Thrashed by trash
The residents of Azimpur yesterday woke up to a bizarre sight: heaps of garbage dumped in front of the gates of a community centre.
While the bewildered people looked for answers, some leaders of Dhaka city's Awami League (AL) claimed that the trash was left there by their rival group to foil a programme scheduled to be held inside Pearl Harbour Community Centre, the location in question.
Party insiders said the rivalry between Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon and AL's Dhaka South City Unit's general secretary Shahey Alam Murad led to this situation.
Murad blamed the city corporation for the dumping, terming the incident 'unexpected'. He, however, said their programme was held successfully
Angered by the apparent slight, AL men loyal to Murad began chanting slogans against the mayor and blamed him for the incident. However, the mayor later rejected the allegations.
The matter came to a head when men loyal to the mayor announced a counter programme in front of the community centre on the exact same day protesting the assault on Ward No-38 councillor Abu Ahmed Mannafi. Mannafi was allegedly assaulted by party activists loyal to Murad on October 26 during the inaugural ceremony of Mouchak-Moghbazar flyover.
As councillors Farid Uddin Ratan and Hasibur Rahman Manik, two of the mayor's men, tried to gather their followers near the community centre, they were chased by Murad's men. A clash then ensued between the two factions.
Both sides hurled brick chips at each other at around 10:45am, witnesses said.
At least three motorcycles were torched and several others were vandalised near Azimpur intersection.
Panicked people were seen running away while traffic came to a halt for more than an hour until police got the situation under control around 12:45pm after firing several rounds of tear canisters, witnesses said.
Party sources said Dhaka South City unit arranged an extended meeting at the community centre.
The programme was organised for AL's November 18 rally at Suhrawardy Uddyan to welcome the UN recognition of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's March 7 speech. The programme was organised to also begin membership collection and for the renewal drive.
Food Minister Qamrul Islam, former lawmaker Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin and other AL leaders entered the community centre bypassing the garbage.
The mayor was not invited to the event, sources said.
While visiting the spot, this correspondent found people, including students of Viqarunnisa Noon School & College which is located next to the community centre, covering their noses due to the stench from the garbage.
Shamima Rahman, a student's guardian, told this correspondent that they are the victims of a political rivalry. “It was totally unacceptable to dump garbage in front of a school,” she added.
A security guard at the community centre told The Daily Star that the garbage was dumped there after 3:00am by two to three trucks. He, however, said he could not identify whether the trucks belonged to the city corporation.
Contacted, Sayeed Khokon denied the allegation of dumping the waste.
“Sometimes, it happens that garbage is not cleared for two or three days and it piles up. This might be a case of that,” he said.
Khokon said they are looking into the matter.
Moniruzzaman, officer-in-charge of Lalbagh Police Station said they picked up several people for interrogation following the clash between the two rival groups of AL.
Back at the programme, Qamrul Islam mentioned the party's internal feud saying that it is not possible for Awami League to retain power if such things continue. “Such a feud within the party is unexpected,” he said and stressed the need for unity within the ruling party.