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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  December, 2005  Bigots clash …
Bigots clash with cops, 57 injured

The Daily Star
Vol. 5 Num 561Sat. December 24, 2005

Front Page

Anti-ahmadiyya Demonstration
Bigots clash with cops, 57 injured
Police stop marchers from reaching Ahmadiyya mosque; zealots vow fresh programme

Staff Correspondent

Anti-Ahmadiyya bigots pelt law enforcers with bricks and mortars from Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in the capital yesterday. PHOTO: STAR
Anti-Ahmadiyya bigots pelt law enforcers with bricks and mortars from Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in the capital yesterday. PHOTO: STAR
At least 57 people including seven policemen were injured in the city yesterday as anti-Ahmadiyya zealots locked in sporadic clashes with the police, turning the downtown area from the north gate of Baitul Mokarram to its south gate into a battlefield for over an hour.

The skirmishes erupted when the police barred a band of International Khatme Nabuwat Movement, Bangladesh (IKNMB) activists from marching towards Dhaka Central Jail to hold a ‘voluntary imprisonment’ programme in the afternoon demanding a law declaring the minority Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim. The IKNMB has been running a hate campaign for over two years to press home the demand.

The agitators threatened to start from today branding all Ahmadiyya mosques as ‘places of worship for Qadianis’ and cautioning people not to ‘mistake them as mosques’. They said they will also list and excommunicate the Ahmadiyyas across the country.

The law enforcers in the city yesterday also foiled the attempt of another anti-Ahmadiyya fanatic group, Khatme Nabuwat Andolon Bangladesh (Knab), to march to Bakshibazar to lay siege to Ahmadiyya headquarters there.

As the participants chanted slogans like ‘Qadianis [Ahmadiyyas] are Kafir’ and ‘let’s set fire to their dens’, their leaders continued with delivering instigating speeches.
The police kept the Knab activists confined in front of the north gate of Baitul Mokarram National Mosque putting up barricades on the east and the west side of the gate.

The Knab demonstrators left the area after handing over a signboard they had intended to put up at the Bakshibazar Ahmadiyya mosque, branding it as a mere ‘place of worship’, to the police, asking them to do the job in their stead. But the police dismissed the request.

“No question arises of putting up the signboard there. The signboard will remain in our custody,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner SM Mizanur Rahman told the press. “We will not tolerate any attack on the Ahmadiyyas,” he affirmed.

Anti-Ahmadiyya agitation since 1987 has claimed the lives of eight people. The smear campaign got fresh vigour in November 2003, when the zealots attacked an Ahmadiyya Mosque in Nakhalpara in the city. They have continued the anti-Ahmadiyya campaign since then and have hung similar signboards at four key Ahmadiyya mosques in Chittagong, Khulna, Bogra and Patuakhali.

A government ban on the Ahmadiyya publications on January 8 last year further encouraged the religious zealots to carry on with their agenda.

The IKNMB activists started gathering in the city’s Muktangan yesterday in the noon. About 1,000 IKNMB members clad in panjabi, pajama and topi from different parts of the country occupied the road between Paltan and the Zero Point to hold a pre-announced rally.

They made a podium by putting two trucks together. A group of some 40 IKNMB activists took position in front of the podium, posing as handcuffed prisoners with the upper part of their body bare and hands tied in front with rope.

IKNMB leaders speaking at the rally stressed the need for branding the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim and enacting a law towards this end.

As the participants chanted slogans like ‘Qadianis [Ahmadiyyas] are Kafir’ and ‘let’s set fire to their dens’, their leaders continued with delivering instigating speeches.

“The government has betrayed the Touhidee Janata [monotheist people] by showing indifference to our demand. Now we have no demand from the government. It’s time to implement our demands ourselves,” IKNMB President Mahmudul Hasan Mamtazi told the rally.

IKNMB Secretary General Nazmul Haque directed the IKNMB members to list the Ahmadiyyas, excommunicate them, bar them from using Islami terms and not allow them burial in Muslim graveyards.

The IKNMB leaders claimed the 4-party coalition had come to power banking on the Muslims’ votes and threatened that they would not let it come to power again, as it betrayed the Touhidee Janata.

After the rally, Mamtazi and Nazmul led a procession towards the Central Jail, but the police, who earlier had erected a barricade at the Zero Point, intercepted them there.

As the IKNMB activists attempted to break through the barricade at 4:20pm, the police baton-charged them, splitting the mob into two groups. One group of the demonstrators rushed to the south gate of Baitul Mokarram Mosque, while the police continued charging baton on the other group standing in front of Muktangan, injuring at least 30 of them.

The IKNMB group at the south gate of Baitul Mokarram started throwing brickbats at the police. The agitators vandalised five vehicles including a police van and an oil lorry.

As the police chased them, they backtracked to the east gate of the mosque, with the police chasing them up the stairs.

At least 20 IKNMB activists were hurt this time, while seven policemen were injured in the zealots’ attack.

After the clash, the IKNMB held a short rally in the Muktangan, where it vowed to evict the Ahmadiyyas from Bangladesh. The IKNMB leaders also announced to hold demonstrations across the country and bring out a procession from Baitul Mokarram after the Asr prayers today to protest the police attack.

They claimed the police injured some 200 of their activists and picked up 200 others. But, the police said they have not arrested any one.

Talking to The Daily Star over telephone yesterday evening, Mamtazi claimed the police also attacked IKNMB supporters at Rahim Metal Jame Mosque in Tejgaon and fired three tear gas cells, injuring three people including him. But, the IKNMB secretary general told The Daily Star no such incident took place.

Ten platoons of police were deployed at the Ahmadiyya headquarters yesterday morning to bar Knab zealots from besieging it after the Juma prayers, as they had announced earlier. Law enforcers were also deployed at different city points from Baitul Mokarram to Bakshibazar to check violence.

The Knab held a rally at the north gate of Baitul Mokarram after the Juma prayers. Speakers at the rally made a three-point demand including introduction of a law to stop ‘insult’ to the last prophet, Hazrat Mohammad, and deception in the name of Islam ‘being done by the Ahmadiyyas’, and declaring them non-Muslim.

“Bangladeshis have sacrificed their lives for their language in 1952. Thirty lakh people gave their lives during the Liberation War. Now 60 lakh others will offer their lives to oust the Ahmadiyyas and thus uphold the honour of Islam,” Knab Amir Noor Hossain Nurani said.

“It has to be decided now whether the price of Bangladesh is more than that of the last prophet,” he said, vowing to sacrifice lives in thousands to realise their demands.

“The Ahmadiyyas, Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh militants, atheists and Murtads [deviators] are of the same roots,” he told intelligence agencies.

After the Knab demonstrators failed to break through the police barricade, they held another short rally, where Nurani issued an ultimatum to declare the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim by the Eid-ul Azha next month.

He also announced to besiege the Ahmadiyya mosque at Dhanikhola in Mymensingh on February 10 and another at Jyotondranagar in Satkhira on April 17.

Civil society members and rights activists including members of Ain-O-Salish Kendra and Nari Pakkha gathered at the Central Shaheed Minar in the morning carrying the national flag. They later marched to the Ahmadiyya headquarters and stayed there until the afternoon to stop any attack on the Ahmadiyyas by the zealots.

There is no room of extremists in the country and they will not be spared, said State Minister for Religious Affairs Mosharef Hossain Shajahan yesterday. “There may be difference of opinion among the followers of a religion, but no-one can attack others for such a difference,” he maintained.

“We’re taking steps against these people and will stop them,” he told the BBC Bangla Service yesterday evening.

Asked why the government does not take any permanent step against the anti-Ahmadiyyas, the state minister said, “Steps can be taken against them under the existing laws, if they hold any programme. We are now burdened with bombings across the country and have our attention focussed on solving this issue.”

“Today’s incidents further prove” that the government is able to tackle the fundamentalists and the terrorists, Central Ahmadiyya Missionary Abdul Awal Khan told The Daily Star. He thanked the law enforcement agencies, rights activists and the media for taking steps to protect them.

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