(Three Hefajat-e Islami supporters try to save themselves from violence as they and two other children take refuge in the gap of a hawker shop on a footpath. Violence erupted during a clash killing 3 people in Paltan area in the capital on Sunday. Photo: STAR)
Dhaka, (Daily Star): Three people were killed and 80 injured as activists of Hefajat-e Islam and Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed with police at the city’s Paltan on Sunday.
The clash, which started shortly before the beginning of Hefajat’s rally in Motijheel, was continuing when the report was filed around 5:00pm.
A traffic constable sustained severe burn injuries when Hefajat men set fire to a police box in Bijoynagar. The activists also beat up a constable mercilessly getting him alone at a lane near Paltan intersection.
The Hefajat men also assaulted photojournalists during the clash.
One of the deceased was identified as Victim Siddiqur Rahman, 28, a helper of Hanif Paribahan. The identity of the rest was not available instantly.
The entire Paltan, Baitul Mukarram, Bijoynagar, Dainik Bangla intersection, Bangabandhu Avenue and its adjacent areas turned into a battle ground as the leaders and activists of Hefajat fought pitched battles with law enforcers since Sunday morning.
During the clash, the activists of Hefajat and Shibir, student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, blasted several hundred homemade cocktails.
The sounds of a number of gunshots were heard during the clash that was continuing when this report was filed around 4:30pm.
The death was the sequel to a clash that erupted around 11:30am immediately after a crude bomb was exploded in Paltan.
The clash spread to Bangabandhu Avenue around 2:30pm when several thousand activists of Hefajat along with Shibir men swooped on the roadside shops in front of the ruling Awami League’s central office.
As the Awami League men and police tried to resist the marauding activists, they attacked the party office.
At one stage, police fired bullets from shotguns and Siddiqur sustained severe bullet injuries.
Critically injured Siddiqur was rushed to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) where duty doctors declared him dead.
Police later in the evening recovered two bodies at Dainik Bangla and GPO intersections. Police said one of them was bullet-hit while the other was beaten to death.
At least 45 people, most of them hit by rubber bullet, were admitted to the DMCH.
The Hefajat men also assaulted several lens men including Mohammad Nasir Uddin of Mohana Television, when they were taking photos of their vandalism.
More than 2,000 rounds of teargas canisters and rubber bullets were fired during the clashes.
The marauding Hefajat men torched six vehicles including a police vehicle in Dainik Bangla intersection and Baitul Mukarram National Mosque premises.
They also set fire to the deputy commissioner’s (Traffic) office in Shantinagar.
Seven to eight buses were also vandalised near High Court building and Bangabazar area.
The activists also vandalised several roadside shops in the battling areas and set fire on roads collecting the stuff of the shops.
The clash ensued when several hundred Hefajat men were trying to go towards Gonojagoron Mancha in the capital’s Shahbagh intersection defying police barbed wires at Dainik Bangla intersection and Baitul Mukarram area, said Sheikh Maruf Hasan, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Ramna Division).
Facing police resistance, the Hefajat men engaged in scuffle with law enforcers.
In the meantime, a homemade bomb was exploded near Paltan intersection, prompting the clash, the deputy commissioner said.
Later, several thousand Hefajat men along with Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir joined the clashing men, the police official said.
As soon as the Jamaat-Shibir men joined the marauding Hefajat men, Paltan, Baitul Mukarram, Dainik Bangla intersection, Bangabandhu Avenue and stadium areas turned into a battle ground, he added.
During the clashes, police fired more than 2,000 gunshots and rubber bullets and lobbed a number of teargas canisters to disperse the agitating activists.
In retaliation, the leaders and activists hurled brick chips on law enforcers.
The agitating activists dispersed the scene immediately after the police action.
Later, divided into several groups they scattered at different adjacent parts of the city and clashed with police.
The lens men were injured when the Hefajat men attacked them while they were taking the snapshots of Hefajat men who were vandalising barbed wires of the road divider near the Baitul Mukarram mosque.
Meanwhile, at least 10 people were injured when the activists of Hefajat and the ruling Awami League clashed at the south entrance of the national mosque.