Narail communal attack: Hindu women, children return to Digholia

Following the attack on Hindus on Friday, around 80% of the female members of the community had fled

Four days after the attacks on Hindu homes and temples in Digholia village under Lohagara upazila of Narail, Hindu women and children who fled in the wake of the violence have started to return to their homesteads.

The village is home to around 300 families, about one third of whom are Hindu. Following the attack on Friday, around 80% of the female members of the community had fled.

Many of them were seen returning home yesterday afternoon.

Bizli Rani Saha was in her home with her son and daughter-in-law when the attack took place on July 15. The angry mob attacked her house, destroyed furniture, and looted valuables, including gold. At around 2am on Saturday, the family left the house and moved to Lohagora with support from locals and the administration. 

“We have not been able to rebuild the house, everything is in a haphazard situation,” she told this correspondent upon her return yesterday.

“I thought things had become normal, but the anxiety and concerns still remain,” she said. 

Her daughter-in-law China Rani said they left the house without giving it any second thought that night. Seeing their charred belongings in the daylight brought back their fears and worries.

“The attackers on the night asked us to open the door and pay them Tk2 lakh for us to avoid the attack, or see everything being destroyed. We had no courage to open the door, and this is why they destroyed everything,” she said. 

Dilip Master, headmaster of Digholia School, said around 80% of the women had to leave the village on the night of the attack and many are yet to return.

“Some have started to return, but the anxiety remains,” he said.

According to him, around 108 Hindu families lived in Saha Para, and around 17-18 houses and shops and four temples belonging to them were attacked.

Narail Police Super Probir Kumer Roy said the police were maintaining surveillance of the area.

“In addition to investigation, we have beefed up security in the locality,” he said.

Angry villagers took to the streets on Friday, attacking and vandalizing several homes on the allegation that a youth named Akash Saha had hurt their religious sentiments through a post on Facebook.

Two cases were filed in connection with the incident. Akash, the prime accused, is now on a three-day remand in one case and five people are in custody in another case, said the police super. 

Around 4,000 incidents of violence against Hindus, who constitute less than 9% of Bangladesh's population, have been reported since 2013.

At least 13 people were killed and 1,037 were injured in different incidents between 2013 and June 2022, alongside damage to households, businesses and temples, according to the rights group Ain O Salish Kendra.