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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka gripped by fear

Update : 05 May 2013, 06:34 PM

Following a day of intense clashes, tens of thousands of supporters of Hefazat-e-Islam were regrouping in the Naya Paltan and Motijheel areas of Dhaka Sunday night with support from BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami activists. Confronting this opposition alliance were platoons of police and Border Guards of Bangladesh as well as Awami League men who were entrenched in the Gulistan, Moghbazar and Kakrail areas.

The city remained tense as clashes continued into the night around the Baitul Mukarram area where at least three people died during the day. Police officials said they were ready to go into action to clear the streets. Riot police were seen standing by with armoured personnel carriers, water cannon and riot gear.

The commercial district of Motijheel took on an eerie look as power was cut and fires set during the day continued to burn. Hefazat activists continued their sit-in around Shapla Chattar where they remained surrounded by police and BGB.

Ahmad Shafi, the aging leader of the Hefazat, condemned what he called excessive violence used by the police and ruling party activists on his supporters. The government had shed blood in a bid to thwart what was intended to be a peaceful rally, the Chittagong-based cleric said in the statement. He called on Hefazat supporters to stay on the streets of Dhaka until their demands are met.

Opposition leader and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in a statement released Sunday evening called on her party activists and the people of Dhaka to support Hefazat-e-Islam and resist the “autocratic designs of the government.”

Earlier, Syed Asharaful Islam, the secretary general of the Awami League had called the Hefazat activists neo-Razakars (collaborators) and demanded they leave the city by nightfall.

Police sources said they may go into action to drive out the Hefazat supporters in an early morning raid if the order came from the government.

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