Bangladesh vows action as communal tension flares

The government has warned of tough action against vandals after attacks were reported in several districts over the alleged besmirching of the Quran at a venue for Durga Puja celebrations.

Senior CorrespondentKamal Hossain Talukdar,
Published : 13 Oct 2021, 08:35 PM
Updated : 13 Oct 2021, 08:52 PM

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the authorities will track down the people who were behind the spread of communal hatred in Cumilla.

Speaking to on Wednesday night, the minister said he suspects the incident was an act of sabotage, adding that the authorities will also look into this angle.

Religious fanatics shared photos and videos of an incident in which the Quran was allegedly besmirched as they called on Muslims to attack Hindus amid Durga Puja celebrations.

“I personally don’t believe [a Hindu person] can gather the courage to do it. Let’s see. Now we are trying to keep everything under control. We will find out the facts,” the minister said.

“The authorities have been ordered to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

As the Cumilla photos and videos were widely circulated on social media, temples in Chandpur’s Hajiganj, Chattogram’s Banshkhali, Chapainawabganj’s Shibganj and Cox’s Bazar’s Pekua were attacked.

The Hajiganj Health Complex in Chandpur received the bodies of three people believed to have died in violent clashes with police, a doctor on duty, Sultan Mahmud, said. But the police did not confirm the deaths linked to violence.

The clashes erupted after police tried to stop assailants who attacked temples. Witnesses said police opened fire at that time.

“We are trying our best to keep the situation under control. The attackers will be identified and face legal steps,” said Harunur Rashid, chief of Hajiganj Police Station.

The government announced a ban on assembly in the area and tightened security with the deployment of BGB troops. 

About 230 kilometres away in Chattogram’s Karnaphuli, assailants vandalised Durga idols in at least three venues.

In Cumilla, the authorities deployed border guards along with police to maintain law and order after clashes.

Shibu Prasad Dutta, general secretary of Cumilla Mahanagar Puja Udjapon Committee, said someone placed a copy of the Quran at a Durga Puja pavilion in Nanua Dighir Par early in the morning when the guard was asleep.

Photos and videos of the Quran were swirling on social media within 6 am. The matter was reported to the chief of the local police station via the 999 national helpline and the police officer subsequently recovered the Quran.

In an emergency notice later in the day, the religious affairs ministry said it had come across news that the central religious text of Islam had been 'disrespected' in Cumilla.

But the ministry urged members of the public not to take the law into their own hands over the incident. It also reiterated calls to maintain religious harmony and peace.

Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the perpetrators behind the incident will not be spared, regardless of their political affiliation.

[With assistance from Chandpur, Cumilla and Chattogram correspondents]