Four people were shot dead by police in Bangladesh after hundreds of people vandalized several Hindu temples in the Muslim-majority country, officials said Thursday. Police opened fire late on Wednesday, about 500 people protesting against the spread of a video clip showing the placement of a Quran on the knee of a statue of the Hindu god “Hanuman” during a religious ceremony. In the main incident, a group of protesters attacked a Hindu temple and clashed with police in the southern town of Hagi Ganj, killing four people and wounding at least two dozen, including 15 policemen, police chief Milun Mahmud told AFP. Two Hindus were also killed and 150 wounded on Wednesday, sect official Gobinda Chandra Paramink told AFP, with about 80 incidents of attacking Hindu temples across the country.
The Hindu temple where the alleged desecration took place was among the places that were vandalized, said police inspector Munir Ahmed, adding that 40 people were arrested at the site.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who said there were also attempts to loot the homes of some Hindus, vowed to track down the alleged perpetrators.
In a statement, the Bangladeshi government ordered an investigation into the violence and “urged everyone to maintain religious harmony, peace and security”.
Troops have been deployed in 22 of the country’s 64 districts to provide security for revelers of the country’s largest Hindu festival of Durga Puja.
The local BD News 24 website and other media outlets reported that the police had arrested a Muslim man for allegedly publishing a video of the Qur’an incident.
At its weekly conference Thursday, the foreign ministry in neighboring Hindu-majority India described the vandalism as “alarming”.
Hindus, who make up 10 percent of Bangladesh’s 169 million people, have faced sporadic violence in recent years sparked by rumors spread on social media.