[Niti Central] Activists of main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its key-ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami attacked Hindu households in western Jessore and northwestern Dinajpur, local media reports said.
The threat of life has forced hundreds of minority Hindus to leave home in panic as post-poll terror strikes have gained momentum in several districts of Bangladesh even as the 48-hour hartal has entered second day on Tuesday.
The Daily Star and several other newspapers said the activists vandalised 130 Hindu houses and torched another 10 in Malopara village on Sunday night as they went to cast votes defying the Opposition call for the boycott.
As per a Daily Star report, locals said they had called police, ruling Awami league leaders and the administration over the mobile phones but nobody came to help. Police were seen after 9 pm, when it was all over.
Police, however, said 70 to 80 men attacked the village but joint forces comprising police and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh chased them away.
85 people have so far lost their lives in the unrest.
Hindus, their houses and temples had come under attacks in districts like Noakhali, Satkhira and Sirajganj.
The activists threatened the Hindus of dire consequence for voting, sparking panic and prompting the Army ‘striking forces’ intervention.
“Some 400 Hindus were forced to flee their homes and take refuge on the other side of the local Bhairab river fearing fresh attacks,” Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddho-Cristian Oikya Parishad vice president Kajal Debnath told sources.
Other reports said Hindus came under attack also at Pornia area in northwestern Dinajpur overnight where the Opposition activists severely assaulted 10 elderly people of the community and vandalised over 10 houses for defying their calls for election boycott.
But Government has asked the Army to intervene thereby forcing the activists to flee.
“We demand intensified protection…we don’t want to be traded off politically or used for anybody’s political purpose,” Debnath told sources in an apparent reference to a perception that the Hindus were traditionally supporters of Awami League, which pursue a policy of secularism.
He added: “Keep me (Hindus) beyond (political) focus, I don’t want to be a victim.”
According to media reports, only a small number of Hindus cast their votes in north-western Lalmonirhat and southwestern Satkhira either fearing attacks by Opposition activists.
They said most of the Hindu villagers were annoyed with the Government for not taking adequate steps for their protection during earlier such attacks in recent months when the Opposition spearheaded anti-Government campaigns.
Meanwhile Dhaka Tribune reported, Rapid Action Battalion personnel recovered 29 petrol bombs in Kumargara village of Chatmohor upazila early on Tuesday.
The elite force members also recovered 12 crude bombs and four rounds of bullets.