Almost all men of around 50 villages have gone into hiding amid strict police raids following vandalism and arson incidents in Faridpur's Saltha upazila over a reported assault on a man for violating lockdown rules on Monday night.
While on a visit to the upazila on Friday morning, The Business Standard barely found any man in the area, especially at Ramkantapur, Sonapur, Gatti and Bhawal unions.
According to sources, there are 165 qawmi madrasas in the upazila. The residences of Hefazat-e-Islam's district unit Amir and Secretary are in the area. Religious leaders, madrasa teachers and students are passing times in anxieties after the violence over spreading arrest rumor of Hefazat Amir and Bahirdia Madrasa Principal Mawlana Akram Ali.
Locals said the situation is so panicking that around 100-year-old Sulaiman Nadvi, senior teacher of Bahirdia Madrasa, also has gone into hiding following police raids in the upazila.
Maleka Begum, wife of Md Yunus Sheikh of Ramkantapur union, said "My husband works in the village field. He fled home following continuous police raids in the village. And I have sent my son to a relative's house."
Kariman Begum of Fukara Bazar said, "I am staying home panicked, as police personnel are at the village all the time. All male members have left the house following the police raid."
Nurjahan of the same area claimed some people from another place carried out the attack and that no men from this area took part in the incident. "I got to know that the violence took place centring a dispute between the assistant commissioner's (land) people and some persons of Fukara Bazar," she added.
After the violence incident on 5 April, five cases were filed with Saltha police station in this connection. Names of 261 suspects have been mentioned in these cases, while some 16,800 accused were unnamed. A total of 51 people were arrested as of Friday afternoon and 25 were placed on remand in these cases.
Among the four new cases, one was filed by freedom fighter Bachchu Matubbor accusing 25 named and 700-800 unnamed people.
The local UNO's driver Md Hashmot Ali filed another case mentioning names of 58 people and 3,000-4,000 others were unidentified.
Samir Biswas, security guard of the AC land, filed a case accusing 48 people with their names and 3,000-4,000 others unnamed.
The AC land's driver Md Sagor Sikder filed another case against 42 named and 3,000-4,000 unnamed individuals.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mizanur Rahman, sub-inspector of Saltha police station, filed the first case against 88 people with names and around 4,000 others were unnamed. The accused were charged for attacking the police station and hindering government work.
Faridpur Superintendent of Police Md Alimuzzaman said they are conducting tough raids in different areas in the upazila to arrest the accused who were responsible for the violence and arson attacks.
In the meantime, "We have identified who created this violence and investigation continues to find out more detailed information in this connection. Now we are inspecting video footage to identify the attackers."
Tough legal actions would be taken against those who were responsible for this violence. Police have arrested 51 people as of Friday afternoon, the official added.
On Monday night, an angry mob spread rumours, vandalised and looted various government offices in Saltha. They set fire to the cars of the UNO and the assistant commissioner there. Two people who sustained bullet injuries succumbed to their injuries after this clash incident.
On Friday noon, Dhaka Divisional Commissioner Md Khalilur Rahman visited the damaged government establishments, including Saltha police station, upazila parishad, residences the UNO and upazila chairman, and the Muktijoddha complex.
During the visit, the police official said they would go for immediate actions against the perpetrators.
Faridpur DC Atul Sarkar, SP Md Alimuzzaman, Additional SP Jamal Pasha, Saltha UNO Hasib Sarkar, Assistant SP (circle) Md Suminur Rahman, Saltha Upazila Parishad Chairman Md Wadud Matubbor, Upazila Assistant Commissioner (land) Marufa Sultana Khan Hiramoni, Upazila Awami League President Md Delwar Hossain, Saltha police station Officer-in-Charge Ashiquzzaman accompanied the divisional commissioner during the visit.