A total of 23,911 persons were made accused in 85 cases filed over the incidents of attack on Hindu temples, puja mandaps and houses in 16 districts of the country following the incident of Cumilla.

A total of 683 have been arrested so far. The accused and arrested persons include leaders-activists of BNP-Jamaat and Chhatra League. Also, many with no political affiliation were made accused and got arrested. It was found after analysing the case statements that most of the around 24,000 accused persons are unidentified. Prothom Alo correspondents gleaned this information from the districts.

Political leaders-activists made accused

Accused in the cases filed in Chandpur, Noakhali, Rangpur, Chattogram and Feni include leaders-activists of political parties, namely opposition BNP and Jamaat. Leaders-activists of the two opposition parties are also among the arrested people. A leader of the ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League has been arrested in Rangpur.

Jamaat leader and former president of Chhatra Shibir, Md Kamal Uddin Abbasi, 40, has been arrested over the incident of vandalising the puja mandap in Chandpur’s Hajiganj and clashes with the police. He gave a confessional statement before the court.

Superintendent of Chandpur police Milon Mahmud said a total of 10 cases have been filed over Hajiganj violence. Jamaat leader Kamal Uddin and 32 others have so far been arrested.

Sub-inspector of Chowhumahi police outpost Jamal Hossain filed a case over the attacks on Hindus and policemen in Noakhali’s Begumganj. BNP’s central vice chairman Barkatullah has been made accused in the case. BNP’s youth wing Jubo Dal’s Noakhali district unit president Manjurul Ajim alias Sunam has been named No. 3 accused in the case while 10-12 more leaders-activists were made accused.

In the case statement, the plaintiff said there is a rumour that former lawmaker of Noakhali-3 and BNP vice president Barkatullah instigated local leaders-activists and people through various ways to launch the attack.

Jubo Dal president Manjurul Azim told Prothom Alo that he left for Dhaka the day before the attack (14 October) after appearing at court. He has been staying in Dhaka since then.

The Jubo Dal leader said it is unfortunate that he has been made accused of vandalism and attack on the Hindu community on 15 October.

District BNP’s general secretary lawyer Abdur Rahman told Prothom Alo that police are making BNP leaders-activists accused in case after case over the attack on the Hindu community at the behest of the ruling party. As a result, the real perpetrators are getting away and BNP-Jamaat leaders are being harassed.

A total of 60 persons have so far been arrested over attacks, loot and arson on the people of Hindu community at Majhipara village under Pirganj upazila in Rangpur. Among the arrested are a BCL leader and muezzin of a local mosque. Both gave confessional statements before the court on Sunday and confessed of their involvement with the attack. BCL leader Saikat Mandal, who was expelled from the party after the incident, is a masters student of Rangpur Carmichael College while Rabiul Islam, arrested by RAB, is a muezzin of Boterhaat Jaam-e-Masjid in Ramnathpur union.

Assistant superintendent of Pirganj circle police Kamruzzaman said a total of 64 people have been arrested in three cases filed under Digital Security Act and another filed for arson, vandalism and loot.

In Chattogram, seven cases were filed over attacks on puja mandaps in the city and district. Chattogram south district Jamaat ameer (chief) Jafar Sadek, Banshkhali upazila BNP’s former general secretary Mujibur Rahman, Hathazari upazila BNP’s joint convenor Mahbubul Alam Chowdhury are among the BNP-Jamaat leaders made accused in those cases.

Ten leaders and activists of Jubo Odhikar Parishad, an organisation led by former DUCSU vice president Nurul Haque Nur, have been arrested over vandalising the gate of JM Sen puja mandap in the city.

Police claimed they were planners and attackers and they have been identified from CCTV footage.

General people, physically challenged accused too

Four cases have been filed in Feni accusing a total of 650 people and 18 of them were arrested. Of them, one is Jubo Dal leader and another is a Swecchasebak Dal leader. The other 16 arrested are: Ahnaf Tawsif Mahmud Labib, 22, of Rampur village in Feni pourashava, Mehedi Hasan Munna, 22, of South Lemua village of Sadar upazila, Abul Mannan, 46, of Masterpara of pourashava, Enamul Haque Rakib, 20, of Purba Motbi village of Sadar upazila, Md Miraz, 33, of South Demra area of Nalchiti upazila in Jhalokathi, Faisal Ahmed Al Amin, 19, of Hossenpur upazila in Kishoreganj, Abdus Samad Junaid, 19, of Kalikapur village under Parshuram upazila in Feni, Md Sohel, 26, of Mawlana Para of Lakshipur Sadar upazila, Moazzem Hossain, of Feni Sadar upazila, Saiful Islam, 38, Md Romon Sheikh, 16, and Towhidul Islam Zidan, 19, of Bagerhat’s Morelganj upazila, Abdullah Al Miazi, 19, of Noakhali’s Senbagh upazila, Azim Sharif, 28, of Feni pourashava and Saidul Islam, 29, of Hazari Road.

Asked about the arrested persons, Feni model police station’s inspector (investigation) Monir Hossain said the investigating officers of the cases are looking into the matter and they are trying to find if the accused people have any political affiliation.

He, however, said that the political connections of the arrested persons are yet to be known.

Meanwhile, district BNP’s member secretary Alal Uddin claimed police arrested pourashava Jubo Dal’s joint convenor Sayedul Islam and Poura Swecchasebak Dal’s joint convenor Azim Sharif. Their arrests left other leaders and activists of the party worried.

The BNP leader demanded the real culprits be arrested after a fair investigation.

A physically challenged person has been made accused at a case filed over the attack at Sri Sri Kajirpar temple at Barthi union in Barishl’s Gournadi upazila. The case statement said the physically challenged man ran away after vandalizing an Idol at the temple.

The physically challenged person is Rafiqur Islam alias Shahin, 56, of Dhuriail village in Gournadi upazila. He is a member of upazila BNP. The allegation has been raised that Barthi union Awami League president Abdur Razzaque made the temple committee general secretary file the case against Rafiqur.

The Awami League leader denied the allegation.

Rafiqul Islam said, “I’m a physically challenged person by birth. I can’t walk properly as my left leg is short. Yet, I’ve been made accused of attacking the temple accompanying 50-60 criminals, vandalising and looting valuables worth Tk 300,000. Even the case statement said that I ran away while police reached the spot. I’ve been accused out of political vengeance.”

Upazila Hindu Buddhisht Christian Kalyan Oikya Front’s president Dulu Roy and general secretary Manik Mukherjee said filing a case against a physically challenged person is inhuman and an act to make Hindu people controversial. His name should be dropped from the case.

Gournadi model police station’s sub inspector Abdul Haque said they are investigating the incident and steps would be taken upon consultation with high officials if the physically challenged person is found innocent.

Sylhet Metropolitan Police’s Jalalabad police station filed a case naming 42 persons and 200-250 unidentified persons over the attacks on two puja mandaps at Hawlderpara in Sylhet city on 15 October. Police arrested 12 accused persons on 16 October night. The law enforcers could not arrest anyone else till Saturday.

Jalalabad police station’s officer in charge Nazmul Huda Khan said they did not get any political affiliation of the arrested 12 persons.

Nine cases have been filed in Cumilla after violence took place at various places of the city, Debidwar and Daudkandi upazila erupted in the districts. Three city councillors of Jamaat include 92 named persons while 700 more unidentified persons were also made accused. A total of 56 have been arrested.

Kotwali model police station’s OC Anwarul Azim said no political leaders have so far been arrested in those cases.

Police arrested 21 persons over attack and arson at Kali Temple in Cumilla’s Thakurpara. Councillor Golam Kibria of ward no. 1, councillor Mosharraf Hossain of ward no. 6 and councillor Ekram Hossain of ward no. 8 have been named in the case. But none of them was arrested.

Cases, arrests more in two districts

The highest number of cases is in Noakhali and Chattogram. The number of accused is also most in these two districts. A total of 7,961 people have been made accused in 24 cases in Noakhali while 162 have been arrested. In Chattogram, a total of 3,850 people have been accused in seven cases. Of them, 201 were arrested. Among the accused, 350 were named and 3500 were unidentified.

According to information from different police stations in Noakhali, the miscreants attacked and vandalised different temples and mandaps from 13 to 15 October. Over the incidents, 10 cases were filed in Begumganj, 10 in Hatia, and one each in Chatkhil, Sonaimuri, Senbagh and Kabirhat.