On Sunday, Islamist radicals of Hifazat-e-Islam burnt down a Music Academy in Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria region, an institution dedicated to great musician Allaudin Khan.

They also set fire to a Central Library in the area to cap two days of unprovoked violent agitation apparently to protest against the visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi.

They blame Modi for a massacre of Muslims in his home state Gujarat, but surprisingly the Hifazat did not utter a word when Modi visited Bangladesh in 2015.

Nine persons have so far died when police were compelled to open fire in Chittagong, Dhaka and Brahmanbaria after Hifazat radicals set fire to government offices and prestigious institutions, fired on passenger buses and torched Hindu villages.

The targetting of innocent passengers reminded one of the violence unleashed by the Islamist alliance of BNP- Jamaat-e-Islami between 2012 to 2015, in which hundreds suffer severe burns and some died of wounds.

Orchestrated by the Al Qaida trained Mufti Izahar and Hifazat’s firebrand chief Junaid Babunagari, thousands of Hifazat radicals marched in aggressive formations, brandishing swords, swinging fire torches and even charging on horses.

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“They gave the feel they were led by crusader Saladin against infidels,” said a senior police official.” Their rhetoric was extremely provocative and violence was what they had in mind.”

He said nearly 40 policemen have been injured, some seriously, in organised violence.

Barrister Tureen Afroz, who is vice president of Anti-radical Nirmul Committee, told IANS the Modi visit was only an excuse to whip up violence with the aim of regime change.

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“First they whipped up Muslim sentiments against installation of Shiekh Mujib’s statue. Then over the developments in France. Then over Covid vaccines. Now Modi,” she said, adding: “Hifazat has Pakistani backing, theirs is not a peaceful movement, Pakistan is upset over our demand for a formal apology for 1971 genocide and Hifazat is doing their bit for their masters to unsettle the Hasina government.”

Mohila Awami League leader Ayesha Zaman Shimu said a section of civil society backed by Western human rights majors were railing against the Hasina government for letting loose her police on peaceful protestors.

“That’s joke. Read the media reports today. The police was left with no option because the Hifazat was hell bent on mayhem. You can’t talk sense to a fanatic radical, the only language he understands is the stick,” she told IANS.

In Myanmar, the protests were peaceful and still is largely so.

It is the military and other security forces which opened indiscriminate fire to break up mass rallies.

Unlike Bangladesh where few Hifazat protestors punched beyond their numbers by unleashing unprovoked mahyem, in Myanmar ut was the men in uniform who threatened openly on government TV to ‘shoot in the head’.

A total of 440 protestors, including children, have died in nearly two months of indiscriminate firing on protestors.

Ninety-one protestors died on Saturday and more than 40 each on two separate days earlier in March.

The only violence by protestors has been the attack on Chinese financed factories because the pro-democracy Burmese see China as the chief patron of the Burmese military Tatmadaw.

While the Islamist radical Hifazat seeks to topple the elected Hasina government lauded by the international commentariat for presiding over Bangladesh‘s Golden Decade of Development (2010-2020), the Burmese protester is fighting to force the military to step down and allow the elected parliament to convene and run the country.

The Western do-gooders will only harm the cause of democracy if they equate the two.

Subir Bhaumik

Subir Bhaumik is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. He can be reached at: sbhaum@gmail.com