Justice is yet to be delivered for the mindless communal attacks on the Buddhist community in Cox's Bazar's Ramu upazila in 2012 although three separate probe reports identifying the attackers and inaction of nonchalant local officials were placed before the High Court seven years ago.
The probes were done in line with HC orders, following separate writ petitions filed as public interest litigations by two Supreme Court lawyers after a mob destroyed 12 pagodas and more than 50 houses in Ramu on this day in 2012.
The HC is still yet to hold the final hearing on the writ petitions and deliver a verdict on them due to reconstitution of its bench and apparent lack of willingness of the lawyers concerned in moving the petitions before the court.
On October 2 and 3, 2012, SC lawyers Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua and Advocate Eunus Ali Akond separately filed the two writ petitions, seeking actions against the perpetrators responsible for the attacks and the negligence of local administration in preventing the incidents.
The probe reports were submitted to the HC bench, led by Justice Mirza Hussain Haider, who is now a judge of the Appellate Division of the SC. Before the elevation of the judge, the jurisdiction of the bench was reconstituted by the chief justice.
One of the probe reports submitted to the HC on May 16, 2013 blamed the failure of the local administration and intelligence and law enforcement agencies in preventing the mindless attacks.
The probe, conducted by a judicial body, identified 298 people as responsible for the attacks. It also made 20 recommendations that include helping improve the competence and standards of the administration, restricting posts on social media, and awakening a sense of patriotism in people, HC sources said.
Another probe led by police blamed the then superintendent of police of Cox's Bazar and officer-in-charge of Ramu Police Station for their failure. While the probe committee recommended action against the then OC AK Nazibul Islam, it did not suggest any action against the then SP Selim Md Jahangir.
The final probe report, by the home ministry, mentioned that 205 people were involved in the mayhem, which was planned at least 10 days ahead in four phases.
The police have reportedly submitted seven charge sheets against 385 people to the lower court concerned in Cox's Bazar, in connection with the cases filed with Ramu police station over the incident.
However, the people accused in the charge sheets do not include any officials in the police, local administration, and intelligence agencies.
Only some leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and BNP, including Tofail Ahmed, chairman of Naikhyangchhari upazila of Bandarban, have been named in the charge sheets.
The petitioners have also been showing apathy in moving for a hearing, causing delays for the HC to give a final decision regarding the matter.
"I am not taking any move for a hearing of the writ petition due to overburdening of the relevant High Court benches with other cases. Besides, the court remained closed at different times due to vacations and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. I will pray to a High Court bench after it starts full regular functions when the pandemic is over," Jyotirmoy Barua told The Daily Star on September 24.
Barrister Jyotirmoy also said almost all of the accused in the Ramu violence cases are now out on bail.
Advocate Md Eunus Ali Akond, the other writ petitioner, told this correspondent on September 26 that the HC bench headed by Justice Mirza Hussain Haider had not held a hearing of his writ petition, as the matter did not get a serial for hearing in the list.
Without elaborating, he said he would not pray to any bench for hearing his petition, as the judges may not accept his petition for its final hearing due to an overburdened caseload.
At least 1,000 more judges need to be appointed to the HC for quick hearing and disposal of cases, Advocate Eunus added.
2012 RAMU VIOLENCE
On September 29 and 30, 2012, a group of zealots unleashed violence on the Buddhist community in Ramu by spreading a rumour that a Facebook post derogatory to the Holy Quran was made on the Facebook page of a local Buddhist youth, Uttam Barua.
An investigation by The Daily Star revealed that the Facebook profile, with the picture demeaning the Holy Quran which apparently instigated the violence, had been faked.
The bigots set fire to Buddhist temples and houses, vandalising and looting more than 50 houses in Ramu. They also attacked Mushurikhola crematorium at Khurushkul village in Cox's Bazar Sadar upazila and tried to attack the houses of the Hindus in Kharulia village.
The following day, the zealots attacked and ransacked five Buddhist temples in the bordering Ukhiya upazila and damaged two Hindu temples in Palongkhali union of the upazila. They also set alight and ransacked Buddhist houses in Hoaikong union of Teknaf upazila.