Police have sued Juba Dal leader Md Azam, who moved to the United Arab Emirates on 3 May, for vandalising a puja mandap in Chattogram last week.
"I have been working in Abu Dhabi for the past six months, but I have been accused of attacking a temple in Chattogram on 13 October! I have no words to condemn this incident," Azam, a member of Hathazari Municipal Juba Dal, told The Business Standard yesterday.
Three more leaders and activists of the BNP, Juba Dal and Chhatra Dal, who have been in the Chattogram Central Jail for six months in a Hefazat-e-Islam violence case, have also been accused in the case.
They are Syed Iqbal, vice-president of Chattogram North District Juba Dal, Akram Uddin alias Pavel, a former member of Central Chhatra Dal, and Jonaid Mehedi, a BNP activist. They all are from Hathazari.
Hathazari police station OC Rafiqul Islam claimed that although Azam was abroad and Akram Uddin alias Pavel was in jail, "they have instigated the attack from there".
However, Shafiqul Islam Khan, senior caretaker at the Chattogram Jail, said, "Prisoners are under tight security. At present, their meetings with relatives are also suspended. So, there is no scope for any inmates to give an order to someone outside."
On 13 October, in protest against the alleged desecration of the Quran in Cumilla, some people attempted to enter the Sompara Public Puja Mandap near Sarkarhat of Hathazari upazila and vandalised the mandap gate.
The next day, Hathazari police station's Sub-Inspector Abidur Rahman filed a case against 61 named and 200 unidentified people. The police have so far arrested eight BNP and Juba Dal leaders and activists from Mirsarai upazila in connection with the case.
Shahinul Islam, convener of the Hathazari upazila Juba Dal, told The Business Standard, "Among the arrestees, Feroz Bhuiyan is a businessman and was at his shop in Mirsarai at the time of the incident. There is also CCTV footage of that time. None of the arrestees is named in the case."
The police also arrested four BNP and Jamaat members from Boalkhali upazila on Monday night in connection with the Satkania incident.
SI Abidur Rahman could not be reached over the phone for comment on the issue.
Chattogram North District BNP convening committee member Md Nazim Uddin told The Business Standard, "It has become a habit of the police to accuse BNP leaders and activists."
Chattogram South District BNP convener Abu Sufian said, "It is very shameful. Earlier, party leaders and activists were accused in cases in absentia, now our incumbent leaders are being named in communal attacks.
"The government is naming BNP leaders and workers in cases to harass them."
Allegations of harassing in Noakhali, Barishal too
Begumganj upazila BNP President Kamaksh Chandra Das has alleged that leaders and activists of the BNP and its affiliates are now being involved in the case of attack and vandalism on the Hindu community.
He said at least a hundred of their leaders and activists have been named in these cases, most of whom were not in or around Chaumahani at the time of the incident.
Former member of parliament from Noakhali and BNP central leader Barkat Ullah Bulu, and Subarnachar upazila Juba Dal president Belal Hossain Sumon, who are in Dhaka, have been charged in the case.
"Police have been making allegations against people in the BNP committee. They have also demanded money from them. If they can pay, they will release them," said Kamaksh Chandra Das.
"There are CCTV cameras in every street and shop in Chaumahoni town. The police can check the footage to determine whether or not the BNP leaders and activists were there, and if it is proved, I am ready to be the number one accused," he added.
District Police Superintendent Shahidul Islam said the police were not arresting anyone based on their political identity.
Controversy has also erupted over the accusation of BNP leaders in Barishal, too – in a case filed over an attack on a temple in Gournadi upazila as at least three BNP leaders were named among the accused, reports Prothom Alo.
Subhash Vaidya, plaintiff of the case, claimed that he did not know anything about the accused in the case. The president of the local union Awami League and the chairman of the union council had made him sign the case document.
"I was not at the spot at the time of the attack. Abdur Razzak Hawlader [chairman of the union council] took me to the police station and forced me to sign a case document. I am scared now," Subhash said.
However, Abdur Razzak Hawlader denied the allegation and said, "Subhash Vaidya voluntarily appeared at the police station and filed the case. Now he may have denied it under threat."
Gournadi Model police station OC Md Afzal Hossain said the case was filed based on specific allegations of the plaintiff. The case is under investigation.
Manoj Gomsta, a leader of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Parishad, said harassing innocent people by hiding the real culprits in the temple vandalism would be tantamount to retaliating against the minority community.