Dhaka, Oct 17 (IANS) Attacks by drunken mobs and even policemen on Hindu devotees and Durga Puja marquees in many parts of Bangladesh marred the festivities of the country's minority community even as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed on the virtues of secularism.
Reports of violence came from across the country as the biggest religious festival of the minority Hindu community ended Sunday.
The authorities withdrew policemen and closed down a police station after cops were found attacking Puja Mandaps, the makeshift bamboo-and-cloth marquees erected for the festival at some places, bdnews24.com, a newspaper website reported.
In Narayanganj, just outside Dhaka, two people were arrested for vandalism, loot and attack on a Puja pavillion at Tanbazaar.
Witnesses said at least 10 people were injured when around 15 drunk men attacked Hindus devotees, who were dancing at a pavilion in Minabazar area of Tanbazar early Saturday.
They stabbed organising secretary of the Puja celebration committee of the area, Ankan Saha Rana, 35, and member Sumon Das, 24, when they attempted to stop the drunks.
In Sunamganj in northeastern Bangladesh, six policemen including a sub-inspector were withdrawn from a police station for attacking devotees at a temple in Tahirpur Upazila (sub-district).
A sub-inspector of Sherpur Sadar Police Station in central Bangladesh was withdrawn to the police lines for burning a festoon with the image of goddess Durga.
Acting Superintendent of Police (Sherpur) Mohammad Anisur Rahman said legal steps will be taken against Badruzzaman, the sub-inspector.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed on virtues of secularism and said her country was 'non-communal' while speaking at a function hosted by Hindus in the national capital Saturday.
Hasina said that 27,000 Durga Puja mandaps or marquees were erected across the country this year, the highest ever. Similarly, 94,000 Muslims were proceeding on Haj to Saudi Arabia, which was also the highest, denoting freedom to practice different faiths.
'Secularism is one of the four pillars of the country's constitution and has no meaning if people cannot practice their religions,' she said during her visit to the Dhakeshwari Temple Saturday, which marked the Mahanabami, a high point of the Hindu festival.
But the New Age newspaper said: 'Even as the prime minister speaks of secularism and thanks her law enforcers for ensuring a peaceful environment, there are reports of attacks, even by cops, on puja mandaps across the country.'