At least 53 people have been arrested after a mob of reportedly around 20,000 Muslims torched a village of Hindus in Bangladesh. According to reports, the incident took place after a young Hindu man wrote a "blasphemous" post on Facebook which incited communal tensions. Several houses have been burnt by the aggressors in the Rangpur district's Thakurpara village, located about 300km from the country's capital Dhaka.
The angry mob launched an arson attack on the village, mostly housing Hindus – a minority in Bangladesh, on Friday, 10 November, after vandalising and looting the houses. Scores of Hindu families were left homeless in the village after the incident as Bangladeshi authorities look into the sensitive communal unrest.
One person was killed and five others were injured when police opened fire during the mob attack to quell the unrest.
The protests stemmed after speculation arose that Titu Roy, who hails from the Thakurpara village, posted a message on Facebook defaming Prophet Mohammad. It is still unclear what the exact contents of the controversial post were and whether Roy had actually written it.
Most of the people who attacked the village reportedly gathered after Friday prayers.
Vehicular movement was also blocked for several hours when the angry crowd went on a rampage, and the police were forced to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to control the situation.
"A mob came to our neighbourhood on Friday afternoon and started ransacking our homes without any provocation," Dulali Rani, one of the victims, told the Dhaka Tribune. "They even took our cattle. They burned everything, even my cooking pots. We do not have a place to sleep at night, and no way to cook food."
Fresh arrests were made on Sunday, 12 November, with dozens of them produced before a court for trial. "Most of them are activists of Jamaat-e-Islami [Bangladesh's largest political party] and [its student front] Islami Chhatra Shibir," Rangpur Superintendent of Police Mizanur Rahman told the Bangladeshi news outlet Bdnews24.com.
Police have formed a special team and launched a manhunt for three of the main instigators of the attacks.
The atmosphere is yet to return to normalcy in the village and its surrounding areas. There is heavy police deployment in the area as well to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control further.