Durga Puja celebrations ended in Bangladesh even as another Hindu devotee was found dead on Saturday amid days of community unrest and violence sparked by unidentified Muslim fanatics who vandalized temples for alleged blasphemy, resulting in the deployment of paramilitary forces in more than half of the neighborhoods.
Authorities imposed a nationwide security watch overnight as officials said initial investigations uncovered crucial evidence against perpetrators of violence against the Hindu minority community Durga Puja.
Bangladesh Paramilitary Border Guards (BGB) have extended vigilance from 22 to 34 out of 64 administrative districts.
The elite Rapid Action Crime Battalion (RAB) said it plans to arrest some of the main perpetrators of the sporadic violence that has taken place over the past three days.
Expressing optimism about the investigation, Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that “we expect further developments in the investigation within a day or two.”
Police, meanwhile, said they recovered the body of a Hindu worshiper from a pond near a temple in the southeast of the Begumganj sub-district in Noakhali.
According to a leader of the Hindu community, the deceased was the victim of fanatic attacks against worshipers on Friday.
On Wednesday and Thursday, four people were killed and dozens more injured in clashes between Muslim fanatics and police in the Hajiganj sub-district in central Chandpur, prompting the government to call on paramilitary forces to maintain public order throughout the country.
With the latest murder, the death toll in Durga Puja celebrations across the country has reached five.
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 Comilla will not be spared.
“The incidents in Comilla are being fully investigated. No one will be spared. No matter what religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished,” she said in an exchange of greetings with the members of the Hindu community at an event in Dhakeshwari. National temple in Dhaka on the occasion of Durga Puja.
The violence erupted after an alleged incident of blasphemy at a Durga Puja lodge in Cumilla, on the border of Chandpur and about 100 km from Dhaka, after which an investigation was launched.
Sporadic clashes continued between police and fanatics on Friday as Islamic far-right Shashontantra Andolon staged a large procession through the Purana Paltan neighborhood of downtown Dhaka on Saturday to protest what they called ” degradation of the “Holy Quran”.
Armed police, equipped with water cannons and other riot gear, kept watch in close proximity.
The Durga Puja celebrations, considered the biggest festival for the Hindu minority community in Bangladesh, ended without the traditional Bijoya Dashami procession.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the procession did not take place this year.
Separately, the idols were submerged at around 4 p.m. instead of 12 p.m. on Friday out of respect for the Jumma prayers of the predominantly Muslim community, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.
As sporadic attacks and vandalism were also reported on Friday, authorities issued banning orders in Noakhali district, banning public gatherings in Chaumuhani Municipality from dawn to dusk on Saturday, he said. indicated.
Crowds attacked, vandalized and looted households, businesses and several Hindu temples in Chaumuhani during their march, the report said, citing police.
The government and law enforcement described the incidents as planned with the aim of destabilizing the country.
In Sylhet, residents and police foiled an attempted vandalism on Friday at two pavilions in the town’s Hawlader Para neighborhood. The attackers threw bricks at the pavilions as well as at adjacent houses, according to the report.
More than 150 people, brandishing sharp weapons, staged a march and attempted to attack the Kalibari pavilion. However, as worshipers protested, crowds marched towards the area of ââHawladar Para and smashed the door of another lodge, according to the report.
Police say Facebook and YouTube have been widely used to stoke community tensions, while reports indicate that the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has identified more than 100 identities that were used to broadcast inspiring comments.
Mobile operators said under BTRC guidelines they cut off 3G and 4G internet connectivity for 12 hours on Friday, which authorities said was done for “unavoidable reasons.”
“The violence seemed to be part of a plot against interfaith harmony and the perpetrators have also been implicated in similar incidents in the past,” said Colonel KM Azad of the RAB, which brings together men from the military and the military. other armed forces, including the police.
“We are preparing to take strict legal action and arrest some of them very soon,” he said.
This year, the Durga Puja began on October 11.
Hindu devotees paid homage to the goddess Durga for four days and submerged the idols in the rivers on the fifth and final day on Friday.
This year, Durga Puja was celebrated in 32,118 puja pavilions across the country, including 238 in the capital Dhaka, according to the report.