Spearheaded by Jamaat
Two pairs of brothers, all involved in Jamaat-Shibir politics, spearheaded the January 5 attack on the Malopara Hindu community, with two locally influential Jamaat leaders allegedly pulling the strings.
Mahfuzur Rahman and Mahmudur Rahman, sons of Avaynagar Upazila Jamaat Ameer Maulana Abdul Aziz, pounced on Hindus from the Chengutia Bazar side of Malopara with a gang of 40 to 50 cadres riding three nosimons (human hauliers).
Two diehard Jamaat members -- Badrul and his brother Quader -- led another team from another side. They were assisted by two BNP activists, Qashem and Kibria.
Another group came by a trawler through the river Bhairab flowing by Malopara, a village mostly inhabited by fishermen, under Avaynagar upazila, Jessore.
After the polling closed, the duo spread a rumour that Hindus had killed a Shibir activist named Abu Bakar.
Mahsin Hawlader, sub-inspector of Avaynagar Police Station, has filed a case over the assaults on the Malopara Hindus. He named 39 attackers, including the two sons of Aziz.
Maulana Aziz, who is also a madrasa superintendent, was involved in the Jamaat-Shibir mayhem following the pronouncement of the death sentence on Delawar Hossain Sayedee.
Witnesses and locals say many of the Malopara attackers were from Aziz's village Baliadanga, adjacent to Malopara.
Of his two sons, Mahfuz is the secretary of the upazila unit Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat. Mahmud was a cadre of this organisation in Rajshahi University and now stays in the locality.
Conversations with the people of Malopara and its neighbouring villages revealed that Aziz and another Jamaat leader Maulana Yusuf had orchestrated the attack.
Mukul Sarker and Bishwajit Sarker were among the villagers who saw some youths at Yusuf's house, just two hundred metres off Malopara, on election day.
These were the cadres who intimidated the voters who were on way to Chapatola madrasa polling centre around 10:00am on January 5.
Bishwajit told a government probe committee and journalists that the group Yusuf was sheltering hacked him in front of many villagers as he refused to give in to their threat.
Another villager named Bikash said he was beaten by those youths near Yusuf's house. He also saw them hurling bombs at the polling centre around 11:00am, he added.
Locals alleged some BNP men were also involved in the rampage.
A BNP activist of Prembag village requesting anonymity claimed that his party had wanted to stop the violence and even sought help from the police but did not get any timely response.
“Then we called our leaders in Baliadanga and requested them to resist the attackers. But these Shibir men would not listen to anyone other than their leaders,” he said.
These findings of The Daily Star also corroborate the government probe report, submitted to the district administration on January 15.
It notes that local ruling party supporters and activists were divided into two factions centring on the election; it made the attacker's job easier.
Talking to witnesses, The Daily Star as well as the probe body found that most of the attackers were very young, mostly madrasa students of adjacent villages.
These correspondents could not reach any of the local Jamaat leaders. All the known faces of Jamaat-Shibir have left the areas.
The Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component of the alliance, denies all the allegations.
In a statement posted on its website on Monday, its acting secretary general Shafiqur Rahman said, “Immediately after the farcical election, the government engaged its party cadres to carry out attacks on the houses and establishments of the minorities.”
Contacted, Shahabul Haque Sabu, secretary general of Jessore district BNP, said none from the 18-party alliance was involved in the attacks.