Three rooms of the 400-year-old Paruarkul Ashtagram Maha crematorium and Radhagobind Ashram in Mohammadpur upazilla of Bangladesh's Magura district were set on fire by unidentified persons. Parts of three houses, chariots and idols were burnt in the fire which has now been doused.
Swapna Rani Biswas, former vice-chairman of Mohammadpur Upazila Parishad and organising secretary of the central committee of the Hindu-Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad, said cleaning workers came to the Gurudas temple and saw a blaze in there. The matter was later reported to the administration and fire brigade. The fire was extinguished before the fire brigade arrived from Mohammadpur.
Meanwhile, Mohammadpur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ramananda Pal, Assistant Commissioner of Land Harekrishna Adhikari, Mohammadpur Police Station OC Tarak Nath Biswas and local Babukhali Union Chairman Mir Sajjad Ali reached the spot after hearing about the incident. Later, the deputy commissioner said senior administration officials including Ashraful Alam, deputy commissioner of Magura and Superintendent of Police Zahirul Islam went to the spot.
Swapna Rani termed the incident as a ploy to "sabotage harmony, incite communal clashes and create political unrest".
Assistant Commissioner of Land Harekrishna Adhikari of Mohammadpur said a temple and two houses of the ashram were partially damaged in the fire. The idol is intact. However, the chariot was burnt during the fire.
He further said that only after proper investigation of the matter, it can it be said that it is "not a common occurrence".
Basudeb Kundu, general secretary of the district Puja Celebration Council, said locals had told him about setting fire to three houses, including a temple, and chariots and idols. Kundu, who later visited the spot, said that the miscreants set fire to seek the intervention of the administration.
Superintendent of Police Zahirul Islam said strict legal action would be taken against those responsible if any evidence of sabotage was found after investigating the matter. He further said that no non-communal force in Magura, a district of communal harmony, would be spared.
On Sunday, hundreds of members of a hard-line Islamist group attacked Hindu temples and a train in eastern Bangladesh, police and a local journalist said, as violence spread across the country in the wake of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At least 10 protesters were killed in clashes with police during demonstrations organised by Islamist groups against the PM Modi's visit, and violence raged on after his departure as anger swelled over the deaths.
PM Modi arrived in Dhaka on Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s nationhood, and he left on Saturday after gifting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina some 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccine shots.