Incidents of violence against religious minority communities in the country came down in the last three years, but serious crimes like murder and rape saw an uptick, according to a recent non-government report.
In 2016, the minority communities faced at least 1,471 incidents of violence, including murder, rape and assault, but it came down to 806 last year. In 2017, the total instances of violence was 1,004, said the report.
However, the number of murder and rape -- two of the worst forms of violence -- increased. Last year, more than 90 minorities were killed, which was 71 three years ago [in 2016]. Some 48 rape incidents, including 16 gang rapes took place last year, which was 32 three years ago.
Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, a representative body of religious minority communities, prepared the report based on news published in different national dailies and information provided by their activists.
The findings were unveiled at a press conference organised by the Oikya Parishad at Dhaka Reporters' Unity in the capital yesterday.
According to the report, the number of assaults, grabbing of property [house or land], death threats, extortion and idol vandalisation declined in the last three years.
At least 875 people of the minority communities faced physical attack in 2016, but the number came down to almost half (447) last year.
Besides, more than 1,158 families lost their property due to illegal grabbing in 2016, but only 122 families faced such violence last year, the report found.
At the press conference, minority leaders pointed out that improvement of law and order situation and the government's special attention on minorities worked as the key factors to reduce the incidents.
The organisation's General Secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta said the decline of violence does not indicate that the minorities in the country are in a good situation.
“It is a temporary improvement. We cannot be sure how long it will sustain. We are expecting such improvement will continue for a long time,” said Rana.
Terming the decline in violence positive, he demanded that the government ensure safety and security for the minority communities all year round instead of doing it during some religious festivals like puja.