Members of Hindu community in Lalmonirhat on Monday came under targeted attack again, for the third time in a week of escalating sectarian tension and violence in the region.
At least 15 Hindus – including nine male and six female – were injured, 40 houses raided, four of them damaged, and valuables worth an as-yet unknown amount were looted during the attack. Many frightened families fled to neighbouring villages after the attack.
The incident occurred around 12:30pm at the Satpatki Majhipara village of Mohendranagar union in Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila.
The injured were admitted to the Lalmonirhat general hospital, but despite deployment of additional security personnel, the atmosphere in the village remains electric with the villagers anticipating a repeat attack.
Jamir Uddin, officer in charge of Lalmonirhat Sadar police station, confirmed the report of attack and said many men, women and children of the village had taken shelter in neighbouring Muslim households and hadn’t returned home since.
According to several victims, pro-hartal activists of BNP, led by local Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal cadre Shawn Islam, launched the attack in retaliation for refusal of some Hindu fish traders to pay tolls earlier this week.
They said a group of 15-18 opposition activists, armed with locally made sharp weapons, attacked the village and forcibly entered at least 40 houses, assaulted 15 individuals and looted valuables.
Narayan Chandra Das, an affected villager, said, “Shawn and his cohorts demanded a toll of Tk5,000 from each of 15 local fish traders on Sunday night, in the name of bearing hartal’s expenses. But they were denied.
“The traders apprised local BNP leader Abdul Mazid Mandol of the matter, which infuriated Shawn. He took revenge on them by launching the attack on the village.”
Assaulted Sumitra Rani Roy, 65, said her son, Nikhil Chandra Roy, was beaten right before her eyes and her cries to spare him went unheeded. “Nikhil was beaten mercilessly by the hartal supporters in my very presence, in my own home. I cried and cried but they wouldn’t stop at anything.”
However, Abdul Mazid Mandol, general secretary of BNP-Mohendranagar unit, denied involvement of BNP activists in the attack and said he had cautioned party activists against doing any such thing.
No arrests were made till on Monday evening, but police claimed success in fending off the attackers in time before more damage could be made. No case in this connection was filed yet.