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Bangladesh Violence: Religious Protests Among Masses

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Violence erupted across Bangladesh last week. It followed after a photo of the Quran being put on the knee of a Hindu idol during Durga Puja festival celebrations in the eastern region of Cumilla went viral on social media on Wednesday. 

Read further for details.

What Happened

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The alleged burning of the Quran during a Hindu religious festival last week sparked turmoil across Bangladesh. In the days that followed, enraged mobs assaulted Hindu temples and battled with police in various parts of Bangladesh. This has resulted in at least six people being killed, including two Hindus. Over 100 people have also gotten injured.

Police have reported further violence in pockets of the country. In the southern village of Begumganj, a group of over 200 people reportedly attacked and stabbed a temple committee executive member to death. This attack happened while members of Begumganj’s Hindu community were preparing to perform the concluding rituals of the 10-day Durga Puja celebrations.

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At least four more people were murdered late Wednesday. This happened after police opened fire on a crowd of approximately 500 people storming a Hindu temple in Hajiganj, one of several towns affected by the unrest.

Clashes with Police, Internet Services Cut

Thousands of Muslim demonstrators also threw bricks at police in Dhaka and Chittagong. In response, the police used tear gas and rubber bullets. In an apparent attempt to prevent the violence from spreading, authorities cut off high-speed cellular internet services. According to allegations in Bangladeshi media on Sunday, at least 20 Hindu homes in Rangpur’s Pirganj neighbourhood were set ablaze.

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Tensions in the neighbourhood rose after charges that a Hindu man’s Facebook post disgraced Islam, according to a police official quoted by the bdnews website.
This event occurred a day after 10,000 demonstrators flocked to the streets outside Dhaka’s largest mosque. Many demonstrators were also holding flags of Islamist political organizations.

Authorities said they have deployed extra security, including a paramilitary border guard, to control any more protests. However, they have not confirmed the exact figures.

Bangladesh PM Response, Counter-Protests

On Thursday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met with Hindu leaders and promised strong countermeasures. According to the Press Trust of India, the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has organized a sit-in and hunger strike in Chittagong. The strike will commence on October 23 in protest of atrocities on Hindus. Further protests will be held at Dhaka’s Shahbagh and Chittagong’s Andarkilla, according to a forum spokesman. Before delivering the declaration, the forum launched a six-hour strike in Chittagong.

Read more news by the DU Express team here.

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