Unidentified miscreants vandalised 14 Hindu temples in northwestern Bangladesh in a series of orchestrated attacks overnight, police said on Sunday.
"Unidentified people carried out the attacks under the cover of darkness, vandalising idols in 14 temples in three unions (lowest local government tier)," said Bidyanath Barman, a Hindu community leader at Baliadangi “upazila” or “sub-district” in Thakurgaon.
Mr. Barman, the general secretary of the upazila’s Puja Celebration Council, said some of the idols were destroyed while some were found in pond waters along the temple sites.
"We are in the dark about their (culprits) identity but we want to bring them to justice after investigations,” Mr. Barman said.
The Hindu community leader and union parishad chairman Samar Chattarjee said the region was always known to be an area of excellent interfaith harmony as “no such heinous incident took place here in the past”.
“The (majority) Muslim community does not have any dispute with us (Hindus)… we just cannot understand who could be these culprits,” he said.
Baliadangi police station’s officer in-charge Khairul Anam said the attacks took place between Saturday night and Sunday dawn at several villages.
"It clearly appears to be a case of an orchestrated attack to disrupt the peaceful situation of the country,” Thakurgaon’s police chief Jahangir Hossain told reporters at one of the temple sites.
He added that a police investigation was launched immediately to track down the miscreants. "I assure you they will have to face stern legal actions," he said.
"This (attack) is the manifestation of a conspiracy against peace and communal harmony…this is a serious crime and the perpetrators will face the music,” Thakurgaon’s deputy commissioner or administrative chief Mahbubur Rahman said.