Pirganj Communal Violence: BCL man sparked the blaze
A local Chhatra League leader, along with his accomplices, instigated the mob to burn down homes and shops of the Hindu community in Rangpur's Pirganj upazila on October 17.
Rab disclosed the information yesterday following the arrest of Saikat Mandal who it said was the mastermind behind the communal attack.
Saikat, along with one of his accomplices named Rabiul Islam, was arrested in Tongi area of Gazipur on Friday, Rab spokesperson Commander Khandaker Al Moin told reporters at Rab media centre in the capital's Karwan Bazar.
Saikat was the vice-president of philosophy department Chhatra League at Rangpur's Carmichael College. On October 18, a day after the attack, Carmichael College Chhatra League sacked him for breaching the organisation's discipline. Tanzirul Islam, organising secretary of the unit, was handed the same punishment.
In a statement yesterday, the unit's president Saiduzzaman said, "We made the decision after we learnt that the two were present on the spot during the attack. Police will now dig out their roles in the attack."
Chhatra League is a pro-Awami League student organisation.
Without mentioning any political identity of Saikat, 24, son of Rasedul Mandal, Rab said he uploaded false information on Facebook while Rabiul and others gathered zealots, using the loudspeaker of a local mosque, for the attack.
"Rabiul did it as per Saikat's instruction," Moin told the briefing yesterday.
According to locals, Rabiul, 36, son of Moslem Uddin, is the imam of Boterhat mosque in Pirganj upazila.
The Rab spokesperson said that the attack was carried out over personal conflicts involving Saikat and two others -- Uzzal Hossen and Paritosh Sarkar -- arrested by Rab over the matter.
Both Uzzal and Paritosh are from Borokarimpur Majhipara village of Pirganj.
Moin did not elaborate on the "conflicts".
He said Uzzal took a screenshot of a Facebook post uploaded by Paritosh and sent the screenshot to Saikat, who later shared it on his FB account along with some texts. The post was uploaded to instigate people, he said.
The Rab official said the attack was pre-planned.
"Saikat was waiting for an opportunity to destroy communal harmony in the area. After Paritosh uploaded the post, he grabbed the opportunity and led the attack," he said.
On October 17, zealots set fire to at least 25 houses and shops, including seven tin-shed ones, and nine buildings, in Majhipara, Battala and Hatibandha villages of Pirganj's Ramnathpur union.
A total of 66 families were affected by the attack, according to a government agency.
Three cases have been filed in this regard.
Over the recent attacks on the Hindu community at various places, Rab arrested at least 30 people from different parts of the country, said the Rab director.
Meanwhile, a Cumilla court yesterday placed four accused, including prime suspect Iqbal Hossen, on seven-day remand each in a case filed under Digital Security Act (DSA) for hurting religious sentiments.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Mithila Jahan granted a seven-day remand for each of the accused after Sub-Inspector Mofizul Islam, also investigation officer of the case, produced them before the court seeking 10 days of remand for them.
The three others are Ekran Hossen, Fayez Ahmed and Humayun Kabir.
M Tanvir Ahmed, additional police super (crime) of Cumilla district police, told The Daily Star, "We are trying to find out who instigated the mayhem in the district."
Iqbal was arrested in Cox's Bazar on October 21 after police, analysing CCTV footage, found that he placed the Holy Quran at a Hindu mandap in Cumilla after taking the holy book from a nearby mosque.
The incident in Cumilla led to a spate of communal attacks on Hindus in different places of the country.
Iqbal admitted to putting the Quran at the mandap during interrogation while Fayez Ahmed, an expatriate who came home from Saudi Arabia one year ago, confessed to going live on Facebook with the intention of inciting local people.
Ekram Hossen dialed 999 to inform police of the incident and Humayun Kabir was seen having a brief conversation with Iqbal in the mosque.
NO LET-UP IN 'ATTACK'
Miscreants set ablaze two wood-stacks kept in a tin-roofed house of a Hindu family in Basiadebi Senpara of Thakurgaon Sadar upazila early yesterday.
Tanvirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Takurgaon Police Station, said the incident happened around 12:30am.
Locals put out the blaze soon, he said adding that police were trying to identify those behind the incident.
In Habiganj, unknown assailants vandalised two idols at Lakhai upazila early yesterday.
Tension was running high in the area after the incident at Daspara Bishwas Hati Kali Temple in Morkari village.
Pranabesh Goshwami, president of Lalkhai upazila puja udjapan committee, told The Daily Star that two idols of Kali were damaged on Friday night.
Md Mohiuddin Suman, officer-in-charge of Lalkhai Police Station, said they were trying to identify the attackers.
Besides, a fire that burnt an idol erupted at Kali-Durga temple at Kachigram of Kotalipara upazila of Gopalganj district early yesterday.
Ranada Prasad Mojumdar, president of the temple committee, said they had a programme named Ganesh Pagoler Sova. "At 1:00am, we all left the temple concluding the programme. A devotee informed us of a fire at the temple at dawn. We rushed to the temple and put out the flame."
Aminul Islam, officer-in-charge of Kotalipara Police Station, told The Daily Star that they were looking into the matter.
In another development, Rab-11 arrested a member of Chhatra Odhikar Parishad in Narayanganj for spreading rumours on social media.