02/06/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Dinajpur, Catholic village attacked. Bishop: End the violence

by Sumon Corraya
Msgr. Sebastian Tudu launches appeal after weeks of tension. Over 300 Muslims attacked the community over issues related to land and property of tribal Catholics. Muslim dies in clashes: the group responds by setting fire to all the houses.

Dinajpur (AsiaNews) - "We want a permanent solution and to live in peace with all communities. The government must help us": This is the urgent call launched through AsiaNews by Msgr. Sebastian Tudu, bishop of the diocese of Dinajpur, after a series of clashes between Catholics and Muslims in the village of Chirakhota over issues related to land. Tensions peaked on 24 January, when more than 300 Muslims attacked the Catholic community, made up of tribal Santal.

The disputed plots are owned by the Catholic community, which has held regular permits since 1971. At the time, the height of the war of liberation from Pakistan, a Hindu woman sold them the land. Recently, a Muslim attempted to expropriate the plot, but the court ruled in favor of the Santal.

On January 24, over 300 members of the Islamic community descended upon the village. The Catholics defended themselves with bows and arrows, their traditional weapons, and a Muslim was killed. The sparked the Muslims anger and a mob looted rice, food, clothes, money, more than 100 cows, and set fire to all the 60 houses of the settlement.

Police arrested 19 Catholics for the death of a Muslim. Both sides have reported many wounded.

Dipali Tudu, a 22 year-old Catholic, was in the village at the time of the attack. Now he has left the area for security reasons: "The Muslims attacked us and tried to molest some of us. So I fled to another town. We are disappointed, we want to live in peace."

Last year, the Catholic church in Boldipukur - also in Dinajpur diocese - was targeted in a similar story, over land issues. The assailants stole various objects and documents of land ownership. Three sisters were beaten and suffered an attempted rape.

 

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