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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Temple attacks premeditated, deliberate: MKA

Source: The Daily Star

15 monasteries torched in Ramu, Ctg; 50 Buddhist houses vandalised and Sec 144 imposed in Ramu; ministers MKA, Dilip in Ramu; Violence shocked PM

Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir on Sunday said that the violence in Ramu of Cox's Bazar centring an anti-Islam photo on facebook is 'premeditated and deliberate act of communal violence against a minority'.
“We found evidences of gunpowder and petrol in Saturday’s arson of the Buddhist monasteries and houses,” the minister said while addressing an impromptu rally at Choumuhani intersection in Ramu around 2:00pm.
Alamgir and Industries Minister Dilip Barua, accompanied by local Awami League leaders, visited the spots of violence shortly after their arrival in Ramu around 10:00am.
“We have been informed that police and fire services were inactive during the arson,” said the minister adding that a committee, chaired by the additional divisional commissioner in Chittagong, is soon to be formed to investigate whether the law enforcers remained inactive.
Alamgir, in his speech, also promised to rebuild the Buddhist monasteries and temples and compensate the victims whose houses were destroyed.
The minister assured that the miscreants who stirred the violence would be traced and brought to book within 15 days.
Also addressing the rally, Industries Minister Dilip Barua said that in 1971 the country was liberated to establish a secular state. “The unprecedented events in Ramu have tarnished its reputation and our belief in secularism,” he said.
Barua also assured the locals that incidents like these would not recur. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also expressed concern about the incident, Alamgir told the rally.
On Sunday morning, Cox’s Bazar district administration imposed section 144 in Ramu after mobs destroyed 12 monasteries and 50 houses there late Saturday following posting of an alleged defamation of the Qur’an on a facebook account of a local Buddhist person.
Selim Md Jahangir, the superintendent of police (SP) of Cox’s Bazar said that three of the Buddhist temples were totally gutted.
The violence spread to Chittagong on Sunday morning as mobs vandalised and torched one Hindu and two more Buddhist temples in Kolagaon union of Patiya between 11:30am and 12noon, our Chittagong correspondent confirmed quoting Nazrul Islam, assistant superintendent of police (ASP) of Patiya Circle.
Quoting Uttom Kumar Barua, the owner of the facebook account, police said the photo was mistakenly tagged on his profile. Soon after the violence broke out, Uttom's facebook account was closed and police escorted him and his mother to safety, said the SP.
Uttom is son of one Supto Barua of Baruapara in Ramu upazila.
Regarding Saturday night’s incident in Cox’s Bazar, police and witnesses said, after news spread about the defaming picture on facebook, hundreds of people thronged to Chowmuhani area of Ramu and staged demonstration in protest around 10:00pm.
In a bid to control the situation, police from Ramu upazila tried to cordon the area off but were soon outnumbered and pushed back.
Around 11:00pm, riot police and Rab arrived on the spot but by then hundreds of people set ablaze Buddhist households in Baruapara of the upazila that kept burning until around 2:00am.
Police and witnesses said, around 12:30 am, a mob torched a 250-year old Buddhist temple on Cheranghata road and then set ablaze Borokang Buddha Bihar and Kendriyo Shima Bihar. Angry mob also vandalised Baruapara Buddhist temple at Srikul in Ramu.
Buddhist people started to flee their homes as the fire services failed to reach the spot amid increasing violence around 1:00am.
With the help of police, the fire services managed to douse the blaze around 2:30am but the temples and the houses were already gutted by then.
Around 3:30am, BGB, Rab and police managed to quell the violence and take control of the situation with the help of the eminent local persons including the lawmaker Lutfur Rahman Kajal, Ramu upazila parishad chairman Sohel Sarwar Kajal.
Since Sunday morning army, BGB, Rab and police have been guarding all the 27 Buddhist monasteries and temples in Ramu while police forces have been deployed in all other areas where the violence broke out.
However police were unable to confirm the number of injured persons as most Buddhist people have been in hiding since Saturday night.
While talking to The Daily Star at his ministry, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said some identified communal forces were involved with the incident.
The situation is now under control, Inu said.

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