HINDU FAMILIES LEAVE BANGLADESH AFTER COMMUNAL ATTACKS

At least six Hindu families from Bangladesh's Brahmanbaria district have left the country in the wake of Sunday's communal attack in which several temples were vandalised and more than 100 Hindu homes damaged, media reported on Wednesday. According to Dhaka Tribune, the Hindus of Nasirnagar area who earlier chose not to flee despite massacres committed against them during the 1971 War of Liberation are now thinking of it as the last option to save their life following Sunday's attacks. Around 100 people, including women, were injured in the attacks.

Some 3,000 Muslims took part in the series of violent attacks that were carried out in the Hindu localities of Nasirnagar following a rally over an alleged defamatory post by a Hindu youth, Rasraj Das, on Facebook. Rasraj had apologised to the Muslims the day before, saying that his account had been hacked, Dhaka Tribune reported. Around 33 per cent voters of Nasirnagar are Hindus and they have always favoured the ruling Awami League. The damaged house of Rasraj was found empty by the Dhaka Tribune reporter as his parents and siblings had gone into hiding. The local friends of Rasraj did not want to acknowledge him as a friend, fearing reprisal. Some families of the village have already left the place. An elderly person of the Hindu community, wishing not to be named, told the Dhaka Tribune that at least five families had crossed the border into India in the last two days. He said: "Many Hindu families have left their houses and are afraid of coming back to the village. I came here to observe the situation and will go back to my relative's house in the night."

Local Bulu Mia, who knew Rasraj - a fisherman, said that the youth was a good person. "I think he does not know the Kaaba... How did he post a photo on Facebook when he is an illiterate person?" In a post early Saturday, Rasraj apologised to the Muslims from his Facebook profile saying that his account had been hacked. Bulu Mia said they had never seen such communal attacks in the village. "The Hindus and Muslims here live together and attend everyone's programmes." Asked if Rasraj had conflict with someone, Bulu said that he might have taken loan for his fishing project from some Muslim businessmen. "He shared with us that he was looking for loans."

Local Hindus said that the attackers who vandalised the house had also looted the valuables. People of the Hindu community, including women and children, said they were scared of going out of the house and feared attacks. The police have filed two cases against more than 1,000 people over Sunday's attack. A four-member team of the Awami League led by Organising Secretary A.K.M. Enamul Haque Shamim visited the affected temples and houses and assured the Hindus of informing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about the situation during a closed-door meeting with the locals.

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