A controversial Facebook post is said to have triggered the communal attack on the Hindu houses in Ranglpur's Thakurpara village.
There were rumours that one Titu Roy, originally from Thakurpara but currently living in Narayanganj, put up a Facebook post defaming Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a few days ago.
However, an analysis of the said Facebook account from where the controversial post was published shows there is a good chance someone else might have impersonated Titu.
The Facebook account resembling Titu Roy is named 'MD Titu'. The 'MD Titu' account was opened on Facebook just two months back in September this year, although he had managed to make 288 friends by this time.
It appears whoever opened the account has only a handful of Titu's photos and posted them tirelessly, almost every day.
Several photos of people appearing to be relatives of friends of 'MD Titu' were also posted.
That 'MD Titu' is a Hindu youth has also been established through the abundance of photos of Hindu deities on his wall.
This 'MD Titu' appears to have a habit of sharing photos of young girls and porn content.
The controversial post first appeared on the timeline of 'MD Titu' on October 19. It was a screenshot showing a ‘blasphemous’ post from another Facebook ID on the wall of a Facebook group, named 'Bangladeshi Teenagers.'
The controversial screen shot later started appearing in the photo galleries that were being published by 'MD Titu' almost everyday.
It appears even after receiving threats over the screen shot, 'MD Titu’ was undaunted and continued posting the screenshot several times in a day.
Rangpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Mizanur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune that they were yet to come to any conclusion about the Facebook ID that was used for spreading the controversial post.
“We are trying to recover the Facebook ID that gave rise to the incident. A team has been assigned to arrest Titu from Narayanganj. The real mystery will be solved if he is found there,” he told reporters after visiting the affected areas on Saturday.
The Rangpur SP, however, claimed that the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and its affiliated student organisation Islami Chhatra Shibir might be behind the communal attack on Hindu houses at Thakurpara. “The criminals of Jamaat-Shibir have carried out the violence at Thakurpara to destabilise the country ahead of the oncoming national polls.”
Real Titu is ‘illiterate'
Meanwhile, family members of Titu Roy brushed aside any possibility of him operating a Facebook account, saying he is illiterate.
Titu’s younger brother Bipul Chandra told the Bangla Tribune: “Titu took loans from different NGOs and failed to repay the money. He fled from the area seven years ago over that issue. He never returned home after that. He took his wife and children to Dhaka around five years ago.”
Titu and his wife now work at a garment factory in Narayanganj’s Fatullah, he added.
“We had heard that a Facebook ID named after Titu spread rumours and caused all the tension here. But my brother cannot even read a word. How can he run a Facebook ID? We think someone else opened an ID and named it after Titu,” Bipul said.
The villagers confirmed the Dhaka Tribune that the Facebook ID of 'MD Titu' was the one that was used in spreading hatred against the Hindu community.
They claimed the controversial screenshot was shown to them by some some people at a local market a couple of days ago.
On October 30 last year, a mob of radical Islamists in Brahmanbaria's Nasirnagar upazila beat Rasraj Dash mercilessly and handed him over to police, alleging that he posted a morphed image of Kaba on the Facebook.
The attackers also vandalised and looted his house, and destroyed two Puja pavilions at Haripur village.
The controversial Facebook photo also sparked a series of communal attacks on the Hindu minority of the area. At least 17 temples and Puja pavilions, and over 58 houses were vandalised and looted by a mob of about 3,000 people following a rally, organised by radical Islamist groups Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Hefazat-e-Islam.
There were announcements from local mosques the previous day – a trend seen many times in recent years before attacks on temples and houses of Hindus and the Buddhists across the country.
Later, more houses were vandalised and torched in the area.
Police investigation later found out that the morphed photo posted from Rasraj’s Facebook account was used by the masterminds of the attacks to spread communal hatred.
In 2012, a crowd of Muslim destroyed more than a dozen Buddhist monasteries in Ramu of Cox's Bazar following a hate campaign using a photo allegedly defaming the Quran. The investigators later found that the masterminds of the attack spread a rumour that the photo was uploaded on Facebook by a young Buddhist man from the area.