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Six years of Ramu attack: No justice for the victims

  • Published at 07:30 pm September 29th, 2018
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Damaged Buddhist artifacts and religious books are lined up at a torched Buddhist temple in Ramu, which was one of the temples and homes attacked and destroyed by a mob on September 29, 2012 after an anonymous person posted a photograph of a desecrated Quran on a local Buddhist boy’s Facebook profile Rajib Dhar/ Dhaka Tribune

The only case, in which a Buddhist was a plaintiff, has been dismissed

Six years have passed since the attack on Buddhist monasteries and communities in Ramu, Cox's Bazar. 

Although communal harmony has returned after the brutal attacks in Ramu, no progress had been made in terms of meeting out justice to the perpetrators.

For this reason, Buddhist community leaders and locals believe most of the culprits were out of reach from law.

In September 29 and 30, 2012, a series of attacks were made on Buddhist monasteries, shrines, and houses of Buddhist inhabitants in Ramu upazila in Cox’s Bazar district by local mobs on the midnight past.

Hundreds of people went on a rampage through the village and set fire to houses and temples of the Buddhist community in the area.

At least 12 monasteries and 30 households in Ramu, seven monasteries and 11 houses in Ukhiya and Teknaf were torched during the attack.

Miscreants also attacked and looted at least six other monasteries and hundreds of household.

The government has taken the initiative to rebuild the damaged temples and household immediately after the attack.

According to locals and media reports, the acts of civic vandalism in the locality came about based on a rumor that an image had been found tagged with the Facebook account of local Uttam Barua, insulting the Prophet (pbuh) and the Quran.

Police have submitted charge sheet to the court against 945 people even though at least 15,182 people were accused in 19 cases regarding the attack in Ramu, Ukhiya and Teknaf.

In Ramu, 486 were accused in charge sheet of ten other cases. The only case, in which a Buddhist was a plaintiff, has been dismissed. Local Buddhist community leaders have said they did not know anything about the cases as they have been filed by the police.

Ramu Upazila Boudhho Juba Parishad (Buddhist Youth Council) Joint Convener of Bipul Barua Abbu told the Dhaka Tribune: "Our damaged houses and temples have been rebuilt with the sincere efforts made by the government. And social and religious harmony has returned among the people of Ramu."

He suspected many innocent people have been involved in the cases filed by the police. That scared him because the wrongly accused people might do something harmful in the future. The Buddhist community does not want any innocent people to be accused in any cases.

Cox's Bazar Boudhho Shurokkha Parishad (Buddhist Protection Council) Chairman Progyanando Bhikkhu said: "The eagerness among the eyewitnesses and those who wanted to give testimonies on the cases, have died down. They are thinking about their own safety and advantages now.

"Especially now that the culprits are freely living their lives even after their names appeared in the government probe. They have not been punished yet. This has naturally disappointed the affected people."

Cox's Bazar Session Judge's Court Public Prosecutor Momtaz Uddin Ahmed said: "At least 19 cases have been filed regarding the attack in Buddhist temples and households; among them one was disposed with the consent of the plaintiffs.

"14 out of other 18 cases are pending in court and the remaining four cases are ready for trial. They delay is happening as the people of Buddhist communities are reluctant to provide testimonies."

Cox's Bazar Additional Police Superintendent Md Iqbal Hossain said: "All cases regarding the attack in Buddhist temples and households have been provided with charge sheets. Those cases are now in court. Police will assist in bringing the witnesses if the court wants."

Meanwhile the Ramu Bouddho Juba Parishad (Buddhist Youth Council) is said to have been conducting a day-long program marking the six years of Ramu violence on Saturday.

The program will be held in Lal Ching-Shada Ching Maitry Bihar Complex of Shrikul village in the evening, with remembrance and lighting thousand candles and other religious events.

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