Charges pressed for attacks on Buddhist temples, houses
No charges pressed in 12 casesStaff Correspondent
The police have pressed charges against 362 people in seven of the 19 cases filed for attacks on and looting of Buddhist temples and houses in the Cox’s Bazar district headquarters and Ramu, Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas in September 2012.
Although various inquiry reports quoting victims said that people belonging to all the major political parties were involved in the attacks, charges were pressed against none of the senior leaders of the parties, police sources said.
The charges were pressed just ahead of the prime minister’s visit to Cox’s Bazar scheduled for today.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is also scheduled for today to inaugurate and handover the temples and monasteries reconstructed by military to the management of temples and monasteries.
No charge in the cases of arson attack on centuries old monasteries in Ramu and damaging the Buddhist heritage was filed yet.
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmay Barua, who had filed a writ with the High Court after the attacks, deplored that the prime accused in those cases were roaming around and huge banners have been hung on their behalf welcoming the prime minister to Ramu.
Of the seven cases, one was filed with Ramu police station against 38 people for attacking the house of a Buddhist, two with Cox’s Bazar police station against 120 people, two with Ukhiya police station against 54 people and two with the Teknaf police against 150 people for demolishing temples and houses.
The charge sheets in four cases against 272 were submitted on Monday and in three cases against 92 were submitted on Sunday to the Cox’s Bazar court.
Fanatics demolished, looted and burnt down 12 Buddhist temples at Ramu on September 29, 2012. They also looted 50 dwellings and set 15 houses on fire in Buddhist villages in the area on the excuse of a facebook posting demeaning the Qur’an.
The zealots also set fire to five Buddhist temples and ransacked two Hindu temples at Ukhia on September 30, 2012. They also attacked a Buddhist village at Teknaf and ransacked 11 houses there on the same day.
The police had filed 13 cases in connection with the incidents of violence while the victims lodged six more cases with four police stations. In the cases, 375 people were accused along with 14,807 unnamed people.
Various inquiry reports quoting victims said that people belonging to all the major political parties were involved in the attacks.
None of the senior leaders of the parties were, however, named in the charge sheets, police sources said.
Cox’s Bazar additional superintendent of police Babul Akhtar said that the police had so far arrested 194 people in the cases, but they were not certain how many of them were behind bars as courts had granted bail to many of them.
He, however, declined to name the people against whom the charges were pressed.
Despite the submission of the seven charge sheets, the people of the Buddhist community in the areas Ramu were yet to heave a sigh of relief as charges in the main cases were yet to be pressed.
Pragyananda Bikkhu at Central Sima Monastery said, ‘We are yet to know against whom the charges have been pressed and our main concern is that no innocent people are harassed in the process.’
The senior monk also said, ‘It is up to the government whether they would identify the plotters of the heinous attacks and punish them but we expect no innocent person would be harassed. If it was done, the harmony at Ramu would be affected.’
Jyotirmay Barua said that a judicial inquiry report was pending with the High Court for hearing.
The judicial probe identified 298 people responsible for the September 29, 2012 attacks on Buddhists that ruined their centuries-old temples, monasteries and households at Ramu
Another investigation by the government, however, found that Uttam Kumar had tagged a photograph in Facebook on September 28 demeaning Qur’an which fomented the September 29 attack.
‘The people, who were held responsible in the judicial probe, are freely moving around at Ramu. One of them Nurul Islam Selim has erected giant billboards welcoming the prime minister. It indicates that no charge has been pressed against them,’ said Jyotirmay.
Jyotirmay, who hails from Ramu, said the impact of pressing charges would be visible on Wednesday after the military would leave handing over the reconstructed temples.
Many of the witnesses testified before the judicial probe were feeling insecure as they had already received threats over phone, said Jyotirmay.
Pulak Barura, a resident of Ramu, said though prime minister was visiting Ramu today, people were yet to regain their hope to stay in peace as many accused were openly threatening people.
‘Buildings damaged in the attack have been rebuilt but the wounds in our hearts are yet to be healed,’ he said.
The judicial probe report, prepared by Chittagong district and sessions judge Abdul Kuddus Mia, Chittagong women and children repression (prevention) tribunal judge Sharif Mostafa Karim and home ministry assistant secretary Zahrul Haque, was submitted to the High Court on May 16.
On October 3, the High Court bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar, in response to a writ petition filed by Jyotirmay, issued a rule asking the government and the police to explain their inaction over Ramu violence that torched houses and Buddhists’ places of worship.
The bench had also asked the government to submit to it the government probe report.
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