Comilla Mazar man who supplied Quran to Iqbal seen in new footage

New CCTV footage seen by Dhaka Tribune shows Iqbal Hossain, the man believed to have placed the Quran at a Durga Puja venue in Comilla, causing a week of attacks on Bangladesh's Hindu minority, meeting with two caretakers of a local shrine on the night of the incident. 

It appears as though the trio met, and that a Quran, believed to be the same holy book used later, was placed in the shrine. 

The fallout from that action led to a week of violent attacks on the Hindu community and seven deaths, including of two Hindus. Iqbal, believed to be a vagrant, has yet to be apprehended.

The two caretakers of Darogabari shrine – Hafez Humayun and Faisal – were identified by its chief custodian Ahmedunnabi Mashuk.

Also Read - PM Hasina: What happened in Comilla is unfortunate

After a brief meeting inside the mosque – run by the shrine authorities – at 11pm on October 12, Hafez Humayun kept the Quran in a closet while Iqbal was seen leaving the mosque.

Another footage circulated on Wednesday shows Iqbal collecting the Quran from the mosque after several hours, at 2:12am. He then walked outside and placed the Quran on the lap of an idol, Hanuman, at the temporary Durga Puja venue in Nanuardighi.

Iqbal’s name was disclosed by the police on Wednesday, but he could not be arrested as of Thursday evening. 

Previous CCTV footage showed Iqbal moving out of the mosque and coming back from the Puja pavilion with the club of Hanuman, a central character in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Thursday said that police were unable to locate Iqbal since “he is not using his phone now. But he will be arrested soon”.

Screengrab from security camera footage shows a man leaving with a book from a local mosque in the early hours of October 13, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

Kamal suspects that there may be some instigators behind it. "After his detention, those behind the incident can be found."  

On October 13, local resident Iqram Hossain called 999 to report that a Quran had been placed at the Puja venue.

Also Read - Who is Iqbal, the man behind the Quran incident that triggered violence?

Kotwali police Officer-in-Charge Anwarul Azim reached the scene in plainclothes within a few minutes of receiving the call.

Meanwhile, another local, Foyez Ahmed, streamed the whole thing live on Facebook and revealed the OC’s identity while he was briefing a high-level official over the matter.

The video then went viral on several groups, triggering protests.

Foyez was arrested by the police and is being interrogated in custody.

Several temples and puja venues in the city came under attack in the afternoon as tension mounted after the video went viral. Many shared the video calling for attacks on Hindu sites on allegations of sacrilege.

Police filed four cases over the Comilla incident and arrested at least 41 people.

‘Iqbal is a drug addict’

Family members say Iqbal spent most of his time at various local shrines. He was a drug addict and under the influence of drugs harassed neighbours as well as put psychological pressure on his family members.

The son of fish trader Nur Ahmed Alam, Iqbal lives in the city’s Sujanagar area and is the eldest among five siblings.

Screengrab from security camera footage shows a man, whom the police identified as Iqbal Hossain, walking away with a club from the Nanuardighi Durga Puja venue in Comilla on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 Dhaka Tribune“He became a drug addict when he was 15,” says Amena Begum, Iqbal’s mother. 

She said Iqbal had been mentally torturing family members and harassing people on the streets under the influence of drugs.

A yaba-addict, Iqbal spent most of his time in shrines, especially the one in Akhaura, she said.

Amena says her son became mentally unstable following an incident where he was stabbed 10 years ago.

“People used to think of him as a thief and beat him up,” she said before adding that she recently heard from the local councilor that he had walked away with a club from the idols at the puja pavilion.

Also Read - Another case filed over Comilla temple vandalism

According to Iqbal’s younger brother Rayhan, police have been looking for his brother since Friday.

He says Iqbal might have done it at someone else’s incitement, and if he is indeed guilty, he should be brought to justice.

“I turned him out of the house 13 days ago because he slaughtered five ducks with a blade,” said Iqbal’s grandmother Rahima Begum.

Comilla City Corporation ward 17 Councilor Syed Sohel said that Iqbal used to stay near his office most of the time.

“I have known him for the last 10 years. He sometimes worked as a painter and sometimes as a daily wage worker,” said Sohel.

According to him, there were several complaints about him and the locals were exasperated with him but he did not have any political affiliation.

He further said that Iqbal became mentally unstable after his first wife, with whom he has a child, left him.

“I think some people took advantage of his mental condition and made him do it,” he said.

Powered by Froala Editor