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New probe into anti-Buddhist violence

Court order follows criticism of original government report

New probe into anti-Buddhist violence
Temple reconstruction is underway in eastern Bangladesh following the violence reporter, Dhaka

December 14, 2012

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The High Court yesterday ordered the government to form a judicial inquiry committee to probe anti-Buddhist violence starting in September which caused the destruction of about 19 Buddhist temples and 100 homes in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong.  

The order requires the formation of a body of inquiry within seven days and a final report in March following a petition on Monday filed on behalf of Bangladesh’s Buddhist community angered by an original government report in October that it deemed insufficient. More than 260 people have been arrested as a result.

“We have rejected the report from the previous committee because we see the culprits who incited violence moving freely in the area,” said Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, the petitioner.

Barua, a Buddhist, alleged that the names of some attackers did not appear in the original report and that police did not arrest them, even though they were provided with the necessary information to do so.

Babul Akhter, additional police superintendent of Cox’s Bazar and a member of the original probe committee, defended the report today.

“We gave the names of 311 people in total for their direct and indirect involvement in the attacks. If the Buddhist community or the court is not satisfied, a new probe can take place,” he said.

Violence erupted in late September in eastern Bangladesh close to the Myanmar border after a Muslim mob was allegedly angered by a photo of a burned Qu’ran posted on the Facebook page of a Buddhist resident of Cox’s Bazar, Uttam Kumar Barua. The image was later found to have been posted by an unidentified person.

Bangladeshi media reports said a handful of minority Muslim Rohingyas from neighboring Myanmar were suspected to have been involved in the attacks.

Rohingyas and Buddhists were involved in deadly clashes in Rakhine state in Myanmar, just across the border from Cox’s Bazar, in June.

In Bangladesh, rebuilding efforts are ongoing in Ramu, Cox’s Bazar, the worst-hit area during the violence in September, said local police Chief Quazi Sakhawat Hossain.

Shilotiyo Dipu, a monk from central Sima Buddhist temple nearby, said 15 new Buddhist temples are due to be completed by April.

However, Kishore Barua, a banker and victim of the violence, said that government rebuilding efforts and compensation were inadequate.

His family had lost property and valuables worth two million taka (US$24,700), he said, “but we have received only 200,000 taka [US$2,500] from the government so far".

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