ISKCON temple attacked and devotee killed in Bangladesh; Delhi sees move to stir trouble

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An ISKCON temple in Bangladesh was vandalised and a devotee killed by a mob — this was the fifth death since Thursday — and there appeared to be growing realisation in New Delhi that a “coordinated” and “orchestrated” move was at work to stir up communal tensions across “multiple locations” there.

South Block is worried over the spate of incidents which the Bangladesh authorities are unable to prevent or control despite heavy deployment of paramilitary forces in more than half of the administrative districts in the country.

The attack on the ISKCON temple in Noakhali shocked the Hindu community there, leading to protests on the streets. Sources said the possible involvement of Islamic extremist groups in Bangladesh trying to stir up trouble and cause communal conflict between the two communities is being investigated.

The ISKCON authorities tweeted about the incident, putting out photographs of the vandalisation: “ISKCON temple & devotees violently attacked in Noakhali, Bangladesh. Temple suffered significant damage and the condition of a devotee remains critical.”

Later Saturday, it said: “Partha Das, an enthusiastic devotee, was brutally killed yesterday by a mob of over 200 people. His body was found in a pond next to the temple.”

“We call on the Govt of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of all Hindus & bring the perpetrators to justice,” ISKCON said.

Bangladesh authorities have imposed a nationwide security vigil while officials said that initial investigations have thrown up crucial evidence against the perpetrators of violence against the Durga Puja celebrations of the minority Hindu community.

The paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has expanded its vigil to 34 out of 64 administrative districts in the country.

The elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said it expects to arrest some of the key perpetrators of the violence which took place in the last three days.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters: “We expect developments of the investigations in the next one or two days.”

Colonel KM Azad of RAB said: “The violence appeared to be part of a plot against inter-faith harmony and the perpetrators were involved in identical incidents in the past as well.”

“We are preparing to take stringent legal action and arrest some of them very soon,” he said.

What is worrying is that the incidents of violence took place hours after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a stern warning Thursday after attacks on Hindu temples and Durga Puja venues in Comilla.

“Nobody will be spared. It does not matter which religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished,” she said.

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