A Jamaat-e-Islami activist was killed and around 80 others, including 19 cops, were injured in clashes between law enforcers and Jamaat-Shibir men in the city’s Hatim Khan area Monday afternoon.
The dead man, Shafiqul Islam, son of Abdur Rahman Sheikh of Basua Achintola in Rajshahi, worked at Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited Hospital. He was the father of a child.
The 30-year-old was already dead when he was taken to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. He was shot in the back near the neck, said Habibur Rahman, an emergency medical officer of the hospital.
The BNP-led four-party alliance will enforce a half-day hartal in the city today to protest the killing.
Mizanur Rahman Minu, president of Rajshahi city BNP, announced the programme at a press briefing in the evening.
Witnesses said Shafique was hit by a bullet when police, under attack, opened fire on the violent activists of Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Shibir around 4:45pm.
M Obaidullah, commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said they were yet to know how the man was killed. He claimed that police fired rubber bullets and shotgun shells only to scatter the rioting party men and that they had targeted nobody.
“Moreover, the killing took place when the law enforcers already started falling back,” he added.
The RMP commissioner also claimed that gun-wielding Jamaat-Shibir activists fired at police.
Following the clashes, some 53 people were arrested from different parts of the city.
At least 19 policemen were injured as Jamaat-Shibir men hurled brick chips and lobbed cocktails, witnesses and RMP officials said.
The injured, including inspectors Tofazzal Hossain of Detective Branch and Khan M Shahriar of Boalia Police Station, were admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
On Monday, huge contingents of police were deployed at different points, including Saheb Bazar, Rajshahi College and Shah Makhdum College, in the city from 3:00pm as the four-party alliance was set to hold agitations.
Around 4:00pm, BNP leaders Mizanur Rahman Minu and Nadim Mostafa brought out separate processions from Lokhnath School and Rajshahi College points.
Police soon intercepted Nadim’s procession while Minu and his men marched to Bhubon Mohon Park and held a rally there.
Later at about 4:30pm, a big procession of Jamaat and Shibir marched from Hatim Khan to Lokhnath School but was stopped by police at the northern corner of the school.
Enraged, Jamaat-Shibir men started pelting law enforcers with brick chips and stones. The area was engulfed in smoke as they exploded three cocktails.
The activists chased the cops twice up to the Rajshahi College point.
After reinforcement, police chased the Jamaat-Shibir men, firing rubber bullets and teargas canisters.
At one stage, Shafiqul was found lying “unconscious” on the road and minutes later, a police van took him to hospital, witnesses said.
Shafiqul was seen throwing brickbats at police moments before a bullet hit him, they added.
The disturbances lasted till 5:00pm when the law enforcers brought the situation under control.
“Hatim Khan area is a bastion of Jamaat-Shibir. Police had to retreat thrice during the clashes as they ran short of teargas canisters and bullets”, said Additional RMP Commissioner M Moniruzzaman.
Tension ran high in the city with shops keeping their shutters down and roads being almost empty.
Emaj Uddin Mondol, the city unit Jamaat assistant secretary, said some 60 Jamaat-Shibir activists were injured in police action and many of them were bullet hit. They were taken to Islami Bank Bangladesh Hospital and different clinics.
Law enforcers had shot into the Jamaat procession without any provocation, he claimed.
Islamic Chhatra Shibir, a pro-Jamaat student body, condemned the killing and also “police brutality”.