Police Bureau of Investigation yesterday arrested Shahidul Islam Swadhin, the prime accused in two cases filed over the Wednesday's attack on Hindu houses in Noagaon village of Sunamganj's Shalla upazila.
Shahidul, member of Sarmangal Union Parishad in Derai upazila, was arrested from Ghorabhui village in Moulvibazar's Kulaura upazila around 3:00am, PBI said.
Meanwhile, seven more people were picked up yesterday from different areas of Shalla and Derai in connection with the two cases, said Nazmul Haque, officer-in-charge of Shalla Police Station.
Later in the day, a Sunamganj court sent the seven to jail.
With them, a total of 30 people have so far been held in the two cases.
The cases were lodged with Shalla Police Station on Wednesday, hours after a mob of Hefajat-e-Islam supporters attacked Noagaon village over a Facebook post criticising a Hefajat leader's statement. The attackers vandalised and looted about 90 Hindu houses.
Khaled-uz-Zaman, special superintendent of PBI in Sylhet, yesterday said they traced Shahidul with the help of technology and arrested him during a special drive in Ghorabhui village.
The arrestee was later handed over to Shalla Police Station, the SP said.
Shahidul, a resident of Nachni village adjacent to Noagaon, is locally known as a leader of Jubo League, the ruling Awami League's youth front. Jubo League, however, claimed that he was not a leader of the organisation.
Khairul Huda Chapal, convener of Sunamganj district Jubo League, said there were no committee of the platform in Derai upazila and its unions and Shahidul was not a leader of the organisation. "He might have claimed himself to be a Jubo League leader, but that doesn't make him a leader."
There are widespread allegations that Shahidul had a feud with the Hindus of Noagaon village over fishing in a water body (Jolmohal) and he perpetrated the attack by gathering Hefajat supporters over an alleged Facebook post.
In January this year, Shahidul stopped the flow of water in the jolmohal and took the fish in it after pumping out the water. This seriously hampered agricultural work in Noagaon village, which was heavily dependent on the water.
Some villagers then lodged a complaint with the upazila administration in this regard. The administration carried out a drive in the water body area on January 8.
Al-Muktadir Hossain, upazila nirbahi officer of Shalla, said some fishing equipment and machines were seized during the drive and the UP member was fined.
ON Friday, police arrested 22 people in the two cases. They were sent to jail by a Sunamganj court, OC Nazmul of Shalla Police Station said.
Noagaon village came under the attack from Hefajat supporters on Wednesday, two days after a rally was organised by the Qawmi madrasa-based Islamist organisation in nearby Derai upazila. Hefajat Amir Junayed Babunagari and Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque attended the rally.
The mob launched the attack over a Facebook post allegedly made by a Hindu youth from Noagaon village. In the post, he allegedly criticised Mamunul.
The youth was arrested on Tuesday.
In another development, the Sunamganj district administration yesterday held a meeting with the religious leaders from different organisations in the district and asked them not to organise any religious programmes for some days to avoid any untoward incident.
Following the meeting, two rallies, scheduled to be held today in Jamalganj and Dowarabazar upazilas, were cancelled by the organisers. Hefajat leader Mamunul was supposed to join the programmes as chief guest.