August 9, 2021 10:18:46 pm
A group of religious bigots attacked at least four Hindu temples, some shops and households belonging to the minority community in Bangladesh’s Khulna district, prompting the authorities to call in the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to assist the police in maintaining law and order.
So far, 11 people have been arrested for their apparent link to the vandalism, Khulna district police chief Mahbub Hossain told reporters.
He said that the RAB personnel have joined hands with the police to enforce a vigil at the scene at Shiali village of Rupsha sub-district, bordering India.
According to some residents, a group of religious bigots vandalised the idols at four Hindu temples and several shops owned by Hindus on Saturday evening, a day after a row between followers of the two faiths.
They said that the row erupted when a Hindu procession singing Archana name songs seeking divine blessings against the COVID-19 pandemic was passing by a mosque during the Muslims’ “Esha” prayer — one of the five mandatory Islamic prayers.
According to the victims, the miscreants first attacked the Shiali Mahasmashan temple and then vandalised the idols in the temple and the crematorium, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.
From there, they went to the Shiali Purbapara area, where they vandalised the idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in Hari Mandir, Durga Mandir and the Govinda Mandir, it said.
Six shops and two homes of the local Hindu community members were also vandalised, it said.
Krishna Gopal Sen, general secretary of Rupsha Upazila Puja Udjapan Parishad, said that at least 10 idols at four temples were vandalised during the attacks.
The ruling Awami League lawmaker, Salamm Murshedi, told reporters efforts have been made to restore peace in the area.
“We have just concluded an interfaith reconciliatory meeting which was joined by residents of six villages in the area — all have promised to keep peace and restore friendship,” he said.
Murshedi, an industrialist and business leader by background, said that he personally committed at the meeting to rebuild the statues and shops with his own expenses while the district administration earlier promised to repair the temples and shops from the government’s behalf.
“We will provide justified compensation to those who were affected, the temples will be repaired immediately,” Rupsha’s chief administrative officer Rubaiya Tasnim said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) presidium member Kajol Debnath called the incident “unfortunate”, saying a timely intervention of the local administration or the police could have averted the situation.
“The altercations occurred on August 5 and the vandalism took place on August 6 — the local police chief visibly bought time letting the incident happen,” he told PTI.
A BHBCUC delegation and Hindu leaders along with social leaders earlier visited the scene when the Hindu residents of the area protested the attack and demanded appropriate punitive actions against the culprits.
Rupsha sub-district Puja Celebration Council president Shaktipada Basu filed a case naming 25 people who allegedly carried out the vandalism along with over hundred unidentified people.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.