Minority leaders say the communal attacks were pre-planned and part of a greater conspiracy.
The leaders of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad and Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad made the allegation at a press briefing held at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity in the afternoon.
Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad’s General Secretary Rana Dasgupta said, “The event took place in front of the administration. Even the political parties did not attempt to do anything to prevent that.”
Dasgupta pointed to a greater conspiracy. “There is a government working within the government, there are some loopholes. Some of the recent occurrences are leading to something major like the violence against minorities in 2001.”
The minority leader also pointed out that the attacks ‘had to be premeditated’. “The Facebook post was made around 10pm, how is it possible that the attackers got armed and came riding in vehicles by 10:15pm?”
Religious fanatics launched the attacks on a pro-dominantly Buddhist village at Ramu which appeared to have been triggered by an alleged Facebook posting by a local youth named Uttam Barua allegedly defaming the Quran.
The attack was launched on Saturday night and in the five hours it lasted, the religious zealots set seven Buddhist temples and at least 30 houses and shops ablaze while more than a hundred other were reportedly attacked, vandalised and looted.
Similar attacks were also carried out at Ukhia, Teknaf and Chittagong’s Patia district in the following day.
It was said at the briefing that 12 temples in Ramu, four in Ukhia, four Viharas in Patia, three Hindu temples in Kolgaon and around 500 residences and business establishments were set alight in the attack.
Rana Dasgupta continued: “They were looted and the statues of Buddha, Durga and Shiva were vandalised. The losses amount to nearly Tk 700 million.”
The minority leader also declared countrywide agitation programmes including processions, human chain, rallies and submission of memorandums to mark the ‘Day for prevention of conspiracy against religious and ethnic minorities’ on Oct 6.
Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad chief Kantosh Majumder said, “We are facing oppression in every step, our existence has come under question.”
He said the attack was staged by extremists to turn Bangladesh into a fundamentalist state.
Bangladesh Adibasi Forum General Secretary Sanjib Drong said such incidents are being encouraged in the absence of punitive measures against previous attacks on the minorities.