The Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) has arrested Shahidul Islam, the main accused in a case filed over an attack on the Hindu community in Sunamganj's Shalla upazila.
Muhammad Khaled-uz-Zaman, Superintendent of Police of PBI, Sylhet confirmed the matter to The Business Standard (TBS) today.
"Shahidul Islam alias Swadhin Member was arrested at around 1:30 am on Saturday in Kulaura in Moulavibazar," he said.
Swadhin is a member of Taral Union Parishad of Dirai upazila.
He was the mastermind of the attack and prime accused in the case, the police officer added.
Meanwhile, Shalla police station Sub-Inspector Ripon said, "A total of 30 people have been arrested in the last two days over the attack. Police have sent them to a court."
On Wednesday, 87 houses of the Hindu community, in Noagaon village of Shalla upazila, were attacked after one of the residents reportedly posted against Hefazat leader Mamunul Haque on Facebook.
Money and gold ornaments were looted from the houses, according to the case statement.
'An old rivalry fueled the attack'
Wednesday's attack was carried out by Swadhin in continuation of animosity toward the local people, alleged residents of Noagaon village.
The rivalry developed after Swadhin took lease of two beels (water bodies) at the Shalla part of Baram Haor, Haripada Das of the village told The Business Standard.
"Since taking lease of the two water bodies from the Waqf Estate, Swadhin and his men have been fishing there for several years," he added.
"They catch fish by drying out the water bodies with water pumps, violating the lease guidelines. As a result, farmers of Noagaon and surrounding villages faced an irrigation crisis during Boro cultivation," he continued.
Haripada went on to say that he and one Jagadish Das of his village lodged written complaints against Shahidul Islam and his associates – Keramat Ali, Mirza Hossain, Fakhar Uddin alias Fakkan, Alam Uddin – and others with Shalla Police Station in this connection.
However, since Swadhin and his people kept lifting beel water to catch fish, local people lodged another complaint with the Sylhet Range deputy inspector general of police on 25 January this year.
On the basis of this allegation, the administration arrested Fakhar Uddin and seized an irrigation pump. He was later fined Tk5,000. This made Shahidul Islam angry with the people of Noagaon village.
Several days later, Hindu youth Jhumon Das posted a status on Facebook making derogatory remarks about Mamunul Haque, joint secretary general of Hefazat-e-Islam.
To take advantage of the incident, Shahidul Islam spread propaganda in area that the status was against Islam, claimed Haripada, adding that based on his propaganda, Mamunul Haque's followers attacked Hindu houses in Noagaon village on Wednesday morning, vandalising temples and idols.
The incident caused a stir across the country.
By creating communal riots, Swadhin has tried to satisfy his personal interests, alleged the affected people.
However, local UP Chairman Bakul Majumder and the police have filed two separate cases with Shalla Police Station.
Police arrested 22 people in a raid on Thursday night and handed them over to the court, which sent them to jail without granting them bail.
The PBI arrested Swadhin, the main accused in the case filed by the chairman, in Kulaura on Friday morning.
Sylhet PBI's Superintendent of Police Khaled Uz Zaman has confirmed the news of Swadhin's arrest.
"Swadhin was arrested after his location was confirmed with the help of technology. He has been handed over to Sunamganj police," he added.
Additionally, Dirai and Shalla police have arrested six more accused, said Nazmul Haque, officer-in-charge of Shalla Police Station.
He told TBS the situation is calm now. "We have set up a temporary police camp in Noagaon village."
The instigator, Shahidul Islam, has been arrested, he mentioned, adding that all those who are behind this incident will be brought to book.