Hindu temple, shops and houses vandalised in Bangladesh over Facebook post

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Several homes and dozens of shops belonging to Hindus were vandalised in southwestern Bangladesh’s Lohagara district on Friday after a Facebook post allegedly made derogatory comments against Islam.

Violent mobs protesting against the post vandalised shops and homes in Sahapara village in Dighalia union of Narail’s Lohagara district, reported The Daily Star.

“After one group looted all our valuables, another group came and found our door open. As there was nothing left to loot, they set our home on fire,” 62-year-old Deepali Rani said.

“They could not break in [where we were hiding] as it was locked. They then attacked the temple next door and vandalised the idol,” she added.

The post was uploaded by 18-year-old Akash Saha, a college student from the village, who was arrested on Sunday.

The police also detained his father Ashoke Saha after large crowds gathered in front of his house following Friday prayers on 15 July. Police said Mr Saha was held to “bring the situation under control”.

“Police are on guard in the village, but we cannot trust them. After detaining Ashoke on Friday, the officer-in-charge and upazila nirbahi officer told everyone that they were deploying additional forces and that our community would be safe. The attack took place within a few hours,” said 65-year-old Shibnath Saha, president of the village’s Radha-Govinda temple.

Violent mobs vandalised a temple, a grocery store and several houses of the Hindu community in the area, alleging that religious sentiments had been hurt by the Facebook post on Friday.

They also destroyed furniture inside the temple and threw bricks.

Police then fired warning shots to disperse the crowd, reported bdnews24.com

On Sunday night, police filed a case against 250 unidentified persons in relation with the communal violence.

“So far, three people have been arrested in connection with the case filed over the vandalism of houses, shops and the attack on two temples. The operation to arrest the rest continues and the other accused will also be arrested soon,” said Narail police superintendent Prabir Kumar Roy.

On Monday, a petition was filed in court requesting a probe into the attacks.

There have been 3,679 attacks on the Hindu community in Bangladesh between January 2013 and September 2021, according to a report by legal rights group Ain O Salish Kendra.

There have been increasing incidents of attacks on religious minorities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, many of which have happened after rumours or fake posts spread through social media.

Last year, Hindu temples were vandalised during Durga Puja celebrations, killing seven people and injuring dozens of others in the ensuing riots.

The government had then deployed paramilitary forces across 22 districts to maintain peace.

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