Buddhist gurus in Cox’s Bazar on Thursday said that they had lost confidence in the government’s investigation of the attacks on minorities at Ramu that left 22 temples damaged as they believe that the committee had no scope to work independently.
They also questioned the activities of some elected representatives and ruling party leaders and said that such activities indicated that they were influencing government actions. Courts in Cox’s Bazar, meanwhile, allowed 105 out of the 205 people arrested in connection with the sectarian attack, to be remanded in police custody for periods varying from one to seven days for interrogation. Two were remanded in custody for seven days, 14 for three days, 23 for two days and the remaining 66 for a day. The police administration in the district on Thursday withdrew Tajul Islam, a subinspector of the Special Branch posted to Ramu, on charge of instigating people into the attack. Monk Pragyananda Bhikkhu, resident director of Ramu Central Sima Bihar, meanwhile, said, ‘We expected a fair investigation which could identify the culprits that instigated and mobilised people for such violent attacks. But activities of government officials and some politicians are forcing us to lose confidence in the government investigation.’ The Sima Monastery chief Pundit Satyapriya Mahathero, the most revered monk in Cox’s Bazar, echoed the opinion of his disciple. ‘Many senior people visited me after the attacked and enquired about my condition and said nothing. The attack destroyed all my achievement of 83 years. I asked them to identify the culprits and punish them in an exemplary manner. Arresting innocent people would make no sense but a chaos,’ the senior member of the Bangladesh Sangharaj Bhikkhu Mahasabha said. Pragyananda said that the government investigation committee members had visited the monastery and hurriedly left after asking a few questions. ‘It gave me the impression that they are in a hurry to prepare something.’ The monks said they would take up the issue with the National Human Rights Commission, which is expected to visit Ramu today. The monks were also unhappy about people who instigated the mob on Saturday night moving about freely. ‘We have heard that these people are claiming that there would be no harm to them. They are also threatening people they deem to have talked with the police and the media about their involvement,’ Pragyananda said. ‘If criminals get the blessings of the government or ruling party leaders, no investigation would be fruitful. We now prefer a judicial investigation as the administration people have many limitations,’ he said adding that as negligence of officials was responsible for the violence, an investigation by the officials could not be impartial. The Bengali Buddhists, locally known as baruas, at Merangroa said that some villagers had captured Nurul Islam Selim, a Swechchhasebak League activist people accused of instigating the mob, and handed him over to the police on Tuesday but the upazila council chairman, Sohel Sarwar Kajal, had him released from the police. The government investigation committee headed by additional commissioner of Chittagong division, visited a number of places at Ramu and recorded statements of a number of people. Quamrul Hassan, a member on the committee, declined to give details. ‘We are visiting places, interviewing people and trying our best [to find out the culprits].’ He expected to complete the task by the deadline. The government set up the committee on Sunday and asked it submit the report in 10 days. Uttam Kumar Barua, said to have given a posting on Facebook that resulted in the sectarian attack at Ramu, was still untraced, five days after the incident. It was believed that he had been taken by the police in their custody but the Ramu police said that they had taken only Uttam’s mother and aunt in their custody and were not aware of his whereabouts. Uttam’s uncle Tapas Barua said that as the violence spread, Uttam’s mobile was switched off. ‘We are not in touch with him but I am not sure whether he had contacted his in-laws,’ he said. There was a rumour that Uttam had surrendered to the Bandarban police but the superintendent of police in Bandarban, Quamrul Ahsan, said it was not true. ‘We had he same rumours and we have instructed the police to to interrogate anyone spreading such rumours,’ he said.