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Brutal attacks on minorities in Bangladesh amid the Covid-19 crisis

On Tuesday May 19th, 2020 2pm Muslim perpetrators attacked a helpless minority Hindu family in Lalitashar village of Mohanpur union in Comilla district’s Debidwar upazila, Bangladesh. Seven members of one Hindu family were injured. 3 to 4 of them are currently undergoing treatment at the local hospital (source: Dainik Oporad dated: May 23, 2020). The victims have been identified as Nitai Chandra Dutt (48), his mother Yuti Bala Dutt (65), wife Shakha Rani Dutt (35), son Tapu Chandra Dutt (20), elder brother Nimai Chandra Dutt (56), son Sujan Chandra Dutt (26) and niece Shant Dutt (14).

Next to these violent attacks, the Hindu family was also told to leave their area after the attack. Moreover, these perpetrators threatened to kill them if they did not leave their land. According to the complaint Nitai Chandra Dutta filed, the perpetrators were cutting down two trees on his drinking waste (crop land) and have been in dispute with the rival Muslims over these land issues. As a result of these disputes, the Muslim people often tried to evict Nitai Chandra Dutt’s whole family from their own homes. This included various times of unjust tortures, as well as the perpetrators occupying the land by talking about sharecropping.

The Muslim perpetrators are identified as, Md. Kamal Hossain (35), son of late Abul Kashem of Taltola village, Md. Golam Mostafa (44), Md. Zakir Hossain and their gang. Accused Kamal denied all the allegations brought against him, saying that Nitai Chandra Dutta has a little problem with cutting down a tree. He claims there was only a little quarrel with them about that.

The legal action in Bangladesh following the violent attacks on May 19 has been lacking. The helpless, minority family filed a verbal complaint at the Debidwar police station seeking redress of the attack. However, the Police Officer-in-Charge (OC) Mohammad Zahirul Anwar told Bangladesh Minority Watch that ‘no written case was filed and without a written complaint he could not proceed a case’. Immediately, I, Adv. Rabindra Ghosh on behalf of Bangladesh Minority Watch, gave legal advice to the injured Hindu family victims. Despite fear among the victims, Krishna Kant Dutta (01715698994), a member of the victim’s family became the complainant and agreed to file a case against some of the accused.

Some terrorists in the area are always intimidating and forbidding Hindus to take legal action. This has made the Hindus helpless and scared to come up for their own rights. Nitai Chandra Dutt told Bangladesh Minority Watch, “I have lodged a complaint with Debidwar Police Station seeking redress of the incident. I am in danger even after filing a complaint. The accused threatened us. Kamal the veteran dacoit, the main accused in the robbery of our Hindu house, has tortured the mothers and sisters of our village more than once. There is a case of robbery against Kamal in the police station. He will kill us”. Also, some selfish neighbors tried to mitigate the case and have delayed the settlement between Hindus and Muslims.

Investigating officer Md. Abdus Salam told Bangladesh Minority Watch the truth of the incident. “I have received a written complaint – Krishna Kant Dutta has become a complainant in the case No. 13 Section 143/448/323/324/308 in this police station on 22.05.20. Five accused under the Penal Code 1) Md. Kamal Hossain (35), 2) Mohammad Golam Mustafa (40), 3) Mohammad Zakir Hossain (38), 4) Rina Akhter (39), 5) Mohammad Zahirul Islam (35) and 5-6 other unnamed accused”. A case has been registered against him. I will arrest the accused now. ” said Md. Abdus Salam I.O. of the case. In this regard, OC of Debidwar Police Station Md. Zahirul Anwar told Bangladesh Minority Watch “Now we have registered a case on the 22nd May with your advice on legal role – we will arrest the accused.

Currently, Bangladesh Minority Watch is condemning the attack, calling for the immediate arrest of the accused and punishment in accordance with the law. Minorities deserve to live in a tolerant environment with their rights respected including access to legal support. Attention should be given to the voices of minorities who have been persecuted.