Two Muslim men accused of inciting hatred have admitted to their role in the communal violence that erupted in Bangladesh earlier this month. In their statements to the courts, the duo confessed to instigating violence against the minority Hindu community.
Shaikat Mandal and Rabiul Islam are among the 683 people arrested by police in Bangladesh in connection with the violence. The duo was picked up during a police raid in Gazipur on 22 October and booked under the Digital Security Act.
“Shaikat Mandal and his accomplice Rabiul Islam have admitted their role before a senior judicial magistrate Delwar Hossain in (north-western) Rangpur,” a court official said.
Mandal, a philosophy student at the Carmichael College in Rangpur in Pirganj sub-district, was expelled from the ruling Awami League’s student wing, Chhatra League, following his arrest.
Mandal told a magistrate on 24 October that his Facebook post triggered violence against Hindus in Rangpur during Durga Puja festivities on 17 October.
A Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) official told Bangladeshi news outlet bdnews.com that Shaikat Mandal uploaded the objectionable content on Facebook to increase his followers.
Mandal’s accomplice, Rabiul Islam, is a cleric. The 36-year-old has been accused of arson and looting.
In his statement to the magistrate, Islam confessed to making announcements on the loudspeaker that further instigated attacks against the Hindu minority.
Apart from Mandal and Islam, five other individuals have admitted to inciting communal violence during Durga Puja festivities in Bangladesh. The police have made a total of 683 arrests in connection with the violence.
Reports suggest that the violence was triggered by an alleged “blasphemous post” going viral on social media on 13 October. As many as 70 homes of Hindus were attacked in parts of Bangladesh as a result.
Violence broke out in Bangladesh’s Comilla after a copy of the Quran was kept inside a Durga Puja pandal.
Police later arrested a man identified as 35-year-old Iqbal Hossain in connection with the case. Officials revealed that CCTV cameras captured Hossain placing a copy of the Quran at the Durga Puja pandal and one Fayez Ahmed posted a video of the same on social media with the intention of instigating violence.
Addressing the country last week, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked people not to trust social media posts without fact-checking.