Islamist activists clash with police in capital
Call countrywide daylong hartal for todayStaff Correspondent
The police fought stone-throwing activists of Islamist groups who staged violent demonstrations and attacked and torched vehicles in the capital after being barred from bringing out a procession in protest against what they said the government’s anti-Islam activities.
The police charged batons and fired tear gas to disperse the protesters who tried to break through the cordon and bring out a procession from outside the National Press Club premises defying restrictions on rallies in the area.
Twelve Islamist groups had planned the protest also against a US anti-Islam film and caricature of Prophet Muhammad (SM) in a French magazine.
The groups called a daylong nationwide shutdown for today in protest against the ban on their planned rally in the city on Saturday as well as against the hate campaign against Islam in the west.
During the clashes, the demonstrators set fire to a prison van parked in front of the National Press Club and a motorbike of a newspaper photographer after the police prevented them from bringing out a procession from outside the National Press Club at about 11:00am.
They also attacked damaged dozens of passing vehicles.
The protesters rained stones on the police forcing the law enforcers at one point to retreat before reinforcements arrived and dispersed them.
The violence forced suspension of traffic in the area for nearly three hours.
The police detained more than 30 protesters, including leaders of the Islamist parties during the clashes.
The detained leaders include Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan ameer Maulana Shah Ahmadullah Ashraf and Islami Oikya Jote secretary general Abdul Latif Nejami.
Earlier, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police imposed a ban on rallies or processions in the capital’s Paltan, Baitul Mukarram and adjacent areas from 5:00pm Friday in a bid to prevent 12 Islamist groups from holding a scheduled rally on Saturday fearing troubles.
On July 24, the Sammilito Olama-Masaekh announced the rally for September 22 to press for restoring ‘absolute faith in Allah’ in the constitution, cancelling all laws and policies ‘against Islam’. Later they added a point condemning the hate campaign against Islam in the west.
Failing to hold their scheduled rally at Paltan ground, the activists, mostly madrassah students, started gathering on the press club premises since Saturday morning.
At around 11:00am, they held a rally and the combine’s member-secretary Zafar Ullah Khan, also the Khelafat Majlish secretary general, announced the hartal progarmme.
Zafrullah said the government’s attitude had forced them to call hartal.
‘We had announced the rally to press for restoration of absolute faith in Allah in the constitution, cancellation of all “anti-Islam” laws and policies, including the education and women policies and “conspiracies” to close down madrassahs and ban hijab.
‘They did not permit us to hold the rally even after repeated appeal and finally imposed section 144 and began arresting our activists. So, we are forced to call the nationwide hartal,’ he said.
Leaders of the Islamist combine in the afternoon said Rangpur and Dinajpur would be out of the purview of Sunday’ strike as the opposition leader Khaleda Zia would be on an organisational tour there.
Police also picked up a number of BNP activists who went there to attend a separate programme demanding release of former lawmaker Nasiruddin Pintu.
The deputy police commissioner of Ramna zone, Nurul Islam, said activists of Jamaat-e-Islami had attacked police in the name of 12 parties and BNP supporters under the banner of Pintu Mukti Parishad aided them. He said several policemen had sustained injuries during the violence.
Police and Rapid Action Battalion personnel were deployed at Kakrail, Dainik Bangla intersection and Bijoynagar points to avert further troubles.
comments powered by Disqus