The religious group Shorbodoliyo Muslim Oikya Parishad (SMOP) has called for several demonstrations across Bhola district (Barisal Division) from Tuesday, October 22, through Friday, October 25, despite an indefinite ban on rallies and public gatherings previously issued by authorities. On Tuesday, participants plan to gather in front of all police stations across Bhola from 16:00 (local time). Supporters are due to form a human-chain protest at the district headquarters on Sadar Road on Thursday, October 24, although organizers did not immediately announce a meeting time. On Friday, a Duaa Mahfil (prayer) will take place in front of the Atkhola Mosque - likely following afternoon prayers. SMOP has given the local administration 72 hours as of the evening on Monday, October 21, to meet six demands; including the death penalty for a Hindu man they claimed defamed the Prophet Muhammad and justice for those that died in protests on Sunday, October 20.
Additional police officers are deployed in all upazilas as of Tuesday to enforce the ban on public gatherings, according to local media outlets. Business disruptions have been reported in the area since Monday, and are likely to continue in the coming days.
At least four people were killed and another 50 wounded after clashes erupted between protesters and police in Bhola district on October 20. Protesters had gathered to denounce a Facebook post in which a Hindu individual reportedly made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Officials said that hackers were reponsible for the social media post, and that arrests had been made. SMOP consequently made six demands to the local government and called for protests to continue until they are met, as well as the death penalty for the Hindu individual.
Individuals in Bhola are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and public gatherings, anticipate transportation disruptions and a heightened security presence around the conference site, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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