At least three protesters were killed and many others, including policemen, injured on Wednesday night after the alleged "desecration" of the Holy Quran at a temporary Hindu temple sparked violent protests in Bangladesh.
The incident of desecration happened in the southeast of capital Dhaka in Comilla district on early Wednesday. However, the deaths were reported later in the south-central Chandpur district’s Hajiganj area.
The Bangladeshi Hindu religious community was celebrating a five-day-long Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of Bengali Hindus, at temples across the country.
Md Shakhawat Ullah, the Chandpur district civil surgeon, confirmed the deaths of three people to Anadolu Agency.
“At least 10 more people and 19 police personnel were under treatment at Hajiganj hospital,” he added.
Angry protesters brought out a procession from the Hajiganj Biswaroad intersection area in Chandpur district after night prayer on Wednesday while an attack was reported at a nearby temporary Puja Mandap, according to media reports and officials.
Law enforcement personnel fired tear gas and opened fire at the angry mob to bring the situation under control, triggering a clash between the mob and police that left three people dead in Hajiganj.
One of the protesters died on the spot while two others succumbed to their injuries at the hospital, health officials told Anadolu Agency.
“The situation in the district is under control now. We are working to maintain peace and religious harmony in the district,” Anjana Khan Majlish, deputy commissioner of Chandpur, told Anadolu Agency.
“Additional members of law enforcement were deployed to avoid any untoward situation, and section 144 has been imposed to restore law and order,” she mentioned.
Many people were also injured in clashes in Comilla, Chattogram, Kurigram, and Moulvibazar districts where Hindu temples were vandalized, according to local media reports.
In a video statement, Religious Affairs Minister Md. Faridul Haque Khan said the "government is aware of the alleged report of ‘demeaning the Holy Quran’ and directed the local authorities to investigate the incident."
No one involved in the incident or attempting to destroy the existing religious peace and harmony will be spared, he said, urging people to maintain peace and stability as the government is taking necessary actions.
In response to the demand of district administrations and under the direction of the Home Ministry, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is being deployed in different districts across the country to ensure the security of Durga Puja.
The guards have been deployed in 22 districts, including Comilla district, BGB Director Operations Lt. Col. Faizur Rahman said in a statement, adding forces will also be deployed in the capital Dhaka if there is a demand from the concerned authorities.
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