Bangladesh: Muslim Hardliners Damage Hindu Village Over Facebook Post

Pulack Ghatack
Dhaka
2021-03-18
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Bangladesh: Muslim Hardliners Damage Hindu Village Over Facebook Post Students in Dhaka protest an attack that took place on Wednesday on a Hindu village in Sunamganj district in northeastern Bangladesh, March 18, 2021.
[BenarNews]

Senior officials on Thursday expressed regret and pledged action after a Muslim mob attacked a Hindu village in northeastern Bangladesh, days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to visit the country.

The attack took place on Wednesday, as the Muslim-majority country kicked off a ten-day countdown to the 50th anniversary of its independence, with Modi expected to help mark the occasion on March 26.

Perpetrators armed with sticks filmed themselves walking toward the minority community village, chanting “Allahu Akbar” and vowing revenge, after a Hindu villager allegedly criticized a leader of the powerful conservative group Hefazat-e-Islam in a Facebook post.

No one was hurt, but dozens of houses and at least seven temples were damaged and vandalized, residents of the fishing and farming community, located in Sunamganj District of the northeastern Sylhet Division, told BenarNews by phone.

“We are really sorry to see this unwarranted incident ahead of the visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Obaidul Quader, general-secretary of the ruling Awami League, told journalists in Dhaka, after a meeting with Hindu-majority India’s envoy to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami.

Quader also serves in the cabinet of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as Road Transport and Bridges minister.

Underlining the seriousness of the incident, the director-general of Bangladesh’s elite anti-crime police unit, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), visited the village, Noagaon, which is some 200 miles from Dhaka.

“We will take tough action against the attackers,” Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun told a gathering of locals and journalists.

None of the attackers had been arrested as of Thursday night, but Hindu youth Jhuman Das was charged for allegedly criticizing Hefazat-e-Islam senior leader Maulana Mamunul Haque in a Facebook post on Tuesday, according to authorities.

“No accused have been arrested so far. But I can assure you that the culprits will not be spared,” district police chief Mizanur Rahman told BenarNews over the phone.

A police officer and a local politician have filed police reports related to the incident, he said.

Some of the Hindu villagers spoke to BenarNews about the attack.

“They broke into my house and stole a hundred-year-old stone statue from our temple,” Asim Chakraborty told BenarNews by phone.

Ranjana Chowdhury, a grocer in the village, told BenarNews, “We fled with our two daughters … When we came back, we saw that all the goods and money in my shop had been looted.”

Asked about recovering the assets of the villagers, district police chief Rahman said he had not received reports of major looting.

“The Hindu habitants of the village are very poor. In reality, they do not own any remarkable assets that could be looted. I have visited and talked to the victims. One person said they lost 5,000 taka (U.S. $59) and another alleged to have been robbed of 58,000 taka ($684),” he said.

Meanwhile, Haque, a central leader of Bangladesh’s most influential faith-based organization, rejected responsibility for the attack in an 11-minute video uploaded to YouTube.

He called on Hindus not to damage relationships with Muslims and urged his followers not to take the law into their own hands.

“Seek help from the police if necessary,” Haque said in the video.

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