Vested quarters trying to incite communal violence; BNP-Jamaat guarding properties of minorities
Incriminating evidence has been uncovered in light of an incident of arson against a Hindu family at a village in Laksham, Comilla. Local residents complained that the violence against the Dasbari residents was perpetrated by the local Awami League. They further added that the Hindu family was known to be a supporter of BNP. Thus it is only fair to say that this incident was caused to serve two ends, eliminate opposition supporters and incite communal tensions. Since the Das family rejected pressures to file cases against Jamaat and BNP activists, police themselves filed a case against a number of unidentified miscreants
As events stand, on the 8th of March 2013, the house of Ratan Chandra Das, an expatriate residing in Kuwait, was set on fire at Uttarda village in Laksham. The fire destroyed their house and rendered them destitute. The Das family has informed that in connection with the vandalism carried out in the arson incident, miscreants looted 20 bhori gold, and let 11 mon paddy burn. The losses due to the fire have been attributed at about 20 lakh taka. Presently they lead appalling lives under the open sky.
The Das family said that they have had good relations with the local Jamaat activists throughout their lives. Police at Laksham reiterated that there was no evidence indicative of Jamaat – Shibir involvement in these attacks. Rather, such attacks were indicative of a quarter who wanted to exploit the current political unrest and incidentally, put the blame on Jamaat-e-Islami
Local residents said that Jamaat activists were not known to be unruly. This incident had been caused in order to instigate communal violence. To prevent any further violence by such quarters, local Jamaat and BNP activists were seen guarding houses and properties of the minority groups throughout the night.
Fingers have been pointed by the residents at several local Awami League leaders and activists including Union Parishad Chairman and Awami League leader Golam Rabbani, so called local journalist and upazila Jubo League president Advocate Rafiqul Islam Hira and Awami League ex-party affairs secretary Tabarakullah Kayes.
Violence carried out to instigate communal tensions:
The people of Uttarda village at Laksham have stated that such events were in fact perpetrated by Awami League leaders and activists in order to destroy communal harmony. A section of the Awami League supporters, who were also local journalists in name, played an important role in prematurely and intentionally attributing the violence to Jamaat-Shibir even before the Das family filed a complaint with the police.
Laksham thana police and locals said that there was no past history of local Jamaat and BNP being involved in violence against minority groups and no cases had been filed even in light of the recent nationwide unrest since neither of the parties had been seen on ground during recent strikes. Locals said that these events (arson on Hindu family property) had simply been manufactured in order to create issues to oppress the opposition.
Speaking with concern, residents demanded that the police carefully investigate such incidents, identify the miscreants and take appropriate measures, going tough if necessary. Residents spoke of political pressure being mounted on the affected family to file cases against Jamaat, pressure it has refused to bow to even now. It has been found that Advocate Nitai Chandra Das, elder brother of Ratan Chandra, has been unable to attend to his law chamber due to threats and intimidation on part of ruling party members.
The statement of the family of Ratan Chandra Das:
Elder brother of Ratan, rural physician Dr. Gouranga Chandra Das, said that they have had good relations with the local Jamaat activists throughout their lives. He said that Muslim families had been among the first to heed to the cries of his family for help in downing the fire. Even now, they were guarding his family and property each night. Milon Rani Das, Ratan’s wife; Kalpana Rani Das and Kajol Rani Das, his elder sisters-in-law and Tanushree Das, his younger sister in law, told Amardesh, “ The Muslims living around us are not unruly. They always are among the first to help us in times of need. They are helping us even now. We know who might be our enemies at this time.” Kajol Rani Das said that they (the miscreants) are not from around our locality. They are from far away. The so called riots in Bangladesh today are a result of conspiracy of vested quarters, not riots between people of different religious faiths.” Speaking of the Chairman of the Union Parishad, they said that, “We do not need any Chairman. He came to give us consolation after the event. What will we do with any consolation? We don’t require any consolation.”
Statement of police and local administration authorities:
Laksham thana police, not gaining the help of the affected family, themselves filed a case. Police officials Abu Bakr, Mobarak Hossain and the respective IO officer of the case said that it was not possible to comment on how the fire spread, or who was involved in the attack. They however said that it was clear that it was an act of sabotage. However, there was no link suggesting that Jamaat Shibir was involved in this incident and that it was clear that vested quarters were involved in putting blame on Jamaat and Shibir. The investigation was in process. On asking why the Das family did not file any case, they replied that this was a question answerable by the family itself. They were police and filing such cases were part of their duty.
On this, Comilla police super Mahbubur Rahman told Amardesh that investigation was being carried out against whomever allegations had been raised against by the residents. He claimed that this violence was part of a larger countrywide phenomenon of violence against minorities and assured that police investigation would lead to those responsible.
However, voicing his disagreement, Laksham upazila Parishad Chairman Alhaj Mojir Ahmed informed Amardesh, “BNP-Jamaat were not involved in this violence. Even when the whole country was suffering from hartal related violence, Laksham was quiet and peaceful. This incident is a conspiracy to make BNP-Jamaat appear guilty of crimes they did not commit. Both police and the Das family know this. However, police are keeping quiet in order to avoid any conflict of interests with the government.”
Mojir Ahmed further added, “Because of this knowledge, nobody has been able to force the Das family to file any false case in this regard.” He also added that it was common knowledge that many members of the Das family were BNP supporters. Talking about post violence events, Mojir Ahmed informed that local MP TR Kabikhar had given Tk 10,000 to the affected family in aid right after the violence, but had not taken any news of them since. Mojir said that he too had given the affected family Tk 10,000 in aid and demanded of the government the punishment of those involved in such vile acts.
Statement of Local Awami League:
Awami leaders who have been accused of involvement in the event by local people have told Amardesh that the incident was a case of vandalism and not any conspiracy. They said that the same family had been targeted earlier in 1990 communal riots (after the Babri Mosque issue) and thus it was natural that the same family was being targeted now.
Local Jubo League president and local representative of news daily Dainik Bhorer Kaagoj, Advocate Rafiqul Islam Hira said, “ A day before the incident, BNP leaders in a procession said that the sanctity of the beard and Muslim cap should be protected at any cost. Therefore they were surely responsible for the incident of arson at night. Furthermore, that house was target of communal riots in 1990.”
However, Hira could not answer why no cases had been filed by the affected against BNP-Jamaat men. After knowing of accusations that he was involved with the incident, he said, “See, I am not only a politician, I am a journalist as well. Why would we (Awami League) carry out such instances of violence? They (the affected Hindu family) are after all, our supporters.” Similarly accused Union Parishad Chairman Golam Rabbani said, “I am in no way involved with this incident. They (the affected Hindu family) are Awami League supporters. We want their well being. Why should we be involved in this violence?” On informing him of claims of local residents that Nitai Chandra Das was in fact a BNP supported leader, Rabbani replied, “Nitai alone supports the BNP. And the rest (of his family) supports the Awami League.” On asking him why he didn’t go to visit the house of the affected, he replied, “Will going there solve everything? They (Das family) don’t know what I am doing for them.”
Leading desolate lives:
The Das family have been leading desolate lives since losing everything to the fire. Milon Rani Das, with her two small children, has been spending the nights sleeping under the open sky. Only a few days ago they had erected the now burnt house, lamented the mother of two. “I ask all to come forward to help us”, she said with grief stricken eyes.