DHAKA: An elderly Buddhist monk was found hacked to death in the remote southeastern district, the latest in a spate of murders of religious minorities and secular activists in Bangladesh.
No group has yet claimed responsibility, although the killing in Bandarban appeared to bear a resemblance to several recent murders by suspected militants. A troubling rise in violence has now seen seven murders since the start of April 2016 alone.
“Villagers found Bhante (monk) Maung Shue U Chak’s dead body in a pool of blood inside the Buddhist temple this morning. He was hacked to death,” said Jashimuddin, deputy police chief of Bandarban. He said that the monk, 75, appeared to have been attacked by at least four people at the temple in Baishari, some 350km southeast of Dhaka early on Saturday morning.
“We saw human footprints in the temple and found that four to five people entered the compound,” he said. He said that the monk was living alone in the hillside temple after having recently left farming to become a full-time monk. A human rights lawyer who is close to the country’s Buddhist community said that U Chak had received anonymous death threats.
“He became a monk just one and a half years ago. He had received death threats, but nobody took it seriously,” Advocate Jyotirmoy Barua said. Bandarban is largely Buddhist, home to indigenous peoples who adopted the religion centuries ago. Police official Anisur Rahman, who was at the scene, said that it appeared the monk did not have any personal enemies.
Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim, with small Christian and Hindu minorities. Buddhists make up less than one percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million population.