, said: “It is a daily thing when we go to the temple in Bangladesh, they spit on us and they always want to convert us to Islam. As a woman you have to dress modestly. My family there has not been able to go out since the violence. The government shut down the Internet to hide what is happening. I have hope the British government can influence Bangladesh.”
Biplab Roy Chowdhury, who fled aged five months to India after his father was killed in 1973 in Bangladesh, told TOI: “Where there used to be whole villages of Hindus, now there are just three or four houses.”
More than 150 British Indian organisations have sent a joint letter to UK PM Boris Johnson calling on the British government to condemn the violence and to ask the Bangladesh government to protect Hindu minorities, to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, ensure that the Bangladeshi government restores the Hindu temples, and to use its influence to ensure Bangladesh abides by its commitment to human rights.
Conservative MP Bob Blackman has tabled two early day motions in the House of Commons condemning the violence.