Madrasa students clash with police at Baluchhara in the port city yesterday after being obstructed to join a rally at Lal Dighi Maidan. The law enforcers earlier in the morning barred an Islamist group called Hefazate Islam Bangladesh from setting up a podium for the rally. Photo: Zobaer Hossain Sikder
Around 19 people including six policemen were injured, one critically, in a violent clash between madrasa students and law enforcers in the port city yesterday.
The clash erupted after police barred members of recently formed Islamist group Hefazate Islam Bangladesh from erecting podium for a rally at Laldighi Maidan in the morning and intercepted the rally-bound madrasa students in Baluchchhara around 2:15pm, sources say.
Several thousand students on around 40 vehicles were heading towards the rally from different Kawmi madrasas in Hathazari and Fatikchhari. They used bricks and blasted several cocktails during the clash.
Police fired blank shots and charged baton to disperse the students and picked up around 40 from the spot, the sources add.
Of the 13 injured students, seven were admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital and the rest at Hathazari Health Complex. One of them was hit by cocktail splinters and his condition was stated to be critical.
The sources say Hefazate Islam announced to hold the rally in the afternoon in protest against the government's move to slap ban on religion-based politics, cancellation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and proposed education policy.
The organisation claims they obtained permission from Muslim High School authorities for erecting the podium as the ground belongs to the school.
Assistant Commissioner (DB) Jahangir Alam however said they did not allow erection of the podium or holding the rally as the organisation did not have required permission from the Chittagong Metropolitan Police.
A tense situation was prevailing since morning as the police barred the organisation from erecting the podium.
Meanwhile, the madrasa students went on the rampage again in the evening and injured a police constable in Hathazari and vandalised the vehicle of Superintendent of Police (SP) Md ZA Morshed.
Morshed came under attack near Chittagong University gate No 2 around 6:00pm. He was going to talk to Hathazari Moinul Islam Madrasa Director Ahmad Shafi, also ameer of Hefazate Islam.
Over 1,500 students put up a barricade near Hathazari Bus Stand and clashed with the police, leaving one policeman injured, said Additional SP Amena Begum.
The students were face to face with police as of 8:30 last night.
HISTORY OF HEFAJATE ISLAM
Director of Hathazari Boro Madrasa Ahmad Shafi, popularly known as Boro Huzur, and Chairman of a faction of Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) Mufti Izharul Islam are its main founders.
The platform was formed a month ago in Chittagong comprising teachers of several hundred Kawmi madrasas in order to forge a greater movement against the government's different steps.
Yesterday's rally was the first showdown of Hefajate Islam. The organisation had planned to make a huge gathering of students from over 100 Kawmi madrasas from Hathazari, Fatikchhari and Patiya, and Cox's Bazar.
Contacted, Mufti Izharul Islam of Jameyatul Ulum Madrasa in Lalkhan Bazar claimed himself as Nayebe Ameer of Hefajate Islam. Izhar is the founder of the hilltop madrasa where over one thousand students reside.
He said Ahmad Shafi is the Ameer of Hefazate Islam. He blamed the government and law-enforcement agencies for foiling the pre-scheduled rally and attacking the madrasa students. He announced to raise a greater movement in protest against the police attack.
He also termed the move "stupidity" of the government.
Izhar said they formed the platform to raise a movement against the government's "anti-Islam activities" like attempt to ban religion-based politics, formulating secular education draft policy and cancelling the Fifth Amendment.
He also warned of tougher movement against "foreign conspiracy" to separate Chittagong Hill Tracts from Bangladesh.
"It is foreign conspiracy to make a separate Christian state there," he said.
He vowed to form a greater platform in cooperation with different political parties to protest against the government's "anti-Islam" activities.
Asked about joining a movement with Jamaat-e-Islami, Izharul said they have no relation with Jamaat.