Jamaat-e-Islami behind the pandal violence in Bangladesh, say officials
The needle of suspicion for the orchestration of violent attacks against Durga Puja pandals in southern Bangladesh is pointing towards the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) with the intention of embarrassing the Sheikh Hasina government and stoke communal fires over the alleged desecration of the Quran in Cumilla, southeast of Dhaka.
According to diplomats in Dhaka and New Delhi, there were attacks on mandaps, pandals and temples in Cumilla on October 13 afternoon after the alleged desecration of the religious text of Muslims by placing it near the feet of the idol of Devi Durga at a pandal. There are more than 3,000 pandals in Bangladesh observing Durga Puja at present.
As the news spread like wildfire through digital media, there were violent attacks on pandals in Noakhali, Chandpur, Cox’s Bazaar, areas around Chattogram, Chapainawabganj, Pabna, Moulvibazara and Kurigram. However, there were no disturbances in Dhaka, Brahmanbaria, Jashore and other major cities.
Initially, the police were slow to react but after the high commissioner of India spoke to the administration, there was heavy deployment of armed police and local enforcement agencies. Three people, including two desecration protestors, were killed in Chandpur and dozens were injured by rubber bullets in Cumilla.
While Dhaka has ensured that heavy police deployment will continue till Friday, it is quite evident that communal flames were being fanned by the opposition JEI, which has had an injection of confidence after the Sunni terrorist force Taliban occupied Afghanistan. The JEI coined the slogan “ Bangladesh Banega Afghanistan” in a bid to radicalise the youth towards ultra-conservative Islam to achieve political objectives.
“The basic idea behind October 13 incident was to embarrass Bangladesh’s government credentials and force a reaction from India,” said a diplomat based in Dhaka. The Jamaat thrives on radicalised youth to oppose the Sheikh Hasina government and is networked with other pro-Taliban regimes in Bangladesh.