Suspects give vital info on Hindu priest murder: Bangladesh police

Three suspected Islamists arrested over the brutal murder of a top Hindu priest in Bangladesh near the Indian border gave out "important information" about the first attack against the minority community, authorities said on Wednesday.

PTI| Updated: Feb 24, 2016, 21:45 PM IST

Dhaka: Three suspected Islamists arrested over the brutal murder of a top Hindu priest in Bangladesh near the Indian border gave out "important information" about the first attack against the minority community, authorities said on Wednesday.

"We have got important information during interrogation of the three arrested persons. But we do not want to disclose details at the moment," Babul Akhtar, offficer-in-charge of the police station of Debiganj, the scene of the murder in northern Panchagargh, told reporters.

The chief priest of Hindu temple Sri Sri Shantu Santo Gaurio, 50-year-old Jagneshwar Roy, was on Sunday slaughtered at Sonapota village, some 494 km from here, in a pre-dawn attack by unidentified assailants who also injured two Hindu devotees before fleeing on a motorbike.

Chief investigator of an eight-member police investigation team Deen Mohammad said: "We are advancing successfully, expecting to bring to justice the culprits very soon."

Their comments came a day after a Panchagargh court ordered the trio - two suspected operatives of the outlawed Jamaatul Mujahideeen Bangladesh (JMB) and an activist of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami - to be remanded to police custody for 15 days.

The envoys of the US, Britain and European Union in Dhaka condemned the murder, calling it a "cowardly act" while authorities ordered an intense investigation into the killing, believed to be carried out by Islamists.

US-based private SITE Intelligence Group said that the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed the responsibility even as authorities dismissed it, saying the Middle-East-based dreaded group had no presence in Bangladesh.

Key opposition outside parliament Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) chief and ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia also issued a rare condemnation of the killing, a move seen as her party's efforts to avoid accusations by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government that it was sympathetic to the Islamists.

"I, in the possible strongest terms, condemn and deplore the attack and the killing of a member of a minority religious community. They are also peace-loving citizens of this soil and have the right to live in this country," Zia said in the statement issued yesterday.

Roy's murder is the first attack on a Hindu priest and the fifth assault on minority religious communities including Shia Muslims and liberal Sufi preachers in the past six months by suspected Islamists.

Hindus make the Sunni-majority country's largest minority with nearly 10 per cent of the total population of 160 million.

Systematic assaults in Bangladesh over the last five months have killed nine persons including two foreigners besides wounding nearly 100 others.