“I am sure the attacks were intentional and premeditated," Reazul said in a press briefing at the NHRC conference room on Thursday. "A day before the attack, announcements were made urging people to join a protest rally. The attacks might have been carried out intentionally with an aim to grab the community's land."
More than 100 people were injured when an unruly mob of around 3,000 local miscreants from the majority Muslim community armed with locally-made weapons demolished at least 12 temples and vandalised hundreds of houses of the Hindu community in Nasirnagar upazila of Brahmanbaria on October 30.
When asked whether this country was still safe for minorities, the NHRC chairman said the number of Hindu minority members is in decline.
“Lives and properties of Hindus are at stake. They are living in a situation similar to what they experienced during the Liberation War,” Reazul said.
"A vested group in the country has been trying to create fear among them. If this group becomes successful, the rest of the minority Hindus will eventually migrate. The (Nasirnagar) attack was aimed to make the Hindu minority community think that they are left without any option but to leave.”
'Misguided youths' followed orders
The NHRC on Tuesday formed a fact-finding committee, led by NHRC member Enamul Haque Chowdhury. The three-member team visited all the affected places on Wednesday and spoke to over 100 people including priests, eye witnesses, victims, and officials of the local administration.
“The miscreants involved in the attacks were seemingly misguided youths," Reazul said at Thursday's media briefing. "Another interesting similarity is that all the attacks took place at the same time in a similar pattern. So, it is a clear indication that there is someone behind this who gave them instructions, fixing the time and the pattern."
According to the NHRC report, Nasirnagar residents have made allegations against five influential locals: Maolana Nurul Islam from Jethagram; Tajuddin Ahmed from Dakmandap; former UP member Oli; Faruk Molla from Kharakpara; and Sobuj Hazi. The commission could not immediately offer more information on their identities.
The residents also told the committee that local Awami League leaders had attended the rally and given hateful speeches there, inciting the attackers to demolish Hindu temples and homesteads as a "religious responsibility".
Local lessons not learned
“In the past, we have experienced horrible atrocities in Ramu and other places. People, it is said, learn from their mistakes. But it seems the local administration did not learn anything," Reazul said.
"They allowed the hate rally to take place. They did not take any precautions even though from the mic announcements made the previous evening, it was very clear that the organisers of the rally were preaching hate and intolerance.”
Reazul said the commission did not believe that local fisherman Rasraj Das - who was remanded in custody on Thursday - had uploaded the doctored photo of Kaaba Sharif on his facebook wall which ignited the violence.
“He is an illiterate person. It is not possible for him to doctor a photo and upload it. Moreover, it goes against the common sense that a minority Hindu would upload such a photo on his own Facebook wall.”