The victim had searched a mosque, claiming that there were firearms hidden there, angering locals
Locals in the northern district of Lalmonirhat have allegedly beaten a man to death and then burned his body over allegations of hurting religious sentiments, according to officials.
The incident took place on Thursday at the bordering union of Burimari in the district’s Patgram upazila, said local Union Parishad Member Hafizul Islam.
The deceased, identified as Shahidunnabi Jewel, was lynched in front of the Union Parishad (UP) office, according to Hafizul, who said that the body was later taken to the Lalmonirhat-Burimari Highway, where it was burned.
Jewel, aged around 50, father of two, was a former librarian of Rangpur Cantonment Public School and College.
Confirming the killing to Dhaka Tribune, Lalmonirhat Deputy Commissioner Abu Zafar said: “Reports of a man being burned to death have come in. I am on my way to the scene.”
He said that the authorities had received reports of arson in several locations at the land port town of Burimari, including the UP office.
Additional forces of police and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was sent to the area following the incident, said Lalmonirhat Superintendent of Police (SP) Abida Sultana.
“I cannot really say what happened before going to the scene. But I have heard the same,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
The incident unfolded when two men approached the khadim (attendant) of the Burimari Central Jam-e Mosque after Asr prayers on Thursday afternoon, according to UP Member Hafizul.
“One of the men went inside the mosque with the khadim, Zubed Ali, before searching the bookshelf at the prayer hall, claiming that firearms were hidden behind the Quran and Hadith books,” he told Dhaka Tribune over the phone.
The other man was outside the hall in the balcony, according to Zubed.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Zubed Ali stated: “The man started to search the bookshelf. At one point, five or six worshippers, who were outside the mosque, entered and dragged the man to the stairs outside before starting to beat him. The other man was waiting outside the hall.
“Soon afterwards, [UP] Member Hafizul Islam intervened and took the men away from there. I don’t know what happened to them after that,” Zubed said.
Hafizul claimed that by the time he arrived on the scene, there were more than a hundred people gathered there.
“I locked the men inside a room of the Burimari Union Parishad office. The number of people started to increase suddenly.”
The UP member claimed Patgram police station OC Suman Kumar Mahanta, Patgram Upazila Parishad Chairman Ruhul Amin Babul and Burimari UP Chairman SM Newaz Nishat arrived after they were called over the phone.
“But agitated locals stormed the UP office and dragged one of the men outside before lynching him in front of the office. They then took the body to the Lalmonirhat-Burimari National Highway and burned it with firewood and petrol. There were 5,000-6,000 people,” Hafizul said.
He claimed that they never got a chance to speak with the two men. “We don’t know the men’s identities as we never got a chance to speak with them.
Police have taken the second man into their custody, Additional Superintendent of Police Rabiul Islam said.
His identity will remain undisclosed due to security reasons.
Lalmonirhat Additional Superintendent of Police Rabiul Islam told journalists present at Patgram police station on Friday that police had visited the spot and collected evidence. “Other agencies, including our Criminal Investigation Department, are investigating the incident. The situation is currently under control. Preparations are underway to file multiple cases in this regard.”
Lalmonirhat Deputy Commissioner Md Abu Jafar said: “We visited the spot on Thursday night and collaborated with the people's representatives, administration and local people to keep the situation calm. After further investigation of the incident necessary legal action will be taken.”