DHAKA – An angry mob beat a mentally-ill person to death and his burnt his body for allegedly disrespecting the Muslim holy book of Quran in Bangladesh, officials said on Friday.
Police have launched a widespread manhunt to identify the accused in the lynching incident that took place on Thursday in the northern district of Lalmonirhat.
“We are trying to identify the people involved in the murder. We are preparing several cases for murder, arson and attacks on police,” Abida Sultana, police superintendent of the northern district of Lalmonirhat, told EFE.
The 40-year-old victim, identified by police as Shahidunnabi Jewel, a public librarian, suffered from mental problems.
He went with a friend to a local mosque in the Patgram area to offer prayers on Thursday evening, identifying himself as an officer from a law enforcement agency, police said.
Claiming that the residents had hidden firearms in the mosque, Jewel began searching the complex for illegal weapons.
Sultana, citing eyewitnesses, said the incident took an ugly turn Jewel, while inspecting a cupboard, put his foot next to several copies of the Quran on the lower rack to reach the upper one.
“The worshipers charged him why he kept foot beside Quran, triggering an argument,” said the police officer, quoting the caretaker of the mosque.
His friend, who was in a shop at the time, returned in the meantime, and the argument heated up. A local public representative took the men to an office room and locked it to save them from the outrage.
Police soon reached the area, but the situation went out of control as thousands of people came and started attacking the house.
They broke the office room and killed one man on the spot and dragged his body for about a kilometer, and set it on fire. Police could rescue the other man, said the police officer.
“We could know he is a mental patient and often goes missing. The rescued man is a (petition) writer,” said police super.
Mob attacks are not uncommon in Muslim-majority Bangladesh for hurting religious sentiment.
At least four people were killed and 47 injured as police clashed with a Muslim mob in southern Bhola district in October last year over an offensive Facebook post.
The clash erupted when hundreds of Muslims gathered to demand the trial of a Hindu man, who had allegedly made disrespectful Facebook comments over Prophet Muhammad.