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PM blames Islamists for attacks

Hasina promises justice for Buddhist victims

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina distributes aid to riot-hit villagers Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina distributes aid to riot-hit villagers
  • ucanews.com reporters, Cox’s Bazar and Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • October 9, 2012
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday visited Buddhist temples and homes that were destroyed in a recent mob attack in the Cox’s Bazar district,  alleging that a local opposition legislator and Islamists masterminded the attacks.

She also distributed aid to villagers and promised that her government would offer support to rebuild temples and homes for the community.

“I’m gravely hurt and disappointed over the attacks on temples of homes of the Buddhist community," Hasina told crowds at Ramu sub-district, the area worst hit by the riots. "A vested quarter has tarnished the country’s image by attacking peaceful people and I promise none of them will be spared.

“A probe is underway and we will bring every perpetrator and attacker to book after it is done,” said the PM, who was in New York at the UN General Assembly during the September 29-30 attacks.

Local Buddhist leaders, monks and villagers said that they were still frightened in the aftermath of the attacks.

“We have told the Prime Minister that peace, security and protection of heritage are all we need now. The whole community has been feeling insecure after Muslims attacked us,” said Sattayapriya Mohathero, head of the central Buddhist monastery in the town of Ramu.

The monk lamented the loss of centuries-old Buddhist sites, statues and valuable documents of the museum.

“We want to see the culprits handed exemplary punishments, so that no one ever commits such a heinous crime ever again,” he said.

Kabita Barua, 40, a Buddhist resident, said she is afraid of reprisals after security patrols withdraw.

“Some Muslims threatened to ‘see us’ after the security cordon is gone,” she said.

About 70 people from Ramu and 300 people overall, including the driver of a truck carrying attackers, have been arrested, said Ramu police chief Shakhawat Hossain.

“We have assured people of their safety and hope people will feel more secure soon. Once we complete investigations, justice will be delivered,” said Hossain who replaced the former chief, Nazibul Islam, after he was removed for failing to control the riots.

The violence was allegedly prompted by a picture of a burnt Qu’ran on the Facebook profile of a local Buddhist man. Ramu was the worst hit as 12 temples and more than 50 homes were burnt to the ground. Overall, 19 Buddhist temples and around 100 homes were destroyed in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar districts.

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