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29 Hindu Homes Torched In Bangladesh Amid Protests Over Durga Puja Violence

The arson incident occurred amid rising communal tension over an alleged blasphemy incident at a Durga Puja venue in Cumilla.

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Dhaka: A group of assailants has set at least 29 homes of Hindus in Bangladesh on fire over an alleged blasphemous social media post amid protests by the minority community against temple vandalism incidents during the Durga Puja celebrations last week, media reports said on Monday.

The arson attack happened late on Sunday on a village in Rangpur district’s Pirgonj upazila, as per the reports.

The police rushed to a fishermen neighbourhood as tension mounted over a rumour that a young Hindu man of the village had ‘dishonoured religion’ in a Facebook post, the report quoted the district’s superintendent of police Mohammad Qamruzzaman as saying.

As the police stood guard around the man’s home, the attackers set fire to other houses nearby, the report said.

The Fire Service Control Room said that their report from the scene indicates that 29 residential houses, two kitchens, two barns and 20 haystacks belonging to 15 different owners were torched in Pirgonj’s Majhipara. An ‘unruly crowd’ has been identified as the cause of the fire.

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The fire service received a report of the fire at 8:45 PM and finally put it out by 4:10 AM, the report said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The arson incident occurred amid rising communal tension over an alleged blasphemy incident at a Durga Puja venue in Cumilla which led to attacks on Hindu temples and clashes between vandals and the police in Cumilla, Chandpur, Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Moulvibazar, Gazipur, Chapainawabganj, Feni and other districts.

Dozens of people have been arrested over the attacks and the spread of communal hatred on social media, the report said.

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The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council alleges that at least four Hindu devotees have died in the attacks in Chandpur and Noakhali.

Meanwhile, the elite anti-crime force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested two more men in connection with the looting and vandalism of temples and shops belonging to the Hindu minority community.

“They were arrested for their involvement in communal violence and inciting people on social media. They were handed over to the local police station,” said Imran Khan, assistant director of the paramilitary force’s legal and media Wing.

The assailants also vandalised and looted several temples and a number of shops owned by Hindus and torched vehicles. They clashed with the police for about seven hours.

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Authorities deployed additional police forces and the paramilitary force, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after several temples and businesses owned by Hindus were vandalised and robbed during clashes.

Approximately 40 people were injured in the violence, including Feni Model Police Station’s Officer-in-Charge Nizam Uddin.

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