Investigating officers changed 30 times in 7 cases

Idols are seen vandalised at a temple in Nasirnagar upazila of Brahmanbaria
Prothom Alo file photo

Five years have passed since the attacks on the minority community in Nasirnagar, Brahmanbaria, over allegations of hurting religious sentiment through a Facebook post.

On 30 October 2016, a total of 15 Hindu temples and over 300 houses were attacked, torched and looted centering the Facebook post allegedly uploaded by a certain Rasraj Das.

Of the eight cases filed over the incident, charge sheet was submitted in only one case 13 months since the incident. The remaining seven cases have seen changes of 30 investigating officers.

An allegation was raised against Rasraj, a resident of Horinber village under Haripur union of the upazila and fisherman, saying that he posted a picture on Facebook a day before the attacks that hurt religious sentiment. Police detained him that very day. Yet, ‘Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat’ and ‘Khati Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat’ still called protest programmes. The attacks were carried out later.

Rasraj’s lawyer Nasir Mia said that 102 hearing dates have been fixed in the case filed against Rasraj under the ICT Act. He told Prothom Alo that a hearing date has been fixed today.

Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) has submitted forensic reports of Rasraj’s Facebook, mobile phone and memory card where they found no evidence of his involvement. Yet, the case against him saw no headway.

Some incidents of attack on minority communities took place before and after the Nasirnagar incident centering Facebook posts. On 17 October, Hindu community people’s houses were attacked, vandalised and set afire on allegations of hurting religious sentiment on Facebook.

Local police sources said seven cases were filed over attacks on Dattabari temple, Gouramadir of Kashipara, for arson on Chotto Lal Das’ house in Chengapara, on two houses in Pashchimpara and Banikpara and on former upazila vice chairman Anjan Kumar Deb’s house and another case was filed for the attack on Rasraj Das’ house.

Besides, sub inspector Kawsar Husain filed a case against Rasraj under ICT act for hurting religious sentiment. Inspector of district Detective Branch (DB) of police Iqbal Hossain is now investigating the case. He is the fourth investigating officer of the case.

Prothom Alo has talked with five investigating officers of six cases. They said the investigation is going on and depositions of some of the witnesses are yet to be taken. They also said chemical evidence of the arson case is being collected.

The charge sheet would be given once the investigation is completed, the IOs said.

Earlier on 10 December 2017, police accused 228 persons in the charge-sheet submitted over vandalism at Mohakalpara Gouramandir. Local union parishad chairman, leaders of Awami League and BNP were named in the charge-sheet. A total of 104 persons were arrested in the case and all of them were freed on bail. The trial of this case is yet to begin.

Police officials said the picture uploaded from Rasraj’s Facebook ID was saved at a local cyber centre named Al Amin Cyber Point and Studio at Horinber village. A certain Jahangir Mia of Horipur saved the picture. Police seized two hard discs, two pen drives and a mobile phone from Jahangir’s shop at the behest of the court. Jahangir gave a confessional statement under Section 164.

Plaintiff of one of the cases Anjan Kumar Deb said, “Police came for investigation five years ago, a week after the incident. No one contacted us later. Only two days ago, two policemen contacted me after five years. Such is the progess of the case.”

Rasraj’s lawyer Nasir Mia thinks that the investigation is being unnecessarily delayed.

Superintendent of Brahmanbaria police Anisur Rahman said, the investigation of the seven cases are at the final stage and police will submit the charge sheets soon.