9 burnt dead, another 'gunned down'
At least nine people including eight members of a family were burnt alive as locals set several houses on fire at Kalshi Bihari camp in Mirpur in the capital in a series of clashes with Bihari people over firecracker explosion this morning.
Another person, who was hit by pellets allegedly fired by police during the clashes, succumbed to his injuries at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), hospital sources said.
The clashes ensued after the Fazr prayers following arguments over exploding firecrackers in front of a mosque on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat.
Putting the blame on local Jubo League activists, a group of Bihari people attacked and vandalised a party office in Mirpur area, the OC said.
Sheikh Yusuf Harun, deputy commissioner of Dhaka, confirmed the death of nine people, mostly children and women, in a fire that set to the houses at the Bihari camp following the clashes.
Local administration is trying their best to bring the situation under control, the DC said while talking to reporters around 1:00pm.
Mustaq Ahmed, chairman of a local welfare mission for Biharis, claimed that eight out of 10 deceased are from a same family.
The eight were burnt alive when Bangalee people locked them inside their house and set the house on fire, he said.
Informed by locals, fire fighters rushed to the camp and brought the fire under control around 9:00am, Fire Service and Civil Defence sources said.
The problem erupted when some Jubo League men blasted crackers in front of a mosque inside the Bihari camp where people were offering Fazr prayers, witnesses said.
After the prayer, people from Bihari community resisted the Jubo League men from exploding crackers, triggering the sporadic clashes.
On information, policemen reached the spot and fired pellets targeting the Bihari people, residents of the camp said claiming that at least 100 people were injured during the firing.
Four of the injured were rushed to the DMCH where Azad died later, they claimed.
On the other hand, Ziauzzaman, officer-in-charge of Pallabi Police Station, claimed that the clash occurred between two rival groups of the Bihari camp.
And the arson attack might have also been taken place following the rivalry, he added.
After the fire incident, the OC tried to negotiate with the Bihari people to calm the situation but they attacked him, the police official claimed.
Seven of the nine people who were burnt to death were identified as Baby, 40, Shahana, 25, Afsana, 20, Farjana, 16, twin brothers -- Lalu, 12, Bhulu, 12 – and Buchi, 8.
Talking to The Daily Star, Baby’s brother Md Sentu said his sister and five of her family members were burnt alive in the fire this morning.
Some Jubo League activists went to the Kalshi Bihari camp few days back took take an illegal electricity line for nearby Baunia Bandh Slum for Bangalee people in the area but they were refused, he said.
As a sequel to the incident, the Jubo League men might have torched the houses and burned people, he added.
Residents of Baunia Bandh slum, 300 yards off Kalshi Bihari camp, claimed that the clashes took place between two rival groups of Biharis.
Manir Hossain, a resident of another nearby slum, Balurmath, said he saw around 300 people along with policemen went to the Bihari camp just before the fire incident.
The charred bodies were kept at Standard Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee office till this afternoon.