Police have detained 42 people in connection with the incidents of arson, looting and vandalism of the houses of the Hindu community in Pirganj, Rangpur, following the rumours on Facebook.
The incidents took place in Kasba Majhipara village of North Karimpur in Ramnathpur union of the district on Sunday night. The district administration has taken immediate steps to provide food and shelter to the victims.
According to witness, police and law enforcement sources, a guy named Paritosh Roy (18), son of Prashenjit Roy of Majhipara village, could have spread rumour on Facebook on Sunday noon. Reporting the incident of rumour to Pirganj police station, locals demanded arrest of Paritosh.
Tensions have been running high in the area since Sunday noon and police, the municipal mayor and Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) went to house of Paritosh to avoid any untoward incidents. However, before that, Paritosh ran away with his family.
Meanwhile, mob cordoned off various houses of minority communities in Karimpur-Kasba-Majhipara area, half a kilometer away from Paritosh’s house. At around 9:00pm on Sunday, a group of miscreants started vandalising and setting fire on some houses and shops. Over 20 houses including shops were set on fire.
Along with others, Sumati Rani and Pradeep Chandra lost their cow and a van as their houses were burnt. Besides, one Nikhil had his shop burnt down to ashes. Heads of cattle and household furniture were looted as well.
Residents took refuge at different places including paddy fields. The images of the Hindu temple in the area were also vandalised.
To control the situation, police fired blank shots and rubber bullets. The situation came under control at 1:00am Monday.
Later, the Deputy Commissioner (DC), police superintendent and other senior officials of the administration stayed there throughout the night.
Additional BGB, RAB and police personnel were deployed in the area. The law enforcers detained 42 people in this connection.
Following the incident, Upazila and district administrations distributed food among the victims on Monday morning.
About the incident, Rangpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Biplob Kumar Sarkar said, “A boy, aged 15-16, named Paritosh Sarkar posted some status on Facebook on Sunday. In the aftermath, countless people got agitated and began to gather to attack his house.”
He also said, “As soon as the news got viral, the police force led by Officer in Charge (OC) and the people of the Upazila administration led by the UNO took position there. Besides, DC and others visited the spot. At that time, we could at best took control of the environment around the house of Paritosh. We were able to defend his house from the attack.”
Later, some people attacked some houses of Hindu community in remote villages without any provocation, looted cattle, burnt and vandalised them. The images in the temple were also vandalized. It is half a kilometer away from the house of Paritosh. This means it has been done as part of a well-planned plan, the SP added.
“We have taken this incident very seriously. District administration, police administration, RAB are all working together. And whoever is involved in this incident and those who have committed atrocities, arson, violence, won’t be spared,” the SP said.
Since there is still tension in the area, the administration is emphasizing the restoration of peace in the area.
Meanwhile Rangpur DC Asib Ahsan said, “We arranged dry food for them at night and cooked food has also been distributed on Monday. Moreover, initiatives have been taken to rebuild or renovate the damaged houses.”