A man was killed and several others were injured on Friday after police opened fire on a mob, which set fire to houses of Hindus in Rangpur on the allegation of defaming Islam and its prophet on a facebook post.
The mob set fire to at least eight houses and warehouses and vandalised about 15 others at village Paglapir-Thakurpara under Sadar upazila in the afternoon.
The protestors formed a human chain at Paglapir Bazaar blocking Rangpur-Dinajpur Highway after jumma prayers on Friday, demanding punishment of one Titu Ray of village Thakurpara, who allegedly made a facebook post defaming Islam and its prophet on October 28.
The angry mob after the human chain marched towards Thakurpara and police obstructed them near Paglapir Bazaar but the mob, defying the barricade, reached the village and began to torch the houses including those of Titu Ray, said police.
A clash between locals and police erupted and, when the mob turned more violent, police opened fire and lobbed tear gas to disperse the mob.
‘A clash that erupted during the protest over the facebook post left a man dead and several others injured,’ Rangpur Sadar upazila nirbahi officer Zaiur Rahman told New Age at 9:00pm.
‘Everything is now under control and additional police forces have been deployed in the area. We are investigating the matter and trying to nab the attackers,’ he said.
Asked about the content of the facebook post, the UNO expressed his ignorance about it and said they were now busy tackling the evolving situation.
The deceased was Habibur Rahman, 30, said Dibakar Roy, a sub-inspector of Dhap Police outpost that operates at Rangpur Medical College Hospital.
He said that 12 others, including three policemen, were admitted to hospital with injuries.
Locals and police said that a tense situation was prevailing in the area since the matter of Titu’s alleged Facebook post circulated.
The situation worsened when a local businessman, Alamgir Hossain, lodged a case with Gangachara Police Station on November 6, accusing Titu Ray of demeaning Islam and its prophet.
Gangachara Police Station officer-in charge Jinnat Ali said Titu was now absconding.
Criticising the status, the local Muslim devotees formed a human chain at Paglapir Bazaar on Rangpur-Dinajpur Highway after saying jumma prayers, said local people.
Many others from adjacent areas joined the human chain.
The agitators later headed for Thakurpara, the Hindu-majority village.
Though police put a barricade near Paglapir Bazaar to stop the mob, the marchers broke police barricade and reached Thakurpara, locals said.
They began to vandalise and torch houses when inmates of the houses of the area began to cry and run for safer places, locals said.
Meanwhile, police forces from Sadar and Gangachara Police Stations reached the area and fired rubber bullets and tear-shells to disperse the mob, triggering a clash that left at least twenty people injured, they said.
The agitators later brought out a procession and blocked Rangpur-Dinajpur Highway for around three hours snapping traffic on the highway.
A tense situation was prevailing in the area till filing of the report at 9:30pm.
Jagadish Roy, a local Hindu community leader, said that the local youth in question, Titu, now lived near his workplace at Narayanganj and he had enmity with some locals over a piece of land.
He suspected that Titu might not be involved in any derogatory posts on facebook as he was well-behaved and was always respectful to all.
Additional superintendent of Rangpur police Saifur Rhaman said police were ready to fend off any further escalation and extra police forces were deployed in the area
About 200 houses and business establishments and 22 temples of the Hindus were vandalised and robbed at Nasirnagar upazila town and Haripur union in Brahmanbaria on October 30, 2016.
In continuation of the attacks, miscreants set fire to nine houses of Hindus on November 4, 5, 13 and 16.
The October 30 attacks came following two rallies organised by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Towhidi Janata of qoumi madrassah groups backed by Hefajat-e-Islam demanding punishment of Rasraj Das, a Hindu young fisherman of village Harineber, for allegedly sharing a doctored photo showing an idol set on the Kaaba on his facebook wall on October 28 of that year.
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