SAM Staff,

More than 50 people sustained injuries and properties of Ahmadiyya Muslims were burnt when local bigots went on a rampage at Ahmadnagar of Panchagarh on Tuesday night.

The attack was carried out ahead of the national convention of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh scheduled to be held from February 22 at Ahmadnagar.

The bigots under the banner of Khatm-e-Nabuwat Sangrakkhan Parishad were carrying out smear campaign across the district and organised people from various areas. Similar campaigns were carried out by some other groups supported by Hefazat-e Islam chief Shah Ahmad Shafi Zunaid Babunagari — Iman Akida Rakkha Committee, Islami Juba Samaj and Tauhidi Janata, said the Ahmadiyyas.

The Hefazat-e-Islam, a qoumi madrasah-based organisation, and various platforms of Khatm-e-Nabuwat are asking the government to declare the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims.

On Tuesday night, they brought out a procession and marched towards the village of Ahmadiyya people.

Police fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to bring back order while the attackers demanded cancellation of the convocation.

The bigots began demonstrating at Chowrangi crossing on Dhaka-Panchagarh Highway and other points of the town. Vehicular movement in those areas came to a halt from 9:00pm to 11:00pm and business establishments were closed down fearing violence.

Ignoring police efforts, a group of bigots went to Ahmadnagar crossing river Karatoa and attacked the houses and business establishments of Ahmadiyyas, said Panchagarh police officer-in-charge Abu Akkas Ahmed.

Akkas said around 50 people, including 20 policemen, were injured in the attack.

Ahmad Tabshir Chowdhury, a naib national amir of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh, at a press conference in Panchagarh on Wednesday said 20 households of the community members were attacked, vandalised and torched.

The women of the community were dragged outside of their homes and physically harassed, he said.

He said around 40 people were injured in the attack and two critically injured people are admitted to Rangpur Medical College Hospital.

Tabshir said the violence could be averted had the people from administration came to spot in time.

Panchagarh deputy commissioner Sabina Yasmin visited the injured people at hospital and said the perpetrators will be punished following investigation.

The Ahmadiyyas have been subjected to many attacks since 1990s.

Meanwhile, a five-member probe committee has been formed to look into Tuesday’s attack Ahmadiyya Muslims at Ahmadnagar.

The committee constituted with additional district magistrate Ehtesham Reza as its head has been asked to submit its report within three days, adds United News of Bangladesh.

Teams of the district administration and police administration visited the area on Wednesday and talked to the followers of the community.

Besides, police and Border Guard Bangladesh members have been deployed in the area to fend off further trouble.

Police fired 52 rubber bullets and 17 rounds of teargas shells to bring the situation under control.

Panchagarh deputy commissioner Sabina Yasmin said the permission for the three-day Jalsa Salana has been cancelled. She also said necessary steps will be taken after investigation.