Police yet to determine if he acted alone
Iqbal Hossain, the man believed to be responsible for placing a copy of the Holy Quran at a Durga puja mandap in Nanuardighi area of Comilla, has reportedly confessed to his crimes.
A high-ranking police official in Comilla, who wished to remain unnamed, confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
Iqbal was taken to Comilla Police Lines on Friday morning following his arrest in Cox’s Bazar the previous day.
Since then, police have been interrogating him to verify his involvement in the incident and uncover other possible leads.
The police official said Iqbal confessed to placing the Quran on the lap of Hanuman, a central character in the Epic of Ramayana, before stealing the club from the idol’s hand.
However, Iqbal is yet to disclose if he acted alone or if he had an aide, the official added.
Family members of Iqbal claimed that he was mentally unstable, and someone might have taken advantage of his condition to make him place the Quran.
After Iqbal placed the Quran at the Puja venue, one Iqram Hossain called 999 to report the matter. Kotwali Police OC Anwarul Azim reached the scene in plainclothes within a few minutes of receiving the call.
Another local, Md Foyez Ahmed, then started a live streaming on Facebook to spread the matter.
Foyez was later arrested and remanded.
Comilla Superintendent of Police Khan Md Rezwan yesterday said: “Foyez told the police that he circulated the matter to incite communal tension.”
CCTV footage seen by Dhaka Tribune shows Iqbal Hossain meeting with two caretakers of a local shrine on the night of the incident.
Also Read - How Chhatra League men aided in Iqbal’s arrest
It appears as though the trio met, and that a Quran, believed to be the same holy book used later, was placed in the shrine.
After a brief meeting inside the mosque – run by the shrine authorities – at 11pm on October 12, Hafez Humayun kept the Quran in a closet while Iqbal was seen leaving the mosque.
More footage from October 13 shows Iqbal collecting the Quran from the mosque after several hours, at 2:12am. He then walked outside and placed the Quran on the lap of an idol, Hanuman, and left the scene with its weapon, a club.
Iqram and Foyez reported the matter to the Puja organizers around 7am on October 13.
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.
Iqbal was arrested from the Shugandha beach area of Cox’s Bazar around 10:10pm on Thursday, according to Comilla Superintendent of Police (SP) Faruk Ahmed.
Three members of Bangladesh Chhatra League - Anik Rahman, Mehedi Hasan Mishu, and Saiful Islam Saif - aided police in the arrest.
Mishu said they first saw Iqbal at Dariyanagar and later made his acquaintance at Sugandha Beach on Thursday night.
After the man identified himself as Iqbal, the trio started suspecting that he might be the same man wanted by the police over the communal violence in Comilla.They took a photo with him and sent it to the Noakhali police for confirmation.
Subsequently, Noakhali police directed them to Comilla police, who in turn notified Cox’s Bazar police on their behalf.
After getting confirmation, the trio 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."
Victim succumbs at DMCH
A person, who had sustained injuries during the recent attacks at a number of puja mandaps in Comilla, died Thursday night while undergoing treatment at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
The deceased was identified as Dilip Das, 62, father of actress Adhora Priya and resident of Comilla’s Gangchar area.
He died around 11:45pm while on life support at the hospital.
Dilip was seriously injured after being hit with a brick on his head thrown by the protesters in front of Rajarajeshwari Kalibari puja mandap on October 13. Later, he was taken to Dhaka.