Tensions high in Bangladesh district after Muslims killed over Hindu temple fire

The alleged Hindu mob in last week’s incident suspected that the two victims had set fire to the temple.
Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Tensions high in Bangladesh district after Muslims killed over Hindu temple fire Demonstrators block a highway with tree stumps and by lighting fires to protest a mob last week beating to death two men in the central Faridpur district of Bangladesh, April 24.

Religious tensions were high in a central Bangladesh district as hundreds of demonstrators started fires and blocked roads on Wednesday to protest last week’s deadly beating of two Muslims by a mob, allegedly of Hindus, police said.

The residents of Krishnanagar, a village in the sub-district of Modhukhali in Faridpur, set upon the victims – two young Muslim brothers – on Thursday (April 18) suspecting they had set a fire in a Hindu temple in the area that same day, police added.

The situation was under control, said a press note issued Wednesday by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), which also said that four platoons of its paramilitary personnel were deployed in Modhukhali and the larger Faridpur area.

Twelve people have been arrested over the last four days on suspicion of being part of the deadly mob, said Md. Mizanur Rahman, an assistant police commissioner of the Modhukhali police, told BenarNews.

“[The arrested] are all Hindus. But the masterminds of the incident have been absconding,” Rahman said, adding all 12 had been produced before court, which sent them to jail.

Leaders of Bangladesh’s minority-Hindu community as well as its Muslim-majority community condemned the deadly beating and urged a fair investigation.

According to CCTV footage seen by police, the two absconders were the ones who allegedly led the mob – Asaduzzaman, a Muslim, for whom police gave one name, and a Hindu man, Ajit Kumar. Both suspects are local council members, and Asaduzzaman is the chairman.

Police had not determined yet whether the temple fire was an accident or a case of arson, but learned a few things from initial investigation, Rahman said.

“Our primary investigation proved that [the] two slain construction workers were innocent. The two local level leaders were involved in the incident,” he said.

The brothers had been working on some construction at a primary school adjacent to the Hindu temple.

“There is anger and frustration among the local people about the lynching, “Rahman said.

“[While] we do not obstruct their peaceful protest, we will not allow any violence.”

Police remove a tree stump from a road that demonstrators blocked to protest the beating death of two men in the central Faridpur district, Bangladesh, April 24. [BenarNews]

Kajol Debnath, a member of the Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhists, Christians Unity Council, called last week’s happenings “painful.”

“The people behind the incident, which was aimed at disrupting the communal harmony, must face legal actions. We urge law enforcers to ensure that no innocent people are harassed,” he told BenarNews.

A vice president of the conservative hardline Islamic group Hefazat-e-Islam, Maulana Mohiuddin Rabbani, deplored deaths caused merely on the basis of suspicion.

“We want an immediate judicial investigation into the incident, and to bring the culprits under judicial process so they get an exemplary punishment, " he told BenarNews.

Meanwhile, a Muslim resident of Modhukhali, Rashed Ahmed, said people should be careful to not blame the entire minority community for the deadly beating. 

“This is so painful that two innocent people were killed just on the basis of suspicion. The local people want justice for the killing,” he told BenarNews.

“We are not against the Hindus, we are against the culprits no matter which religion they belong to.  The culprits are culprits; they have no religion. We must not blame the Hindu community for the incident.”


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