50 injured, 2 police cars torched in BNP-police clash
At least 50 people, including 23 policemen, were injured, in a clash between BNP activists and law enforcers in front of the party’s Naya Paltan central office on the third day of its nomination form sale on Wednesday, reports UNB.
Police lobbed teargas shells, rubber bullets and charged batons while two police cars were torched during the clash that began around 12:50pm and lasted for around 25 minutes.
However, both the government and BNP blamed each other over the clash ahead of the national election billed for 30 December.
BNP leaders claimed police attacked their activists without any provocation at the behest of the government while the government said the opposition activists launched the attack on law enforcers as part of their plot to foil the election and topple the government.
As in the past two days, thousands of BNP leaders and activists gathered in front of their office in the morning while many others started joining them in small processions until the clash began as the party continued the sale of its nomination forms for the third consecutive day among those who want to contest the 11th parliamentary elections with its tickets.
Witnesses said everything was on the right track while police members were trying to keep vehicle movement normal on the road in front of the BNP office removing herds of party workers on it.
Amid the growing crowd, BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas along with his several hundred supporters marched towards their party office around 12:40pm and started staging a showdown there, bringing traffic on the road to grinding halt.
Police tried to remove the BNP men from a portion of the road so that vehicles can pass through, but failed to do so.
At one stage, they locked into an altercation with the BNP leaders and activists and started charging batons to maintain the law and order.
BNP leaders and activists also started hurling brickbats towards the law enforcers, triggering a fierce clash between the two sides.
They also engaged in chase-and-counter-chase forcing the law enforcers to lob teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the BNP activists.
In response, BNP leaders and activists chased the law enforcers with sticks and brickbats and set fire to two police cars.
At one stage, the law enforcers moved away from Naya Paltan area and took position in front of Bijoynagar Nightingale crossing while BNP leaders and activists in front of their office.
Party senior leaders, including party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, came out on the streets asking their activists to exercise restraint and not to respond to any act of provocation.
Rizvi told the party activists that their party acting chairman Tarique Rahman asked them from London to remain calm.
“Police without any provocation opened fire on our brethren. They also lobbed teargas shells and charged baton on them. They attacked the peaceful gathering of our leaders and activists and created chaos,” he said.
The BNP leader further said, “I think the attack was made at the dictate of the government and its head. We strongly condemn and protest such attack.”
Rizvi claimed that a good number of their leaders and activists, including Dhaka University unit JCD leader Abbas, Dhaka South city unit Jubo Dal leader Mehedi, Motijheel Jubo Dal leader Moqbul, Khilgaon Swechchhasebak Dal leader Moktar Hossain, Mugda Swechchhasebak Dal leader Sumon, Kalabagan Swechchhasebak Dal leader Sumon, Mugda BNP leader Arif, Shahjahanpur Chhatra Dal leaders Mohiuddin, Hasan and Tutul, Shahbagh BNP leader Kamal, Paltan BNP leader Abdul Kader, Sabujbagh BNP leaders Munir, Saiful and Mehedi, Ramna BNP leaders Giasuddin, Ratan, Asaduzzaman, Shamshul Haque and Abdur Razzak, and Khilgaon BNP leader Moniruzzaman, were injured in the attack.
Members of Doctors Association of Bangladesh (DAB) provided medical treatment to wounded BNP leaders and activists inside the party office.
Party assistant office secretary Taiful Islam Tipu said the sale of their party’s nomination forms remained halted for two hours due to the clash. He also said over their 30 leaders and activists were injured in the clash.
Home minister Asaduazzaman Khan claimed that the 23 policemen, including five officers, were injured in the attack by BNP men and they all were admitted to Rajarbagh Central Police Hospital.
Visiting the injured police members at the hospital, he also said BNP in a planned way carried out the attack to foil the election. “The way they beat police it clearly indicated that they had a bad intention behind the attack on police.”
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir blamed police for the clash and said it will only hamper the election atmosphere.
Meanwhile, Awami League alleged that BNP activists, led by party senior leader Mirza Abbas, attacked police ‘without any provocation’ in front of its Naya Paltan central office as part of the party’s ‘plot’ to foil the election and topple the government.
Speaking at a press conference at Awami League president’s Dhanmondi office, party general secretary Obaidul Quader also said the attack on police by BNP has demonstrated that the party does not want to join the election.
Additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Monirul Islam said the attack was carried out on police without any provocation to create an issue.
Two groups of nomination seekers gathered in front of the BNP office with huge supporters and blocked the road around 1:15pm, he said.
“Seven-eight policemen along with an armoured personnel carrier (APC) were performing duty there. Police obstructed the BNP men as they blocked the road. Obstructed, they torched a police vehicle and attacked the policemen,” said Monirul.
He said police showed their highest level of patience during the incident.
On Monday morning, the party formally started the sale of nomination papers with collecting three forms for its jailed chairperson Khaleda Zia. BNP sold 1,326 nomination papers on the first day while 1,896 on the second day.
The sale of nomination papers are supposed to continue until 16 November.