Narail communal attack: How it all went down
As many as 17 victims lost their valuables worth hundreds of thousands of taka due to the barbaric attack on Friday
The police were on high alert in the southwestern part of Sahapara of Digholia village of Lohagara police station in Narail on Friday after allegations were raised of religious sentiments being hurt through a Facebook post.
The law enforcement agency was strictly monitoring the activities of the angry mob to protect the accused Akash Saha's house in the southern part of Sahapara.
However, the agitators quickly moved to the eastern part of Sahapara and carried out a reprehensible act of vandalism by setting off fires and looting temples and houses.
Before the authorities realized their mistake, 17 houses and shops, including four temples, were vandalized. At the same time, a house was also set on fire.
The residence of Tarun Saha in the eastern part of Sahapara was one of the first houses to be vandalized.
He said: “Police were patrolling in the southern part of Sahapara where Akash resides. So, the eastern part of Sahapara was outside police surveillance.”
The attackers took this chance and vandalized shops and houses of this area, Tarun Saha added.
The assailants razed Tarun Saha’s roof and two doors and then moved on to attack and loot Master Dilip's house and family temple, Gobindo Saha's house was set on fire, Dr Swapan's house was attacked and vandalized, and idols in the family temple were desecrated.
They continued on to attack and vandalize the Sarbajanin Temple in Akra in the southern part of Sahapara from the rear. The attackers also attacked and set fire to the temple on the banks of the Nabaganga.
An act of persecution
Tarun Saha said: “Many Muslim families live around Sahapara. So the attackers combined both familiar and unfamiliar faces. The term ‘communal conflict’ used for it is not correct. Because in a conflict, both parties need to be active. But this was a one-sided affair.
“It would be correct to call it Hindu persecution since only the Hindus of Sahapara were attacked in this incident. Shops owned by anyone other than Hindu people were left unscathed.”
Another victim, Gobindo Saha said the attackers set fire to his living room in the evening. The blaze quickly spread throughout the house within moments burning all valuables.
When the fire broke out, local people came to the rescue and tried to extinguish the blaze with water. But by the time the fire was extinguished, everything in the house had been destroyed. “Later, the government took measures to fix my house through the administration; now it is being renovated,” he added.
Mala Rani Saha said the assailants took four bhori of gold ornaments and Tk4,000 from her house. They tried to break the cupboard too.
Again, on Monday night, a group of people warned her not to disclose the incident of looting and vandalism to the authorities.
Molina Roy from Akra area complained that a day after the incident, on July 16, few miscreants came and forcibly took away two cows from her cattle shed. “Now we are concerned about protecting the people and other assets of the house,” he added.
According to the list involving 17 victims of the attack, the shutters of Anupam Saha's shop were broken and medicines inside the shop were damaged, causing a loss of Tk30,000.
Gobinda Chandra Saha's house worth Tk200,000 was set on fire while Dilip Kumar Saha lost TV, fridge, gold ornaments worth Tk200,000.
Digholia Shamshan Kali Mata temple gate, tube well, the concrete idol of Kali Mata were vandalized and burnt, causing a loss of Tk200,000, Sachidananda Roy’s temple grill and idol were broken and two cows were taken away, causing a Tk150,000 loss.
The attackers damaged properties worth at least Tk1.5 lakh at the Dighalia Radha Govind temple while it was Tk1 lakh at Akrabari Sarbjanin temple.
Gautam Saha incurred a loss of Tk40,000 due to the damage caused to his shop. Ashok Saha also lost Tk20,000 worth of properties at this shop due to the destruction carried out by the attackers.
The shutters of Uttam Ghosh's shop were damaged, causing a loss of Tk15,000 while Biplab Kumar Saha also saw his assets worth Tk15,000 lost due to the vandalism.
Gaurchandra Saha's door and some goods, including showcases, were damaged to the cost of Tk15,000.
Nityadulal Saha's shop was damaged, causing a loss of Tk15,000. Padmarani Chakraborty incurred a loss of Tk3,000.
What happened earlier
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.
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.
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.