They confirmed Iqbal’s identity by sending his photos to Noakhali police and kept him back until police arrived without arousing his suspicions
Three friends, who are also members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, aided police in the arrest of Iqbal Hossain, the man responsible for keeping a copy of the Holy Quran at a Comilla puja venue that triggered attacks on Hindus.
The trio identified as Anik Rahman, Mehedi Hasan Mishu, and Saiful Islam Saif are local Chhatra League activists, confirmed Asaduzzaman Arman, president of Noakhali unit Chhatra League.
Anik and Mishu, both of whom are masters’ students at Chowmuhani Government SA College, along with three of their friends went to Cox’s Bazar for a vacation on October 19. Saif joined them the next day.
When the six friends were sitting on the beach at Dariyanagar and signing in chorus in the afternoon, a lonely Iqbal, who was wandering on the beach, noticed them. He came closer and started humming as they sang.
After reaching the hotel, they saw Iqbal's photo on TV and Facebook. In the evening, they luckily met Iqbal at the Sugandha Beach and made his acquaintance.
After the man identified himself as Iqbal, they were sure that he was the same person wanted by the police in Comilla for instigating communal tension.
So, they took a photo with him and sent it to the Noakhali police for confirmation. Noakhali police then directed them to Comilla police who in turn notified the Cox’s Bazar police on their behalf.
After getting confirmation, they got Iqbal some food and held him back until the police arrived.
Confirming the matter, Noakhali (Begumganj Circle) Assistant Superintendent of Police Shah Imran said he was tipped off about Iqbal's whereabouts by the three Chhatra League men on Thursday night.
He said: “Anik and Mishu called me Thursday night and gave me information about Iqbal. I later contacted the Comilla and Cox's Bazar police and conveyed Iqbal’s location.”
Iqbal was later brought to Comilla Police Lines on Friday following his arrest in Cox’s Bazar.
Currently, he is being interrogated for potential leads in police custody under tight security.
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On October 13, a 999 call to police reported that a copy of the Quran was found on an idol of a puja venue in Comilla.
Locals said they found a copy of the Quran on the lap of Hanuman, a central character in the Hindu epic Ramayana, but his weapon, a club, was missing.
Several temples and puja venues in the city came under attack in the afternoon as tension mounted after the video went viral. Many shared the video calling for attacks on Hindu sites on allegations of sacrilege.
The violence later spread across Bangladesh, leaving seven dead and many Hindu houses and businesses vandalized.