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“An act of medieval barbarism in Bangladesh”: Former librarian, also a devout Muslim, lynched by 6000 mob for insulting Islam in Rangpur

Bangladesh witnessed an act of ‘medieval barabarism’ in 21st century when Shahidunnabi Jewel,50, an ex-librarian was lynched for allegedly hurting religious sentiment.

Jewel, 50, was beaten up first, then lodged in a room, dragged outside and killed by an angry mob that seethed with rage for the deceased man’s ‘hurting’ Islam.

In an incident that spoke volumes of ‘radical frenzy’, a mob stormed the UP office and dragged one of the men outside and beaten the person to death him in front of the office.

“The frenzied mob took the body to the Lalmonirhat-Burimari National Highway and used firewood and petrol to burn it. There were 5,000-6,000 people involved in the brutal act,” an eye witness said.

All hell broke loose when two men approached the khadim or attendant of the Burimari Central Jam-e Masjid after Asr namaz on Thursday afternoon, he said.

The source further said one of the man, later identified as Jewel,’ went inside the mosque with the khadim, Zubed Ali, before searching the bookshelf at the prayer hall.

Jewel claimed that firearms were hidden behind the Quran and Hadith books while the other stood outside the hall in the balcony.

Seeing Jewel searching the bookshelf, five or six worshippers, who were outside the mosque, entered and dragged him to the stairs outside and started beating him up.

Thereafter, UP Member Hafizul Islam interfered and took Jewel away from there.

Hafizul left the place and by the time he arrived there, he found more than a hundred people gathered at the spot.

In a desperate effort to save Jewel, the UP member locked Jewel inside a room of the Burimari Union Parishad office.

Another eyewitness said Shahidunnabi was lynched in front of the Union Parishad (UP) office in front of the official, who never dared to raise voice or bothered to inform police.

He further said the body was later taken to the Lalmonirhat-Burimari Highway, where it was burned.

A day after his killing, a good number if people took out protest meeting to condemn the act and demanded strict action against perpetrators of the crime.

People cutting across all sections in Rangpur staged a protest at Payra Chattar in Rangpur city on Friday. They demanded that the criminals involved in Jewel’s murder be soon identified and brought to book.

The protesters also said that Jewel was a ‘devout’ Muslim and used to pray five times in the mosque. 

“Jewel endeared everyone with his effable nature. He was wrongly accused of hurting religious sentiments. You can imagine the situation in Bangladesh where even religious Muslims are not spared. What will you call it? Isn’t it an act of medieval barbarism? This is certainly a worrying trend,” a protestor said.

The demonstrators also demanded a judicial inquiry into Jewel’s murder.

Jewel was mentally unstable for a year, locals who knew him, said adding the deceased person slipped into depression due to loss of his job.

A number of locals said he was a meritorious student and a religious man.

Jewel, who was a student of Rangpur Zilla School, graduated with a first class in library science from Dhaka University earlier worked as the chief librarian at Rangpur Cantonment Public School and College. 

He was a dear person to everyone and was wrongly accused [of hurting religious sentiments]. The real mystery will come out if the incident is investigated,” one of the protesters said, requesting anonymity.

The protesters also demanded a judicial inquiry into Jewel’s murder.

According to reports, Jewel is survived by his wife, a daughter who has just passed the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination, and also a son who is in Class V, besides his siblings.

Jewel’s sister Hasina Akhter Lipi said her brother did not commit any crime but was killed deliberately. 

She also demanded a judicial inquiry into the lynching.

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