Dhaka: One person was killed and 30 others were injured in attacks on temples in Bangladesh’s Noakhali.
The incident took place on Friday in Chowmuhani area where Section 144 has been imposed to keep the situation under control.
Meanwhile, the Hindu leaders in Bangladesh announced they would not immerse Durga idols in protest against the vandalism of the JM Sen Hall’s puja venue, in the presence of police. They also demanded the removal of a police officer.
Advocate Rana Dasgupta, leader of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian Unity Council, called a half-day strike on Saturday in Chittagong.
“Details will be announced in the press conference on Saturday afternoon in Chittagong Press club,” Dasgupta told IANS on Friday evening.
Following the Friday prayers, a group of people held a meeting at the gate of Andarkilla Jummah mosque and then marched towards JM Sen Hall in a procession, according to witnesses.
The procession broke through police barricades at the intersection and then attempted to breach the locked gate of JM Sen Hall.
Then they proceeded to throw brickbats and rip apart puja banners on the walls around the street.
Advocate Kankan Dev, one of the witnesses told IANS: “We had the plan to start to immerse the idols in the sea after 2.30 p.m. Suddenly we saw them coming… and all the police officers disappeared while the mob was throwing brickbats and tearing down festival banners.”
Amid the violence, female devotees protected the idol from the attackers.
“The leaders of the council, which had organised the puja celebration at JM Sen Hall, declared that they will not carry out immersion of the idols to end the festival unless the police officials punished for the security is ensured,” Dasgupta told IANS.
“Immersion begins from 11 a.m. every year. But the government directed us to get out of the pavillion after 2.30 p.m. this time around due to the Friday prayers. Is there any assurance of safety on the streets when our idols, pandals, and pavilions are being attacked?
“Let the government speak of our safety, then we will immerse the idols. Until then, no pandals in Chittagong metropolitan will carry out idol immersions,” he added.
At around 3 p.m., Dasgupta arrived at the JM Sen Hall intersection and expressed solidarity with the puja celebration council.
Announcing the strike from 6 a.m to 12 p.m. (Saturday), and vowing to continue demonstrations, he said: “We are ready to shed blood if anyone attempts to hinder our demonstration.”
AJM Nasir Uddin, General Secretary of Chittagong City Awami League urged the devotees to withdraw their announcement.
The devotees protested against his anti-people and anti-Hasina role. Later, Nasir took away the idols of JM Sen Hall with police protection to immerse the idols of Goddess Durga which annoyed the Hindu devotees.
Meanwhile, Saleh Mohammed Tanvir, Commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP), and SI Bijoy Basak additional commissioner of Chattogram police (south) asked Dasgupta to withdraw his strike demand.
In response, he said: “As chief of CMP, you have denied protecting the minority and their temple… We want justice against the atrocity and attack on the minorities. If we cannot get justice, this Bangladesh will be ruined like Afghanistan.”