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Expelled BCL man, cleric confess to inciting Rangpur anti-Hindu attacks: police

  • Rangpur Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-10-25 00:19:55 BdST

Shaikat Mandal, an expelled leader of Bangladesh Chhatra League, and his associate Rabiul Islam have confessed to inciting communal hatred that led to arson attacks on Hindu homes in Rangpur’s Pirganj, police say.

Shaikat, accused in a case under the Digital Security Act, was brought to court for the

recording of his statement on Sunday, said Sub-Inspector Sudipta Shaheen, who is investigating the case.

Rabiul, a cleric of a local mosque, is accused of arson, vandalism and looting. Both of them gave the confessional statement willingly, said the sub-inspector.

Kamruzzaman, an assistant superintendent of police in Rangpur, said the law-enforcing agencies have arrested 64 suspects in three cases over spreading communal hatred on social media and another over the violence.

The court on Sunday rejected bail petitions of 37 accused who were brought after a three-day remand. The court ordered them into jail.

The BCL on Saturday said it sacked Shaikat and another leader, Tanjirul Islam, from their Rangpur Carmichael College Unit on Oct 18, a day after the attacks left at least 23 homes burnt at Majhipara village. Evidence proved they had instigated the attacks through Facebook posts.

Shaikat was general secretary of the Philosophy Department Unit and Tanjirul was a vice-president of the college’s central unit.

Shaikat uploaded ‘incendiary religious’ posts on Facebook in a bid to increase his follower count, according to the Rapid Action Battalion.

The RAB also arrested Rabiul, who helped Shaikat instigate the Muslims of the village with announcements by loudspeaker, in Gazipur on Friday.

Previously, law enforcers had said that locals had been agitated by a Facebook post by a Hindu youth that had ‘insulted’ Islam.

Police detained the Hindu youth and, alongside him, a Muslim youth who had a feud with him. The Hindu youth made a negative comment about Islam on his Facebook account and taunted the Muslim youth about it. Though he later removed it, the Muslim youth saved it and spread it, the RAB said.

The violence in Rangpur occurred after a provocative social media campaign centring the alleged dishonouring of the Quran at a Puja venue in Cumilla on Oct 13 triggered communal violence during which Muslim fanatics carried out attacks on temples and Puja venues in the city, leaving scores of people injured.

Eight people died as sectarian violence spread to several other districts amid Durga Puja. Police arrested hundreds of people in dozens of cases over the clashes and attacks.

The arrestees include key suspect Iqbal Hossain, a man who allegedly placed a copy of the Quran at the Puja venue in Cumilla, and Fayez Ahmed, who posted a video of the Quran at the Puja venue.