Published:  02:11 AM, 14 October 2021

Communal harmony mandatory for peace and stability

We are concerned at the way cases filed in connection with the Ramu mayhem, one of the worst incidents of communal violence in the recent history of Bangladesh, have been lingering on for the last nine years, without any progress in sight. On September 29-30 in 2012, religious fanatics vandalized and torched 19 Buddhist temples and over 100 houses in Ramu, Ukhiya, Teknaf and Cox's Bazar Sadar upazilas, as well as Chattogram's Patiya upazila, apparently incited by a Facebook post that was later found to be fake. A total of 19 cases were filed after the violent attacks took place; among them, one was settled, while the remaining 18 cases are still pending with the court. The police have reportedly submitted seven charge sheets against 385 people, all of whom are now out on bail. Meanwhile, we still don't know the whereabouts of Uttam Kumar Barua, against whom the religious bigots had brought the allegations of demeaning Islam (who is also an accused in all the cases filed).

It's also worthwhile to recall that two Supreme Court lawyers filed writ petitions after the incident, following which probes were conducted as per the High Court's directives. A total of three probes were conducted: one by a judicial body, another by the police, and the third by the home ministry. In these reports, not only were the attackers identified, but it was also found that the local administration and the intelligence and law enforcement agencies did not play their due role to prevent the attacks. Although the probe reports were submitted to the High Court, the reports still remain unheard by the court. While it is absolutely necessary to set an example by making those responsible for the heinous attacks face justice, such delay in court proceedings is frustrating.

We understand that the high caseload that High Court benches faced was an impeding factor, as well as the reconstitution of High Court benches. But these shouldn't come in the way of ensuring justice in such sensitive cases. We think the writ petitioners should pray to the High Court for a quick hearing of the petitions, as suggested by the attorney general. In addition, all the cases filed in this connection should also be expedited and disposed of without further delay. If these cases remain unresolved and the perpetrators get away without facing justice, it will only increase the sense of vulnerability among the affected minorities—and embolden the religious zealots and their instigators and enablers to commit more such crimes in future. We must not let that happen. Justice is vital for a peaceful co-existence of all the religious communities and minorities in our society.

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