The local leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami played a key role behind the planned attacks on Hindu houses and temples at Madhabpur in Habiganj on Sunday as a sequel of the communal attacks in Nasirnagar area of Brahmanbaria over a fake blasphemous post on Facebook.
Several hundred Muslim hardliners carried out the attack after an announcement was made in front of Rail Mosque in Montola area by some local supporters of Jamaat and its radical student unit Islami Chhatra Shibir Sunday afternoon, witnesses said.
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During the mayhem that continued for several hours, three temples and at least 12 pavilions holding Kali Puja came under attack of the extremists.
The same day, some 3,000 radical Muslims attacked and destroyed at least 12 temples and 100 houses in Nasirnagar area leaving over 100 Hindus injured.
They also looted valuables from the temples and houses. The mob was instigated by the local leaders of radical Islamist groups Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Hefazat-e-Islam.
It was later found that illiterate Rasraj Das' Facebook profile was used by someone else to share a defamatory post on Friday. Even though he removed the post immediately and apologised, he was caught and beaten up severely on Saturday, and later handed over to the police.
A shopkeeper at the Madhabpur rail station who was present at Sunday's rally said seeking anonymity that Rajapur's Ohid Hossain Master, Montola Bazar mosque's former imam Md Osman, Hariprasadpur's Ajob Khan and Montola Station mosque's imam Mahbub who are known as local Jamaat leaders and supporters organised the attackers and provoked them to launch the attack in the name of protesting humiliation of Islam reportedly by Rasraj Das.
“During the protest programme, Ohid Master declared that such disgrace of Islam cannot be tolerated and action must be taken within that night. Hindu people will be driven out of the region one by one,” the shopkeeper told the Dhaka Tribune.
Syed Mamun Miah, who runs Sultanpur Shamsul Uloom Madrasa in the area, also played an important role to organise the mob. With foreign funding, Mamun also runs “Hefazat-e-Islam Juboshongothon,” an associate organisation of the madrasa.
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Locals wonder how Mamun bought huge land in the area even though he earns his livelihood from a small insecticide shop at Sultanpur. The madrasa students also get money from the authorities and many unknown youngsters are seen since the establishment of the madrasa.
On Sunday, the attackers held a protest procession from Nazarpur that ended in front of Mamun's insecticide shop adjacent to the madrasa. Later, they launched attacks on temples and houses of the Hindu community which continued until 10pm.
When contacted, Mamun said that his elder brother was the owner of the madrasa and that its funds came from Dubai.
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He refuted the allegation of his involvement in the attacks, saying: “I did not take part in the procession. The Hindus and Muslims of the area live here peacefully and harmoniously, and they help each other.”
A local Awami League leader wishing anonymity said: “Although we elected the upazila chairman from our party, the area is fully controlled by local Jamaat-Shibir leaders and activists. They earlier did not get any issue to attack the minorities but the Nasirnagar incident has encouraged them to launch such a disgraceful attack.”
Judicial inquiry demanded
The violent attack on the Hindu localities of Nasirnagar was well planned, and was carried out with an intention to grab the land of the Hindus by driving them away, eminent citizens who visited the area on Wednesday said.
They blamed the local administration and police for not taking necessary action to protect the Hindus, and for not arresting the main culprits who incited Sunday's attacks.
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The fact finding committee of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), rights activists and politicians made the observation after visiting the affected area and talking to the victims. They also demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.
On Tuesday, a delegation of the ruling Awami League's central committee visited the area and assured the victims of taking necessary legal action against the perpetrators.
Rights activist Sultana Kamal was part of a six-member Nagorik Committee who visited the area on Wednesday. She said: “Everyone saw the organisers of the rally and those who attacked the Hindu houses and temples. So, there is no reason for non-identification of the criminals.”
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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
She said that they had no confidence on the local police and the administration since their role during the attacks had been questionable, and demanded that the government form a judicial inquiry committee and a fact finding committee comprising members of the civil society to unearth the incident.
Meanwhile, a 10-member delegation from Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikyo Parishad also visited the area.
Talking to reporters, General Secretary of the platform Rana Dasgupta demanded a judicial inquiry for identifying role of the local administration and the police, and bringing the real perpetrators to book.
On the other hand, separate teams from the NHRC, Communist Party of Bangladesh, and the Indian High Commission also visited the affected area Wednesday.
Minister downplays attacks
The intensity of the attacks in Brahmanbaria was not very significant, local lawmaker and Fisheries and Livestock Minister Sayedul Haque said on Wednesday.
Only one or two incidents of attacks took place in the area. “It was not that much as seen in the pictures,” he claimed.
“The situation is now under control,” he told reporters after visiting the affected area.
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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
Nasirnagar OC withdrawn
The Police Headquarters on Wednesday withdrew Md Abdul Kader, the OC of Nasirnagar police, for negligence in carrying out duties during the attacks, Assistant Police Commissioner (Headquarters) Razon Kumar Das said.
Kader was also directed to report to the district police lines.
On Sunday, Kader and the local UNO gave speeches at Nasirnagar playground where the radical Islamists were holding a protest rally, though it had no permission.
BNP to send delegation on Friday
Meanwhile, the BNP on Wednesday said that a team comprising members of the central committee would visit Nasirnagar and talk to the victims tomorrow.
A six-member delegation led by BNP Vice-Chairman Maj (retd) Hafiz Uddin Ahmed will visit the area to find out the reasons behind the incident, said party chief Khaleda Zia's press wing official Shairul Kabir Khan.