“Jamaat-e-Islami activists” used the protest call given by the 12 “Islamist” and likeminded parties after Friday prayers to “fight back” as they went berserk in different parts of the country including the capital Dhaka, police say.
Reports of clashes also came in from Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi and other areas, and journalists were injured after the “Islamists” held protest rallies to “punish anti-religious bloggres” and against a call by the Shahbagh demonstrators demanding a ban on Jamaat and capital punishment for convicted war criminals.
A police official in Dhaka said they think the “Islamist” protesters are actually “Jamaat activists” and they “will look into it”.
The ‘Islamists’ clashed with police, hurled bombs and pelted stones in and around the Paltan of Dhaka soon after Friday afternoon prayers, prompting the law enforcers to respond with teargas shells and rubber bullets.
The ‘Islamists’ gathered at the Baitul Mukarram premises and started throwing stones at police at around 12:45pm, said a bdnews24.com correspondent.
A senior reporter of Maasranga Television and an ATN Bangla cameraman covering the incident were attacked, he added.
The ‘Islamist’ activists took out a procession and vandalised a structure which had demands of justice for war criminals of 1971 written on it.
At one point they pounced on the police and some explosions followed.
Police fired shotgun rounds to bring the situation under control.
At least seven people, including two journalists and two policemen were injured, eyewitnesses said.
Five, including the injured journalists, were taken to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital for treatment.
Private-run Gazi TV reported Masudur Rahman, 25, sustained bullet injuries in Paltan. Bengali-language daily Dainik Sangbad reporter Saif Bablu, 28, was injured at the north gate of Baitul Mukarram when a brick hurled by the protesters hit him and Dainik Janakantha photojournalist Sheikh Mamun Rashid received bullet injuries. Independent TV cameraman Nurul Islam, 35, also suffered bullet wounds in front of the National Press Club.
Wari police Constable Abdul Jalil, 40, has also been admitted at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) as he was injured in bricks hurled by protesters at the Kaptanbazar.
Apart from them, at least 20 others, injured in various areas of the capital during the rampage, are being treated there.
The condition of one of the injured is serious, bdnews24.com’s medical correspondent said from the hospital.
The ‘Islamists’ also clashed with the law enforcers in Kataban adjacent to Shahbagh. Police retaliated by lobbing tear gas shells after the mob pelted stones at the law enforcers, injuring the Assistant Commissioner (Patrol) of Lalbagh Police Rezaul Karim.
At least four people were detained from the area.
Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Motijheel Circle) Sheikh Nazmul Alam told reporters, “Leaders of the Islami Andolan and 12 like-minded Islamist parties contacted us assuring that they would hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the mosque in protest against the ‘anti-Islamic’ campaign by some Shahbagh bloggers. They were given permission to hold the programme following such an assurance.”
“But they resorted to vandalism after their procession headed towards the Press Club, prompting police to fire teargas shells and rubber bullets,” he said.
He was asked whether the Jamaat activists who have been running riot across the country for the last three months were involved in the clashes riding on the programmes of other Islamist organisations.
The official answered, “I see something like that. We’ll look into the issue.”