Twelve like-minded Islamist parties called a countrywide daylong hartal for today following clashes with police for around an hour near the Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
The clashes erupted around 11:15am when activists of the parties tried to bring out a procession, violating a ban on demonstrations there, to protest against the screening of a film and publication of a cartoon demeaning Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) abroad.
The clash left at least 100 people including 30 law enforcers injured.
The protesters set alight five vehicles including a police van and vandalised more than 15 others.
Transport movement in the area halted for over three hours causing panic and public sufferings.
During the clashes, the protesters armed with sticks, threw brickbats at the law enforcers while the policemen lobbed teargas canisters, charged truncheons and fired bullets to disperse them.
Police also arrested around 50 people.
Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan Ameer Maulana Shah Ahmadullah Ashraf and its Assistant Organising Secretary Fakhrul Islam and Islami Oikya Jote Secretary General Abdul Latif Nejami were among the arrestees.
The arrestees also include Vice-President Khalilur Rahman of Dhaka city Jubo Dal and activists of Kotwali and Lalbagh unit of Jubo Dal, the youth wing of opposition party BNP.
Syed Nurul Islam, deputy commissioner of Ramna division, said as there was a ban imposed by the DMP on any kind of rally or procession, they resisted the protesters when they tried to violate the ban.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) imposed the open-ended ban on demonstrations in Paltan, Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, Kakrail, Dainik Bangla intersection, Bijoynagar and adjacent areas from 5:00pm Friday.
The ban was imposed after two rival Islamist organisations announced rallies at the same place yesterday.
Witnesses said the leaders and activists of the 12 Islamist parties assembled inside the press club premises around 9:30am and held demonstrations there protesting the anti-Islam film and cartoon.
The activists tried to come out of the press club in a procession when police obstructed them. At one stage, some protesters started hurling brick chips at the police while others clashed with the law enforcers halting traffic on the road.
The demonstrators torched a motorcycle of a newsman parked at the press club, a police van in front of it and two others on the road.
Secretary general of the 12 Islamist parties Moulana Jafrullah Khan announced the hartal from a short rally inside the Jatiya Press Club later on.
Deputy Commissioner Nurul Islam said Moulana Jafrullah had instigated the violation of the ban.
"We tried to persuade them not to bring out the procession but they paid no heed. Rather, they launched an attack on us prompting us to retaliate," the DC added.
He said they were forced to lob 70 teargas canisters and fire two shells of shotguns in the air and arrest “around 40” agitators.
He claimed, "Mainly Jamaat-e-Islami men had led the attack and vandalism while around 1,200 BNP men posing as members of Pintu Mukti Parishad, who were on the press club premises, also took part in the violence."
In the morning, pro-BNP Chhatra Dal and Jubo Dal men held a rally at the press club auditorium demanding release of former BNP lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu.
BNP leaders Mirza Abbas and Amanullah Aman addressed the rally.
Police were deployed at the press club as of 8:10pm.