By Sahidul Hasan Khokon: An opposition activist died and several others sustained injuries when police clashed with angry activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in Dhaka’s Paltan area. The clash between the police and activists erupted after the BNP announced a rally on December 10.
“An activist of the BNP was shot dead in front of the party office at Paltan area in Dhaka. Several people were brought to Dhaka Medical College Hospital from Naya Paltan area following the clashes, “Police Outpost Inspector Bachchu Mia told India Today.
“Doctors said that 32-year-old Mokbul had a bullet wound on his body and died,” Inspector Bachchu Miah, chief of the hospital’s police outpost said.
Three others injured in the incident have been identified as Rony, Monir and Iqbal and are undergoing treatment at a hospital.The violence comes ahead of the party’s divisional rally in the capital on Saturday.
On Wednesday, tensions flared up in the capital regarding the upcoming rally and the activists from the party started gathering at central offices.
CLASH AHEAD OF PARTY’S PLANNED RALLY
The violence comes amid brewing tensions in Bangladesh over the planned rally of former prime minister Khaleda Zia on Saturday as part of their intensifying campaign against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League, PTI reported. The BNP has called for a large anti-government rally in Dhaka on December 10.
Party leaders have declared that the government will lose power after this rally. The BNP had boycotted the past two general elections in 2014 and 2018, claiming that no election keeping the incumbent government in power would be fair or credible.
The activists blocked the road in front of offices and chanted slogans, witnesses said. A large number of police personnel were deployed on nearby roads to maintain the law and order situation.
The clash between BNP supporters and police started at around 3 pm and when police lathi charged them, the activists started throwing bricks and bats. The cops, in retaliation, then resorted to rubber bullets and teargas shells in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
SWAT members were seen trying to bring the situation under control. The clashes continued for hours while SWAT teams and several platoons of riot police surrounded the BNP office, positioning water cannons.
‘BNP MEN EXPLODED COCKTAILS’
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq said that a drive was conducted in the BNP’s Naya Paltan head office after they received information that they stored rice, pulse, sticks and cocktails.
“Today was an office day. They demonstrated without taking any prior permission. SWAT and M-16 have been used against their attempt to commit subversive activities,” Khandker Golam Faruq told reporters.
The DMP commissioner said the BNP men exploded cocktails from their party office and for that reason the drive was carried out.
“We beefed up security by increasing the number of police personnel. It was an official day, and they (BNP) didn’t take prior permission to hold the rally”, he said.
Replying to a question about whether a BNP activist was killed, the police officer said that they could not confirm the information.
“Senior officers were deployed to bring the situation under control,” said Akram Hossain, duty officer at Paltan Police Station. The clashes disrupted traffic from Fakirapul to the Nightingale intersection.
The BNP activists had ducked into alleys to escape the police and continued to throw brickbats at the law enforcers. At one point, police entered the alleys and beat them.
A large number of police personnel were on the main road at Naya Paltan and armoured police vehicles rumbled into the area as a backup force.
6 SENIOR BNP LEADERS DETAINED
Six senior BNP leaders have been detained over the clash between BNP activists and police in the capital’s Naya Paltan area on Wednesday.
The six detainees have been identified as Dhaka Metropolitan South BNP Convener Abdus Salam, North BNP Convener Aman Ullah Aman, Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Joint Secretary General Khairul Kabir Khokon, Khaleda Zia’s special assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas and Publicity Secretary Shaheed Uddin Chowdhury Annie.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, police arrested BNP Dhaka Metropolitan North BNP Convener Aman Ullah Aman from the BNP central office in Dhaka. Before that, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi was arrested from the same office on Wednesday.
Shayrul Kabir Khan, a member of the BNP’s media cell, said that the police have arrested at least a hundred activists, including Aman Ullah Aman and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi. However, no number of detentions or arrests have been confirmed by the police.
Led by Dhaka Metropolitan Police Joint Commissioner (Operations) Biplob Kumar Sarkar, a unit of Motijheel Division of DB entered the BNP central office at about 5 pm to conduct a raid. The leaders and activists who closed the door inside the BNP office were arrested.
‘BNP HAS STARTED TERROR ACTIVITIES’
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Wednesday said the BNP started terror activities on the streets before its rally to be held on December 10.
” The BNP wishes to occupy the streets and Dhaka on December 10. Sometime ago, I got the news that the BNP had attacked the police in Naya Paltan. People know why they want to hold a rally in Naya Paltan. Because they can use weapons and carry out terrorism quickly from there,”Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said while addressing a grand public rally at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium.
Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, who was the chief guest, addressed the rally organised by Cox’s Bazar District Awami League.
Pointing to BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the Awami League general secretary said, “Fakhrul Saheb, don’t threaten to occupy Dhaka, I want to say that our leaders and workers will be on guard in the metropolis, districts, upazilas, wards and neighbourhoods”.
Addressing the party leaders and workers, Quader said: “There is no alternative to unity for our existence. I am not a blind supporter of anyone. I speak for those who work. There is no alternative to public leader Sheikh Hasina”.
The game will be played this December, during the next election and movements, he said, adding that the game also will be played against money laundering and stealing, vote rigging, Hawa Bhaban, corruption and fire terrorism.
GOVT STAGED CLASH TO FOIL RALLY, SAYS BNP
Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday claimed that the violent clash between BNP activists and police outside the party’s central office at Nayapaltan was planned by the government to foil the party’s upcoming divisional rally in Dhaka on December 10.
“I went to Naya Paltan and tried to enter my party office after taking permission from the home minister and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner. Still, police officials barred me from going inside, which is totally unacceptable in a democratic country,” Fakhrul said, while sitting on the footpath outside the BNP’s central office after the violence.
Fakhrul added that the government might have any other ill motive behind the day’s clash.
“I have called upon the home minister and the DMP commissioner to withdraw police from the area immediately and restore a peaceful environment here. We’ll definitely hold the government responsible for today’s unexpected incident,” Fakhrul added.
Fakhrul further said that the government has committed a heinous crime by letting police raid the BNP’s office.
“Only the police will be able to tell if there was any bomb inside our party office or not. By raiding our office and planting explosives in there, police have destroyed democratic principles,” Fakhrul said.
Asked about the allegation that BNP activists had entered the office carrying bags containing explosives, Fakhrul strongly denied the allegation, saying that it was police who had entered the office with bags. The BNP leader also said that the Awami League is a political party which continuously deceives people.