Fresh attacks on Hindus in B’desh; houses, temples torched
In fresh attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, unidentified miscreants set ablaze some of their houses and damaged two temples in central Brahmanbarhia district where several places of worship of the minority community were vandalised earlier this week, police said.
Miscreants set fire at least six Hindu houses in a predawn attack on Friday in central Brahmanbarhia district’s Nasirnagar, the place where at least fifteen temples and more than 20 houses were vandalised after a Facebook post deemed offensive to Islam sparked outrage in the country.
“They (miscreants) fled the scene immediately after torching the houses and two small temples were also damaged,” a police officer said.
Many Hindu families have deserted their houses after the attacks on temples and have taken refuge in other areas.
Tensions have escalated in the neighbourhood after the fresh assault on Friday.
Police in overnight drives detained 33 persons for their alleged involvement in the synchronised attacks on Hindus in Brahmanbaria on October 30.
With this, police has detained a total of 44 people in connection with the attack, Mizanur Rahman, superintendent of Brahmanbaria police, told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters on Friday rallied in the capital demanding stern action against perpetrators of attacks on Hindus.
Several hundred Hindu youths joined by Muslims staged a street protest at central Dhaka’s Shahbagh Square.
Several political and rights groups also held another rally in front of the National Press Club demanding immediate and stern actions against the culprits.
The protesters at Shahbagh area enforced a blockade on the busy streets around the area for more than half an hour and forced ruling Awami League’s joint general secretary Mahbul Alam Hanif to get out of his car, stuck in barricade, and express solidarity with them.
The protesters also demanded resignation of a minister who had earlier accused journalists of “exaggerating” the Nasirnagar attacks.
“(Livestock) Minister Sayedul Haque was in the area just few days after the (Sunday) attacks while a fresh attack took place after he visited the scene,” general secretary of Bangladesh Puja Celebrations Committee said.
The protests on Friday prompted newly elected Awami League general secretary and Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader to reiterate the government’s tougher stance against the culprits promising to bring them to justice quickly.
“Stern punitive actions await the attackers as (Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina-led government has taken a tough position to this end,” he said at a function of ethnic minority community in Dhaka.
He urged the Hindus not to consider themselves as a minority group and said “the government is with you”.
The government had earlier ordered investigations into Sunday’s attack. Police had said they enforced extra security vigil in the area but the reports of fresh attacks in the neighbourhood sparked massive protests in the capital and several other cities.
The attacks on several Hindu temples in Bangladesh were carried out under a well orchestrated plan aimed at grabbing lands of the minority community, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had said.
The statutory NHRC said their initial investigation into the attacks on several Hindu temples and households in the central Brahmanbarhia district’s Nasirnagar indicated that they were pre-planned.
“Our investigation is still underway but our initial findings suggest that an organised quarter carried out the attacks in a pre-planned manner,” Enamul Haque Chowdhury, NHRC member and chief of a three-member fact-finding committee of the rights panel, had said.
Several groups have accused the police of inefficiency but Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal defended the law enforcement agency saying they intervened at the scene in quickest possible time.
Authorities, however, withdrew the officer in charge of the Nasirnagar police station immediately after Sunday’s attack.
Bangladesh police has also suspended a senior officer for negligence of duty in the Bramhanbaria incident.