Attack On Ahmadiyyas: ‘The culprits are around you’

Victims scream as railways minister visits affected areas

Our Correspondent, Thakurgaon

Tue Mar 7, 2023 Daily Star

ahmadiyya villages

Photo: Collected

Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan yesterday faced an outraged Ahmadiyyas community, who came under attacks by Islamist outfits on Friday, during his visit to the affected areas in Panchagarh.

Around noon, the minister, also Panchagarh-2 lawmaker and president of the district Awami League, visited Shalshiri village, where members of the Ahmadiyya community live, to express his sympathies to the victim families.

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The victims alleged to him that some of the attackers were present there right at that time.

Many of them shouted, “The attackers are still around you [minister].” After that, they began chanting slogans, demanding punishment to the culprits.

The minister appeared to be embarrassed with the chaotic situation around him. He later announced he would see to bringing the attackers to book and left the area.

Seeking anonymity, a victim said, “We could identify at least one person who led the arson attack on our area on Friday, and he was right here when the minister came to us today [yesterday].

“We have shared the attacker’s name with the law enforcers.”  

Earlier, around 11:00am, the minister visited Ahmednagar, another village of the Ahmadiyyas, and distributed relief among the victims.

At that time, Motaleb Hossain Khan, a community leader, said, “We are grateful to you [for the relief]. But we don’t want relief. Rather, we want security so that we can live here peacefully. We want justice.”

Speaking at the relief distribution event, the railways minister claimed  BNP-Jamaat forces carried out the attacks.

“The government is investigating the incident to check whether there were any administrative weakness or if law enforcers were negligent in their duties during the violence.”

Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, also AL general secretary, at a Dhaka programme said the government will probe into the Panchagarh violence and identify who incited the attacks.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan also told reporters at his Secretariat office yesterday that BNP-Jamaat people were responsible for the attacks.

Visiting three villages — Ahmednagar, Shalsheri and Phultala – yesterday, this correspondent noticed that people of the Ahmadiyya community were still in a state of panic.

Although two schools were open yesterday, the children did not attend as parents remained in fear of further attacks, locals said.

Even the area’s lone medical centre, Ahmadiyya Medical and Diagnostic Centre, has been nonfunctional since the attack.

Meanwhile, six cases were filed with Panchagarh Police Station in connection with the violence, accusing 31 named and around 8,200 unnamed people.

Abdul Latif Miah, officer-in-charge of Panchagarh Police Station, said 81 people have so far been arrested and additional forces have been deployed in the area to maintain law and order.

On Friday, two people were killed and at least 30 others, including seven policemen, injured in a clash between law enforcers and supporters of Islamist organisations demonstrating against the Ahmadiyya community.

The agitators set fire to many houses and four shops belonging to the members of the community. They also attacked a local police station, vehicles of law enforcers and a traffic police office.

The Ahmadiyyas claimed that some 150 houses were looted and vandalised before being torched.

Members of several Islamist organisations, including the Islamic Andolon Bangladesh, were staging demonstrations since Thursday, demanding cancellation of the three-day-long Jalsa Salana, an annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya community.


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