No respite from attacks on Hindus
Attacks continue on Hindus in different places of the country, adding to the woes of the panic-stricken minority community. Hindus have been falling victim to rape, arson and vandalism allegedly at the hands of Jamaat-Shibir and BNP men for the past few weeks surrounding the January 5 national elections.
Since Saturday night, a temple was torched in Tangail, a Hindu man killed in Natore, three Hindu men beaten up in Patuakhali and a straw heap belonging to a Hindu was set ablaze in Jhalakathi.
Meanwhile, the raped women of Jessore's Rishipara and their families have fled their homes fearing further attacks, while male members of the community in different parts of the country are spending sleepless nights, taking turns guarding their villages.
In Tangail, miscreants burnt a Kali temple to ashes at Phulbari village of Kalihati upazila in the early hours yesterday.
Police have arrested one Danes Ali, 45, of Kutia village under the same upazila in connection with the incident.
Unidentified miscreants stabbed to death Haripodo Mandal, 55, and critically injured his wife, Bishakha Rani Mandal, at Bagdope village in Natore's Baraigram upazila early yesterday.
The couple came under attack when they came out of their room hearing the screams of their adopted daughter, Mita Rani, around 12:30am, said Mahfuz Zaman Khan, assistant superintendent of police (Baraigram circle) of Natore.
Asked whether the incident had anything to do with the post-election attacks on the minorities, Mahfuz said it could only be said after investigation.
Haripodo died on the way to the hospital around 1:30am while Bishakha was undergoing treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
Victim's brother Chaitanya Mandal has filed a case with Baraigram Police Station.
Mohammad Ibrahim, officer-in-charge of the police station, said the law enforcers had arrested a youth named Rabin Chandra, 20, in this connection.
Three Hindu businessmen were physically assaulted by a local Awami League leader at Lawkathibazar under Patuakhali Sadar upazila for refusing to sell goods to him on credit, reports our Patuakhali correspondent.
Fatiq Chanda, who runs a tea stall in the bazaar, said Bahadur Sheikh, president of the local ward AL, came to his shop around 10:00pm and asked for a cigarette on credit. When he refused to do that, Bahadur beat him.
Later, the AL leader also beat up two other traders named Sanjoy and Ajoy in the same bazaar.
"We have been suffering from this type of repression by Bahadur and his cadres for a long time now," said Kajal Rani, wife of Fatiq.
Meanwhile, an eerie calm prevails in Jessore's Rishipara where two Hindu women were raped on Wednesday night allegedly by BNP-Jamaat men following the 10th parliamentary elections.
While visiting area, our Jessore correspondent found that Hindu families in the village, like those in Malopara of Abhaynagar, were sending away young girls and women elsewhere fearing fresh attacks by Jamaat-Shibir and BNP men.
Though a police camp has been set up and local youths are patrolling the village at night, Hindu villagers are hardly assured of their safety.
"I have sent my daughter-in-law to her father's house. Though police are patrolling the village, we are scared," said Sandhya Rani Das of Rishipara.
Families of both the rape victims have fled the village apprehending more attacks.
"The car of an influential person of this area was burnt down by anti-election activists. None has been arrested following the incident. Compared to him, we are insignificant people. The same gang that torched his car raped my wife too. So, what justice can we expect? It is wise to leave the village silently," said the husband of one of the rape victims.
A car belonging to Humayun Sultan Sadap, son of AL lawmaker Khan Tipu Sultan, was torched at Rishipara on December 29 while he was campaigning for his father. Police have failed to arrest anyone in this connection.
Meanwhile, members of the minority community in four upazilas of Gaibandha district are worried about fresh violence over the casting of votes in 206 polling centres, where voting was suspended owing to violence on January 5.
The male members of Hindu families in Khatriyapara of Sunderganj upazila have formed night vigilance groups to guard their village from attacks.
The Hindus of the upazilas have asked the government to set up police camps in their villages to prevent attacks.
In Jhalakathi, miscreants set fire to a straw heap belonging to Shantosh Shil on Saturday night in Nalchhiti upazila.
The deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police of Jhalakathi visited the spot and a general diary was filed yesterday in this regard.