'Attacks on Durga Puja pandals pre-planned': Bangladesh home minister
The Bangladesh home minister has said that the attacks on Durga Puja pavilions were 'pre-planned' and aimed at destroying communal harmony in the country. His statement came after the Bangladesh police booked more than 4,000 individuals in connection with the violence that rocked the country in the last few days.
"It appears to us that it was a motivated act instigated by a vested group," Bangladesh's minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan said on Sunday.
"Not only in Comilla, but attempts were also made to destabilize the country previously through communal violence in Ramu and Nasirnagar," Khan was quoted as saying by Dhaka Tribune.
When asked about the reason behind the incident in Comilla, the minister said, "We'll make it public once we get all the evidence and those who were involved in it will be given exemplary punishment."
The minister further said that no incident has been reported since Saturday night.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, claimed on Sunday that the violence during Durga Puja in Bangladesh is part of a systematic attack on religious minority groups and the situation calls for implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in West Bengal.
CAA offers citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015. Its critics, among whom chief minister Mamata Banerjee is a prominent face, insist that it is discriminatory as it leaves out Muslims and links citizenship to faith in a secular country.
The violence broke out in Bangladesh on Friday over the alleged desecration of the Quran at a pandal during Durga Puja festivities. Many pandals and temples - including the Iskcon temple - were attacked. The shops and houses of Hindus were also allegedly vandalised.
Clashes took place in Chandpur, Chittagong, Gazipur, Bandarban, Chapainawabganj, and Moulvibazar and resulted in several casualties, reported Dhaka Tribune.
One person was killed and 17 others, including the officer-in-charge of Begumganj police station, injured, according to the police.