It’s worrying that there should have been a need to state something as obvious as the importance of a quick—and fair—investigation into the deadly clashes in Bhola’s Borhanuddin upazila. The October 20 clashes between an angry crowd and the police, sparked by a concocted hate post against Islam on Facebook, left four people dead and more than a hundred others, including policemen, injured. Some 12 Hindu houses and a temple were also vandalised in this connection. Unfortunately, one month into that brutal incident, police have made little headway in their probe into who had orchestrated the whole Facebook episode and the subsequent attacks on police and Hindu properties. The lack of progress means that local Hindu residents continue to live in fear, haunted by their memories of the October 20 mayhem.
It is also a testament to the lack of urgency within the responsible quarters to bring the perpetrators to book. We understand that sensitive cases like this require caution on the part of the investigating officers. But that is all the more reason why the culprits should be identified quickly. Our past experience with police probes into similar incidents leaves room for frustration, however. One may recall that none of the cases filed in connection with incidents of communal violence in Ramu, Cox’s Bazar (2012), Ataikula, Pabna (2013), Nasirnagar, Brahmanbaria (2016) and Horkoli Thakurpara, Rangpur (2017)—all of which were triggered by Facebook posts—have been completed. The police must be careful so that things don’t head in the same direction this time.
The lack of progress in the Bhola case has also brought forth some questions: why are the authorities failing to catch criminals spreading hate posts through social media despite all the digital technologies added to the system in recent years? What is to stop criminals from igniting a similar unrest in the future? What is the government doing to rehabilitate the Bhola victims and to ensure security for the religious minorities in the country? It has been reported that leaders of an Islamist outfit are planning to stage a meeting on November 23 in Bhola to commemorate those who lost their lives in the clashes. The authorities must be careful to deal with any such development and do all that is necessary to enforce law and order in the troubled territory and ensure justice for the victims.