Calling on the government to identify perpetrators behind the recent attacks on the Hindu community, a senior Hindu leader has said that naming thousands of suspects will not ensure justice.
"Nearly 24 thousand people have been named in cases in connection with attacks on puja mandap, pagoda and temples across the country. Justice will not be served by accusing so many people," said Milon Kanti Datta, the president of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad.
"At least identify 500 in the 85 cases that have been filed," he added.
He further demanded the setting up of a special tribunal to try the cases.
His remarks came on Sunday during a protest demonstration, organized by the Chattogram chapter of the Puja Udjapon Parishad in the port city.
"Not a single incident of communal violence that took place in Bangladesh since independence has seen a fair trial. Our political culture of blaming other parties after any incident has made the situation even more fragile," he said before adding, "We want a special tribunal to be set up to bring the main culprits to justice."
He further said that in the wake of the Cumilla incident, there have been recent attacks on Hindu households, puja mandap and temples in 18 districts of the country. As many as 23,911 named and unnamed people have been accused in 85 cases filed in connection with these attacks. However, media reports have already revealed that many of these accused are in jail or out of the country. Besides most of the accused, according to the case dossiers, are anonymous or unnamed. Lawyers say it will be difficult to bring the main culprits to justice because of the blanket non-naming of suspects.
"From Ramu to Nasirnagar— all these incidents are connected. Bring to justice the people who are behind the act that Iqbal committed," Milon Kanti said, claiming that the main culprits are being kept hidden by bringing Iqbal to the front.
Puja Udjapon Parishad General Secretary Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee, Divisional Secretary of ISKCON Shripad Chinmoy Krishna Das and Professor Vijay Lakshi Devi spoke among others in the programme chaired by Ashish Kumar Bhattacharya, president of the parishad's Chattogram chapter.
Sampriti rally puts forth 7-point demand:
Sampriti Bangladesh, a citizens' platform promoting secularism, has placed a 7-point demand including strict punishment for those involved in recent incidents and effective measures to stop rumours and provocations through social media.
The organisation also called on the government to ensure speedy trial of past incidents and demanded that the administration must be more proactive in subduing attempts to disrupt communal harmony, repairing of damaged houses and places of worship, the inclusion of human values, tolerance, liberation war, Bangabandhu and Bengali nationalism in the education system, as well as initiatives to involve young people in the practice of Bangla culture.
The citizens' platform made the demands on Monday during a rally at the central Shahid Minar in the capital, where seventy-one other organisations expressed solidarity with them.
Sampriti Bangladesh Convener Pijush Bandopadhdhay said, "We are concerned about the recent activities in different parts of the country, which are nothing but conspiracies to destroy the spirit of the liberation war and secularism. The frightening situation of insecurity that has arisen is a clear attempt to destroy the spirit of the liberation war, Bangabandhu's ideology, independence and sovereignty."
Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman said that parents, as well as teachers, should come forward to awaken non-communal consciousness among the new generation. It is necessary to resist evil at its inception.
"It's now time for the political forces to unite under one platform. Non-communal political parties must come forward to eradicate communal evil. This evil force did not come from any other planet. They are the people of this land. Law enforcement and people's representatives must take responsibility to prevent them," he said.
Prof Nuzhat Chowdhury, co-general secretary, Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, Dr Abul Azad, chairman, Muktijuddho Academy Trust, Prof Md Nasim Akhtar, vice-chancellor, Chandpur University of Science and Technology, William Proloy Somaddar, secretary-general, Christian Association of Bangladesh, JL Bhowmik, vice-president, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad, Prof Nizamul Haque Bhuiyan, general secretary, Dhaka University Teachers Association, Maulana Ziaul Hasan, president, Sammilita Islami Oikya Jote, PR Barua, secretary-general, Bangladesh Buddhist Krishti Prachar Sangha and Prof Uttam Kumar Barua, joint convener, Sampriti Bangladesh spoke in the event among others.