Ishraque claimed that his supporters were attacked on their way to Gopibag from Motijheel
At least 10 people including journalists have been injured in a clash between supporters of BNP-backed mayoral candidate for Dhaka South, Ishraque Hossain, and Awami League's Fazle Noor Taposh during electioneering in Gopibag of Dhaka.
Several gunshots were heard during the clash that took place around 1pm on Sunday, witnesses said. The two groups clashed with sticks and hurled brickbats at each other. Several vehicles were also vandalized during the chase and counter chase that lasted for around half an hour.
The situation was brought under control once police arrived on the scene.
According to eyewitnesses, there was a clash in front of the main gate of Central Women's College when Ishraque and his supporters were campaigning in the area. As soon as they arrived in front of an Awami League election office, supporters of ward 39 councillor candidate Rokonuddin Ahmed, and reserved women councillor candidate Lovely Chowdhury, pounced on the campaigners.
Tensions rose as the two sides chanted slogans over loudspeakers, and started hurling brickbats and chairs at each other. A chase and counter chase started later, witnesses said.
Ishraque, in an instant reaction said miscreants attacked their peaceful electioneering. "The attack was conducted to remove the BNP from the election field," he said.
He, however, vowed to stick to the election race.
Recounting the attack, Ishraque said: "We were coming back from a rally in Hatkhola, via Tikatuli, and were two minutes away from my home when it happened."
The mayoral candidate also said seven or eight of his campaigners were injured in the attack.
Later in the day, Ishraque held a press briefing at his residence, saying: “The ruling party made this nasty attack because they are jealous of the popularity of Sheaf of Paddy. This is an attempt to foil the election, as well as to frighten voters."
He also urged his party workers and supporters to stay calm and not be afraid.
About the allegation made by the Awami League leaders that the gunshots came from BNP men, Ishraque said: “We have been electioneering peacefully. How could we be firing shots? Rather, they shot at us."
If the Election Commission had taken necessary measures following earlier attacks, this incident would not happen, he said.
Taposh: BNP trying to ruin election environment
When asked about the attack on Ishraque's campaign, Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, Awami League nominated mayoral candidate, said: "The BNP candidate alone is trying to ruin the election environment."
He said: “The face of the BNP is being exposed. They are running a campaign with criminals. That’s why, I fear, the election environment might get worse.”
He also requested the Election Commission to take necessary action with regard to the incident.
However, when asked about why the police came late to the spot, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP)’s Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Wari zone, Shah Iftekhar Ahmed, said: "They were not informed about Ishraque’s campaign. We had information that the campaign would proceed in the afternoon from Wari or Gandaria. We prepared ourselves accordingly. But he started from Motijheel in the afternoon.”
British High Commissioner in Dhaka visits Ishraque house
Soon after the attack, British High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Robert Chatterton Dickson, visited Ishraque's house in Tikatuli around 3pm.
In the presence of hundreds of BNP activists including the party's election operating committee member Abdus Salam, Ambassador Dickson met Ishraque.
After the meeting, Dickson told media: “As part of my visit to other mayoral candidates, I came here today.
"We want to see a fair election where voters can cast their votes peacefully,” he said.