Fresh attack in various places amid protests against Durga puja violence

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Photo: Protest against attack on Puja Mandap in Chittagong

Hill Voice, 17 October 2021, Special Correspondent: Fresh clashes have broken out in different places of the country amid protests in different parts of the country against the attack on temples and Durga puja mandaps following Comilla incident. It is reported that on Friday (October 15) and Saturday (October 16), attack on Hindu temples have been carried out in Dhaka, Chittagong, Feni, Noakhali, Munshiganj and Barisal districts, among others. It is confirmed that an ISKCON devotee was reportedly killed in the attack in Noakhali.

Noakhali:

On Friday, the Radhamadhab Jiur temple on Bank Road at Chaumuhani in Noakhali was attacked. The gates and belongings of the temple were vandalized. On the ground floor of the temple, everything was demolished, including the pandals made for worship. Each room including the idol room on the second floor was attacked and vandalized too.

After that, every room of Ramthakur Ashram in South Bazar of Chaumuhani of Begumganj was attacked and vandalized. Two private vehicles were set on fire in front of the ashram. Meanwhile, police have arrested 47 people in connection with the attack and vandalism in Begumganj.

Pappu Saha, member secretary of the district Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, said at least 30 shops, 50 houses and 12 temples in Chaumuhani town were damaged in the violence.

It has been claimed that an ISKCON devotee was killed in an attack and vandalism at Chaumuhani in Noakhali on Friday. His body was recovered from a pond near the temple on Saturday. His name is known as Pranta Chandra Das (26). It is learnt that the body of Chandra Das floated in the pond adjacent to the temple at around 6:00 am yesterday.

After the body of the ISKCON devotee was recovered, the tension in Chaumuhani has increased. Angry Hindus, including ISKCON followers, marched in the city in the morning carrying the dead body. They blocked the Feni-Noakhali road violating Section 144 imposed by the administration.

Meanwhile, people of the minority community have blocked the road at Chaumuhani in Noakhali. The Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad held processions, demonstrations and human chains all day yesterday in Chittagong. Besides, a half-day hartal was also observed in the city.

Chittagong:

A coordinated attack took place at noon on Friday at JM Sen Hall venue, the main puja mandapa in Chittagong. A case has been filed against 500 people with Kotwali police station in connection with the attack on JM Sen Hall. It is learnt that 83 people have been arrested in this incident.

The Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council had called for a strike in the city till 12 noon on Saturday to protest the attack on JM Sen Hall venue. Later, Oikya Parishad held a press conference at the press club in Chittagong.

Speaking at the press conference, Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, said, “There is no chance to dismiss the communal attack as an isolated incident. We think and believe everything of puja violence is committed as per pre-plan. During Durga Puja festival, attacks, vandalism, looting and arson took place in 70 puja mandaps in different places of the country in three days. Apart from this, 30 houses and 50 shops belonging to the Hindu community were vandalized and looted.

Feni:

Saturday afternoon, the District Puja Celebration Council started a human chain program in front of Kali Mandir on Trunk Road in Feni town in protest against Durga puja violence. At that time, some people came out from the big mosque (Feni Central Jame Mosque) after the Asr prayers and clashed with the protesters. Several shops in Feni were vandalized at the time. An ashram and a temple belonging to the Hindu community were attacked.

Munshiganj:

The Muslims vandalized six idols of the Kaliyapara Maha Shmashan Kali Mandir in Rashunia Union of Sirajdikhan Upazila in Munshiganj at midnight on Friday. The miscreants entered the temple and smashed the idols of Kali and smashed the idols of Mahadev, Shyamakali, Mahadev Sahachari, Nagini and Yugini. After the incident, the locals including the Hindu community expressed their anger.

Barisal:

On Friday night, the Muslims apprehended a youth named Mahananda Boidya in Gouranadi of Barisal district and then handed over him to the police, alleging that he had commented on a Facebook post insulting the Qur’an. A vested section of them attacked and vandalized the Dhuriail Kazirpar Sarbojanin Durga Temple, the Hari Temple and the Hari Temple of Jagadish Boidya’s house of the local Hindu community. The incident took place at Dhuriail Kazirpar village of Barthi union in Gouranadi upazila.

Dhaka:

Hundreds of Muslims took out a procession from the National Mosque Baitul Mukarram in the capital after the Holy prayers last Friday. When the procession passed through Paltan Morh and Nightingale Morh, it was obstructed by the police. At this time the chase and counter chase started. The protesters threw brickbats targeting the police. Police fired tear gas shells to disperse them.

The two sides clashes lasted for about an hour. Nine people including five policemen were injured in the incident. Police arrested 17 people from the spot during the clash. Police filed two cases with Paltan and Ramna police stations after 12pm on Friday.

Casualties:

At a press conference held at Chittagong press club on Saturday afternoon, the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad presented a list of attacks in different places of the country in connection with the desecration of the Holy Quran in Comilla. It was said in a written statement that Jatan Kumar Saha was beaten to death at Pujamandap at Chaumuhani in Noakhali on the day of Bijaya Dashmi. Malay Krishna Das, the priest of the Iskcon temple, was brutally murdered. The body of the ISKCON devotee floated in the pond of the ISKCON temple on Friday morning. On the same day, Puja venue of JM Sen Hall of Chittagong city was also attacked. Earlier, a man named Manik Saha was killed in an attack in Chandpur.

Condemnation and protest:

The Hindu community held a human chain and demonstration in front of the National Press Club in the capital on Saturday morning. The program was held under the banner of eight organizations belonging to the Hindu community. The organizations are Bangladesh Hindu Chatra Jote, Bangladesh Hindu Juba Parishad, Shardanjoli Forum, Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mahasangha, Bangladesh Sanatan Kalyan Jote and Jago Hindu Parishad.

On Saturday afternoon, a human chain, demonstration and sit-in strike was held at Kandirpar Pubali Chattar in Comilla city on the initiative of the District Puja Celebration Committee. Sammilita Nagorik Udyag has also organized a Sampriti Samabesh (communal harmony rally) in Comilla.

31 writers, poets and literary figures have termed the incidents of communal violence in different places of the country following the Comilla incident as unprecedented and reprehensible. They condemned the Durga puja violence in a statement on Saturday. The statement was made by Imtiaz Shamim, Shahnaz Munni, Ahmad Mostafa Kamal, Kabir Humayun, Shamim Reza, Alfred Khokon, Token Tagore, Rajib Noor, Piyas Majid, among others.

Dhaka University’s pro-Awami League teachers’ organization Nil Dal (Blue Team) has demanded punishment for attacking, vandalizing idols and setting fire to puja mandaps in different places of the country over the incident of ‘insulting the Qur’an’ at the puja mandap in Comilla. The demand was made in a statement signed by acting convener of the Nil Dal Dr. Md. Abdus Samad and joint convener Dr. Md. Abdur Rahim.

Leaders and activists of various socio-cultural and student organizations staged a protest in front of the National Museum in the capital’s Shahbagh on Saturday morning under the banner ‘Janatar Obstan’, calling for a nationwide stand against communal attacks and political evil and a ban on using religion as a political tool. Speakers at the rally said, “The present Awami League-led government is not able to provide any security to the people. Even people’s festivals are becoming unsafe. Whether the government, which failed to provide security, needed to stay in power?”

Rashed Khan Menon, president of the Workers Party, a 14-party ally, said Jhumon Das of Sunamganj had been jailed for six months. But the government is following delay-dallying tactics to arrest the perpetrators of communal attacks. Even, Hefazat-e-Islam is given shelter in various ways. There is a problem in the policy of the government, he opined.

A silent protest ‘Alok Projjwalon’ program has been organized at Dhaka University over the vandalism of the idol of Durga puja festival of the Hindu community, communal attacks and violence in different parts of the country. Dhaka University Jumma student family and Jumma students studying in DU from the hills jointly organized the silent protest in front of the Buddha statue at Jagannath Hall on the Dhaka University campus on Sunday (October 17, 2021).

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