Multiple vehicles torched in different districts while government offices in Brahmanbaria come under attack
Hefazat-e-Islam activists went on a rampage in several districts in the country yesterday during their nationwide strike. The country witnessed multiple incidents of clashes, road blockades, an attack on a train, and vandalism, and torching of vehicles, public, and private offices.
The extreme violence between Hefazat activists and police, BGB, and the ruling party activists, left three people dead, and scores injured.
Hefazat called the strike protesting the killing of its activists by police, and the attack on them by supporters of the ruling party, on Friday, during their demonstrations against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.
Since Friday, the death toll from clashes between Hefazat supporters and law enforcers left around 14 people dead. Violence in Brahmanbaria alone accounted for 10 deaths.
Last morning, activists of the far-right Islamist group blocked the Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet highways, by setting tyres on fire in support of their hartal.
At the same time, Hefazat men rioted in Brahmanbaria. They also carried out arson attacks and vandalized offices, vehicles, and electric poles at Rajshahi, Sylhet and Chittagong.
More than 70 people were injured in clashes between the police and the strike supporters across the country including Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Narayanganj and Brahmanbaria.
After the dawn to dusk general strike, Hefazat-e-Islam has said that they will come back with tougher movements from April 2, if their demands are not met.
The party said it would organize prayers for their fellow activists who were killed in the clashes with police and Awami League supporters across the country and will not extend the hartal due to the upcoming Shab-e-Barat, to be observed on Monday night.
Its Joint Secretary-General Mamunul Haque made the demands from a press briefing held at the Paltan area of the capital on Sunday.
He demanded legal action against those involved in the attack, proper treatment of the injured, and release of those detained.
Meanwhile Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, while speaking to the media, said: “The government will be more strict against the mayhem.”
Hefazat runs riot in Brahmanbaria
Hefazat activists went on a rampage in Brahmanbaria town on Sunday during their nationwide strike, storming multiple government and private offices and clashing with police — which left three people dead.
A 40-year-old unidentified male died of gunshot wound at the Brahmanbaria General Hospital around 3pm, confirmed duty doctor at emergency department Dr Syed Ariful Islam.
Earlier, Hadis Miah, 23, of Khatihata village under Budhol union of Sadar upazila and Al Amin, 12, son of Sufi Ali, of Kuttapara village of Sadar upazila, died of gunshot injuries around 2pm, confirmed Dr Showkat Hossain, the supervisor of Brahmanbaria General Hospital.
The death toll from clashes in the district over the last three days now stands at 10, reports our Comilla correspondent Masud Alam.
During Sunday’s strike, Hefazat men attacked the offices of the district administration, local Awami League unit, press club and municipality corporation, and set fire to the Brahmanbaria Sadar Land Office and Ustad Alauddin Khan Music Academy, according to reports. They also attacked a Chittagong-Sylhet-bound train, forcing authorities to suspend rail links on the routes.
Brahmanbaria Press Club President Riaz Uddin Jami sustained injuries during their onslaught. At least 25 journalists were inside the press club when Hefazat supporters stormed it. Jami was taken to a local hospital later.
20 injured in Habiganj clash
At least 20 people, including seven policemen, were injured in clashes between hartal supporters and the law enforcers in Habiganj.
In Habiganj's Ajmiriganj upazila, picketers locked into an argument with policemen as they were conducting patrols, reports our Sylhet correspondent, Md Serajul Islam.
At one stage, hundreds of villagers and Hefazat supporters started attacking law enforcers with domestic weapons and brickbats.
Responding to this, additional police force was deployed but the villagers, using a local mosque’s microphone, urged others to join the fight against law enforcers.
A total seven policemen, including Ajmiriganj police OC, Nurul Islam were injured in the clash. The hartal supporters also vandalized a pick-up van and torched two motorcycles of the police.
To take control of the situation, police fired 33 rounds of rubber bullets and hurdled brick chips towards the protesters.
Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Chittagong highways blockade
Hefazat men also blockaded Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Chittagong highways in Narayanganj, torched vehicles and clashed with law enforcers.
They took to the streets at Shimrail, Mouchak, Madanpur, and Signboard areas in Narayanganj and staged demonstrations.
More than 50 vehicles were damaged and five to six others torched by the Hefazat activists in Shanarpar and Mouchak areas, said Siddhirganj police station SI Nur-e Alam Mia.
As Hefazat activists hurled brickbats at police, they fired tear gas shells and shotgun bullets to bring the situation under control, said Siddhirganj police station Sub-Inspector (SI) Mokhlesur Rahman.
At least 30 people were injured in clashes between the police and the strike supporters on Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Narayanganj.
Three of them sustained bullet injuries, our Narayanganj correspondent Shamima Rita reports.
Traffic movement came to a halt on the highway, causing immense sufferings for commuters and travellers.
Protests in Dhaka
Meanwhile, at the capital, Hefazat leaders and activists took positions at different spots with bamboo sticks. They marched in support of the strike in Lalbagh, Paltan, Baitul Mukarram Mosque, Mohammadpur, Bosila and Satmasjid road areas of Dhaka.
As Hefazat activists gathered at different places in Dhaka, activists of Awami League and its associate bodies were also seen taking positions – with helmets and sticks – on the streets to prevent the hartal supporters, according to media reports. The ruling party activists also staged demonstrations against the strike at Shahbagh, Bangabandhu Avenue, and other places.
The Islami Andolan Bangladesh (Charmonai) staged a protest procession from Baitul Mukarram Mosque after Zuhr prayer on Sunday and later gathered in Purana Paltan area.
In Munshiganj, at least 30 people, including an officer-in-charge of police, were injured in clashes between police and Hefazat men in Boro Shikarpur and Shulpur areas of Sirajdikhan upazila. One of them sustained bullet wounds.
In Rajshahi, unidentified miscreants set two buses of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) on fire at Rajshahi Truck Terminal in the city’s Amchattar area during the hartal hours, our correspondent Dulal Abdullah reports.
Senior Station officer of Fire Service and Civil Defence of Rajshahi Abdur Rauf said the criminals set a stationary bus of BRTC on fire around 6:30am and the fire spread to another bus.
In Chittagong, road communications with other parts of the country remained suspended since Sunday morning as no long-route bus left Chittagong due to the hartal, reports UNB.
Some students of Al Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa damaged roads and dug a series of potholes on the Chittagong-Khagrachhari highway early Sunday, disrupting communications on the road.
In Sylhet, the hartal supporters brought out processions at different parts of the city, including the Court point, after Fazr prayers. No long-route buses left the district in the morning.
Protests over the Indian prime minister’s Dhaka visit raged on since Thursday and turned violent after Jummah prayers on Friday, leading to the death of four people in Chittagong and one in Brahmanbaria.
The Indian premier arrived in Dhaka on Friday morning to join the celebrations of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His two-day visit ended on Saturday.
On the second day of his visit, clashes also erupted at places in the country, as demonstrators, agitated by the deaths during Friday’s anti-Modi protests, took to the streets. At least five people were killed and several others were injured when demonstrators clashed with police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in Brahmanbaria.
Our correspondents Shohel Mamun, Mamun Abdullah, Masud Alam from Comilla, Md Serajul Islam, Sylhet, Shamima Rita, Narayanganj, Dulal Abdullah, Rajshahi contributed to this report