DhakaTribune
Wednesday January 17, 2018 01:35 PM

Five years of political violence: 1,028 deaths and 52,000 injuries

  • Published at 02:03 AM November 20, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:17 AM November 21, 2017
Five years of political violence: 1,028 deaths and 52,000 injuries

In 2017, there were 256 clashes from January to September – at least 44 were killed and 3,506 injured across the country

At least 1,028 people have been killed and 52,066 injured in 3,540 instances of political violence over the last five years in Bangladesh, according to data from the Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).

On January 17 this year, three people – Tajul Islam, 35, Shaharul, 25, and Ujjal Miah, 28 – were killed and 20 others injured during a clash between two groups of local Awami League members over the possession of a water body at Jarulia village in Dirai upazila.

On May 8, 2016, 16 people were shot during a factional clash of two ruling party groups – one led by lawmaker Aslamul Haque Aslam and other by reserved woman lawmaker Sabina Akter Tuhin – over organising a demo under Mirpur Awami League unit, against the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Politicians and commentators say violence has been a staple of Bangladeshi politics for a long time, largely due to the inherent nature of political organisations, which is built around loyalty purchased through the distribution of spoils.

Researcher, journalist and political commentator Afsan Chowdhury said: “Politics in Bangladesh is driven by money; there is nothing in it about people’s welfare and political parties carry out attacks on rival groups for issues related to money.”

Political leaders and activists never clash on ideological grounds; it’s always for personal interest. Usually leaders engage in clashes while trying to grab tenders, different government projects and lands

Afsan pointed out that the Awami League has been in power for nine years now and during this time, people from different backgrounds with different interests have joined the party, which often leads to infighting and clashes.

Nur Khan, former director (investigation) of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), told the Dhaka Tribune that political conflicts are the manifestations of unstable and unethical politics.

He said: “Unethical politicians who lust for power and money are normalizing conflicts among political parties.”

The ASK data is based on reports compiled over 57 months from January 1, 2013 to September 30, 2017.

Awami League and its affiliate organizations have had 15 incidents of internal conflict per month on average, leading to the loss of three lives on every occasion.

On Monday, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said that decency and tolerance are no longer present in politics, but only in posters and banners.

Awami League Presidium Member Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya said: “Awami League is a huge political party. There are many people with different perspectives which lead to conflicts.”

He said: “Political leaders and activists never clash on ideological grounds; it’s always for personal interest. Usually leaders engage in clashes while trying to grab tenders, different government projects and lands.”

Over the past five years, BNP has engaged in 160 clashes – killing 14 and injuring 1,702.

BNP Joint General Secretary Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal said: “There are all sorts of people in BNP. There are some disputes among the leadership and activists, which leads to the clashes. It is completely normal.”

 

National University Vice-Chancellor and political scientist Harun-or-Rashid said the basic principles of democracy were absent in Bangladeshi politics.

“Politicians, intolerant towards opposing views, usually engage in violent clashes over frivolous matters,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “These are people who think they are above the law and hence have no qualms about ordering the deaths of others.”

Mahmudur Rahman Manna, former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU), told the Dhaka Tribune that the culture of political violence emerged in the wake of the 1971 Liberation War and has been thriving since.

“Today, political parties are more dependent on weapons, money and muscle, which are the main reasons behind any political conflict,” he claimed.

2017

In 2017, there were 256 clashes from January to September – at least 44 were killed and 3,506 injured across the country.

Among them, at least 28 people were killed and 1,917 suffered various injuries during 115 incidents of infighting between Awami League and its affiliates.

Nine people were also killed during the same period when law enforcement agencies clashed with political activists.

2016

In 2016 alone, 177 people, including 83 Awami League activists and 84 bystanders, died in 907 political clashes, which also injured 11,462, according to the ASK data.

2015

In 2015, the country’s political parties had locked horns 865 times, leading to the deaths of at least 153 people while injuring 6,318. There were 66 days of blockades and shutdowns where 78 people died and 1,861 injured in 390 conflicts.

There were 226 instances of Awami League infighting which resulted in 33 deaths and 2,378 injuries.

2014

In 2014, political activists and law enforcement agencies clashed a total of 664 times, killing 147 and injuring 8,373.

Awami League and BNP clashed 82 times. Their clashes killed 21 and injured 784.

There were 171 instances of Awami League and affiliates infighting, killing 34 and injuring 2,206.

The January 5 election saw 22 clashes – killing another 34 and injuring 497.

The upazila elections saw innumerable clashes which saw 24 killed and 2,850 injured.

2013

In 2013, there were 848 clashes between law enforcement agencies and political activists. At least 507 were killed and 22,407 injured.

BNP

Over the past five years, BNP has engaged in 160 clashes – killing 14 and injuring 1,702.

BNP (including Chhatra Dal) and Jamaat (including Chhatra Shibir) clashed 11 times, killing three and injuring 137.

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