BosNewsLife Asia Service
DHAKA, BANGLADESH (BosNewsLife)– A Bangladeshi pastor and his wife faced more death threats Friday, February 20, after pressing charges against Muslims of robbery and rape, Christian rights activists said.
In addition, doctors allegedly fabricated a medical report that falsely concluded there were no signs of rape in the wife of Pastor Shankar Hazra of Chaksing Baptist church in Gopalganj district, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the capital Dhaka.
And, “If I do not withdraw the case, they said they will make a ‘Ganges [river] of blood’ here,” Hazra said in published remarks.
Resident medical officer Dr. Ali Akbar of Sadar Hospital in Gopalganj told Christian news agency Compass Direct News that a report given to police February 12 said a medical examination indicated the wife of Rev. Hazra was not raped.
However Hazra said he has learned that the examining doctor had been paid to falsify the medical report. “I heard from some people in the locality that 50,000 taka [US$740] had been given to the doctor to twist the report,” Hazra reportedly said.
He accuses area Muslims of robbing their living quarters at the church property and gang-raping his wife Depali, 45, on January 6.
The troubles apparently began when he and his wife went out to a toilet, located outside their home. “Suddenly a man loomed up from the darkness and thrust the snout of a homemade rifle at my chest and told me to keep mum, otherwise both of us would be killed,” Hazra was quoted as saying.
Hazra said about eight eight people attacked them and eventually “blindfolded my wife and took her inside the house.” After the assailants left, the pastor apparently managed to untie himself and found his wife lying unconscious on the bed.
He alleged that police, influential villagers and local Muslim-owned media are trying to conceal likely anti-Christian motives for the crime, instead falsely accusing Christians and a Hindu for allegedly participating in the incident.
The rape came amid other reports of Muslim violence against Christians in several areas of Bangladesh, including against Bible students. On Friday, February 20, Bible student, 20, was recovering of injuries after being attacked by a mob of some 50 Muslims in the town of Uttara, Christians said. The February 1 incident happened when an estimated four million Muslims gathered for an annual Islamic conference, Christians said.
Murmo and fellow students from Believers’ Church Bible College were reportedly distributing Christian literature when a man approached them and said that the Quran had “superseded” the Bible. Several men then allegedly grabbed Murmo and demanded to know who gave him the Christian literature, and the addresses of religious leaders and of his school.
When he refused, the attackers reportedly beat him and threatened to kill the Christian, unless he gave them information. Officials rescued Murmo, but send him to a local police station where he was held until the principal of his school secured his release, Christians said.
“Pray for healing for Murmo [and] ask God to strengthen him to remain steadfast in the midst of opposition,” said Christian advocacy group Voice of The Martyrs Canada in a letter to its supporters, detailing the clashes.
Bangladesh’s government has said it wants to guarantee religious freedom. Yet, the U.S. State Department says in practice, Christian, as well as other minorities have “experienced discrimination and sometimes violence by the Muslim majority.”
It also takes time before justice is done. The 55-year-old mother of one of 10 people killed in a church bomb attack in 2001 has said she is hoping the recently elected government in Bangladesh will bring justice after an investigation waned under an Islamic-allied leadership.
Anna Halder, whose son Suman Halder was 23 at the time of the 2001 bomb attack, told reporters this week she wants to see justice within her lifetime. “I want this government to investigate properly to find the real culprits, or they should tell us that nothing will happen because we are poor and minority Christians.”
About 70 people were attending Sunday prayers at Baniarchar Catholic Church in Gopalganj district, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the capital city of Dhaka, when the bomb went off. It also injured 20 people.
Church leaders say they are disappointed while three Islamic extremists were sentenced to death December 23 for a 2004 grenade attack on former British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury in Dhaka, not enough has been done to find the purpetrators of the Church attack. .
People from other minority religions in Bangladesh also are said to discriminate against Christians. In Maotia village in Khulna district, about 360 kilometers (224 miles) south of Dhaka, Hindus recently cremated the body of pastor according to Hindu custom against the wishes of the deceased, his family and their denomination, Compass Direct News reported.
Bimol Biswas, 45, died of liver cirrhosis on December 7, 2008. His wife and son wanted to bury him according to Christian traditions, but his two Hindu brothers and local Hindu neighbors forcefully cremated him according to Hindu ritual, Christias said.
Biswas, who had converted from Hinduism 18 years ago, worked with the Bangladesh Bible Society for eight years and later worked as a pastor in a Nazarene church in Dhaka. His wife worked with the same mission.
The pastor’s Hindu brothers also dispossessed his wife and son of their inheritance due to their conversion to Christianity, Christians said. Hinduism is the second largest religious affiliation in Bangladesh, accounting for about nine percent of the country’s over 150 million people. Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of the population, and Buddhists and Christians less than 1 percent, according to estimates.
There has been international concern that pressure on Christians is increasing in the country.