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Police hunt for a man at the centre of Cumilla violence probe

  • Senior Correspondent and Cumilla Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-10-21 00:44:19 BdST

Police say they have identified from security camera footage a young man who “placed a copy of the Quran” at a Durga Puja venue in Cumilla, a perceived act of sacrilege that triggered deadly communal violence.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan confirmed the development to on Wednesday night, as police struggle to piece together evidence of incitement.

The temporary puja venue at Nanua Dighir Par did not have a CCTV camera, but footage from a security camera at a nearby house showed a young man walking towards the puja venue after leaving the Darogabari shrine of Shah Abdullah Gazipuri after 2 am on Oct 13.       

Footage shows the man carrying something that resembles a book.

On his way back from the puja venue at 3:12 am, he was seen carrying a replica of Gada, or mace, a weapon of Hindu god Hanuman. Locals said they found a copy of the Quran in the lap of Hanuman, a central character in the Hindu epic Ramayana, but his weapon was missing.   

The home minister said on Tuesday that the culprit behind the communal violence in Cumilla was changing location repeatedly to evade arrest.

The capture of the man will shed light on the incident that has remained unexplained so far, Khan said.

The Kotwali Police Station chief recovered the copy of the Quran after getting a call via the 999 national helpline.

Police later arrested the man who published on Facebook a video of the officer with the Quran.

Several temples and puja venues in the city came under attack in the afternoon as tension mounted after the video went viral. Many shared the video calling for attacks on Hindu sites alleging sacrilege.

Shibu Prasad Dutta, general secretary of Cumilla Mohanagar Puja Udjapon Committee, said the video spread on social media by 6 am. He suspects the attacks were premeditated. “How did so many people gather at 7 am? Who called the OC via 999?”

Police said seven people died as communal violence spread to other parts of Bangladesh. The law enforcers have arrested 450 people in 72 cases over the attacks and clashes.