Brahmanbaria’s Nasirnagar upazila administration had allowed a meeting of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat knowing full well they would demand justice for a Facebook post hurting Muslim sentiments.
An unruly mob broke away from those meetings and turned on Hindu inhabitants of the area vandalising about 100 homes and 10 temples. The attack left several hundred Hindus homeless and at 100 injured. Many have expressed fears of returning to their homesteads.
According to Nasirnagar OC, Md Abdul Kader, there were about 3,000 people at the meetings. “There were about 30-35 policemen.”
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Supporters of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat are seen with sticks on a Nasirnagar street in Brahmanbaria on Sunday, October 30, 2016 during an attack on local Hindu minority house and temples Dhaka Tribune
The sub-district’s administrative head, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), said he had given permission for a peaceful rally of pious Mulsims who would demand justice for debasing the Masjid al-Haram.
When asked about police deployment, however, UNO Chowdhury Md Moazzem Hossain said there had been no such incidents in Nasirnagar’s history. “So we did not bother with police deployment.”
He also said that he was not in charge of police deployment either, although UNOs are crucial to the administrative affairs of their areas.
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Locals have reported that the meeting was announced in the area through megaphones on Saturday shoring up sentiments and informing those who were unaware of the FB post.
According to allegations, one Rasraj Das had put up a Facebook post depicting Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, creation and regeneration sitting atop the Kaaba that Muslims face towards during prayers. Das was beaten up and handed over to the local police Saturday (October 29) afternoon.
His last FB post of 5:24am on Saturday, however, says that he was completely unaware of such a post and that his account had obviously been hacked. He begins the post, “Firstly I apologise to all Muslim brothers for someone had put up a photo from my account without my knowledge.”
He goes on to name a few people who had brought the matter to his attention since he had no idea following which Rasraj deleted the photo.
The police superintendent of Brahmanbaria Md Mizanur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune that the police were probing into such matters as whether certain specific quarters had incited the attack.
When asked about Das claiming innocence, the police super said, “Everything will become clear after investigations are over.”
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He said the police were not keen on treating this incident as similar to that of Ramu in 2013, when Buddhist pagodas and holy sites were vandalised for a Facebook post apparently by one Uttam Barua, a Buddhist.
OC Abdul Kader said the meeting was organised by a platform claiming to be ‘all party pious Muslims’ and the Ahle Sunnat wal-Jamaat was a prime mover.
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This Krishna Temple in Brahmanbaria's Nasirnagar was vanalised during an attack on Hindu minority in the area on Sunday, October 30, 2016 Dhaka Tribune
A quarter of the locals has alleged that this attack was entirely incited to unseat the local five-time MP, Sayedur Rahman.
A press statement of the district unit of ruling Awami League has demanded removal of UNO Moazzem and OC Kader for their negligence.
According to the police, Rasraj Das has been booked under the ICT Act, while two cases were lodged against 1,200 unnamed assailants on Sunday evening.
The police have so far detained nine persons for vandalism and communal violence. Currently there is a large deployment in the area with three platoons of border guards, over 200 policemen and RAB personnel.