Bangla court demands explanation over anti-Buddhist violence

Nearly 300 people have been arrested for their suspected involvement in the attacks.

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s High Court on Wednesday asked the government to explain within a week its "inaction" in providing adequate protection to Buddhists and their temples after the worst flare up against the minority community.

The top court sought an explanation from the government days after a Muslim mob, incensed by an allegedly offensive Facebook post, went on rampage in southeastern Ramu and vandalised 13 temples and attacked houses in Buddhist neighbourhoods.

Nearly 300 people have been arrested for their suspected involvement in the attacks.

"The High Court issued a rule asking the government to explain in the next seven days its inaction in providing security to the people including the religious minorities," a court official said.

Under the order, the home secretary and inspector general of police, will have to submit the investigation report to the High Court by October 17.
He said the two-judge bench also expressed anxiety over the violence in Ramu of Cox`s Bazar district and ordered sufficient security measures for "all mosques, temples, churches, pagodas and other places of worship across the country".

The order came in response to two writ petitions -- one by by a Buddhist lawyer and another by a Muslim -- alleging that local police administration did not take any steps to prevent the attack.

Following the attack, the district police administration withdrew the local police station chief, A K Nazibul Islam, for negligence of duty.

Judges Naima Haider and Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar also asked the authorities concerned to explain why they should not be directed to pay compensation to the victims of attack and vandalism in those areas.

Incensed apparently by an anti-Islam Facebook post allegedly posted by a follower of the Buddhist faith, a group of people instigated local Muslims to attack Buddhist neighbourhoods.

The mob torched 11 Buddhist temples, damage two others and ransacked some 30 houses in Ramu and adjoining Ukhiya and Teknaf areas.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered immediate steps to ensure the perpetrators are awarded exemplary punishment.

Senior government leaders, including information minister Hassanul Haque Inu, today joined a human chain street protest in Dhaka to condemn the violence against Buddhists.

As political parties, rights groups and civil society leaders condemned the attack, National Human Rights Commission chairman, Mizanur Rahman, said the vandalism on Buddhist sites spoiled the constitutional spirit of secularism.

"The picture of the ruined statue of Gautam Buddha published in newspapers represents a bleeding Bangladesh," he said.

Army troops launched relief operations for the victims of the violence and tents and food was distributed to the affected people. The Army also promised to rebuild the temples and damaged houses with government money.

The government constituted an administrative probe committee to investigate the matter while parallel police investigations are underway.