At least two BNP candidates were hurt and another was assaulted during clashes and attacks allegedly by Awami League men in different districts yesterday, as election violence continues to flare.
The clashes saw more than 40 other BNP leaders and activists as well as four policemen injured in at least four districts -- Sirajganj, Satkhira, Cumilla and Gazipur, police and BNP sources said.
Arrests of BNP and Jamaat men also continue, with more than 150 detained in Narayanganj and Sirajganj alone yesterday.
Since electoral campaign began on Monday, law enforcers arrested at least 136 leaders of the BNP-led 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikyafront, including BNP Organising Secretary Ruhul Kabir Talukder Dulu and the party's candidate for Gazipur-2 Fazlul Haque Milon.
Besides, at least 10 candidates of the alliance were attacked across the country allegedly by the ruling party men during their electoral campaigns.
The are Afroza Abbas, BNP candidate for Dhaka-9; Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of BNP; Fariduzzaman, Jatiya Oikyafront candidate for Narail-2; Golam Mohammad Siraj, BNP candidate for Bogura-5; Sharifuzzaman, BNP candidate for Chuadanga-1; Manjurul Alam Bimol, 20-party candidate for Natore-1; Professor Abu Sayeed, Jatiya Oikyafront candidate for Pabna-1; Jeba Amin, BNP candidate for Jhalakathi-2; and Azharul Islam Manna, BNP candidate for Narayanganj-3.
At least 15 people, including four policemen and BNP candidate for Sirajganj-2 Romana Mahamud, were injured as police and BNP men clashed in College Road area in the district's Sadar Upazila last night.
Romana, also wife of BNP leader Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, returned home after primary treatment, said Saidur Rahman Bachhu, secretary of Sirajganj district BNP.
Condition of two victims were stated to be critical, and they were being brought to Dhaka for treatment, BNP sources said.
Abu Daud, officer-in-charge of Sirajganj Sadar Police Station, said the clash began around 7:00pm, when BNP supporters from a rally led by Romana hurled brickbats on the cops and attacked the on-duty police in the area.
Police first tried to calm them, but failed, he claimed.
At one stage, police opened fire to disperse the mob. Police fired 57 bullets and eight teargas shells during the hour-long clash, the OC added.
But Saidur, secretary of Sirajganj district BNP, said the clash broke out as police tried to stop their procession on their way to the local BNP office.
Satkhira-1 BNP candidate and central leader Habibul Islam Habib and at least nine other party men were injured when alleged AL men attacked a BNP campaign rally around 12:00pm in front of Kolaroa Upazila Parishad.
The other victims include Kolaroa Upazila BNP President Bazlur Rahman, Satkhira District Chhatra Dal General Secretary Mamtazul Islam Chandan, District BNP Organising Secretary Ashraf Hossain, upazila Chhatra Dal President Tawfiqur Rahman and Kolaroa Krishak Dal President BM Siraj.
Habibul said BNP leaders and activists were distributing leaflets among voters when they were attacked from behind by Awami League and Juba League men led by Kolaroa Upazila Awami League President Firoze Ahmed Swapan.
The condition of four was critical and they were admitted to hospitals in Jashore, Kolaroa and Satkhira sadar, Habibul said.
Firoze denied the allegation, and blamed the attack on BNP's internal conflicts.
Maruf Ahmed, officer-in-charge of Kolaroa Police Station, said Habibul went to a shop to distribute leaflets, but the shopkeeper declined to accept those.
There was a heated debate over it, leading to a chase and counter-chase between two BNP groups, he claimed.
Alleged Juba League and Chhatra League activists attacked Jatiya Oikyafront-nominated Gazipur-3 candidate and BNP leader Shah Reazul Hannan's motorcade when the BNP men were going to offer their prayers in the evening after a campaign at Aralbazar of Sanmania union in Kapasia Upazila.
At least 10 BNP men were injured and Reazul's car and four to five motorcycles were vandalised during the attack, said Reazul.
“The attackers physically assault me and tore off my panjabi,” he told reporters at Safaisree Union BNP office later in the evening.
The injured include Kapasia Upazila Swecchhasebak Dal leader Jabed, Juba Dal leader Shafiqul, Chhatra Dal leaders Masum Billa, Ashik Mia and seven other activists. They took treatment at local clinics.
Reazul alleged the attack was carried out by Sanmania Union Juba League General Secretary Shyamal, Chhatra League leader Likhon and their cohorts.
The Daily Star could reach any of the alleged attackers for their comment.
The motorcade of BNP candidate KM Mojibul Haque for Cumilla-3 came under attack allegedly by Muradnagar Chhatra League and Juba League men around 5:00pm.
The attack happened in front of Muradnagar Police Station, with at least 10 BNP men hurt and five vehicles of the BNP candidate vandalised, local BNP sources said.
Later at a press briefing, Mojibul claimed the attackers, armed with “hockey sticks and lethal weapons,” also snatched cameras of two journalists.
He also claimed police were present during the attack.
Syed Ahmed Hossain Awal, president of Muradnagar upazila Awami League, said they were unaware of the incident.
Monjur Alam, officer-in-charge of Muradnagar Police Station, said they brought the situation under control.
At least 153 BNP-Jamaat men were detained across the country yesterday over their alleged involvement in planning subversive activities.
As many as 151 of them were detained in Narayanganj alone in separate drives. Of them, 13 were held in sadar, 27 in Bandar, eight in Siddhirganj and 103 in Fatullah areas.
Sheetal Chandra Dey, headmaster of Amlapara Girls' High School in Narayanganj Sadar, said police picked up 13 people, including the institution's assistant headmaster, teachers and guardians, on suspicion they were Jamaat men.
But Harun-Ur-Rashid, superintendent of police in the district, claimed that the law enforcers arrested some Jamaat activists who gathered on the school premises to “plan subversive activities”.
SM Manjur Kader, officer-in-charge of Fatullah Model Police Station, claimed that they detained 49 Jamaat men during a “secret meeting” at Pagla High School.
Policemen from the station detained 54 others, including five women, from another “clandestine meeting” at Islamia Ideal Madrassa in Masdair area of Narayanganj city, the OC said.
Police in Sirajganj arrested Iqbal Hossain Hiru, secretary of the upazila unit BNP, and Ariful Islam Arif, joint secretary of the upazila unit BNP.
(Our correspondents in Pabna, Satkhira, Gazipur and Cumilla contributed to this report.)