I previously reported on the abduction of a young Hindu woman from her family’s home in northern Bangladesh (Bangladeshi Hindu Abducted, Forced to Convert to Islam, Canada Free Press, August 11, 2009). At 12:45am on June 13, five Muslims broke into a home in the village of Ghosai Chandura, vandalized it, and grabbed the 21-year old the college student Koli Goswami from her bed.
She cried out, but the men easily overpowered her. They covered her head to muffle the screams, but not before others in the house heard them and came to her aid. But the perpetrators drove them off with gun fire and carried Koli off even as she struggled to break free. Her family has not seen her since that night.
The Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist, Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) first reported the incident; and two human rights organizations, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and Bangladesh Minority Watch (BDMW) have investigated the incident.
Even though these groups have a history of credibility in these matters, the sad fact is that such reports are often exaggerated. This one is not. Our own investigation confirmed the abduction itself and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh’s complicity in it.
We already knew that the police denied any crime occurred and refused to pursue a case; this despite physical evidence of a break-in, which they admit having; the family’s video taped testimony; the legal complaint lodged by Koli’s guardian; and the family’s pleas for them to help locate and recover their daughter.
Police told GHRD and BDMW representatives, “It is not kidnapping. It is love affairs between kidnapper and victim.” Kidnapper? Victim? That hardly sounds like a love affair.
Yet, police continue to insist that even while refusing to explain the basis for their conclusion, their investigation, or why they dismiss the physical evidence that refutes their claim. Nor can they explain why it took five grown men—including an accused murderer—to “convince” Koli to leave home.
Bikash Halder, my associate in India, led the investigation. He dispatched four men to the family home where they spoke with Koli’s uncle and guardian, Professor Beraj Goswami. He claims to have faced nothing but corruption, duplicity, and collusion in the crime from police.
When he filed a complaint immediately after the kidnapping, he expected quick action given the nature of the crime. Instead, he met with police denial—but still insisted on producing Koli to clarify what happened that night. Instead, they produced suspect“affidavits and other so-called marriage of conversion documents,”dated from the time of the girl’s captivity. The only way to determine their veracity would be for Koli Goswami herself to testify in a safe environment that the documents were not secured under duress.
Instead, Goswami told Halder, the following sequence of events occurred. First, the Investigating Officer agreed to help him in exchange for a 25,000 Taka bribe, which Goswami paid. He ordered him to return to the Nandail police station on June 21 and wait while the police retrieved his niece.
After some time, they returned instead with an older woman in a Muslim burka that covered her identity. She said she was Koli Goswami’s mother and that her daughter converted to Islam because of a love affair—something Koli’s real mother disputed numerous times. Goswami denies that the woman was his sister-in-law, but cannot fathom the attempted deception since he could learn the truth by speaking to the woman he knew to be Koli Goswami’s mother. There is a final, rather chilling element to the June 21 meeting: the local Awami League MP, Retired General Abdus Salam, was present during the episode and threatened Goswami should he proceed with the case any further or dispute the conversion.
Curiously, while the police did not produce Koli that day, they now claim that she was present at a secret hearing held the next, about which the family was never told until after it allegedly occurred. They cannot confirm that their daughter was there or that it even took place. Goswami “protested vehemently” and told Halder that as a result “we are afraid we may further be attacked and our adult daughters abducted.”
What is not in dispute is: there was a home invasion; a family’s daughter was taken and has not been seen since; the alleged perpetrators have been identified and at least one is a known criminal; and the police refuse to pursue a case. We also know that a magistrate and the police claim that Koli converted to Islam, and a government official from the ruling Awami League warned the family to stop fighting it.
The incident itself is a crime, but making matters worse is the fact that it remains a common occurrence in Bangladesh. Victims are universally young women and girls, sometimes boys, of child bearing years or younger, and almost always Hindu or Christian.
Their choice is deliberate and as such, meets the fourth condition of genocide, as described in the international Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. Islamists have been following this pattern of ethnic cleansing for years. It is consistent with figures gathered during the period of Arab terror bombings in Israel. They disproportionately bombed places frequented by Israeli Jews of childbearing years or younger, children and even babies especially in Judea and Samaria: clubs like Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv, markets where young mothers shop, shopping malls, and so forth. What Islamists cannot gain because they are militarily weak and morally bankrupt, they try to gain through genocide.
The destruction of Bangladeshi minorities has proceeded apace for decades. There has been no outrage by the supposed guardians of human rights. In its most recent report on Bangladesh, Amnesty International did not even mention the problem. This is not new, but since January, apologists especially on the left, have held that the leftist Awami League government will change things. It is an article of faith with them, and nothing could be further from the truth. There is no internal dynamic among Bangladeshi leaders of any party to end minority oppression.
First, they do not care. The only difference between the Awami League and its nationalist rivals is that the former will say that it is wrong; their actions are the same. Second, neither has the political will to anger Islamists and the votes they control—something that numerous Bangladeshi officials have admitted to me particularly in their refusal to stop their admittedly a false prosecution of pro-US, pro-Israel, and anti-Islamist Muslim Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. And third, the parties, especially the one in power, get too much graft from the property looted from the victims and in the bribes they receive to turn the other way at the criminal acts. Figures again show that the Awami League’s history of collusion in that.
Americans know little about Bangladesh other than its poverty and natural disasters. They do not know that Islamists have taken over the institutions in this third largest Muslim-majority country and that they supply shock troops fighting in several hot spots. And consider this: at the time of the 1947 India-Pakistan partition, Hindus made up almost one third of the population in the territory known today as Bangladesh.
Today, they are but nine percent. That population shift is part and parcel of international jihad, and jihadi organizations including Al Qaeda have found a fertile and save haven in Bangladesh. They now threaten parts of India as well. This is not the Islamist war on civilization that makes headlines in the West, but it is real and growing with the passive and active complicity of the government of Bangladesh, an Islamic republic. Incidents such as that of Koli Goswami are part of it, and if they are not addressed strongly and stopped, they will bring an end to Bangladesh’s minorities in our lifetimes.