- Five arrested in three filed cases
- No incident of defaming the Holy Quran at all: SP Abida Sultana
- Leaders, activists of a religion-based party created uproar centering on a false allegation: upazila chairman
Police have succeeded in identifying 20 persons directly involved in Thursday's lynching of a youth and burning his body in Burimari under Patgram upazila in Lalmonirhat, following a spreading of rumours of the Holy Quran being defamed.
The deceased has been identified as Abu Yunus Mohammad Shahidunnabi Jewel, son of Abdul Wajed Mia, hailing from Shalban area in Rangpur city.
Police sources said the miscreants were identified after an analysis of video and CCTV footage of the incident and talking to over a hundred local people.
Patgram police station officer-in-charge Suman Kumar Mohanta told The Business Standard, "So far, three cases have been filed with Patgram PS over the lynching incident; one by the victim's family and the other two by police and the local UP chairman. Five of the accused have already been arrested in the cases."
Lalmonirhat SP Abida Sultana said a total of 50 named and some unnamed people had been made accused in a case filed by police on allegations of vandalising government property and obstructing law enforcers in the discharge of their duties.
"The chairman of Burimari Union Parishad also filed a case against 22 named and some unknown people for carrying out sabotage at the Parishad complex," she added, after emerging from an administrative meeting at Patgram upazila complex.
The meeting was attended, among others, by Rangpur divisional commissioner Abdul Wahab Bhuiyan, Rangpur Range DIG Devdas Bhattacharya, Lalmonirhat DC Abu Zafar, Patgram UNO Kamrunnahar, Patgram OC Sumanta Kumar Mohanta, local imams and muezzins, and several hundred religious scholars from the locality.
SP Abida Sultana said autopsy of Jewel's burnt body had been completed at Rangpur Medical College Hospital. The body would be handed over to family members today (Saturday).
Police and family sources said Shahidunnabi was a teacher of Rangpur Cantonment Public School and College. Recently, the father of two had become mentally depressed after losing his job a year ago. He was visiting Burimari with his friend Sultan Zobayer.
"One Hossain Ali, a local resident, wanted to know their identity when they entered the Burimari Central Jame Mosque to perform Asr prayers. They identified themselves as members of a law enforcing agency. At one stage, an altercation erupted between Hossain Ali and the two friends."
Patgram police sources said Hossain Ali provoked devotees inside the mosque and local people, raising allegations of a defaming of the Holy Quran against the two friends. Dragging them out of the mosque, an angry mob then started beating them.
"Later, a local member rescued Shahidunnabi from the hands of the angry mob and sheltered him inside the union parishad office. But a group of agitated people attacked the UP office also. Ransacking the office, the mob snatched Shahidunnabi out of the office and beat him to death. They set his body ablaze on the Patgram-Burimari highway.
"Later, to bring the situation under control, police fired 17 shots after 10 police personnel were wounded by brickbats thrown by the agitated mob. Police also recovered a seriously wounded Zobayer from the hands of the mob, rushing him to a hospital immediately," said police sources.
SP Abida Sultana told TBS: "There was no incident of defaming the Holy Quran at all. A planned fracas was created based on a rumour. Police have already arrested five persons and many more have been identified."
When contacted, Patgram upazila parishad chairman Md Ruhul Amin Babul said, "Through a spread of rumours of a defaming of the Quran, local people were incited to violence. Later, leaders and activists of a particular religion-based party created havoc in the locality centering on the false allegation."
In reply to a query over which political party's activists had been involved, the UP chairman said, "Locals know well to which political party those attackers belong."
Afij Uddin, muezzin of Burimari Central Jame Mosque, said, "As I was leaving the mosque after finishing Asr prayers, I saw two youths talking to Jubed Ali, caretaker of the mosque. The youths then entered the mosque.
"They were first beaten on the verandah of the mosque, then UP member Hafizul Islam took them away. I do not know what happened later," he added.
Meanwhile, a three-member probe committee was formed on Friday over the incident.
Abu Jafar, deputy commissioner of Lalmonirhat, formed the three-member investigation committee, headed by TMA Momin, Additional District Magistrate, on Friday morning.
The committee has been asked to submit the probe report within the next three days.
Meanwhile, Saiful Islam, a cousin of the deceased Jewel, filed a murder case with the police station.
A huge number of police and BGB personnel have been deployed at Patgram upazila to prevent further untoward incidents.