The aftermath of an attack by Islamic radicals on Hindu temples and houses in Nasirnagar in eastern Bangladesh in October 2016. (Photo supplied)
Followers of a radical Islamic party have been accused of attacking a Hindu village in Bangladesh and vandalizing about 80 houses in a dispute over a Facebook post.
The Hefazat-e-Islam supporters used makeshift weapons in the incident in Noagaon in Shalla subdistrict of Sunamgonj district on March 17, villagers claimed.
Nazmul Huq, officer in charge of Shalla Police Station, said the situation was now calm after police and Rapid Action Battalion officers were deployed in the village.
“No arrest has yet been made in this incident and a case has yet to be filed. We are investigating and trying to arrest the culprits as soon as possible,” he told UCA News.
Hefazat-e-Islam had opposed the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the golden jubilee celebration of Bangladesh’s independence. When a local Hindu youth posted a critical comment on Facebook about the Hefazat leader, Hefazat followers attacked the village, according to villagers.
A 30-year-old Hindu man told UCA that his tin house was destroyed by the mob.
“It was a horrible situation during the attack, which is difficult to explain without seeing it with the naked eye. When hundreds of people came with weapons, the villagers fled to nearby fields,” he said.
“They broke into our house and took away valuables including gold. Now the five members of my family are sleeping in the open.”
Habibpur Union chairman Vivekananda Majumder Bakul said hundreds of people attacked the village.
“Such a shocking incident can never be accepted. I demand punishment for those behind it. At the same time, I ask the government to provide food and shelter for the victims,” he said.
However, Hefazat-e-Islam’s local leader denied the allegations his party was behind the attack.
"If a person commits a crime, it is normal to bring him before the law. But Hefazat-e-Islam does not support such vandalism. This is a reprehensible act. I demand punishment for those who attacked and vandalized,” said Muktar Hossain Chowdhury, general secretary of the party’s Dirai subdistrict.
Father Nicholas Baroi, convener of the Justice and Peace Commission of Sylhet Diocese, said these incidents happen due to lack of education and tolerance.
“Religious sentiment is a very sensitive issue and it is very easy to motivate people through it. As a result, many are using this religious sentiment for political gain while others are taking advantage,” he told UCA News.
The priest said the government should crack down on these fanatics.
Bangladesh has witnessed similar attacks in recent years.
On Oct. 30, 2016, Islamic radicals, enraged by an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post, vandalized dozens of Hindu temples and houses and beat up scores of Hindu people in Nasirnagar in eastern Bangladesh.
On Sept. 29, 2012, a Muslim mob attacked, ransacked and burned down Buddhist temples, statues and houses in Cox’s Bazar district. They were reportedly angered by a Facebook image of a burnt Quran posted by a Buddhist youth.