Chaos in Feni, again
Three days after Khaleda Zia's motorcade came under attack in Feni, two empty buses went up in flames at Mohipal in the district town just after the BNP chief's car crossed the area.
According to party leaders, the buses were set on fire while Khaleda's convoy was passing through the place. Her car was some 30 feet from the spot.
Police said unidentified people threw “something” at the buses causing the fire, immediately after the motorcade left Mohipal at 4:30pm.
The two busses were parked near a filling station on Dhaka-Chittagong highway, Jahangir Alam Sarkar, superintendent of police in Feni, told The Daily Star.
The arson created a commotion, and commuters as well as BNP supporters and activists who thronged the roadsides to greet their leader began to run in panic.
Later, fire service men doused the blaze; none was reportedly injured.
A number of eyewitnesses said they saw some youths hurl petrol bombs at the buses. Asked about it, the SP said he could not say for sure as probe has just begun.
Agitated BNP activists vandalised several vehicles after the incident and police picked up six persons and the drivers of the buses for interrogation.
The detainees include Nur Salam Milon, a former leader of Fazilpur union unit of Chhatra Dal, the pro-BNP student body.
The owner of one of the buses is Sramik League leader Md Milon alias Hatu Milon, said the SP. It could not be known who owned the other bus.
Around 9:00pm, Khaleda reached her Gulshan house in Dhaka safe and sound.
In a statement, she blamed the ruling Awami League for the arson and said, “The Awami League is not a modern political party. It's a shelter for criminals.”
She added that Feni town has also become a haven for thugs who did not hesitate to carry out attack on her motorcade to stop her from providing humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees.
The BNP chief demanded arrest and punishment of the culprits.
Contacted, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that yesterday's arson was deliberate, aimed at disrupting Khaleda Zia's safe return to Dhaka after her successful visit to Cox's Bazar.
Claiming that the incident occurred right before the eyes of law enforcers, Fakhrul said, “It is now clear who carried out the attack ... I believe law enforcers will not have difficulties in identifying the attackers.”
The ruling AL, however, blamed it on the BNP itself.
“Khaleda Zia is trying to create an issue and that's why the party is doing these types of activities,” said AL Organising Secretary Enamul Haque Shamim.
Hurling petrol bombs is the characteristic of BNP, he said, adding that the two incidents in Feni -- on Khaleda's way to Cox's Bazar and back -- are dramas staged by her party.
BNP sources say there were fears of an attack like the one that took place in Mohammad Ali Bazar area of Feni on Saturday afternoon.
That's why hundreds of party activists and supporters gathered on roadsides, they claimed.
Law enforcers were also present in places.
Khaleda left Chittagong Circuit House at 2:15pm for Dhaka after concluding her four-day visit to see the plight of Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar.
Hundreds of activists on motorcycles welcomed her as she entered Feni from Mirsarai upazila of Chittagong, said BNP Vice Chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo.
Mintoo joined the motorcade there and his car was the fourth after Khaleda's. While passing through Mohipal intersection, he saw some four to five youths leaving one of the two buses.
Then there was a bang and the bus was ablaze. The other bus caught fire in no time, said the senior BNP leader.
Kabir Hossain, senior station officer of Feni Fire Service and Civil Defence, said firefighters rushed to the spot on information.
“No one was hurt as the buses were empty,” Kabir said. However, he declined to comment about the source of the fire.
In Saturday's attack, at least 45 people were injured and some 30 cars, including several media vehicles, were damaged as 40 to 50 youths with iron rods and sticks swooped on the convoy.
Nearly 15 journalists were assaulted even after they disclosed their professional identities.
The BNP and its archrival Awami League have since been pointing fingers at each other. However, Feni BNP leaders claimed to have identified some of the men who attacked Khaleda's motorcade that day.
After analysing the video footage of the incident, they said three of the attackers were local leaders of Chhatra League, the pro-AL student organisation. The Daily Star couldn't verify the claim independently.
Meanwhile, Chhatra Dal announced a countrywide demonstration for today.
Yesterday evening, police detained seven pro-BNP men when they vandalised public vehicles in the capital's Paltan area, said police.