An uneasy calm prevails in 70 villages of Faridpur’s Saltha as almost all the men have gone into hiding following cases filed in connection with the April 5 violence in the area.
Tensions are running high as the police have been carrying out drives to arrest people involved in the attacks on different government offices and infrastructures.
Those who were involved in the incident have fled to escape arrest. The ones who had nothing to do with the incident are also running away to avoid harassment.
Five cases have been filed so far over the violence in Saltha. Names of 261 suspects have been mentioned in the cases with 16,800 anonymous accused.
The villages of Saltha are as silent as the grave now.
As there are no men in the villages, crops of thousands of hectares of land remain unharvested and are being allowed to rot in the fields.
Women of different villages were seen selling daily necessities including onions and jute at Saltha Bazar on Sunday morning. Also, some homemakers came to do their grocery shopping.
Salma Begum, who came to sell onions at the market, said: ‘There are no male members in the house. Everyone has fled the house since that incident.’
Only women and children were seen in 70 of 109 villages of Saltha.
Hashi Begum, a local, said: ‘I am feeling scared all the time. I’m living with the fear of a police raid all day long. There are no men in the house. Everyone is fleeing to avoid arrest.’
Md Alimuzzaman, police superintendent of Faridpur, said: ‘Those who were not involved in the incident have no reason to run away from their house. The police are not harassing anyone.’
‘Only those who were involved in the incident are being arrested based on specific information,’ he added.
Two men were killed and 20 others, including eight members of the law enforcement agencies, were injured in Saltha violence.
Faridpur additional superintendent of police Jamal Pasha said, ‘A total of 61 people have been arrested so far over the Saltha incident. One of them, Miran Mollah, 35, died while undergoing treatment in Dhaka.’
Rumours of killing and arrests triggered violent clashes between police and locals in Saltha on the first day of lockdown. The violence saw thousands of people vandalising and torching government establishments.
According to Md Alimuzzaman, police superintendent of Faridpur, a mob attacked several government offices and houses of government officials on April 5, following rumours of some deaths in police firing and assault on two maulanas by cops.
Few offices and houses of government officials were also set on fire by locals during the mayhem that continued from 8:00pm to 11:00pm, the SP said.
The upazila parishad building, the residence of upazila nirbahi officer, the local police station, the office of the assistant commissioner (land) and the sub-registry office were all vandalised by the mob, the SP said.
Vehicles of Saltha UNO and the AC (land) were also torched by the mob, said upazila parishad chairman Wadud Matabbar.
It all happened when a team led by AC (land) Marufa Sultana Khan Hiramoni went to Saltha on April 5 to ensure a smooth lockdown in every corner of the upazila, said UNO Hasib Sarkar.
Seeing a gathering of people at a spot, Marufa Sultana returned to her office and sent a team of police there.
When the cops reached the spot, an altercation ensued but it soon turned violent when the locals attacked sub-inspector Mizanur Rahman, the UNO said.
‘Subsequently, violent clashes broke out across the upazila between local people and the cops in the wake of rumours that some people died in police firing and two maulanas had been assaulted at the police station after their arrests,’ he said.
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