As protests raged across the country, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo joined the growing chorus against communal violence on Monday and called upon the government to ensure security for the country's minority community.
Her call came on social platform Twitter against the backdrop of a flurry of protests from Dinajpur to Gazipur to Cumilla to Dhaka, all in demonstration against the arson attack on Rangpur Hindu community houses Sunday night.
Seppo, in a tweet, wrote, "Recent attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh fuelled by hate speech on social media are against the values of the Constitution and need to stop. We call upon the government to ensure protection of minorities and an impartial probe. We call upon all to join hands to strengthen inclusive tolerant Bangladesh."
A similar call was made by teachers, students, political activists, religious leaders, rights activists and general people during protests on Monday. They, too, demanded that the culprits who perpetrated the recent attacks on the temples, homes and businesses of the Hindu community across the country be brought to book immediately.
In the capital, hundreds of Dhaka University students and a group under the banner of Iskcon Swamibag Temple blockaded the Shahbagh intersection on Monday morning and started chanting anti-communal slogans. They also put forward a seven-point charter of demands, including arrest of the perpetrators and compensation to the victims of communal violence.
Their other demands include repairing the temples that were damaged in the attacks, ensuring the security of religious minorities by forming relevant laws, forming a minority ministry and commission, and making budgetary allocations for religious minorities.
The protestors called off their demonstration three hours later, giving the authorities a 24-hour ultimatum to meet their demands.
On Wednesday, a reported incident involving the holy Quran stoked communal tension in Cumilla. The incident also sparked a storm on social media as temples and puja celebrations came under attack in several districts. The spate of violence claimed six lives, including four in Chandpur on Wednesday last week.
While the Hindu community was still in deep shock, at least 29 Hindu houses were set on fire in Rangpur's Pirganj upazila centring a Facebook post on Sunday night.
On Monday, Dhaka University Teachers Association visited the temple in Cumilla where the reported demeaning of the Quran took place. They said people who demeaned the Quran and people who carried out the attack on temples did not have any religious identity and were terrorists.
The association demanded compensation for the victims, and said they will submit a memo to the home minister in this regard.
In the afternoon, a mass gathering was held in Cumilla with a call to thwart any attempt to carry out communal violence. "Hindus and Muslims together showed tremendous collectiveness here in averting any loss of life in the recent communal ploy," local member of the parliament AKM Bahauddin told the rally.
Meanwhile, in Chattogram, Chattogram University teacher Dr M Atiqur Rahman on Monday staged a one-man protest against communal violence by standing before the Joy Bangla sculpture wearing a blindfold.
In Dinajpur, Munshiganj and Gazipur, there were also protests by local Iskcon members against religious violence.
In Rajshahi, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) leaders and activists walked in an agitation march.
Abdullah Al Masud Shibli, JSD Rajshahi unit president, said lives were lost in communal clashes as law enforcers were not prepared and showed negligence in their duty. He also urged the socio-cultural organisations to step up to restore communal harmony instead of putting the entire responsibility on the government.
In a media release on Monday, the Socialist Party of Bangladesh (Marxist) also pointed a finger at the "inaction" of law enforcers, and said the government "cannot shrug off" the responsibility.
on Monday, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad Chattogram chapter formed a human chain in front of Chattogram Press Club denouncing the religious violence, vandalism and attack on the Hindu community. The religious leaders announced an agitation on 25 October in the port city.
Former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu) Nurul Haque Nur and his organisation Chhatra Odhikar Parishad brought out a candlelight vigil on Dhaka University campus.
"The government has been pampering the attackers for its political gain," Nur claimed. He demanded launching a judicial inquiry to look into the incidents, and demanded compensation for the victims.
In a separate development, police arrested five individuals in Feni on charge of inciting and orchestrating religious violence in the south-eastern Bangladesh district on Saturday.
On Monday at a top level party meeting, Awami League announced a nationwide "Sampriti Somabesh" (harmony rally) on Tuesday.