bangladesh: Days after ISKCON temple attack in Dhaka, members seek help from India

NEW DELHI: Fear still gripped the premises of Radhakanta temple in Bangladesh capital Dhaka, two days after a mob of over 500 people attacked the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) property on Thursday night when devotees were preparing for Holi Purnima celebrations. The ISKCON Bangladesh members have requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter and help them, adding that Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina was already “trying to help” them.
“We are still scared. Through you, we request your (Indian) government to help us. Our (Bangladesh) PM is also trying to help us. We request both the PMs to help us,” ISKCON medical officer Rasmani Keshavdas told an Indian news agency on Saturday.
Keshavdas, who is also an eyewitness to the attack, said one Haji Shafiullah had been threatening them for years to leave the temple premises. “He had offered us money too. One of his men, Ishraf Sufi, had even given us life threats,” Keshavdas told news agency ANI, adding the two led the mob of 500-600 people on Thursday night and vandalised the boundary wall of the temple.
According to ISKCON, the property is a ten-minute walk from their main temple in Dhaka. “The men tried to forcibly occupy a parcel of land owned by ISKCON Bangladesh, adjacent to the smaller temple on Lalmohan Saha Street. We were using the land for storage and plan to develop it in the future,” a report by the international society quoted Jagatguru Gauranga dasa, ISKCON co-regional secretary for Bangladesh.
It added that the men showed up with three large trucks and began looting the property. “Local police were called and showed up about 30 minutes later.”

Keshavdas added two members (not three as reported on Friday) were hit when they tried to stop the mob. “They continued vandalising the wall even after the police came. The goons are still threatening us with dire consequences if we meet someone for help,” said Keshavdas, alleging that the men had support from the local police who haven’t arrested anyone yet.
“The police don’t want to listen to us. They have asked us to leave the temple premises but it’s ours,” said the ISKCON member, adding they were given little security after the complaint on Thursday night. “Right now, 10 police personnel are deployed here.”
The two injured were admitted to a hospital where their condition was reported to be “slightly better”.
VHP, RSS condemn temple attack
Meanwhile, condemning the attack on the ISKCON temple in Dhaka, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has called on the Bangladeshi government to take measures to ensure the safety of the minority Hindus in the country.
The VHP has also urged the Government of India to take cognisance of the incident.
“The attack on the ISKCON temple in Dhaka on the eve of Holi is very worrying, condemnable and exposes the true colours of the claims of human rights abuses and Islamophobia,” the VHP said in a Hindi tweeted, taking a dig at the United Nations General Assembly adopting the resolution to mark March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar on Saturday urged India to intervene in the matter, saying the Sheikh Hasina government has “completely failed” in protecting the minority Hindus there.
He also appealed to the Congress and all other opposition parties to condemn the incident rising above “politics of religion and caste” and join New Delhi in building pressure on Dhaka to stop attacks on Hindus, which he said continues to remain “unabated” in the neighbouring country.
Kumar, founder and chief patron of Muslim Rashtriya Manch, also called upon the “Muslim society” to condemn the attack.
The High Commission of India is in touch with the Bangladeshi authorities following the incident.
The temple attack on the eve of Holi took place months after a series of attacks on Durga Puja pandals and another ISKCON temple in Bangladesh last October.
(with inputs from agencies)

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