September 20, 2011

Jamaat's Violent Confrontation

Activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami fought pitched battles with the police and torched scores of vehicles in the city on Monday afternoon after the law enforcers intercepted the party’s protest march. About 20 vehicles, including four police cars, were burnt and damaged during the clashes that spread across a large area from Kakrail to Shantinagar and Paltan.

Reports of clashes between the Jamaat activists and police also came from different parts of the country, including Chittagong and Comilla that left about 100 more people injured.

Leaders and activists of Jamaat took to the streets on the day in protest against the ‘conspiracy’ to try the party leaders on ‘false’ charges by using a ‘black law’ and demanding their release. Jamaat claimed that at least 700 leaders and activists were injured and 400 were arrested across the country. Dhaka Metropolitan Police said that they had arrested 75 persons during clashes with Jamaat activists in Dhaka city.

After the clashes, the police on Monday night arrested Jamaat’s acting secretary general ATM Azharul Islam at the party’s Moghbazar headquarters. Witnesses said ATM Azhar was arrested when he was coming out of the party’s central office after a press conference. Jamaat publicity secretary Tasneem Alam was also arrested along with him. DMP Ramna zone deputy commissioner Krishnapada Roy confirmed the arrest of the Jamaat leaders.

The injured policemen were given treatment at Central Police Hospital at Rajarbagh while a number of Jamaat activists were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Police in some districts foiled the Jamaat demonstrations without any major incidents by arresting its leaders and activists.

A large number of police and members of Armed Police Battalion with water cannons and armoured carriers were deployed at different places ahead of the scheduled demonstrations in Dhaka.

The capital’s Kakrail, Paltan, Bijaynagar, Shantinagar and Malibagh areas turned into virtual battlefields during the clashes that left around 100 people, including 30 police personnel injured.

Police fired several hundred shots, mostly rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Jamaat activists set fire to at least 17 vehicles, including two police vans, a police jeep and a prison van during the violence. The activists also attacked buses and other vehicles and torched nine motorcycles.

Witnesses said police had charged batons and fired a barrage of tear gas shells to disperse hundreds of Jamaat activists who gathered at the Diploma Engineers Institute at Nightingale crossing at Kakrail to march towards Paltan.

But police swung into action and tried to disperse them by using batons. Soon the clashes spread out to Paltan, Bijaynagar, Fakirerpool and Malibagh areas.

Activists of Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir confronted the police with sticks and hurled stones during the nearly two-hour clashes.

A large number of people, mostly those returning home from work, suffered as transports went off the roads and police also cordoned off the intersections at Paltan, Bijaynagar, Kakrail and Malibagh restricting movement of traffic.

The demonstrators, in the face of firing of tear gas and rubber bullets, retreated to different nearby lanes from where they hurled stones at police.

Most of the shops and business establishments remained closed in the areas during the clashes.

Correspondent in Chittagong reported that activists of Jamaat had vandalised several vehicles in the port city on Monday afternoon. At least three policemen, including CMP assistant commissioner Abdul Mannan, were injured in the clashes triggered by police action on the Jamaat activists trying to stage demonstrations in Muradpur area of the port city. Police arrested a number of activists at the spot.

In Comilla the activists of Jamaat clashed with police for about an hour after the law enforcers stopped a procession in Chawkbazar area. The angry demonstrators smashed windowpanes of four commercial banks and attacked buses. The police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse about 4,000 activists and arrested 11 people at the spot.

In Bogra, the police dispersed Jamaat activists by charging batons when they tried to bring out a procession at Barogola. Jamaat claimed that six activists were injured during the police action.

September 18, 2011

Strong quake shakes country

A magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook most parts of the country along with the capital for over a minute today evening.

Television reports, however, said shattered window panes of different high-rises in the capital fell on the ground.

People gripped by panic rushed to the streets from their offices and residences and called loved ones after the tremor started at around 6:45pm.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the duration of the quake was not known instantly.

The epicentre of the quake was 490km northwest of Agargaon Met office in Dhaka, an official said.

Reports of tremor came from Manikganj, Gazipur, Kishoreganj, Khulna, Chittagong and Rajshahi.

The quake also hit northern India on Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to buildings, reports news agency Reuters.

The US Geological Survey said on its website the quake was centred 64 km north west of Gangtok, in Sikkim. It was 10 km deep.

Bangladesh Today