The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) released the following statement today after receiving reports of potential violence against Hindus in Bangladesh in response to the rebuilding of a Rama temple in the Indian city of Ayodhya:

“We urge the Government of Bangladesh to take all necessary steps to ensure the protection of Hindu lives, temples, and properties,” stated HAF Managing Director Samir Kalra, Esq. “We’ve received reports directly from contacts on the ground in Bangladesh that the situation is very tense and the Hindu community is fearful of being targeted by radical groups.”

Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh have faced widespread violence at the hands of Islamist groups, such as Jamaat-e-Islami, since the country’s founding in 1971.

Given large-scale violence in Bangladesh in 1992, in particular, when mobs attacked Hindu villages and destroyed hundreds of temples in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid being torn down by Hindu activists in India, there is growing concern that the current wave of anti-Hindu sentiment may peak in the coming hours and days ahead.

“We call on the State Department to immediately issue a public statement calling on the Bangladeshi authorities to protect religious minorities and their places of worship, in the hopes that it will help prevent the loss of life and property of Bangladesh’s minority Hindu population,” added Kalra.

The Babri Masjid was a 15th century mosque built on the site of a destroyed Hindu temple in the northern city of Ayodhya. The site is considered to be the traditional birthplace of the Hindu God, Lord Rama. Archeological and documentary evidence shows that the site has been recognized as a place of spiritual importance for Hindus for millenia, which was confirmed by an Indian Supreme Court decision last year.

The process to rebuild a Hindu temple at the site dedicated to Lord Rama officially begins tomorrow on August 5.

HAF has been closely monitoring the human rights situation in Bangladesh and working with on the ground contacts for over 15 years to document human rights violations against Hindus.