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2012 Fatehpur Violence refers to the attack on the minority Hindu community in the Fatehpur village under Kaliganj upazila in Satkhira District in South-western Bangladesh on the 31 March 2012.

Background

On 26 March 2012, on the occasion of the Independence Day the students of Fatehpur High School staged a play adapted from the short story 'Huzur Kebla' by eminent Bangladeshi politician and litterateur Abul Mansur Ahmed.[1] The text is included in the syllabus of Bengali in the university degree courses.[1] Three days later, on 29 March 2012, Dainik Drishtipat and Dainik Alor Parash, two Jamaat-e-Islami supported local newspapers reported that blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad were made in the drama. Though the news was proved to be false later on, tensions began to mount once the news spread.[2]

On 30 March, South Sripur Union Parishad member Abu Jafar Sanpui filed a case with Kaliganj police station accusing dramatist Shahinur Rahman, headmaster Rezwan Harun and assistant headmaster Mita Rani Hazra. Police arrested the headmaster and the assistant teacher and send them to jail.[3]

A group of Muslims and mullahs held noisy demonstrations after Jumma prayers on Friday, blocking roads for hours.[4]

Attacks

On Saturday, people from neighbouring areas began to gather in Fatehpur village under the banner of Touhidi Janata.[5] Hundreds of people from Krishnanagar and Bishnupur unions and other areas assembled outside the Fatehpur village of South Sripur union. At around 9 A.M. they attacked the Fatehpur High School and Fatehpur Government Primary School with sticks, iron rods and machetes. Then they attacked the houses of Shahinur Rahman and his three brothers and set them on fire. In the Banshtala market, they set fire to the shop of Abdul Hakim Sardar, a member of the administrative committee of Fatehpur High School.[6] Then as the sun set the Muslims burnt down the house of 7 Hindu families including Mita Rani Hazra. They also robbed valuable things from those houses.

On Sunday afternoon, rumour spread that Lalita Sardar, a Hindu housewife from Chakdaha village had made another blasphemous remark about Prophet Muhammad. People began to gather in the Sardar residence. In the evening, Firoz Kabir Kajal, the president of Nazimganj Bazar Committee arrived at their house along local Union Parishad members. They began to pressurize Lalita to publicly apologize for her blasphemous remarks. During this meeting about two hundred youths from nearby villages gathered near their house and threatened to kick the family and send them to India. At around 7 PM in the evening thousands of teenagers and youths were called to the spot from the different villages of Kaliganj Upazila. The outsiders gathered around the houses of the minority Hindus and began to pelt stones and brick bats in their houses. The Hindu men, women and chidren fearing for their lives, began to run towards safety. The attackers then broke open their houses and looted their valuables, including jewelry, garments, land deeds and other valuable documents. They also snatched the jewelry box from Lalita Sardar. After securing the loot in safe havens, the miscreants doused the houses in petrol and set them on fire. The houses of 10 Hindu families were looted and set on fire. The loot and arson took place in the presence of the police. The fire brigade was blocked from entering into the area until the houses were completely burnt. The District Magistrate, District Superintendent of Police, the Additional D.I.G. (Khulna Range) and RAB officers arrived at night and tried to bring things under control.[1]

Aftermath

A week after the attacks, the majority of the Hindu victims still remained terrorized. Members of many of the families haven't returned to their houses.[7]

On Wednesday, 11 April 2012 District Commissioner of Satkhira District canceled declaration of the daily drishtipat because of provocating the attack on Hindu families and failure to answer show cause order of the High Court.[7] The police also arrested Mizanur Rahman,the reporter behind the news.

Protests

Main stream Bangladeshi Media completely maintained a silence over this incident. Then as the Hindu Students of Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University protested against the persecution. Bangladeshi Media highlighted this event. Students of Dhaka University Jagannath Hall staged demonstrations putting up barricades on Shahbag-Matsya Bhaban road on Thursday, 5 April 2012 morning. Nearly 500 students brought out a procession from their dormitory in the morning and later took position at Shahbagh around 10:30am. They demanded tougher actions against the people responsible for the incident. Earlier, on Wednesday night, the students blocked Elephant-Matsya Bhaban road for an hour on the same issue. Bangladesh Hindu Mohajot also protested against the incident.

Dhaka University teachers on Wednesday, 11 April demanded a fair trial and punishment of the people. In protest at the attack, the university teachers teamed up as Sachetan Chhatra-Shikkhak Brinda, went on demonstrations at Aparajeya Bangla to push for their demand to free in 20 hours the detained headmistress of the Fatehpur school, Mita Rani Hazra, associate teacher Harun-or-Rashid and Class IX student Sayeed who acted in the drama. ‘We, the teachers of Dhaka University, will, otherwise, go on greater demonstrations in Satkhira,’ said the programme’s moderator Robaet Ferdous, a teacher of mass communication and journalism. The teachers asked the government to compensate the victims of the attack and said that ‘misinterpretation of religion’ was what led to the ‘shameful’ incident. Syed Anwar Hussain said, ‘In 1971, we did not want any Bangladesh where minority people would be repressed because of their creed.’ A victim of the attack, Lakshmipada Mondal, recalled the horror of the attack. ‘People who have not seen repression of the Bengalis by the Pakistani army in 1971 can have a glimpse of such incidents by visiting our neighbourhood,’ he said, demanding justice. Ashim Chakrabarty, a newsman of Satkhira, accused a reporter of Drishtipat of inciting the Muslims and demanded that the newspaper should be banned. Niranjan Adhikari, Azizur Rahman, Dalem Chandra Barman, Kaberi Gayan, Shudhangsha Sekhar Roy, Saiful Hoque, Golam Rabbani, Samia Nishat Amin, Ziaur Rahman, Mahbuba Nasreen, among other, expressed their solidarity with the rally. Several hundred students joined in. The teachers and students on Tuesday night brought out a silent torch procession that ended at the Central Shaheed Minar after parading campus roads.[8]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Rahman, Mizanur (April 3, 2012). "সাতক্ষীরায় ৭ সংখ্যালঘু পরিবারের ঘরবাড়ি পুড়িয়ে দেয়া হয়েছে". The Daily Janakantha. http://www.dailyjanakantha.com/news_view.php?nc=15&dd=2012-04-03&ni=91993. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  2. "সাতক্ষীরায় সংখ্যালঘু নির্যাতনের প্রতিবাদে জবিতে মানববন্ধন, বিক্ষোভ মিছিল". banglanews24.com. April 10, 2012. http://www.banglanews24.com/detailsnews.php?nssl=3d22a942cc0b2fc99d5403d0f3904d95&nttl=102961. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  3. "Playwright arrested, houses set on fire". The Independent. April 1, 2012. http://theindependentbd.com/paper-edition/frontpage/129-frontpage/102635-playwright-arrested-houses-set-on-fire.html. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  4. Samad, Saleem (March 30, 2012). "Teachers Arrested for Blasphemy in Bangladesh". WALL-STREET.COM. http://www.wall-street.com/2012/03/teachers-arrested-for-blasphemy-in-bangladesh/. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  5. "কালীগঞ্জে আবারও বাড়িঘরে লুটপাট, অগ্নিসংযোগ". Prothom Alo. April 4, 2012. http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/news/237738. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  6. "কালীগঞ্জে বাড়িঘর শিক্ষা প্রতিষ্ঠানে হামলা, আগুন". Prothom Alo. April 1, 2012. http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/news/237018. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "কালীগঞ্জের দুই গ্রামের মানুষ এখনো আতঙ্কিত তিনজন গ্রেপ্তার". Prothom Alo. April 8, 2012. http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/news/238769. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  8. http://www.newagebd.com/detail.php?date=2012-04-12&nid=7000
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