Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2016) — Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) woke up to the dreadful news that another Hindu priest had been hacked to death. This latest incident occurring in Jhenaidah, a southwestern district of Bangladesh.
Eyewitness accounts from this morning’s attack described how Shyamananda Das, picking flowers for morning prayers at Sri Sri Radha Madan Gopal Bigrohomot temple, was swarmed by three machete wielding assailants and brutally hacked to death — the perpetrators then fleeing the scene on a bicycle.
The Home Ministry of Bangladesh has stated that an investigation on Das’ murder has begun, and the perpetrators are likely to be apprehended since there were eyewitnesses.
“These attacks have unfortunately become a normal way of life for Bangladesh’s religious and social minorities,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow. “With no due recourse provided by the national government or local authorities, Bangladesh’s Hindu community is now fleeing faster than ever before. Islamists and their sympathizers are winning a psychological war because no one is putting up a real defense.”
On June 7, ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of Anand Gopal Ganguly who was killed in a similar fashion in the same district.
Ganguly and Das’ murders follow a trend that is ongoing for over two years, claiming dozens of secular bloggers, religious minority figures, as well as an LGBT activist. The Government of Bangladesh has yet to acknowledge the presence of ISIS or Al Qaeda within its borders, however locally banned Islamist outfits such as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh have proclaimed allegiance to the worldwide movement for a reestablished caliphate.
The murder of Das happened on the same day that the Holey Artisan Bakery, a popular cafe in the diplomatic area of Dhaka, was stormed by suspected Islamic militant gunman, taking dozens hostage. Media outlets have reported the gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” prior to setting off bombs and shooting as they stormed the cafe. Initial reports have at least three people injured and one police officer responding to the shooting killed.
“Our prayers are with those who are injured from the attack and those who remain hostage in Dhaka,” said Jay Kansara, HAF Director of Government Relations. “Whether it’s taking cafe patrons hostage, or killing a priest by machete, the objectives are the same: to spread fear and mobilize support for Islamist ideology. Bangladesh must acknowledge the globalized reality of Islamist extremism within its own borders and the world must come to its aid to help defeat it.”
Bangladesh has been cited by global counterterrorism experts as the next major breeding ground for ISIS recruitment.