Hefajat fury rages on
The mayhem by Qawmi madrasa-based organisation Hefajat-e-Islam continued nationwide for the third consecutive day yesterday with Brahmanbaria turning into a battlefield.
Police stations, public offices, offices of the ruling party, and buses have been torched and vandalised. Even a train and a temple where Dol Purnima puja was being held did not escape their wrath.
During yesterday's violence, at least three more people were killed, taking the toll of the violence that began with protests against the Indian prime minister's visit to 13.
Scores of people, including Hefajat supporters, bystanders and law enforcers were wounded and vehicles damaged in different districts.
In Brahmanbaria, public offices set on fire by Hefajat activists kept burning and firefighters did not dare go to the scene before the activists went home after 9:30pm.
Hefajat announced a day of prayers and mourning for today and called for nationwide rallies on April 2.
Clashes also took place in Kishoreganj, Narayanganj, Dhaka, Habiganj, Sylhet, Narsingdi and Mymensingh. Public offices were set on fire while vehicles were vandalised in several districts.
in Brahmanbaria, Hefajat supporters attacked Khatihata Highway Police Station and as they set the facility on fire, police used firearms, reports our correspondent in the district.
Twenty-three-year-old Kalon Miah and 20-year-old Al Amin, both residents of Brahmanbaria Sadar, died of gunshot wounds after they were taken to Brahmanbaria General Hospital, Medical Officer Syed Ariful Islam said, adding that a third man died at the hospital soon after he was brought there from Pirbari area with gunshot wounds around 2:30pm, but his identity was not known as of last night.
Hefajat activists also attacked the police lines in Pirbari and ransacked Brahmanbaria's biggest temple Sree Sree Anandamayee Kali Mandir. They trashed and broke the idols of Krishna and the Goddess Kali.
The donation box for the temple was looted, while the artifacts used for ceremonies were ransacked and strewn about.
"We were performing prayers for Dol Purnima, when 200-300 armed men broke the temple gate and barged into our ceremony. We tried to protect the idol of Goddess Kali, but they shoved us aside and vandalised the idol," said Ashis Paul, president of Anandamoyee Kalibari Temple Festival Celebration Committee.
The Sadar Land Office in Brahmanbaria was set on fire and completely destroyed. Columns of smoke billowed from the facility throughout the day as the documents kept burning. Firefighters did not dare go near the scene until 9:30pm, when the mob went home.
Ustad Alauddin Khan Music Academy was shrouded in flames while clouds of black smoke covered the municipality office building and the office of district Awami League General Secretary Al Mamun Sarkar. The Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Bhasha Chattar lay completely vandalised and burnt.
The Hefajat activists also attacked Sonar Bangla Express train at Dakshin Poirotola in Brahmanbaria around 10:00am yesterday and injured at least 10 passengers.
They damaged the locomotive, broke 117 windows, and vandalised 15 coaches of the train, said Station Master Shoeb Ahmed.
The hartal supporters put barriers on the tracks and forced Sonar Bangla Express to stop and then attacked it, he said.
Hefajat supporters set fire to the police lines, the Sadar police station, the office of a local MP, the public library, press club, the homes of the district AL leaders Chowdhury Afzal Hossain Nesar, Rabiul Hossain Rubel, Shahadat Hossain Shobhon, and Sheikh Anar Jamal Khan, the offices of AL leaders Md Zahirul Islam Bhuiyan, Muktijoddha Sangsad Bhaban, Ubaidul Muktadir Chowdhury Women's College, and many other establishments.
In Habiganj, around 20 people, including seven cops were injured, in clashes between law enforcers and Hefajat in Jhingri area of Ajmeriganj on Ajmeriganj-Baniachang road. Hefajat activists set fire to two police motorcycles there.
Officer-in-Charge Nurul Islam of Ajmeriganj Police Station was one of the cops injured. The activists also vandalised a pickup used by the OC.
In Munshiganj, 15 people, including the officer-in-charge of Sirajdikhan Police Station, were injured in a clash between police and Hefajat activists.
Abdul Momen, superintendent of police in Munshiganj, said five policemen, including Sirajdikhan OC SM Jamal Uddin, were injured.
Witnesses said the clash ensued as police foiled a blockade of Hefajat activists in Nimtola area on Dhaka-Mawa highway.
The activists attacked policemen in Boroshikarpur and Shulpur areas near Nimtola around 12:00pm. Police fired tear gas shells and blank shots.
Hefajat activists threw brick chips at law enforcers. Several shops were damaged and three motorcycles were torched, witnesses said.
Mohammad Obaidullah Kashemi, president of Sirajdikhan Hefajat-e-Islam, claimed that his father Allama Abdul Hamid got shot during the clash and was taken to a private hospital in Dhaka for treatment.
In Narayanganj, a bystander was injured when Border Guard Bangladesh men opened fire after being attacked by activists near Sanarpar Bus Stand area around 11:00am, reports our correspondent.
Mohammad Shakil, 26, an employee of a furniture store who got shot in his right leg, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
After the incident, locals threw stones and brick chips, damaging at least 10 vehicles on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway where Hefajat activists put barricades, halting traffic.
The activists blocked Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet highways by setting fire to tyres at different points, disrupting traffic for four hours.
Police and witnesses said stick-wielding Hefajat activists used timber and sand bags and torched tyres at Madanganj, Shimrail, Mouchak and Sanarpar areas to block the highway at 6:00am.
In Kishoreganj, Hefazat supporters marched and clashed sporadically with the police and torched the AL office. Around 50 people, including 10 policemen, were injured.
Hefajat and AL activists engaged in clashes on Station Road, Shaheedi Mosjid area, Ekrampur and Atharabari Kachari areas that continued for hours, injuring almost 50 people, said police. Police used teargas shells and fired blank shots to disperse the crowds.
In Sylhet, three Shibir activists were detained during repeated clashes between activists of Hefajat, Shibir, and AL.
It happened when the AL men were marching against the hartal in Sylhet Zilla Parishad complex and the procession got attacked by the Hefajat and Shibir activists, witnesses said.
Several crude bombs were exploded during the clash, they said. Police also detained two store workers during the clash.
In the capital, Hefajat Secretary-General Nurul Islam told a press conference at Khilafat Majlish office in Purana Paltan that 17 activists got killed, 500 others were injured and 200 arrested.
He demanded compensation for those killed, treatment for the injured, and release of those arrested.