They were born and raised as Muslims. Yet, according to Jamaat leaders, they are not Muslim enough because they are not involved with Jamaat politics. Instead, they are with Awami League politics.
So to make them sufficiently Muslim, the Jamaat men in Panchbibi upazila of Joypurhat caught 16 AL activists, forced them into a mosque and then administered "tauba" (oath of penance).
“We've become non-Muslim for supporting Awami League. We're now promising to be Jamaat to become Muslim again. Those who support Awami League are Jewish and if we breach this oath, we will become non-Muslim again. Ameen," the 16 men, aged between 22 and 45, said after the imam.
The "tauba" took place at Bharahuta Jame Mosque around 11:30am on Monday in front of some 300 villagers, witnesses said, adding that the victims were all from Bharahuta village.
Moiz Uddin, an imam of another mosque of the same area, administered the rare oath when local Jamaat leader Zafir Uddin and a BNP activist Abdul Khaleque were present. Zafir Uddin is locally known as Razakar.
Many AL supporters left the area following the incident.
Locals said Abdur Rahim, known to be an influential BNP figure, two Jamaat leaders Abdul Malek Master and Siddique and Ashraf Ali, an office assistant at Ali Mostafabia Fazil madrasa of the area, oversaw the oath.
Despite repeated attempts none of these men could be reached over the phone except for Ashraf.
He dismissed his connection with the incident and went on to deny that the forcible "tauba" ever took place.
But district superintendent of police Hamidul Alam confirmed the incident to The Daily Star yesterday.