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NASIRNAGAR ATTACK: Probe report finds no motive

  • Published at 01:10 am December 1st, 2016
  • Last updated at 04:25 pm December 1st, 2016
NASIRNAGAR ATTACK: Probe report finds no motive
The report’s 12-point findings describe the time line and major incidents of the day of the attack, all of which have already been reported by the press. Its conclusion says that the attack intended to “destroy the communal harmony among different religious groups in Nasirnagar.” The 76-page report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Dhaka Tribune, makes no headway into who may have carried out the said destruction or to what end. The three-member probe committee formed by the Brahmanbaria district administration submitted the report to the divisional commissioner of Chittagong on November 13. The report said it had recorded testimonies of 78 people from the area and heard more than 100 people in Nasirnagar Sadar and Harinber during its investigation. In several cases, the committee’s findings run counter to the findings of the Dhaka Tribune and other news media. Were local Muslims involved? Videos made by witnesses during the attack as well as accounts from victims heard by the Dhaka Tribune place several local influential Muslim community members at the forefront of that day’s attack. The probe report’s findings, however, point to outsiders coming to Nasirnagar Sadar to carry out the attack and state that “according to witnesses those who took part in the rallies did not carry out the attack.” The report rather emphasises that local Muslims tried to counter the attackers that day. One person whose house was attacked on that day told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday over the phone: “Yes, some local Muslims tried to protect the temples and our houses but they were very few.” The victim said: “Most attackers were from outside Nasirnagar sadar area. But if some influential Muslims, some of whom are ruling party leaders, had not taken part in the procession that came towards the Hindu areas of Nasirnagar sadar after attending the protest in the playground, the damage would not have been so high.” Among the witness statements, only Kajal Datta of Dattapara states that his Muslim neighbours tried to protect the temple in his house. But statements from other Hindus do not mention anything like this. Accused man gives testimony One of the men who gave testimony to the committee has been widely accused by the local communities of having instigated the attack. The man is Abdur Rahim, headmaster of Ashutosh Pilot High School and brother of the suspended Awami League leader and Nasirnagar Sadar union Chairman Abul Hashem. Several students of that school told the Dhaka Tribune that Abdur Rahim held a meeting inside the school compound to help organise the protests that ultimately led to the attack. Some students also claimed that Rahim told other teachers to order the students to attend the protests. Some locals claimed that the UNO permitted the rallies because of Rahim, who had given his assurance to make the protest peaceful. However, Rahim’s testimony to the committee denies all this and reads as though the man was a bystander to the events. Rallies allowed despite shortage of police According to the report, on that day a large number of Nasirnagar policemen were assigned to upazila election duty. The day before of the attack the OC was not also on duty. He joined the station the next day. To hold the protests, the organisers sought permission from the UNO on the night before the attack. Despite knowing that there will be a shortage of police members to control such a protest and that the OC was absent, the UNO gave permission for arranging the protest. The probe committee suggested that the upazila administration and the police should have been more cautious. No investigation into political motive Of the 15 people whose testimonies have been described in the report, three say political contentions may be behind the communal attack. However, the probe committee did not touch on the issue itself. It just suggested finding out the actual person who mainly used Rasaraj’s Facebook account to post the controversial picture that started it all. Rasaraj’s statement to the committee Rasaraj in his statement to the probe committee denied his involvement with posting the picture to his Facebook wall. His Facebook password was known to three persons including his younger brother Palash, neighbour Ashutosh, and cousin Hridoy, he said. When he was fishing in the marsh, he was called by Ashutosh to return home. When he returned, some five to six Muslim youths beat him and later Haripur union Awami League president along with others handed over him to the police. He did not know who had posted to his Facebook wall. The probe committee in its recommendation suggested the attackers should be detected and brought under the law, victimised Hindus should be compensated, and views exchange meetings with religious and political leaders should be held to restore communal harmony. Asked to comment on the shortcomings of the probe report, committee members Assistant Mashkate Rabbi and Additional District Magistrate Mohammad Shamsul Haque refused to give any answers.