Ramu Buddhist Bihara further set on fire by miscreants: Concerns of Buddhist Federation

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Hill Voice, 7 January 2024, Cox’s Bazar: The Usaichen Buddhist Temple (Big Kyang) in Ramu Sadar of Cox’s Bazar district was once again attempted to damage by setting on fire by miscreants. The miscreants set the stairs of the temple known as Bara Kyang of Rakhine community in Cheranghata of Ramu on fire on Friday (January 5), around 2.30 am. Although the Bara Kyang was escaped from a destruction with the help of locals and Ramu Fire Service, the stair of the main gate was burnt down.

As per CCTV footage of the temple diplay, a man wearing mask went to the stair climbing wall at 02.03 am. A few minutes later, he was seen running away. Later, smokes were seen coming out near the side of the stairs.

The monk of Usaichen Buddhist Bihara (Bara Kyang) including the Rakhine community in Cherangata were on sleep. Seeing the fire at 2 am, the locals rushed to put out the fire hearing shouts from the temple. Later, Ramu Fire Brigade brought the fire under control.

President of Bihara Management Committee Mong Kyew said the miscreants attempted to set the temple on fire around 2 am on Friday. However, immediate efforts of devotees and locals, the wooden temple escaped from being completely burnt down. A fire was set under a small staircase. Hearing the sound of wood burning, the devotees attempted extinguishing the fire. Later, with the help of the locals they managed to put out the fire.

Former President of Bihara Management Committee and local resident Aungthui Mong said, my house is next to Bihara. Around 2:30 am in the morning, the Buddhist monk (principal of the Bihara) called me saying the monastery was set on fire. Immediately, informing the people and the fire service, I rushed to the spot to put out the fire. The neighbours came and brought the fire under control. Later, however, the fire brigade of Ramu Fire Service came to the spot.

Condemning the incident, President of the Ramu Press Club Nitish Barua said Ramu is an ideal example of communal harmony. In 2012, the miscreants attacked Buddhist monasteries in various upazilas of the district including Ramu to destroy the harmony. Dealing with the wound, we all communities are together. The miscreants again tried to destroy the harmony creating sabotage ahead of the 12th National Assembly elections.

President of Jatiya Hindu Mahajot of Cox’s Bazar President Bulbul Talukder said, I think it is a planned sabotage ahead of elections. I demand those involved in this incident are identified and brought under the law rapidly.

Cox’s Bazar Police Superintendent Mahfuzul Islam said, reviewing the CCTV footage, we would take legal action after investigation.

Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar district Muhammad Shaheen Imran said, “We have visited the site. Security has been tightened in Biharas of the upazila. After investigation, strict action will be taken against those involved including legal action.”

A statement signed by the general secretary of Buddhist Federation, Bhikshu Sunandapriya, said on Saturday (January 6), the fundamentalist group attempted to sabotage burning down the wooden temple known as Bara Kyang in Ramu of Cox’s Bazar around 2 am on January 5. The Bihara’s wooden stairs were burnt in the fire. However, the traditional Cheranghata Usaisen Buddhist Bihara escaped from the sabotage.

Recalling the incident of Ramu Buddhist Bihara being burnt 12 years ago, the General Secretary of the Buddhist Federation said, ‘Communal terrorists tried to burn down the Bihara on September 29, 2012 as well. Bangladesh Buddhist Federation President Engineer Dibyendu Bikash Chowdhury Barua and General Secretary Bhikshu Sunandapriya expressed deep concern for this reprehensible incident.

Notably, that miscreants attacked Ramu Buddhist village on September 29, 2012, spreading rumours of desecration of the Quran on a Facebook ID named Uttam Barua. Miscreants set fire to 12 Buddhist temples and shrines in the attack. At this, 30 houses of the Buddhist community were attacked, looted and set on fire. In Ramu, Ukhia and Teknaf, 18 cases have been filed against 993 people in the attack, but not even a case has been tried in the last 9 years.