Fear stalks Ramu residents

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Rupashibanglanews desk: Even after surrounded by tight security, residents of the Ramu upazila in Cox’s Bazar are still petrified to the fact that some of the locals had joined the religious fanatics from outside in unleashing violence on a Buddhist community there. A visit to different Buddhist households at Ramu and Ukhia on Monday revealed that suspicion, mistrust and lack of confidence linger on the minds of the riot victims. They said people of the adjacent areas had joined the extremists who invaded from outside the upazila to rampage through temples and homes.
Buddhist families in Merongloa Parha, Srikul, Mithachharha areas in Ramu and Paschim Marichya and Court Bazaar areas in Ukhia said they felt insecure after the attacks at the Buddhist Viharas and houses.
The hate attacks were launched on Saturday night and continued for five hours when religious zealots set seven Buddhist temples and at least 30 houses and shops ablaze. More than a hundred houses and shops were also reportedly attacked, vandalised and looted. The religious violence, one of the worst in Bangladesh, appeared to have been triggered by a Facebook posting allegedly defaming the Quran.
The atrocities also spilled into several upazilas in the Cox’s Bazaar. Miscreants late on Sunday also attacked, vandalised and torched Buddhist temples, houses and Hindu temples in Ukhia, Teknaf and Chittagong’s Patia district.
Merongloa Parha Seema Rajban Buddhist Vihara’s General Secretary Tarun Barua on Monday told “We are living in insecurity. We can’t even rely or believe anymore some of those with whom we have lived together for long.”
He said they were not feeling safe even after the presence of the army, police, BGB and RAB personnel.
Some of the locals told that a group of people from Ramu Sadar area had supported the outsiders in the attack on Saturday night.
But none of them took names or identified the local perpetrators for fear of reprisal. “We don’t want to upset them by mentioning their identities. We have to live here,” one of them said.
People living in areas near the Deengkor Buddhist Vihara at Ukhia’s Paschim Marichya also said many people from the nearby areas had attacked alongside the outsiders on five temples at the upazila.
Residents of the Court Bazaar area said the local Rohingya refugees, provoked by a religious fanatic group, also took part in the attack. The Paschimratna Shashontirtha Sudarshon Buddhist Vihara here was vandalised and set on fire around 7pm on Sunday. Some of the residents, requesting not to be named, made similar allegations. They said a religion-based political party instigated the attack in which some locals and mostly outsiders from Ramu took part.
The victims of the riot vented their frustration on Monday, saying the atrocities could have been averted if the local administration and police had acted right away. The local administration and the army on Monday distributed reliefs among the Buddhist families in Merongloa Parha, Srikul, Mithachharha areas in Ramu and Paschim Marichya and Court Bazaar areas in Ukhia whose houses were torched.
They were also provided with tents but most of the scarred families left the area to live with relatives on Sunday night as they were feeling insecure.
One of the victims Ripu Barua told that his family had spent Sunday night at a relative’s in the area. “Though the army has provided us with tents, but we are not sure whether we would stay there.”

Upload 2oct2012: Edit Aliraj/ Ruhul/ Arif

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