Clashes erupt in Cumilla after scuffle between MP, chairman in Dhaka

After a lawmaker and an upazila council chairman came to blows over a proposed committee for a local Awami League unit, their supporters were embroiled in violent clashes in Cumilla's Debidwar Upazila, leaving at least 15 people injured.

Cumilla and Staff CorrespondentReuters
Published : 17 July 2022, 08:03 AM
Updated : 17 July 2022, 08:03 AM

On Saturday, a preparatory committee meeting surrounding the Debidwar Upazila Awami League's conference took place at the Parliament Members' Club in the capital. Cumilla-4 MP Razee Mohammad Fakhrul and Debidwar Upazila Parishad Chairman Abul Kalam Azad were both in attendance.

But at one point, Fakhrul lost his temper and started hitting Azad, according to those who attended the meeting. Azad retaliated, sparking a scuffle between the two.

Azad, also the organising secretary of the Cumilla North Awami League wing, later blamed the MP for the altercation and said "everything would become clear" upon watching the CCTV footage of the incident.

Fakhrul said he was 'undergoing treatment' and would provide further details later at a press conference.

Meanwhile, tensions simmered as word of Azad's admission to a hospital in Dhaka reached Debidwar on Saturday night.

The chairman's supporters subsequently blockaded the Bagur Bus Stand on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway and marched in protest against the MP.

The protests brought traffic on the highway to a standstill for half an hour. Awami League leaders and activists from other unions also took part in the protests.

Supporters of the MP later arrived at the scene and the two sides squared off around 8:30 pm. Several explosions were heard during the clashes that followed, witnesses said.

At least 15 people were injured on both sides, according to the police.

“We went to the scene upon hearing about the confrontation between supporters of the MP and chairman. We quickly brought the situation under control. Additional police personnel have been deployed in the area,” said Debidwar Police Station chief Kamal Krishna Dhar.

The Debidwar Upazila Awami League is set to hold a conference, its first in 26 years, on Jul 21. Ahead of the event, a meeting was arranged at the Parliament Members' Club and was attended by dozens of district and upazila Awami League leaders, including the president of the Cumilla North chapter Ruhul Amin.

During the meeting, Abdul Matin Sarker, the acting president of the upazila unit, demanded the declaration of a new committee for Allahabad Union. Many of those present supported his call.

Later, Roshan Ali, general secretary of the Cumilla North Awami League, named former president Sirajul Islam Sarkar as the president of the Allahabad Union unit and Aktaruzzaman Swapan as its general secretary.

MP Fakhrul objected to the move, but Azad backed the proposal. This enraged Fakhrul and the two later engaged in a brawl.

Condemning the incident, Cumilla North District Awami League Vice-President Abdul Matin Munshi said, "As the names of the president and the general secretary were announced, MP Razee Mohammad Fakhrul leapt out of his seat, saying he disagreed with the committee. In response, Abul Kalam Azad, who was sitting next to him, said it was a wonderful committee."

"After that, the MP started punching the upazila chairman, who was pinned to the floor. The chairman got back up later and lashed out at the MP.”

Asked about the altercation, Azad said, "The parliamentarian got angry with me over the proposed committee for the Allahabad and Gunaighar South Union units and started punching me. Evidence can be found in the CCTV footage. Leaders of Cumilla North and Debidwar Upazila Awami League were also present at the meeting.”

Fakhrul, however, could not be reached for comment over the phone. But in a text message to bdnews24.com on Sunday, he said he was undergoing treatment and would present his version of the incident at a press conference.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher