Islamic Militants Behead Hindu Priest in Bangladesh - Hindu Americans Demand Action

Washington, D.C. (February 22, 2016) -- The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) demanded action after the brutal murder of Jogeshwar Roy, a 55 year-old Hindu priest who was beheaded yesterday by Islamic militants inside the Sonto Gaurio Temple complex in Panchagarh district, Bangladesh. Two others were injured by gunshots and grenade attacks on the temple.

Although the Islamic State (IS) initially claimed responsibility for the attack, local police have apprehended two members of the banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and one from the Jamaat-e-Islami in connection with the incident, while an additional assailant remains at large. The Bangladesh government has denied the existence of IS within its borders, despite significant evidence to the contrary.

“We’re shocked by this latest act of savagery, and we offer our prayers to the victims and their families,” said Jay Kansara, HAF Director of Government Relations. “U.S. lawmakers need to take urgent action to work with the Government of Bangladesh to address the precipitous rise of religious extremism in Bangladesh before it spirals out of control.”

Last year, Kansara visited Bangladesh on a fact-finding mission to survey religious freedom conditions in the country, and he testified before the U.S. Congress on the growing atmosphere of fear and insecurity amongst minorities and atheists, amidst an upsurge in attacks on them. The Foundation has also documented the rise of religious extremism in Bangladesh in its annual human rights report. In 2015, four atheist bloggers, a Catholic priest, a Japanese aid-worker, and two Hindu temples were targeted in high-profile attacks by Islamic militants.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced a bipartisan resolution in July 2015, calling on the Government of Bangladesh to protect religious minorities from ongoing violence and extremism. It further urged that human rights and religious freedom are at the forefront of the U.S. bilateral relationship with Bangladesh.

“We call upon all members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support House Resolution 396 in light of the brutal murder of Jogeshwar Roy and the many other victims of violence and discrimination in the country,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow. “We also ask the House Foreign Affairs Committee to bring the resolution to mark-up in order to recognize the growing number of attacks on religious minorities and atheists that have taken place since its introduction in July of last year.”