A group of religious bigots which witnesses said numbered around 20,000, torched six tents of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat at Mouchak in Gazipur’s Kaliakoir upazila last evening.
The Ahmadiyya Muslims were preparing for their three-day annual convention scheduled to start from tomorrow at Mouchak Scout Ground near Dhaka.
The tents were setup to accommodate 10,000 members of the Community and over 200 foreign guests who were to attend the three day annual convention, said Ahmad Tavshir Chowdhury, an executive committee member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat.
Since yesterday afternoon, hundreds of bigots started to gather at the scout ground gate, he said, adding that after Maghrib prayers they torched the tents and vandalised the furniture, microphone and other valuables.
The tents were burnt down before fire fighters reached the spot. Before burning the tents, the bigots also blocked Dhaka-Tangail highway.
Tavshir said they got permission to arrange programmes there. A section of religious zealots started to spread hate among the general Muslims against them from a gathering of Khatme Nabuwwat on February 3.
Yesterday afternoon, they announced to hold a rally just in front of our venue, he said. “We feared violence and sought help from law enforcers but got no help from them.”
He also claimed that the religious bigots brought men from different places by trucks to torch the venue, and they used gun powder. Khatme Nabuwat Movement men led the violence, he added.
Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sanjit Kumar Roy said “They attacked the venue from all corners, shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greater). They torched the canopy, tents and stage,”
“We fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the mob, but it was so huge that we could not protect the venue,” he said, adding that one person was injured after he was beaten up.
Leaders of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat said they chose the scout ground, which was away from locality, so that problems with local religious bigots could be averted.
For over a decade, Ahmadiyya Muslims have been facing abuse and aggression of religious bigots across the country. Many of their houses have been looted and some have even been killed.