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Durga Puja violence: Protests, vandalism continue

  • Published at 11:48 pm October 16th, 2021
Noakhali idols vandalised
A group of people took out a rally and carried out attacks on Durga Puja venues and Hindu homes in Begumganj upazila's Chowmuhani on Friday, October 16, 2021 Collected

Six idols were vandalized at a temple in Munshiganj on Saturday

Protests against attacks and vandalism during the Durga Puja celebrations continued across the country on Saturday, as did the vandalism that led to the public outcry.

In Chittagong, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council announced a sit-in and hunger strike next week.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad demanded exemplary punishment of the culprits.

Meanwhile, miscreants vandalized six idols at the Daniapara Maha Shoshan Kali Mandir in Rashunia union of Sirajdikhan upazila, Munshiganj, between 3am and 4am on Saturday.

Countrywide hunger-strike on October 23

The Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has announced a sit-in and hunger strike from October 23 in protest against the attacks during the Durga Puja celebrations.

The programs are scheduled to take place at Dhaka’s Shahbagh and Chittagong’s Andarkilla, said the council’s General Secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta at a press conference at Chittagong Press Club.

Before announcing the protest, the forum observed a six-hour strike in Chittagong on Saturday. No untoward incident was reported during the strike. 

On Friday, a group of people attempted to breach the puja venue entrance at the JM Sen Hall in Chittagong, throwing brickbats and tearing down banners after Jumma prayers.

However, police said they had quickly brought the situation under control following clashes with the demonstrators, which left several people injured, including policemen.

The commotion outside created panic inside the venue, where women of different ages were preparing for the immersion of the idols. 

Soon after the incident, the council’s leader Rana Dasgupta called for a general strike on Friday at a demonstration in front of JM Sen Hall. 

Advocate Rana Dasgupta, General Secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, speaking at a media call at Chittagong Press Club on October 16, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

It was also announced that, in protest, idols would not be immersed in the river. However, the religious ceremony was completed following assurances from the law enforcement agencies. 

'We can't just accept the violence and vandalism'

The Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad has demanded exemplary punishment for those involved in the rampant vandalism, violence and mayhem that took place during the Durga Puja celebrations. 

 Milan Kanti Dutta, president of the forum, said that they would wage a tougher movement if the government did not pay heed to their demand.

"From the home minister to ruling party General Secretary Obaidul Quader, everybody has assured us saying they are informed about everything. If you know everything, why are you not punishing the culprits?" he said.

 Charu Chandra Das Brahmachari, general secretary of ISKCON Bangladesh, warned that the community would not sit silent and watch the attacks happen.

 "We believe a group of fundamentalists are initiating such hatred to upset religious harmony. We also know some activists of the ruling party are affiliated with such heinous crimes at some locations.

"I would like to urge the prime minister to not become weak and take action against them too," he added. 

Vandalized idols at a Kali temple in Sirajdikhan upazila, Munshiganj on October 16, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

 The leaders of the forum also demanded the enactment of a protection law and a national minority council. 

The ruling Awami League-backed Blue Panel teachers of Dhaka University on Sunday strongly condemned the vandalism perpetrated at several puja venues and idols in various places across the country.

On Wednesday, at least four people were killed in Chandpur and scores were injured as mobs attacked Hindu temples and Durga Puja venues in several districts, following social media posts about the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran at a Durga Puja venue in Comilla.

The government and the law enforcement agencies described the incidents as “planned” with the aim of destabilizing the country.

Another dead

Meanwhile, the body of a Hindu man was found in a pond next to a temple in Noakhali on Saturday, likely taking the death toll from attacks on Durga Puja venues and Hindu homes to six in just two days.

The body of 20-year-old Pranto Das was recovered from the pond next to the ISKCON temple at Begumganj Upazila’s Chaumuhani.

Kishor Ray, president of the Noakhali chapter of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, claimed Pranto was killed during the attacks on the temples on Friday.

However, police said this was yet to be confirmed.

A group of people took out a rally and carried out attacks on some Durga Puja venues and Hindu homes in Begumganj upazila's Chowmuhani on October 15, 2021 Collected 

The body bore injury marks, but the cause of death could only be confirmed after an autopsy, said Md Shah Imran, the district's additional superintendent of police.

According to the police, a mob marched along College Road and DB Road in Begumganj on Friday afternoon and vandalized the area.

A Hindu man, Jatan Kumar Saha, 42, died during the violence and a total of 17 people, including the Begumganj police OC, were injured.

The district administration had imposed Section 144 (prohibiting public gatherings) in the Chaumuhani municipality area from dawn to dusk (6am to 6pm) on Saturday.

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