Pro-Pakistan elements want communal disharmony in B'desh: Bangladesh minister Hasan Mahmud
Kolkata, Oct 28: Bangladesh Information and Broadcasting Minister M Hasan Mahmud said on Thursday elements close to Pakistan who had opposed the 1971 liberation war want to create communal disharmony in his country, and asserted stern action was taken against the perpetrators of recent communal violence that rocked India's eastern neighbour.
He emphasised that secularism remains the guiding spirit of the "nation and its Constitution".
He blamed former president Gen. Hussain Muhammad Ershad for bringing religion into the Constitution which was secular in character to begin with.
"Those who had opposed our freedom, the liberation war, and are close to Pakistan, want to disturb peace and communal harmony of our country," he told journalists.
Mahmud also spoke about the recent communal conflagration in Bangladesh where Hindus were targeted and Durga Puja pandals vandalised in some places.
"We have taken stern action against the culprits involved in the violence. We don't believe in Hindu or Muslim in Bangladesh. First of all we are Bengalis and only then we are known by our religion. The culprits who are inolved in the incident wanted to create anarchy in the country. The activists of BNP-Jamaat were involved in those attacks," he said.
The minister said nearly 32,000 Durga Pujas were held this year but only a few marquees were attacked.
When asked whether plans are afoot to drop Islam as the State's religion from Bangladesh's Constitution, Mahmud evaded a direct reply but insisted "secularism is the soul of Bangladesh".
"The Constitution that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman had framed in 1972 had secularism as its spirit, and that is our spirit. It was General Ershad who brought in religion into the Constitution and hurt the conscience of our country," he said.
Mahmud also inaugurated a 'Bangabandhu Sangbad Kendra' (media Centre) at the Kolkata Press Club.
Violence had erupted in pockets of Bangladesh over an alleged blasphemy incident at a Durga Puja pavilion at Cumilla, around 100 km from Dhaka, following which paramilitary forces were deployed in many affected areas.
Sporadic clashes broke out between the police and hardliners as media reported about vandalisation of Hindu temples and Durga puja venues.
At least five people were killed and scores injured in the clashes. PTI