Hundreds of supporters of a hardline Islamist group in Bangladesh attacked and vandalised 70 to 80 houses of Hindus in the country’s northeastern Sylhet division following a social media post allegedly by a youth from the minority community, media reports said on Friday.
The attack on a Hindu village by several thousand followers of Hefazat-e-Islam’s leader Mamunul Haque took place in Shalla upazila of Sunamganj district in Sylhet division on Wednesday, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.
Haque’s supporters from Kashipur, Nachni, Chandipur and some other Muslim-populated villages gathered in Noagaon village and attacked the homes of local Hindus with sticks and locally made weapons, vandalising 70-80 houses, the report quoted the police as saying.
Many local Hindus fled their homes to save themselves, the report said, adding that the mob entered the village, ransacked and looted many houses.
Facebook post led to mob attack
The incident happened after Hefazat-e-Islam’s Amir Allama Junaid Babunagari, Joint-Secretary General Mawlana Mufti Mamunul Haque and several other central leaders attended a conference at Derai upazila on Monday, it said.
Enraged by Haque’s speech, a young Hindu man allegedly made a Facebook post criticising him. Following the social media post, the mob attacked the village on Wednesday. A large number of police personnel rushed to the spot.
A senior police officer said that elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was also deployed.
Shalla Upazila Nirbahi Officer Al Muktadir Hossain said in a statement that the accused youth has been arrested and handed over to the law enforcement for insulting Haque on Facebook. Legal action is being taken against him.
“We have arrested 22 suspects as criminal cases were filed against 700 a manhunt for the attackers is underway,” Sunamganj district police chief Mizanur Rahman told reporters.
Ruling Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader said the government has ordered stern actions to bring the culprits to justice.
“This country belongs to everyone”
“The government is committed to ensure security and peaceful coexistence of people of all religious faiths,” he said.
Meanwhile, rights groups and Hindu leaders said the minority community was targeted in a planned way to drive them away.
Several Hindu organisations like the Bangladesh Hindu Parishad and the National Hindu Grand Alliance staged separate street protests in Dhaka and other places.
“This country belongs to everyone we want harmony,” Hindu Parishad leader Sajan Kumar Mishra told one of the major rallies in front of the National Press Club.
Hefazat is mainly a grouping of teachers and students of hundreds of non-government madrasas across the country.