4 killed, 50 hurt as Manikganj battlefield during hartal

FOUR people were killed and at least 50 others injured when police, attacked by violent pickets, opened fire in Singair upazila in Manikganj during Sunday’s countrywide hartal.

Among the injured are several policemen, including Singair Police Station Officer-in-charge Liakat Ali. He was taking treatment at the upazila health complex, reports our Manikganj correspondent.

Of the victims, one died on the spot, two in hospitals in Manikganj and the fourth succumbed to his injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, police said.

Mohammad Salahuddin, Manikganj unit general secretary of Khelafat Majlish, one of the eight so-called Islamist parties that enforced the shutdown with BNP‘s support, claimed the victims had been its activists. The party has called a daylong hartal in Manikganj for today in protest.

Local, however, told The Daily Star that the victims had no political link.

The dead are Alamgir Hossain, 35, a farmer; Nasir Ahmed, 30, a husk trader; Nazimuddin Mollah, 26, an expatriate, of Gobindol area in the upazila; and Shah Alam, 20, an Alim student of Muslimnagar Rashidia Madrasa in the upazila.

The clash erupted around 9:00am when pro-hartal activists attacked an Awami League procession led by its district unit General Secretary Abdul Majed Khan at Kashimnagar. At least 10 AL leaders and activists were injured in the clash.

In retaliation, AL activists vandalised the upazila BNP office.

At this, pickets in their dozens put barricades with logs on the road at Gobindol, witnesses said, adding that the sticks and machetes-wielding hartal supporters brought out a procession in the area protesting the vandalism.

As police rushed to the spot and tried to disperse them, a chase and counter-chase took place between police and the pro-hartal activists, leading to nearly a three-hour sporadic clash.

The hartal supporters used the microphones of several mosques to mislead villagers, said Mizanur Rahman, additional superintendent of police of Manikganj

Police fired around 200 gunshots and teargas shells to bring the situation under control. Hartal supporters responded by throwing brick chips and also attacked police with bamboo sticks, prompting the law enforcers to open fire, leaving the four people dead.

In port city Chittagong, the hartal was largely peaceful except for a few stray incidents.

Two scooters were torched at Hazari Lane and Kapasgola in the city, said Mohiuddin Selim, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station.

Traffic was almost normal and officer and roadside shops were open. Big shopping malls, however, kept their shutters down.

In Cox’s Bazar, at least 18 people were hurt, including five by bullets, as the BNP-Jamaat men clashed with Awami League activists in the district’s Pekua upazila.

The clash began when Chhatra League activists intercepted Jamaat-Shibir men picketing in Ashraful Ulum Madrasa area around 10:00am, reports our Cox’s Bazar correspondent.

BNP activists rushed to help the Jamaat-Shibir men after an announcement from the loudspeaker of a local mosque, witnesses said, adding that 20 gunshots were heard during the clash.

Police detained two BNP activists from the scene.

In Joypurhat, pro-hartal activists burnt a microbus carrying newspapers early in the morning. They stopped the microbus at Komargram village under the sadar upazila, around 7km off of the district town.

Police said the pickets burnt the vehicle and about 5,000 copies of newspapers to ashes and fled the area after exploding two cocktails.

Meanwhile, in Dinajpur, police Sub-inspector Farhad Hossain received head injuries when pickets pelted bricks at him at Ranirbandar area. He was admitted to Dinajpur Medical College and Hospital.

The hartal in Rajshahi was marked by stray incidents of arson and picketing. No pro-hartal activists were seen in most of the area and business was almost normal.

Some pickets barricaded the Rajshahi-Naogaon road at Poba for one hour, torching tyres since 11:00am. They damaged three battery-run auto-rickshaws and burnt another, but fled when police arrived.

In Khulna anti-hartal activists chased some pro-hartal activists and vandalised a house where the latter took shelter, said Sonadanga Police Station Officer-in-charge Quamruzzaman.

During the incident, locals attacked a group of Chhatra League workers, leaving five people injured. Vehicular movement was normal and shopping malls and businesses were open.

The strike passed off without any untoward incident in Sylhet.

Meanwhile, a man, who was bullet hit during Friday’s violence in the district was declared clinically dead, doctors and family members said.

Victim Abdur Rahman along with 20 others were bullet hit near Chouhatta area as police fired gunshots when Muslim fanatics attacked the Central Shaheed Minar on Friday.

In the meantime, the burnt body recovered from a Jamaat adherent-owned computer centre in Tangail was identified Sunday as Sumon Saha, 27.

The computer centre was torched by a group of people on Saturday.

Later that day, Ishtiak Ahmed Rajib, general secretary of Tangail BCL, filed a murder case against 70 to 80 unidentified Jamaat-Shibir men.

Claiming that Sumon was an AL activists, Rajib in his case statement said the Jamaat-Shibir men exploded a bomb inside the computer centre, leading to Sumon’s death, said Abu Obaida, officer-in-charge of Tangail Model Police Station.


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