Unidentified criminals attacked a temple and three nearby Hindu houses in Malgram Panuapara area under Kaharol upazila, Dinajpur early Saturday, creating panic among the community.
Police quoting locals said upon entering the Kali temple around 1:30am, a group of miscreants smashed two idols and threw the head of another idol in a pond. They also vandalised and torched three houses in the adjacent area.
Later, locals doused the flame and recovered the Kali idol from the pond.
Additional policemen were deployed in the area to avoid further untoward incident.
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Local lawmaker Manoranjan Shill Gopal, Kaharol UNO Aslam Mollah and Birganj circle ASP Sujan Sarker visited the area. Police collected evidence from the crime scene, but have not been able to arrest anyone.
Around 3am the same night, a group of miscreants led by the son of a BNP leader of nearby Bochaganj upazila attacked and torched 10 Hindu houses at Harijan Palli.
Locals caught the mastermind, Jewel, and handed him over to the police. He was put on a one-day remand Sunday.
Visiting the Kaharol temple, Manoranjan said that the attack had been perpetrated in a planned manner. “It is not a scattered incident. The religious bigots have conducted the attack.
“We will bring the attackers to book after investigation.”
Upazila Puja Udjapan Committee President Gopesh Chandra has condemned the series of attacks on the religious minorities across the country and demanded that the government ensure security of the vulnerable people.
UNO Aslam said that they would distribute relief among the affected people.
Jewel is a listed criminal
Meanwhile, police on Sunday produced Jewel of Bochaganj before the First Class Cognisance Court in Dinajpur seeking five-day remand in a case filed over the attack on Harijan Palli Hindus.
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OC Habibul Alam said that Jewel had not given details of the incident yet. “He was injured after the locals caught him and gave him a good beating. He is now undergoing treatment.
“We are trying to arrest his accomplices.”
Son of ward 7 unit BNP President Aiyub Ali, Jewel faces 16 criminal cases filed against him. His father is known in the area as a mugger.
Bochaganj upazila administration gave each of the affected families 30kg rice, blankets, saree and lungi on Sunday.
The attack was launched around 3am. Seven houses belonging to the Dalits (sweepers) and three of the local Hindus – situated in railway station area of the municipality – were burned to ashes during the attack.
They claimed that Jewel had masterminded the attack as a sequel to the conflict with some sweepers of the Harijan Palli.
Jewel had damaged the Puja pavilion of the Dalit community during the Durga Puja in October. At that time, the locals sought explanation and also demanded compensation from Jewel, triggering a scuffle.
The matter later turned into a dispute and Jewel used to threaten arson attack on their houses, the Dalits alleged.
The case was filed with Bochaganj police by Rubel Basfore of the Dalit community against two named including Jewel and four other unnamed people.