Bangladesh Communal Violence: Conspiracy Theory Gains Credence After Confession Of Muslim Man

Bangladesh Communal Violence: Conspiracy Theory Gains Credence After Confession Of Muslim Man

Giving credence to the conspiracy angle in the recent communal trouble in Bangladesh, a Muslim man, said to be of unstable mind, reportedly confessed that he placed a copy of the Holy Quran in a marquee celebrating the annual festivities linked to the worship of Hindu goddess Durga in Comilla, about 100 km southeast of Dhaka.

Iqbal Hossain, the man believed to be responsible for the act in Nanuardighi area of Comilla district that caused widespread disturbances last week leaving at least seven people dead and several injured, has been arrested. There were also multiple attacks on Durga Puja marquees, Hindu temples and property and strong diplomatic exchanges between New Delhi and Dhaka on the disturbances as well as the possibility of extremist elements trying to stir up communal tension in both Bangladesh and India.

A high-ranking police official in Comilla, who wished to remain unnamed, confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune. Iqbal was taken to Comilla Police Lines for interrogation on Friday morning following his arrest in Cox’s Bazar district the previous day.

The police official said Iqbal confessed to placing the Quran on the lap of Hanuman, a central character in the epic Ramayana, before stealing the club from the idol’s hand.

According to the police, another local, Md Foyez Ahmed – now under arrest - then started live streaming on Facebook to spread the matter.

Comilla Superintendent of Police Khan Md Rezwan said: “Foyez told the police that he circulated the matter to incite communal tension.” CCTV footage seen by Dhaka Tribune shows Iqbal Hossain meeting with two caretakers of a local shrine on the night of the incident. It appears as though the trio met, and that a Quran, believed to be the same holy book used later, was placed in the shrine.

After a brief meeting inside the mosque – run by the shrine authorities – on October 12 night, Hafez Humayun kept the Quran in a closet while Iqbal was seen leaving the mosque. Iqbal's family members claimed that he was mentally unstable, and someone might have taken advantage of his condition to make him place the Quran in an obvious attempt to stir trouble between the two communities at the time of the Hindu religious festival.

After Iqbal placed the Quran at the Puja venue, one Iqram Hossain called 999 to report the matter. So far, police have arrested 450 people and filed 71 cases concerning the violence. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised strict action, and her government has unequivocally condemned the incidents.

Hindus comprise the largest religious minority group in Bangladesh, forming over 9 percent of the population. The sudden eruption of communal tension saw miscreants vandalizing Hindu temples, businesses and houses of members of the community in the Noakhali district.

The killings happened in the Chowmuhani area of the Begumganj sub-district in Noakhali after the Friday prayers at mosques last week. Violence was also reported from Dhaka as thousands of people protesting against the alleged blasphemy clashed with police in the country’s capital.


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