Cops asked to act promptly

PHQ instructs field-level officers after PM orders stern action against people involved in communal violence

“Islam advises peaceful performance of rituals of all religions. Our Prophet (PBUH) also advised us not to do excesses with religion. We want no one to do excesses with religion.”

The Police Headquarters yesterday instructed its field-level officials to stay on high alert and take immediate action whenever they receive information about any attempt to sabotage the country’s stability and communal harmony.

It asked the officials on the ground to stay in regular contact with leaders of all religious communities, local political leaders, and teachers and students of educational institutions in order to thwart any untoward incident.

The officials will have to meet the religious leaders on a regular basis so that no misunderstanding can take place.

The instructions came at a virtual meeting of the police high-ups at the PHQ after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a cabinet meeting directed the home ministry to take stern action against people involved in the recent violence against the Hindu community.

Additional Inspector General of Police Moinur Rahman Chowdhury, performing the duties of the IGP who is currently abroad, chaired the five-hour meeting where all unit chiefs and range deputy inspector generals (DIGs) were present.

The meeting also asked the field-level officials to prepare a list of those who brought out processions, engaged in and incited violence and vandalism, and quickly bring them to justice, said three DIGs and a superintendent of police who attended the meeting.

Besides, they have been asked to find out the truth behind the fake news that has been spread, and to disseminate the authentic information through loudspeakers in the respective areas, said the meeting sources, adding that field-level officials have also been asked to step up cyber patrolling.

The meeting asked all members of the police force to remain vigilant so that Eid-e-Miladunnabi is observed peacefully today, they added.

The high-level meeting comes amid a series of attacks targeting Hindu communities, starting in Cumilla on October 13, and gradually spreading to at least 13 districts.

The violence and attacks on the Hindu community in Cumilla took place following reports of “demeaning the Holy Quran”, at a time when the community was in the midst of celebrating Durga Puja.

The PHQ in a press release on Monday night said around 450 individuals were detained in at least 71 cases filed over the attacks on temples and houses of the Hindu community.

“We were instructed to make beat policing more active and bring all the community and religious leaders in a single platform so that no one can fish in troubled waters,” said one of the DIGs.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam briefed reporters about the prime minister’s directives after the cabinet meeting virtually presided over by the PM from her Gono Bhaban residence.

“Those who are involved in it [communal attacks] must be held soon. Besides, people are suggested not to be reactive,” he quoted the prime minister as saying.

“There is no scope for reaction. If someone defames the Holy Quran, the holy book does not give us the authority to vandalise properties of someone from another religion,” he said.

“Islam does not give any authority to any Muslim to carry out vandalism on the establishment of another religion. One can lead a protest for defamation of religion and demand justice. But carrying out destructive activities is completely unacceptable in Islam,” said Anwarul quoting Hasina.

In a discussion programme later in the evening, Sheikh Hasina said Islam advises peaceful performance of rituals of all religions.

“Our Prophet [PBUH] advised not to do excesses with religion. We want no one to do excesses with religion,” she said while addressing the discussion on the birth anniversary of Sheikh Russel, the youngest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, marking Sheikh Russel Day 2021.

“Bangladesh is a country of secular spirit; the people of all religions will perform their religious rituals freely as our constitution has given that directive,” she said at the programme organised by the Awami League.

‘PRIME SUSPECT UNDER WATCH’

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said the prime suspect in the Cumilla mayhem has been identified and was under their surveillance.

The suspect was frequently changing location since going into hiding following the incident on October 13, he said in a programme titled “Technological Modernisation of Rab” at the force’s headquarters.

“We hope we will be able to arrest him soon. We will definitely catch him and disclose his motive,” he said.

Several groups are trying to destroy the existing communal harmony in the country by spreading propaganda and carrying out provocative campaigns, said the home boss.

Asaduzzaman Khan said a vested quarter has been trying to destroy the communal harmony in recent times by using video footage of atrocities that have taken place at different times.

He said footage of a brutal murder in the capital’s Pallabi has been misinterpreted as the murder of one of the victims in Noakhali.

The murder in Pallabi took place on May 16, but a vested quarter was propagating that the footage was of the murder of Noakhali victim Jatan Saha.

“It is very sad, ugly and inhuman,” he said.

“I am warning those who are trying to take advantage of this kind of propaganda and they must be found out,” the minister said.

Law enforcement agencies will hunt them down and mete out appropriate punishment to them, he said, adding that these culprits will have to answer why they attempted to destroy the communal harmony and peace.

Referring to previous communal attacks, Asaduzzaman said falsehood and propaganda spread on Facebook created an unsettled situation in Ramu, Nasirnagar and Bhola in an attempt to destroy communal harmony.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has taken over the investigation over the case filed over the attack on the Nanua Dighir Par puja mandap in Cumilla, Anwarul Azim, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station, said yesterday.

He also said three more have been arrested in connection with the case filed under the Special Powers Act.

Meanwhile, the man who posted a Facebook Live video about alleged defamation of the Holy Quran on the morning of October 13 has been remanded for two days, the OC added.

JS SPEAKER VISITS VANDALISED VILLAGE IN PIRGANJ

In Rangpur, Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, speaker of parliament, yesterday visited Pirganj upazila’s Boro Karimpur village, where Hindu houses were torched, vandalized and looted on Sunday night.

Saying the attacks were planned, she urged law enforcers to trace the attackers immediately.

Former information minister Hasanul Haq Inu also visited the area and said local administration cannot avoid responsibility or deny their failure in preventing the attack.

Meanwhile, police yesterday filed two cases in connection with the violence.

In Feni, Anindya Banerjee, Indian assistant high commissioner in Chattogram, visited the Hindu temples and business institutions that were attacked by mobs on Saturday night.

Besides, a local Hindu leader Tapan Kumar Das on Monday night filed a case accusing around 250 unnamed people in connection with attacks on temples in Feni town.

In Kurigram, Sanjeev Kumar Bhati, Indian assistant high commissioner, visited Ulipur upazila where Hindu temples were attacked on October 13 and 14.

In Brahmanbaria, Sommilito Sangskritik Jote held a protest in the town yesterday morning and demanded the resignation of the home minister for “his failure to prevent the attacks on minorities”.

In Munshiganj, police on Monday evening arrested Joy Mandol on charges of making derogatory comments demeaning the Holy Quran on a social media post.

Besides, processions against communal attacks were organised in Dinajpur, Noakhali, Savar, Manikganj and Feni.