Activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front, Islami Chhatra Shibir, attacked policemen across the country on Monday, demanding release of their top leaders facing trials on war crimes charges.
At least 33 policemen were injured – 21 of them in capital Dhaka—in the attacks, officials said.
The attacks appeared pre-meditated and planned because they resembled a pattern and were launched around the same time in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and Dinajpur.
Attack in Dhaka
Jamaat, Shibir activists went berserk in the capital’s Motijheel area, smashing nearly 100 vehicles. They set fire to five vehicles including a police van. At least 21 policemen were injuring when they tried to prevent the mayhem.
Motijheel police SI Moktar Hossain told bdnews24.com the clashes erupted around 10am when Jamaat, Shibir activists brought out a procession and tried to attack the police station.
He said the agitators gathered at the Shapla Chattar and moved towards the Balaka Chattar attacking vehicles on the way. Several crude bombs were lobbed at random to create panic.
Police’s Motijheel zone Additional commissioner Mehedi Hasan told bdnews24.com the agitators had set fire to two vehicles in front of the Department of Public Health Engineering.
He said the Motijheel, Paltan and Shahjahan police have detained at least 50 trouble-makers during and after the clashes.
The situation was controlled by midday, but Hasan said a large police posse has been deployed at the key points of the city.
The sudden attack disrupted traffic in the busy commercial area, said bnews24.com’s Kamal Hossain Talukder, who was at the spot during the clashes.
Bombs explode in Rajshahi
Around the same time, at least 15 people, including two police officials, were injured as Shibir activists attacked the police in Rajshahi University.
Traffic on the busy Dhaka-Rajshahi Highway was disrupted for nearly 30 minutes as the agitators set up road blocks in the Binodpur area.
The Shibir activists also exploded at least five handmade bombs, Motihar police OC SM Abdus Sobhan told bdnews24.com.
Police detained three Shibir activists after the attacks.
Mayhem in Chittagong
Two policemen were injured in Shibir attack in the port city around 10am.
“A group of Shibir activists gathered at the city’s BRTC intersection around 10am on Monday and suddenly hurled brickbats at the police,” Chittagong Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner Abdul Mannan told bdnews24.com.
He said two constables – Masud Karim and ‘Jamal’ – were injured and were hospitalised.
Mannan said no one have been arrested so far.
Another six policemen were injured in an attack by Shibir activists in Banshkhali area later the day.
Banshkhali police OC Abdus Sabur told bdnews24.com that several hundred Shibir activists had gathered at the Chambal Bazaar area around 1:30pm and were trying to hold a rally. As police stopped them from putting up banners, the Shibir activists brought out a procession and hurled bricks at the law enforcers.
The gathering dispersed after police intervened, he said. Two Shibir activists have been detained from the scene.
The OC said the situation was under control and additional police patrol have been deployed to prevent violence recurrence.
‘Sticks procession’ in Dinajpur
Jamaat and its student front Shibir brought out a procession brandishing sticks to demand the release of their senior leaders.
Kotwali police SI Mamun told bdnews24.com that the police tried to stop the procession when it reached Munshipara.
The agitators attacked police, injuring Mamun and another policeman.
Meanwhile, Jamaat, Shibir activists brought out sudden processions in Khulna, Faridpur, Joypurhat, Brahmanbaria and several other districts demanding release of their detained leaders.
The Islamist party and its student wing had been protesting vociferously since November opposing the war crimes trials.
The countrywide attack on policemen seems part of their plans to intensify the agitation, now that the war crimes tribunals are close to announcing their verdicts on several Jamaat leaders for their alleged involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.
They had even set a policeman on fire in Joypurhat and attacked Law Minister Shafique Ahmed’s motorcade on Nov 13 in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar area.