Ramu attack was well-planned
The mayhem in Ramu on September 29 night was a well-planned attack on the Buddhist community designed at least ten days ahead, claimed a government probe report.
The plan was executed in four phases, it said.
The probe body, however, could not find out how the plan was made and by whom, where, and when as it was pressed for time and had procedural limitations.
It suggested that a comprehensive and intensive investigation be undertaken to unearth the mystery.
The home ministry formed the four-member committee led by the Additional Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong, Mohammad Nurul Islam, on September 30.
The probe body submitted its report to the High Court through the attorney general's office yesterday as per the court's earlier order.
The Daily Star obtained a copy of the 96-page report, which was finalised on October 17.
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua filed a writ petition on October 2, challenging the “inaction” of the police in protecting the Buddhist temples and houses of locals in Ramu, Cox's Bazar.
The HC on October 15 directed the government to submit a report to it by November 6 on the security measures it had taken before and after the attack on the Buddhist community there.
The bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo yesterday fixed November 13 for passing an order on the issue.
The report came up with 22 recommendations and an observation that it was regrettable that there had been no intelligence information about such a well-planned attack.
A mob destroyed 12 pagodas and more than 50 houses in Ramu on the night of September 29. The violence was apparently triggered by the image of a Buddhist youth's facebook page that had been photo-shopped, revealed The Daily Star investigation. The page had an image derogatory to Islam pasted on it.
In its report, the probe committee said the first out of the four phases of the plan execution was to create a religious sentiment while the second was for assembling people quickly.
In the third phase, the assembled crowd was made rowdy with provocation and in the fourth the attack, looting and arson were carried out, said the report.
However, the probe committee said the derogatory photo of the holy Quran was tagged in Uttam Kumar Barua's facebook account on September 18 and 26 more facebook friends of Uttam “liked” the photo.
"It means the violence in Ramu took place ten days after the tagging of the photo and the masterminds chalked out their design by this time," the report said.
The probe body mentioned several motives behind the attack. The motives include achieving political gains by putting the government in an embarrassing situation, attempting to prove the government failed through deteriorating law and order, creating a sense of insecurity among the religious minority by damaging communal harmony and weakening the government's stance to prevent Rohingya intrusion.
The other motives include destroying the good relationship between Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries and development partners.
It, however, stressed the need for a combined intelligence agency effort and in-depth and comprehensive investigation to find out the main motive behind the incident.
The probe report gave a detailed description of the incident and mentioned that 205 people, including Uttam Kumar Barua, and Abdul Moktadir alias Alif, a student of a private polytechnic institute in Chittagong, were involved.
Local made arms--axes, iron rods, large knives--and diesel, petrol, gun powder, kerosene, bitumen, old tyres of cars, tree branches and bamboo sticks were used during the attack, said the report.
It also said a number of rioters were madrasa students and their teachers, wearing round-neck T-shirts and white caps on their heads.
The report recommended identifying the people involved --- the planners, conspirators and instigators.
It said the officer-in-charge (on duty) at Ramu Police Station could not realise the gravity of the incident and that the situation could have been tackled had proper security measures been taken at the beginning of the incident.The probe body recommended security measures at Buddhist-dominated areas. It also argued for controlling measures so that humiliating and immoral contents, photos, and information that hurt religious sentiments could not be easily accessed on social communication sites like Facebook,Twitter and Youtube.