The Padma Bridge construction began on the 7th of December, 2014, and today is estimated to be 81% completed. Once fully constructed, it will be the biggest bridge in Bangladesh.
However, recently this landmark has found itself at the centre of a rather bizarre conspiracy theory involving human sacrifice of 100,000 heads of children in exchange for its construction.
Eight men have been arrested for spreading scandals and falsehoods on the social media platform Facebook. The group claimed that,
Human heads and blood are required to build the Padma Bridge.
Authorities are charging the men under The Digital Security Act and claim the group is guilty of spreading a serious form of propaganda.
How and when did this begin? Well, the conspiracy regarding the need for human sacrifice began its life like most rumour do – manipulating and restructuring the truth.
The scandal stemmed from a violent instance of murder on July, 18th, at hands of a suspected drug addict.
The suspect, an unnamed man, was beaten to death after being spotted by numerous locals carrying the severed head of a young boy in the nearby town of Netrokona.
The panic was swift and, only two days later on the 20th of July, Taslima Begum was beaten to death by a vigilant mob who suspected her of being a child abductor attempting to infiltrate a school in order to appease the sacrifice conspiracy.
It was later discovered she was simply seeking admission for her four year old daughter.
Police have confirmed the deaths of at eight people due to lynching mobs seeking justice – police chief Mohammad Javed Patwary stating;
We have analysed every single case of these eight killings. Those who were killed by lynching mobs – no one was a child kidnapper.
Of the eight victims, two were women and six were male (one of whom being a deaf man attempting to visit his daughter). As well as these murders, 30 assaults and attacks have been linked to the conspiracy. 103 arrests have been made in connection to these deaths and assaults.
Patwary is cracking down on the spreading of the rumour – along with the arrests it has been reported that upward of 60 Facebook accounts and 25 YouTube channels have been terminated due to the endorsement of the human sacrifice conspiracy.
Along with the penalties for those creating and circulating propaganda, Patwary also plans on launching a campaign in an effort to combat the conspiracy.
From [Thursday], a week-long awareness campaign against spreading rumours will begin across the country.
Here is a short video from BBC Bangla, showing officials sharing pamphlets to minimise the scare.
The government has issued leaflets to the surrounding mosques explaining the panic is little more than a morbid conspiracy. These pamphlets request that reassurance be given during sermons.
Unfortunately, this reassurance may provide little comfort to the people of Bangladesh. Many continue to fear for their children.
Others fear the anarchistic lynch mobs who are relentlessly attacking civilians. And some fear the prophecy of the conspiracy / those delusional enough to attempt to fulfil it.
Bangladesh has an unfortunate history of lynch mobs seeking justice and, surprisingly, the country has succumbed to more than one instance of accepting a conspiracy theory which correlates the building of a structure with rumours of human sacrifice.
In 2010, and during the construction of The Karnaphuli Bridge, the same conspiracy spread – in exchange for the newly built bridge the blood and heads of young children must be exchanged.
This conspiracy also brought about vigilantly lynch mobs seeking justice and, ultimately, murder.
It is estimated that, since the year 2015, over 175 people have been killed due to lynching mobs in Bangladesh – highlighting a horrible and ongoing trend.
The Padma Bridge conspiracy theory, however strange it seems, appears to be a violent and gruesomely repeat of Bangladesh’s history.
Hi there! I’m Heather and I’m a recent graduate achieving the title of Master of Arts with Honours in English and Film Studies. Along with my degree, I have acquired a HNC in the Social Sciences. In my free time I love to cuddle with my dog and immerse myself in all things True Crime and I am the new Crime Writer here at iTHINK Magazine.
Image respects to - Dhaka Tribune