Dhaka: Bangladesh Police on Sunday arrested nine more persons in connection with attacks on Hindu temples and members of the community in the Muslim-majority country, taking the total number of arrests to 53 so far.
The arrests were made when police carried out drives in different areas, Nasirnagar police station Officer-in-Charge Abu Jafar said.
Police said they have arrested nine more persons for their alleged involvement in the recent attacks on the Hindus living in Brahmanbaria's Nasirnagar upazila, taking the total number of people arrested so far to 53, Dhaka Tribune reported.
The arrested people would be produced before local court without remand plea, he said.
Authorities have suspended Nasirnagar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Chowdhury Moazzem Hossain.
Miscreants set on fire at least six houses of Hindus in a predawn attack on Friday in Brahmanbarhia district's Nasirnagar, the place where at least fifteen temples and more than 20 houses were vandalised after a Facebook post deemed offensive to Islam sparked outrage in the country.
Meanwhile, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Sayedul Haque today denied his alleged anti-Hindu stance, saying he would quit his position in the Cabinet if someone could prove the allegations.
He said the allegation are part of a plot to destroy his "decades of political career".
"During my political career in the past decades, I never had any problem with Hindu community... I will quit my ministerial position if anyone could prove what is being said against me," he told a press conference at his constituency at Nasirnagar sub-district of central Brahmanbaria.
Haque, who is in his 70s, attributed the allegations to internal political conflicts in Brahmanbaria, saying "the affected people could be endangered more, if we are involved in mudslinging instead of taking steps to protect our Hindu brothers and sisters".
His comments came as authorities earlier today ordered withdrawal of a sub-district chief for failure to take prompt actions against perpetrators who attacked Hindu temples and households in central Bangladesh.
"They (miscreants) fled the scene immediately after torching the houses and two small temples were also damaged," a police officer told PTI.
Many Hindu families have deserted their houses after the attacks on temples and have taken refuge in other areas.
Tensions have escalated in the neighbourhood after the fresh assault reported on Friday.
Police had detained a total of 44 people in connection with the attack till Saturday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters have rallied in the capital demanding stern action against perpetrators of attacks on Hindus. Several hundred Hindu youths joined by Muslims staged a street protest at central Dhaka's Shahbagh Square.
Several political and rights groups also held another rally in front of the National Press Club demanding immediate and stern actions against the culprits.
The protesters at Shahbagh area enforced a blockade on the busy streets around the area for more than half an hour and forced ruling Awami League's joint general secretary Mahbul Alam Hanif to get out of his car, stuck in barricade, and express solidarity with them.
The protesters demanded resignation of a minister who had accused journalists of "exaggerating" the Nasirnagar attacks.
"(Livestock) Minister Sayedul Haque was in the area just few days after the (Sunday) attacks while a fresh attack took place after he visited the scene," the general secretary of Bangladesh Puja Celebrations Committee said.
"Stern punitive actions await the attackers as the Sheikh Hasina-led government has taken a tough position to this end," Awami League general secretary and Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader said at a function here.
Yesterday, police recovered a stolen idol from a mosque in the area.