Police are on the verge of wrapping up investigations into the 12 cases filed over the alleged desecration of Quran at a mandap during Durga puja in Cumilla last year that triggered violence and led to attacks on the Hindus.
On October 13 last year, a man, named Iqbal Hossain, allegedly placed the Quran on the lap of an idol at the mandap while another accused, Ikram, dialled national emergency helpline 999 to report the “desecration of the holy scripture”.
The incident that went viral on various social media platforms led to violence and attacks on temples and vandalisation of houses and businesses of the Hindu community in several districts, including Cumilla, Chandpur, Noakhali, Chattogram and Rangpur.
It left at least eight people dead and many injured. Of the dead, five were Muslims rioters who died in police firing.
All the 12 cases were subsequently filed in Cumilla. They are being probed by different law enforcement agencies including police, the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
“Of the six cases under CID, chargesheets have been already submitted in five while another is waiting for administrative approval,” said Superintendent (SP) of Cumilla CID Md Zakir Hossain.
“A case filed at the Kotwali police station under the anti-blasphemy and anti-terrorism section of CrPC (The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898) is awaiting the Home Ministry’s approval to invoke another section to it. Meanwhile, chargesheets have been submitted in the cases filed under counter-terrorism, special powers, digital security and explosive substance acts.”
Out of the four cases under investigation, PBI has submitted a chargesheet against one person in one case.
PBI officials said that the investigations in the remaining three cases are also in the final stages.
District police have investigated two major cases filed over the temple incident in Cumilla but they are also waiting for Home Ministry’s approval to file a chargesheet, said Cumilla SP Md Abdul Mannan.
The two cases filed under the anti-terrorism act and sabotage under CrPC are awaiting administrative approval, he said.
Durga puja mandap will be established this year also in the Nanua Dighir Par area where the incident took place last year, said Cumilla deputy commissioner Mohammad Kamrul Hasan.
Security has been tightened this year considering last year’s violence, he said.
General Secretary of Cumilla District Puja Celebration Committee Nirmal Paul said that 794 puja mandaps have been set up the district this year. “We hope that the puja will be celebrated smoothly this time with the help of the administration and the law enforcement agencies,” he said.