• Monday, Nov 29, 2021
  • Last Update : 02:19 am

Rangpur arson attack reminiscent of Pak Army's brutality in 1971

  • Published at 03:35 pm October 18th, 2021
Rangpur fire- Pirganj
Screengrab from video on social media shows Hindu homes burning at a village in Rangpur’s Pirganj upazila on Sunday, October 17, 2021 Facebook

The attackers entered the villages and carried out carnage till late Sunday night, but the police were nowhere to be seen, say victims

“I didn’t witness the Liberation War but what I saw last [Sunday] night reminded me of the stories I had heard about the Pak Army’s brutality in 1971. As the attackers unleashed hell on our village while screaming terrifying chants, I took my children and ran out of my burning home to hide in a paddy field. There I lay all night, pressing my hand over my children’s mouths so their cries weren’t heard by the savage raiders.”

This was how Niranjana Mahanta of Majhipara Jelepalli recounted the horror that befell her family and her community on Sunday night.

When she returned home on Monday morning she found her house and everything she owned burned down to ashes.

Fear and panic gripped residents following Sunday night’s arson attack on houses, shops and temples belonging to members of the Hindu community in Pirganj upazila of Rangpur.

Also Read - Home minister: Culprits identified, 45 arrested over Rangpur incident

Additional law enforcement has been deployed and security put on high alert since the sudden attack on Majhipara and Kasba Karimpur villages in Ramnathpur union.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Monday said those involved in the Rangpur incident were identified immediately and 45 were arrested.

He said the incident was sparked over a post on Facebook about "Kaaba Sharif" by a teenage boy. 

Police said tensions erupted after some people alleged that a Hindu man had posted religiously abusive content on Facebook.

“Police reached the spot soon after tensions mounted and stood guard around the home of the young man. We could save that house but attackers torched some 15 to 20 nearby houses,” Assistant Superintendent of Police Md Kamruzzaman told Dhaka Tribune.

Around 30 locals were injured at the time.

Firefighting units from Pirganj, Mithapukur and Rangpur city rushed to put out the flames. They were at the scene till 3am on Monday.

Also read - Arson attack on Hindu homes in Rangpur

According to witnesses, the attackers entered the villages and carried out carnage till late Sunday night, but the police were nowhere to be seen. After the attackers left, the police arrived on the scene and assisted all those who had taken shelter in the paddy fields in returning to their homes.

Locals return home on Monday morning to find their houses and belongings burned to the ground in Pirganj upazila of Rangpur Dhaka Tribune Swarna Rani of Majhipara Jelepalli said her rice, furniture and Tk60,000 in cash were all destroyed in the fire. “Now, we have no roof over our heads and no money to get back on our feet.”  

Sumit from the same village said his only source of income, an auto-rickshaw, was set on fire by the attackers.

“We don't know who wrote what on Facebook, we didn’t deserve this. They set fire to both the temples in our village,” said Ram Barman, a temple attendant.

Also Read - Rangpur, Feni SPs among seven senior police officials transferred

“We will not rest until everyone involved in the heinous attack is brought to justice,” said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) for Rangpur Range Police Devdas Bhattacharya after his visit to the scene on Monday morning. 

Earlier, dozens were arrested in connection with the attacks and the spread of communal hatred on social media amid the Durga Puja, the largest festival of Hindus. Security was ramped up at houses of worship, and Border Guard Bangladesh troops were dispatched to more than two dozen districts. The 10-day festival came to a close on Friday with the immersion of Durga idols.

At least four people were killed in police shootings during the attack on puja locations in Chandpur's Hajiganj on Wednesday while in Noakhali's Chowmuhani, attacks on Hindu temples left two people dead on Friday.

The government and law enforcement agencies have described the incidents as “planned” in a bid to destabilize the country.

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