22 Hindu houses torched, robbed |
20 hurt in raid by 'BNP' men
Rafique Sarker, Rangpur
Armed mobsters with alleged links to ruling BNP in a raid on a remote village under Pirgachha upazila in the district on Monday torched 22 houses of minority Hindus, injured 20 villagers and looted cash, crops and cattle.
Eyewitnesses said a group of 35 to 40 BNP activists armed with machetes, swords and daggers cordoned the Hindu-majority Adam Sarkerpara village in the afternoon and set fire to the houses of eight Hindu families after spraying gasoline and kerosene on them.
Suresh Chandra Borman, one of the victims whose homes were burnt to ashes, told The Daily Star that Abdul Mannan and two of his nephews -- BNP activists Raju and Saju, one accused of rape attempt and the other of land-grabbing -- led the band.
Raju was caught red-handed while trying to rape a Hindu girl of the village two years ago, Borman said.
Fearing social stigma, the girl's parents avoided pressing any charge under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act but lodged a case with Pirgachha Police Station under Section 7 of Criminal Procedure Code accusing Raju of threatening them, Borman added.
Saju, on the other hand, is accused of occupying by force eight bighas of land of a Hindu widow, Indu Mai, of the village. The hapless widow was compelled later to flee the country to India. A case was also filed with the police station in this connection.
Locals said Raju and Saju have been threatening the Hindu families with death if they do not withdraw the cases. The villagers refused to concede, prompting the brothers to stage the raid, arson and robbery that started in Monday afternoon and continued until 9 in the night, they added.
The thugs also attacked any neighbour and local who rushed in to help put off the fire, leaving Abdur Rahman, 50, critically injured in his head. Rahman was sent to Rangpur Medical College Hospital.
After the houses of the targeted families had been completely burnt down, the bandits left the scene with the booty of 18 cows and about Tk 60,000 in cash looted from them.
Locals of nearby Powtana caught three of the robbers with seven cows while they were passing through the village and handed them over to police.
Rangpur Superintendent of Police Abdus Salam visited the village Monday night and promised the Hindu villagers to take proper action.
The victims are now living under the open sky.
Choula Union Parishad Chairman Nazir Hossain said four maunds of rice was given to the affected families as food assistance.
Awami League district unit President Shah Abdur Razzak and General Secretary Ilias Ahmed visited the village and consoled the victims.
BNP district unit President Rahim Uddin Vhorsa said the raiders must be punished. He however denied the attackers to have any connection with his party.