Bhola Mayhem: No headway in probe
One month into the attacks on law enforcers, houses of Hindus and a temple in Bhola’s Borhanuddin upazila, police are yet to identify the masterminds behind those or the “hackers” who broke into the Facebook page of Biplob Chandra Baidya.
Many members of the religious minority community were still reeling from shock. They demanded prompt trial and punishment of the perpetrators.
On October 20, a group of religious bigots, from a rally organised to protest anti-religious messages spread from the hacked Facebook account, attacked police. The incident left four people dead and at least 100 injured.
Immediately after the clashes, religious zealots vandalised 12 Hindu houses and a temple in the upazila.
Bhola police, with the help of the Police Headquarters (PHQ) in Dhaka, are carrying out an investigation to identify the “hackers”.
A PHQ official, involved in the investigation, said their probe was in the final stages.
“We are hopeful of identifying the ‘hackers’,” he told The Daily Star yesterday wishing anonymity.
Bhola Superintendent of Police Sorker Mohammed Kayser said investigations into three cases were progressing slowly as they were working to identify the real culprits through analysing video footage.
“We don’t want any innocent people to face harassment,” he said.
CASE AGAINST BIPLOB
In a case filed by police under the Digital Security Act on the night of October 20, Biplob was named as the prime accused.
The case was lodged two days after Biplob filed a general diary with the same police station, complaining that his Facebook ID had been hacked and hate conversations were spread through it.
According to the case statement, Biplob was arrested from near his home in Kachia village of Borhanuddin on October 18. However, his family claimed he was taken into police custody after he went to the police station to file the GD.
Seven to eight unidentified people were also accused in the case.
On October 20, police claimed that they arrested the “hacker”, Rafsan Islam Sharif, from Patuakhali and another man named Md Imon from Borhanuddin the previous day.
According to law enforcers, they picked up Sharif after he called Biplob from Patuakhali, and demanded Tk 2,000 for giving him back his Facebook account.
The investigators later told this newspaper that during probe they understood that Sharif didn’t hack the FB account as he had no technical knowledge to do so.
Sharif told police that he called Biplob just to make fun of him after learning about the hacking, sources told this newspaper late last month.
Sub-Inspector Mohaiminul Islam of Borhanuddin police station, also the investigation officer of the case, said they picked up three people in connection with the case. The three -- Biplob, Rafsan and Imon -- are now behind bars.
“We remanded the trio and gleaned some information from them. The Police Headquarters in Dhaka is working to identify the hacker,” he added.
CASE OVER ATTACK ON POLICE
Police had filed another case on October 20, accusing several hundred unnamed people of attacking law enforcers. So far, nine have been arrested in connection with the case.
“We picked up the nine after examining video footage and receiving information from different sources. Five of them gave confessional statements to the court,” said Abdul Kader, investigation officer of the case and also an inspector of Borhanuddin police.
He said they were verifying information to identify the perpetrators of the attack and ascertain their motive.
All the nine arrestees are now in jail.
CASE OVER ATTACK ON HINDU HOUSES
A victim of the arson attack, Satya Prashad Das had filed the case with Borhanuddin police station on October 23.
Police have shown four people arrested in the case lodged over the attacks on homes of Hindus and a temple, said SI Shariful Islam of Borhanuddin police, also the IO of the case.
The arrestees were remanded for five days each, he said.
“It’s difficult to probe the case promptly as the accused are unidentified. The arrestees have given some information about the other attackers and we are working on it,” the IO said.
Shariful expressed optimism that the perpetrators would be held very soon.
Meanwhile, the horrifying memories of the October 20 mayhem were still haunting the Hindu families in Borhanuddin as they fear fresh attacks.
“We live in fear as the Hindu community of the upazila witnessed violence in 1992 after the demolition of Babri Mosque in India and also after the 2001 national election,” said Anil Das, president of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad’s upazila unit.
Meanwhile, the district administration’s one-month ban on meetings and processions ends today, said Bhola Deputy Commissioner Masud Alam Siddique.
“We have talked separately with the leaders of the Muslim and Hindu communities for building trust between them. We will sit in a joint meeting with them very soon,” he added.