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Lalmonirhat mob lynching: ‘I didn’t know this would happen when I slapped Jewel’

  • Published at 01:37 pm October 31st, 2020
burimari union parishad office
The room at the union parishad office that was broken into by an angry mob before it lynched a man for supposedly hurting religious sentiment Dhaka Tribune

An eyewitness recounts the moments leading up to Thursday's shocking incident

“Seeing the stranger hurling abusive words at khadim Zubed Ali, while assuming various identities, I got angry and slapped the outsider right across his face. But I didn’t foresee what was to come afterwards.”

Abul Hossain, an eyewitness, said this while talking to Dhaka Tribune and recounting the events that led to the lynching of Abu Yunus Md Shahidunnabi Jewel in Lalmonirhat on Thursday

Abul Hossain, 38, son of Habu Miah of Burimari Union, runs a decorator business at Rumel Market, southeast of Burimari Union Parishad, the scene of the incident. He regularly goes to pray at the Burimari Central Jame Mosque, where the events first started to transpire.

According to Abul, on Thursday evening, he along with four others were talking in front of the Burimari Central Jame Mosque after Asr prayers. It was then that they heard a heated discussion between the mosque khadim (attendant) Zubed Ali and an unknown person inside the mosque. 

Also read - Lalmonirhat mob lynching: Jewel was mentally unstable, locals say

“I went to ask what was wrong and heard the stranger hurling abusive words at Zubed Ali,” said Abdul. 

“When I asked the stranger’s identity, he first identified himself as an agent of the Rapid Action Battalion and later assumed various other identities, like a madman. I got angry and slapped him right across his face twice and pulled him outside the mosque. I sat him down and asked for his name and address once again.

“This time, a man who he was with said they were from Rangpur. Our squabble started attracting viewers who were crowding the place, so I called the UP Chairman Sayeed Newaz Nishat. Sayeed, being out of town, told me to call Hafizul Islam, a member of the union parishad.

“When Hafizul Islam arrived on the scene, I handed the two men from Rangpur over to him. But, little did I know of the horrific fate awaiting the men,” he continued.

Asked about the rumours about desecrating the Quran, Abul Hossain said: “After handing over the men, the president of the mosque committee Rafiqul Islam Pradhan arrived on scene. He also went with them to the union parishad office. But I can't say or know how the rumour spread or how so many people gathered. I was not there.”

Dhaka Tribune tried to get in touch with Rafiqul Islam Pradhan but could reach him for his statement in this regard.

Also read - Mob lynches man, burns body for 'hurting religious sentiments'

Hafizul earlier told Dhaka Tribune that he locked the men inside a room of the Burimari Union Parishad office after picking them up from the mosque as the number of people started to increase suddenly.

“But agitated locals stormed the UP office and dragged one of the men outside before lynching him in front of the office. They then took the body to the Lalmonirhat-Burimari National Highway and burned it with firewood and petrol. There were 5,000-6,000 people,” Hafizul said.

He claimed that they never got a chance to speak with the two men. “We don’t know the men’s identities as we never got a chance to speak with them.

Golam Rabbani, a local trader, said: “On Thursday evening, a large number of people suddenly started gathering at the union parishad premises. At one stage, these people started breaking and entering the union parishad office. 

“Later, thousands of people were dispersed from the scene and then I heard that an unknown person had been beaten and burnt for insulting the Quran.”

Burimari Union Parishad Chairman Abu Sayeed Newaz Nishat said: “We are working in coordination with the police and the upazila administration to investigate the incident and catch the real culprits.”

Lalmonirhat Additional Superintendent of Police Rabiul Islam told journalists present at Patgram police station on Friday that police had visited the spot and collected evidence. “Other agencies, including our Criminal Investigation Department, are investigating the incident. The situation is currently under control. Preparations are underway to file multiple cases in this regard.”

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