SUNDAY’S clash between local people and the police at Borhanuddin in Bhola, which brewed over a Facebook comment alleged to have defamed Islam and the Prophet, and the death of four in the clash are unpalatable. Police accounts say that a comment made by the Facebook account of a Hindu young man named Biplob Chandra early Thursday and its screenshot did the rounds on Friday and Saturday. The young man on Friday evening filed a general diary, saying that someone hacked into his account and an unnamed caller demanded money from him. The police arrested two Muslim young people that night. But tension started brewing as the Muslims began to gather in Eidgah ground on Sunday for protests. As the police showed Biplob Chandra detained, the protests were withdrawn. But another group, said to be Muslim Tawhidi Janata, reached the ground, demanding death penalty for the ‘offender.’ The police convinced the people into leaving the place and retired to a room near a madrassah. A crowd, armed with firearms, is then reported to have attacked and fired into the police, leaving three of them wounded. The police fired teargas shells and blank shots to disperse the crowd. As the situation went out of control, the police fired, which left four dead.
But what remains worrying is that this is latest in a series of major incidents of sectarian tension, not a one-off incident. Similar incidents took place on November 10, 2017 at Gangachara in Rangpur, on October 30, 2016, at Nasirnagar in Brahmanbaria and at Madhabpur in Habiganj, on July 25, 2014 at Fatikchari in Chittagong, in November 30, 2013 at Santhia in Pabna and on September 29, 2012 at Ramu in Cox’s Bazar. In all of the incidents, the use of religion was played as the pretext with doctored photographs or posting on Facebook for attacks on religious minorities in the absence of an adequate preparedness of the government to tackle the menace. In most of the incidents, tension had brewed for a few days, yet the trouble could not be headed off. In the case of Bhola, the police came to know of someone hacking into the Facebook account on Friday, yet they could not peacefully tackle the incident that took place on Sunday. While religious intolerance, which the government has not been able to adequately attend to over the years, is largely to blame for such unfortunate and shocking incident, delay in the investigation and trial of the incidents may also have contributed to the continuity of such issues.
In Sunday’s incident, the police administration set about an investigation for a report in seven working days and the civil administration another investigation for the report in three days. The committees will, it is expected, submit the reports, as it happened in past incidents, and in time, but any interference, as noticed in the past, in the investigation could mar the whole process. An early justice dispensation and a credible justice delivery in all the past cases could stop the repeat of the same ruse and the trouble it caused.
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