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Police arrest 53 for attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus

The silence and inaction of the authorities encourages attackers and frustrates minorities, says Bishop Sebastian Tudu
Police arrest 53 for attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus

Hindus cry in front of their house, allegedly burned by a Muslim mob at Rangpur district on Nov. 10. At least 15 Hindu houses were torched over an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook. (ucanews.com photo)

Published: November 13, 2017 10:31 AM GMT
Updated: November 13, 2017 10:33 AM GMT

Bangladeshi police have arrested 53 Muslims for their alleged involvement in mob violence and arson that destroyed houses in a northern minority Hindu community.

The violence in Thakur Para village in Rangpur district erupted Nov. 10 following Friday prayers, when a group of Muslim worshippers incited local Muslims, saying that Titu Roy, a Hindu man, had defamed Islam in a Facebook post.

"We have arrested 53 people and we suspect the perpetrators might have exploited the religious sentiment of Muslims to carry out the violence. We are not sure about the defamatory Facebook post yet," Mizanur Rahman, police superintendent of Rangpur district told ucanews.com.

"It was a premeditated attack by members of Jamaat-e-Islami (the largest radical Islamist political party in Bangladesh). They held a rally on Friday morning on the issue. Most of the perpetrators are local activists of the party," Rahman said.

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the mob. One man was killed while at least 30 people including policemen were injured in clashes.

"The allegation against Roy is unfounded as he does not live in the area and it’s unconfirmed whether he uses Facebook or not," the police official said.

Dulali Roy, 46, a Hindu woman and victim of the violence, alleged that the attack was carried out for property and land owned by local Hindus.

"We were dumbfounded as we didn't know what was going on and why. We fled our house as a mob vandalized our property and 15 houses were burned down. Now, we are penniless and we have nothing to eat and wear," Roy told ucanews.com.

"We want justice for the attack and exemplary punishment for the culprits," she added.

Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur, whose diocese covers that area, condemned the violence.

"We have seen such attacks in the past but no justice done. The silence and inaction of the authorities encourages attackers and frustrates minorities, which is unacceptable," Bishop Tudu told ucanews.com.

Subroto Chowdhury, a Dhaka-based Hindu lawyer, said the attack is akin to anti-Buddhist violence in 2012 and to anti-Hindu riots last year.

"Hindus as well as other minorities have been persecuted for their property and political reasons by Islamists as well as other parties. Use of social media is just a ploy to justify the violence," Chowdhury said.

In a statement on Nov. 11, Jamaat denied any involvement in the violence.

"The allegations are baseless. Police is trying to shield real culprits by blaming it on Jamaat," it read.

Jamaat-e-Islami in Muslim-majority Bangladesh aims to establish sharia law and implement Quranic punishments.  

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