The police investigators said on Sunday that they primarily found no credible evidence or eye-witness account of any act of dishonouring the Quran inside a mosque by Abu Yunus Md Shahid-un-Nabi Jewel before he was beaten, killed and burnt at Burimari under Patgram upazila of northern Lalmonirhat district on Thursday evening.
The lynching and burning by a local mob took place in the presence of police personnel, upazila nirbahi officer and an elected representative in the border region.
The investigators said that a similar incident was reported in 2014 and they are now examining whether the same people were behind the killing and burning on Thursday.
‘We did not find any credible evidence of dishonouring the Quran, however, after Asr prayers on the day, the victim was seen looking for something inside the mosque,’ said Lalmonirhat additional police superintendent Rabiul Islam.
He said that they already collected accounts of several witnesses over the incident.
The police were also looking for Hossain Ali, with whom Abu Yunus had quarrelled inside the mosque over the ‘reported dishonouring of the Quran’, many witnesses claimed.
The police, meanwhile, filed a case against 49 individuals and scores of unidentified people for obstructing the government work while the victim’s cousin Saiful Islam filed a murder case and the local union council chairman Abu Sayeed Md Newaz Nishat filed the third case over attacking, vandalising and torching public properties on that evening.
The police investigators said they sent five suspects to the judicial magistrate court in Lalmonirhat seeking permission to interrogate them in custody while a number of locals were quizzed to determine the attackers and instigators.
Abu Yunus was a former librarian at Rangpur Cantonment Public School and College and resident of Shalban Mistripara in Rangpur and his family members said he was mentally disturbed.
The victim’s sister claimed that he was a pious man and anyone who knew him would testify that he performed his prayers five times a day.
The police, meanwhile, were also investigating whether Yunus left the job in 2016, or was sacked.
Abu Yunus and his friend travelled to the area bordering India where they were beaten and rescued by the police while Yunus was snatched away by the mob and beaten again to death.
The mob dragged his body for nearly 300 metres before torching it.
His killing sparked widespread protest while Human Rights Forum Bangladesh on their statement on Sunday demanded justice over the cruelty.
A two-member probe committee formed on Sunday by the National Human Rights Commission also found no proof of dishonouring the Quran.
Al Mahmud Faizul Kabir, director of investigation at NHRC and his deputy director Md Gazi Salauddin were currently on a field visit in Lalmonirhat’s Patgram and were set to submit their probe report within seven working days starting on Sunday.
After visiting the spot, Faizul told journalists that they found no proof of dishonouring the Holy Quran.
‘No one could provide any proof. We have talked to many people about it, and we need to talk to more witnesses to find the motive behind the killing,’ he added.
Lalmonirhat superintendent of police Abida Sultana on Sunday said police along with other agencies were trying to arrest the ‘real culprits’.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim and general secretary Mohammad Shah Alam in a joint statement condemned the burning of a man after he was beaten to death and urged people to be united against fundamentalism and bigotry.
Human Rights Forum Bangladesh in a separate statement condemned the murder.
Bangladesh Chhatra League (Jasod) former joint general secretary Sazzad Hossain in a press release on Sunday said that 16 former leaders of nine progressive and democratic student organisations, in a joint statement made after meeting at Hotel Imperial on Friday, expressed their concern over the killing of a man putting him on fire on a flimsy pretext.
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