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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 07:55 GMT
Academic's murder sparks Hindu protest
Protesters in India
Bangladeshi Hindus receive support in India
By Alastair Lawson in Dhaka

Minority Hindus in the southern Bangladeshi port city of Chittagong have staged a violent protest following the murder of a prominent university professor.

Clay likeness of the Hindu goddess Durga
Hindu leaders have cancelled religious festivities
The professor, Gopal Krishna Mahuri, was shot dead at point-blank range on Friday by unidentified assailants.

His killers escaped after the shooting.

Protesters said he was killed because he was a Hindu, but it was unclear if the murder was connected to the persecution of Bangladeshi Hindus since the election.

Violent mob

The murder of Professor Mahuri coincided with a visit to Chittagong by Bangladeshi Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury.

Violence flared when Mr Chowdhury and another minister went to the murdered professor's home to express their condolences.

The officials were met by a predominantly Hindu mob, who were only dispersed by police with batons.

The government has stressed the country's minority Hindu community has not been targeted since the new government, which contains two hard-line Muslim parties, was elected last month.

But rights groups in India say they have documented widespread atrocities committed by Muslim radicals against the Hindu community.

Frightened

Violence on university campuses is commonplace in Bangladesh, and Professor Mahuri's murder may not have been connected to recent events.

Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister Zia's government insists reports of persecution are exaggerated
Yet there is little doubt that many in the Hindu community do feel frightened at the moment.

The government strenuously insists that few people in Bangladesh are attacked because of their faith.

But the family of the dead professor say that he was unpopular with the hardline Jammat-i-Islami party because he refused to allow them and other political parties to practise student politics on the campus where he worked.

Professor Mahuri was a widely respected academic who had taught at Nazirhat College in Chittagong for more than 35 years.

Recently he delayed his retirement to be principal of the college, which has about 3,000 students.

See also:

19 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Fears of Bangladeshi Hindus
03 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh parliament boycott
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Deaths mar Bangladesh election
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