Violence in Ramu: 10 yrs on, justice still pending
Ten years on, victims of the communal attack on the Buddhist community in Ramu of Cox's Bazar are still waiting for justice.
In late September 2012, attackers unleashed violence on the minority community on the pretext that a Buddhist man, Uttam Barua, demeaned Islam on Facebook.
A subsequent investigation by The Daily Star found that the Facebook account of Uttam Barua may have been hacked to post a photoshopped picture to create the ground for the attack.
On September 20, the attackers set fire to Buddhist temples, vandalised and looted 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 Hindus in Kharulia village.
The following day, they attacked and ransacked five Buddhist temples in Ukhiya upazila and damaged two Hindu temples in Palongkhali union of the upazila. They also torched and vandalised Buddhist houses in Hoaikong union of Teknaf.
As many as 18 cases were filed following the coordinated attacks. All of the cases are still under trial, with all accused on bail.
Faridul Alam, the public prosecutor of Cox's Bazar District and Sessions Judge's Court, said the cases remain pending as the witnesses don't appear before the courts to testify against the accused, many of whom are their neighbours.
Besides, the victims have little interest in pursuing the cases as the government built them new homes and pagodas, he told The Daily Star.
Investigators pressed charges in some cases while investigations into some other cases are yet to complete, he added.
Uttam Barua remains missing since the incident.
In October 2012, Supreme Court lawyers Md Eunus Ali Akond and Jyotirmoy Barua filed two petitions with the High Court, seeking actions against the perpetrators and the local officials for their "negligence" in preventing the incidents. Following the petitions, two inquiries were conducted in line with HC orders.
The probe reports identified the attackers and found negligence of local officials in preventing the attack, but the HC is yet to make any decision on the matter.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin has earlier told this correspondent that the petitioners would have to place the petitions before the HC for their quick hearing.
The probe reports were submitted to the HC bench led by now-retired Justice Mirza Hussain Haider. Before his elevation as a judge of the Appellate Division, the jurisdiction of the bench was reconstituted by the then chief justice.
One of the reports submitted to the HC on May 16, 2013, found the local administration and intelligence and law enforcement agencies failed to prevent the attacks.
The probe by a judicial body identified 298 people responsible for the mayhem.
Another probe led by the police found failures of the then superintendent of police of Cox's Bazar and officer-in-charge (OC) of Ramu Police Station.
A separate home ministry investigation found 205 people were involved in the communal violence, which was planned at least 10 days earlier.
Police have reportedly pressed charges against 385 people. They include some leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and BNP, including Tofail Ahmed, chairman of Naikhyangchhari upazila of Bandarban.
Advocate Eunus Ali Akond told The Daily Star that he would not take any initiative for hearing of his writ petition, as no HC bench wanted to hear the matter.
Jyotirmoy Barua, the other petitioner, could not be reached for comment.