Feni Central Jame Mosque and Sri Sri Kali Temple stand side by side on Trunk Road, the heart of Feni, on the banks of the Raj Vijay Singh Dighi.
Ashraful Alam Guitar, acting general secretary of the mosque's management committee, says the history of the two mosques and temples is about 145 years old.
In 1876, Birbikram Manikya Bahadur Manikya Kishore, the king of Tripura, allotted 50 decimals of land in the heart of Feni to construct temples and mosques.
These century-old religious establishments stand tall as an example of religious harmony between the Muslim and Hindu communities of the area.
Within a few hundred yards, the sound of worship on one side and the sound of the call to prayer on the other side have been strengthening the bond between the two communities for almost one and a half centuries.
However, after last Saturday's incident, this communal harmony has been hurt to its core as communal attacks have created tension between the Hindu and Muslim communities of the area.
The family of Nayan Pal, owner of Renu Traders, has been running their shop on Takiya Road adjacent to the Feni Central Grand Mosque since 1983.
They told The Business Standard (TBS) on Wednesday afternoon that even before last Saturday, there seemed to be no communal tension between Hindus and Muslims.
"After the prayers in the mosque, many Muslims used to come and buy things from our shops. People from the Hindu communities were regular in our shops as well.
However, the attack on the Hindu communities that took place last Saturday has put a strain between the communities and fractured the communal harmony of the area. This sort of incident did not happen in Feni's history in the last 100 years," said Nayan Pal's family.
Nurul Huda, the owner of Patwari Fashion in Masjid Market, said that he too did not see any discrimination between Hindus and Muslims there.
"The incident on Saturday has left a scar on my mind," said Nurul.
Abu Selim Mahmud ul Hassan, deputy commissioner and chairman of the mosque committee, told TBS that the communal attacks were not the result of a religious dispute between the two communities. Rather, it was a vicious circle trying to take advantage of the situation to disrupt communal harmony.
Samarjit Das Tutul, joint general secretary of Sri Sri Jaya Kali Temple and a member of the Shilpakala Academy, told TBS that the centuries-old bond seemed to have faded in a few hours.
Samarjit said, "Every year during Durga Puja the puja committee used to bring the schedule for routine Muslim prayers and coordinated the worship festivities in such a way that does not disrupt the prayers in the Mosque. Puja activities were paused during namaz and the time of azan. A similar gesture also came from the side of the mosque as well."
"The Hindus of our area are not well. At the same time, this incident has left a scar in the minds of Muslims as well. They too are our brothers," said Samarjit.
Samarjit Das, a witness to Saturday night's incident, was inside the temple from the time of the Isha prayers until the end of the attack.
"There were only eight of us inside. The tension began to rise in front of the mosque since the afternoon. After the Isha prayers, bricks and Molotovs were hurled at the temple from the roof and minaret of the mosque. I somehow extinguished the fire with water and took cover behind the wall of the temple office," said Samarjit.
Samarjit says that even though they have somehow passed Dashami, they have lost their festive attitudes for Lakshmi Puja on Wednesday.
"The temple is a place of worship and a safe place. But here too police are guarding us in shifts to ensure our safety while we pray to God. How can we wholeheartedly worship in these circumstances?" added Samarjit.
Another shopkeeper on Takiya Road, Bishankar Pal, whose family has been in business for about 58 years, said not only did they attack the temple, but about 16 shops owned by Hindus next to the mosque were selectively vandalised and looted.
Goods worth Tk5 lakh were looted from his shop along with Tk3.75 lakh in cash.
Shimul Das, an employee of the shop and an eyewitness of the attack, told TBS that he saw a sudden attack on a nearby shop selling dried fish at around 8.30 pm and closed the shop and took shelter nearby.
"The people who attacked the shops were between the ages of 18-20, all of whose faces were unknown to the area. They specifically targeted shops owned by Hindus and vandalised and looted them. Although police were present right around the corner of Trunk Road, they did not come forward to de-escalate the situation despite several shop keepers repeatedly calling 999 for emergency law enforcement backup to stop the vandalism," added Shimul.
Dilip Dey, general secretary of the Banshpara Durga Puja temple, said that although they were able to properly finish the religious rituals in a timely manner, they could whole-heartedly and festively partake in the Durga Puja only in the first 2 days. Rest of the 8 days of the rituals, they spent their time in anxiety.
Dilip said that the women of the community have been discouraged to leave their household except in case of emergency.
Shukdevnath Tapan, president of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council, said there was no question about the harmony between the two communities and between the temples and mosques established in the time of Shaista Khan.
But last Saturday's attack raised questions that he did not view positively.
What happened that day?
Susen Chandra Shil, president of the district puja celebration council and chairman of the Sadar upazila council, said a protest procession of Hindus was scheduled to take place from the Joy Kali Temple next to the central Jaame Mosque after the Asr prayers on Saturday.
The procession started a little later than its due schedule as the organisers did not want their programme to clash with the Asr prayer timings.
Meanwhile, in front of the mosque, more than two hundred young people gathered under the banner of ordinary worshipers protesting the defamation of the Holy Quran.
He also said that most of them do not offer regular prayers there. Although the protest procession was later removed at the request of the police, the situation got out of control.
At that time a procession of Awami-Jubo League came and tried to stop the gathering in front of the mosque and threw bricks at them.
After Esha prayers, the group of people got up on the mosque's roof and hurled bricks and Molotovs at the Temple and also attacked shops owned by Hindus in the nearby area.
"The roof of the mosque was badly damaged by the attack. There was no way to stop it as they were throwing bricks and Molotovs from above," said Samarjit Das Tutul.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Upazila Parishad also thinks that the attack could have been prevented if the police and the administration had been more responsible in the beginning.
12 arrested in 4 cases
Police, RAB and the temple committee have filed four separate cases in connection with the attack.
A total of 12 people have been arrested in these cases till Wednesday. On Saturday night, RAB arrested Ahnaf Tousif Mahmud Labib, 22, son of Saifuddin Mahmud from his house in the Moddhom Rampur area of the city.
According to the RAB, Labib was the instigator and planner of the incident. Police have not acknowledged any direct political involvement.
Feni Model Police Station OC (Investigation) Mohammad Monir Hossain told TBS that the arrestees have been sent to jail through the court.
The police have already placed a remand appeal to the court to further question the first 6 arrestees. The remand hearing for this appeal will be held next Monday.