DHAKA: At least 53 people have been arrested in Bangladesh for their alleged involvement in an arson attack on over 30 houses of Hindus following rumours that a youth from the minority community published an offensive Facebook status, media reports said today.
Police have alleged that the country's largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, a key ally of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, carried out the attack on Hindus to create unrest ahead of the next parliamentary elections, bdnews24.com reported.
"Jamaat tried to fuel unrest as elections are nearing," Rangpur Superintendent of Police Mizanur Rahman told reporters after inspecting the scene yesterday.
He said that the police have identified four persons who instigated the attacks.
The police have filed two cases over the incident at the Kotwali and Gangachara police stations and so far arrested 53 suspects, Rangpur's Additional Superintendent of Police Zakir Hossain was quoted as saying by Dhaka Tribune.
One person was killed when police opened fire to disperse the crowd that torched the houses of Hindus in Rangpur district's Thakurpara village, about 300 km from Dhaka, on Friday, the report said.
At least five persons were injured when police fired rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas shells to bring the situation under control, it said.
The protesters claimed that they were infuriated by a defamatory status published from the Facebook account of a person who hails from the Thakurbari village a few days ago, the report said.
Before the police intervened, the perpetrators had torched at least 30 Hindu houses before looting and vandalising them, the report said.
A crowd of 20,000 people had reportedly gathered from six to seven neighbouring villages before the attack was launched by a group of people, it said.
The police had a tough time dealing with the protesters and restoring the law and order situation in the area, the report said.
Six persons with bullet injuries were rushed to a nearby hospital when one of them succumbed to his injuries, the report said.
There were traffic snarls after the mob blocked the Rangpur-Dinajpur highway to protest against the police action.
A large number of police personnel have been deployed in the area where the situation was tense, Kotwali police station Officer-in-Charge (Operation) Moktarul Islam said.
The district administration has formed a three-member inquiry committee, headed by Additional District Magistrate Abu Rafa Mohammad Rafiq, to investigate the incident and submit a report in seven days, the report added.