A magistrate in southern Bangladesh rescued two Hindu school teachers from an angry mob that attacked them and sentenced them to six months in jail for making derogatory comments about Islam and Prophet Mohammed.
Magistrate Anwar Parvez made the decision as the teachers of Hijla High School were under attack at Chitalmari in Bagerhat district.
An assistant teacher allegedly made the derogatory comments in a Grade X class on Sunday and students complained to the head teacher, also a Hindu. The head teacher sided with the other teacher.
On Monday, students, their parents and local residents confined the teachers to a room and attacked them. Police intervened and the magistrate sentenced them to jail.
“Hundreds of people gathered there and the situation went beyond control. As soon as I heard of the incident, I rushed to the scene and rescued them,” Parvez told Hindustan Times by phone.
“The villagers and dozens of students and teachers from a nearby madrassa gathered there. They were so angry that anything could have happened. So I went for an on-the-spot trial,” he said.
“We recorded testimony from seven students of Grade X separately. We got the proof that they made derogatory comments that hurt the sentiments of the Muslim students. I asked the assistant teacher whether he made such comments, he pleaded guilty,” Parvez said.
“I followed the law and I sentenced both of them to six months in jail. Law allows up to one year in jail for publicly insulting religion,” he said. “They are respected people, they are teachers, that’s why I went for a reduced prison term.”
Bangladesh has seen a spike in attacks on secular people and members of minority communities. Several atheist bloggers and a publisher have been killed, and attacks on religious personalities have been a concern.
On Monday evening, two gay rights activists were hacked to death in an attack by suspected militants. The Bangladesh branch of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the killings. On Saturday, a university teacher was killed by unidentified men in a northwestern city and the Islamic State claimed responsibility.