Indian External Affairs Minister, Ms. Sushma Swaraj, asserted in the Indian Parliament (upper house) that the Hindu population in Bangladesh is on the rise. She quoted, apparently from Bangladesh official sources, that the Bangladesh Hindu population strength has gained a whole 2.2% points – from 8.5% in 2011 to 10.7% in 2017. It is not clear to us what Bangladesh sources were consulted to come to this incredible conclusion, but to have the Hindu population grow from 13 million (1.3 crore) to 17 million (1.7 crore) during a time of growing attacks is truly fantastic and unbelievable. Anyone can see that a population under siege cannot grow by 30% within seven years. According to our calculation, the Hindu population growth rate was only 0.05% during the years 2001-2011 (whereas the general growth rate was 1.35%). This would result in a number not more than 13.4 million (1.34 crore).
If anything, we believe what this Government willfully undercounted Hindu numbers during the 2011 census which resulted in a very low percentage of 8.5 of the total. The undercounting could have been done to minimize the importance of Hindus in Bangladesh and justify the Government’s position to keep Islam as the national religion. It is laughable to think that the monotonic decrease of the Hindu population (which was 19.7% in 1972) since independence of Bangladesh suddenly and magically reversed itself due to some extraordinary policy changes of the current government. In reality, the situation is exactly the opposite. Over the past few years, Hindus in Bangladesh have encountered an existential threat in the form of land grabbing, looting, forced conversion, kidnapping, rape, blasphemy laws and other intimidating factors. If anything, the Hindu population continues to drop (even in absolute numbers) due to the exodus to India or lower fertility factor due to a chaotic and adversarial social and political climate. (image courtesy :Pakistan Hindu Post (PHP)