Besides arresting three, police in Chandpur rescued as many others from mobs that were beating them on suspicion that they were abductors.
The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB made the other arrests in Narail, Chattogram, Moulvibazar, Cumilla and Rajbarhi, Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police Md Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan, a spokesman for the elite police unit, said on Friday.
The five suspects are Shahidul Islam, 25, of Narail, Arman Hossain, 20, of Chattogram, Md Faruq, 50, of Moulvibazar, Hayatun Nabi, 31, of Cumilla and a teenaged boy of Rajbarhi.
Criminal charges have been brought against them at local police stations under the Digital Security Act, the RAB official said.
Out of the five, Arman, a poultry farmer at Barkhail Toilardwip area in Anwara Upazila of Chattogram, was arrested on Friday early morning.
“Just received news – truth, not rumour, Padma Bridge wants blood, over one hundred families flee homes, Padma Bridge work is shutting down for the lack of blood, four missing – panicked villagers flee, caught red-handed during theft,” Arman wrote in the posts, according to the RAB official.
Chandpur Model Police Station OC Md Nasim Uddin urged the people to not pay heed to such rumours while disclosing the arrest of three suspects at a news conference in the afternoon.
The three are Sazzad Gazi, 22, Sayem Bhuiyan, 21, and Abu Khaleque Ratan, 23.
Police rescued two people who were being beaten by locals on suspicion that they came to abduct children at Bagadi Gachhtala on Thursday afternoon and another person at Kalibarhi area on Thursday night.
Two of the rescued people were mentally ill while the other was a madrasa student, according to police.
The news of the arrests came a day after Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered officials to track down the people who have spread the rumour that “human heads and blood are required” for the piling work of Padma Bridge.
The perpetrators behind the “unscientific, unrealistic, ridiculous idea” will face exemplary punishment, Quader said.
Police in Bhola detained a man on Wednesday night on charges of spreading on social media the rumour that “children were being abducted for sacrifice by beheading.”
The Bridges Division in a notice on Tuesday urged the people not to be confused by the rumour.