Book Review: Being Hindu in Bangladesh – The Untold Story

Ever felt the weight of history compressed into the lean spine of a book? Being Hindu in Bangladesh: The Untold Story achieves just that—a journey that took me two immersive weeks to navigate, while the Hindu community in Bangladesh has borne the burden for nearly eight decades.

From the haunting opening line of the preface – “Smritikana Biswas was twelve when her father thought of killing her sister…” each chapter unfolds, revealing a history both heart-wrenching and vital. Authored by Deep Halder and Avishek Biswas, what triggered the book was an interview with 90-year-old Smritikana, who lived through and survived the Hindu-Muslim riots and brutalities.

That’s not it! The stories of Purnima Rani Shil, Mukta Saha and many more such first-hand accounts, thorough research, turn the past into a living, breathing testament.

In this compelling chronicle, the authors function as war reporters, highlighting the struggle that led to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, marking its transformation from East Pakistan. During this period, Bangla emerged as the common language, and Bengali culture acted as a cohesive force that united citizens of different faiths. Within this diverse tapestry, the Hindu minority, a vibrant thread, faces challenges ranging from violence and persecution to land disputes. Tales of social discrimination, forced conversions, and the heart-breaking abduction and rape of Hindu girls resound through the pages.

The narrative, spanning eight chapters, reads like an epic, with each chapter posing a provocative question. How can Fake News turn neighbours into rioters and friends into murderers? Who is the true enemy of a nation? And for how long will last names dictate vulnerability to extremism? How did Bangladesh get here? Has the Liberation War of 1971 really ended? What is the fate of interfaith lovers?

Yet, amid the darkness, glimmers of harmony and coexistence flicker. The Constitution of Bangladesh, despite its amendments, stands as a beacon, guaranteeing freedom of religion. The government, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the world’s longest-serving female leader, has taken commendable steps to protect the rights of minorities. But the questions linger: Can Hindus in Bangladesh expect better days? And lastly, who does this country belong to?

As I read through the final pages, these questions still persisted, making it not just a read but an experience that continues to unfold in my thoughts. It makes me ponder how, as an Indian, the notion of being Hindu takes on an entirely different connotation—or, dare I say, the opposite. The stories of discrimination and hardship faced by Hindus in Bangladesh emerge as an untold saga of resilience and adaptation.

I believe that reading this book is to embark on a journey, not just through pages, but through time, empathy, and the determined human spirit.

Pick up Being Hindu In Bangladesh from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

About the author:

Richa Shah spent a decade in the fast-paced world of advertising before deciding to take a leap into the slow, yet enthralling, and ever-growing realm of home brewing Specialty Coffee, all while exploring new and catching up on some unread books. Amidst the pages of books and sips of coffee, Richa has found joy in this new chapter of her journey.
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