In four such incidents, the Facebook users were caught off-guard, finding themselves at the centre of a dangerous controversy which spilled into widespread violence
The same modus operandi are being used since 2012 to incite communal violence in Bangladesh – hacking the Facebook account of somebody belonging to a religious minority group and then circulating blasphemous content from the account.
In four such incidents, the Facebook users were caught off-guard, finding themselves at the centre of a dangerous controversy which spilled into widespread violence.
On September 29, 2012, an image depicting the desecration of a Quran, was posted on the wall of Uttam Kumar Barua's Facebook account. This triggered a series of attacks on Buddhist monasteries, shrines and Buddhist houses in Ramu upazila, Cox's Bazar.
Uttam, an employee of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries, had just returned home from work that evening, when someone knocked on his door. They warned him that a violent mob was headed his way.
Immediately after that, Uttam went out. Seven years later, he still remains missing.
Investigation later revealed that the picture that instigated the rampage against the Buddhist community had actually been doctored.
A government commission concluded that the attack was pre-planned and well-orchestrated. It said the controversial photo was tagged with Uttam's Facebook account on September 18, but the violence took place 11 days later.
The committee said that by then, the perpetrators had completed preparations for the attack.
However, to police, Uttam is still a criminal.
On October, 30, 2016, a mob – consisting of around 3,000 members of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Hefazat-e-Islam – vandalised and looted some 17 temples, and 58 houses of minority Hindus in several localities of Nasirnagar, Brahmanbaria over an alleged defamatory Facebook post made by a Hindu youth.
On the same day, Rasraj Das, the youth in question, was beaten up by a mob who alleged that he had posted a morphed image of the Kaaba on Facebook.
Rasraj was a fisherman and had little education.
Police later found out that the morphed photo posted from his Facebook account was used to spread communal hatred and orchestrate the attacks.
Local cybershop owner Jahangir Alam shared an anti-Islamic post, alleging that Rasraj Das had originally posted it on Facebook.
Rasraj was then imprisoned, to be later freed on bail on January 16, 2017, after two and a half months.
Later that year, on November 10, a number of Hindu homes were torched in Thakurparha village, Rangpur, after an alleged blasphemous image was posted by the Facebook account of a local named Titu Chandra Roy.
The violence that ensued left one dead and several others injured as police opened fire on attackers. Protestors also torched Titu's house.
Investigation by police, however, found no blasphemous posts made by Titu, but rather from a different account with a similar name.
Titu's mother Jiten Bala said her son was illiterate and doubted if he could even operate a Facebook account. He had left home in search of work a decade ago and was residing at Narayanganj at the time of the incident.
Most recently, on Sunday, four people were killed and hundreds more injured in Borhanuddin, following clashes between police and locals demonstrating for punishment of a youth, Biplob Chandra Baidya, who had allegedly hurt their religious sentiment on a Facebook post.
Police said Biplob had filed a general diary two days back with the Borhanuddin police station after his Facebook account was hacked. However, Biplob was taken into police custody.
Law enforcement later tracked down and arrested two men – Sharif, who called Biplob to demand money, and Emon who had hacked the Facebook account.