Four die in clashes between police and locals in Bhola

At least four people have died and over 100 others are injured in clashes between police and locals in Bhola's Borhanuddin over a Facebook post that allegedly hurts religious sentiments.

Published : 20 Oct 2019, 09:36 AM
Updated : 20 Oct 2019, 10:47 PM

The violence erupted around 10:45am on Sunday after hundreds of locals gathered for a rally under the banner of ‘Muslim Tawhidi Janata’ in protest against the social media post.

Four platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh have been airlifted to Borhanuddin to bring the situation under control, BGB spokesman Shariful Islam said.

Police say the Facebook account blamed for the religious slur had actually been hacked.

Two bullet-ridden bodies were taken to the Upazila Health Complex, said its resident physician Md Shahin.

They were identified as Bhola Polytechnic Institute student ‘Shahin’ and Mahbub Patwary, student of a local madrasa.

Two other bodies, identified as ‘Mizan’ and ‘Mahfuz’ were taken to Bhola Sadar Hospital, said the district's Civil Surgeon Rathindranath Roy.

The injured have been admitted to the Upazila Health Complex, Bhola Sadar Hospital and Barishal's Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital.

Locals organised the rally to demand action against a youth who allegedly demeaned Prophet Muhammad on Facebook, said Borhanuddin Upazila Council Chairman Abul Kalam.

Kalam added he was on his way to the programme around 10:45am when he saw locals hurl brickbats at law enforcers.

Borhanuddin's Upazila Chairman Abul Kalam said he was on his way to attend the rally around 10:45 am when he saw locals hurl brickbats at law enforcers.

The programme was originally scheduled to start at 11am but people hoping to join the event became enraged when the organisers wrapped up the meeting at 10:30am, said the Upazila chairman.

“Many were still coming in big processions when I reached there,” he said.

At least 10 policemen were among the injured.

One of them was sent to Dhaka for treatment after being hit by a bullet fired from the protesters’ side, Bhola Superintendent of Police Sarker Mohammad Kaiser said.

“We have detained those involved with the hack and talked to the Islamists last night. They said they would not hold any programme today, but we heard in the morning a stage was being erected and announcements were being made over loudspeakers,” Kaiser said.

“We went there and talked to the Muslims. I myself delivered a speech. They heard me. But when I got off the stage, the angry public attacked us,” he said.

The police took shelter inside the imam’s room of a nearby mosque and had to open fire in self-defence when the protesters broke down the window grill of the room, the SP added.

Demonstrations were held at Kunjerhat Bazar and outside Borhanuddin Police Station under the same banner on Saturday morning demanding trial of the Hindu man who allegedly made the comments on the prophet.

The man, Biplob Chandra Shuvo, went to the police station to file a general diary or GD the previous night, alleging his Facebook account was hacked.

Quoting locals, police said the post, a screenshot of a conversation between Shuvo’s account and others, was uploaded on Friday afternoon and drew huge anger and criticism on social media.

Police kept the youth at the police station for investigation and detained two others for questioning.

Bangladesh had experienced attacks on religious minorities on allegation of insulting religion on Facebook earlier.

Fourteen temples were ransacked and more than a hundred Hindu houses looted and vandalised in Nasirnagar Upazila of Brahmanbarhia in 2016 over an alleged Facebook post insulting Islam.

Investigation revealed later that the man accused of uploading the post was actually innocent.

The next year, one person was killed and several others injured as police opened fire on locals who torched a number of Hindu homes in Rangpur in protest against an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post.

A group of radical Islamists carried out arson attacks and looted at dozens of Buddhist temples homes at Ramu in Cox’s Bazar in a similar incident in 2012.


Police see “a quarter with vested interests” behind the hacking of the Facebook account, spread of the religious slur and the attack on the law enforcers after a “peaceful” gathering.

Citing doctors, Police Headquarters also said in a statement that heads of two of the dead were thrashed with some heavy objects.        

It said the police officers went to the room of a nearby mosque after Islamist leaders of the area agreed to end the rally peacefully when police informed them about the hacking of the Facebook account and arrest of two people over the issue.

But “another group” spread anger among the people and attacked police officers there “with guns and without any provocation”.

“A policeman was critically injured when the attackers dirwd their guns,” it said.

Police later fired shotguns and teargas to disperse the angry public on orders from the Upazila executive officer and executive magistrate, the statement said.     

“As the situation turned extremely violent, police opened fire on the magistrate’s order,” it added.

“It is clear from these that a quarter with vested interests made an evil attempt to create social instability by capitalising on religious sensibilities.”

Police have formed a five-member committee headed by Barishal range deputy inspector general to investigate the clashes.