New CCTV footage shows Iqbal Hossain meeting with two caretakers of a local shrine on the night of the incident. Hossain is the man who had allegedly placed a copy of the Qur’an at a Durga Puja venue in Cumilla, triggering week-long Islamist attacks on the Hindu minority in Bangladesh.
It appears as though the trio met, and that a copy of the Qur’an, believed to be the same used later to incite violence, was placed in the shrine.
The fallout from that action led to a week of violent attacks on the Hindu community and seven deaths, including two Hindus. Iqbal, believed to be a vagrant, has yet to be apprehended.
The chief custodian of the shrine, Ahmedunnabi Mashuk, identified the two caretakers of Darogabari — Hafez Humayun and Faisal. After a brief meeting inside the mosque at 11 PM on 12 October, Hafez Humayun kept the Qur’an in a closet while Iqbal was seen leaving the mosque.
Another footage circulated on 20 October shows Iqbal collecting the Qur’an from the mosque after several hours, at 2:12 AM. He then walked outside and placed the Qur’an on the lap of an idol, Hanuman, at the temporary Durga Puja venue in Nanuardighi.
Police disclosed Iqbal’s name on 20 October but could not arrest him so far.
Previous CCTV footage showed Iqbal moving out of the mosque and coming back from the Puja pavilion with the club of Hanuman, a central character in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on 21 October said that police were unable to locate Iqbal since “he is not using his phone now. But he will be arrested soon”.
Kamal suspects that there may be some instigators behind it. “After his detention, those behind the incident can be found.”
On 13 October, local resident Iqram Hossain called 999 to report that a Quran had been placed at the Puja venue.
Kotwali police Officer-in-Charge Anwarul Azim reached the scene in plainclothes within a few minutes of receiving the call.
Meanwhile, another local, Foyez Ahmed, streamed the whole thing live on Facebook and revealed the OC’s identity while he was briefing a high-level official over the matter.
The video then went viral on several groups, triggering protests.
Foyez was arrested by the police and is being interrogated in custody.
Several temples and puja venues in the city came under attack in the afternoon as tension mounted after the video went viral. Many shared the video calling for attacks on Hindu sites on allegations of sacrilege.
Police filed four cases over the Cumilla incident and arrested at least 41 people.
‘Iqbal is a drug addict’
Family members say Iqbal spent most of his time at various local shrines. He was a drug addict. They said, in what appeared a bid to lessen the magnitude of his crime, that he harassed neighbours as well as put pressure on his family members under the influence of drugs.
The son of a fish trader called Nur Ahmed Alam, Iqbal lives in the city’s Sujanagar area and is the eldest among five siblings.
She said Iqbal had been mentally torturing family members and harassing people on the streets under the influence of drugs.
A yaba-addict, Iqbal spent most of his time in shrines, especially the one in Akhaura, she said.
Amena says her son became mentally unstable following an incident where he was stabbed 10 years ago.
“People used to think of him as a thief and beat him up,” she said before adding that she recently heard from the local councillor that he had walked away with a club from the idols at the puja pavilion.
According to Iqbal’s younger brother Rayhan, police have been looking for his brother since Friday.
He says Iqbal might have done it at someone else’s incitement, and if he is indeed guilty, he should be brought to justice.
“I turned him out of the house 13 days ago because he slaughtered five ducks with a blade,” said Iqbal’s grandmother Rahima Begum.
Cumilla City Corporation ward 17 Councilor Syed Sohel said that Iqbal used to stay near his office most of the time.
“I have known him for the last 10 years. He sometimes worked as a painter and sometimes as a daily wage worker,” said Sohel.
According to him, there were several complaints about him and the locals were exasperated with him but he did not have any political affiliation.
He further said that Iqbal became mentally unstable after his first wife, with whom he has a child, left him.
“I think some people took advantage of his mental condition and made him do it,” he said.