Pro-hartal pickets beat an auto-rickshaw passenger to death and inflicted serious burns on three transport workers, while a Jamaat man was killed in clashes between pickets and law enforcers yesterday, the second day of the Islamist party’s 48-hour shutdown.
Police said Jamaat-Shibir men attacked a CNG-run auto-rickshaw at Chondidasgati in Sirajganj around 1:00pm, leaving one of its passengers dead and another wounded.
“The driver lost control of the vehicle while trying to save the passengers from brickbats. The vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a ditch,” said Rafiqul Islam, officer-in-charge of Sirajganj Police Station.
“Showing no mercy to the passengers, the pickets beat them up and vandalised the vehicle,” said Rafiqul.
Seriously injured Masud Hossain, 27, of Raiganj upazila was later taken to Sirajganj General Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds around 4:30pm, said the OC.
Another injured, Shah Alam, 38, of Solonga upazila is receiving treatment at the same hospital.
In Meherpur, a Jamaat activist was killed and at least 45 people were wounded in a clash between Jamaat men and law enforcers at Gourinagar in Meherpur in the morning.
The Jamaat called the shutdown protesting Tuesday’s Supreme Court verdict that sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. The hartal ends at 6:00am today.
The three seriously injured transport workers are now fighting for life at the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Lying on a hospital bed, bus driver Nazrul Islam Bhuiyan, 35, told The Daily Star that he repeatedly begged for mercy from the Jamaat-Shibir men, saying he was the lone breadwinner of his four-member family.
“I begged them not to set fire to the bus. But nothing could pacify the pickets, who got into the vehicle in the guise of passengers. They poured flammable objects on me and set me alight with a match stick when the bus reached Bogra bypass area in Gazipur around 8:15am,” he said.
He then desperately tried to get out of the bus. But the pickets prevented him, shouting, “How dare you drive a bus during Jamaat’s hartal,” said Nazrul, who had suffered burns to 60 percent of his body.
“At one stage, I managed to jump into a roadside water body and douse the flame,” he said.
Another victim, Shamsul Islam, 55, a truck driver, was in a very critical condition, as he had suffered burns on 95 percent of his body.
“A group of 15-20 pro-hartal pickets stopped the truck in Sherpur area of Bogra while it was travelling from Sirajganj to Panchagarh, carrying 700 bags of fertiliser. They suddenly threw a petrol bomb at the truck,” said Shamsul’s wife Sabina Yasmin, quoting the truck’s helper Md Shahin.
Talking to The Daily Star over the phone, Shahin said, “The pickets stopped our truck around 10:00pm on Wednesday. The driver begged them for mercy. But they ignored his appeal, and started vandalising the truck. At one stage, they threw a petrol bomb targeting us.”
Shahin is receiving treatment at the Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College in Bogra.
Jamaat-Shibir men also set fire to a truck at Chouddagram in Comilla around 9:30pm on Wednesday, leaving its driver Sekandar Bepari, 42, critically wounded.
The truck was carrying electrical goods to Chittagong from Dhaka.
“Fifty-two percent of his body, including the face and chest, had been burnt,” said a doctor at the DMCH.
Meanwhile, a Jamaat man was killed, as Jamaat-Shibir men clashed with law enforcers at Gourinagar in Meherpur.
At least 45 people, including five policemen, were injured in the three-hour clash.
Police fired shots, rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the unruly Jamaat-Shibir men, who exploded at least 50 crude bombs in retaliation.
Robiul Hossain, officer-in-charge of Mujibnagar Police Station, said activists of the Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir tried to block the Meherpur-Mujibnagar road in Gourinagar area with logs around 7:30am.
When law enforcers resisted the pro-hartal pickets, they swooped on police with lethal weapons and sticks, said Robiul.
At one stage, Jamaat men caught Sub-Inspector Abdul Mannan and hacked away at him with sharp weapons. Four more policemen were injured, as they tried to rescue their colleague.
Mannan was whisked off to the capital for better treatment, as his condition deteriorated.
The local administration later called in Border Guard Bangladesh to bring the situation under control.