Arsonists set fire to a Buddhist Temple at Ramu in Bangladesh ahead of Election

Sangram Datta:

A head of general polls Arsonists set fire to a Buddhist temple in Ramu upazila of Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh early on January-6.

The incident took place at U Chit San (Rakhine) Ramu Buddhist Temple around 2:00am, said Moung Kew, president of the temple management committee.

Prompt efforts of the devotees and people from the neighbouring area managed to save the temple from burning down completely, he added.

The fire was set under a staircase, which led to the main hall of the temple, he said.

"Hearing the sound of burning wood, devotees living at the temple woke up and tried to douse the fire. Later locals joined them and put out the blaze completely," Moung Kew added.

The staircase was damaged completely, he said.

Fire service and police visited the spot, he added.

"A person with his face covered was seen on CCTV footage. He was seen leaving the complex after setting the temple on fire," he said.

Confirming the incident, Ashraful Hasan, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Ramu, said they visited the temple after the arson attack.

Security was beefed up at all the temples of the upazila following the incident, he said.

They are also investigating the incident, he added.

UNB quoted Ramu Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Abu Taher Dewan as saying, "The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, and it is uncertain whether it was an accidental incident or an act of sabotage. Police have been conducting an investigation. Footage from all surrounding CCTV cameras, including those at the Buddhist monastery, is being collected for further analysis."

Moung Kew said the temple was attacked and vandalised in 2012's violence in Ramu.

On September 29 and 30, 2012, a group of zealots unleashed violence on the Buddhist community in Ramu after spreading rumour that the Facebook page of a local Buddhist youth, Uttam Barua, bore a photo demeaning Islam.

The bigots set fire to Buddhist temples, vandalising and looting more than 50 houses in Ramu. They also attacked Mushurikhola crematorium at Khurushkul village in Cox's Bazar Sadar upazila and tried to attack the houses of the Hindus in Kharulia village.

The following day, the zealots attacked and ransacked five Buddhist temples in the bordering Ukhiya upazila and damaged two Hindu temples in Palongkhali union of the upazila. They also torched and vandalised Buddhist houses in Hoaikong union of Teknaf upazila

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