Police baton-charge to disperse activists
Over 50 people, including policemen and a journalist, were injured in a series of clashes between activists of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal and police in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sunday morning.
Chhatra Dal, BNP leaders and activists started gathering in the press club area from 10 am. The trouble began around 11am, when police reportedly obstructed them from holding a rally demanding an investigation into writer Mushtaq Ahmed’s death in custody and the abolition of the Digital Security Act.
Witnesses said police obstructed the rally as the activists did not have permission.
An altercation ensued, at which point police charged batons and fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters. Chhatra Dal activists responded by throwing brickbats at law enforcement officials.
The chase and counter-chase lasted for around 40 minutes.
Police reportedly chased down and beat some of the activists who tried to shelter on the National Press Club premises, while some others could not be located.
BNP claims hundreds of activists and party supporters were injured, and many others detained.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir was inside the Press Club when the clash broke out and he left by car.
BNP senior leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain has alleged that police “mercilessly” fired tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters in front of the National Press Club.
Chhatra Dal President Fazlur Rahman Khokon said over 50 people, including Chhatra Dal activists, ATN Bangla Senior Cameraperson Mamun, and five to six staff of the National Press Club were injured in the clashes.
Anisur Rahman Khandaker Anik, leader of Chhatra Dal's Dhaka University branch, said: “After 11am, we tried to take out a rally under the leadership of Dhaka Metropolitan South BNP President Habib-un-Nabi Khan Sohel. As soon as the leaders and activists took to the streets, the police started beating us, firing tear gas shells and rubber bullets.”
Police said activists were throwing brickbats from inside the press club and seven to eight policemen were injured in the incident. Some of the miscreants have been taken into custody.
Ramna Zone DC Sazzadur Rahman told reporters: “Permission from the DMP commissioner is needed to hold such a program anywhere in Dhaka city, but Chhatra Dal did not take any such permission from DMP. Legal action will be taken against them.
“A rally cannot be held on an important road in front of the National Press Club without permission. The activists did not take any permission to hold a rally here. They attacked the police on the road with 400 to 500 workers from inside the press club,” he added, claiming the attack by the activists was pre-planned.
During a press conference at the party chairperson’s Gulshan office on Sunday afternoon, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that the government is unwilling to allow freedom of expression.
“The government is undermining the constitutional rights of the people and attacking anyone who protests injustice or expresses their views. The Digital Security Act is the worst of all laws,” he added.
Writer Mushtaq reportedly suffered a heart attack inside his cell at Kashimpur Prison on Thursday evening. "He was rushed to Shaheed Tajuddin Medical College Hospital where he was declared brought dead," Senior Jail Superintendent Md Gias Uddin said.
An unnatural death case has been filed with Sadar police station under Gazipur Metropolitan Police in connection with Mushtaq's custodial death.
The 53-year-old writer, who published the book "Kumir Chaasher Diary" under the pen name Michael Kumir Thakur, was picked up by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel from his Lalmatia house on May 2, allegedly for posts over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On August 20, he was shifted to Kashimpur prison.
Calls for Mushtaq's release were widespread and sustained throughout his time in prison. Soon after his arrest, more than 300 dignitaries in Bangladesh issued a joint statement demanding his release.
However, his bail applications were turned down on at least four occasions.
Left-leaning student bodies, including Bangladesh Chhatra Front, Chhatra Federation and Bangladesh Students Rights Protection Council, on Friday and Saturday staged demonstrations on the Dhaka University campus, protesting the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed under police custody.