583 people arrested in 102 cases, say police
Hindu community leaders, students, teachers, and activists are set to demonstrate and observe a token hunger strike in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country on Saturday to press home their demand for ensuring the safety and security of religious minorities.
Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad and Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad (BPUP), among other groups, will take part in the protests demanding a quick trial of the perpetrators who attacked Hindu temples, Durga Puja venues, and homes in several districts.
The BPUP leaders on Friday called for a boycott of the diwali festivities during the Kali Puja on November 4 to protest against the attacks.
The organization also questioned the sincerity of the local administrations, saying they had failed to act on the nationwide attacks on Hindus that were sparked by false allegations of the Holy Quran being desecrated in Comilla.
From a press conference in the city, BPUP General Secretary Nirmal Kumar Chattarjee pointed out that there was only one guard at the temporary Puja venue in Comilla on the night of the incident. The power supply to the mandapa area was cut off for a period between 3am and 4am that night.
"The question of what caused the power outage remains unresolved. Is the incident being investigated?" he asked.
Nirmal Kumar added that they would hold the Puja rituals but would refrain from celebrating Dipaboli (popularly known as Diwali) festivities.
The organization reiterated their eight-point demands at the press conference, including calls for compensating victims, restoring the 1972 constitution, trying perpetrators of communal violence in special tribunals, and investigating the 2001 post-election violence perpetrated against minority communities.
583 arrested in 102 cases
So far, a total of 102 cases have been filed accusing 20,619 people in connection with the recent violence against the Hindu community.
Of the accused, police have arrested 583 people and drives are underway to arrest the rest, according to the police’s official data.
10 arrested in Chittagong
Police in Chittagong have arrested 10 people, including nine members of former Ducsu VP Nurul Haque Nur-led Bangladesh Students' Rights Council, over their alleged involvement in the recent attack on the Durga Puja pavilion at the JM Sen Hall in the city.
They were arrested during raids conducted late on Thursday at different parts of the port city and Satkania, said Chittagong Kotwali police OC Nezam Uddin.
The arrests were made after the attackers were identified from the CCTV camera footage and photos of the incident, said the police officer.
Eminent citizens demand stern punishment
Noted academicians, jurists and rights activists have demanded exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of the recent communal attacks.
A total of 47 eminent citizens including Dhaka University Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, Barrister Amir-ul Islam and former adviser to a caretaker government M Hafizuddin Khan issued a joint statement on Friday.
They strongly condemned the attacks and vandalism on the Hindu temples, Durga Puja venues and houses at different parts of the country.
HRW: Protect minorities
New York-based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for immediate steps to protect the Hindus and prosecute those responsible, including members of law enforcement agencies, for unlawful violence.
“Bangladesh authorities are dealing with an extremely stressful situation that could easily escalate into even more bloodshed, unless law enforcement acts with caution and restraint,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, on Friday.
Pirganj violence victims get grants
RDRS Bangladesh distributed Tk3.1 lakh as grants among 31 affected victim families in Majhipara village of Pirganj upazila on Thursday.
Pirganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer Biroda Rani Roy distributed the grants among the victim families as the chief guest.
Each of the 31 affected Hindu families received Tk10,000 in cash at the function.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Police on Friday provided financial assistance as well.
Being directed by IGP Dr Benazir Ahmed, Rangpur Police Super Biplab Kumar Sarkar distributed cash assistance among the victim families at a function arranged in the village.
Each of the 66 affected Hindu families received Tk25,000.
Besides, the authorities of two damaged temples received Tk75,000 each and four Hindu community people Ranjet Chandra, Ramen Chandra, Purnima and Rupali were rewarded with Tk10,000 each for their bravery during the arson attacks.
Hasan: Teaching communal harmony to children is vital
Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Friday said the cultural practice of children is essential to maintain communal harmony in the country.
He has asked the authorities concerned to reintroduce the "Notun Kuri" program on Bangladesh Television and also requested newspapers' authorities to publish children's pages on their newspapers every week in order to develop children's talent.
He said fundamental forces often continue their mischievous attempts to destroy communal harmony in the country.
"The perpetrators will be further eliminated if we can make children culturally oriented and inculcate a non-communal spirit into them," he added.