Dhaka, Saturday, December 24, 2005
50 injured as anti-Ahmadiyya bigots clash with police
ARIF NEWAZ FARAZI and ABDULLAH JUBEREE
Over 50 people were injured as Islamist bigots clashed with the police at Muktangan in the capital on Friday afternoon in a bid to force their way to the Dhaka Central Jail to ‘embrace detention willingly’.
Agitated activists of the International Khatme Nabuwat Movement also damaged nine vehicles at Baitul Mukarram and Tejgaon areas.
The violence erupted when the bigots tried to force their way to the Dhaka Central Jail from Muktangan after a rally demanding that the state declare the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims.
Followers and supporters of the platform converged at Muktangan being mobilised from different mosques of the city after juma prayers.
They continued their rally till 4:30pm and tried to march towards the central jail. As the police intercepted them, the activists threw brickbats on the police.
In retaliation, the police lobbed teargas canisters to disperse the unruly activists. Immediately, the activists went on a rampage on vehicles on the busy Bangabandhu Avenue and damaged at least seven vehicles.
At one stage, the law enforces chased them and the bigots took shelter at Baitul Mukarram mosque, entering through the south gate.
The police stormed into the mosque and charged batons on the bigots. The regular devotees, who were reciting the Qur’an inside the mosque, also fell victim to the police attack.
Another section of bigots again tried to march towards the central jail after the first round of violence and again faced police obstruction. They pelted brickbats on the police and the police retaliated with teargas canisters. The police also charged batons to disperse the bigots.
The activists left the area at around 6:00pm, to hold a briefing at their office at Rahim Metal mosque in Tejgaon to declare the future course of the movement.
Returning form Muktangan, the activists got agitated once again seeing a police lorry in front of the Rahim Metal mosque and damaged the truck. The police again charged baton to disperse them. The activists also broke the windshield of a van used by the officer-in-charge of the Tejgaon police station.
Most of the injured in the clashes were released after first aid. Only a few were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for further treatment.
But the amir of the movement, Mahmudul Hasan Mamtaji, at an impromptu briefing claimed 200 of his activists and five leaders were injured in the police assault when they headed for the central jail.
He said 125 activists were given first aid and 60 were taken to different private clinics including Ashrafia Clinic in Tongi, Islami Bank Hospital and Al-Arafah Bank Hospital in Dhaka.
The police had beefed up security in and around the Baitul Mukarram mosque since morning.
Strict security measurers were also taken around the central mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat at Bakhshibazar.
The police put barricade in front of the Fazle Rabbi Hall of Dhaka Medical College and Chankharpool crossing to thwart attempts by the bigots to attack the Ahmadiyya complex. The police were also deployed in front of major mosques of Old Dhaka including the Chawkbazar Shahi Mosque.
Members of the civil society and representatives of different non-governmental organisations visited the Ahmadiyya complex to extend their sympathy for the Ahamadiyya community. Six NGOs also formed a human-chain in front of the complex protesting against the rise of militancy and attacks on the Ahmadiyya community.
Advocate Sultana Kamal, Sara Hossain, Khushi Kabir participated in the human chain.
In an informal briefing, the Ahmadiyya community leaders said the crisis was totally artificial and fabricated by some unscrupulous people who want to create anarchy in the name of religion.