It was Monday noon, 29 March. Smoke was still billowing from the Sur Samrat Alauddin Sangeetangan. The heat of the fire that Hefazat-e-Islam activists had set on renowned musician Ustad Allauddin Khan's memorial a day earlier could still be felt.
Parts of the establishment were burnt to ashes, including the stage of the concert hall and various musical instruments kept in the museum. The remains of the burnt materials are now bearing the signs of the mayhem caused by Hefazat men.
During the strike of Hefazat-e-Islam on Sunday (28 March), various government and non-government establishments in Brahmanbaria were vandalised. Signs of the devastation by the Hefazat activists could be found everywhere. The smell of burning materials was still blowing in the wind.
Supporters of the strike vandalised Brahmanbaria Khantihata Highway Police Station, the Allauddin Sangeetangan, Sadar Upazila Assistant Commissioner's (Land) Office, Water Development Board Office, Municipality Office, Allauddin Khan Municipal Auditorium, District Council Office, and the home and the office of District Awami League General Secretary Al Mamun Sarkar.
Hefazat activists vandalised and set fire to the houses of Chhatra League President Rabiul Hossain and General Secretary Shahadat Hossain. They also attacked and vandalised Bank Asia's Brahmanbaria branch and Brahmanbaria Press Club. Also on Sunday, three people were killed in clashes between protesters and law enforcers at the district headquarters and Biswaroad intersection in Sarail.
However, the district town restored normalcy somewhat on Monday as the shops and other businesses reopened in the morning. Regular activities are gaining momentum everywhere, including banks and other offices.
Vehicular movement in the district town, on Cumilla-Sylhet and Dhaka-Sylhet highways, was found normal.
But the scenario is in stark contrast in the government and private establishments that endured widespread rampage by the Hefazat men in the previous days.
Visiting the spots on Monday afternoon, it was found that those are reflecting the atrocities of Hefazat men.
These buildings have apparently turned into haunted ones as each and everything of the houses was burnt to ashes and the remaining ones are bearing fire marks.
Khantihata Highway Police Station
The normal activities at the police station have come to a standstill as all the belongings of the Khantihata Highway police station building were vandalised and burnt on Sunday.
Visiting the police station in the afternoon, it was seen that additional police personnel were staying on the police station premises.
Three police vehicles, including an APC, were seen lying burnt in front of the police station building, while all documents and equipment were found scattered inside it.
Officer-in-Charge Gazi Shakhawat Hossain told The Business Standard, "Hefazat activists rampaged through the entire police station, including the arsenal, and set it on fire. Several vehicles, including the APC, were burnt. The extent of damage has not yet been assessed. Steps will be taken after the higher authorities inspect the scene."
Everything on the Jail Road, beside which the Sur Samrat Allauddin Sangeetangan is situated, was as normal as ever. All the hospitals and restaurants were open.
But the picture of the Sangeetangan was in stark contrast. The smoke was spiralling out from inside, and the heat of the fire was still being felt.
Hundreds of Hefazat activists attacked the music hall with sticks and other instruments on Sunday afternoon while enforcing the strike. They set fire to the Allauddin Khan Museum, auditorium, Sarod Mancha, office, and training rooms of the music hall.
Several musical instruments, including several photographs of Ustad Allauddin Khan, were burnt. Broken glasses and ashes of burnt items were lying scattered inside the museum.
The plaster of the walls of the music hall was damaged by the fire. The fan wings have bent down due to excessive heat of the fire. Chairs and other furniture were piled up there.
Manjurul Alam, general secretary of the Sangeetangan, told The Business Standard, "Ustad Allauddin Khan established this Sangeetangan in 1956. Earlier in 2016, the fundamentalists set fire to this music hall. But this time, everything in the music hall has been burnt to ashes. The last few items with Allauddin Khan's memory are gone now."
All the rooms on the second floor of the municipality office were found devastated. Important documents and furniture in a few rooms were burnt to ashes. At the rooms of the mayor and secretary, the pieces of furniture were seen lying scattered.
The workers were taking the equipment that remained undamaged out of the municipality building.
Contacted, the authorities concerned said how long the municipality office would take to reopen is uncertain.
Sadar upazila land office
This correspondent experienced a pin-drop silence when he reached the office of the assistant commissioner (land) of Sadar upazila.
The assistant commissioner, along with some of his colleagues, was inside the office that was completely burnt down on the previous day.
A large number of burnt documents were seen in front of the office. Some important documents of the office were also destroyed by soaking in the water provided for extinguishing the fire.
ABM Moshiujjaman, the AC (land), told The Business Standard, "All the rooms, including that of mine, were set on fire. Everything is burnt here. Many important documents were destroyed as the attackers did not spare the record room."
Allauddin Khan Municipal Auditorium
There is nothing left but ashes in the Allauddin Khan Municipal Auditorium that endured massive havoc by Hefazat men.
Hundreds of chairs and doors and windows of the auditorium have been burnt completely. The plaster on the walls has also fallen off partly due to the heavy heat of the fire, while the wings of all the fans bent down.
Dhirendranath Dutta Bhasha Chattar
Hefazat activists vandalised and set fire to more than 50 stalls of the Development Fair organised by the district administration at Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Bhasha Chattar in the district town.
The premises were found full of vandalised and burnt equipment. Members of the law enforcement have been seen stationed outside the language square.
Office, home of Awami League's district unit general secretary
Hefazat men also set fire to the office and home of the general secretary of district unit Awami League Al Mamun Sarkar. The wreckage of the burnt items was found lying in the office in the afternoon.
The house of Mamun was also vandalised and set on fire. All the pieces of furniture, including sofas and fans, were burnt in some rooms of the house. Those have not yet been removed.
Zilla Parishad office
Hefazat activists also ransacked the Zilla Parishad building and set it on fire. All the chairs, air-conditioners, and fans of its auditorium were gutted.
The car of the chief executive officer was also set on fire.
Md Anwar Hossain, the deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Chattogram Range police, inspected the sites that endured Hefazat attacks on Monday.
Talking to reporters, the DIG said a three-member probe body had been formed to look into the incidents. So far, five cases had been filed with Brahmanbaria Sadar Police Station, accusing 7,000 unknown miscreants.
He also said there had been more than 20 incidents of vandalism. The process of filing cases was underway in all the incidents.
"An expert team of CID and PBI has been called in. They will go through each of the spots and collect evidence," he said.
Situation of Hathazari
After days of chaos over Hefazat's demonstration and subsequent police action, the overall situation in Hathazari of Chattogram started to return to normalcy, with people's regular activities gaining momentum.
Entering the Hathazari area, one will see heavy traffic, even traffic congestions, at different strategic points.
Members of the police, RAB and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were seen on alert at different strategic points. A peaceful environment was prevailing there, with RAB personnel patrolling the main streets.
Mohammad Jahangir, additional superintendent of Chattogram police, told The Business Standard, "The area is now peaceful. However, law enforcement agencies are in a cautious mode. No case has been filed yet over the incidents."
However, the government establishments, especially police stations, Sadar union land office, and Dak Bungalow are still bearing the marks of havoc carried out by Hefazat men in the last three days.
During Saturday's protest, the agitated Hefazat men set fire to the assistant commissioner's (land) car and important documents like deeds and khatians.
During a visit to the office on Monday, several hundred deeds and khatians were seen lying scattered on the premises and the adjacent drains.
Ruhul Amin, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Hathazari, said, "We are yet to assess the extent of the damage. All the documents are important."
"It is uncertain when the land office will reopen as we do not know what happened with the records. However, no case has been filed so far. Steps will be taken as per law," said Amin.