Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir yesterday said the violence in Ramu in Cox’s Bazar centring an anti-Islam photo on Facebook is a “premeditated and deliberate act of communal violence against the minority”.
The minister alleged local BNP lawmaker Lutfor Rahman had fuelled the violence, saying the MP neither met the visiting team from the capital nor visited the victims.
“This lawmaker used the people who went there to stage protests against the photo. He instigated them to launch an attack and kill the Buddhists,” he said while talking to the press in Dhaka.
Earlier at 2:00pm, while addressing an impromptu rally at Choumuhani intersection in Ramu, he said, “We found evidence of gunpowder and petrol in Saturday’s arson of the Buddhist monasteries and houses.”
Alamgir and Industries Minister Dilip Barua, Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandker, Border Guard Bangladesh DG Maj Gen Anwar Hussain, Rab Director General Mukhlesur Rahman, DGFI officials accompanied by local Awami League leaders, visited the spots of violence shortly after their arrival in Ramu around 10:00am.
“We have been informed that police and fire service men were inactive during the arson,” said the minister, adding that a committee headed by the additional divisional commissioner in Chittagong would be formed soon to investigate whether the law enforcers had remained inactive.
Alamgir in his speech also promised to rebuild the Buddhist monasteries and temples and compensate the victims whose houses were destroyed.
The minister held out the assurance that the miscreants who stirred the violence would be traced and brought to book within 15 days.
Upon his return to Dhaka in the afternoon, he told journalists the country’s fundamentalists had plotted the incident and implemented it with the help of their “foreign agents” through Facebook.
“We will unearth the people who were behind this violence. We are not holding anyone right now because we don’t want any innocent to be pushed into trouble. Hopefully, we will be able to publish the names of those involved tomorrow,” he added.
The law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been put on alert so that the violence again cannot erupt in the adjacent areas, he said.
On Uttom Kumar Barua’s activities, he said, “Uttom shared the photo with his Facebook acquaintances. We have seen the photo and we are sure that Uttom did not create that.”
“In the photo, we saw a foreigner woman who kept her foot on the holy book. So we assume the photo was supplied from abroad, but Uttom might have acted as their agent.
“He is an employee of Bangladesh Institute of Small Industry and Cottage [BISIC]. We are trying to know about his Facebook network,” he added.
He said, “Uttom’s Facebook account has been blocked. Police have taken his mother and sister in their custody. But we don’t know his whereabouts.”
The minister claimed no causalities occurred as many people from different areas had come forward to save the Buddhists following the incident.We heard about the incident at around 2:00am and immediately sent the army, police, BGB and detectives to the spot. They worked together and brought the situation under control.
“We have visited all the affected Buddhist monasteries and consoled the monks. We have assured them that the government will provide them with full security; nobody will further hurt them.”
The affected people will get food and financial support, their houses and monasteries will be built by the government, the minister added.