At least a dozen people were injured in a clash between police and BNP activists in front of the party’s Nayapaltan headquarters in the capital yesterday.
Law enforcers picked up at least 30 BNP men from the area, said Salahuddin Mia, officer-in-charge of Paltan Police Station.
Witnesses said the clash broke out around 11:30am when police barred BNP men from marching towards Kakrail after they joined a rally protesting the recent communal attacks in the country.
The BNP men hurled brick chips at police who retaliated with truncheons.
The opposition party was scheduled to bring out a protest procession from in front of its Nayapaltan office, which would end before the Jatiya Press Club. But the BNP postponedthe procession as a large number of law enforcers were deployed in the Nayapaltan area.
The rally ended briefly after it was addressed by BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. Several thousand BNP leaders and activists joined the rally carrying banners, placards and festoons.
Speaking at the rally, Fakhrul said: “We were supposed to hold a rally protesting the government’s attempt to foil communal harmony in the country. We wrote to the authorities concerned about the rally. But unfortunately, police are arresting our leaders and activists. We are shortening the programme now.”
The demonstration started at 11:00am and ended at 11:28am.
Fakhrul thanked the party men for attending the rally. “I am requesting you all to return home peacefully. We will not bring out any procession in the interest of maintaining harmony.”
Police officials said the procession was not a part of the BNP’s scheduled programme. However, the party leaders said they informed police beforehand about the procession.
“You saw that the leaders and activists have hurled brick chips at police when they reached Kakrail. Police were forced to use truncheons as many of us were injured. Such an attack is never expected in a civilised country,” DMP Deputy Commissioner (Motijheel zone) Abdul Ahad told reporters.
The BNP leaders denied the allegation of attacking police and blamed law enforcers for attacking their peaceful rally.
Speaking to reporters at the party office after the clash, Fakhrul said police attacked BNP men suddenly when they were returning home after joining the rally.
“Police opened fire. Many were injured and many others were detained,” he alleged.
The BNP leader said the government has completely failed to maintain communal harmony in the country.
“We were supposed to bring out a procession but police started arresting our leaders and activists even before the programme started.”
Fakhrul condemned the police attack and demanded immediate release of the detainees.
“We want to clearly say that a change of the government is the demand of the people. The Awami League has no right to stay in the office,” he said.
Meanwhile, traffic came to a standstill in Nayapaltan and its adjoining areas during the clash.