Bangladesh: Widespread Violence, Attacks To Protest Modi’s Visit; Radical Islamists Burn Down Hindu Temples, Libraries, Colleges

Protesting against Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s visit, hundreds of members of a radical Islamist group attacked Hindu temples and a train in Eastern Bangladesh on Sunday (28 March), reports Reuters.

The Qawmi madrasa-based organisation Hefajat-e-Islam announced protest against Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit, and “a day of prayers” and mourning for today and called for nationwide rallies on 2 April. The organisation members have been carrying out violent attacks since three days in which at least 500 persons have been injured.

Yesterday, the outfit’s protesters attacked a train in the district of Brahmanbaria, damaging the engine room and almost all the coaches, while injuring about ten people. Meanwhile, the radical protesters are also said to have set various government offices in Brahmanbaria to fire.

According to a Daily Star report, the Islamist mob ransacked Brahmanbaria’s biggest temple Sree Sree Anandamayee Kali Mandir; trashed and broke the idols of Sri Krishna and Goddess Kali.

The donation box for the temple was looted, while the artifacts used for ceremonies were ransacked and thrown away.

“We were performing prayers for Dol Purnima, when 200-300 armed men broke the temple gate and barged into our ceremony. We tried to protect the idol of Goddess Kali, but they shoved us aside and vandalised the idol,” Ashis Paul, president of Anandamoyee Kalibari Temple Festival Celebration Committee, was quoted as saying.

The mob also clashed with police officers, burnt police stations, blockaded the roads, and also injured innocent bystanders; Ustad Alauddin Khan Music Academy was set on fire, and the Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Bhasha Chattar reportedly lay completely vandalised and burnt.

They also reportedly set fire to Muktijoddha Sangsad Bhaban, Ubaidul Muktadir Chowdhury Women’s College, and many other establishments, including the office of a local MP, the public library, press club, the homes of the Awami League (the ruling party) leaders.

The protesters blockaded roads by setting fire to tyres at different points and torched vehicles, engaged in stone pelting, damaging several shops and vehicles. Several crude bombs were also exploded.

This comes even as PM Modi had already left the nation and landed back in India as scheduled on Saturday itself. He had arrived in Bangladesh on Friday to partake in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s nationhood. During the visit, he had also extended a gift of 1.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the people of Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Hefajat-e-Islam Secretary-General Nurul Islam demanded compensation for its members who were killed, treatment for the injured, and release of those arrested.

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