The wait of 11 years: Bangladeshi university denies temple space to Hindu students

Hindu students lay foundation stone of temple at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University

On 15th February this year, the foundation stone of a temporary Hindu temple, located within the campus of Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University in Dinajpur city in the Rangpur Division of Bangladesh, came under attack from university authorities.

The varsity is home to 25% of students of the Hindu Faith. Reportedly, there are 3 mosques on the university campus but not a single Hindu temple. This was despite the fact that a decision to construct a temple was taken by the university administration way back in 2013.

For the past 11 years, the Hindu students of Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University have been demanding that the administration provide a designated land for the construction of the temple.

Hindu students lay the foundation stone of a Hindu temple at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University

On 4th December 2022, the Hindu students submitted a written draft to the administration to fulfil its commitment to construct a Hindu temple. The varsity had assured that the construction of the temple would begin in January 2023.

However, the authorities were quick to backtrack on their assurance to the Hindu students. On 8 January last year, the varsity informed that they did not constitute any committee to provide land for the promised temple.

Following a large-scale agitation by the Hindu students, the university assured to provide a designated land inside the 85-acre area campus within a period of 7 days. The varsity again failed to deliver on its promise.

Press release by the Hindu Student Union of the university

Another round of demonstrations was carried out by the Hindu students on 22nd January 2023. The university yet again made hollow assurances, claimed to form a committee and submit a report on 6th March of that year.

The administration promised to allocate land by 30th June 2023 and failed the students of the Hindu community yet again.

The Hindu students approached the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of the university, conducted a press conference at the Dinajpur Press Club and even sent a Deputation to the Office of SP, DC and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Bhoomi Pujan of Hindu Mandir at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University campus

The varsity promised to allocate land post the federal elections in the country but the administration backtracked on their assurance when confronted by Hindu students on 26th January this year.

The students of the Hindu community yet again reached out to the Vice-Chancellor’s Office on Wednesday (14th February) but it was in vain. Forced by circumstances, they went ahead and performed the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ of the Hindu temple.

In visuals received by OpIndia, students of the Hindu community were seen laying the foundation of the Hindu Mandir on Wednesday.

A day later on 15th February, members of the university administration threatened the Hindu students and attempted to demolish the foundation of the Hindu Mandir. The disturbing video of the incident has now surfaced on social media

However, the attempt was thwarted by the vigilant Hindu students present there.

OpIndia reached out to a 4th year engineering student of the Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University.

Students staying overnight to guard Hindu Temple foundation

On the condition of anonymity, he told us, “There are about 2000-2500 Hindu students on the campus. Examinations are underway. So everyone is taking turns to safeguard the foundation of the temple.”

“A group of 20-25 students including me are staying overnight at the varsity to prevent further attacks on the temple. It has been 5 days so far,” he continued.

On being asked about the future course of action, the student informed, “We will submit application to the university again to allocate us land. If they do not deliver on their assurances this time, we will try to build upon the foundation stone laid for the temple in the campus.”

Featured Image via OpIndia

The article was first published exclusively in OpIndia on 18th February 2024.