When the Buddhist leader stood up before the microphone, there was little sign that he is 84. His resonant voice reverberated through Ramu’s Buddhist neighbourhood. But an underlying tone of insecurity, even almost a year after the unprecedented attack, was evident.
“Please, give us security. We’re a peace-loving people,” Pandit Satyapriyo Mahathero pleaded.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina remained standing beside him as the chief of Ramu Central Sima Vihar described how Islamist fanatics destroyed the centuries-old communal harmony in the region, vandalising and torching Buddhist temples and houses in Ramu and Ukhia of Cox’s Bazar on September 29 and 30 last year, following a fake Facebook post that demeaned the Quran.
“We had never thought that such unimaginable, mindless destruction might be carried out here. This violent incident was a severe blow to a community, a religious belief, communal harmony and mutual trust,” said Satyapriyo, who has preached peace in different countries.
The former president of Bangladesh Sangharaj Bhikkhu Mahasabha, the highest body of Buddhist leaders, has represented Bangladesh in many countries and received a prestigious award from Myanmar government in 2003 for his knowledge of the Tripitak.
“During the September 29 mayhem, my new car, which I had received during my 82nd birth anniversary, was also burnt down. I got a new car thanks to your kindness,” he said as silence fell on Sima Vihar auditorium, with the religious leader narrating how the 350-year-old monastery was razed to the ground.
The locals, who are still haunted by the horrors of the mayhem, have expressed their gratitude to the prime minister and the administration for the rehabilitation of the victims and reconstruction of the temples.
The Buddhists leaders urged for the PM’s intervention for proper and neutral investigation of the cases filed in connection with the attack and exemplary punishment of the perpetrators.
Thanking the PM for the victims’ rehabilitation and renovation as also rebuilding of the temples, Satyapriyo appealed for raising the manpower of the district police and said: “It will allay the feelings of insecurity and lack of trust.”
The Buddhist community also requested the PM to set up a permanent administrative cell on the security of Buddhist monasteries and the locality.
Source: The Daily Star