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Sculpture Controversy: Protesters, police clash outside Baitul Mukarram Mosque

  • Published at 10:44 am December 4th, 2020

The confrontation took place as the protesters tried to block the road in front of the mosque after Jumma prayers

Muslim devotees chanting slogans against the construction of sculptures locked into a clash with the police in front of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka’s Paltan area on Friday afternoon.

The confrontation took place after the protesters tried to block the road in front of the mosque after Jumma prayers, as seen in some photos our Staff Photographer Mahmud Hossain Opu snapped at the scene.

DMP Motijheel Division Additional Deputy Commissioner Enamul Haq told Dhaka Tribune that the protesters tried to bring out a procession without obtaining permission from the police.

“Thus, we dispersed them and deployed additional forces in the area to avoid any unpleasant situation,” he said.

No arrests were made in this connection and the situation was eventually brought under control, he added.

Prior to the Friday prayers, police tightened security in the area and frisked everybody entering the national mosque. 

But after the prayers, a number of devotees started gathering at the northern entrance of the mosque and in no time, they took to the street chanting anti-sculpture and anti–atheism slogans.

As police chased them, they took shelter inside the mosque premises and began hurling brick pellets at the law enforcers, injuring several people, including a photojournalist. 

The situation was finally calmed after the police started baton charging, to disperse the agitating devotees.

There has been a tense situation centering Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh’s controversial remarks about the setting up of a sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 

Many organizations including Chhatra League and Muktijuddho Mancha has been demanding action against the Islamist groups for such remarks.

On December 1, 60 social-cultural and professional organizations staged demonstration in the city demanding arrest of Hifazat-e Islam’s Ameer Junaid Babunagari and Joint Secretary Mamunul Haque as they opposed installation of the sculpture.

Meanwhile, Shahbagh police forced several people clad in panjabi and Islamic prayer cap on a bus immediately after they alighted at Shahbagh intersection around 2pm, reports Bangla Tribune.

One of the policemen was heard saying: “Those getting off buses at Shahbagh, will be arrested.” 

A number of policemen were seen there, alongside Kataban and Paltan intersections at that time. It was learnt that Muslim devotees under the banner of “Shorbostorer Muslim Tawhidi Janata” were supposed to hold a rally protesting the derogatory remarks on Shaykhul Hadith Allama Azizul Haque and Syed Fazlul Karim Pir Sahib Charmonai—two Islamic leaders—by Chhatra League and Muktijuddho Mancha.

The protests were planned despite the police imposing a ban on processions and rallies and using loudspeakers in the capital without prior permission.

Shahbagh police station Officer-in-Charge Mamun-Or-Rashid said: “We’re tasked with maintaining law and order situation. We’re trying to check any kind untoward situation whatsoever.”

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