Author: Md Kaif, II year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Indian Institute of Legal Studies
The word "Human Rights'' comes from two different words: "Human" and "Rights''. It means the rights of human beings, which every human acquires from the time he is in the womb to the last heartbeat. Human rights are rights that are inherent in all human beings, regardless of nationality, religion, gender, language, race, ethnicity, or another status. But history and the present time are witnesses to how religious minorities' human rights are violated by the majority. In India and Bangladesh, religious minorities are the easy targets of majorities because of their lower population and advancement. They are used as vote banks during elections.
Who are religious minorities in India and Bangladesh
Muslims, Christians, Jain, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) are considered minorities under section 2 (C) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.1
Many reports show that there is a continuous conflict between the Muslim community and a large number of human rights violations against this community.2
According to the 2021 report of the U.S. Department of State, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians have been notified as minority communities.3 The number of Buddhists and Christians is very negotiable in Bangladesh, so most of human rights violence cases are against the Hindu community people.
Violation of human rights against minorities in India
Several issues clearly show us how religious minorities' human rights are violated by the current administration or by the police or army forces. Some of the incidents are the following:
1. In Jammu and Kashmir, violations of the rights to speech and expression, as well as the rights to life and personal liberty
For a very long time, there has been a conflict between the citizens of Kashmir and the Indian government. There are lots of cases relating to the molestation and harassment of Muslim women. The brutal killing of innocent citizens of Kashmir is coming to light. According to the United Nations report, the Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force, and the Border Security Force has been accused of committing such human rights abuses against Kashmiris.
2. Violence against minorities' human rights in North-East India in perspective of the right to life and the right to residence
There is a lot of news coming from North-East India, where many Muslims were killed for suspecting that they were carrying beef on local transportation. On 30th January 30, 2017, more than 100 people killed a 50-year-old Muslim man. They dragged him from the home and bit him to death. In 2016, on 18 July, 2 Muslim women were arrested and harassed by a mob at the railway station in Nagaland on suspicion that they were carrying beef. This kind of violence is not only in the name of "beef" but also in the name of nationalism. The nationalist movement started and took a very violent face by announcing the NRC and CAA bills. According to the report by AL JAZEERA, nearly 1300 houses were destroyed, and 12-year-old boy Sheikh Farid was killed in Assam by the local police during the government eviction. Police openly fired on the villagers and beat them badly when they were returning from Friday namaz. It clearly reflects how minorities' human rights are being violated.4
3. Violence against minorities' human rights in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat
Gujarat is known for being the birthplace of the father of anti-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. Nowadays, the total scenario has changed and it has become one of the most chaotic places in India. According to The Diplomat news, approximately 1,000 people, the majority of whom were Muslims, were killed in various ways. 20,000 Muslim homes were destroyed, and nearly 150,000 people were ousted.5 Almost the condition is similar in UP, the very relevant incident happened that, according to the news a Muslim man was murdered by the neighbors for celebrating BJP’s winning in UP6.
Violation of human rights against minorities in Bangladesh
India and Bangladesh are the closest neighboring countries, with India sharing a large portion of Bangladesh's international border. Before 1947 Bangladesh was an undivided part of India. Bangladeshi and Indian cultures and lifestyles are similar. There are also similarities in the violence against religious minorities' human rights. Of the total population of Bangladesh, around 90% are Muslims and around 10% are Hindus. According to data, we can see how the minority Hindus are decreasing. The Hindu population has been steadily declining over the years; in 1940, the Hindu population was 28%; in 2011, it was only 8.96%7. According to the report of a professor at the University of Dhaka, around 11.3 million Hindus had left Bangladesh because of religious intolerance. Thousands of Hindus were killed, and women were raped. A large number of Hindus have been forced into conversion, and lots of Hindus lost their houses and properties in the period between 1940 to 2011. Several incidents prove how religious minorities' human rights are being violated, some of the incidents are the following:
1. Comilla Hindu temple was attacked during the Durga puja
On October 15, 2021, a mob attacked in Hindu temple during the holy Durga puja; they destroyed the whole puja pandal and statues. To try to quell the violence, the Bangladesh government shut down internet access and deployed paramilitaries in over 35 districts. This is not the first time temples have been attacked, and houses have been burned. After that incident, Hindus do not feel safe during the puja.8
2. Narail district incident
On July 17, 2022, several Hindu houses, temples, and shops in South-west Bangladesh were vandalised as a result of a social media post. An eighteen-year-old boy posted a post that goes against the Muslim community. Based on that post, after Friday namaz, a group of Muslims attacked their house and threw stones at their temples. At night, one group of people looted their house, and another group came and found there was nothing to loot, so they set fire to the house. After that, they vandalised dozens of shops that belonged to the Hindus.9
Suggestions to stop human rights violence
It is very clear that violence is not against any particular religion. It is the minority against the majority. It is crystal clear that in India and Bangladesh, more or less, violations of human rights against minorities are the same. To stop this kind of violence, suggestions are the following :
Suggestions for India
1. From the report, we can observe that violence against minorities is not the same everywhere. There are specific places and locations where this kind of violence against minorities is very high. Firstly, we have to find those places and make them a hotspot zone.
2. In India, in many cases nowadays, religious beliefs are used as a political agenda, and politicians are using this for their own benefit. We have made people aware of these facts and how politicians are using and exploiting them.
3. At this particular time in a democratic country, opposition parties have to be more responsible. They can ask questions of the ruling party. Also, civil society and different NGOs can be the voice of the voiceless. They can do the same towards the government through social media posts and rallies.
4. The government can encourage the participation and representation of individuals, irrespective of their religious beliefs, in different sectors of society.
Suggestions for Bangladesh
1. The total population of minorities in Bangladesh is very small, so it’s very essential to protect their human rights. The main problem of the minorities in Bangladesh is that they are not advanced and there are very few minorities who are in higher positions. So the government should take steps to ensure the appointment of minorities.
2. According to the news, religious violence usually occurs during festival times, so the government and the police force should be more aware during these particular times.
3. In many ways, Bangladesh is falling behind on international platforms. For that, more international organizations like NGOs, international civil society, and human rights organizations are needed in Bangladesh to raise the voices of minorities.
4. The Bangladesh government should make new laws focusing on the violation of human rights against minorities.