Dacca : Sixty-six houses have been vandalized and at least 20 Hindu houses have been set on fire in Bangladesh over an alleged blasphemous social media post amid protests from the minority community over incidents of temple vandalism during the the Durga Puja last week, media reported today.
The arson attack occurred on Sunday evening in a village about 255 km from the capital Dhaka, bdnews24.com reported.
Police rushed to a fishing colony as tension mounted over a rumor that a young Hindu man from the village had “dishonored religion” in a Facebook post, according to the report citing the district police commissioner, Mohammad Qamruzzaman.
As police stood guard around the man’s house, the attackers set fire to other houses nearby, according to the report.
The fire department control room said their report at the scene indicated that 29 residential houses, two kitchens, two barns and 20 haystacks belonging to 15 different people were set on fire in Majhipara, adding that an “unruly crowd Had been identified as the cause of Fire.
The fire department received a report of the blaze at 8:45 p.m. and finally extinguished it at 4:10 a.m., according to the report. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The arson attack comes at a time when there is growing community tension over an alleged incident of blasphemy at a location in Durga Puja in Cumilla in the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh that has led to attacks on Hindu temples and clashes between vandals and police in Cumilla, Chandpur, Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Moulvibazar, Gazipur, Chapainawabganj, Feni and other districts.
Dozens of people have been arrested for the attacks and the spread of community hatred on social media, according to the report.
Bangladesh’s Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has claimed that at least four Hindu worshipers died in the attacks on Chandpur and Noakhali.
Meanwhile, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) of the elite anti-crime force arrested two other men in connection with the looting and vandalism of temples and shops belonging to the Hindu community in Feni, about 155 km from Dhaka.
“They were arrested for their involvement in community violence and inciting people to social media. They were handed over to the local police station, ”said Imran Khan, deputy director of the legal and media wing of the paramilitary forces.
In another report, bdnews24.com, citing prominent Bangladesh rights group Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), said as many as 3,679 attacks against the Hindu minority community took place between January 2013 and September of this year.
The attacks included the vandalism and burning of 559 homes and 442 shops and businesses in the Hindu community, he said. At least 1,678 cases of vandalism and arson against Hindu temples, idols and places of worship were also reported during the same period, he added. While 11 citizens of the Hindu community died in the incidents, 862 others were injured, according to the report.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday vowed to bring those responsible for the violence to justice, saying anyone involved in the attacks on Hindu temples and Durga Puja sites in Cumilla will not be spared.
“The incidents in Cumilla are being fully investigated. No one will be spared. It doesn’t matter what religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished, ”she said in an exchange of greetings with members of the Hindu community at an event in Dhakeshwari. National temple in Dhaka on the occasion of Durga Puja.