No arrest yet in Bangladesh ISKCON Temple attack case

Dhaka, March 19 : The authorities are yet to nab any of those allegedly involved in the attack and vandalism of the ISKCON Temple in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka even though a case has been lodged and security intensified in the temple, police and eyewitnesses said on Saturday. An armed mob, numbering around 70-80, raided the Radhakanta Temple of the religious order on Thursday evening, threatened and beating up the devotees, while also vandalising its premises and looting its property. An International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) official in Bangladesh alleged that three of the devotees were injured in the attack as the mob vandalised the temple located on Lalmohan Saha Street under Wari police station for over two hours, despite the police’s arrival on the scene. According to the First Information Report, which is in possession of , a case under various sections related to unlawful assembly, trespass, attempt to murder, theft, criminal intimidation, voluntarily causing hurt and mischief has been started against Mohammad Safiullah and Mohammad Israf Sufi and 70-80 unknown persons at the Wari police station. The case was started based on a complaint by Sumantra Chandra, an ISKCON devotee residing on Lalmohan Saha Street, who was alleged to have been grievously injured in the attack. Both Safiullah, aged 62, and 31-year-old Israf also reside in the same locality. ISKCON, Bangladesh, General Secretary Charu Chandra Das Brahmachari alleged that the miscreants could run amock as the local police remained silent spectators and initially denied the incident while speaking to the media. “When the injured devotees went to the police station to lodge a complaint around Thursday midnight police initially dillydallied and took cognizance of the case only the next afternoon,” Charu Chandra Das said in a signed press release. He alleged that the miscreants had decamped with an idol of Goddess Saraswati. The official complained that despite video footage of the attack and other evidence the police had failed to make any arrests till now, and the “lives of the devotees residing in the temple were under threat as the security of the premises have been compromised with the miscreants damaging a wall and issuing threats”. An ISKCON official in Kolkata said 12 policemen have been posted in front of the temple, but Charu Chandra Das complained of “insufficient police arrangements” and expressed fears that the miscreants “may attack again and cause grave damage” to the temple. “The Deputy Commissioner of Police of Wari area has said he would sit with the two parties in his office on Saturday,” he said. The incident happened when the devotees of the temple were performing a ceremony on the 102nd birth anniversary of Bangladesh’s first president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, affectionately called Bangabandhu and regarded as the Father of the Nation. Charu Chandra Das appealed to the Bangladesh Government and administration to mete out immediate exemplary p shment to the miscreants, ensure the protection of the temple and the devotees and provide compensation for the repair work. Leaders of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad have also demanded immediate arrest of the culprits and alleged that the attack took place under the umbrella of the country’s ruling Awami League. There have been attacks in the past but the investigations have not been completed, they added. Hindu Kalyan Foundation, Bangladesh Sanatan Kalyan Jote and other Hindu organisations staged a human chain in front of the National Press Club on Saturday afternoon. MAZ SSP SHK2203

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