PM assures Buddhists of action against temple attackers
Dhaka: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday assured Buddhists of stern action against perpetrators of attacks on their temples and homes in southeastern Bangladesh and promised to rebuild the damaged shrines.
“Please show restrain, I assure you that none linked to the heinous crime will be spared,” Hasina told the Buddhist delegation ‘United Buddhist Citizen Protection Committee’ (UBCPC) at her official Ganobhaban residence.
During the attacks last weekend, a mob torched 11 Buddhist temples, damaged five others and ransacked at least 30 homes of Buddhists in southeastern Ramu with violence also erupting in Patia of Chittagong, and Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar the following day.
Hasina urged followers of all faiths to remain alert against recurrence of any such incident in future anywhere in the country.
“I think it’s not the end. The hoodlums have many ill motives and they might create anarchies in the days ahead. So, I request every citizen to remain careful to thwart any such plot,” she said.
The premier also promised government assistance to rebuild the destroyed or torched monasteries before the upcoming ‘Prabarana Purnima’, a major Buddhist festival at the end of the current month and rehabilitation of the affected families including rebuilding of the houses that have been gutted.
Police have already arrested nearly 300 suspects in connection with the attacks. An official enquiry into the attacks is also underway while media investigations indicated that it was a planned attack.
Several newspapers and rights groups found that hundreds of people suddenly thronged the scene at midnight last Saturday jamming hired trucks and buses from distant areas with the attacks carried out targeting the temples and some houses alone, carefully avoiding casualties.
The reports said Muslim Rohindyas from across the border in the Buddhist dominated Rakhine state of Myanmar who fled their homes to evade the recent sectarian clash in their native place played a major role.
The Buddhist delegation told the premier their own investigations found three motives behind the attacks which are –complicating further the Rohingya issue, frustrate an ongoing trial of 1971 war crimes and making political situation unstable before next general election.
Bangladesh’s High Court yesterday demanded a government explanation for “inaction” in preventing attacks on Buddhist temples at southeastern Ramu as street protests continued seeking punitive actions against the perpetrators.
Army troops continued to provide help to the victims of the attacks by offering tents and food while the government allocated tonnes of rice alongside cash amounts for the affected and promised to rebuild the temples and house with government money.
The government constituted an administrative probe committee to investigate the matter while parallel police investigations are underway.