Bangladesh: Hindu temples vandalised over Facebook post

Hindus make up nearly 10 percent of the 160 million people who live in the Muslim-majority country. In photo: People in Bangladesh celebrate the last day of a Hindu festival. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

Dhaka, Bangladesh Oct 31, 2016, 09.27 AM (IST)

A day after an angry mob in Bangladesh vandalised at least five Hindu temples over a Facebook post of a Hindu goddess inside a mosque, police told WION on Monday 15 people have been detained. Nine have been arrested in connection with the violence and paramilitary border guards have been deployed in the area to prevent further attacks, police told AFP.

Property and houses were also set ablaze, a community leader said.

The incident took place in the eastern town of Nasirnagar, after a local Hindu fisherman allegedly posted an edited photograph of a Hindu deity inside the Kaaba, in Saudi Arabia's Mecca, on social media.

"We have also arrested a 30-year-old Hindu man for the Facebook post. He'll be charged with breaching internet laws," Nasirnagar police chief Abdul Kader told AFP, adding the post had already been taken down. 

Two cases have been filed against the vandals Abdul Kader, told WION. 

District police chief Mizanur Rahman told AFP two Islamist groups had been demonstrating to demand the arrest and execution of the fisherman, when a group of between 100 and 150 men broke away and attacked the temples. 

Tension continues to prevail

While the post has been withdrawn and the fisherman arrested, tension continues to prevail in the area, locals told WION.

Bangladesh-based rights group, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), condemned the attack and expressed grave concern over the attack on the Hindu community, saying the accused must be brought to book and a  compensation be provided to the the affected families the vandalised Hindu temples.

200 Hindu houses vandalised: Community leader

A local Hindu community leader told AFP that at least 15 temples were vandalised, and numerous Hindu idols were smashed during the hour-long rampage.

"They vandalised 200 Hindu houses and set eight shops on fire. At least 150 men were injured as they tried to resist the attack," said Somesh Roy, a community elder, to AFP.

"We are tired of such repeated incidents. It is very unfortunate that none of the culprits of previous attacks are brought to justice," said the national Hindu community leader Rana Dasgupta to AFP.

Bangladesh has recently witnessed a number of attacks on religious minorities, secular bloggers, publishers, writers and foreigners, many of which have been claimed by Islamist militants.

Hindus make up nearly 10 per cent of the 160 million people who live in the Muslim-majority country.

The country witnessed similar attacks on Hindu temples after the controversial 2014 elections when a secular party led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won polls boycotted by the opposition.

In 2012, Muslim mobs torched Buddhist monasteries, houses and shops in the coastal town of Cox's Bazaar after a Buddhist youth posted an alleged defamatory photo of the Koran on social media.

(With inputs from Pooja Mehta, WION)