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Monday, October 1, 2012
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12 Buddhist Temples Torched, 50 Houses Smashed

Extremists 'linked'

A statue of Lord Buddha is left standing amidst the ruins of a temple burnt down by a violent mob at Ramu upazila in Cox's Bazar early yesterday. Photo: Focus Bangla

Islam-insulting Facebook photo led to outburst, unidentified person tagged Buddhist man in the pic, locals say some Rohingya, militant groups incited mayhem since Saturday midnight

In what turned out to be long hours of arson and vandalism, a mob destroyed 12 Buddhist temples and monasteries and more than 50 houses in Ramu upazila of Cox's Bazar early yesterday. The violence was apparently triggered by a Facebook posting of a photo defaming the holy Quran.

Some miscreants also vandalised two monasteries and a Hindu temple in Chittagong's Patiya upazila and torched two monasteries at Ukhia and five houses at Teknaf upazila in Cox's Bazar.

Selim Md Jahangir, Cox's Bazar superintendent of police, said three Buddhist temples were burnt to ashes during the frenzy that started around midnight Saturday and continued till 3:00am yesterday.

The temples include some century-old pagodas, most revered by the country's minority Buddhists.

Locals, politicians and law enforcers suspected militants and Rohingyas of instigating the violence.

Ramu Upazila Chairman Sohel Sarwar said insurgents from the Rakhine state of Myanmar, Rohingyas -- the Myanmarese ethnic group who often intrude into Bangladesh -- and anti-liberation forces might have had a hand in the attacks.

Locals said the rioters blamed the spread of the photo on a local Buddhist, identified as Uttam Kumar Barua, son of Supto Barua of Baruapara at Ramu.

Ashutosh Barua, a government official of the upazila, told The Daily Star that 25-year-old Uttam worked as an assistant deed writer in Ramu upazila.

Some media reports have quoted a minister as saying the youth was an employee of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC). The Daily Star was yet to verify it.

Uttam claimed someone had tagged him in the photo on the social network site. Soon after the violence broke out, his Facebook account was closed and police escorted him and his mother Madhu Barua to safety, said SP Selim.

Abdur Rahim, manager of Diamond Restaurant at Kolatoli in Cox's Bazar, told a correspondent of The Daily Star yesterday afternoon that many in his neighbourhood had received the anti-Islam picture over their mobile phones through Bluetooth.

He too got it from a Rohingya man, whose name he couldn't say.

Issuing a press release yesterday, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said on its request, the Facebook authority had removed the derogatory photo of the holy Quran.

The BTRC also said it would continue efforts to get anti-Islam elements removed from social network sites and it urged all to refrain from posting and circulating anti-religious posts, messages and pictures.

Yesterday morning, the Cox's Bazar district administration imposed Section 144 in Ramu.

Members of the armed forces and strong contingents of law enforcers were deployed to contain the situation, with government ministers rushing to the spot.

In the capital, addressing a press briefing, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu alleged that communal forces had been involved in the Ramu violence.

“We have information that identified communal forces of Ramu and Cox's Bazar were present during the violence. The government will find them and ensure stern punishment.”

Police and witnesses said after the spread of the news about the Facebook photo, hundreds of people thronged Choumuhani area of Ramu and staged angry demonstration around 10:00pm Saturday.

Police from Ramu upazila tried to cordon off the area but were soon outnumbered and pushed back.

Nojibul Islam, officer-in-charge of Ramu Police Station, said several thousand people on trucks from Gorjonia, Rashidnagar, Jhilongja, Eidgaon, Kochhopia and Rajarkul areas of the upazila swarmed into Choumuhani.

Around midnight, chanting slogans Naraye Takbir Allahu Akbar, they started ravaging and setting Buddhist temples and houses afire, he added.

Riot police and Rab arrived around 11:00pm, but by then hundreds of people had set fire to Buddhist households in Baruapara.

Around 12:30am, a mob burned down a 250-year-old Buddhist temple on Cheranghata road, Borokang Buddha Bihar and Kendriyo Shima Bihar. An angry mob also vandalised Baruapara Buddhist temple at Srikul of Ramu.

Buddhist people started to flee their homes as the fire services failed to reach the spot amid increasing violence around 1:00am.

With the help of police, the fire services managed to douse the blaze around 2:30am but the temples and the houses had already been gutted by then.

Pragganando Bhikkhu, resident director of the 250-year-old Shima Bihar, said some 80 to 90 people wearing red bandanas on the forehead spread gun powder and petrol and torched the temple late last night. The monks tried to douse the blaze but the miscreants obstructed them.

Around 3:30am, the BGB, Rab and police managed to quell the violence and bring the situation under control with the help of local influential people, including lawmaker Lutfur Rahman and Ramu Upazila Parishad Chairman Sohel Sarwar.

Since yesterday morning army, BGB, Rab and police have been guarding all the 27 Buddhist monasteries and temples in Ramu.

However, police were unable to confirm the number of injured persons as most Buddhist people have been in hiding since Saturday night.

The damaged temples include Progga Mitra Bihar, Uttar Mithachari Bimurta Bhabona Kendra, Ukhia Ghona Jojoba Bihar, Srikul Maitree Bihar, Srikul Natun Bihar, Lal Ching Bihar, Sada Ching Bihar, Mahajan Bihar and Ramu Kendrya Shima Rajbon Bihar at Merongloa area.

Biplob Barua, a victim of the incident, said the demonstrators had burnt his house with gunpowder.

Upazila Nirbahi Officer Jahirul Islam told the Daily Star that some 500 demonstrators had burnt a temple named Pashchim Ratna Sudarshan Buddha Bihar in Kotbari area around 7:30pm yesterday.

He said he had heard a gunshot but could not confirm its source.

The mob left the scene after police rushed there and opened blank fire to disperse them.

Meanwhile, some people attacked Balukia Kalachand Bijoyanta Bibekaram Bihar around 7:00am, locals said. But the UNO could not confirm it.

Some miscreants in Patiya yesterday morning vandalised the Hindu temple Kolagaon Nabarun Sangha Durga Mandir and Buddhist monasteries Kolagaon Sarbojanin Ratnangkur Buddha Bihar and Lakhera Avoy Bihar.

Upazila Chairman Md Idris said the mob had demolished the idols.

Police arrested 26 persons in connection with the incidents, said OC Aminur Rashid of Patiya Police Station. Most of the arrestees are workers of the Western Marine Shipyard, he said.

Patiya police said the workers had joined a local gang.

Reached over phone, Western Marine Chairman Saiful Islam denied the allegation. He said some 10 to 12 workers who took part in the vandalism were not employees of Western Marine; they worked for the company's sub-contractor.

"However, we'll identify them and hand them over to the law enforcers."

Local sources said some thousand people went to Hoyangton union to destroy a Buddhist temple around 7:30pm. But they failed as police and BGB members opened blank fire to disperse them. Police also baton-charged the mob, injuring at least 10.

The unruly people attacked the Buddha neighbourhood and set five houses on fire.

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Again, Life in Bangladesh for minorities in danger. Govt. must give the toughest punishment to culprits involved so that none can try such heionous act in future in our motherland.

: Sengupta, Canada

This is not the first time that the minority groups in Bangladesh experienced severe attack. The government of Bangladesh should wake up from the deep sleep and take stern actions and punish the culprits. What kind of secular country it is where the minority groups are tortured and jeopardized? It appears as if the Bangladesh has no place for minority groups.

: Litton


  • Translucent
    Monday, October 1, 2012 01:08 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    First and foremost priority of the government is to protect its citizens irrespective of their religious followings. It needs to establish calm and provide security for all the victims. Home Minister is quite wrong to put out irresponsible statements without proper investigation. Any issues must be nipped at the bud before it flares up again. Culprits must be brought to justice but the victims should be taken care of too.

  • Nuton
    Monday, October 1, 2012 01:10 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    The criminals must not go unpunished.

  • Shyamoli Mazumder, OWDEB
    Monday, October 1, 2012 11:34 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    This experience forced the minority of Bangladesh to think again as we are the actual citizen of the State or as treated with us as 2nd class citizen or outsider , in which way we can help Govt .

  • Patrick
    Monday, October 1, 2012 11:30 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Extremists linked and locally supported!!! If the Bangladeshi people don't show the difference, I fear that all the hard work of my government and many others will have gone to waste.

  • msn
    Monday, October 1, 2012 02:21 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    We showed much patience when many Muslim nations showed violent expression against the movie made to defame Islam. However, unrestrained behaviour should not be tolerated against minority and exemplary punishment should be ensured by the govt.

  • suahmed
    Monday, October 1, 2012 02:35 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Revenge begets revenge and ultimately ends up in anarchism and unrest. It is not revenge but justice, peace and harmony might be the solution. No pious and sensible persons can be involved in taking revenge in such a way. Minorities in different parts of the world are often become victims of ethnic cleansing. Every govt should take strict measures to protect the minority communities from atrocities and exodus. Sense of tolerance and patience must prevail in every citizen to overcome such situation. Ever political party and conscious citizen must come forward to bring peace and harmony in the troubled areas.

  • prodip saha
    Monday, October 1, 2012 04:07 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Innocent people are being implicated. Minorities are being demoralised and their religious freedom is being threatened. I would urge the government of Bangladesh to bring the perpetrators to justice. Perpetrators are also trying to malign the government. Government's inaction will hurt them in the future if they become soft towards hate mongers. World is watching as information (the most powerful weapon) can no longer be contained.

  • Manzoor Ashraf
    Monday, October 1, 2012 04:37 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Violence and damage to places of worship is not allowed under any religions so all people must stop these misdeeds.

  • avishek
    Monday, October 1, 2012 05:09 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    I dont know how many Buddhists will become extremists around the world for burning Buddhist temple in Bangladesh. However, I know now why this happened in Bangladesh. So, What should I consider now?

  • saju
    Monday, October 1, 2012 06:53 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    When the Home Minister draws a conclusion before the commencement of the investigation that creates a lot of doubt in our minds about how impartial the investigation would be. And in our efforts to sympathy with the Buddhists we are again stereotyping the Rohingyas.

  • rch
    Monday, October 1, 2012 07:20 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    As if all checked the face book site and then attacked it...

  • kanti chakma
    Monday, October 1, 2012 07:45 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Buddhists minorities never insult other religions. It is not possible for Uttam Barua to do it. I wonder how it spread through mobiles. Security forces should take stringent action. My appeal to Muslims, is your religion so fragile that an alleged insult leads to such things? Why destroy properties of poor people and temples without verifying the facts?

  • Nuton
    Monday, October 1, 2012 07:58 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    This reminds me Afghanistan's monuments destruction by Taliban radical Islamic extremists before war.

  • Tusshar khan
    Monday, October 1, 2012 08:28 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Investigation is necessary whether the holy Quran was humiliated. If it is proved that the Quran was humiliated, the government should take the culprits under stern punishment because these mischievous people are responsible for the origin of violence not only in our country but everywhere in the world. Bangladesh is a country where minorities live with equal opportunities as majority. Various communities live here side by side happily without any violence traditionally. Recently some people are trying to break up this bond humiliating Quran and insulting Muslims and thus raising Muslim's rage. Those who humiliate other religion claim stern punishment first.

  • Mayen Uddin Tazim, former Advisor, UNDP
    Monday, October 1, 2012 09:08 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    This is unfortunate, unethical and immoral in terms of religious philosophy of all religion. Islam does not believe in antiracism and chasing on the others rather it is invited for keeping peace for all mankind. This heinous activities are doing in the name of religion's sentiment is entirely unlawful and govt should find and bring them before the judgment for giving punishment immediately.

  • Reaz - Reaz
    Monday, October 1, 2012 10:00 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    State must maintain communal harmony at any cost.

  • msn
    Monday, October 1, 2012 10:13 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    As a Muslim, I feel sorry for the minority religious people in our country. I urge govt to compensate and help financially to build the temple again. At the same time, the govt should leave no stone unturned to find the extremists and put behind bars.

  • Sumit
    Monday, October 1, 2012 10:17 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    It is very sad and very bad news. This is harmful for the image of our country and our people. I strongly condemned this brutality.

  • Anupam
    Monday, October 1, 2012 11:11 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Ramu, the place of occurrence where Buddhist Monasteries and heritage are destructed by fire is a mini city in Cox's Bazar. It is 10km away from district town Cox's Bazar and there is a police station also. But fail to give minimum security to them. So, my question is what is the law and order situation of our country?

  • Firko
    Monday, October 1, 2012 11:32 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    This is surely the devastating activity of the extremists. Please remember that the extremists who did this heinous crime are not only enemies of Buddhist or Hindu or Christians but mainly the enemies of Islam and the whole Muslim community. These extremists are real enemies of Muslms. Today they showed their hates towards Buddhists. Extremists are the enemies of the human dignity and so they are the enemies of Islam.

  • muhammed ali
    Monday, October 1, 2012 11:46 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Who did that crime, he should punish. Burning innocent people's homes and their temples is not the solution. I know Buddhist peoples believe in peace and respect the other religions. I think this is conspiracy against the government to tarnish the image of Bangladesh.

  • Ruci
    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:37 PM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    One thing people in Bangladesh forget is that peace is the greatest war, all men and women on earth will have to fight and accept that.

  • Mohammad Rajjak
    Monday, October 1, 2012 01:32 PM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    I am a Muslim youth.I get shame to be introduce as a Muslim youth. Barua people are very helpless .

  • Kid
    Monday, October 1, 2012 02:45 PM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    I have read many good and reasonable comments above. This shows that there are people who are trying to understand the situation.

  • Milna
    Monday, October 1, 2012 04:33 PM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    This is conspiracy against our country. Somebody wants to create anarchy. So that Govt. should search them and give punishment.

  • Saleh Md. Shahriar
    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:22 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    Is the the violence an expression of the revenge for the humiliating conditions and killings of the Muslim Rohingyas by the Buddist nationalists of the Arakan,Burma?Extremism in any form is bad for democracy.Bangladesh is a country of religious harmony.

  • Fakir
    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:28 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    You do not write the conclusion at the beginning of an essay. If you do so then you are biased. So, is the home minister.

    It is the colonialists who incited religiously motivated riots in the undivided Indian sub continent.

    It rather seems a step to divert people's attention from the protests insulting the Prophet (peace be upon him) to creating discontent among the populace regarding Muslims. May the thoughtful take heed.

  • neutral
    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:36 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    The old political game has started through this communal crime weapon. The Rohingyas are a threat to Bangladesh's freedom and democracy. Thay should be put under contant watch and be despathed back to Burma as quickly as possible.

    The sympathisers of Rohingyas refugees might be thinking how they can be used for political distabilization in Bangladesh. They are powered and directed from inside to do this hinious crime to attack the temple of Buddha, a symbol of peace and happiness.

    What a shameful acts by the neo-miscreants from Burma.Stop them right way.

  • reaz hoque
    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:46 AM GMT+06:00 (175 weeks ago)

    It is an another plot to make anarchy and chaos by vested quarters/extremists to get benefit and to lead the country to darkness again. Allah saw everything and astonished that how a human behave to other human being. Shame for the humanity.





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