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B’desh: 3 Islamists sent to police custody over Hindu priest’s murder

world Updated: Feb 28, 2016 18:25 IST
Hindu priest killed in Bangladesh

A Bangladeshi policeman stands guard where a top Hindu priest was killed in the remote northern district of Panchagarh on February 21, 2016. (AFP)

A Bangladeshi court has sent three members of a banned Islamist group to 18-day police custody in connection with the brutal killing of a head priest of a Hindu temple close to the Indian border last week.

With the arrest of the three members of the outlawed Jamaat’ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), including the mastermind of the assault, during raids in Panchagarh and Nilphamari districts on Friday, police claimed to have solved the murder case.

“We have been able to completely crack the case,” police’s deputy inspector general for the region Humayun Kabir told media, adding that the three directly carried out the murder of the priest.

The three JMB activists — identified as Alamgir Hossain, 35, Harez Ali, 32 and Ramzan Ali, 22 — were produced in a Panchagarh court under heavy security on Saturday and were remanded in 18-day police custody for questioning.

So far, six persons have been arrested in connection with the killing. Three others who were arrested earlier were placed under 15-day police custody for interrogation.

No lawyer appeared at the court to defend the three.

The chief priest of Hindu temple Sri Sri Shantu Santo Gaurio, 50-year-old Jagneshwar Roy, was killed on February 21 in Sonapota village of northern Panchagarh district near the border with India, in a pre-dawn attack by the assailants who also injured two Hindu devotees before fleeing on a motorbike.

The Islamic State had claimed the brutal killing of the priest. However, police dismissed the claim and said that JMB operatives committed the murder.

The priest’s murder was the first attack on a Hindu priest and the fifth assault on minority religious communities including Shia Muslims and liberal Sufi preachers in the past six months by suspected Islamists.

Hindus make the Sunni-majority country’s largest minority with nearly 10 per cent of the total population of 160 million.