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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
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Heroes of our time

Even in the middle of mindless mayhem, sanity still prevails.

Meet the heroes -- Masud Rana, Harun, Osman, Mosharraf, Helal and Kamal -- who risked their lives to stop the Muslim mob from attacking the monasteries and Buddhists' houses.

As Ramu turned volatile with militant processions moving in every direction, as infuriating slogans flew in the air, as flames leaped all around, these few young men came out of their houses and took up sticks to defend the Buddhists.

Saturday night. Masud and his friends could feel that the mob was going to attack their neighbourhood as well.

Masud, a young man whose father was a valiant freedom fighter, said he was in shock. Why should they attack all the Buddhists for the mistake of one? He could not find an answer.

The procession came around 8:30pm. A group of 50 to 60 young men armed with sticks and machetes. Rana and his friends were no match for them.

“We are only six and they were a big group,” Osman thought. “Can we defend ourselves? But these are all local people and they know us well. They cannot harm us.”

So they held their ground and faced the invaders.

“Why are you doing this? Is this what Islam preaches? Why do you want to punish all Buddhists for the fault of one?” Rana shouted at the crowd.

“We want Uttam's head. Give him to us,” the crowd roared. Uttam is the person whose Facebook was tagged in a photograph maligning Islam.

“Uttam does not live here,” Osman shouted back. “It is only his father's house. Go away.”

The crowd argued for some time, but they were hesitant. After all, they were all from the same locality.

The mob turned back and went away. But Rana and his friends were not very sure as news after news arrived of the atrocities. So they called some of their relatives to come and join them. After a while, they grew in number to about 30.

Rana called the police, seeking help. A little later, six policemen came. The young men armed with sticks took up positions at the entrance to their neighbourhood.

True to their apprehension, the attackers returned around 11:30pm. It was a huge crowd of 400 to 500 people. It was even more militant. And none of them were from the locality. Some distinctly looked like Rohingyas as they had tucked their shirts inside their lungis. Some spoke in Rakhine dialect.

The young men told them to go back and blocked their way. But the mob was hurling abuses at them.

“If you are Muslims then you should join us,” some from the mob shouted. They were trying to push through the rickety human barricade.

Somebody started throwing stones at Rana and his friends. Osman was hit in the head and was bleeding. Somebody hit Mosharraf in his arm with a stick.

Then the barricade fell away. The mob rushed in like a tsunami. The homes of Buddhists were being battered. Somebody scaled the wall of a monastery and opened the gate from inside. The mob swept in.

Rana and his friends ran after them.

“This is not a Barua [Bangalee Buddhist] temple. This is a Rakhine temple,” Rana shouted, thinking this piece of information might dissuade the attackers.

But it did not. Someone set fire to a structure. Rana and his friends used their sticks to beat out the flame. Then he thought of another trick.

The young vigilantes started shouting, “Don't torch it! Don't! The Muslims' bazaar is just beside it. If you torch it, the whole market would be gutted. Muslims' houses will be gutted too!”

This had an immediate effect. The attackers were puzzled. They did not attempt to torch the temple again. But they vandalised the monastery.

They smashed the statues and went away.

Rana and his friends stood stupefied on the ground in front of the monastery of Cheranghata. They felt drained of all feelings and strength. They had tried and failed. Still they had tried.

A few kilometres away stood the oldest monastery of the country, Raung Kut Bihar, built some 2,700 years ago by the emperor Ashoka. It is a grand monastery. Inside the complex sits a beautiful modern structure that houses orphans.

On that fateful night, local headman Kamaluddin and a local leader Shehab were woken up by a phone call. The caller said Buddhist temples in Ramu were being torched.

They rushed out of their homes and saw the flames leaping in the distant.

The children! They must be saved! The thought passed through their minds. The monastery, a rare monument of history and culture, must be saved.

They rushed to the monastery and found the monks in stark fear. They had already shifted the children to a small house some distance away. But it was too crammed a place to accommodate 75 kids.

My villagers might come out and attack, Kamal thought. He and Shehab ran back and formed a small group. They stood guard at the entrance to their village and ordered all to stay indoors.

They spent the whole night there until the army came.

They heaved a sigh of relief and, their eyes red shot, went back to sleep. They were happy. Their heritage had been saved. Their prestige had been saved.

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I am encouraged to know that there are still good and kind hearted Muslim brothers in our coutry who care for others. Our identity is not in a religion. Our first identity is that we are human being and the blood of the same color flow through our body. Can't we treat one another as brothers and sisters of one family rather than treating each other based on religion caste, creed and color? I appreciate the heroic effort of Rana and his friends.

: Litton

Please highlight them more in as many ways as possible. They should be the role models for our youth. These are the true acts of valor. They give us hope and inspire us!

: Shahed


  • Md. Ismile
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:36 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    While appreciating the brave hearts,I am seriously concerned about their safety and well being after so much details has been given.Militants may try to cause harm to these true humans.I appeal to the administration to give adequate protection to them.

  • Durga Bhattacharyya,
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 05:00 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    I hope the exemplary courage shown by these heroes will serve as eye opener to the rest of the Muslims in Bangladesh. It is also imperative that the administration should maintain more vigilance to prevent any such dastardly and premeditated acts of violence against members of the minority community in future.

  • Kamal Khan
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 05:58 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    I salute the heroes, all of us cannot be heroes but at least we can have our moral support for these young men. However, I have few questions, why was the police and administration salient, without investigation why Home Minister accuse the opposition. Today, Home Minister said that Bangladesh is not a police state and it is not possible to put a police guard in front every house. Unfortunately, he has started his job with miserable failure. He has to be the Home Minister of Bangladesh to succeed, if he thinks himself to be Home Minister of AL he is bound to fail.

  • Mirza Zeehan
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 07:21 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    I take pride in calling myself a Bangladeshi because of these gentlemen and I feel ashamed of being the same because of what the extremists did. I apologise to the affected people on behalf of the Hindus, Muslims and Christians of Bangladesh.

  • Khujeci
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 08:29 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    God bless these people.

  • mahmud
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 08:50 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    People need to think before they commit to action or rather dreadful action! We are in the Internet and Social Media age. Anyone can post anything in the web pages. Even someone else who may hack or find access to an individual's social website may post something offensive. So firstly any comments posted may not be done by the person where a comment is seen and secondly if a comment is able to create violent response, then many people may resort to this type of trick to vindicate enemies. It is pure madness and extreme foolishness to react like a wild animal. If someone has posted something offensive, it should be ignored or at best the offended party can post something in return. How can we justify violence and extreme destruction based on social media comments? Are we returning to primitive times?

  • Hasan Ferdous
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 09:08 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    In fact, praise of a few would not yield any result for this mayhem. Rather, the existing laws should be applied immediately and all the culprits should be brought to book. Criminal cases should be filed against all of them so that they can understand how troublesome it is to survive. Then they should be given jail sentences which they even could not anticipate. Besides, police should not try to save the skins of local political leaders. Then we will be able to say that justice has been delivered impartially.

  • Sultanul Nahian hasnat
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 09:09 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    Hats off those brave people. They are the pride of our country that believes in peace between the communities. Some extremists can not destroy the goodwill we have carried from generation to generation. I have heard some of our Muslim brothers are jointly arranging relief materials for those affected peoples in Ramu. Burning the temples is the example of cowardliness and shameless act. It will not change our love and friendship. We will stand with our Buddhist brothers all the time.

  • Dibos Dewan
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 09:09 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    Salute to these unsung heroes. Without you, secular Bangladesh would never be built. I would like to have you as my neighbour this and any life that follows.

  • Rezauddin Chowdhury
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 09:30 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    Bravo boys! You prove humanity is not dead yet. Amidst barbarity in the name of religion, such instances pave the road to victory of human beings.

  • hasan mamun
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:45 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    Thanks to the guys for their initiatives. It is really a praiseworthy. But the matter of regret is that while the homicide was going in Burma between Muslims and Buddhist we have got so far no information which says that any Buddhist has proceeded to save Muslims rather through the print and cable media we noticed that even the Buddhist monk came out with traditional weapons to hit the Muslims. On the other hand, in Bangladesh no Islamic cleric joined the militant groups to gut any establishment or assault any Buddhist. This is the difference between Islam and other religion. Thanks again to my Muslim brothers who saved the blameless Buddhists.

  • Sohel
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:32 PM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    I would like to believe most of the citizens of BD (regardless of religion) have a mindset like them. It is only the few extremist (along with the rohingas) who are actually damaging the society.

  • Rumee Muhammed Ayub
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:36 PM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    We sometimes remember our heroes in need. State should pay them proper honour to accelerate national interest.

  • putool
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:41 PM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    These heroes have made us proud even under the most trying circumstances! Will the government adequately award these great heroes for their self acts at the risk of their lives?

  • Masudur Rahman
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 03:30 PM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    The courage of these young boys expresses their right spirit and the respect for human being.

  • suahmed
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:48 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    I salute Masud Rana, Harun, Osman, Mosharraf, Helal and Kamal for their moral courage and who used their conscious to save their neighborhood from the mayhem though they were few in number. This is the real Islamic spirit to take care of neighbors whatever belief they hold.

  • Habibullah Mizan
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 01:12 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    They are more than the recognized heroes of our society. If there were only few such great hearted youths, the whole country would be turned into the heaven,I firmly belive. To my opinion, they tried to protect their Buddhists neighbours not to get any media coverage or rewards, they took the high risks as they belive it from the core of their hearts. My red salute for them and for the great journalists who have discovered these saints in our today's rotten society,where we failed to live peacefully all faiths of people side by side.

  • Nasirullah Mridha,USA
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:53 AM GMT+06:00 (176 weeks ago)

    Police administration was totally indifferent to calm down this situation.It was supposed to police job that were done by youths.For this cruelty AL can condone police role lightly but peace loving people never want to reprise of this atrocities.Had we been exercise good governance and accountibility Home Minister and Police chief would have been apologized to buddist people without any vacilation.





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