Several houses, shops and temples of the Hindu community were attacked and set on fire over a Facebook post allegedly belittling Islam at Digholia village of Narail's Lohagara upazila on Friday evening.
Police on Saturday said additional law enforcers have been deployed, and the situation at Digholia is now under control. Local MP Mashrafe Bin Mortaza visited the village on Saturday afternoon.
On Thursday, a Hindu college student reportedly posted a controversial comment on Facebook, triggering anger among Muslims, who later carried out the attack on Friday evening.
The attackers vandalised more than ten houses and shops, including one owned by the student's father. At the same time, some houses were set on fire. The protesters threw brickbats and vandalised idols at Sahapara temple.
Police at one stage fired blank rounds and brought the situation under control at around 9:30pm.
Nearly 300 families live in Digholia village. Many of the families fled the village following the attack.
"When Hindu men were being beaten, police were there. They were watching from a distance. No one came to the rescue. The families left the village as they could no longer trust the police," said Beauty Rani, a former local union parishad member.
Haran Chandra Pal, inspector (Investigation) of Lohagara police station, said they brought the college student and his father to the police station. The student claimed his Facebook was hacked and he did not post the comment.
"Police are yet to confirm whether it was hacked or whether he did it himself," he said, adding the youth and his father were in their custody.
Lohagara upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Azgar Ali said the affected families will get Tk Tk26,000 each. Houses that have been vandalised will be repaired by the authorities.
Gobinda Saha, one of the victims of Friday's attack, said his house was attacked and set on fire though it was at least half a kilometre away from the residence of the college student.
Gobinda Saha said when the attackers set fire to his house, he and his mother Shipali Rani Saha hid at a nearby bamboo grove.
"We don't know him well. I don't even know if he posted something on Facebook. My house was set on fire only because he is a Hindu and I am a Hindu," he added.
Another victim, Gopal Saha, is a fertiliser and pesticide dealer in the local market. He was beaten up by the assailants.
"I have been doing business in the market for 22 years. I have good relations with everyone. They beat me for just being a Hindu," he commented.
"Our family was in this village during the liberation war in 1971, as they did not feel insecure. But now I do not feel safe here anymore," Gopal Saha commented.
Shocked Mashrafe calls for religious tolerance
Former captain of Bangladesh National Cricket Team and Member of Parliament for Narail-2 constituency Mashrafe Bin Mortaza condemned the attack and urged people to show utmost religious tolerance.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, he urged everyone to refrain from doing things that disturb peace, law and order.
"I cannot match this Narail with the Narail that I have seen since my childhood, the Narail that we are proud of," he wrote.
The cricketer turned lawmaker wrote, "If anyone insults the prophet, then the administration will take legal action against him. But we cannot take the law into our own hands.
"Even if the allegations are true, no one has the right to wrong the innocent people of the entire society for one person. If someone commits a real crime, the court will judge him, but I and you cannot punish anyone for that."
Noting the steps he took to calm the situation, Mashrafe said, "If even a general person is affected, the damage is irreparable. My heart goes out to those affected."
The lawmaker requested religious leaders of both Hindu and Muslim communities to spread the message of communal harmony among all.