Eminent civil society representatives yesterday demanded an independent and impartial commission for probing the recent arson attack on the Hindu community in Rangpur and bringing the culprits to book at the earliest.
They also demanded the authorities concerned pay adequate compensation to the victims and take action against the members of law enforcement agencies as well as the local administration who neglected their duties.
The compensation should be collected from the attackers, they also said while speaking at a press conference at Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Under the banner of Nagorik Samaj, representatives of five civic and rights organisations, including Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), organised the conference to present the findings of their recent visit to Thakurbari village under Gangachara upazila in Rangpur.
They visited the area on November 15 to 16 and talked to the victims, local people and journalists. The other organisations are Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), Nijera Kori and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum.
On November 10, hundreds of zealots attacked Hindu houses in the village, protesting a Facebook post “demeaning Islam”. The attackers claimed that it was posted from the account of a local man named Titu Chandra Roy. They torched 11 houses and vandalised many others.
A man was killed and at least 20 others were injured after police fired rubber bullets and teargas to bring the situation under control.
Following the incident, police filed two cases accusing 2,000 people and arrested Titu on November 14. He was remanded twice. He also gave a confessional statement.
Speaking at the programme, the civil society representatives strongly condemned the remand of Titu, sending him to jail and taking confessional statement from him forcibly.
Barrister Sara Hossain, honorary executive director of BLAST, said Titu was arrested over an alleged Facebook post, but keeping him in jail without granting bail was improper.
He is not that harmful that if released, he would commit a crime, she added.
“What is the logic behind keeping him in custody for more than three weeks without any judgement?” she asked.
Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir said, “We know the process... how the law enforcement agencies take confessional statements.”
The attacks on the religious minority are recurring due to an ineffective role of law enforcers and a lack of justice, she said.
The government has to clarify why such untoward incidents take place, she added.
Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad; Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bela; and Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD; also spoke.