On March 28, hundreds of extremists attacked Hindu temples. On the same day, a train in eastern Bangladesh was attacked by extremists. Violent protests broke out across the country as well, many of which were directed against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom protestors allege has shunned Indian Muslim minorities.
The protests largely began when people in the town of Hathazari took to the streets to protest Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Dhaka capital, but matters quickly escalated into a riot. Mohammed Russel, a duty officer at the Fire Service and Civil Defense control room, said by phone that they dispatched several units of firefighters after information that some passenger buses and a truck were torched. “But our teams could not reach the scene as the protesters blocked the hai roads,” he said.
According to Police, four people who sustained fatal gun shot wounds during the protests were members of the Hefazat-e-Islam Islamist group. Local police indicated at least another 11 protesters protesting Prime Minister Modi’s visit have been killed since March 26 in clashes with police.
Violence in Bangledesh was exacerbated by police crackdowns, with protesters responding by breaking down electricity poles and using sandbags and trees to block roads. Protestors have also burned buses in the capital Dhaka and have thrown stones at police. Meanwhile, the police have been using rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds. Javed Rahim, a journalist in the Brahmanbaria town, told Reuters by phone: “Brahmanbaria is burning. Various government offices were set on fire indiscriminately. Even the press club was attacked and many injured, including the press club president. We are in extreme fear and feeling really helpless.”
Facebook, a primary mean of communication throughout the events, announced that “We know that our services have been limited in Bangladesh. We are working to understand more and hope to restore full access as soon as possible,”. The American social networking company expressed severe concern about how Facebook is being restricted in Bangladesh when effective communication is needed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Al Jazeera news agency, the majority of protesters in Bangladesh opposed Mr. Modi’s visit, arguing that the 70-year-old politician takes stances and actions that increase religious tensions in India, especially against Mohammedan. Prime Minister Modi has also been criticized for discriminating against the Muslim community. “The right to peaceful protest has come under concerted attack, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, culminating in this type of bloody repression,” Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, Amnesty’s South Asia researcher, said in a statement.
Prime Minister Modi visited the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on March 26 to commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary of independence. Modi left Bangladesh on March 27 after giving a gift of 1.2 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to the host country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This display was not welcomed by all; “We don’t want to see Modi in Dhaka. He must leave Bangladesh soon,” said Sultan Mohiuddin, leader of Hefazat-e-Islam, to supporters in Dhaka.