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Gajipur Puja Premises Ransacked, Destroyed, 10 People Wounded
Dhaka, October 7, 2000

People from Gajipur Jama Masjid last Friday, after the Juma namaz (prayer), attacked Hindu Kali Temple's main yearly Puja premises. Attackers destroyed the Puja pandal gate, loud speaker, ornaments and idols. They also desecrated the clothes and puja prasad (offerings). The attackers came armed with axes, knives, swords and sticks. They also looted nearby shops owned by local Hindus.

The Muslim fundamentalists who carried out the attack claimed that the puja loud speaker disturbed their namaz (prayer). However, questions were raised about the collection of weapons in a short notice. Hindu leaders claimed that the attack was premeditated.

Eyewitnesses recollected that around 1:45 pm at the city's main Jama masjid, soon after the Juma prayer some Muslims shouted 'Narare Takbeer, Alha-hu-Akber' and attacked the Hindu Kali Temple 150 yards away. The Muslims claimed that during the namaz (prayer) there was sound from the Puja pandal. The attackers tore down the decorated entrance to the Puja and stormed the main compound of the Kali Temple with loud noise. Eyewitnesses claim that the attackers had knives, swords, sticks and axes.

The attackers entered the main Puja premises of the temple and desecrated the ornaments and Puja clothes. Some broke the Lakshmi, RamKrishna and Durga idols and completely disrobed them. The attackers also desecrated the prasad (offerings) brought by the Hindu devotees. Stones were pelted on all devotees. In this attack Khirbala Saha, Tulu, Subhash and 7 other priests were injured. In panic, women and children started crying and running. Some neighboring shops owned by Hindus were also looted and cash was stolen.

Just behind the Kali Temple is the Joydebpur police station. In spite of tremendous noise, police did not come to the rescue and delayed their presence by hours. After 45 minutes, around 2:30 pm, the attackers calmed down.

Some leaders of the Hindu organizations have claimed that the incident was pre-planned. The attack by Muslims with knives and axes proves that the attack was premeditated. They also informed that during the construction of the main Puja gate, some local businessmen obstructed them. This incident has created disharmony in the community. Hindu leaders have provided names of 20 attackers including Hatem, Lalu, Badshah, Mujibur, Najrul and Mohammed Ali.

In protest of this act of violence against minority Hindus, Gajipur Puja Committee requested for the cancellation all Durga Pujas in the district. Gajipur Puja Committee head Mr. Ajit Kumar Chowdhury stated 'if the idol is desecrated then the Puja can not continue.'

After the attack, Police Superintendent Farukh Ahmad Chowdhury and Gajipur Municipal Chairman A.K.M. Mozammel Haque visited the ransacked site. In a statement, Gajipur District Commissioner Mr. Samsul Haque informed that he would initiate a commission with two persons to investigate the incident.

 
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