12:00 AM, October 16, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 16, 2012

Victims of Ramu Attacks

PM pledges rehabilitation

No festivity in Buddha Purnima this time; PM asks ministers to remain alert during Durga Puja

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Staff Correspondent

No signature sky lanterns will fly during the upcoming Buddhist festivals. Photo: File

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the rehabilitation of the Buddhist people, whose homes and pagodas were attacked in Ramu recently, would be done in the shortest possible time.
She said this while speaking to ministers and state ministers after her weekly cabinet meeting at the cabinet division of the Bangladesh Secretariat.
Meanwhile, Buddhist leaders in Chittagong yesterday said they would observe upcoming festivals in a subdued manner in protest against the attack on September 29.
After the cabinet meeting yesterday, a few ministers told The Daily Star that the Bangladesh Army would carry out the rehabilitation programme of the affected Buddhists so that it was completed quickly.
They said every Buddhist family who had been badly affected during the attack would be given Tk 2-3 lakh. The government would also help restore all temples as they were before.
However, a few ministers expressed concern that two-century-old wood which was used in the pagodas could be hard to find for the rebuild.
The prime minister, referring to a letter of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told her cabinet colleagues that the president has assured them of sending some old Buddhist statues.
She said private banks would help the government in the rehabilitation programmes.
Muslim fanatics torched 12 pagodas and damaged six others and 50 houses on September 29 night in Ramu. After Ramu, a few more attacks were carried out in Teknaf and Ukhia.
Hasina directed the ministers, state ministers and lawmakers to be alert during the upcoming largest festival of the Hindus as she feels there could be a conspiracy like the one in Ramu.
The premier also pointed out that such plots were being hatched worldwide. “So everybody [ministers and state ministers] must remain alert and watchful in their locality so that no vested quarters can play games again,” she was quoted as saying by a minister.
Leaders of Buddhist community in Chittagong yesterday said they would have subdued Shubho Probarona Purnima and Kathin Chibor Dan Utsab festivities to protest against the recent attacks on Buddhists and their pagodas in Cox's Bazar and Chittagong.
Announcing the protest programme at a press conference at Chittagong Press Club yesterday, Buddhist leaders said they would wear black badges during their religious festivals which begins on October 29, reports our staff correspondent in Chittagong.
The press conference was held under the banner of Bangladesh Sammilito Bouddha Samaj, a platform of several Buddhist organisations formed after the recent violence.
Ajit Ranjan Barua, chairman of Bangladesh Bouddha Samity, a component of the platform, said the Buddhist community had been observing the Probarona Purnima with fanfare and had arranged different cultural programmes.
He said this year their celebrations would be subdued.
The Shubho Probarona Purnima is the second largest festival of the Buddhist community.
Ajit said they would continue their protest programme during the month-long Kothin Chibor Dan Utsab, which starts a day after Probarona, at all pagodas in the country.
Accusing the law enforcement agencies of inaction during the attack, Ajit demanded finding the criminals through proper investigation.
Ajit demanded immediate reconciliation between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the country and restoration of the damaged and burnt down pagodas.
The High Court yesterday directed the government to submit a report to it by November 6 on the security measures it had taken before and after the attacks on the Buddhist community in Ramu.
The court passed the order during the hearing on a writ petition that challenged the government inaction in preventing the violence in Ramu on September 29 that eventually spread to Ukhia, Teknaf and Chittagong on September 30.
The High Court bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar said the court would pass further orders on November 6 after receiving the report.
Supreme Court lawyer Eunus Ali Akond on October 3 filed the writ petition saying that local law enforcers failed to take appropriate measures to protect the temples, monasteries and houses of the minority communities.
Eunus Ali on October 14 also filed a supplementary petition seeking the court's order on the authorities concerned to pay damages to the victims of the violence.
The court yesterday also said it would hold hearing on November 6 on the supplementary petition that sought its directive for forming a judicial commission to investigate the matter.
During yesterday's proceedings, Deputy Attorney General Moklesur Rahman told the court that the government had taken security measures after the violence and a report would be submitted to the court.
Meanwhile, ruling party MPs of Cox's Bazar and other public representatives yesterday at the meeting of the district's law and order monitoring committee blasted police officials for negligence during the September 29 mayhem.
MPs, including Abdur Rahman Bodi of Cox's Bazar-4, gave specific examples of negligence of officer-in-charge of Ramu Police Station and Superintendent of Police of Cox's Bazar on that night.
The OC and SP were not present in the meeting yesterday.
Talking to reporters after his Ramu visit, Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandker said necessary actions would be taken if any police official was found to have neglected his or her duty on that night.

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