Temples rebuilt, not trust
Remember the Buddhist youth Uttam Barua, the deed writer whose Facebook profile image had been doctored to make a fake post that provoked an unprecedented attack on the Buddhist community of Ramu exactly a year ago? Islamist fanatics vandalised and torched Buddhist temples and houses in Ramu and Ukhia of Cox's Bazar in a wave of attacks, using the fake Facebook post that demeaned the holy Quran.
Uttam, 28, has been untraced since the day. Even his family does not know of his whereabouts.
Their crumbling thatched hut at Haitupi village in Ramu is proof that good days have come to an end for the family.
Uttam's mother, his wife Rita Barua, four-year-old son Aditya and physically challenged sister Jinia huddle together in the dilapidated house, weary of the wait for his comeback.
His father Sudeepta Barua now works at a shop in Chittagong to sustain the family. He sends home half of his Tk 4,000 monthly salary.
He too does not visit the family in Ramu or disclose where he works in Chittagong, fearing further trouble descending on the family.
An investigation by The Daily Star exposed the forged Facebook profile that was used to instigate the hate attacks, as well as the inaction of the local administration and intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The government has rebuilt and renovated several of the 19 temples and 65 houses vandalised and burnt down during the mayhem, but could do little to allay the fears of the Buddhist community.
"If it returns my son, the government may hang me. But please give my son back," said a weeping Madhu Barua, the 55-year-old mother when this correspondent visited their cottage.
With a face as gloomy as it can be, Rita, 26, tried to calm her mother-in-law, but in vain.
"I have not heard his voice even once since the attack. We do not know whether he is dead or alive." Now she breaks down in tears.
After the rampage began on the evening of September 29, the fanatics vandalised the house of Uttam and beat his wife up.
In a worse turn of events, his mother and aunt Aadi Barua were arrested the next day following a case filed by the police. The two were later released on a High Court order.
Of the 19 cases filed in connection with the attacks, the law enforcers have already submitted charge-sheets in seven cases and are going to do so in six more cases in the first week of October.
But many local politicians, who led the procession of fanatics before the vandalism, are at large, a sight that still makes the Buddhists panicky.
On August 12, Uttam's wife wrote to the prime minister seeking her intervention in finding her husband, but to no avail.
The family has received no government assistance so far, said Rita, adding that she had tried but failed to meet the PM when the latter visited Ramu to inaugurate the renovated temples on September 3.
Many would say a few words of sympathy, but no one, including the leaders of the community, dared to speak for the family out of fear that they might come under attack again.
"We are facing various kinds of dangers. Why invite some more?" said Tarun Barua, a leader of the community.
Its abject poverty did not allow the family to send Uttam's son to school this year.
"Haunted by the attack, Aditya, the son, becomes hysterical every day when darkness falls. He screams, asking us to close the door and window," said Rita.
The child forgets the family can no longer afford to fix the door or the window vandalised by the fanatics.