The homes of four Christian families in northern Bangladesh were burned to the ground by a mob of Muslims after they were falsely accused of witchcraft. According to reports, the mob attempted to lock the families inside the homes before setting them on fire, but the Christians escaped the flames with the help of neighbors. Tensions between the Christians and local Muslims were high for the past couple of months with the Muslims often verbally abusing the Christians and throwing bricks at their house. A police report was filed against the attackers and police are now searching for the culprits.
11/9/2015 Bangladesh (UCA News) – Four Catholic families in northern Bangladesh had a narrow escape when a group of Muslims burned down their homes, accusing the families of witchcraft.
The families were attacked early on Nov. 5 in Kamarpara, in Panchagarh district.
They say a Muslim mob tried to lock them inside their houses before setting them on fire.
The attack was sectarian and followed a long campaign of abuse against them, they said.
“For more than a year, Muslim youths from a neighboring village accused us of practicing witchcraft and told us to leave the village. They abused us in public and threw bricks at our houses,” said Ramni Das, 57, who lost two houses in the attack.
“They wanted to kill us by burning us alive, but we managed to escape. We have lost everything,” said Das, a cane worker.
Neighbors came to their rescue and pulled them from the burning buildings, he said.
Das has filed a complaint with local police against seven people over the attack. Police have yet to make any arrests.
Local police officials say they are investigating the alleged attack.
“The suspects … have fled the area. We are helping to mediate for compensation,” said Dinabandhu Nath, a local police official.
Ainul Islam, a local Muslim shopkeeper and the uncle of one of the accused, said his nephew was being falsely accused.
“I know some youths including my nephew have had problems with Christians, but I don’t think they were behind the arson attack,” he said.
Abul Hosssain, chairman of the union council, a local government body, expressed shock over the arson attacks.
“Personally, I know the victims to be good people. For the past year, I have tried to calm the situation and have publically said the witchcraft accusations were false, but I didn’t think things would reach such an extreme,” said Hossain.
“We are trying to resolve the matter without the need of a court case, so that Hindus, Muslims and Christians can live peacefully in the future.”